Was the 2013 ‘Photo of the Year’ a Photoshopped Fake?

At the beginning of the year the World Press Photo of the year was awarded to Swedish photog Paul Hansen whose photo “Gaza Burial” took top honors. But only weeks passed before some in the industry began to wonder if the photo had been manipulated in photoshop. Some even said that it was a composite image. If this were so, critics said, that would violate the spirit of the contest. (Seen above with my little “helping” notation)

The photo shows a gut-wrenching scene of a two dead Palestinian children wrapped in burial robes and being carried by distressed family members to be laid to rest.

One skeptic, computer scientist Dr. Neal Krawetz, did an extensive exploration of what he says is the manipulation of the prize winning photo. “Hansen’s picture is a composite,” he concludes.

Another critic at the website Extreme Tech agreed that the photo is a “fake.” In fact, the site called it a “fraudulent forgery.”

Extreme Tech said that Hanson “took a series of photos–and then later, realizing that his most dramatically situated photo was too dark and shadowy, decided to splice a bunch of images together and apply a liberal amount of dodging (brightening) to the shadowy regions.”

For his part, Hanson denies the claims of his detractors.

Hansen said the “photograph is certainly not a composite or a fake.”

“I have never had a photograph more thoroughly examined, by four experts and different photo-juries all over the world,” he said.

World Press Photo is standing by Hanson’s photo, but Hanson has been accused of photo manipulation before.

Finally, there is no mistaking why this was the so-called “photo of the year.” After all, it gave succor to the Palestinians and by extension attacked the Israelis. That is why this photo was the winner.

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  • GarandFan

    Ah……..for the days of 35mm film. Back when you could simply say; SHOW ME THE NEGATIVE!

  • jim_m

    Fake but accurate.

    What difference does it make?

    The question is irrelevant.

    As the dems prove time and again, it is not the facts that matter it is only the ideology. If the ideology is correct the facts become “irrelevant”.

  • Alicante56

    All of the experts say it’s not a fake Of course, the fact that it isn’t a fake is “irrelevant” though, isn’t it?

    • jim_m

      computer scientist Dr. Neal Krawetz, did an extensive exploration of what he says is the manipulation of the prize winning photo. “Hansen’s picture is a composite,” he concludes.

      For the incredibly ignorant: “composite” means that it is a fake. I guess you left out at least one expert in the field that says it is a fake. Funny how the computer expert says it is a fake and the photographer and his journalist buddies who gave him the award are now “experts” who say that it is not a fake.

      Please. Award juries are not examining the data to see if it is a fake. They are looking at the very things he manipulated to judge whether it looks good.

      • JWH

    • Alicante56

      After examining the RAW file and the JPEG image entered in the competition, these are the experts’ conclusions:

      ‘We have reviewed the RAW image, as supplied by World Press Photo,
      and the resulting published JPEG image. It is clear that the published
      photo was retouched with respect to both global and local color and
      tone. Beyond this, however, we find no evidence of significant photo
      manipulation or compositing. Furthermore, the analysis purporting photo
      manipulation is deeply flawed, as described briefly below.’

      1. XMP Analysis. The XMP analysis reflects an incomplete
      understanding of the Photoshop metadata and also paraphrases the
      contents in a misleading way. The referenced block of metadata merely
      indicates that the file was adjusted in the Adobe Photoshop Camera Raw
      module on multiple occasions before it was opened in Photoshop and then
      saved out as a JPEG. In fact, this metadata does not track whether
      multiple files were composited.

      2. Error Level Analysis. The forensic analysis of the JPEG
      compression as performed by error level analysis (ELA) does not provide a
      quantitative or reliable analysis of photo manipulation. This analysis
      frequently mis-identifies authentic photos as altered and fails to
      identify altered images, and as such is not a reliable forensic tool.

      3. Shadow Analysis. The shadow analysis is flawed in its logic
      and conclusions. It is true that linear constraints that connect points
      on an object with their corresponding points on the shadow should
      intersect at a single point (assuming the presence of a single light
      source). The location of this intersection point, however, cannot be
      used to reason about the elevation of the light in the scene. The
      intersection point is simply the projection of the light source into the
      image plane. This projected location can be anywhere in the image
      (including below the ground plane) depending on where the photographer
      is oriented relative to the sun.

      Dr. Hany Farid, Professor of Computer Science at Dartmouth College
      and co-founder and CTO of Fourandsix Technologies & Kevin Connor,
      CEO of Fourandsix Technologies

      • jim_m

        None of this explains why there have been at least two versions of this photo published. Not so undoctored after all.

        That being said this is not like previous fauxtography where the image has been almost entirely photoshopped or where the scene had been completely staged. (of course the latter is still entirely possible in this case and given the subject matter, highly probable).

        • Alicante56

          Both of which are straw men arguments which have nothing to do with the fact that this photo has not been “faked”.

          The possibility that something you made up completely, “the highly probably” possibility that the photo is faked, is nil. Your imagination and reality are two separate things. If you can’t distinguish between the two there might be medications your doctor can prescribe that will help.

  • Commander_Chico

    Those kids were and are still dead though.

    • jim_m

      So was Mohammad al Dura, just not in the way the press reported it.

      • Commander_Chico

        Keep your hasbara talking points ready.

        • jim_m

          Why am I not surprised that you deny that the Al Dura thing was a fraud?

          You have to be either invincibly ignorant or a raging anti-Semite to still think that this was in any way real. Your pick.

  • herddog505

    Winston Smith was an amateur.


    Is this really the future of news? We’ve learned that the media is collectively about as honest as a pack of used car salesmen, about as unbiased as the fans of any British soccer club, and about as competent as the inmates of any mental hospital you care to name. Now add the ability to create from whole cloth images of anything they want to prove anything they care to report, and I’d say you’ve got the basis for propaganda that would have made Goebbels goggle in disbelief.

    It may be that the photo is a fake. It may be that it is genuine. How are we to know? Who are we to trust to tell us? What does that mean for anything else that is reported?