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Popular #GatesofHeaven Instagram Spot is a Faked Photo Op with a Mirror

It should come as no surprise that everything on Instagram is not as it seems. And yet, the revelation that the famed #GatesofHeaven photo op in Bali, Indonesia is a fake photo op that will cost you one or two bucks has surprised many as the news rippled across the Internet this week.

The instantly recognizable reflection photo is taken at the Pura Lempuyang Luhur temple in Bali, but just like the fake holy men of Varanasi or picturesque travel photos that aren’t, the #GatesofHeaven photo is a staged photo op that tourists line up for in droves.

The reality behind the thousands of perfectly framed reflection photos taken there each day was thrust into the public consciousness a few days ago when Fortune editor Polina Marinova shared a disappointed tweet from Bali, revealing that the “water” most people think is causing this beautiful reflection is just a man with a pocket mirror.

“My hopes & dreams were shattered when I found out the ‘water’ at the Gates of Heaven is actually just a piece of glass under an iPhone,” wrote Marinova, posting a behind the scenes picture that shows the line of tourists waiting for their turn:

To be fair to the location, it’s a beautiful photo spot whether or not you include the mirror reflection, nor is there anything wrong with this popular photography hack. Marinova admitted as much, telling Business Insider that she admires the “ingenuity of the people who thought of doing it in the first place.” But the fact that the photo is staged, with hundreds of people waiting in line and practicing their poses in preparation for their turn, does take away a little bit of the magic.

At least, in this case, Instagrammers clamoring for this specific shot don’t seem to be disrespecting the location by causing damage or trampling anything.

(via Business Insider)


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