Thursday, September 3, 2009

Crying Face in Glacier:

Monday, September 28, 2009
Mother Nature in Tears
July 16, 2009 - Austfonna ice cap located on Nordaustlandet in Svalbard, Norway

Sometimes an image just seems to be too good to true! The image above has caused quite a stir around the world in so many ways. When I took the image early in the morning on July 16, 2009 from the bow of the National Geographic Explorer I was struck by the unmistakable likeness of the face of a woman crying. In fact once my mind locked onto the face it was hard to see any other pattern in the ice cap. I was moved to photograph this particular waterfall several different ways with a couple of different lenses. It was one of the best examples of a human likeness I have ever witnessed in nature.

All well and fine but now comes the controversy. The image was picked up by one of my best stock agencies in the U.K. and the face was likened to Mother Nature. I loved the stylized look of the waterfall as it formed the pool of tears, and think it is strikingly similar to what a thoughtful yet mournful Mother Nature might appear to look like, and what better place to appear than on the face of the largest (by area) retreating ice cap in all of Europe?

Of course folks on one side of the climate change issue took it as a sign, while folks on the other side of this same issue were sure the image was fabricated. "Photoshop Experts" started weighing in on how the image was manipulated or downright faked all together. From my perspective as the photographer who took the image I am amazed at what strong sentiments this image has provoked, and the ensuing attacks on the authenticity of the face. So here it is, as simply and plainly as I can say it:

This image was shot on July 16, 2009 with a Canon 50D digital camera body and a Canon 70-200mm f2.8L lens. The camera settings were 1/640 second at f5.6, handheld. The image was shot in Canon Camera Raw (CR2) file format. The ONLY things done to this image in Photoshop were a slight crop (to straighten the horizon), color correction (to match the blue of the glacier to what I saw), and sharpening (which RAW photos all require). That's it. Nothing was added or taken away, altered, fabricated, or manipulated.

Is this Mother Nature in Tears? If you want it to be then I say absolutely!

Is it a sign of climate change? Of course, the ice cap is retreating and has been for many years now.

Is this a beautiful stylized look of a woman's face in the Austfonna ice cap? This thought is exactly what moved me to create the image.

Was the image fabricated, manipulated, altered, or down right faked? Absolutely not. The image is exactly as it appeared to me (or as close as minor adjustments in Photoshop could make it). I have the RAW file to prove it, and if you chose to believe otherwise that is of course your right. It is just sad (and pitiful) that anyone would choose to make accusations against someone they don't even know about something they weren't even around to witness for themselves. Really, don't you have anything constructive or positive to do in your life? No? Try a little harder!

Enough already. I encourage everyone to go and experience Mother Nature for themselves, wherever (and however) you can find her! Perhaps she will change your life, as she has changed mine. I have hope for even the most ardent unbelievers. The beauty is all around you, you just have to open your eyes (and heart).

The Austfonna ice cap from the bow of National Geographic Explorer.

Waterfalls formed in the melting ice cap.

A black-legged kittiwake on the wing in front of the ice cap.

To see more of my photography please visit


Anonymous said...

Hi Dan

I can assure you 100% that this image is not faked and has not been faked in any way.

We are providing some of the highest quality images from around the world to the biggest media publications and broadcasters in the world.

Furthermore, we woould never seek to dilute the serious matter of climate change and we actively avoid photographs that have been photoshopped.

If you speak to the World Glacier Monitoring Service, you will find that the crying face in the ice-sheet is genuine and has actually existed for a number of years.

Liam Miller

Barcroft Media,Unit 9, 14 Southgate Road
London, N1 3LY

Check out our website

+44 (0)845 370 2233

Anonymous said...


Furthermore, as I journalist, I assume you will be researching your article, and establishing whether your belief is true before you publish anything?

I am confident that once you have spoken with the WGMS, and realise the face exists, that you will be satisfied enough not to publish anything suggesting that the image has been faked.

Look forwards to heating from you.


Liam Miller

Barcroft Media,Unit 9, 14 Southgate Road
London, N1 3LY

Anonymous said...

Marine photographer and environmental lecturer Michael Nolan allegedly reportedly captured the PHOTO while on an annual voyage to observe the largest icecap in Norway Austfonna on July 16, 2009, says Louise Gray, green reporter in the UK. But that photo does not appear on his website. WHY?

''In 2004 I started to capture images with a Canon digital camera system. Please be assured that I still insist on no digital alterations or manipulations to substantially alter these images.'' says Nolan on his website, but there is no photo of this crying face. WHY?

He said the image looked just like mother nature in tears, "as if she was crying about our inability to reduce global warming".

'Tears' in the natural sculpture were created by a waterfall of glacial water falling from one of the face's 'eyes'.

Mr Nolan has visited Norway's largest the icecap on the island of Nordaustlandet in the Svalbard archipelago for several years.

"The icescape changes every year I visit. Every summer the route has less ice as the polar cap retreats," he said.

"On this trip I was struck myself by the amazing image of a woman's face, a motherly face, crying. Totally natural but very animated because of the amount of melt water running off.

"This is how one would imagine mother nature would express her sentiments about our inability to reduce global warming. It seemed an obvious place for her to appear, on the front of a retreating ice shelf, crying.

"It exactly fits with my image of mother nature, wise to the way of the world, and saddened by it."

Jon Ove Hagen, a member of the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) and professor in geosciences at Oslo University, Norway, has been studying the Austfonna ice-shelf since 1988.

He said the Austfonna icecap has been shrinking by as much as 160 feet every year for several decades.

"The geometry of the ice cap is changing. The fronts are retreating, the lower parts are getting thinner, with a thinning rate of about three feet-per-year while the interior of the ice cap is thickening with about 1.6 feet-per-year," he said.

"The ice cap is losing about 1.6 cubic miles of ice every year."

" It is of course a concern, but not more than in other parts of the world were we see even more rapid changes than here."

J.K. said...

As a photoshop guru, I was able to find a 700 x 459 (pixels) photo at 72 DPI on the web. There is quite a bit of bitmapping in areas that shouldn't have it, and this can be caused by using the clone or stamp tool without appropriate softness added. Unfortunately, without the original, high-res photo, it is impossible to say for certain. Using layer blending, this image can be easily created and passed off as an original, especially at 72 dpi. Low resolution is very forgiving when you make mistakes. So my expert opinion is that it's been faked, with the caveat that barcroft should make the hi-res available and just put a watermark on it to prevent theft.

dan said...

thanks JK, i have forwarded your remarks to the photo agency in the UK.... db

Anonymous said...


Hi-res have been printed in several national newspapers around the world today.

Have guru JK look at those.

Barcroft Media,Unit 9, 14 Southgate Road
London, N1 3LY

Anonymous said...


re trying to reach Michael Nolan

He's very difficult to get hold of as he travels around the worls on photo shoots.

He is currently on a boat in Alaska so his comms are limited,

If it helps, the guys on our photo-desk have over 30 years experience in photography and could spot a fake.

Futhermore, National newspapers in the UK such as the Times, Telegraph, Sun, Mail, Express have hundreds of years experience between them and DO NOT RUN FAKES ON THEIR PAGES.

Similarly, we do not distribute fakes.

I'm pretty certain our photo editors skills with photoshop possibly exceed your friend's, so please be reassured on the matter and rest easy.

The photo is real. I am sure Nolan will get back to you once he has a chance to check his inbox.

Be careful how you tread as he is extremely passionate about climate change and will not take kindly to having a suggestion put to him that his work is fake.


Photo agency

Anonymous said...

Move over Al Gore, NBC's Meredith Vieira and Natalie Morales have discovered the new face of global warming and it's a glacier. In the latest bit of goofy global warming nonsense Morales reported, on Thursday's "Today", that a photographer in Norway caught a picture of "what appears to be a face crying a river of tears as a glacier melts into the sea." To which "Today" co-host Vieira exclaimed, "That's gonna be the new image of global warming, right there."

The following exchange was aired on the September 3, "Today" show:

NATALIE MORALES: And in Norway take a look at this image a photographer caught of what appears to be a face crying a river of tears as a glacier melts into the sea. That particular glacier has been shrinking as much as 160 feet a year for decades. That is truly a remarkable shot there. 7:10am right now. Back to Meredith, Lester and Stephanie Abrams.

MEREDITH VIEIRA: That's gonna be the new image of global warming, right there.

MORALES: Absolutely. Environmentalists are gonna be using that picture everywhere. Yeah.

Anonymous said...

It’s only natural for humans to anthropomorphize animals. We want our furry friends to be like us, and we don’t like the idea that something that cuddly and with that much personality doesn’t have a human-like soul. However, why do humans persist in seeing faces where there isn’t really a face, like in the above picture of a crying glacier in the Austfonna ice cap near Nordaustlandet, Norway?

In this case, the phenomenon called pareidolia (thanks, Neatorama!) applies because people look at the melting glacier and want to see something symbolic of the global warming crisis. It’s like seeing an angry face in the clouds of a storm or a loaf of bread. It’s there because you want to see it. For everyone else, it’s just some water run-off from a giant block of ice and not a meaningful portrait of a world crying out for us to save it from pollution.

Tags: pareidolia, crying glacier, melting glacier, global warming, Austfonna ice cap, Norway, unusual nature photos

Anonymous said...

Uk friend says to me just now: "I had a look at it on the Daily Mail website (then quickly left before my brain rotted), and it looks real enough to me. Of course, it's like seeing the Blessed Virgin in a tortilla: some would weep and claim it was a miracle, I'd just think, "Ooh, we're having Mexican for dinner."

It's either a projection of the mind or from imaging software. Either way, I'm not fussed. The real miracle is if Daily Mail readers think climate change is real!"

Anonymous said...

A glacier in Norway has astonished people the world over by appearing to depict a weeping face as it melts away into the icy waters below. Some say the face is that of Mary weeping for Jesus others claim it is Michael Jackson crying over all the negative coverage in the wake of his death. Environmentalists are calling it Mother Nature's tears and have floated plans to use photos of the glacier in anti-global warming campaigns in the coming months. Global warming is the leading cause of melting polar ice caps and rising sea levels that threaten coastal towns worldwide.

Anonymous said...

P.S. I'm with the "It's Photoshopped" crowd. The left have, over the past eight years, used faked and doctored photos too often to push their agenda. This is just another desperate attempt, propped up by yet another fraud

Anonymous said...

If anything it looks like some housewife in her late 30's with a cold pack on her face sleeping. ...

Anonymous said...

There's a zoomed in version here that might be of assistance to photo detectives:

Just click the photo and then click in the little arrows in the bottom right corner for the full thing.

alotstuff said...

nice blog.....

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
This photo is amazing.I am so overwhelmed by the sheer beauty and majesty of nature.This image may not be that of "Mother Nature",but that of "Mother Earth".If mankind cannot have peace with different cultures,how can we expect to have peace with nature.I weep for our future as well,unless the planet saves itself the future looks grim for all life on Earth.

September 4, 2009 6:52 PM

Anonymous said...

Creation Date: 09/02/2009
Caption: ***EXCLUSIVE***

NORWAY: General views of Austfonna, an ice ice cap located on Nordaustlandet in the Svalbard archipelago in Norway.

A melting glacier has amazingly taken on the form of a face - worryingly resembling Mother Nature in tears at the state of our planet. The stunning image shocked onlookers who felt the vivid pattern in the melting glacier looked like teary-eyed nature staring straight at them in a foreboding manner. 'Tears' in the natural sculpture were created by a waterfall of glacial water falling from one of the face's 'eyes' and painted an alarming picture warning the world about the effects of global warming. Marine photographer and environmental lecturer Michael Nolan captured the disturbing pictures while on an annual icy voyage to observe the glacier and surrounding wildlife on July 16.


UK Office, London.
T +44 845 370 2233

Australasian & Pacific Rim Office, Melbourne.
T +613 9510 3188 or +613 9510 0688

pmartin said...

I can vouch that Michael Nolan's picture of the "Crying Face in Glacier" has NOT been faked in any way. My husband & I were on the Lindblad cruise with Michael. Both of us captured similar pictures as Michael's. His picture has more clarity but it is just as we saw the face in the glacier with our own eyes and captured on our cameras. As a side note, neither my husband and I buy into global warming caused by human activity. However, the picture of the crying face in the glacier is the real thing, as sureal as it looks. I hope this clears up any accusations about the photo being photoshopped.

dan said...

dear pmartin,
I believe you. Can you send me a copy of your separate photo, just so I can show other people online who remain doubters? If I can show them your separate photo, that will prove it to them. I believe you, and thanks for writing. Do send the email file photos that YOu took to me at danbloom AT gmail DOT com