Is Viral Heart-Shaped Sunset Photo Real?

This is a realistic work from an artist known for digitally edited images.

  • Published
Nature, Outdoors, Sea
Image via Instagram / Phantamos

Claim

A photograph shows a heart-shaped sunset.

Rating

Miscaptioned
Miscaptioned
About this rating
Context

This is a digital artwork that was created by Instagram user Phantamos, not a genuine photograph.

Origin

In June 2021, an image of a heart-shaped sunset over a beach went viral on social media. This viral picture was created by a digital artist who posts on Instagram under the handle Phantamos.

Here’s the original June 2020 posting from Phantamos’ Instagram page:

This is a digital artwork, not a genuine photograph, that was created by Ethan Hunt (AKA Phantamos).

Phantamos originally shared this image along with a caption expressing gratitude for all the support he received during 2020:

THANK YOU – it’s important to practice gratitude and I can’t thank my followers enough for being there. 2020 was the beginning of a wildly intense year and we’re still going through it however I’ve had better years in regards to my work, nevertheless I’m grateful for your support and to all the featured accounts for recognizing talent when they see it. Just know that YOU have a talent as well and some of you don’t know it yet. It’s never too late to showcase your talent here @instagram.

We reached out to the digital artist for clarity on how this picture was created. Phantamos told us that he used Lightroom for the orange tone of the image and than made the heart-shaped cloud with Photoshop. Phantamos also pointed out one of the image’s most interesting and dramatic details: There’s a heart-shaped hole in the clouds just above the heart-shaped cloud that is blocking the sun. 

The photograph was taken from Sandbank provincial park in Ontario, Canada. Now my work consists of my camera as my paint brush tool for every creative process. When I took the shot, I saw a vision of how amazing the picture can be, it’s always like this with me.

I used one of my Phantamos Rise presets in Lightroom for the Orange tone of the picture then processed it over to Photoshop to create the Hearts shaped clouds. If you look closely there’s 2 hearts ( inward/outward ) and perhaps a reason why it makes it so intriguingly fascinating. I’m all about the details.

Many of Phantamos’ images are processed with Lightroom, a photo-editing tool, to make them more dramatic or even surreal. The digital artist sells Lightroom presets that allow other artists to create images in his style.

In much of their work, the editing is more obvious than in the heart-shaped sunset photograph. This picture of a skull in the moon, for example, was made for Halloween:

Another artwork featuring various civil rights leaders is a composite of multiple photographs:

Hunt told the photography news website Musecam in 2017:

I am a Photographer in the field of Urban Exploration. I started with using Photoshop CS3 back in 2006 because I’m an artist first therefore I am entirely self-taught. This allowed me to create with freedom and incorporate urban exploration as one. it’s a beautiful thing!

[…]

Ultimately my goal is to evoke emotion and provoke thought. So I take my time when it comes to editing, I am obsessed with my artistic creations… I call them my masterpieces.