The real issue with this photograph are whether the digital processing applied exceeded that which is appropriate for a photography competition. Specifically there seems to be a suggestion that it may be composite of different photos from the same event although that seemed far from proven to me.
What do people feel are acceptable digital edits to be applied?
1) Global filters/brightness/contrast/sharpening
2) Similar filters applied to local areas to to ensure all wanted areas are properly lit and visible
3) Actually touching up/smudging or otherwise directly manipulating particular pixels.
4) Actually combining different photos (e.g. you have ten photos but someone (different) has their eyes shut in each one so you grab one face and merge it back onto the correct body).
Personally I don't see a single clear line where you should stop so I think that it should probably be spelled out in the competition rules.
I think it's fairly easy to describe either side of the line even if the line itself is a little blurry.
When post-production edits of a documentary photograph change the time and location of relevant people and objects, the journalist has some responsibility to disclose those edits to the viewer/judge.
When post-production edits merely enhance the clarity of the image, or the image is clearly not meant to be documentary, there is less need for such disclosure. Even though bias is present at all stages of the process, that includes even shot selection to begin with so presence of bias alone is not an indicator of which side of the line a particular image might be.
Obviously the first step is to determine whether an image is being passed off as a documentary photograph or an art photograph. Almost no one cares whether a photo of Sheryl Sandberg in TIME is heavily doctored (i.imgur.com/lFwMNia.png). Presumably, the photos in the contest were. This was a photographic report of a real and notable event.
Then the question is whether the modified elements of the photograph are relevant to the associated story. In most cases, filters and contrast are not relevant; although they could be in some edge cases. For touch-ups and smudging, the question is what are you touching up and smudging? A minor blemish on someone's face might not be relevant, but replacing a rifle with flowers could be substantial. A composite to eliminate someone's eyes being closed doesn't change the substance, but eliminating someone's presence entirely would be substantial.
Of course, a competition might have even stricter standards but from a consumer standpoint, that's where the line should be. An artistic collage photo meant to concisely tell the story of an event is fine, even if it LOOKS like it's almost real, but the nature of the photo should be disclosed. It shouldn't be passed off as a documentary photo.
This makes me think of the infamous Time magazine cover featuring O.J. Simpson: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:OJ_Simpson_Newsweek_TIME.p...
It's about how you represent the image. Is it pristine or processed? When applying filters, it is appropriate to admit that filters were applied. If you combine different photos, it is appropriate to admit that multiple photos were combined. Do you really have a newsworthy photo of an athlete winning the race if you digitaly process a photo of from a previous competition to make it look like it is from today? Is it more newsworthy because it's yesterdays images of dead children instead of yesterdays athletes?
> Personally I don't see a single clear line where you should stop so I think that it should probably be spelled out in the competition rules.
Unfortunately, morally corrupt photographers will claim their manipulated images are following the rules, even when they are not. I see similarities with athletes and doping here. It's not allowed by the rules to enhance your performance with drugs, yet many top-level athletes continue do so.
Cheating will not go away but can and must be combatted. News reporting must be resilient against such cheating.
I think it's equally valid to be purist as it is to accept post-processing as a part of the modern photographers toolbox.
As long as post-processed photos are presented as such, I think that's fine.
Similarly, when an image is composited I think it should be presented as a composite, otherwise it really is like telling a lie.
I think you misunderstood the point of te article, it's not trying to prove that the scene was fake nor staged, but the photo was digitally edited and not worthy of the award.
Digital editing aside, the scene seems to be quite real as it was covered by multiple news outlets and with different photos. Here is the link from the article to the time's photo (by the Reuters) : http://world.time.com/2012/11/15/a-new-gaza-war-israel-and-p...
I'm not in any way claiming that the scene was fake or staged. I was expressing an opinion about how it 'looked to me'. i.e. when I look at this photograph the colours and lighting remind me of pictures that have been taken in a studio or with artificial lighting. I was making that point in the context of this winning a competition for press photography where you would not expect a photo to have the look of something seen in a studio.
That is all I was saying.
If I wanted to make the claim that something was faked I would say so.
I am claiming nothing about the event, just the look of this individual photograph and its merits independent of the event it depicts.
You did not make this implication but the parent post we are discussing certainly did.
To be fair, the implication was probably not made maliciously, and a more appropriate response would have been "This got past the pros because such lighting is possible to achieve in outdoor photography, although it requires a level of skill, equipment, luck, post-processing, and aesthetic risk that make it uncommon outside studio settings."
Though the fact that someone could be this... blind or heartless, I'm not sure what it is... to think this is a good "look" for this source material, might warrant a post on DehumanizationNews or something - while PoliticalNews commenters could point out that this hack job essentially turned a bunch of grieving people into an "advancing mob", and that the photographer is a total asshole for that etc.
Personally, today I learned one new thing, how to figure out the position of an unseen light source via hard shadows. Awesome!
So no. Not all digital photos can accurately be said to be edited; there is such a thing as an original digital file, and a distinction to be drawn between that file and an edited version of the original.
If the photo's made up, it's no better than a poster. It can be drawn with skill and make the same point, but it is not a photograph and so does not deserve a photography award.
That's pretty chilling.
It is despicable to kill children.
It is not despicable to point out that they are dead.
Perhaps the fact that they can't defend themselves? Or that you can't say that you just made the world better eliminating some dangerous terrorists? Or the fact that they had their whole life to live? You only have to choose.
Firstly, muslims would never show images of dead people, but brushing that aside (and that would require explaining why hamas would have no problem with showing a few palestinian atheists world-wide. Also would those people behaving against islam's principles be in a large angry mob on the streets of Gaza ? I mean, that is avoided by most pious muslims in Gaza I hear).
Where are the wounds ? A bombardment kills by using shrapnel - lots of it - as bullets, or by crushing. Obviously these children haven't been crushed. The right child's face is full of sand, but the white burial clots is immaculate. They are lying flat ... euhm ... how did that happen ? (In case you don't know there's a reason they call a corpse "a stiff"). If they died through bombardment they wouldn't have been lying, they would have been curled up. Since nobody collects dead bodies immediately after a bombardment (would have to be in 2 hours or less), they would experience rigor mortis in the curled up position. At that point the only way to get them into a lying position would be to break all of their bones, which takes time and a lot of effort. The bodies in the picture are obviously not experiencing rigor mortis, they are flexible and move with the arms of those men ... so what is it ?
Either these kids died in the last 60 minutes before the picture was taken (where's the blood ? I hear even muslims have blood. And ahem, all muscles relax, which would color such an immaculate burial cloth yellow and brown for reasons I won't go into, again where are those discolorations ?). Furthermore the eyes wouldn't stay closed. Or they're past rigor mortis, dead for at least 3 days ... so why is there skin wet ? Why is there no loss of skin tone ? And frankly a corpse 3 days old smells to the point that no emotion will allow you to ignore that, and the smell is easily detected from 10 meters away in open air (no matter how exiting a medical student tells you it is, never open a drawer with a corpse, just don't, you'll still smell it constantly a week later).
The easy explanation for all of this is very, very simple : those kids are alive (they even look like they're holding their eyes closed, although that could be an impression). Lying about it would be perfectly in line with islamic practice (probably important for large angry mobs in gaze, don't you think ?), it would explain the lack of wounds, lack of blood/other bodily fluids, the eyes, the skin tone, the flexibility of the children, everything.
That would of course mean that it is a complete lie, and the photographer is very likely complicit.
What BS is this? I follow world news for 20+ years. There have been countless, literally tens of thousands, pictures of dead people in muslim countries.
>Frankly, looking at the other fotos I find it quite hard to believe those children are even dead. (...) where's the blood? I hear even muslims have blood.
And it goes downhill from there, with your explanations of why they are not really dead, of the "I've seen a lot of CSI on TV" quality.
Spoken like a true ignorant that has never gone 5 minutes away from his hometown in rural Idaho (or TV-land, which is the same).
All the BS about rigor mortis etc, are not even TV-doctor quality, but what is especially disturbing is the lack of humanity and empathy.
I'm fine with people using Occams Razor even if the conclusion that brings about is uncomfortable for me. But I'm not OK if the argument made lacks basic human dignity.
> (where's the blood ? I hear even muslims have blood. And ahem, all muscles relax, which would color such an immaculate burial cloth yellow and brown for reasons I won't go into, again where are those discolorations ?)
Yes, they dirtied and wrapped a living child in a cloth to stage a dead child and forgot to simulate piss and shit stains necessary to pass your analysis. Huge slipup on their part. Not possible that a parent or relative would first take care to ensure the dignity of their child to remain intact before bringing them out to show their grief in front of their community.
> And frankly a corpse 3 days old smells to the point that no emotion will allow you to ignore that
You might be surprised.
There are stories around of mothers tending to their stillborn fetus for weeks. I think one even made a blog about it.
I suppose we can conclude that you are falling victim to the limits of your own experience and imagination. Otherwise known as ignorance.
Ever heard of dodge and burn, in Photoshop?
Also try "staging" an angry group of people, protesting and lamenting their dead children and lost relatives after yet another raid.
Would anybody have the gal to say the same things for the Boston victims?
I am in no way claiming that this event did not occur or that the scene was staged, only that the photograph looks staged and in my opinion isn't a good press photo and therefore shouldn't have won a competition for press photos. I am claiming nothing about the event, just the look of this individual photograph and its merits independent of the event it depicts.
A bunch of photographs today "look faked" - sometimes that's great (and lucky) lighting, or gentle tweaking of levels, or outright fakery. And the fakey look is what makes it a remarkable photo. Those faces really pop out.
I'm surprised it won if they didn't get to see the RAW image. But maybe I misread the article.
I'm confused. Your "in other words" conflict with your previous statement. (1) "jgc is not saying he believes the photograph has been staged, but that it looks like it has been". (2) "In other words, how did a photo that is so obviously fake win a photography contest?"
So, is he saying that it is fake (and "obviously" so), or that it merely "looks fake"?
And, may I ask, what is that "obviously fake" about it, besides color adjustments?
Now, it's true that color adjustment is frowned upon in certain news circles, but it's used a lot in magazine reporting, and it's not that different than what you could achieve with your choice of camera (or film in a previous era). That kind of alteration might, or might not, be acceptable for a photo competition.
As for "obviously fake" as in "he staged it by putting the people in a specific position", "had lights" etc, I don't see any signs about that -- or even find it that possible given the circumstances. Those are not some "damn arabs, doing PR work and pretending to be sad and enraged". Those are parents, neighbors and friends, holding their dead children. The way some people commented here, they might as well been subhumans in the picture.
For the composition part, if a photographer is half competent, he can get a very good composition out of such as scene without even trying. And he's not some tourist with his point and shoot.
(Disclaimer: I've done some professional photography back in the day, but mostly travel work and interviews / portraits, not news).
So a picture doesn't have to "exhibit realism" to win such a competition. It just has to be real. If it looks uncanny, all the better.
The line is draw at actual image manipulation. Compositing people in, changing a face, removing elements etc.
As for color adjustments and light fixes, those are sometimes frowned upon, other time totally accepted in journalistic work. Anytime a photo editor gets a jpeg from the camera RAW, some work of that kind has already been done. Including the camera letting you pick several options, from sharpening to color balance (and more traditional stuff like bokeh, depth of field and shutter speed, each having it's own artistic effect. Does a 1 sec photograph of a running river look "realistic"?)
I've seen pictures made on an iPhone with stuff like Instagram in Afganistan/Iraq by photojournalists that won many awards, despite looking totally unrealistic with regards to neutral tone/color coming out of a camera. E.g:
"The January 4th date is interesting because the deadline for submissions to the World Photo Awards was 17 January 2013. So although the base photo was taken in November 2012, it wasn't edited until about two weeks before the contest deadline."
This whole theory pretty much fails as it was published in "Dagens Nyheter" in November 2012. The lower image is what it looked like:
http://i.imgur.com/aKTAc7d.jpg (Image only mirror)
To give some balance, the day these two brothers and their father died, there were continuous rocket attacks on Israel. At around 7pm, a rocket hit a high school in Ashkelon. A student from the school told the reporter, "We were playing soccer near the school and suddenly there were sirens, and we saw the Iron Dome rocket fire above us, and then we heard a large explosion and we realized it fell just near us. The police came and we directed them." The rocket fell on the rooftop of a nearby school building unexploded and was disarmed by the police. The IDF later released a statement saying it attacked over 50 tunnels and tens of hidden rocket launchers. The Hamas often places the rocket launchers near civilian homes for protection and this might have been the cause of the attack. The civilians, as perhaps the Hejazi family in this case too, have no real say and are sometimes forced to remain near the weapons against their will.
 http://news.walla.co.il/?w=/2689/2587705 (live blog from the day of the attack, Hebrew)
The reason for there appearing to be more dirt on the child's face is simply because it's a higher contrast image.
Maybe it has been manipulated more than is allowed, but I'm not seeing it.
EDIT: I'm not sure that there's only one artificial light source — notice how the front left man's visible ear is red? That's because it's being brightly illuminated from behind. Also notice that the top of his back (his left — photo right — shoulder) is illuminated, and that would be in shadow if the photo was only being lit by the flash that is lighting the left (his right) side of his face. Finally, there's another light source (maybe the sun?) that is causing the shine on the top right section of many of the heads (such as the bald man carrying the dead child).
It could also be that there were multiple photographers on the scene in various places shooting with strobes simultaneously which created all the extra light.
The original version is less heavily edited, but shows the same lighting patterns. He just got a great angle with good ambient light, and sunshine reflecting from the wall on the left.
Because of the wide range he must have done a good deal of shadow/highlight recovering; the desaturation and dodge/burn done for the final submission were over the top and made the image look artificial.
I find that being overaggressive with shadow recovery can result in fakey, HDR-like images where the lighting on the subjects' faces can seem... off.
Verb: Terja - to manipulate photos
Adj: Terjat,Terjade - fake photo,photos
When I went to Israel in 2008 for the 20th time in my 26year life, I learned that in Israel the average income is almost $30000, while in every neighboring country the average income is well below $5000, some under $1000. Palestine included. Israel is a completely different world than the countries that surround it. The situation over there is crazy and though it didn't end to well for my dad here(check my posts to figure that one out) I can see why he snuck out of the army 6 months early to get the f out.
While the earlier version could also have been edited (quickly) before publication, there's no doubt that it had much more believable lighting and coloration. For the WPP submission, Hansen desaturated the photo globally, particularly the blue and yellow. He also locally edited the luminance of the left wall to be consistent with the right. The effect of both changes was to isolate the marcher's angry red faces as the primary point of interest.
The photographer has played with levels, dodge & burn et al, so the aesthetic output is "fake", but those are actual people, holding their actually dead children.
The editing might mean he is not worth the prize.
But that's it -- nothing more to discuss. Not "where is the blood?", "why aren't they curled", "they're holding their eyes closed", etc. I do hope those are just the opinions of one disturbed individual.
Try reading some World News, from world sources (European, African, Arab, etc), outside the US media, and you would see tons of similar photos. Including tons of similar unedited photos from Gaza.
People would have defended more and have shown MORE respect for the moon landing photos.
Things to keep in mind:
1) Error Level Analysis is extremely unreliable. Especially if an image has had several saves and editing passes (and given that he did it on a small jpg, not the full image).
2) Sharp edges can also come from the sharpen tool, which can be manually applied selectively on different areas (instead of in the whole image).
3) Lighting changing and artifacts can also some from sloppy dodging and burning work. Both artifacts introduced by (2) and (3) also show up on ELA.
4) The time metadata he mentions in the article is useless. For one, the camera time could be totally wrong depending on the timezone settings. When I did some photo work, I always forgot to set mine when changing timezones frequently.
The only alterations are light (dodging burning) and color.
As far as the subject matter, place of scene, people etc, it's all genuine.
Assuming the sun is really top-right, it is actually expected that people's faces are illuminated from the left, given the setup: the people are between two walls, the left one being illuminated, the right one in shadow. The light you see on their faces is reflected from the left wall.
But using an off-camera flash is not the same as Photoshopping three photos into one, and the OP not even mentioning a flash as a possibly explanation for the "inconsistent" lighting leaves me with significant doubts.
Note: I don't have an opinion of whether the image is fake or real, but I am not sure the OP's analysis considers all possible lighting situations.
I put "authentic" in quotes mostly in homage to an excellent series of Errol Morris' essays on nature of documentary truth and history of photographic manipulation. Worth reading. If you like it, you probably should watch some of his films too.
The only character that looks odd to me is the one at the bottom left, and even then, it could be genuine.
To me that looks like some disgruntled redditors who can't take the fact that Morgan Freeman is just too tired of PR to scan and type on IAmA himself. So the most plausible explanation that he's just resting on the couch while some agent is typing has to be debunked by means of pseudo-hackish image forensics which don't prove anything after all.
What really interested me was the article's description of Photoshop's XMP metadata block, giving a history of saves/exports/edits. I never knew this level of detail was stored with the images. It also makes me think, how long until there are tools to easily edit such metadata? The website takes the metadata as gospel truth. At some point in the future, this is not going to be a reliable position to take.
My point is, in the future, you won't be able to even use the metadata as a starting point because all of it could have been changed with easily-available and well-known tools.
Edit: It's failing.
EDIT to add: Don't know why this appeared twice. Never happened before.
I believe the main argument is entirely about photography: clearly composition was great on its own, but lighting was heavily edited; when is a picture still a picture, so to speak? It's an important question for photojournalists and their awards.
Whether this overlaps with the customary Israeli pushback on this sort of material, I honestly don't know.
"an auto-critical photo essay showing the paradoxes of conflict-image production and considering the role of the photographer in the events"
If there were some place else to get programming or startup news like you can get here I would never come back. I wish there were such a place or that HN stopped allowing politics and NSFL stuff like this.
The graphic part is the visible emotions of those in the crowd.
Looking at your posting history you submitted a before and after [edit: Google Earth satellite] photo of the earthquake in Japan 2011. To me that is far more shocking as I can't help but imagine briefly at the impact on those there, hundreds of children lost and others orphaned.
Death, pain and suffering happen all the time and while it shouldn't be fetishised it also doesn't seem a great idea to hide or deny it either.
Fixed. Not every reader of HN shares your specific sensitivities.