Paul Hansen's image of a funeral procession in a Gazan alleyway on Nov. 20, 2012 is undeniably striking. Two men, their faces warped with grief and anger, carry the shrouded bodies of their young nieces, killed in an Israeli missile strike, while a crowd of men follow behind them. When it was selected as the winner of the 2013 World Press Photo contest in February, the chairman of the contest jury, Associated Press Vice President and Director of Photography Santiago Lyon, praised the photograph's "incredible collection of powerful motifs of imagery, that when it all comes together makes for a really strong photograph."
But was it real? And what does that mean at a time when photo software can aid in collecting the very motifs that made the image so remarkable?
On Monday, British tech writer Sebastian Anthony claimed on the blog ExtremeTech that the photograph isn't really a photo at all; according to image analyst Neal Krawetz, it's three photos that were enhanced and stitched together using Photoshop. The proof is in the code, Krawetz argues, which contains a record of the composition. Applying other filters and tools to the image, he writes, shows evidence of additional manipulation including image sharpening and brightening. "Basically," Anthony argues, "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."
Hansen, for his part, told news.com.au today that the allegations just aren't true. "In the post-process toning and balancing of the uneven light in the alleyway, I developed the raw file with different density to use the natural light instead of dodging and burning," the Swedish photographer explained. "In effect to recreate what the eye sees and get a larger dynamic range."
As I understand it, Hansen is arguing that his mild image manipulation is the digital equivalent of under- or over-developing select portions of the image in a darkroom. No fancy bells and whistles -- and definitely no composites of other photos. And as news.com.au points out, this seems to be acceptable according to the somewhat ambiguous rules for the World Press Photo contest, which states that the "content of the image must not be altered. Only retouching which conforms to the currently accepted standards in the industry is allowed."
At the end of the day, an image from the November conflict between Hamas and Israel was bound to create controversy. The meaning of another photograph from that bout of violence -- depicting BBC World journalist Jihad Mashrawi holding his dead son in a hospital -- has also been subject to revisions. Initial reports claimed the child was killed by an Israeli attack, while a U.N. investigation found that the death owed to an errant rocket fired by Hamas.
Image manipulation is becoming more and more common in news photography, but many media organizations maintain certain journalistic standards for the pictures they use. Krawetz argues that Hansen's image violates "the acceptable journalism standards used by Reuters, Associated Press, Getty Images, National Press Photographer's Association, and other media outlets." Anthony, however, doesn't seem so certain:
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.... Is it okay for a photographer to modify a picture so that it looks exactly how he remembers the scene?
For what it's worth, the qualities that Lyon, the jury chairman, cited for the award are fundamental to the photograph:
This photo was chosen because it is so powerful.... The combination of the small size of the bodies -- they're very young children -- combined with the variety of expressions of pain and rage and sadness.... This image sums up the story very powerfully, very poignantly.
On Tuesday, World Press Photo told the Huffington Post that two independent experts will be carrying out a forensic investigation of the image file with Hansen's cooperation, and later informed Poynter that it had found "no evidence of significant photo manipulation or compositing."
Ultimately, Hansen may have edited the picture to emphasize the features that the judges cited in deeming his image the best photo of the year. But what Lyon described in announcing the award goes far beyond lighting in a dark alley.
FREDRIK SANDBERG/SCANPIX/AFP/Getty Images
China's People's Daily may have taken some heat this week for publishing what the Shanghaiist described as a "leering" slide show of a "beautiful" journalist, but some news outlets in Kazakhstan have been one-upping the Communist Party daily when it comes to misogyny. This week, in honor of International Women's Day on March 8, the Kazakh website Vox Populi is hosting a Miss Military Kazakhstan contest -- encouraging readers to vote not for models but for "beauties" from various military and law-enforcement units who "wear shoulder straps" and guard the country.
On Wednesday, Kazakhstan's Tengri News reported on the competition as if it were a horse race:
Judging by the current results of voting the National Guard of Kazakhstan has the most beautiful officers. Three girls from the National Guard of Kazakhstan have taken the leading positions in the rating: Sergeant of the National Guard Bibigul Sauytova from Astana is in the first place, Junior Sergeant of the National Guard Saltant Bayzhumanova from Astana is in the second place and Sergeant of the National Guard Natalya Fokina is in the third place.
It's not clear how many times this particular contest has been held, but Tengri News reports that authorities in the country do host an annual Lady of Kazakhstan Police contest, with the winner appearing on the cover of a police magazine.
Which brings us back to International Women's Day. According to the website for the century-old celebration, the "tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts." In keeping with that tradition, Vox Populi will award Miss Military Kazakhstan with a digital camera. And in a separate development, Tengri News is reporting that police in the country will give female drivers flowers and forgive them traffic violations in honor of the holiday. So, there's that.
HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/Getty Images
Former NBA player and Chinese superstar Yao Ming has a new gig as a goodwill ambassador for the nonprofit organization WildAid, who recently brought him to Kenya to
make all of our photo dreams come true "document the poaching crisis facing rhinos and elephants, as a result of Asian demand for rhino horn and ivory." One unintended consequence of his visit was to make everything in the country appear comically small.
Above, he towers over a baby elephant named Kinango, whose mother was killed by ivory poachers. "He pushes against me partly for contact, but also testing his strength," Yao writes on his blog.
But Yao isn't just surrounded by tiny elephants. He's also accompanied by a number of diminuitive elderly men.
You can read more about Yao's adventures in Africa on his blog.
Kristian Schmidt for WildAid
Italian fashion house United Colours of Benetton has launched a shock and awe advertising campaign called Unhate to boost its lagging brand recognition. Not a huge deal, just a bunch of unauthorized doctored photos of world leaders kissing each other on the lips. Obama smooching Hugo Chávez, for example.
In another photo he kisses Hu Jintao. Last year, the White House called foul when Weatherproof featured their jacket-clad Commander in Chief without permission in one of the company's New York billboards. But I'm sure they'll be fine with this.
Another photo shows presidents Kim Jong-Il and Lee Myung-bak kissing. In Benetton's world, the fact that they preside over one of the most contentious borders on the planet just adds to their latent steaming affection for one other.
Here's the mission statement for the Unhate campaign from the Benetton website:
Object: the aim of contrasting the culture of hatred and promoting closeness between peoples, faiths, cultures, and the peaceful understanding of each other's motivations... The central theme is the kiss, the most universal symbol of love, between world political and religious leaders
Someone over there must have picked up on our Merkozy story, too, as France and Germany's leading man and lady lock lips in another Unhate photograph. Also of note is the Prime Minister of Israel rounding first base with the President of the Palestinian Authority.
Will it sell more scarfs and clutches? Maybe. But it most definitely will incite a response from the catholic church whose pope is shown cozying up to the mustache of the sheikh of the al-Alzhar mosque.
(Update: prediction confirmed. But we've still got the Pope photo below... for now.)
Here are more:
Women in New Delhi are taking to the streets this July -- but don't expect to see the average run-of-the-mill protest sign or megaphone. These women are participating in a SlutWalk, an international craze that has been unleashed from Sao Paulo to Syndey. New Delhi, where 85% of women are afraid of being sexually harassed in public, will follow a string of over 60 cities to participate in the SlutWalks. The Mission? To blur the definition of slut and protest the notion that a woman's dress instigates rape.
The protests were spurred by the remarks of Toronto police officer Constable Michael Sanguinett, who told a small group of students that "women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized."
Little did he know, his comment would set off a nearly-naked international revolt. Some clad in bustiers and others dressed conservatively, protesters now hold signs saying, "society teaches don't get raped rather than don't rape" and "sluts of the world unite".
Umang Sabarwal, a Delhi University journalism student, is one of the main organizers of the planned protest. She believes that Indians have an opportunity to voice their concerns over women's safety in a city where she says women are eyed like meat. Sabarwal hopes to challenge the rape blame game, saying:
"Every time a woman is assaulted, people don't blame the perpetrator of the crime. Instead women get a lecture about what they're supposed to wear and where they can go or not go."
But the planned Delhi protest is generating criticism from both men and women. Some feel using the word slut, even in an act of protest, further degrades women. Others feel that the message of the protests is trivial as they are demanding the freedom to wear revealing clothing, not demanding "protection against violence", as Amrit Dhillon said in her article published in the Hindustan Times. The journalist cites issues like honor killings, sex-selective abortion and child prostitution that she believes should addressed first and foremost.
But with intensifying criticism comes even more feminstas, mothers, anxsty teenagers and other SlutWalkers that will undoubtedly strut their stuff in the coming months.
The clashes last week between protesters and police outside Greece's parliament brought back into the spotlight Athens's best-known demonstrator-cum-mascot: Loukanikos, the riot dog. Loukanikos has been a fixture at the protests that have engulfed Greece intermittently since December 2008. There's some dispute over the dog's name; reports from 2010 identify him as Kanellos ("Cinnamon"), but more recent coverage (and his Facebook fan page) refers to him as Loukanikos ("Sausage"). Yahoo and KnowYourMeme suggest that Kanellos was the name of the riot dog before Loukanikos that passed away in 2008.
Whatever his name, though, he's clearly not one to shirk from a fight. These photos come from his latest appearance on the front lines:
ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images
ANGELOS TZORTZINIS/AFP/Getty Images
Images of Loukanikos at protests in spring 2010:
LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images
ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images
Beijingers woke up to find the Chinese capital covered in a film of yellow dust, as sandstorms caused by a severe drought in the north of the country and Mongolia swept into the city. Authorities issued a rare level five pollution warning, signalling hazardous conditions, and urged residents to stay indoors.
When wars unfold or natural disasters strike, few journalists are required to get as close to the action as photographers, whose work can never be done remotely, via phone call or email. Getty Images' Chris Hondros, who is now in Port au Prince documenting the aftermath of the horrific earthquake, sent these thoughts to FP:
Dazed people walking the streets of Port au Prince keep saying the same thing: "Haiti is dead." And on one level that's true -- this small country has just endured one of the most searing natural disasters in history, and death is everywhere. Death is on sidewalks, on the roads, in rivers, buried in rubble and noticeable only by its smell. The scale is so unimaginable that the usual human traditions and courtesies for the dead have been suspended: many thousands of bodies have been collected by backhoe and dumped into mass graves with no more ceremony than the rubble that goes into the same pits.
But admidst the carnage and chaos there have been remarkable glimmers of hope and strength, of heroism and selflessness. I'm sleeping in my truck in the parking lot of a hotel; outside the walls thousands of Haitians, with nowhere else to go, are camping out on the streets. But as night descends the singing starts, jumping voices sounding through the darkness, spirituals and ancient songs sung from those streets late into the night. I listen to this from inside the truck as I drift to sleep; its jarring and achingly beautiful."
China and South Korea were hit by their heaviest snowstorm in six decades on Sunday. Here are few images of a buried Beijing.
A snow-replica of the "Bird's Nest" Olympic stadium in front of the real thing.
A paramilitary guard in Tiananmen square.
A tourist in Jingshan Park.
Feng Li/Getty Images
Chinese folk artist Zhang Luo shows off his gourd painted with a portrait of UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon ahead of Communist China's 60th anniversary, in Beijing on September 2, 2009. China plans to create a 'moat' around Beijing for its National Day festivities on October 1 as part of a massive security crackdown ahead of the sensitive anniversary, state media said.
See more images of China's anniversary preparations here.
A supporter of ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya lies on the highway in Ojo de Agua, some 70 km from Tegucigalpa, in front of soldiers blocking the road to Las Manos border post between Honduras and Nicaragua on July 24, 2009. Honduras's de facto government shut down its southern frontier region bordering Nicaragua Friday, hoping to block Zelaya's bid to return home a month after he was ousted in a coup.
YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images
An Iraqi police woman shows off her skills during a parade to mark the withdrawal of US troops from Iraqi cities and towns across the nation on June 30, 2009, in the city of Karbala, 110 kms south of the capital Baghdad. Iraqi forces took control of towns and cities across the country to replace departing US forces, a milestone in the country's recovery six years after the US-led invasion.
AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED SAWAF
I know it's how Israel's defense minister spells his name, but still...
An Israeli right-wing activist holds a sign during a protest outside the US consulate in Jerusalem on the eve of US President Barak Obama's trip to Egypt on June 3, 2009.
GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images
TOKYO - JUNE 03: A man watches a model train running along the bar at Bar Ginza Panorama Shibuya Branch on June 3, 2009 in Tokyo, Japan. The bar caters to model train enthusists and customers are able to bring their own model trains to run on the tracks.
Photo: Junko Kimura/Getty Images
A man urinates on April 25, 2009 in the toilets of the Sodoma bar in central Reykjavik where photographs of the former bankers who left their country after the financial crash have been stuck on the urinals. AFP PHOTO OLIVIER MORIN.
Someday very soon, a graduate student is going to have a field day with the gender dynamics of Iceland's transfer-of-power.
Kim Jong Il, the North Korean dictator, started another term in office today, after winning the country's election last month with 100 percent of votes.
It marked one of the few public appearances the Dear Leader's made since suffering a stroke. He appeared significantly thinner, his hair sparse on his head, moving arthritically. (Just months ago, the North Korean news agency released photos of him looking robust to counter rumors about his health.)
Reports note that Kim is likely preparing to pick which of his three sons will succeed him -- a transition which has the potential to end the communist state's isolationist foreign policy. The youngest son, Jong-un, around 25 years old, seems the likeliest candidate.
The middle son suffers from unnamed but allegedly debilitating diseases; the eldest became infamous when he attempted to sneak into Japan to visit Tokyo Disneyland with a fake passport. The New York Times writes:
In recent months, [the oldest son] has been in the news after speaking to Japanese reporters who spotted him at the Beijing airport and in Macao. When Japanese reporters spotted him on Tuesday in Macao, he was quoted as saying that he was “much worried about” regional tensions after the rocket launching last weekend.
“If I was a designated successor, I wouldn’t be here in Macao talking to you now,” he was quoted as saying when asked about his chances of succeeding his father.
Pakistan has engaged in its own "war on terror" against Islamist militants in the northwest part of the country. The collateral damage: at least 450,000 Pakistanis forced from their homes, according to the UNHCR. In Swat Valley, meanwhile, the Taliban effectively controls the region (sharia courts started operating last week), prompting many to flee to camps for internally displaced persons. Increasingly, the people of Swat are having to choose: Taliban or tents.
The fighting and the plight of displaced Pakistani civilians are the subject of this week's FP photo essay: "Pakistan's New Homeless."
Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that U.S. government sources say that the Taliban in Afghanistan is getting "direct support" from members of Pakistan's military intelligence agency. A spokesman for Pakistan's Foreign Ministry, however, dismissed the report as "sensational journalism."
For other FP photo essays, check out:
Photo: TARIQ MAHMOOD/AFP/Getty Images
Radio Free Europe's Brian Whitmore shares this photo, which many are claiming depicts an encounter between now Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (the blonde man on the left with the cameras) and U.S. President Ronald Reagan in Moscow's Red Square. In case you're wondering why the then-KGB Colonel would be dressed like a dorky tourist, the official White House photographer recalls the encounter to NPR:
Souza recounts a story from a trip to Russia with Reagan. He shot photos of Reagan as the president toured Moscow's Red Square with then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Gorbachev introduced Reagan to various tourists, who asked the American president pointed questions about subjects such as human rights in the United States. Souza says he remembers turning to one of the Secret Service agents standing nearby. "I can't believe these tourists in the Soviet Union are asking these pointed questions." The agent replied, "Oh, these are all KGB families."
Update: Because this post is getting a lot of attention, I feel I should clarify that I didn't mean to imply that the man in the photo definitely is Putin. I thought that phrasing the title as a question as well as the phrase "many are claiming" would make it clear that I was just sharing some interesting Internet speculation, but I should probably have been more explicit. Sorry if anyone was confused.
A bulldozer crushes pirated CDs and DVDs at a parking lot in the Beirut suburb of Kfarshima on Feb. 24. The Lebanese Intellectual Property Unit affiliated with the judicial police forces destroyed about 100,000 pirated CDs and DVDs confiscated from Lebanese vendors and traders. Soaring piracy of CDs, DVDs, business software, and cable networks has devastated the cinema, video, and related industries in Lebanon. More than half of the CDs, DVDs, and software sold in Lebanon are copies, according to the International Intellectual Property Alliance, a private-sector coalition that represents U.S.-based copyright industries.
Meanwhile, check out question 6 of the latest FP quiz: What percentage of the world's music downloads are illegal?Loyal Passport readers know that we love a good crushing picture. Here are two classics:
This past Tuesday, Kosovo made it through its first year as a self-declared independent country. People there may be celebrating, but Kosovo's continued poverty shows that independence is no quick fix. In fact, in the eyes of many countries, Kosovo isn't even an independent country at all. Only 54 countries recognize it, meaning it still needs to work on Step 3 of "How to Start Your Own Country in Four Easy Steps."
Learn all about it in this week's FP photo essay, "Kosovo: Year 1."
And while you're at it, enjoy these previous FP photo essays:
In what's becoming an annual tradition, roughly 6,000 neo-Nazis and other far-right extremists marched in Dresden over the weekend to commemorate the 64th anniversary of the city's firebombing during World War II. It was one of the largest gatherings of neo-Nazis in Germany's postwar history:
The marchers were met by about 10,000 counter-demonstrators including leaders of Germany's Green and Social Democratic parties. Riot police struggled to keep the two sides apart:
Der Spiegel comments:
Most in Dresden, of course, would like to commemorate the bombing absent the political wrangling over its historical meaning. Instead, each year turns into an absurd competition over which side can produce the most demonstrators, the neo-Nazis or the anti-Nazis. [...]
Indeed, the fact that the demonstration is now little more than a numbers game, say German commentators, means that the neo-Nazis have found a fair amount of success in coopting the date for their own purposes.
Photos: NORBERT MILLAUER/AFP/Getty Images, JENS SCHLUETER/AFP/Getty Images, Carsten Koall/Getty Images
Iraqi supporters of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr step on U.S. flags after Friday prayer services on Feb. 6 in the Sadr City district of Baghdad. At the time, preliminary results of Iraq's Jan. 31 provincial elections showed that the Sadrists received only 9 percent of the vote in Baghdad.
Related content: FP's photo essay, "Election Time in Iraq"
Wathiq Khuzaie/Getty Images
Passport has mentioned in several dog-related posts that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has a fear of dogs, reportedly due to a childhood biting incident. But this week, Merkel appears to have finally found a dog that doesn't induce cynophobia:
Above, Merkel and Bavaria's state premier, Horst Seehofer, admire a dog-shaped bag nominated for a toy award as she tours the 2009 International Toy Fair on Feb. 4 in Nuremberg. Merkel would be totally styling with this doggie bag.
Photo: TIMM SCHAMBERGER/AFP/Getty Images
With the nomination of Slumdog Millionaire for an Academy Award, it's easy to view Mumbai's slums as wastelands of filth and misery. But they're actually vibrant business centers filled with scrappy entrepreneurs. If some wealthy developers get their way, though, the slums' days may be numbered.
Learn all about it in this week's FP photo essay, "India's Real-World Slumdogs."
And while you're at it, you might enjoy these previous FP photo essays:
Where were you Jan. 30? If you were British tycoon Richard Branson, you spent part of the day at the refugee camp in Davos. Or, to be more exact, the Refugee Run, a simulation mocked by my colleague Josh Keating and aid skeptic Bill Easterly last week. The photos are in:
An "injured" Branson carries a water bowl:
Branson experiences "language incapacity":
Branson's party gets raided:
Branson behind barbed wire:
Photos: PIERRE VERDY/AFP/Getty Images
As my colleague David notes in this week's list, "The Next Iceland", Britain's economic malaise has gotten so bad that people are starting to refer to London as "Reykjavik-on-Thames." But from the looks of it, the whole Arctic circle seems to be heading down London's iconic river:
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 26: A 16 foot high sculpture of a polar bear and cub, afloat on a small iceberg, passes in front of the Houses of Parliament on the River Thames on January 26, 2009 in London, England. The sculpture was launched to provide a warning to members of parliament of the dangers of climate change and to launch Eden, a new natural history television channel.
Photo: Oli Scarff/Getty Images
The inauguration of Barack Obama wasn't just the event of the day in the United States. It received above-the-fold coverage in countries all over the globe, as Jan. 21's front page of the United Daily News in Taipei, Taiwan, above, shows. To see more Obama-blaring newspaper front pages from Namibia to Israel to Poland and more, check out this week's photo essay, "The Inauguration Heard 'Round the World," which features images obtained from the Newseum.
Eagle-eyed Passport reader Steve spotted Frankfurt stock broker and living personification of the global financial crisis Simone Wallmeyer's latest Getty Images appearance:
Today's Simone index: Uncertainty with a smattering of apprehension.
Photo: MARTIN OESER/AFP/Getty Images
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