In February, the winner of the prestigious World Press Photo of the Year award came under fire after allegations surfaced that it had been significantly altered. The organization has stood by the photo, but a forensic image analyst, Neal Krawetz, now claims his analysis proves that it is a composite of multiple photos.
The photo in question, an image by Swedish photographer Paul Hansen called "Gaza Burial," shows a group of men carrying the bodies of two children killed in an airstrike through Gaza City. According to the results of a forensic analysis published by ExtremeTech yesterday, it might be a composite of three different photos spliced together and then altered to illuminate the faces of the subjects. The photographer has denied the allegations.
Krawetz, a computer scientist and author who specializes in "non-classical computer forensics," blogged about his reservations with the photo, which he saw after a friend sent him an article on the controversy. By looking at the file's Photoshop save history, the shadow placement in the image and an error-level analysis of the pixels in the photo, Krawetz says he found that Hansen's image was significantly manipulated--a controversial topic in documentary photography.
Hansen responded today in an interview with news.au.com, denying that the image was a composite or in any way fraudulent. He explained his process like this:
World Press Photo has previously defended Hansen's work. Santiago Lyon, the director of photography at the Associated Press and chairman of the 2013 contest jury, said in a press conference earlier this year that "we are confident that the images conform to the accepted practices of the profession" and that some images had been disqualified from the competition based on alteration.
"Paul Hansen has previously explained in detail how he processed the image. World Press Photo has no reason to doubt his explanation," the organization stated to the Huffington Post UK today. But they will be doing some forensic sleuthing of their own in response. "However, in order to curtail further speculation - and with full cooperation by Paul Hansen - we have asked two independent experts to carry out a forensic investigation of the image file. The results will be announced as soon as they become available."
I wouldn't say that the photo is a fake but some parts of the composition certainly are fake. In competitions like this I would rather photographers rely on their own merit rather than software to create stunning photos.
Any one with Photoshop can produce amazing and stunning photos from otherwise uninteresting pieces. I do it all the time! I'm sure that even without altering the photo this one would have ranked high in the competition but for me some of the power the photographer is trying to convey is lost on the obviously enhanced photo.
Whether or not this composition constitutes a fake, there are numerous examples of staged photos and faked deaths by Palestinian "stringers" who play media people from the international community who are sympathetic to their cause. Here's one example:
Despite the fakes, the tragedy is real and heartbreaking. The grief of those parents is unimaginable; however, most of the tragedy in Gaza and the West Bank is of their own making and entirely avoidable. It is all the more poignant when the most innocent suffer for the offenses of their parents and their leaders. Hopefully they will someday rise up against Hamas, Fatah, and all those who inflame hatred of Jews and Israel to keep their terroristocracy in power rather than actually solve the real problems of the Palestinian people.
Yeah...again the journalistic inaccuracy is stunning. This isn't a Britney Spears nude shot to call it fake, it implies the image is not real at all. At best the photographer went a little overboard with the HDR brightness ranges, which speaks more of bad form than the authenticity of the photograph.
On a side note. Boiling down the one of the world's most complex and long lasting sociopolitical, ethnic and religious conflicts to "it's Palestinian parents fault", as some comments have, is... somewhat simplistic.
The darkroom tradition of burning and dodging goes back as long as we've been making prints. All the great photographers of the world have done it. Some were better in the darkroom than they were at taking the photo in the first place. In the digital age, the very icons for burning and dodging in Photoshop look exactly like the original manual tools we used to accomplish these tasks when making paper prints. I can't understand why a photographer these days would be somehow disqualified by using these same techniques. Cutting and pasting, digitally erasing details, combining images -- these are obviously no-nos in the news and documentary world, but adjusting shadows and light have been around since the beginning of photography.
Isnt the fact that all cameras are digital and have their own error correcting software built in already violating some of these rules?
This is above and beyond wrong, if proven true.
The photographer could quickly settle the issue by providing the original unedited raw file.
This image is so perfect it just looks made up.
I would only say it should be disqualified if it was cut and paste though. The light and color are usually "touched up" in most photos.
I like the picture and it pulls my heart strings.
A Guide To Not Saying Dumb Things About Angelina Jolie's Double Mastectomy.
I like to applaud Angelina Jolie for her brave intelligent attitude. She is wonderfully beautiful in so many different ways.
For some odd reason, it has been made impossible to leave a comment on the orginal posted article.