by · Posted in: digital alterations

It looks like somebody needs to spend a little more time with the Photoshop For Dummies paying special attention to the chapters on selection and masking.

BP's latest faux-photo faux-pas: poorly-faked screens inserted over the blank ones at their crisis control center. One would think that with BP's resources someone would buy that poor retoucher a wacom tablet, a subscription to Lynda.com, and an update to the latest version of Mac Paint. John Aravosis dissects the images in detail, although he doesn't seem to understand that the camera's capture date can be wrong and goes a step too far in accusing BP of a total forgery based exclusively on the image metadata. The Washington Post quotes Scott Dean, a spokesman for BP, We've instructed our post-production team to refrain from doing this in the future. Seriously? They have a postproduction team turning out work of this embarrassing caliber? Are they using an Etch-a-Sketch?

Getty freelancer Marc Feldman show's how a professional does it. He convincingly disappeared a caddy behind golfer Matt Bettencourt with an adeptness that would make the politburo proud. Unfortunately, despite his photoshop prowess, the Finder got the best of him. According to Feldman he was demonstrating how easy such manipulation is and accidentally saved the image to the send folder instead of the desktop. Both images ended up going out where eagle-eyed photo editor Guy Reynolds spotted it. Despite the simple explanation, it cost Feldman his contract with Getty. Explanations rarely save the photographer in these situations, but photo editors are a different story. For comparison of the difference between a photographer and an editor altering an image see Mike Johnson at The Online Photographer on The Economist's doctored cover image of President Obama.

Finally, lest you think it's only upstanding energy giants and professional photographers who get nabbed for photo fakery, the New York Post is running a story about Daryl Simon, who in an effort to secure a more lenient sentence for fraud, submitted faked images of himself doing charity work. The article quotes prosecutors, "Evidence…can be seen by examining the single detail on his shirt above his fingers -- that detail appears on the left side of the shirt in the top photograph…" Yes, it appears the images had to be studied carefully to spot the fraud suggesting that Mr. Simon's photoshop skills, while not at the level of a Getty Freelancer, might exceed those of BP's postproduction team. Perhaps he could arrange some sort of work from prison deal.

If you are interested in the history of photo manipulation, Hany Farid's Photo Tampering Throughout History is an good survey of the landmarks.