So Who Can Pull It Off?

November 5, 2009

The catching and exposure of these photo fakers makes me wonder who are the people that can pull it off, but not only legally, but be recognised for it too.

Photoshop, the manipulation programme developed by Adobe that has taken teh world of photography by storm is commonly used today to intentionally manipulate and perfect any given photo. The program has encouraged competitors world wide and sparked millions of circulating photos of what seems could be real. Contrary to all the fakes going around the world, there are talented artists whose either job or hobby it is to use photoshop to its fullest extent.

“It is the current market leaderfor commercial bitmap and image manipulation software, and is the flagship product of Adobe Systems. It has been described as “an industry standard for graphics professionals”[1] and was one of the early “killer applications” on the Macintosh, later also for the PC.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adobe_Photoshop 05/11/09


The photoshop user awards website is used to recognise these talented artists who seem to put the deceitful programe to good, honest use.


Some of the best in the photoshop world include the Dwight Pritchett photo ‘No Air’.

No Air

http://www.photoshopuserawards.com/winners.php   05/11/09

The Big Swallow By Steve McGhee

Photo Illustration is the art form using computer software and photo imaging to form a piece of art. The use of Photoshop and similar programmes is clearly recognised and the issue of ‘fake or real’ doesn’t come close to discussion. In the world of photo illustration the reality of the photo isn’t relevant and the use of the software to ones best ability is rewarded and recognised. The pictures below and above show the talent gone into photo illustration and can be used in journalism.

http://www.spd.org/images/blog/184.jpg 05/11/09

As mentioned earlier, there is no  debate whether or not the image is a fake, or is dishonest because the industry has recognised itself clearly so that no argument can be debated. I ask myself if Brian Walski knew the issues he was dealing with and what would happen if he crossed the dangerous line. There seems to be no ‘ethical’ pressures in the Photoshop world or photo illustration, even in modern advertising but I wanted to know if Walski had seriously broken a set of rules.


‘Famous WAR Photo Fakes’

November 3, 2009

As discussed in the earlier post, some photos have been exposed as being misleading and untruthful and Robert Capa’s Spanish solider being shot in the head was no different.

”When The Falling Soldier was published in the July 12, 1937, issue of Life magazine, the caption stated, “Robert Capa’s camera catches a Spanish soldier the instant he is dropped by a bullet through the head in front of Córdoba.” Over the following years and decades, during and after Capa’s death, the photograph was widely published without any questions ever being raised about its reliability as an unposed document.”

”The allegation that Capa had posed his photograph was first made by O.D. Gallagher, a South African-born journalist, who, as a correspondent for the London Daily Express,had covered the Spanish Civil War, at first from the Nationalist (Franco) side and later from the Republican. Gallagher told Phillip Knightley — who published the story in his book The First Casualty: From the Crimea to Vietnam; The War Correspondent as Hero, Propagandist, and Myth Maker (1975) — that “at one stage of the war he and Capa were sharing a hotel room.” (Knightley does not tell us where or when during the war Gallagher had shared a room with Capa.) Gallagher told Knightley that at that time “there had been little action for several days, and Capa and others complained to the Republican officers that he could not get any pictures. Finally . . . a Republican officer told them he would detail some troops to go withCapa to some trenches nearby, and they would stage some manoeuvres for them to photograph.”

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/robert-capa/in-love-and-war/47/ 03/11/09

http://www-tc.pbs.org/wnet/wp-content/blogs.dir/4/files/2008/08/capa_essay_05.jpg 03/11/09

Bruce Young QuotationThe debate over Capa’s photo and its authenticity was brought about by a man named Jose Manuel Susperregui, a University proffessor who claims his photo is fake.

“While not mentioned in the article, the Spanish newspaper’s claim is based upon the work of professor José Manuel Susperregui, who teaches communications studies at País Vasco University in Spain, and an analysis that he published in his recent book Sombras de la Fotografía (Shadows of Photography). Professor Susperregui provides compelling evidence that Death of a loyalist militiaman was photographed in Llano de Banda, an area of countryside close to the small village of Espejo, and not in Cerro Muriano (45 km from Espejo), where Capa claims the photo was taken. Historians say there wasn’t a battle in Espejo on September 5, 1936, when the photograph was taken, so the death must have been faked.”

http://heim.ifi.uio.no/~gisle/blog/?p=404     03/11/09

The provided evidence and discussion seems to place Capa in the same position as Walski, a faker who took the chance of creating a dishonest picture. One question that seems pertinent is can Capa and Walski be considered the same?

Walski’s photo had been a digital forgery, using two photos to make the third. Robert Capa’s photo was staged and the difference has to be identified. Capa’s deception seems worse than Walski’s due to several factors. One main reason is because the longevity of the authenticity of the photo, the public feels a stronger sense of deceit compared to Walski as his photo was public for a far shorter time than Capa. The content of the photos is highly relevant because although both photogrphers faked their images in one way or another, Capa’s included death being captured directly infront of the camera, and also the world. Further reserach into the matter surfaced the truth to who the soldier was and how the fake had been manifested.

“We also know, due to an obituary uncovered by Alicante historian Miguel Pascual Mira, that the militiaman depicted in Capa’s photo is not Federico Borrell García as previously thought.”


The issue has raised plenty of discussion and Hugo Doménech and Raúl M. Riebenbauer made a documentary about the debating factors that leads them to the conclusion that the photo is a fake.

The link below leads to a trailer of the documentary, ‘La Sombra Del Iceberg’

Walski had a less extreme subject in his fake and his forgery was simply to emphasise his point, making the photos hard to compare on a contextual basis. However, the fact remains that the photos are both deceitful and their reputations deserve the repercussions.

Wars can generate plenty of competition which might be able to explain the high number of photo fakes during World War 2. The Ukrainian photographer Yevgeny Khaldei had enhanced the smoke in his epic photo of the raising of the flag over the Reichstag in 1945.


http://blogs.photopreneur.com/the-worlds-most-famous-photoshop-fakes 03/11/09

The image below was the ‘original’ photo, although the photo had been staged entirely.



Propaganda…or Advertising?

November 3, 2009

During World War 2 enemies and allies used propoganda to spite their opposition and to furhter increase the moral and some sort of revenue. The use of propoganda was highly important to spread lies and hate amongst the population.

http://web.mit.edu/cms/bcc/blogpics/propaganda_prozac.gif    03/11/09

The principals of propoganda are to trick the public into thinking a certain way and to act a certain way. The line between fake photo journalism, staging photos, dishonest advertising and propoganda is blurred because the goals and methods are the same, only slightly less severe in todays world. The fact that lies and mistruths are being deliberately spread for a specific purpose, let it be during a war, or on a front page shows that the intent of those above us aren’t as trust worthy as once thought.

propogandaGovernments have been doing alterations for their own personal gain for a long time, and unfortunetly discoveries have been made over time telling a different story to what was once originally told.


When Did It Start? Faking photos in the 1800’s

November 3, 2009

The ending of the last post made me think of the future of photo journalism, and the integrity of the industry. However before the fate can be determined, one should ask oneself  how long has this been going on?

It turns out that one of the oldest and strangest doctoring of photos is the photographic genre, Spirit Photography.

Spirit photography is a type of photography whose primary attempt is to capture images of spiritual entities.[1] It was first used by William H. Mumler in the 1860s.[1] Mumler discovered the technique by accident, after he discovered a second person in a photograph he took of himself, which he found was actually a double exposure. Seeing there was a market for it, Mumler started working as a medium, taking people’s pictures and doctoring the negatives to add lost loved ones into them (mostly using other photographs as basis). Mumler’s fraud was discovered after he put identifiable living Boston residents in the photos as spirits. ”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirit_photography 03/11/09

The photo below shows the picture that made Mumler start his fraudulant activity.The First Discovery of Spirit Photography

The altering of photos might have started with ghosts and spirits but the fact remains that dishonesty lead this genre and progressed it to cause further harm.

The Obama and McCain campaigns used trickery to fool viewers which in turn could change important moments in history which demands the question, has this happened before?


Staging Photos

November 2, 2009

Between successful subliminal advertisements and unethical photo alteration the middle ground seems to be staging photos. My reserach lead me to this as the ‘softer’ way to trick your viewer, but used commonly to strengthen a photos credibility.The images below all show childrens toys being conveniently placed in debris and rubble to dramatise the scenario.


the photos above are taken from the following link

http://blogs.photopreneur.com/worlds-most-infamous-staged-photos 2/11/09

Similar photo staging took place to show this Georgian man lying next to his parents when he had been moved from his original position away from the curb.

The above image shows a similar scenario of image staging, in which the woman seems to be gripping her nurse when allegedly ‘dead’. Also the man lying face down is in different positions when comparing the photos

Both photos are sourced from: http://oddee.com/item_96803.aspx 2/11/09

Photo staging seems to be a step down from blatantly editing the images to ones advantage and doesn’t seem that bad on the surface. But when it comes down to the heart of the industry, pure and good photo journalism is in its honest pictures, and alterations of any kind should not, and cannot be tolerated. The line between editing, staging and genuine photos will be blurred to an extent where the difference will be uncomparable and  the credibility of the industry lost.

The integrity of photojournalism might be depleting but i ask myself, there must have been a path that lead us to this point. On one hand one can argue that technology has forced itself into the art world, and photography the ‘most honest form of art’ might loose its title. Technology is getting better and better by the day and the use of it in any industry is almost impossible to stop. On the other hand, one can argue that technology hasn’t done anything wrong and that it is simply the lazy,less professional individuals who seem keen on cheating their own system. At the end of the day it is up to the individual what to think and do, however the journey that lead us to this point is worth understanding.


Does it work? And How?

November 2, 2009

The public doesn’t know when they are being tricked and so they shouldn’t if the image or message was succesful, however the acts taken after the subliminal messaging will determine if it worked or not, and only after the success can one find out.

Subliminal programs contain positive affirmations  that are designed to help the listener achieve a change in a specific area they have chosen or to achieve a particular goal they have set. The physical brain receives these affirmations at a subconscious level and because there is no interference from the critical conscious mind the subconscious mind, which is where are beliefs and attitudes are stored, immediately begins the work of making the subliminal messages a reality in your life.http://www.buzzle.com/articles/the-subliminal-message-does-it-really-work.html 2/11/09
The idea of having someone else secretly manipulate our thoughts is something very worrying and if you dont know that it happens or can happen to you, you might be more suseptible. This concept yields alot of power and when put in powerful hands, like the Obama/MCain tricks, the concequences can be massive, ie: being fooled into voting for the wrong President. The technology behind this isnt extrordinary, it is simply taking advantage of the very curious human brain. This is done to an extent where the legitimacy of a  ‘real’ or ‘fake’ image doesn’t matter, but simply the effect. This argument stands tall and proud in advertising because the aim is to get the customer/viewer to purchase the product, and the steps getting there have some leway and are less questioned, but when it comes down to photography, the accuracy and journey to that particular photo is incredibly important. The legitimacy is important enough for Brian Walski to loose his job, and to be made an example of in his industry.

The fact that in certain industries where the pictures are the most important aspect to the company, i find it interesting that on one hand manipulation and alteration is rewarded and in the other, can lead to being fired. This makes me wonder where the line can be drawn, and that if the advertising team for a company can trick someone to buy something, but making a soldier look a touch more active on duty can cost you your job, there seems like some sort of injustice.


Subliminal Messaging

October 26, 2009

The dishonesty to the reader reminded me of subliminal messaging and to an extent is the same because the person ‘faking’ or doctoring the images is trying to make us think, believe or want something we conventionally shouldn’t otherwise they wouldnt have altered the image. The power behind photographers and their option to decieve makes me wonder if there is an industry behind subliminal photography.

It turns out that ‘subliminal photography’, the deceptive tool to fool the viewer is simply refered to as ADVERTISING and is rewarded instead of penilization. After Googling ‘subliminal photography’, the did you mean was ‘subliminal advertising’ which made it all alot clearer.

The concept of subliminal messaging makes one wonder why is alteration done in the first place? What will it gain, and does it make a difference?

One important and quite controversial use of subliminal messaging, used in a video, not an image took place during the Presidential Elections. The John Mcain campaign altered a video of Barak Obama to spell the words ‘HANG’ directly behind him on a poster.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yhX9OMmrsA&feature=player_embedded 26/10/09

The deception was overlooked as Obamas catch phrase for his campaign was CHANGE, and so blocking out the first and last letter was easy. In a scenario like the Presidential Elections, the aim of tricks like those are to fool the viewers and to implant false thoughts into their heads. But the only real question that seems to need answering is does it ever work?