Basically, Hansen 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 what it’s worth, Hansen claims that the light in the alley was natural — and to be fair, sometimes magical lighting does occur. I think most of you will agree, though, that the photo simply feels fake — there’s just something about the lighting that sets off a warning alarm in your brain. As for why World Press Photo didn’t forensically analyze the photo using freely available, advanced, accurate analysis tools such as FourMatch or FotoForensics… who knows.
Oh, I forgot to mention the best bit: Hansen was meant to provide the Raw file for his winning photo, as proof that he didn’t significantly modify the final image — but so far, he hasn’t.
The bigger discussion, of course, is whether Gaza Burial is actually fake — or just enhanced to bring out important details. This is a question that has plagued photography since its inception. Should a photo, especially a press photo, be purely objective? Most people think the answer is an obvious “yes,” but it’s not quite that simple. What if a photo is perfect, except that it’s taken at an odd angle — can you digitally rotate it? What about cropping? What if there’s dust on the lens/sensor/film — can you digitally remove it?