Photographer at Center of National Geographic Milky Way Photos Controversy Speaks Up


We brought you the story of the National Geographic Milky Way photos that the Internet thought was too good to be true and it seems like that might be partially accurate because the photographer behind them has responded, blaming a process involving her lack of supervision and due diligence over a process controlled by an intern.

milky way
Image by Kyle Goetsch

Or as she writes:

“I am late to this discussion as I am attending my father’s funeral. First, I want to say that I am not much for technical expertise. For me, it’s not about the equipment. For these pictures I developed a fairly simple formula and memorized it, varying adjustments occasionally to suit the light. I also usually take my time producing work, but this work under starlight was the exception. With three back to back trips and a book deadline I enlisted the help of an intern seven years ago. During her 6 month term she helped to batch process images and she also hand-stitched the panoramic shot in question. I got back in touch with her to ask her about this process. She remembers stitching the images together one by one, lining up the tree branches by using the transformation tool to line each shot up. I believe the problem stemmed from the distortion of the wide angle lens used. She claims she did not use the clone tool. To be clear, I am not passing the blame on to her. My name is on it and I take full responsibility.

This is a painful lesson. I am sorry to have upset so many people. I did not intentionally try to hide anything and I apologize. With the passing of my father I am reminded to try to concentrate on a bigger picture, which I hope to do going forward.”

But, as it often is, the Internet is still skeptical. PetaPixel’s Adrien Mauduit uses his knowledge of astrophotography to show the many errors in the photos Moon submitted to National Geographic.

You can read that here.

And you can read our original story here.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.


About Author

Kehl is our staff photography news writer since 2017 and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing and you can get to know him better here and follow him on Insta.

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