British magazine Express published an article based on a video made by MrMBB333, titled as Sunrise shadows cast ‘Hand of God’ image in the sky. According to MrMBB333, this photo was taken last month in Arizona and was e-mailed to him.
Naturally the photo and video has been also shared by various UFO/paranormal websites.
Scott Brando, a real UFO researcher, shared his initial opinion: this could be a combination of crepuscular rays and pareidolia. We also discussed that if the original image is not analyzed, this should be treated as a fake. You can follow Scott Brando aka UFO of Interest on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
Scott has also consulted Mick West, a well known debunker/fact finder and creator of Metabunk. He proposed that the “hand” could be simply a shadow of a cloud: here are some examples.The shadow theory is valid and can be analyzed further in case the image turns out to be real.
Image credit: MrMBB333
- This photograph was not taken “yesterday” or even this week, but in August 2016
- The image size is only 960×540 pixels. The camera of the smartphone (ZTE N9518) has a 13 megapixel camera and a 5 MP front camera. That is not consistent with this 0.517 megapixel image
- It is clear that the image has been altered after it was taken
There was no information about the tools used to modify the image so I contacted Dr. Neal Krawetz (aka @hackerfactor on Twitter) who is a forensic researcher. He has created the Fotoforensics website and has helped me also earlier in analyzing various photographs.
His analysis based on this image:
- The image is not original and it has been processed by an “Apple product”
- This image can be considered as fake. Lightning and noise on hand differs from rest of the pic
- Histogram equalization also shows “hand” being very different from clouds and shadows
Conclusion based on the technical analysis: this image is a fake.
Disclaimer: more thorough analysis would require the original photograph (if it actually exists). Meaning a copy of the photo from the digital camera without any modifications.
The journalist or the “paranormal researchers” should have requested the original photo as evidence and/or actually analyze it before posting stories about this Hand of God.