August 06, 2006

First Casualty


This weekend, Charles Johnson uncovered yet another breach of journalistic integrity: Reuters Doctoring Photos from Beirut?. Reuters has since killed the bogus photo and posted the original, unaltered photo. Apparently the photograher thought the photo of Beirut being bombed wasn't dramatic enough.

From Ynet News: Reuters admits altering Beirut photo.

A Reuters photograph of smoke rising from buildings in Beirut has been withdrawn after coming under attack by American web logs. The blogs accused Reuters of distorting the photograph to include more smoke and damage.

The photograph showed two very heavy plumes of black smoke billowing from buildings in Beirut after an Air Force attack on the Lebanese capital. Reuters has since withdrawn the photograph from its website, along a message admitting that the image was distorted, and an apology to editors. ...

Adnan Hajj, the photographer who sent the altered image, was also the Reuters photographer behind many of the images from Qana which have also been the subject of suspicions for being staged.

Reuters has dropped the freelance photographer, who is claming that he was just trying to "remove dust marks." Yeah right. More on the work of Adnan Hajj at Riehl World and Ace of Spades.

UPDATE I: Jawa Report exposes another altered photo and inaccurate caption filed by Hajj.

UPDATE II: Michelle Malkin has more links on the topic (and still more).

UPDATE III -- Aug. 7: Reuters withdraws all photos by Lebanese freelance (via Michelle Malkin who has a good suggestion for what Reuters should have done instead)

And Power Line notes more creative captioning by Hajj.

UPDATE IV: Drinking From Home raises questions about two more photos (not by Hajj though). (via Tom Pechinski)

UPDATE V: Power Line recently questioned whether controversial photographer Adnan Hajj had staged major elements of a series of photos showing a destroyed bridge in Lebanon. However...

In the comments to the LGF post about the photos, I wrote:

I have strong doubts about these photos being staged with cars being moved, the bridge falling, etc. There's not an easy way to described what I'm seeing (a diagram would help), but I think that extreme foreshortening of a telephoto lens contrasted with the inclusiveness of a wide-angle lens could explain [what] appear to be anomalies.

For instance, the bridge appears to me to have already fallen in every picture. Notice the white, angled piece of pavement hanging on the right, far side, directly behind the upright car. You can see a hint of it in every picture, indicating to me the bridge is already down.

I think the overturned truck is simply cropped out of the picture of the guys running across the bridge. Notice the red-and-white posts. One near the rear of the truck (see truck pics) has a rust-colored object on it. That post is not seen in the "running across the bridge" shot, indicating to me that the photographer could have been standing with the truck just out of frame.

Notice, too, as someone else has already mentioned, that a large rock-like object directly under the truck bed is catching the sunlight in both pictures of the truck, suggesting the truck was not moved. There is also a flat piece of debris with a rock beside it in both photos.

There's no doubt that Hajj is untrustworthy, and there may very well be some acting going on in these photos. But I'm not yet convinced of the other accusations.

I later added:

Another indication to me that the truck was not moved is the fissure in the pavement. You can see it or a hint of it in every photo (expect of course the one of the river [Photo 3]). In the first pic [Photo 1], the guys are running across the fissure on the far right-hand side of the bridge. In the first photo of the overturned truck [Photo 2], you see a faint line of the fissure running in front of and parallel to the truck, and under the guy's feet. In the last pic [Photo 4], the truck is near the fissure (bottom left corner) on the far left-hand side of the bridge. This all indicates to me that the truck was simply out of frame in the first photo. ... I'm completely ignoring the last photo posted at Power Line since it is obviously not the same bridge [Photo 5].

I decided to quickly create some diagrams to illustrate my point. These are not intended to be anywhere near scientific or even to scale. I simply wanted to show how the differences in wide angle and telescopic lenses, as well as camera position and cropping, could explain the effects some are misinterpreting as staging. The links below contain photos 1, 2 and 4 from the Power Line post:

Diagram: Photo 1 (wide angle lens)

Diagram: Photo 2 (telescopic lens)

Diagram: Photo 4 (wide angle lens)

Sub-Update I: I added the tower to each diagram, and I added Photo 3 to the Photo 1 diagram for better context.

Sub-Update II: Power Line points to this photo. It was taken from the opposite river bank, but it still fits with my diagrams.

Posted by Forkum at August 6, 2006 06:46 PM