L’amour, c’est l’infini mis à la portée des caniches. Céline
L’idée selon laquelle ce qui est en face de l’objectif doit être vrai ne correspond qu’à un sens occidental de la réalité. Mary Warner Marien (université de Syracuse)
In my own reality, I know that these things did happen. But “without him in them, I can display them. I can look at those pictures and think of the laughter we were sharing, the places we went to. This new reality is a lot more pleasant. Laura Horn (police emergency dispatcher, Rochester)
If you can’t have the perfect family, at least you can Photoshop it. Heather Downs (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
It used to be that photographs provided documentary evidence, and there was something sacrosanct about that. What we’re doing is fulfilling the wish that all of us have to make reality to our liking. Chris Johnson (California College of the Arts in the Bay Area)
Although we may have the impression that photographic tampering is something relatively new – a product of the digital age – the reality is that history is riddled with photographic fakes.(…) the air-brushing of images by brutal dictators took place as a matter of course. (…) Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler and Fidel Castro all indulged in a spot of pre-PC Photoshopping to eradicate enemies from pictures. (…) Although there are many historical examples of photographic fakes, time-consuming and cumbersome darkroom techniques were required to create them. And so it wasn’t unreasonable for most people to believe that they could put their trust in photographs. Hany Farid
Attention: une photo peut en cacher une autre !
In India, she said, it is a tradition to cut-and-paste head shots of absent family members into wedding photographs as a gesture of respect and inclusion. “Everyone understands that it’s not a trick,” she said. “That’s the nature of the photograph. It’s a Western sense of reality that what is in front of the lens has to be true.”
As recently as early in this decade, most people still recorded their family history primarily in film, photography experts said, meaning modifications were limited. Even among digital devotees, only professionals or ambitious amateurs typically would buy computer programs like Adobe Photoshop.
But now, with the professional-grade Photoshop CS3’s consumer-priced sibling, Photoshop Elements, often selling for under $100, its popularity is on the rise. Sales for the program have grown about 20 percent over the last year, said Kevin Connor, an Adobe vice president.
Similar software like GIMP (the GNU Image Manipulation Program ) is free on the Internet. Photo kiosks in supermarkets, as well as popular photo programs like iPhoto and Picasa, can also manipulate photographs. In addition, professional retouching services, which can dramatically alter photographs, are burgeoning, often advertising on the Internet. And professional photographers will also alter reality to suit a client’s tastes.
After her father died several years ago, Theresa Newman Rolley, an accountant in Williamsport, Pa., hired Wayne Palmer, a photographic retoucher, to create a composite portrait of the two of them because she had no actual one of them together.
That photograph — of a moment that never happened — now hangs in her living room. It still brings tears to her eyes, she said.
“It’s the only picture of my dad and me together,” Ms. Rolley said, adding, “If the only reason I can get one is cropping it in, it still means the same to me.”
Such manipulations represent “a new coping mechanism for us,” said Heather Downs, a visiting assistant professor of sociology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who has studied the role photographs play in families. Idealized images , she said, can give people “a new script for dealing with problems families have always had: family members who don’t get along, divorce.”
“If you can’t have the perfect family,” she added, “at least you can Photoshop it.”
Ellen Robinson, a volunteer college trustee in Denver, commissioned Sara Frances, a local photographer, to shoot a formal family portrait to hang prominently in their new house. Working for $150 an hour, Ms. Frances changed expressions of family members and swapped the dog’s head between images. She slenderized bodies, adjusted skin tones and changed the color of several outfits to make for a more unified palette. She even straightened the collar on one son’s shirt.
“You’re spending a lot of money on these portraits,” Ms. Robinson said. “They’re supposed to last a lifetime — generations, really. So why not get a helping hand to do it right?”
Photography has always represented, to some degree, a distortion of reality, said Per Gylfe, the manager of the digital media lab at the International Center of Photography in New York. A photographer can create different impressions of the same scene by including some elements in the frame and omitting others, by changing lenses, or by tweaking the color and tone of the image in the darkroom.
“We’ve always taken photographs as proofs of events, and we probably never should have,” Mr. Gylfe said.
The motivation to craft an idealized image of oneself or one’s family is even greater in an era when the family photo album is migrating from the closet to the Internet. In addition, people are growing more accepting of fakery in photography, in part because doctored photographs — and commentary about them — are so pervasive online.
An incident last month in which the Iranian government apparently manipulated an image of a missile test to show off the size of its arsenal became blog fodder around the world.
Exposing photo fakery has become an entertainment genre of its own on the blog Photoshop Disasters, which catalogs the more obvious examples taken from magazines, newspapers, advertisements and other media.
“The entire media climate is filled with manipulation,” said Fred Ritchin, a professor of photography and imaging at New York University. Therefore, he added, “on the level of family and friends, there’s much less resistance to altering images.”
INDEED, in a world where so many images of the beautiful and famous are enhanced, ordinary people sometimes believe they need to prettify pictures of themselves just to keep pace. Keze Stroebel-Haft, 23, a retoucher for an advertising agency in San Francisco, said she uses Photoshop to remove blemishes or double chins from photos of herself she posts on MySpace and Facebook.
“It’s everywhere,” she said. “On the covers of magazines, all the beautiful women are Photoshopped, their skin is cleaned up. Everybody does it.”
But even as evolving technology gives people more power to reconstruct their personal histories, those old, unretouched photographs in their family album retain a powerful psychological value.
Alan D. Entin, a clinical psychologist in Richmond, Va., uses patients’ family photographs as raw material to inspire discussion and analysis of their roles and relationships within their family.
“They’re a record,” he said. “They have existed over time and space. They are important documents.”
To alter them is to invite self-deception, he said. “The value to accepting a photograph of yourself as you are is that you’re accepting the reality of who you are, and how you look, and accepting yourself that way, warts and all. I think the pictures you hate say as much about you as pictures you love.”
Is it real, or is it Photoshop?
Aesthetics, on the other hand, deal with the nature of beauty, art and taste, and things that are pleasing in appearance.
With digital processing, there is almost no limit to what can be done to an image, and many things are done to images with the best intentions. The question is, when does the pursuit of aesthetics violate our ethics?
Changes can be made to images that are undetectable, so much so that there is now discussion that photographs will no longer be allowed as evidence in courts of law.
Today’s viewers however, are very sophisticated visually. They know full well that anything, literally, can be done to an image. They have seen dinosaurs and aliens portrayed with lifelike realism in the movies. Problems arise though because viewers expect to be fooled in the movies, and tend to get upset and feel betrayed when they are fooled in an allegedly factual medium such as the news business.
In this discussion, there will be no simple black and white answers, everything will fall along a continuum and it is humans who decide the rules for what is considered ethical behavior and these rules can and do change over time.
The Myths of Objective Reality and Absolute Truth
As for changing the contents of an image, personally I don’t think much of the practice. For example, consider an image that shows a double exposure of a gigantic moon or an eclipse shot with a telephoto lens and a foreground scene that was shot with a wide angle. It’s fake. I know it immediately when I look at it. A scene like that can’t exist in nature. It doesn’t do anything for me. I also know how difficult it is to take a photo of the real thing, and personally I place a tremendous amount of value on knowing an image is an attempt at being accurate.However, other people might find a big moon in a wide-angle scene interesting and really enjoy it. On several occasions I have seen both photographically knowledgeable people, as well as the general public, get really excited over such an image. In my opinion, as long as the artist does not try to misrepresent what they are doing and methods are completely explained in the caption, it is an aesthetic judgment as to their success or failure.
I think the acceptance and popularity of images like this are mostly due to the proclivities of the viewer – they would rather be entertained and don’t care that much that they were fooled. In fact, many people take great delight in being fooled, for example, at magic shows.
Most people who willingly suspend disbelief do so only in the context of entertainment and fiction. Although you could argue that others, such as those who really believe in things such as ghosts and fairies, have different, lower, standards of credulity than most rational, scientifically inclined people.
What most people get justifiably upset at is when someone intentionally lies and presents something as truthful when it is not.
ExceptionsIn some situations it would be unethical not to digitally alter the content of a photograph, such as when a photo definitely records something incorrectly, such as red eye. The red eye would never have been there if we didn’t change the original scene by adding the flash.
Another example would be correcting the green cast of an image shot under fluorescent lights on daylight film. Our eyes adapt to the green color of the light and we see it as normal in the scene, but the daylight film actually records it accurately as green. You would have a hard time getting most people to accept that the green is more « truthful ».
Blue Moon Composite
In other cases, the only way to present a truer representation of reality is through a composite rather than with a single exposure.
For instance this photograph of the moon over the Philadelphia skyline is a fairly accurate representation of the scene as it really appeared to the eye.
However, there was no way to take this image in a single exposure because of the difference in brightness between the full moon and the foreground – some 14 stops difference.
Two exposures were made, one correct for the moon, and one correct for the foreground. They were then composited together in Photoshop. The moon is in the exact location it was when the photo was taken, and both photos were made with the same focal length lens.
The result was more true to the reality of the scene and the way it really looked than a single exposure could have captured. In this case the only way to faithfully represent the original scene was through some Photoshop « trickery ». Was this truthful and ethical? I believe so and the procedure was fully explained in the caption.
Now, if I had moved the moon to make it better in composition, would I have crossed the ethical line if I presented this as a documentary photo? Yes, I think so.
Purposes and intentionsThe important questions when we manipulate an image are, why are we doing this, and what are our purposes and intentions? Where do we draw the line? What is ethical in the digital manipulation and enhancement of a photo?
To answer these questions we must consider why we took the picture and what we are going to do with it. If the picture is taken for artistic purposes only, then pretty much anything goes because only aesthetic considerations come into play. If the photo was taken for documentary or journalistic reasons, then another set of ethical considerations come into play that have been developed by the photographer and the viewers of the image.
My personal opinion is that the answer hovers somewhere around the line that gets crossed when the manipulation is done with the intent to deceive the viewer, such as when two separate photos of John Kerry and Jane Fonda were put together for political purposes in a presidential election campaign to make it look like they appeared together at an anti-war rally.
Some people say that I go too far in the digital enhancement of my astrophotos, and that the colors in some of my images are over-exaggerated and garish. And that opinion is OK with me. However, it is my job as an artist to present my interpretation of reality, and it is their job as viewers to accept it and get something out of it, or not, and reject it.
As a journalist in my sports photography, my job and responsibility are to faithfully and truthfully interpret and represent reality in an image as well as I can understand it.
Do The Tools Make A Difference?We start out with nature. We can only observe it intimately with our own senses. Some might argue that a perfect experience can only be a first person experience. But if we find something interesting or beautiful, we may want to share something of that experience with others.
If others are not there with us to view the original scene personally, we can only share our own interpretation of the original experience. And we can only share this experience through some other media than reality. It may be verbal, through an oral story that tells of what we experienced, or it may be written down in words. It may be through some technology such as a simple drawing with pencil and paper, or a more complex technology such as film, CCD imaging or video.
The tool or technology does not really matter. Do you really care whether Hemingway wrote with a pen and paper or a typewriter? What matters is what the artist does with the tool or technology. Is he true to the subject and reality as he sees it?
Is it the tool, or the user of the tool, that the viewer trusts? The viewer must trust the creator of the work. The artist’s credibility is the only commodity of value that he has to exchange with the viewer for their trust.
The Bottom LineIf an artist painted an entire picture from a photograph, would this be unethical? Only if he tried to misrepresent what it was and how he did it. If the creator was honest about exactly what was done, then the viewer could make his own judgment.
Personally I would not place as much value on a painting of a photographic scene, because you had to have the photo first, and getting the photo was the hard part. I would also not put much value on an photo where details were added that were not in the original image.
Of course, you could argue, completely legitimately, that the real beauty is out there in nature, in reality, and that any recording, or representation of that beauty in a photograph or painting is only a pale imitation of the real thing. This is undoubtedly true, to a very large degree. It is also true that a photograph or painting by a skilled artist can capture some of the spirit of beauty of the scene, and that artifact can transmit some of that nature to others.
Final ThoughtsBecause of the ease in manipulating digital images with Photoshop, some people are questioning whether images are « real » or « art », and wondering if they can believe anything they see anymore. But people have been faking photos since the invention of photography – this is nothing new.
People have also been making things up since the invention of language. It’s called fiction! And lots of people get a lot of enjoyment out of it. As long as the purpose of the « art » is not to intentionally mislead or misrepresent, and the artist is clear about his methods and intentions, no one gets fooled. Of course, there are some art forms, such as magic, where the intention is specifically to deceive, and the viewer willingly goes along with it.
It only becomes a problem, and a question of ethics, when the artist or photographer lies about his motivations, methods, and conclusions, and presents images with the purpose to intentionally deceive.
Through my astrophotograhy I can share with others the wonders and beauty of the universe that are sometimes invisible to the human eye. Digital enhancement can add to these aesthetic experiences.
What is important is our motivation. Why are we doing these things? Are we doing them to deceive people? No, most of us are not. We are doing it to make the subject more visually interesting. We are simply trying to make it a better picture. Just as a writer enhances his factual stories with metaphor and adjectives, photographers can enhance their images with digital techniques such as contrast and color enhancement.
Writers massage the language of words; photographers massage the language of light.
The Daily Mail
One appears to be of General Ulysses S Grant in front of his troops at City Point, Virginia, during the Civil War.
But, as he says researchers at the Library of Congress revealed, it is actually three different photographs merged together.
The head is taken from a portrait of Grant, the horse and body are those of Major General Alexander M McCook and the background is of Confederate prisoners captured at the battle of Fisher’s Hill, VA.
In a third picture, by famed photographer Mathew Brady, General Sherman is seen posing with his Generals, including Francis P Blairr – who was in fact later added to the image.
Though photo manipulation has become more common in the age of digital cameras and image editing software, it actually dates back almost as far as the invention of photography. Gathered below is an overview of some of the more notable instances of photo manipulation in history. For recent years, an exhaustive inventory of every photo manipulation would be nearly impossible, so we focus here on the instances that have been most controversial or notorious, or ones that raise the most interesting ethical questions.
We’ll continue to update this gallery as more incidents come to our attention, so if you come across any notable ones you think we should include, feel free to send us an e-mail at
In this doctored photo of Queen Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon — mother of Queen Elizabeth II — and Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King in Banff, Alberta, King George VI was removed from the original photograph. This photo was used on an election poster for the Prime Minister. It is hypothesized that the Prime Minister had the photo altered because a photo of just him and the Queen painted him in a more powerful light.
A World War II photo published in the Russian magazine Ogoniok shows several Russian soldiers raising the Soviet flag atop the German Reichstag building. At the request of the editor-in-chief of the magazine, the photo was altered prior to publication to remove what appeared to be a watch from the right arm of the solider supporting the flag-bearer. Though in reality the object on his right arm was most likely a compass, there was concern that viewers would conclude that he had watches on both wrists, and take that as evidence that he had been looting.
It is believed that this doctored photograph contributed to Senator Millard Tydings’ electoral defeat in 1950. The photo of Tydings (right) conversing with Earl Browder (left), a leader of the American Communist party, was meant to suggest that Tydings had communist sympathies.
In 1960 the U.S. Olympic hockey team defeated the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia to win its first Olympic gold medal in hockey. The official team photo was doctored to include the faces of Bill Cleary (front row, third from the left), Bob Cleary (middle row, far left) and John Mayasich (top row, far left), who were not present for the team photo. These players were superimposed onto the bodies of players Bob Dupuis, Larry Alm and Herb Brooks, respectively.
When in the summer of 1968 Fidel Castro (right) approves of the Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia, Carlos Franqui (middle) cuts off relations with the regime and goes into exile in Italy. His image was removed from photographs. Franqui wrote about his feeling of being erased: I discover my photographic death. Do I exist? I am a little black, I am a little white, I am a little shit, On Fidel’s vest.
This Pulitzer Prize winning photo by John Filo shows Mary Ann Vecchio screaming as she kneels over the body of student Jeffrey Miller at Kent State University, where National Guardsmen had fired into a crowd of demonstrators, killing four and wounding nine. The photo originally featured a visually distracting fencepost behind Mary Ann Vecchio’s head, but this was removed by an unknown photo editor in the early 1970’s. The modified photo then was published in Life magazine and other publications.
The German Chancellor of West Germany, Willy Brandt (far left in photo), meets with Leonid Brezhnev (far right), First Secretary of the Communist Party. The two smoke and drink, and it is reported that the atmosphere is cordial and that they are drunk. The German press publishes a photograph that shows the beer bottles on the table. The Soviet press, however, removed the bottles from the original photograph.
In this National Geographic magazine cover story on Egypt by Gorden Gahen, the Great Pyramid of Giza was digitally moved to fit the magazine’s vertical format. Tom Kennedy, who became the director of photography at National Geographic after the cover was manipulated, stated that “We no longer use that technology to manipulate elements in a photo simply to achieve a more compelling graphic effect. We regarded that afterwards as a mistake, and we wouldn’t repeat that mistake today”.
The cover of TV Guide displayed this picture of daytime talk-show host Oprah Winfrey. This picture was created by splicing the head of Winfrey onto the body of actress Ann-Margret, taken from a 1979 publicity shot. The composite was created without permission of Winfrey or Ann-Margret, and was detected by Ann-Margret’s fashion designer, who recognized the dress.
This cover of TexasMonthly shows the then Texas Governor Ann Richards astride a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle. This picture was created by splicing the head of Richards onto the body of a model. The editors explained that their credit page disclosed this fact by noting in the credits page “Cover Photograph by Jim Myers … Stock photograph (head shot) By Kevin Vandivier / Texastock”. After the motorcycle cover appeared, Richards said that since the model had such a nice body, she could hardly complain.
This digitally altered photograph of OJ Simpson appeared on the cover of Time magazine shortly after Simpson’s arrest for murder. This photograph was manipulated from the original mug-shot that appeared, unaltered, on the cover of Newsweek. Time magazine was subsequently accused of manipulating the photograph to make Simpson appear “darker” and “menacing”.
Hoping to illustrate its diverse enrollment, the University of Wisconsin at Madison doctored a photograph on a brochure cover by digitally inserting a black student in a crowd of white football fans. The original photograph of white fans was taken in 1993. The additional black student, senior Diallo Shabazz, was taken in 1994. University officials said that they spent the summer looking for pictures that would show the school’s diversity — but had no luck.
The CBS emblem in this single frame of a live video broadcast, was digitally inserted during the new year’s eve broadcast so as to conceal the NBC emblem that was on display in the background. The technology used in this case, is the same as that widely employed during the broadcast of sporting events to display advertisements on billboards
The cover of GQ magazine featured a digitally slimmed photo of actress Kate Winslet. Winslet said that the retouching was “excessive.” “I don’t look like that and more importantly I don’t desire to look like that. I can tell you that they’ve reduced the size of my legs by about a third,” said Winslet.
The original copy of the Beatles Abbey Road album cover shows Paul McCartney, third in line, holding a cigarette. United States poster companies have airbrushed this image to remove the cigarette from McCartney’s hand. This change was made without the permission of either McCartney or Apple Records, which owns the rights to the image. “We have never agreed to anything like this,” said an Apple spokesman. “It seems these poster companies got a little carried away. They shouldn’t have done what they have, but there isn’t much we can do about it now.”
A digital composite of a British soldier in Basra, gesturing to Iraqi civilians urging them to seek cover, appeared on the front page of the Los Angeles Times shortly after the U.S. led invasion of Iraq. Brian Walski, a staff photographer for the Los Angeles Times and a 30-year veteran of the news business, was fired after his editors discovered that he had combined two of his photographs to “improve” the composition.
A photo purporting to show Senator John Kerry and Jane Fonda sharing a stage at an anti-war rally emerged during the 2004 Presidential primaries as Senator Kerry was campaigning for the Democratic nomination. It was later determined to be a photo composite. The picture of Senator Kerry was captured by photographer Ken Light as Kerry was preparing to give a speech at the Register for Peace Rally held in Mineola, New York, in June 1971. The picture of Jane Fonda was captured by Owen Franken as Fonda was speaking at a political rally in Miami Beach, Florida, in August 1972.
A political ad for George W. Bush, as he was running for President, shows a sea of soldiers as a back drop to a child holding a flag. The original image included Bush standing at a podium, but he was removed by digitally copying and pasting several soldiers from other parts of the image. After acknowledging that the photo had been doctored, the Bush campaign said that the ad would be re-edited and re-shipped to TV stations.
An image was widely circulated on the Internet showing a U.S. Marine posing for a photo with two Iraqi children holding a sign reading “Lcpl Boudreaux killed my Dad then he knocked up my sister”. Boudreaux claims that this image was tampered with from the original, in which the sign read “Welcome Marines”. A military investigation into potential wrong-doing was inconclusive. It remains unclear if this image is authentic.
A photo, taken of U.S. President George W. Bush as he sat in a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, shows Bush scribbling a note to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reading, “I think I may need a bathroom break. Is this possible?” Reuters’ picture editor, Gary Hershorn, explained that sections of the photo were overexposed so a Reuters’ processor used the Photoshop technique to “burn down the note.” Hershorn says that the photo was not manipulated in any way, but that it was standard practice for such news photos to be enhanced.
A doctored photo of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appeared alongside a USA Today news story about Rice’s comments to U.S. Lawmakers regarding U.S. Troops in Iraq. After receiving complaints from readers, the photograph was removed from USA Today’s website, and the following Editor’s note appeared alongside a “properly adjusted copy”: “Photos published online are routinely cropped for size and adjusted for brightness and sharpness to optimize their appearance. In this case, after sharpening the photo for clarity, the editor brightened a portion of Rice’s face, giving her eyes an unnatural appearance. This resulted in a distortion of the original not in keeping with our editorial standards.”
The San Antonio Observer ran a cover story featuring a San Antonio police officer wearing a white hood of the Ku Klux Klan. The newspaper admitted that they digitally inserted the hood and gun into the original photograph. Police spokesman Joe Rios said that the Observer defamed the character of the officer in the photograph. “You can clearly read his badge number,” Rios said. “I can tell you that the officer who was depicted in that picture is very upset.” Ida Brown, an Observer spokeswoman, disputed that the officer’s badge number could be discerned on the cover and said the image was not intended as a personal attack. “Primarily, the picture shows that there are racist police officers on the force, and they do target minorities who are innocent,” Brown said.
A controversial ad appeared as part of the Ohio Senate campaign between incumbent Mike DeWine (R) and challenger Sherrod Brown (D). DeWine’s campaign created a video of the World Trade Center in flames to attack Brown as soft on terrorism. The ad shows the south tower burning; however, the north tower was hit first, so the south tower could not be burning without the north tower burning as well. A DeWine spokesman acknowledged the image was a “graphic representation” by the firm that produced the ad, which used a still photo of the towers with computer-generated smoke added.
The Charlotte Observer fired Patrick Schneider, a staff photographer, for altering an image of a fire fighter. Following the incident, the paper released the following statement: “Photographer Patrick Schneider’s photo depicted a Charlotte firefighter on a ladder, silhouetted by the light of the early morning sun. In the original photo, the sky in the photo was brownish-gray. Enhanced with photo-editing software, the sky became a deep red and the sun took on a more distinct halo. The Observer’s photo policy states: No colors will be altered from the original scene photographed.” Schneider said that he only meant to restore the actual color of the sky that was lost when he underexposed the photo. Schneider was suspended in an earlier episode after it was revealed that his award-winning photographs had been manipulated. Scheider allowed this case to be used to educate other professional photographers in ethics seminars. At the time he pledged, “I will no longer tone my background down that far.”
A photograph by Adnan Hajj, a Lebanese photographer, showed thick black smoke rising above buildings in the Lebanese capital after an Israeli air raid. The Reuters news agency initially published this photograph on their web site and then withdrew it when it became evident that the original image had been manipulated to show more and darker smoke. “Hajj has denied deliberately attempting to manipulate the image, saying that he was trying to remove dust marks and that he made mistakes due to the bad lighting conditions he was working under”, said Moira Whittle, the head of public relations for Reuters. “This represents a serious breach of Reuters’ standards and we shall not be accepting or using pictures taken by him.” A second photograph by Hajj was also determined to have been doctored.
A photograph of CBS news anchor Katie Couric was digitally altered from the original to give Couric a trimmer waistline and a thinner face. This photo appeared in CBS’ in-house magazine Watch! CBS spokesman, Gil Schwartz, said “the doctored image was the work of a CBS photo department employee who got a little zealous”. Schwartz added, “I talked to my photo department; we had a discussion about it; I think photo understands this is not something we’d do in the future.”
This image of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan appeared on the cover of Time magazine under the headline “How the Right Went Wrong”. The image was doctored to include a tear on Reagan’s face. Time issued a statement saying it regularly runs what it calls “conceptual covers.” They said: “This week’s cover image is clearly credited on the table of contents page, naming both the photographer of the Reagan photo and the illustrator of the tear.”
Newspaper photographer Allan Detrich resigned from The Blade of Toledo, Ohio after admitting he had altered a photo that appeared in the paper. Detrich submitted at least 79 photos for publication since the beginning of the year that were digitally altered, 58 of which appeared in print. In a printed letter to readers, Blade Editor Ron Royhab said “the changes Mr. Detrich made included erasing people, tree limbs, utility poles, electrical wires, electrical outlets, and other background elements from photographs. In other cases, he added elements such as tree branches and shrubbery.” The Blade released three examples of how Detrich altered photos. “Readers have asked us why this was such a big deal. What’s wrong with changing the content of a photograph that is published in a newspaper? The answer is simple: It is dishonest,” Royhab wrote. “Journalism, whether by using words or pictures, must be an accurate representation of the truth.
The New York Times published this digitally altered photograph. In a correction, the Times’ editor said “The wood siding at the far left of the building was out of alignment because the picture was retouched by a Times staff member who took the picture, but who is not a staff photographer. He altered it because a flash created a white spot on the picture when he shot it through the window of a train. Also, the retouching tool left a round circle on the building’s window at the right”. The Editor’s note concludes with “Times policy forbids the manipulation of any photograph. Had editors been aware of the manipulation and seen the original picture, they would have either published the picture with the blemish or not used it.”
In an advertisement for IMAX 3D theaters promoting the movie Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the bust of actress Emma Watson was digitally enlarged. A similar advertisement in regular theaters was unaltered. Warner Brothers Pictures released a statement that said “This is not an official poster. Unfortunately this image was accidentally posted on the IMAX website. The mistake was promptly rectified and the image taken down.”
The biceps of tennis player Andy Roddick were conspicuously enlarged on the cover of Men’s Fitness magazine. Roddick commented that he was “pretty sure I’m not as fit as the Men’s Fitness cover suggests”. He also noted that a prominent birthmark on his right arm had been erased. Richard Valvo, a spokesman for Men’s Fitness, said, “We wouldn’t comment on any type of production issue.” Adding, “I don’t see what the big issue is here.”
The cover of Redbook magazine featured a heavily retouched (and thinner) image of singer and actress Faith Hill. Redbook was accused of contributing to the unattainable body image created by digital retouching. In response, Redbook’s editor-in-chief Stacy Morrison said, “The retouching we did on Faith Hill’s photo for the July cover of Redbook is completely in line with industry standards.”
The August 2007 cover of the scientific publication Nature featured three autonomous aircraft taking atmospheric measurements. The top and bottom aircrafts, however, were cloned copies of each other. After a keen-eyed reader discovered this photo alteration, the Editors printed the following clarification: “The cover caption should have made it clear that this was a montage. Apologies.”
The French Magazine Paris Match altered a photograph of French President Nicolas Sarkozy by removing some body fat. The magazine said it had tried adjusting the lighting on the picture. “The correction was exaggerated during the printing process,” the magazine said.
A study by Dario Sacchi, Franca Agnoli and Elizabeth Loftus, published in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology, shows that people’s memories of events can be altered by viewing doctored images. For example, when presented with doctored images of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest participants recalled the event as larger and more violent. (Shown in the lower panel is the doctored image in which the crowd was added.)
Artists Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese created the exhibit “Line Up” depicting doctored photographs of George W. Bush and members of his administration. The exhibit, shown at the New York City Public Library, was critical of the war in Iraq. “It is simply inappropriate to have political attack art, in the form of egregious doctored photographs of the President and other high-ranking officials who have dedicated their lives to public service, in a taxpayer-funded building frequented by schoolchildren and the general public,” said Matthew Walter, director of communications for the state GOP. In response, Roberta Waddell, curator of the library’s print collection, said the exhibit was in keeping with a historical tradition, calling the exhibit a relevant example of political commentary.
The Asbury Park Press published a doctored photo of New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine as part of a story critical of Corzine’s financial restructuring plans. In a letter to the Press, Corzine’s chief of staff, wrote, in part, “Images that are nothing more than editorial cartoons morphed into photographs are fine — for the editorial page. But placement of such images on the front page of the Sunday edition demonstrates a disregard for objective reporting.” The Press’s executive editor said that the photo did not blur the line between news reporting and editorial commentary. “That wasn’t what we were trying to do,” he said. “We were just trying to frame the story for readers. We were doing it in a way that was a little edgy, and in a way that would grab your attention.”
Taiwan’s newspaper Liberty Times published a doctored photo of a delegation, led by the chairman of the Franz Collection, being met by the Pope. In the original photo, Wang Shaw-lan, a publisher of competing newspaper United Daily News, was removed. A Liberty Times reporter said that she removed Wang because she was “not an essential presence” and in order to shrink the picture for “better display”. Later, Liberty Times said that the doctored picture came from the Franz Collection, but a Franz Collection spokesman said the newspaper had asked it to airbrush out Wang.
A photograph, by Liu Weiqiang of the Daqing Evening News, won an award for “one of the ten most impressive news photos of 2006”. This photograph was later revealed to be a composite of two separate photographs: the antelopes and the train. Weiqiang says that he never published the picture as a news photograph. Weiqiang also wrote in his blog, “I admit it’s unfaithful, as well as immoral for a photographer to present a fabricated picture. I’m truly sorry.”
When The Sun published a photo of Britian’s Prince William in their print edition, a person in the back of the boat was digitally removed (except for their knee). The Metro ran the unaltered photo, as did the on-line version of The Sun.
A photo of Governor Sarah Palin was widely distributed across the Internet shortly after Palin was announced as the vice presidential nominee for the Republican ticket, depicting her in a patriotic bikini holding a rifle. Shortly after its release the photo was revealed to be a composite of Palin’s head, and somebody else’s body.
A front-page photo of Justice Minister Rachida Dati appeared in the French newspaper Le Figaro in June of 2008,with a large diamond ring on Dati’s hand digitally removed. This photo editing caused controversy regarding the alleged influence that the Sarkozy administration wields over the French press. The head of Le Figaro’s photo department defended the editorial decision saying that the newspaper did not want to distract readers from the content of its interview with Dati.
A ceremony on March 7th in Taiwan was held to honor Chinese soldiers who died in Papua, New Guinea during World War II. A photo from the event shows a “spirit tablet” used as part of the ceremony. When the photo appeared on Sina, a Chinese website, the text which read “The army of Republic of China” was digitally removed. In Taiwan, the government uses the phrase The Republic of China, while the Chinese government uses the phrase The People’s Republic of China.
The cover of Toronto’s summer edition of Fun Guide was digitally altered to be more inclusive, keeping with an editorial policy to reflect diversity. “We superimposed the African-Canadian person onto the family cluster in the original photo,” said communications director John Gosgnach. The original image was of a family of indeterminate ethnic background. “When you’re publishing something with the deadlines and you don’t have the right photo, the objective is to communicate the service,” Mr. Sack, director of strategic communications, said.
A picture essay in The New York Times Sunday Magazine entitled “Ruins of the Second Gilded Age”, by Edgar Martins, showed large housing construction projects that were halted due to the housing market collapse. The introduction said that the photographer “creates his images with long exposures but without digital manipulation.” After discovering the photo manipulations, the Times posted the following on their website. “After a reader discovered that the photos were digitally altered, Editors later confronted the photographer and determined that most of the images did not wholly reflect the reality they purported to show. Had the editors known that the photographs had been digitally manipulated, they would not have published the picture essay, which has been removed from NYTimes.com.”
In perhaps the most notorious example of extreme retouching in fashion advertising, a magazine advertisement by Ralph Lauren depicted a heavily manipulated photo of model Filippa Hamilton. After numerous complaints that the resulting image had impossibly inhuman proportions, a Ralph Lauren representative admitted to “poor imaging and retouching”, and added, “we have learned that we are responsible for the poor imaging and retouching that resulted in a very distorted image of a woman’s body. We have addressed the problem and going forward will take every precaution to ensure that the calibre of our artwork represents our brand appropriately.” Despite this promise, at least one subsequent image also featured unrealistic proportions.
A magazine ad for an Olay beauty product featuring the model Twiggy was banned in the United Kingdom by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). “Olay is my secret to brighter-looking eyes,” read the ad, and “… reduces the look of wrinkles and dark circles for brighter, younger-looking eyes.” In its ruling, the ASA said that it considered that the post-production retouching of the original ad, specifically in the eye area, could give consumers a “misleading impression of the effect the product could achieve”. An Olay spokesperson said the “minor retouching” had been inconsistent with its policies and it had already replaced the image with one with “no postproduction work in the eye area”.
A photo of an injured Israeli commando lying on the deck of a ship was published by the Reuters news agency. Reuters was accused of editorializing by cropping the original photo which showed that one of the men surrounding the commando was holding a knife. A Reuters representative attributed the cropped photos to normal editorial practice and added that once the omission of the knife was realized, the original photo was released.
A photo of Winston Churchill, featured above the entrance of The Britain At War Experience, in South-East London, was digitally altered to remove Churchill’s trademark cigar. Museum manager John Welsh was astonished to be told the image was digitally altered: “We’ve got all sorts of images in the museum, some with cigars and some without,… we wouldn’t have asked for there to be no cigar”, said Welsh.
The cover of The Economist depicted a solitary President Obama on the Louisiana beach inspecting the oil spill. The original photo, shot by Reuters photographer Larry Downing shows Coast Guard Admiral Thad W. Allen and Charlotte Randolph, a local parish president, standing alongside the President. A Reuters spokesperson stated that “Reuters has a strict policy against modifying, removing, adding to or altering any of its photographs without first obtaining the permission of Reuters and, where necessary, the third parties referred to.” In response, Emma Duncan, deputy editor of The Economist, stated: “I was editing the paper the week we ran the image of President Obama with the oil rig in the background. Yes, Charlotte Randolph was edited out of the image (Admiral Allen was removed by the crop). We removed her not to make a political point, but because the presence of an unknown woman would have been puzzling to readers. We often edit the photos we use on our covers, for one of two reasons. Sometimes – as with a cover we ran on March 27 on U.S. health care, with Mr. Obama with a bandage round his head – it’s an obvious joke. Sometimes – as with an image of President Chavez on May 15 on which we darkened the background, or with our “Its time” cover endorsing Mr. Obama, from which the background was removed altogether – it is to bring out the central character. We don’t edit photos in order to mislead. I asked for Ms. Randolph to be removed because I wanted readers to focus on Mr. Obama, not because I wanted to make him look isolated. That wasn’t the point of the story. “The damage beyond the spill” referred to on the cover, and examined in the cover leader, was the damage not to Mr. Obama, but to business in America.”
Malaysian politician Jeffrey Wong Su En produced a doctored photo as evidence that he was knighted by the Queen of England. “We can confirm that we have no record of any honour having been conferred at any time by the British Government on Jeffery Wong Su En,” said a spokesperson from the British High Commission. Mr. Wong was inserted into an original photo of Ross Brawn receiving the Order of the British Empire from the Queen.
A magazine cover from the Aspen Institute showed former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice. In the original photo, the moderator Nicholas Burns is seated between Albright and Rice, but he was eliminated from the cover shot. When asked about the photo alteration, Editor-In-Chief Jamie Miller responded that “We didn’t really feel like it affected any kind of news value of the story”. The photo credit in the table of contents reads “On the Cover: Institute trustees and former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Condoleeza Rice. Photo by Michael Brands. Photo Illustration by Steve Johnson and TMG.” When asked if this credit was sufficient disclosure of the photo alteration, Miller said “we didn’t feel that we really needed to get into it any further than that.”
Elle magazine was accused of lightening the skin of actress and former Miss World Aishwanya Rai. A similar complaint was also leveled against the October 2010 issue of Elle, which featured actress Gabourey Sidibeon (of the hit movie Precious). With regard to the photo of Sidibeon, Elle’s editor-in-chief Robbie Myers explained. “At a photo shoot, in a studio, that is a fashion shoot, that’s glamorous, the lighting is different. The photography is different than a red carpet shot from a paparazzi.” She emphasized, “We absolutely did not lighten her skin. Retouching is when we take a piece of hair and move it out of her eye, so you can’t compare a picture on a press line from what you do in a studio, where your job is to make them look beautiful.
China’s state-run CCTV aired a news story describing air force training exercises. A portion of the video showing an exploding jet plane was taken from the movie “Top Gun”, as seen in this side-by-side comparison. The BBC reported that one person familiar with CCTV said that this was not the first time movie footage was used in a news report, which is most common in stories about the military, science, and technology.
Tails magazine needed to post a notice on their blog that a photograph of their October 2010 cover was in fact a fake. The cover featured a photo of TV personality Rachel Ray with the subheading “Rachel Ray finds inspiration in cooking her family and her dog.” In fact, the original magazine cover included the necessary commas that significantly alter the meaning of the sentence: “Rachel Ray finds inspiration in cooking, her family, and her dog.” Illustrating the persistent life of online fakes, the magazine needed to repost the notice again in June 2012 when the image went even more widely viral
Jack Cashill, author of the book Deconstructing Obama claimed to have discovered a fake photo of President Obama and his grandparents sitting on a New York City bench (from David Remnick’s biography of President Obama, The Bridge). As evidence of the fake, Cashill produced what was claimed to be the original photo showing only the grandparents. In this photo, however, portions of President Obama’s knee is visible: the purported original version of a fake photo is a fake version of the original.
A photo montage on the cover of Newsweek magazine showing Princess Diana walking alongside Duchess Catherine (Kate) Middleton, was widely criticized as being in poor taste. The cover photo accompanies a story by Tina Brown speculating on what the future may have held for Princess Diana had she not died in 1997. In defending the cover, Editor-in-Chief Tina Brown stated “we wanted to bring the memory of Diana alive in a vivid image that transcends time and reflected my piece.”
The British Advertising Standards Authority banned two ads by cosmetics company L’Oreal due to excessive retouching. The first was an ad for Lancome featuring Julia Roberts, which claimed to “recreate the aura of perfect skin.” The second was an ad for Maybelline featuring Christy Turlington promoting a product called “The Eraser”. In making their judgment on the Lancome ad, the ASA stated that they “could not conclude that the ad image accurately illustrated what effect the product could achieve, and that the image had not been exaggerated by digital post production techniques.”
The official photo of newly elected Canadian member of parliament (MP), Rathika Sitsabaiesan, was altered to remove her cleavage. The photo was retouched by a House of Commons photographer in what a spokesperson says is common practice. Communications spokesperson Heather Bradley did not say why the photo was retouched but confirmed that MPs approve their final photo.
Pakistani actress Veena Malik sued the India edition of men’s magazine FHM for $2 million in damages, claiming that they “morphed” her cover photo to make her appear to be posing nude. Kabeer Sharma, the editor of FHM India responded that “We have not photoshopped or faked the cover. This is what she looks like.” He suggested that she denied agreeing to the photos only because of the public backlash the cover generated.
Under pressure from the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus in the U.S., Procter and Gamble pulled an advertising campaign for their NatureLuxe Mousse Mascara featuring singer Taylor Swift. The ads claimed that the mascara would provide “2X more volume” to lashes, but small print at the bottom of the ads admitted that the lashes were actually “enhanced in post-production” using image editing tools. “It is well established that product demonstrations in advertisements must be truthful and accurate and cannot be enhanced,” the NAD said. “Consequently, NAD appreciated the advertiser’s action, which NAD deemed necessary and proper.”
The Egyption Ministry of Information published on their official Facebook page manipulated photos of a women’s march protesting military rule and brutality against women. In the photos, signs bearing the slogan “down with military rule” had been replaced with signs depicting blue and pink bras. The Ministry later apologized for the incident. The symbolism was particularly troubling given the sensitivity around a previous incident in which a female protester had been stripped down to her bra and dragged through the street by a group of soldiers.
Pakistan’s Press Information Department distributed a photo of prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani speaking with two generals in which his fingers were extended in an awkward pose, and partially clipped. Further investigation determined that the original photo showed him holding a teacup, which had been removed prior to publication of the photo. The department eventually replaced the modified photo with the original.
A Russian newspaper distributed by a pro-Kremlin group printed a photograph showing blogger/activist Aleksei Navalny standing beside Boris A. Berezovsky, an exiled financier being sought by Russian police. The photograph was revealed to be a fake within hours when the photographer declared that it was doctored and the original image was published on other websites. The incident quickly led to a flood of image parodies in which Navalny was depicted alongside a range of unlikely companions, including Stalin, Putin, and an alien.
After an estimated 8-10,000 people demonstrated in the streets of Tunis to protest extermism and violence, the daily newspaper Le Maghreb published a photograph in which the crowd was digitally duplicated to appear even larger. The manipulation was discovered by readers, who posted online examples of where the same people could be found in multiple locations in the crowd. Zied Krichen, the editor-in-chief of the paper, later said that the image was digitally manipulated by the photographer, and they were unaware of the manipulation when they published the photo.
The Sacramento Bee newspaper fired award-winning photojournalist Bryan Patrick after it came to light that a photo of his that they had published was actually a composite. The photo depicted an egret with a frog in its mouth, but he had combined the best parts of two different photos. Initially, the photographer was just suspended, but further investigation found two more cases in which it was judged he crossed ethical boundaries in manipulating his images. The changes all appeared to have been made for aesthetic considerations. Sean Elliot, the president of the National Press Photographers Association, agreed with the decision, saying that, “If he’s willing to move a couple of egrets around, if he’s willing to jazz up flames to make a photo more exciting, how do we know there aren’t more?…How do we trust the work?”
After a string of tornadoes in the midwest, a graphic design student in Michigan posted on her Facebook page a photo of funnel clouds which she claimed was taken from behind her apartment. The photo quickly spread across Facebook until it was posted to the Facebook page of local station WNEM and, ultimately, broadcast on the news. Afterwards, the student admitted that the photo was a fake, saying, “I AM SO SORRY EVERYONE! I Photoshopped that photo of the tornado. I didn’t really think it would be so big!” WNEM news director Ian Rubin said that, “We’ve used this experience as a reminder to the whole news team to review (viewer submitted photos) with the meteorologists before they go on the air.”
The Russian Orthodox church was forced to apologize for a manipulated photo of their leader, Patriarch Kirill I, which was posted on their website. In the posted photo, they had eliminated a $30,000 Breguet watch from the patriarch’s wrist, but a reflection of the watch was still visible in the table upon which his arm was resting. Initially, the patriarch denied that he had ever worn the watch, and insisted that any photo showing it on his wrist had been doctored. Later, though, the church put the original image including the watch on its website, along with a statement that “a gross violation of our internal ethics has occurred, and it will be thoroughly investigated. The guilty will be severely punished.”
The managing editor of the Miami Herald demanded that Florida Governor Rick Scott remove a photo from his Facebook page, because it depicted the front page of the newspaper with a doctored headline. The image was intended to promote an editorial written by the Governor with the headline “New Law Helps Put Floridians Back to Work.” However, the real newspaper featured no mention of the editorial on the front page. In fact, someone on the Governor’s social media team had replaced one of the original headlines on an older issue of the newspaper, but had neglected to remove the byline reading “Guatemala City.”
High-fashion model Coco Rocha publicly complained about a magazine cover that she said violated her standards as well as her contract. Said Ms. Rocha, “For my recent Elle Brazil cover shoot I wore a body suit under a sheer dress, but recently discovered that the body suit was Photoshopped out to give the impression that I am showing much more skin than I actually was or am comfortable with.”
After being questioned by an online reader, the Chicago Tribune published an explanation for a 1955 photo of former Mayor Richard J. Daley that appeared in their Almanac section featuring photos from their archives. The reader noticed what appeared to be the line of a felt-tip marker highlighting the edge of the mayor’s hand. The newspaper explained that this line was Spotone ink which was applied to enhance contrast to the image in preparation for print production—which in those days could not reproduce photos with as much detail. Because the newspaper no longer had the original negative, they reproduced the version that had been retouched in the 1950’s. Though such retouching was standard practice in 1955, the fact that it seemed so obviously inappropriate in 2012 illustrates that ethical standards necessarily shift as technology evolves.
Perhaps aiming to make the June 2011 work by other Chinese officials look reasonable in comparison, the government in Yuhang District published a photo promoting a recent landscaping project in which officials appear to levitate over the scene—some with their legs only partially cloned in.
Austria’s largest newspaper, Kronen Zeitung, ran a photo of a family fleeing a bombed-out neighborhood in war-torn Aleppo, Syria. Online commentors soon noted that the background in the photo had been changed from the original, European Pressphoto Agency image. In the original image, there is no visible bomb damage within the scene.
Spanish sports newspaper AS published a photo as evidence of an offside violation in a match between Spanish teams Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona. The original, however, shows that a defender had been digitally removed from the photo, and thus no violation occurred. AS apologized saying that it was caused by an infographics error.
Osama bin Laden was killed by US forces in Pakistan on May 2nd, 2011. A photo reported to be of Bin Laden was shown on Pakistani television. This photo was also published in the British newspapers Mail, Times, Telegraph, Sun, and Mirror. The photo, however, is a composite of two separate photos: The lower portion is of an alive Bin Laden, and the top portion is of another person.
The Ultra-Orthodox Hasidic newspaper Der Tzitung published a photo of President Obama and his national security team in the White House Situation Room. This photo was taken as the team watched a raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan. Prior to publication, the paper removed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Director for Counterterrorism Audrey Tomason from the photo. In response to criticism, the paper responded, in part: “In accord with our religious beliefs, we do not publish photos of women, which in no way relegates them to a lower status. Publishing a newspaper is a big responsibility, and our policies are guided by a Rabbinical Board. Because of laws of modesty, we are not allowed to publish pictures of women, and we regret if this gives an impression of disparaging to women, which is certainly never our intention. We apologize if this was seen as offensive.”
The Associated Press announced that it would no longer work with freelance photographer Miguel Tovar, and that they were eliminating all of Tovar’s photos from its archives. This move came after Tovar removed his shadow from a photo taken at a soccer match in Argentina. Following the incident, the Director of Photography at the AP, Santiago Lyon, sent the following memo to all AP staff:
On Sunday we were faced with a case of deliberate and misleading photo manipulation by a freelancer on assignment for the AP at the Copa America soccer tournament in Argentina. Miguel Tovar chose to clone some dust from one part of a feature photo to another in order to obscure his own shadow, which was visible in the original photograph showing children playing soccer. An alert photo editor noticed that the pattern on the dust repeated itself in an unlikely way and subsequent investigations revealed the visual fraud. There is no indication that Tovar’s other images were manipulated. However, we have severed all relations with Tovar and removed him from the assignment. He will not work for the AP again in any capacity. In addition, we have removed all of his images from AP Images, our commercial photo licensing division, and its website. I would remind you of the AP’s policies regarding image manipulation, which can be found within our Statement of News Values and Principles: http://www.ap.org/newsvalues/index.html. Please be sure to read carefully the section on Images reproduced below and make sure that it is well understood — not only by staff photographers and editors, but also by freelancers or occasional contributors to the AP. Our reputation is paramount and we react decisively and vigorously when it is tarnished by actions such as the one described above.
Under the headline “Russia refuses to recognize Libya rebels as legitimate government, clashing with West”, Saudi-owned English news website Al-Arabiya published a photo into which fighter jets were digitally inserted. The original photo (by Marco Longari for AFP/Getty) shows Libyan rebel fighters near a checkpoint on the outskirts of Ras Lanuf.
The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) released a photo purporting to show President Bashar al-Assad swearing in the new governor of Hama after the previous governor was fired in response to anti-regime demonstrations. Critics quickly noticed the myriad problems in this crude Photoshop job, including the table shadow that doesn’t change as it moves from the glossy floor to the soft carpet, the nearly nonexistent shadows from the two figures, and the distorted perspective.
The Associated Press withdrew a news photo supplied by the Korean Central News Agency after it was determined that the photograph was a digital composite. The image depicted North Korean citizens wading through high floodwaters, but critics noticed that the people looked crudely pasted into the scene, because their clothes were not wet. It was speculated that the photo was an attempt to gain sympathy for North Korea so that they could receive more international aid.
ESPN published an article about African-American quarterback Michael Vick, posing the question “What if Michael Vick were white?” Though the content of the article itself was relatively non-controversial, ESPN received substantial criticism for publishing alongside the article a photo illustration depicting the athlete as a caucasian.
Photographer Terje Hellesö won the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency’s Nature Photographer of the Year award for his stunning photos of endangered animals. Several of Hellesö’s photographs of the lynx, however, were digitally created by compositing stock photos into nature scenes. This photo manipulation was first noticed when conservationist Gunnar Gloerson noticed that one of Hellesö’s photos, taken in July, showed a lynx with a winter fur. When first questioned, Hellesö denied the allegations of photo tampering, but later admitted “not all of the pictures are manipulated, just a few of the lynx pictures.” Ultimately, the deception was found to be widespread, with more than 100 manipulated images of various subjects over a six-year period, as well as fabrication of stories about his photography.
Several major wire services had to pull a photo of Kim Jong-il’s funeral procession issued by North Korea’s state news agency after it was determined that the photo had been manipulated. A separate photo taken by Japan’s Kyodo news agency revealed that a small cluster of people standing around a camera tripod on the left side had been removed from the “original” photo. It was unclear why the people had been removed, but there was some speculation that it may have been for purely aesthetic reasons. The standalone cluster of people disrupted the otherwise regimented lines of mourners.
In its coverage of the dispute between China and Japan over the Diaoyu Islands, China’s Xiamen Daily ran a front-page photo showing a group of Hong-Kong-based protesters standing on the island waving Chinese flags. Soon, an observant blogger noted that one of the flags had been modified. In the original photo, one of the protesters was holding a Taiwanese flag rather than the flag of the People’s Republic of China. The paper had removed the Taiwanese markings from the flag. Other Chinese papers also had obscured the Taiwanese flag when running the photo, but they did so by blocking the central part of the photo with a headline.
After taking harsh criticism, South African newspaper The Citizen apologized for cloning out bodies from an AFP wire photo of the wreckage from a bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan that killed eight South Africans. The paper stated that the editors had directed that the bodies in the photo be blurred to make the photo less graphic, but that the person doing the modifications cloned the bodies out instead. Some readers even questioned whether racism played a part in the decision, considering that the bodies that were removed were of white victims, whereas similalry graphic photos of black victims of a mining accident were recently run in the same paper without modification. In their apology, however, the paper denied that assessment: “This photo [Marikana] was not nearly as graphic as the Kabul one, which is why the bodies were not blurred. Due to the much more graphic nature of the Kabul blast photo, we felt that blurring the bodies was appropriate. Removing them completely is, however, completely inexcusable and we readily admit that this never should have happened.”
The National Review drew criticism for publishing a cover photo in which the campaign signs being held by a crowd of Obama supporters were modified so that the original slogan of “Forward” was replaced with the word “Abortion”. The image was attributed to the wire service Reuters, and no mention was made that it was actually a photo-illustration based on the original Reuters photo. Publisher Jack Fowler ultimately provided a clarification on the magazine’s website stating that the image was “not the original photograph as provided by Reuters/Newscom, and therefore should not have been attributed to this organization, nor attributed to the photographer.”
After its publication by the Malaysion national news agency Bernana, a photo of a crowd of supporters of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak was soon being called out on Facebook as a fake, with commenters noting signs that portions of the crowd had been duplicated to appear larger. Ultimately, Bernana admitted to the mistake and withdrew the photo, vowing to “take appropriate action against those responsible for the irregularities.”
There was much misinformation surrounding the September 11 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya and the resulting death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, but perhaps none as blatantly egregious as a photo published by the Algerian newspaper Ennahar. Initial reports from the U.S. government claimed an association between the embassy attack and anti-U.S. protests in other countries triggered by the anti-Islamic film “Innocence of Muslims”. That claim was later shown to be false. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, however, Ennahar published a photo showing Stevens eating lunch with Sam Bacile, the producer of the film. The U.S. Embassy in Algiers quickly called the photo a fake and urged Ennahar to retract the article. Though Ennahar ultimately did remove the photo, they defended its use by saying that “the photograph was found on Internet sites and on Facebook, and that the newspaper had no need to doctor a photo to defend the prophet and Islam.”
Even in 2012, not all photo manipulation involves digital trickery. Russian blogger Andrey Konoval discovered crude manipulation of a billboard promoting a local zoo, featuring Alexander Volkov, the president of the Russian republic Udmurtia. In the original billboard, Volkov’s wrist could be seen to be proudly displaying a Breguet watch, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Later, however, Konoval noticed that this watch had been replaced with a nondescript and far less pricey timepiece. A closer inspection revealed that the revised watch had been applied to the photo using a photographic sticker. This was the second notable instance in 2012 in which a Russian public figure’s photo was manipulated to hide an expensive Breguet timepiece.
The media frenzy anticipating once-in-a-lifetime flooding and destruction as Hurricane Sandy made landfall near New York City provided the backdrop for an unprecedented flurry of photo hoaxes, dominating Facebook and Twitter with both real and fraudulent hurricane images that were almost equally hard to believe. The Atlantic magazine even was compelled to set up a live blog site that distinguished genuine hurricane photos from hoaxes. Nevertheless, many viewers—and some press—were fooled, and some of the fake photos were widely forwarded. Notable hoaxes included that of an enormous supercell storm cloud hovering over the Statue of Liberty, a still from the disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow showing an enormous wave crashing into the same statue, and the inevitable photo composite showing a shark fin in a flooded street. Sadly, though, some of the real photos were more dramatic than the fakes.
Australia’s Veterans Affairs office published a Rememberance Day poster featuring a photo from the Vietnam war, depicting a team of four carrying a wounded soldier. In addition to colorizing portions of the photo, they also digitally removed a cigarette from the hand of the soldier holding a plasma bottle above the injured soldier. More significantly, though, they identified the soldier with the bottle as well-known Australian rugby player Dr. Jack Bromley rather than Kerry Williams, the soldier listed in photographer Barrie Ward’s records for the photo. Adding to the confusion, both the Williams and the Bromley families insisted that their family member was the one in the photo, despite the fact that the soldier’s uniform has a name tag saying “Williams”. Ultimately, the Australian War Memorial ruled that it was Williams in the photo.
The official Iranian news agency released a photo touting their recent development of a sophisticated new drone. However, Gary Mortimer of sUAS News noticed that their drone looked suspiciously like one that had been developed previously by Chiba University in Japan. Sure enough, he was able to track down a photo from Chiba University that looks identical to the one released from Iran, with the exception of a few deleted details from the building in the background.
Iranian defense officials once again made the news with their blatant misuse of Photoshop after releasing a photo purporting to show their much-trumpeted stealth fighter jet soaring over snow-capped Mount Damavand. Earlier, aviation experts had claimed that the jet shown in the hangar in their press photos was not genuine, because there were clear visual signs that it was a fake model not capable of flying. A blogger soon produced clear evidence that the flight photo was also faked. The jet in the photo was viewed at the exact same angle—and with the exact same light reflections—as in one of the photographs from the hangar. Furthermore, the scene of the mountain—with some exposure adjustments—was identical to one found on a stock image site. Thus, the flight image was revealed to be a composite photo.
When the movie “Argo”, which dramatized the 1970’s Iranian hostage crisis, received an Academy Award for Best Picture, the Iranian state news agency accompanied its coverage with a doctored photo. In the original Oscar broadcast, first lady Michelle Obama appeared via satellite video to present the award. She was wearing a sleeveless dress that was deemed a “transgression” by Iranian authorities, so they modified the photo to give her sleeves and a more modest neckline.
The White House News Photographers Association disqualified a winner of the organization’s annual contest when it was revealed that the photo had been modified to hide a distracting figure visible in the background. The sports photo depicted two wrestlers on the floor in front of a darkened background, but in the version of the photo originally published in the Washington Post a third person was visible standing behind one of the wrestlers. The manipulation was discovered by editors at the Post, who then notified the WHNPA.
As the North Korean government was threatening hostilities against South Korea and the U.S., the official Korean Central News Agency released a photo of military activities being conducted along North Korea’s east coast. Photo editor Alan Taylor at The Atlantic noticed that several of the hovercraft depicted in the photo looked suspiciously similar, and their outlines had unrealistic feathered edges. It appears that some of the hovercraft were duplicated in the photo to make the scene appear more intimidating.
After Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attended the funeral of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, he was criticized for a photo that depicted him consoling Chavez’s mother. Conservatives in Iran said that it was sinful for him to touch a woman who was not his own family member. In response, Ahmadinejad’s aides distributed a different version of the same photo which they claimed proved that Ahmadinejad was actually embracing his own uncle. In fact, however, the version they distributed was a photo composite, and the person in the manipulated version was not even Ahmadinejad’s uncle, but Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei.
The death of local Chinese official Wu Renbao was greeted with complimentary eulogies throughout Chinese media. An article and photo from state-run Xinhua even claimed that Renbao had been featured on the cover of Time magazine in 2005 for an article oddly titled “The Man Who Men of the Moment.” It didn’t take Chinese bloggers long to figure out that this was a fake cover in which Renbao’s head had been swapped with disgraced Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, in part because Abramoff’s name still appeared in the subtitle. Regardless, the fake cover had already been picked up by media throughout China.
The Neijiang Daily, a local newspaper in the Sichuan region of China, apologized to readers who mocked an obviously manipulated photo that had been published. The photo, which depicted local officials visiting a building site, made it look as if Communist Party Secretary Zeng Wanli was standing in the middle of his own shadow. The paper then admitted that they had deleted from the photo a photographer who was standing behind the secretary. Said the paper, “We thank and welcome readers and netizens for the supervision of our work.”
The New York Daily News ran on its front page a photo of the Boston Marathon bombing which appeared to have been doctored to be less disturbing. The original photo, taken by John Tlumacki for the Boston Globe, shows a significant amount of blood on the leg of an injured person lying on the ground in the upper left of the frame. In the version published by the Daily News, however, no wound is visible. When questioned about the discrepancy, a spokesperson for the paper said that “The Daily News does not comment on its editorial decision-making.”
In the second fake Time magazine cover incident of the year, Philippines newspaper The Daily Inquirer was embarrassed by the erroneous publication of a photo found on the internet indicating that Philippine president Benigno Aquino III had been featured on a Time cover. In fact, he had been among the people profiled in the “100 Most Influential People in the World” cover story, but his face had not graced the cover. According to a spokesperson for the paper, “standard newsroom protocols to vet online images” were unfortunately skipped in this instance.
Relatively minor compared to past examples of North Korean photo manipulation, this photo from the official North Korean news agency depicts leader Kim Jong Un meeting with former U.S. basketball star Dennis Rodman, who appears to have three hands. It was speculated that the extra hand belonged to an interpreter, who was digitally removed from the photo in order to put more focus on Kim Jong Un and have him appear in a more favorable light.
There have been some outrageously bad manipulated photos released by local Chinese government officials, but few are quite as bad as the photo released by the local government in Annhui province to mark the Double Ninth Festival, which is an event honoring ancestors. The photo purports to show the vice mayor and other local officials visiting with an elderly citizen, but the missing legs and mismatched scale make it immediately obvious that this is a photo composite. After the photo was ridiculed on the Chinese social media site Weibo, the government admitted to the manipulation, but claimed that it was necessary due to the cramped space on the balcony and the poor lighting that didn’t allow the photographer to capture an inclusive shot. They said that the employee of the municipal civial affairs department who merged the two photographs would be censured.
After it came to light that a September 2013 photo of the conflict in Syria had been modified to remove a video camera that was visible in the frame, the Associated Press terminated its relationship with Pulitzer-prize-winning freelance photographer Narciso Contreras. The AP also removed from commercial availability all of the nearly 500 other AP photographs captured by the photographer—despite the fact that no other instances of improper manipulation were found. The Associated Press has a zero tolerance policy for image manipulation. Said VP and Director of Photography Santiago Lyon, “Deliberately removing elements from our photographs is completely unacceptable and we have severed all relations with the freelance photographer in question. He will not work for the AP again in any capaicty.”
The Associated Press removed seven photos of Fidel Castro from its archive after it was discovered that the government-run Estudios Revolucion had modified them prior to release so as to remove Castro’s hearing aid. In some higher-resolution original photos, a hearing aid wire was clearly visible near Castro’s ear, but the wire was not seen in the official versions. The photographer, Castro’s son Alex Castro, said that he was unaware that the photos had been manipulated before their release.
As rumors circulated that U.S. airstrikes had killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State militant group that had seized control of portions of Iraq and Syria, a photo also circulated online and in Iraqi news media purporting to show the dead leader. Investigators, however, found striking similarities between the alleged photo of al-Baghdadi and an older photo of Sami Hafez Al-Abdullah, who was an Albanian killed in Syria in 2013. The similarities made it clear that the alleged photo of a dead al-Baghdadi was merely a photo composite, and it was later confirmed that he had not been killed.
After months of denying any responsibility for the downing of Malaysian Air’s flight MH17 over Ukraine, Russian state media ran a story featuring supposedly new satellite imagery it said proved that MH17 had been shot down by a Ukrainian fighter jet. It took very little time, however, for experts and online commentors to debunk the photo. The photo, in fact appears to have been composed of pieces of Google Earth imagery from 2012, a portion from Yandex maps, and a stock photo of a Boeing jet. Furthermore, careful analysis also showed that the location of the plane in the photo does not exactly correspond to the known path that MH17 took.
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This entry was posted on mardi 24 février 2015 at 5:36 and is filed under anniversaires, communisme, désinformation, histoire, Photo. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.