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« November 10 Links | Main | Fact Checking, Iranian Style »

Wednesday, November 10 2010

Was This Photo Digitally Altered?

This AFP/Getty Images photo raises some questions of digital alteration.


Palestinian women protect their noses and ears as they walk past an Israeli policeman ready to fire tear gas canisters at Palestinian stone throwers in the Arab village of Issawiya in east Jerusalem on November 9, 2010. (AFP/Getty Images/Ahmad Gharabli)

The caption's copied directly from the AFP/Getty Images web site (run your cursor over the caption's first words).

The soldier's presumably standing in a shadow, but his silhouette looks way too dark, compared to the women in the background. Even more curiously, if you look carefully enough, you can actually make out the Israeli Border Police patch on his arm.

Something just doesn't add up.

I can't prove anything, but it's worth asking if the border policeman was artificially darkened. Darkening's an image-altering technique that can create a more menacing effect (OJ Simpson comes to mind).

As an aside, the photo's silhouette could confuse readers that the policeman is pointing a gun at the women. Fortunately, the caption identifies the object (tear gas) and notes the unseen context: Palestinian rock throwers in Issawiya.

The rub is that newspapers don't necessarily publish the full caption, and readers don't always bother to read captions. And Palestinian activists often seize on these kinds of images for their own purposes, and they won't provide the missing context.

So if anyone sees a lighter version of this photo, let me know. I'd like to -- pardon the pun --see more light shed on this.



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It could be he is just in the shade.

The first girl is actually speaking on a cellphone (it can be seen in her hand if you look closely)

Rather than wonder about the shadow figure of the IDF soldier, you might want to express curiousity about why this choice of photo was made by the AFP, instead of one showing the ACTUAL targets of the troops on scene -- namely, the RIOTERS right down the street, creating a dangerous situation for motorists passing by.

1. A shadow will still "hug" the surroundings - like the other 2 shadows - and become distorted - and not replace the backround with a clearly formed image - so this is not a shadow.
2. The darkness on the soldier is on the exposed side as indicated by the other shadows - which is impossible - unless the photo has been doctored.

Clear cut case of photo-tanlering

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