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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Apropos Truth-Telling

Reuters Withdraws All Photos By Freelancer

LONDON (Reuters)—Reuters withdrew all 920 photographs by a freelance Lebanese photographer from its database on Monday after an urgent review of his work showed he had altered two images from the conflict between Israel and the armed group Hizbollah.

Global Picture Editor Tom Szlukovenyi called the measure precautionary but said the fact that two of the images by photographer Adnan Hajj had been manipulated undermined trust in his entire body of work.

"There is no graver breach of Reuters standards for our photographers than the deliberate manipulation of an image," Szlukovenyi said in a statement.

"Reuters has zero tolerance for any doctoring of pictures and constantly reminds its photographers, both staff and freelance, of this strict and unalterable policy...."


Posted by: CARL WEESE


Blogger Unknown said...

"Reuters has zero tolerance for any doctoring of pictures and constantly reminds its photographers, both staff and freelance, of this strict and unalterable policy."

Anyone else seeing the irony in the fact that this quote is coming from the Global Picture Editor at Reuters?

All joking aside, it's just a shame that he missed the lousy photochopping job to begin with before it was selected to be published, or even accepted by Hajj.

12:33 PM  
Blogger Impasse Lebouis said...

Photographer Adnan Hajj should have known that, in this digital age, image doctoring a la W. Eugene Smith is now a shared secret.

While Gene Smith jealously kept all his negatives and allowed no one to work on them, it was not till after his death that the truth be known.

Digital photography and the Internet no longer provide that safe-heaven that Smith enjoyed while working for Life Magazine.

2:17 PM  
Blogger Paul Butzi said...

"Photographs may not lie, but liars may photograph."

-Lewis Hine

3:13 PM  
Blogger Photoburner said...

OK, let me show my ignorance, what trith was discovered after Smith's death? Google hasn't been too helpful.

4:05 PM  
Blogger Skip Williams said...

Yes, if you look at the photo, the guy really did a botch job with the clone tool. Anyone could see the cloned smoke in a second. I don't understand how he thought it would pass even cursory examination.

Stupidity, IMO.


4:10 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

With all the crappy 'chop jobs that get caught, how many good ones make it through? Scary thought...

4:36 PM  
Blogger John Roberts said...

Hooray for Reuters! Photo manipulation has it's place, but not in journalism.

On the other hand, how many stories over the years have been "photoshopped" to advance a personal agenda, or political point of view. Slanting the news is certainly nothing new.

9:02 PM  
Blogger kathleen fonseca said...

it's all smoke and mirrors after all ;)

10:44 PM  
Blogger Mike F said...

To fully implement their policy of no alteration, I propose that all film submitted must be exposed but not developed and must never be developed. This will prevent any possibility of chemical alteration of the image.

Similarly, all digital photos must be in RAW and must never be converted. Anything else, after all, is digital manipulation.


11:23 PM  
Blogger Scott Kirkpatrick said...

On Gene Smith -- In sorting things out for his extensive biography of Smith, Jim Hughes commented frequently on how Smith's efforts with burnin and bleach in the darkroom frequently lifted extra detail from the shadows. A good example is the burial at sea picture, where Smith's work on the "sea' part showed the rapid s-turns in the carrier's wake. Obviously heavy use of burn-in simplifies and strengthens pictures by removing extraneous elements. I don't recall Hughes noticing any examples where Smith changed the meaning by this process, although he may be accused of adding emphasis. Perhaps M. Impasse has some examples to add, where today's ethical boundaries are overstepped.

Smith posed pictures, or when working on a photoessay that allowed repeated trials to build up a scene, (e.g. Spanish Village) he shot some pictures repeatedly until he got what he was looking for. The modern version of this that gets us excited is posing corpses, but that does go back to Alexander Gardner.

With regard to Adnan Hajj (a Shiite name, I gather), the bloggers who have been trying to check his entire production of new shots claim that there are many more than two examples that were enhanced to add "victim" power. Hajj also shot in Kafr Kana, where there have been allegations of Gardnerism. In this, I am trying to only pay attention to the bloggers who manage to stay calm and coherent for the length of their comments. Not all do.


2:56 AM  
Blogger Photoburner said...

Well there are proposals that the raw shot should be archived for public viewing with full EXIF.

And this is not the only shot that has been found to be fake on Reuters and Reuters was dragged kicking and screaming to the admission of the problem.

The manipulation was found by Charles Johnson of the LGF blog. In the mean time the count is up to 6 or 8 phony photos and going up. The original was the easiest to see tho.

7:24 AM  
Blogger CKWork said...

Mike F is too late with his poposal - from the specs of the new Nikon 80

"Image Overlay merges a pair of selected RAW (NEF) files taken with the D80 to create a new composite image that can be saved in RAW or JPEG format."

We'll just have to trust the photographer :)

7:33 AM  
Blogger kathleen fonseca said...

i have a friend who, until recently, was a Whie House Press Photographer. He grouched at me one evening that he was shooting a Senate hearing on childhood diabetes and his shooting angle was partially blocked by a water pitcher. He asked the photographer in front of him if she could slide the pitcher a few inches to one side and she refused, dutifully reminding him that photojournalists are not to alter the scene in any way (much less the photo, i presume).

Considering the wholesale sacrifice of truth and impartiality in the press coverage of a certain middle east conflict over the last 3 years, i'd say that the publicity surrounding the self-righteous dumping of this poor freelancer by Reuters for digitally enhancing the visual impact of missile destruction is a just a bit disingenuous. Like wow, the press has suddenly experienced a long overdue pang of moral conscience? Somebody pinch me.

11:05 AM  
Blogger Stan B. said...

Regarding photoburner & Kirkpatrick-- Smith not only had incredible darkroom skills that accentuated details- but he also allegedly montaged negatives. The famous photo of the good doctor in Africa is said to be just that!

1:56 PM  

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