Hoax Museum Blog: Photos

The Navalny Affair — Supporters of Vladimir Putin have been caught in a flat-footed attempt at character assassination. Wanting to smear blogger Alexei Navalny, who's been a fierce critic of Putin's government, they created a picture showing Navalny meeting with the exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky. The implication was that Berezovsky was funding Navalny. Then Putin's supporters published the picture in one of the party newspapers. But the picture was a clumsy fake. The original, undoctored version of the…
Posted: Wed Jan 18, 2012.   Comments (2)

Evidence of Extraterrestrials in North Korea? — The Alien Disclosure Group (ADG) UK has posted a video on youtube in which they suggest that the funeral of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il may have been attended by extraterrestrials. Or very tall earthlings. One or the other. The ADG seems eager to see aliens in any mystery. But their video does highlight two legitimate items of strangeness from Kim Jong-Il's funeral. The first is that there apparently really was an extremely tall person standing in the crowd watching Kim…
Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2012.   Comments (5)

Disappearing Political Cleavage — Usually when politicians become the victims of photo retouchers it's because they've become undesirable to someone in power, and so they're summarily removed from the photo. It's far less common for their images to be retouched in order to desexualize them. This is usually the fate of actresses and models. But this is what happened recently to Rathika Sitsabaiesan, a young Canadian MP. Her cleavage was erased from the image of her that appears on the House of Commons website. The…
Posted: Thu Sep 29, 2011.   Comments (2)

Obama vs. Perry: “Boys Will Be Boys” — Status: Real Photos, False Captions The political dirty tricks season is upon us again, and so we get the image above, which has recently been circulating around conservative blogs. (Thanks to Gayl for forwarding it to me.) Its intent is obvious: to show that Rick Perry was serious and heroic as a young man, whereas Barack Obama was a bit of a punk. The pictures themselves are real. The picture of Obama was taken in 1980 by Lisa Jack when both were freshmen at Occidental College in…
Posted: Tue Aug 30, 2011.   Comments (3)


The Fake Photos of Hurricane Irene — Reality Rule 4.2: Should a suitably dramatic picture of a major event not exist, one will be created. This rule was in full effect during Hurricane Irene, as twitterers by the thousands shared fake hurricane photos with each other. The NY Times Technology Blog has collected some of the more popular ones: Widely claimed to show Irene approaching North Carolina, this is really a photo of a storm approaching Pensacola, Florida around three weeks ago. An image of the East River flooding…
Posted: Mon Aug 29, 2011.   Comments (4)

RIP Geoffrey Crawley — Geoffrey Crawley, who played a role in debunking the Cottingley Fairy hoax, died recently on October 29. The New York Times ran an interesting article about his life. From the article: From the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s, Mr. Crawley was editor in chief of the magazine British Journal of Photography. His 10-part series exposing the Cottingley fairy photographs as fakes appeared there in 1982 and 1983. Mr. Crawley had been asked to determine the authenticity of the photos in the late…
Posted: Tue Nov 16, 2010.   Comments (7)

Twiggy ad ruled misleading — The UK Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that an advertisement featuring Twiggy is misleading. The ad has Twiggy claiming that "Olay is my secret to brighter-looking eyes." In fact, the brightness of her eyes in the photo is due to digital manipulation. Link: sky.com Real Twiggy Fake Twiggy
Posted: Wed Dec 16, 2009.   Comments (6)

Airbrushed Babies — According to The Telegraph, politicians and industry experts have been shocked (shocked!) to learn that magazines occasionally photoshop pictures of babies: The practice came to light in a BBC documentary, My Supermodel Baby. In footage of a photo shoot for the magazine, the casting director explained how the photograph of baby model Hadley Corbett, five months, was airbrushed: "We lightened his eyes and his general skin tone, smoothed out any blotches and the creases on his arms," he…
Posted: Tue Nov 17, 2009.   Comments (5)

Demi Moore’s Disappearing Hip — On the December cover of W magazine, Demi Moore's left hip doesn't line up with the rest of her leg. (look right above the 'R' in Moore.) It would seem that a photo editor must have screwed up. According to jezebel.com: Although W has a history of using master retoucher Pascal Dangin for its celebrity covers and fashion editorials, the magazine's rep says that the retouching was done in-house by Alas and Piggott's staff. We contacted Demi's rep, too, but haven't heard back. (Thanks, Joe!)
Posted: Fri Nov 13, 2009.   Comments (9)

The Ghost of Babinda Boulders — According to legend, the ghost of Babinda Boulders in Australia lures young men to their death. (I think Babinda Boulders is also called Devil's Pool.) A recent visitor to the site took a photo in which a "ghost face" appeared. Or so she claims. I can't see anything. Can you? Link: Cairns.com
Posted: Fri Nov 13, 2009.   Comments (9)

Lee Harvey Oswald’s ‘Backyard Photo’: Not A Fake! — Photo-fakery expert Hany Farid has confirmed, after a two-month analysis, that the famous photo of Lee Harvey Oswald posing in his backyard with a rifle was not a fake. From unionleader.com: Farid said over the years, he's received dozens and dozens of requests to analyze the photo. What helped him decide to take on the project was a recent study he worked on looking at how the human brain processes images. He used a computer program Facegen, to build a virtual 3D model of Oswald's…
Posted: Fri Nov 06, 2009.   Comments (3)

Kelly Brook’s Buns Get Bigger — I find it interesting that the history of photo fakery in communist countries is all about removing unwanted political figures from photos, whereas the history of photo fakery in capitalist countries is largely about removing unwanted cleavage, nipples, wrinkles, etc. From The Sun: TELLY hottie Kelly Brook's ample cleavage has been deemed too bun-tiful for transport chiefs. London Underground's new poster campaign for the 29-year-old's stint in West End play Calendar Girls has been…
Posted: Tue Nov 03, 2009.   Comments (4)

Health warnings on airbrushed photographs? — A group of French politicians has proposed a law that would require a warning to be placed on digitally enhanced fashion images. From The Telegraph: A group of 50 politicians want a new law stating published images must have bold printed notice stating they have been digitally enhanced. Campaigning MP Valerie Boyer, of President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party, said the wording should read:"Retouched photograph aimed at changing a person's physical appearance". Mrs Boyer, who has also…
Posted: Wed Sep 23, 2009.   Comments (20)

The Lying Down Craze — An internet fad that managed to escape my attention is the "lying down" craze, in which people post photos of themselves lying face down, hands against their sides, in unusual locations. This sounded like fun to a group of British doctors and nurses: "The staff were pictured face down on resuscitation trolleys, ward floors and the air ambulance heli-pad during a night shift at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon, Wilts." Their mistake was to then post the photos on Facebook. Seven of…
Posted: Thu Sep 10, 2009.   Comments (5)

Shanghai Sperm Bank Offers Helping Hand — Pictures showing a Shanghai Sperm Bank that allegedly "gives men a hand" with sperm donations did the rounds last year, and now they seem to be circulating again. The deal is supposedly that if you agree to get a health check and abstain from sex and masturbation, then you can donate your sperm 4-5 times a month. You get paid RMB200 per session. The sperm bank is located in Ren ji Hospital, No 145 Shan Dong Zhong Lu, Building 1, 7th FL, near Fu Zhou Lu, Shanghai, China. Click here and
Posted: Fri Sep 04, 2009.   Comments (15)

Did Robert Capa fake the ‘falling soldier’ photo? — Robert Capa's photo of a soldier falling backward from the impact of a shot to his head is one of the most famous images in the history of photography. But for decades people have argued that Capa staged the shot. In the hoax photo archive I have a brief summary of the controversy. I come down on the side of those who feel the photo wasn't staged. Adding new fuel to the controversy, a Catalan newspaper now claims to have found evidence that Capa staged the shot. From The Independent:
Posted: Wed Jul 22, 2009.   Comments (2)

The Photoshopped Refugee? — 11points.com has posted a list of 11 photos where black people were awkwardly photoshopped in or out. Most of them I've seen before. A few of them I even have on this site. But there was one I hadn't seen before. It's titled "Photoshopped diversity in a Lebanon refugee camp." 11points provides this description: In the summer of 2006, this photo ran in the New York Times and is a very important lesson about photojournalism. If you're going to Photoshop a black guy into a Lebanese…
Posted: Mon Jul 13, 2009.   Comments (27)

Is one of the Michael Jackson rehearsal photos faked? — Holymoly.com suggests that one of the rehearsal photographs of Michael Jackson, said to have been taken the night before he died, is fake. They point out that "the backdrop mysteriously disappears in between Michael's legs." They describe this as a "classic photoshop blunder" and suggest "this could be a fake composite, with Jackson's image being super imposed on top of another pic." It does look unusual, but I wouldn't be so quick to label it as photoshopped. That may just be how the…
Posted: Wed Jul 01, 2009.   Comments (10)

Students hoax Paris Match — A pair of French students attending Strasbourg university won first place in Paris Match's photoreporting competition, a prize that came with €5000. But upon receiving the prize, they revealed that all their photos had been staged. From the British Journal of Photography: Guillaume Chauvin and Rémi Hubert won for a reportage chronicling the harsh difficulties some poor students encounter while studying at the Strasbourg university. Their images showed students living in basements or…
Posted: Fri Jun 26, 2009.   Comments (3)

Does Farrah Fawcett’s hair spell “SEX” in her famous poster? — In honor of Farrah Fawcett, let's revisit one of the major urban legends of the late 1970s: that the curls of Fawcett's hair, in her famous red-bathing-suit poster, spell out the word "SEX." This legend arose to explain the incredible popularity of the poster, which sold over 12 million copies (by some accounts). It was always a bit of a mystery why that image in particular became such a focus of popular fixation. After all, there were plenty of other posters of scantily clad…
Posted: Thu Jun 25, 2009.   Comments (18)

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