Hoax Museum Blog: Photos

Playing football as fire rages

The image shows a crowd sitting in bleachers calmly watching a football game, apparently unconcerned as a building burns to the ground behind them. The bizarre juxtaposition has led some people over the years to suspect that this image is fake — perhaps a result of darkroom photo manipulation. But in fact, the image is entirely real and was unstaged. more…

Posted: Wed May 13, 2015.   Comments (0)

Manhole Cover on Stairs

This image has circulated online since at least 2013, and recently it's been doing the rounds again. Often it's given the caption, "Best Manhole Cover. Ever." Is it real or photoshopped? Honestly, I'm not sure. But my best guess is that it's a 'real' photo, but that isn't a genuine, functional manhole cover. more…

Posted: Sun May 03, 2015.   Comments (2)

The Composite Princetonian

On March 27, 1940, the front page of The Daily Princetonian carried a photo that it described as the "Composite Princetonian." It said the photo had been created by analyzing the photos of 2100 Princeton students, then selecting 12 who exemplified the varieties of types on campus. The photos of these 12 were combined into a single composite photo. The next day the truth was revealed. The composite photo was actually a doctored photo of Errol Flynn, minus his mustache and given a crew haircut.

Posted: Thu Apr 30, 2015.   Comments (0)

Killer Whale Attacks Bear

Does this photo show a killer whale attacking a bear? No, it's just an April Fool photo hoax that's apparently still fooling some people.

Posted: Mon Apr 27, 2015.   Comments (0)


New Hoax Photo Test

I recently completed a major update and revision of the Hoax Photo Test. It now has 50 photos to challenge your photo-fakery detection skills. And it includes an old-time photo fakery level, featuring photos from before the time of Photoshop. So give it a try!

Posted: Thu Nov 13, 2014.   Comments (4)

Minge Pies?

An image circulating on social media appeared to show a box of mince pies, made by the frozen food chain Iceland (which is a UK company, not an Icelandic one), whose packaging featured an unfortunate spelling error (or perhaps an unfortunately stylized font), offering "Minge Pies" instead of "Mince Pies." Minge is British slang for a woman's genitals. The photo trended with the hashtag #mingepies. The picture elicited comments from Twitter users such as: "Something about Iceland's mince pies doesn't look quite right." "Oh Iceland... you really should have used a different font."

Posted: Wed Nov 05, 2014.   Comments (1)

Crabzilla

A photo of what appears to be a gigantic crab lurking in the waters of Whitstable harbour in Kent recently went viral, after first appearing on the Weird Whitstable website. Quinton Winter, who runs Weird Whitstable, asks, "Does this satellite photo of the harbour reveal a giant crab or unusual sand formation?" Unfortunately, the answer is neither. The correct response is that it's photo fakery. The original satellite image of the harbour, minus the crab, can be found on Bing Maps. So evidently someone (I'm assuming Winter) added the crab in. For the record, there are some…

Posted: Wed Oct 15, 2014.   Comments (0)

The Cheerleader Poops

On September 30, 2014, a photo of "terrified cheerleaders" was uploaded to reddit, where it was presented as material for a "photoshop battle," in which the challenge is to creatively alter the original image. A redditor named "totalitarian_jesus" submitted an entry titled "where will you be when diarrhea strikes?" in which he made the cheerleader appear to be losing control of her bowels in mid-air, provoking expressions of horror from her teammates below. This quickly became the most highly voted entry, and it immediately inspired a prediction that the altered image would…

Posted: Tue Oct 07, 2014.   Comments (8)

Selfie With a Shark

Reddit Pics managed to debunk this selfie with a shark photo (titled "At the time, I had no idea I wasn't swimming alone") pretty quickly. Redditor "BigAndDelicious" figured out that the shark in the background was actually cut-and-pasted from an image photographed by Gerard Soury in South Australia.

Posted: Thu Sep 04, 2014.   Comments (0)

My Lips Are For Blowing

It seems pretty obvious, if you think about it, that the album "My Lips Are For Blowing" by Svetlana Gruebbersolvik cannot be a real album. After all, even if you assume that the name of this album might have been an awkward translation from a Russian original, why would Tamla records (aka Motown) have put out an album of a Russian recorder player? Nevertheless, the image of this album cover has circulated widely, and a lot of people seem to be under the impression that it's an actual album. For instance, it recently popped up on the "History in Pictures" twitter feed, with no…

Posted: Mon Jul 07, 2014.   Comments (4)

Owl formed by Hula Hoops in a cup of coffee

This image has been circulating online since at least 2012, accompanied by the claim that the likeness of an owl was not created by photoshop, but rather by dropping two Hula Hoops snacks into the coffee. This is not true. The real story is that this image was definitely created by using photo manipulation software. A pair of owl eyes, such as the ones below, was digitally layered onto the coffee. The original creator of the image remains a mystery, but it achieved Internet fame on Sep 26, 2012, after conceptual artist Stuart Rutherford posted the picture on Twitter with the…

Posted: Tue May 13, 2014.   Comments (0)

Great White Photo Fake

Earlier this week, a picture of a great white shark swimming close to the shore made the local news here in San Diego. I actually saw the broadcast. The news team interviewed a shark expert who confirmed that it was definitely a great white in the photo, and went on to explain that great whites were becoming more common in the area because of the growing seal population. An area of slight discoloration in the water at the right of the photo was said to be the remains of an animal the shark had killed. But now it turns out the photo was a fake. The original picture showed a dolphin,…

Posted: Sat Apr 26, 2014.   Comments (1)

Crying Child Photo Controversy

There's some controversy over the Daily Mirror's recent cover showing a crying child. The context implies it's a British child crying because of a lack of food, but (as blogger Dan Barker uncovered) it's actually an American child who was crying because she lost an earthworm. Turns out it was a stock photo that the Daily Mirror acquired from Getty Images. But the Daily Mirror is defending itself. Its editor Lloyd Embley writes, "Imagine the stink if we'd used a pic of an actual child who had received food parcels." [theguardian.com]

Posted: Wed Apr 16, 2014.   Comments (1)

Fire Dragon

If this was just a random unsourced picture on the Internet I would probably suspect that it had been manipulated to create the dragon effect. However, it comes from a professional photographer, Noel Celis of AFP Photo, and is hosted on Getty Images. And these sources provide no indication that the photo was manipulated in any way. So I have to conclude that it's real. In other words, that it's a case of pareidolia, rather than photo fakery. Getty Images offers this caption: "A fire breather performs in Chinatown in Manila a day before the Chinese New Year on January 22, 2012. The…

Posted: Wed Apr 16, 2014.   Comments (1)

The Rossendale Fairies

Manchester artist John Hyatt took some photographs of the landscape around Rossendale in Lancashire. But when he later enlarged those he images he noticed they showed tiny winged creatures that looked like fairies. Hyatt told the Manchester Evening News: "It was a bit of a shock when I blew them up, I did a double take. "I went out afterwards and took pictures of flies and gnats and they just don't look the same. "People can decide for themselves what they are. "The message to people is to approach them with an open mind. "I think it's one of those situations where you need to…

Posted: Fri Apr 04, 2014.   Comments (15)

Surf Heart

Recently seen circulating on Twitter with the caption, "Heart glare reflection on the shores of Hawaii". The picture was taken in Hawaii. That's true. Waikiki beach, to be specific. But the 'heart glare reflection' isn't real. The photo is a manipulation created by DeviantArt user 'charmbuster' back in April 2008. He wrote: "an experiment... this is a slight photomanip, the shape was so close i had to make it a heart! (waikiki beach)" It's been floating around the Internet ever since 2008. Sometimes it's titled 'sea heart' or 'beach heart'. (via PicPedant)

Posted: Sat Mar 08, 2014.   Comments (0)

Operation Cat Nip Confusion — In August 2011, hundreds of cats were rescued during a hoarding case, and then a team of veterinary students volunteered their time to spay and neuter the cats in order to prepare them for adoption. A photo of this mass spaying/neutering event (named Operation Cat Nip) ran in the Gainesville Sun. But about a year later that same photo began appearing on Twitter, stripped of any explanatory context, and accompanied by the caption: "Retweet if you say NO to animal testing." The…
Posted: Fri Feb 28, 2014.   Comments (4)

Optical Illusion Cow — This cow illusion has been circulating since at least 2011. And here's the original, which, I believe, is a stock photo. Though I don't know which stock photo agency it's from.
Posted: Thu Feb 20, 2014.   Comments (0)

Theodore Roosevelt Rides a Moose — Theodore Roosevelt served as President of the United States for 8 years, from 1901-1909. He was, as Wikipedia notes, acclaimed for his "cowboy persona and robust masculinity." However, his masculinity was not so robust that he once rode a moose, despite what this photo appears to show. In 1912, Roosevelt split from the Republican Party, after having become unhappy with its increasingly conservative policies. He then ran for President as head of the newly formed Progressive Party.…
Posted: Thu Jan 23, 2014.   Comments (5)

Posing with Mandela — The Mandela-themed hoaxes continue. Kenyan senator Mike Sonko recently posted to his facebook page a photo of himself posing with Nelson Mandela. It's such an awful photoshop job, that it's hardly even worth debunking. Still, for what it's worth, the original image that he doctored was one of Mandela posing with Muhammad Ali. [telegraph.co.uk]
Posted: Sat Dec 14, 2013.   Comments (0)

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