I found an image of Nuka Cola Quantim, a soft drink from the Fallout video game series, which depicts the bottle as glowing, but it doesn't feel quite real:

Then I also saw this video of a chemiluminescent reaction of luminol:


Experienced chemists and/or photo editors might tell right away which is real and which is fake. What hints should I look for when determining if a liquid itself is glowing or is being lit by a different light source?

  • $\begingroup$ unfortunately there is no "luminescence" tag and I don't know what else to pick $\endgroup$ – user1306322 Oct 23 '15 at 23:02
  • $\begingroup$ I doubt it's on-topic here, maybe on Skeptics SE would be. $\endgroup$ – Mithoron Oct 23 '15 at 23:18
  • $\begingroup$ I personally have no problem with having the question, but I agree, that it is not really on topic since the question is more about the picture than the chemistry which might be behind. $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Oct 24 '15 at 5:32
  • $\begingroup$ Tricky indeed, though it may be a useful question to discuss if fluorescence can be observed any easy way and distinguish from reflections. $\endgroup$ – Greg Oct 24 '15 at 6:17
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this appears to be more related to photography and editing graphical images, and is probably better suited for an audience that specializes in producing/manipulating/enhancing images. $\endgroup$ – Todd Minehardt Oct 24 '15 at 15:49

In a photograph, a light source is always brighter than any surface it is illuminating.

Therefore, if the liquid is the actual light source, the liquid should be significantly brighter than the rest of the bottle. See for example this picture by David Mülheims CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons:


In the given picture, however, the parts above and below the water level have a similar brightness.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.