The worst photoshop I’ve ever seen (Update: Picture killed)

posted at 7:05 pm on August 5, 2006 by Allahpundit

Not the very worst, of course. The worst professional-grade photoshop, I mean. It is, as Charles asserts, laughably bad:


Half the time you spend when you use the clone-stamp tool is spent on undoing those repeating patterns to make the image look more realistic. Rarely are they as noticeable or as numerous as they are here, though, even before retouching. And for such a cheap effect too: generating more smoke. It reminds me of the Greenwald thing — if you’re going to lie, why not at least get something out of it?

Since we’re on the subject of photos, check out Moonbat Media‘s series from today’s pro-Hezbollah rally — yes, pro-Hezbollah — in the U.K. Their first shot blew me away, and all the more so when I recropped it a bit. Call this one “Londonistan”:


I wish those flags were photoshopped in. But they aren’t.

Update: Left & Right seals the deal. Nice catch.

Ace thinks this is the straw that breaks the back of whatever credibility the media still has when it comes to the Middle East, particularly with respect to the stringers they hire to cover it. It probably was the photographer, Adnan Hajj, who ‘shopped the image, if only because Reuters HQ could surely manage a slicker job than this. Although it’s worth noting that there are plenty of other shots of smoke taken by Hajj on the wires right now, and they look pretty realistic to my untrained eye.

I don’t think this is evidence per se of bias, either. Like I said: if you’re going to gamble your career on a photoshopped image, why do it for something as innocuous as a smoke plume? There are a thousand images of bombs going off on Yahoo News at the moment. No one would have noticed this one if not for the shoddiness of the manipulation. A cameraman with an agenda would be painting bruises on dead kids at Qana, not making a black cloud extra billowy. I bet what happened is that he got sent to cover the airstrikes in Beirut, came away with nothing but bad shots, and made a poor choice in a moment of desperation. Nothing necessarily political about it.

As for Ace’s point about painstaking layers of editorial fact-checking and the lack thereof, true enough. Although even there, I wonder: do editors typically review every shot before it hits the wires, especially ones as comparatively mundane as this? Anyone know? Surely they place some degree of trust in their stringers not to manipulate images. Assuming Hajj is, in fact, a stringer and not an employee of Reuters. Which none of us knows.

Whatever the answer, whoever did this can’t photoshop worth a crap.

Update: I hope the foregoing doesn’t make it sound like I’m letting Reuters off the hook. You can draw a motive matrix here with four possibilities: political bias on the part of Hajj and the Reuters editor who approved the shot; political bias on the part of one and incompetence on the part of the other; or incompetence on the part of both. The last is the least damning — but still pretty damning.

Update: Charles notes that Adnan Hajj was present at Qana and had a ringside seat for the ceremonial presentation of the child corpse by the green-helmeted Lebanese death pimp we’ve all come to know and love. But that can cut one of two ways. It could suggest that Hajj is cooperating with Hezbollah, which would explain how he got such a plum position for the money shot. Or it could suggest that he’s an honest photographer, since the money shot shows no signs of having been doctored. And as I’ve said, if you’re out to tar Israel, a shot of a dead child at Qana is exactly where you’d want to do it.

Update: Bryan at Sanctuary previews Hajj’s next photo from Lebanon.

Update: Dan Riehl points to evidence that Hajj has access to Hezbollah. New York Times photographers have access to Iraqi snipers too, though, and that doesn’t prove–

Never mind. Bad example.

Update: A search of “adnan hajj reuters” turns up a hit from February 2006 — at I won’t spoil the surprise. Just go look.

Update: For the benefit of Photoshop neophytes, it took me about two minutes of clone-stamping to extend Hajj’s smoke cloud out a bit.


And two more minutes to clean up the original version.


Update: Rusty wonders if another Hajj image was photoshopped. It’s an interesting theory, but as always, let’s beware of Loose Change-ism.

Update: Charles says he’s found the “original” photo and has created an overlay to prove it. What I think he’s found is an earlier photo taken from the same spot as Hajj took his shot. Compare the two; note the window that I’ve circled.


There’s something there in the second image that isn’t in the first. And I sincerely doubt that a guy who can’t figure out the clone-stamp tool would have been attentive enough to detail to add it in. It’s possible that the spot is an artifact created by sharpening the image, which generates white speckled distortions if you boost it high enough; there are similar spots in the windows of the buildings next door. But the Hajj image doesn’t look boosted to me.

You’ll also note that the smoke trail at the far right edge of the first image doesn’t appear in the second. It could have been ‘shopped out — but why would it have been? They wanted more smoke in the second image, not less.

Anyway, the earlier photo was taken by an AP photographer. Hajj works for Reuters. If Reuters was so desperate as to doctor a shot of the Beirut skyline, would they really risk copyright infringement to do so?

This is getting weird. I’m bowing out.

Update: Apologies to everyone who was kind enough to trackback, but the links are now all busted. This happens every time we move a post over from the Blog to Top Picks; we’re working on fixing it. If it’s not too much trouble, replacing the old URL with the new one will solve the problem. Thanks.

Update: All right, one more comparison.


Note what appears to be light reflecting off something on the roof in the second photo, but not in the first. The positioning of whatever it is that’s in the window on the left side of the oval in each picture also seems to change slightly, but maybe that’s just me.

And now I’m really and truly done.

Update Okay, one last thing. You want to drop two tons of shinola on Reuters and become a blog folk hero in the process? Follow the red arrow:


See that? It looks like the corner of a rooftop, and the smoke’s originating from it. But it’s not in the AP photo Charles found, which means that building’s not really there. Hajj, or whoever the culprit here is, photoshopped it in from some other image.

Find the image he got it from and the game, as Bill Paxton once famously said, is over, man.

Five bucks says Dan Riehl digs it up. If he hasn’t already.

And now I’m done.

P.S. How long before the first post defending the photo’s authenticity hits the front page at Kos?

Update from Michelle: Picture kill!

Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air



Trackback URL


When the usual executive order came in to “enhance the horror” with smoke and mirrors, something obviously got lost in the translation this time. Rookies.

GPE on August 5, 2006 at 8:16 PM

Talk about obvious huh! Jesus, you’d think with their budgets, they’d find someone that could almost pull it off. Just in passing, I didn’t see, aside from that it was a Reuters pic, where it was lifted from. Any links to the actual story? Thanks.

THeDRiFTeR on August 5, 2006 at 8:19 PM

Found it. Thanks anyhow!

THeDRiFTeR on August 5, 2006 at 8:26 PM

The Yahoo News link is here.

Allahpundit on August 5, 2006 at 8:31 PM

OMG… If any of my pshops were this bad, MM and Allah would drop me on principle alone. And Reuters publishes it?

-Bryan @ Sanctuary Blog

Prophet on August 5, 2006 at 9:45 PM

I showed this to my stepfather (a journalist from a long line of journalists) he was completely dismayed. Of course he has ethics and honesty.

V5 on August 5, 2006 at 9:50 PM


Major point missed in your missive. Your points are ok, but any business I know of would treat contractors with additional scrunity. I know of only a few contractor/consultants whose standing in any industry is so pristine that their reputations are beyond reproach.

Second, news orgs have specialists who are photo editors just like content editors. These guys are sharp and have a depth of experience that should be able to spot fakes without breathing hard. Photoshoping is their stock in trade and this kind of stupidity they would have spotted.

JohnMc on August 5, 2006 at 9:51 PM

This Just in:

Evil Jooos nuke beirut:

Photographic Evidence here!

LegendHasIt on August 5, 2006 at 9:57 PM

Michelle didn’t write this, JohnMc. I did. Interesting points, though. Thanks.

Allahpundit on August 5, 2006 at 10:01 PM


Awesome photo evidence. Definitely Pulitzer material. I hope you are getting the best treatment for your radiation burns that money can buy. /snark off

V5 on August 5, 2006 at 10:04 PM

Oops that should be, “LegendHasIt,” not, “LegenHasItm.”

V5 on August 5, 2006 at 10:04 PM

While you’re all nit-picking some Reuters photo, you’ve completely ignored how Disney World has now been hit by Israeli bombs.

frankj on August 5, 2006 at 11:17 PM

I’ve seen better photoshoping down with MS-PAINT!

Scratch one career (or perhaps a promotion knowing the MSM).

CrazyFool on August 6, 2006 at 12:12 AM

I’m a total graphics retard and the fakery is obvious even to me.

These people have no shame.

speed647 on August 6, 2006 at 12:15 AM

First thing i noticed was the terrible cloud job….
Keep up the good work!

noodlehead on August 6, 2006 at 12:19 AM

My otherwise stable disposition was ruined by the U.K. pro-Hezbollah rally picture-viewing.

Seeing George Galloway initially told me to discard the event for what he is. Then also seeing placards with Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Vladimir Lenin caused my blood to flow in the opposite direction.

The U.S. is slowly losing its collective mind. Europe is already there.

Entelechy on August 6, 2006 at 12:31 AM


I don’t think this is evidence per se of bias, either. Like I said: if you’re going to gamble your career on a photoshopped image, why do it for something as innocuous as a smoke plume?

So if the photoshop is that bad (and I agree that it is …), couldn’t that be an indication that this was a pattern. Is this really the only photoshopped photo that we’ve seen coming from Hajj or whomever? Maybe he’s not staking his career on a few plumes of smoke, but has become complacent with repeated offences.

DDG on August 6, 2006 at 1:23 AM

Okay, so the Disney being bombed by Israel photo was proved a fake by a co-blogger; the rest of his post is lies.

frankj on August 6, 2006 at 1:25 AM

Okay, there could be one other explanation. I am posting this with the fear that as soon as I hit the “submit” button I will suddenly realize I missed something, but … it might be possible that the AP photo was taken later, after the building was destroyed. The building was on fire, so we can assume it was hit by something, possibly bad enough to bring it down. We DID seen this on a much more modern building in N.Y. City not so long ago.

So … the first photo shows the building burning and later, another photo is taken after the building has collapsed. Did I miss something? Of course, it might have been brought down by a controlled demolition, lol.

SirGregor on August 6, 2006 at 1:51 AM

Dan Rather has proclaimed that photo to be “fake but accurate.”

pjcomix on August 6, 2006 at 8:59 AM

Reuters has admitted it’s a fake and withdrawn the photo.

drjjoyner on August 6, 2006 at 9:16 AM

Of course they will probably use a forgotten term from the 1990’s. It is a lie but a noble lie.

RobCon on August 6, 2006 at 10:27 AM

I’ve found the original photo. It’s here


bucktowndusty on August 6, 2006 at 11:14 AM

This “fake but accurate” photo points out the hypocriscy of the left, which believes that any deception used to get its message across is justified as it exposes “the larger truth” and viciously attacks those exposing their lies.

“Media analyist” Neil Gabler is a perfect example. He always insists that the media should “speak truth to power,” which means trashing Bush and demonizing conservatives. He is a believer in the most paranoid fantasties about Bush’s evildoing, which he believes the newspapers including the NYT have conspired to cover up. Yet, yesterday on “Fox News Watch” he excoriated the allegedly reactionary coverage supporting Israel and attacked Michelle Markin for having the termacity to state on O’Reilly (whom he always excoriates as a vicious reactionary) that photo ops in the so-called Qana Massacre were staged and that the MSM at best gave a very biased account.

I would love to see Eric Burns ask Gabler about this picture in next Saturday’s show and ask about any possible tie-in with the Qana story. (I understand the same “photographer’ provided pictures for that as well.)

ptolemy on August 6, 2006 at 11:20 AM

Ya know this whole topic could be considered ‘hate speech’ against Adobe Systems Inc!

speed647 on August 6, 2006 at 12:24 PM

Actually Allah, the first post I know of defending the photo was someone commenting on my blog, saying that we somehow got suckered.


-Bryan @ Sanctuary

Prophet on August 6, 2006 at 1:35 PM

hey there . . . worst photoshop ever is right ( and yes I’m a pro )

of course any highly paid ( or rookie for that matter) professional Reuters photo editor should have seen through it as quickly as y’all did . . . speaks more of their agenda then any other thing could possibly have

ars_longa on August 6, 2006 at 2:55 PM

Is it just me? If I look at this photo with gaze slightly out of focus, I see dollar signs in the smoke.

Vanya on August 6, 2006 at 5:04 PM

“We are sorry for any inconvenience.” – article.

No, that’s completely untrue. Roto Reuters is merely ticked off they got caught.

Reuters has been siding with our enemies for years. Reuters…Al Jazeera….one and the same.

doingwhatican on August 6, 2006 at 5:40 PM

Adrian Hajj – interesting name. Couldn’t be the name of a muslim could it, a muslim that wanted the Hezbollah to be shown in the best possible light?

docdave on August 6, 2006 at 5:57 PM

Adnan Hajj was a Lebanese photographer.

Entelechy on August 6, 2006 at 8:26 PM

For a job like that picture with smoke what you really want to do is use compositing software. I can take a picture like that and use Apple’s Motion2 particle system and give you smoke that would convince the fire department.

Kevin R on August 6, 2006 at 9:09 PM

The Photoshopped Reuters photo likely isn’t a crop from the AP photo. It was taken from a similar location, but the buildings don’t line up horizontally or vertically. And like you said, why would he take smoke OUT?

Mark Jaquith on August 7, 2006 at 2:37 AM