Peter Lik Moonlit dreams fake or not

Peter Lik moonlit dreams

Mats Inspiration, Landscape, Learning Leave a Comment

There’s been a lot of controversy in the photography corners of the internet lately about a photography by Peter Lik, called “Moonlit dreams”. I have visited Peter Liks galleries in Las Vegas and New York many times and somehow managed to get myself registered as a collector. I am not a collector, but i may have appeared to be when talking to the friendly sales people in the Lik galleries.

Anyway – being on the collectors mailing list, i get emails from whenever there’s a new series of images out. When i got this one in early February, i just thought it was a cool composite and didn’t think more about it. I won’t post the photo here, because i don’t have the rights to it and i don’t to get in trouble.

Visit to see the image.

Fstoppers dig deep and yell fake!

Basically, what’s happened is that other photographers have been lining up with torches and pitchforks yelling “FAKE!”. The reason for this being that the image obviously is a composite made up of two or more photos. On the fstoppers YouTube channel, there was a pretty long video about this where they discussed the image in detail. It’s an interesting discussion if you have the time. Everyone agrees it’s most likely a composite (or fake, as they call it), but they have a pretty deep discussion on the subject.

Peter Lik Moonlit dreams

YouTube screenshot

One good argument in all this, expressed in a second fstoppers video, is that an artist that regularly sells non-composited images should probably make sure there’s a very clear disclaimer if he adds an occasional composite image to his gallery. I think that’s a good point. Watch the videos, it’s an interesting discussion with good arguments for both sides of the fence.

Froknowsphoto says who cares and gets an official statement

A few days later Jared Polin talked about this on his YouTube channel and expressed an opinion similar to mine (se below). A little later, Polin announced that he had an official statement from Lik’s people, saying that the image is indeed a composite.

YouTube screenshot

Ruffled feathers in the photographer groups

I brought this up in a Facebook group about photography that i’m a member of. The group, usually pretty friendly, erupted in some really heated discussions. A couple of the members even got so worked up that one of them ended up blocking the other guy.

Many people come from a journalistic standpoint, where image manipulaion is frowned upon and they enter the discussion from this standpoint. Others work with composite images all day, maybe in commercial environments, in fine art or just for fun. These two camps obviously tend to clash pretty violently when brought together on a subject like this. Seeing the other person’s point of view isn’t always the easiest thing for some people.

Many of the people involved in the discussion said they thought a composite image should always come with a disclaimer to warn potential buyers.

The clouds are behind the moon!

Someone asked what made others so sure it was a composite and i told him to look at the clouds, which are behind the moon. He wasn’t willing to give up and claimed this was possible under certain conditions. Some guys you just need to give up on.

Most photographers i’ve heard on this subject also agree that it would be optically impossible to take a photo with the moon so large and the cliff and tree in the foreground just as sharp and the moon’s surface. I know for sure i don’t have the skills or equipment to do this, but i would be interested to see how close you could get, given a similar composition and using focus- and exposure stacking.

Here’s what i think

My standpoint is this: I think Peter Lik has the right to make composite images as much as he wants as long as he’s not hurting anyone. He should have the right to sell this image in his galleries. If someone is willing to pay him for it and they can agree on a price that both parties accept, they should be allowed to make the deal and the buyer can do whatever she wants with her photo. Lik should inform his customer about how the image is done if she asks. Lying about it and claiming it’s a single exposure would be wrong. It’s art for God’s sake. Anything goes as long as no one is hurt.

Composite = fake?

Would you be upset if you found out the latest U2 album was not recorded live in one single take? Of course not. We all know that music producers use technology to their advantage to stretch the limits and create their works of art. Art photographers should be free to do the same. If it was a journalistic photo, things would of course be different. If i found this photo in National geographic, i would be very disappointed.

What does Peter Lik think?

I have no idea what Peter Lik thinks, but i’m guessing this is a dream scenario for him. He’s all about selling and marketing and the way this points the light in his direction must be all good for him. The people that are willing to pay five-figure amounts for his images probably don’t care what’s been done to the image. I’d be surprised to find him cowering under his desk, embarrassed for being caught trying to sell a “fake” image.

What do you think?

Please leave a comment and tell me what you think and why.

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