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Altered photos are nothing new (see Photo Tampering Throughout History via Dartmouth College), but only in the past 4 years have altered photos become a tool used to influence prospective voters in US elections.
In 2004 Jane Fonda was inserted into a Ken Light photo forever associating John Kerry to her and tarnishing his anti-Vietnam war protest record. Not only are such manipulations damaging to politicians but the photographers as well. You can hear first hand how this was the case with in my EXIF and Beyond interview with Ken Light. A quick synopsis of the truth behind this alteration (see the photo below and to the left) can be found on Snopes.
Yesterday a photo was released on James Kunstler’s site (potentially NSFW) targeting prospective 2008 US Presidential voters with an American flag bikini clad Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin holding a rifle. It’s unclear at the moment if this is an actual photo or a manipulated photo. Either way damage will no doubt be done to her and the Republican ticket headed by John McCain.
Note: I’ve confirmed this is a Photoshopped photo of Palin. The original can be seen here on Flickr elizabeth – american flag bikini rifle and was originally taken by Addison Godel (Doctor Casino). Addison was not the person who Photoshopped the photo. The culprit has yet to be identified.
Considering the wide spread availabilty and use of Photoshop one has to really scrutinize what you see. The old saying “Don’t believe everything you read.” certainly should be updated to “Don’t believe everything you read or see.” The Obama and McCain campaigns will no doubt have damage control teams organized to address accusatory statements or articles as has always been the case, but they’ll certainly now be ramping up to address incriminating photos whether doctored or real.
All politics aside how does such photo manipulation effect you? Are your opinions swayed by such tactics and is your photographic work subject to such manipulation? If so what are you doing to protect your photographs?
UPDATE: Now available An Interview with the Creator of the Sarah Palin Bikini Gun Photo
[tags]Photography, Photoshop, manipulation, Sarah Palin, John Kerry, Ken Light, James Kunstler, John McCain, Barak Obama, election[/tags]
Hopefully it is her because she looks gooood in that picture. 🙂 But really, the ease in which Photoshop can manipulate photos makes it difficult for legit photographers because it forces us to disregard photos like this because it’s hard to know whether this is fake or not. My guess is that it is fake but who knows?
If you have travelled the interweb tubes for more than 5 mins, you quickly become accustomed to seeing ‘shopped photos. You don’t need many ‘skillz’ to pop heads onto different pictures. I just see them for what they are; an epic fail. You just need to be aware that it happens. Luckily, it is usually pretty easy to spot the fake and/or find the original source image (as you did).
What angers me are the lazy, partisan MSM that accept photos without question (see Iran missiles, Beirut smoke, Pallywood, et al) – bias is causing editors to not question what they receive from stringers, esp if it fits their world-view of events.
I am skeptical of most images that attempt some type of defamation of a political character.
@Richard nope a fake as I found out today. See the note I’ve added to the post.
@mg the fast adoption of such forgeries is very alarming. It’s tough for most people to tell. Sadly photo editors don’t seem to have the time to figure it out.
@Mark smart approach. That is how I approach things by default it has to be proven to me that a photo is real for me to believe it these days. Sad state of affairs really.
For those unaware Gary Crabbe has a post detailing a NOVA Science Now program discussing photo fakes. There is a quiz to test your skills. Check it out. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sciencenow/0301/03.html
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Thank you for saving a screenshot of James Kunstler’s site with the original faked photo. That is also where I discovered the image early Tuesday evening and linked to it in a subsequent post. At that time I also did a google search for the image to see where else it was and did not find it anywhere else. I wonder if that is where it originated? Either way, I removed the image and edited my post with a mea culpa for falling for the ruse. Another post is forthcoming that will link to this one also. Good information.
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Look. I’ll come right out and say that I was the one that Photoshopped her head onto Elizabeth’s body. I was bored this past Saturday and ended up posting it on my blog with the note: Sarah Palin: Gun-brandishing beauty queen.
I didn’t realize it became a meme until my brother called me this morning. At no point did I expect anyone to mistake the photo for fact. I’m a pretty shitty Photoshopper, if you haven’t already noticed. What did hope for was that it would get people talking. Mission completed. If you want to discuss the matter any further, just email me. I even have the saved .psd on my computer.
@Paul Glad the screen capture was of interest. I didn’t realize it was pulled.
@The Culprit I’ve emailed you. When you can please respond.
With an image like this you need to be very foolish to think it is real, so much so that I can imagine the author would never suspect that anyone would fall for it or pass it off as real. The fact that it made the internet rounds, however, suggests that I might be overestimating the sophistication of the audience. It doesn’t help that many people want the image to be real which will naturally influence their judgement. If it is not intended to mislead but it is intended to sway opinion and create a stir, it become a politcal cartoon created from photographic material. As such it isn’t much more nefarious than the recent New Yorker cover of the Obamas. That is to say it will piss off about half the people and delight the others, but mislead nobody.
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