FauxPhotography: The NYT cheesecake shot isn't photoshopped

Four different people have sent me this alleging that the mike cord has been photoshopped out:


Yeah, it looks weird, but there’s an innocent explanation. And the site we owe our thanks to for getting to the bottom of it is … no, I can’t say it. Crediting them for anything is simply too hard.

Photographer Jim Wilson explains:

If you look carefully at the frame, you will see a slightly wide band of dark area that runs from the head of a marine with dark hair in the back row up to the singer. Look carefully at the wall from that marine’s head up to the top of the frame and you will see the blurred cable that was in motion because the dancer was moving it as she spoke to the marines. The full cable is in the shot but is blurred. The reason it isn’t sharp is because the frame was shot at 1/6 of a second in a room that was dark. The flash filled in the frame but wasn’t the main light, the room light provided the main light for the frame. The long exposure balanced the light from the strobe on my camera with the ambient light in the room. The cable was moving as was the singer and the marines. If you look carefully at the frame, you’ll see that nothing in the frame is tack/crisp sharp. I looked in the paper that I got out here and know that the reproduction left the wire virtually invisible.

Move along, nothing to see here. Well, uh, there is something to see here — it just doesn’t involve photoshop.

Check this guy out:


Great photo. And the article it ran with is fun too, especially the headline. The Angelz naturally have their own webpage, which I’m obliged to link because this is, after all, an important news story.

If you’re at work, clicking that probably won’t get you fired. Just suspended.

Update: I’ve got to call our pals at Newsbusters out on this one, too. I’m 95% sure that’s not a billboard in the upper right; it looks to me like freestanding letters on some sort of scaffold frame, a la the Hollywood sign. I spent a half-hour last night googling “al janoub” to see if I could prove it, but I can’t.

In any case, I think we’re dealing here with an example of slight overexposure, not photoshop chicanery.

Update: AJ Strata thinks it’s a photoshop. As I said to him below in the comments, we have two possibilities here:

1. Wilson snapped a photo that happened to catch the mic cord at a moment when it was undulating just so.
2. Wilson put his career on the line by photoshopping a photo there was absolutely no reason to photoshop. And rather than either photoshop a solid cord into the picture or remove the cord from the photo altogether, he decided to mix and match just so it would look as strange as possible and thereby draw attention.

What would Occam say?