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!