As a master graphic artist, designer and photographer who has many years experience taking photographs of the natural environment, people and the world around me, my attention was recently drawn to a photograph taken by Kevin Frayer showing the damage in Lebanon caused by an Israel air strike. What made a light go off inside my head was that this picture alleged to show a banner strung across rubble saying "Made in USA" and cast a dark shadow upon my country.
I felt insulted by this photograph and then gave it a closer look noticing that the type fonts upon the banner were clearly generated by a computer and even covered the folds in the banner. This photo had clearly been doctored and manipulated and released for propaganda purposes by Hezbollah sympathizers. To prove this to myself I made an analysis of the photograph which confirms that it was indeed a doctored photograph that had been manipulated using a computer. So much for truth in advertising!
Figure 1 shows the original photograph with the caption, "Lebanese youth stand on a banner in protest against the United States in the rubble of a building destroyed in Israeli bombardment in the southern suburbs of Beirut, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2006. On the second day of a United Nations ceasefire between Israel and the Hezbollah, Lebanon's Defense Minister said that 15,000 Lebanese soldiers will be deployed in south Lebanon by the end of the week." (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer) AP - Tue Aug 15, 10:25 AM ET
Figure 2 shows an enhancement of this banner. Note that the text is not hand painted or done using spray paint as is the case with most such banners or graffiti one sees as a result of people expressing themselves after a natural disaster or man made destruction. Rather, the type fonts upon the banner are commercial fonts of a style one would easily have access to using a graphics art and photo manipulation program upon a computer, something I know given I have produced thousands of graphic images and photographs and regularly use such programs to create art and designs.
Figure 3 shows an enlargement of the "USA." Note that the type fonts fall over the fold in the banner and do not follow the curves of the banner. This is exactly how the type fonts would appear if dropped onto the banner using a computer graphics program. Also the "U" seems to have been flipped horizontally as it is thinner on the left than upon the right, indicating that each letter was dropped in separately and then fitted into space.
Figure 4 shows "Made in" which has been enhanced to reveal a halo effect around the lettering which is very typical of computer generated graphics. Apparently the area beneath these letters was doctored to remove markings and then the letters were dropped in using a computer graphics program.
After making this discovery for myself I wondered who is this person Kevin Frayer and what other photographs has he taken? Also I was curious why a major media provider like the Associated Press would distribute such photographs internationally and take them as genuine when they were so obviously faked?
A search on the Internet immediately revealed that Kevin Frayer had published other photographs which were suspected as having been manipulated. In A Reprise: Media Photo Manipulation by Ricki Hollander there is a photograph by Kevin Frayer of a picture of a Lebanese woman among bombed out ruins. This same or very similar type photograph was also shown among ruins in a different setting suggesting such photographs have been planted or other wise manipulated. (See photo below).
Figure 5 shows a photograph submitted by AP photographer Kevin Frayer on July 31, 2006. The caption reads:
A photograph of a Lebanese girl is seen in the rubble of a mosque that was hit in an Israeli missile strike in the village of Qana, southern Lebanon, Monday, July 31, 2006. At least 56 residents of the village were killed when Israeli warplanes attacked the village early Sunday morning.
(Note: The number of 56 victims has since been "corrected" to half that.)
Figure 6. In yet another staged photograph by AP photographer Kevin Frayer a dead baby is paraded about for the camera with the caption:
A critical review of this sequence of photographs reveals that a number of photojournalist photographed the same dead baby at different times, that the scenes of what some have termed the Qana Massacure which sparked riots by Hezbollah supporters at the United Nations building in Beirut were staged and reinacted by Salam Daker, 39, Head of Operations for the Lebanese Civil Defense in Tyre, to project Israel as baby killers and do not reflect truth in reporting.
Clearly this indicates that Kevin Frayer is submitting manipulated photographs to the Associated Press and that these are being used as propaganda to sway public opinion and perhaps effect political decisions. In fact, according to Ricki Hollander, Kevin Frayer's photographs are not the only ones out of the war torn Lebanon that are being questions. Apparently their is a cottage industry of fraudulent photojournalist taking pictures and then using computers to manipulate them, submitting them to news services, probably getting paid handsomely for their forgeries and building a reputation for themselves.
Ricki Hollander states that, "Reuters was forced to withdraw over 900 pictures taken by Adnan Hajj after Charles Johnson of the Little Green Footballs blog exposed the fact that the news agency’s photographer doctored images he had taken of the Israeli/Hezbollah war, darkening and enhancing smoke spirals in the photographs."
Figure 7 shows a photograph doctored by Adnan Hajj which was removed by Reuters along with some 920 other photographs by Adnan Hajj. On August 9, the New York Times published an article about Adnan Hajj's doctored images, entitled "Bloggers Drive Inquiry on How Altered Images Saw Print." ABC news also reported these this doctored photograph showing the original and manipulated version.
An excellent review of numerous other manipulated photographs coming out of Lebanon is featured at The Reuters Photo Scandal: A Taxonomy of Fraud. The author has done an excellent job of describing various forms of fraudulent photography including:
Given the fact these manipulated photographs and their captions tend to slant public opinion and view Israel and the United States as villains, I would seriously question the ethics of the Associated Press and other news services in distributing such doctored photographs. This is akin to creating a great fraud upon the America public and the international audience! How many people around the world will look at these doctored and manipulated fraudulent images and get the impression that America is the great Satan that Islamic fundamentalists would like them to believe it is?
News services need to begin questioning the authenticity of photographs they publish and at least have them scrutinized by experts to determine if they have been manipulated. Apparently many photographs are submitted by free lancers who are bias in their reporting to the extreme that they doctor and manipulate their images for political or propaganda purposes. The fact that these photographs are then being distributed around the world by agencies like the Associated Press and Reuters makes them puppets on a string, being exploited by photo terrorists!
The real story here may not be the photographs we are seeing so much as the lies we are being told by the photographers submitting manipulated photographs to the world press. It is certainly realized that when terrorists take a hostage and make a video of their heads being cut off or them being shot, that this is done for propaganda and to terrorize the world. It may not be so obvious that when free lancers from a war zone submit photographs with cut lines that are anti-American or anti-Israel, that these are manipulated photographs; that they are lies told and propagated by those who are hostile to the United States and our allies.
The war on terrorism involves not only a war of weapons, but a war for the heart of humanity. Such terrorist organizations as al-Qaida and Hezbollah know that they can use propaganda to sway world opinion as well as to raise money to support their terrorism. When faked and manipulated photographs are given the stamp of approval by major press agencies which beam them around the world , then are shown to people in a position to contribute money, these images help collect donations and fund future acts of terrorism. Therefore the distribution of fraudulent and manipulated photographs by the major press agencies is contributing to the coffers of terrorists organizations.
This practice by major press agencies of permitting terrorist or terrorist sympathizers to use the media to distribute manipulated and/or fraudulent photographs and/or video around the world needs to be stopped. By letting our enemies, the enemies of democracy, use the media to distribute their lies around the world is contributing to our own destructions.
Such corruption of photojournalism is scandalous! At least one other professor of journalism agrees with me. David D. Perlmutter, Professor and Associate Dean for Graduate Studies & Research at the University of Kansas School of Journalism & Mass Communications, has an outstanding piece on the "Fauxtography Scandal" entitled, Photojournalism in Crisis. Also Gary Hershorn, Reuters News Pictures Editor for North America has helped bring this issue to light and open a debate with respect to what is permissible in terms of using software to edit photographs.
I would certainly suggest that dropping text into a banner drapped across ruins of a bombed building that says "Made in USA" is NOT a permitted usage of photo editing software! Fortunately the truth is gradually being brought to light as Licia Corebella reports in Altered war: Manipulated photos highlight untruths in Mideast conflict and as Liz Marlantes accounts in 'Doctored' War Photos Ignite Controversy: Photographer Charged With Altering Mideast Conflict Photographs Is Fired.
I am a strong advocate of a free press and as such I understand that to remain free the press needs to remain credible, honest and true to its subscribers, and not act as a puppet for terrorist or enemies of our state and nation. Certainly the old adage, "Do not believe everything you read in the newspaper," is true when it comes to journalism in the 21st Century. In fact, I plan on giving every photograph I see by Kevin Frayer and others in Hezbollah controlled areas a very close look and doing the same with any image that is associated with an anti-American or anti-Israel caption. You might be wise to do the same, least you want to be brainwashed by al-Quida, Hezbollah and other terrorist organization supporters and sympathizers!
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