May 29, 2007

Palestinian "Missile" Fauxtography? (Updateded)

UPDATE 05/30/07 a.m: The incredibly lucky photog got a second photo of a "missile" on the same day.

The Seattle Times ran this as their "photo of the day". What's wrong with this picture? (Click for bigger pic)


Here is the caption from the Seattle Times:

Palestinians run as a rocket falls at them during an Israeli air strike on the Hamas Executive Force building in Nusseirat refugee camp in the centre of the Gaza strip, Friday. Warplanes pounded the Gaza Strip for a ninth day as Palestinians continued to fire rockets into Israel despite a call from Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas for a truce.
Er, pardon my skepticism here....but how fast does a "missile" travel anyway? Because, unless you're both really lucky and have an ultra-fast shutter speed, I'm guessing you're not going to be able to click off a picture of a "missile" miliseconds before it impacts.

I'm also guessing that the guy in the green soccer shirt wouldn't be able to follow said "missile" with his eyes. Notice how he appears to be looking right at the incoming "missile".

So, is this a case of a "doctored photo"?

Here's a close up of the "missile" from the largest version of the photo I could find, and which I've only blown up to about triple the original size.


If it's a photoshop, it's a good one. Notice the squarish pixelization around the "missile". Maybe some one who is better at digital photography or at Pshopping than me can explain that. Just an artifact of blowing it up? But the bluring around the "missile" can also be seen in the original, just sharper edges when you blow it up.

The photo is attributed to "MAHMUD HAMS / AFP/GETTY IMAGES". How fast was Mahbud Hams camera? So fast that he not only caught the missile just before it struck, but just after it struck too. A Peter Parker moment? (click for bigger)


Doing a quick search of Yahoo News Photos, here are a few related pics. Yahoo News Photos did not pick up on the photo showing the "missile", but it did carry the followup photos by Mahmud Hams of the "missile strike" at Nusseirat. Only they're not all attributed to Mahmud Hams.....

And, wouldn't you know it, another hallmark of fauxtography: the swarm carrying the "injured child".

More below.....


Caption reads:

A Palestinian man runs with an injured boy after an Israeli missile strike on a Hamas base after they gathered at the scene of an earlier airstrike on area in Nusseirat, central Gaza Strip, Friday , May 25, 2007. An Israeli airstrike hit a Hamas training center south of Gaza City on Friday, destroying the compound and lightly injuring at least three, witnesses said. (AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)
You'll notice that the photo is here attributed to "Majed Hamden".

But this photo from Getty images is attributed to "Mahmed Hams", the same reporter that was lucky enough and had a fast enough shutter speed to actually capture an Israeli missile as it impacts.


That seems rather singular, doesn't it? That two reporters would be on the scene when an Israeli missile hits?

Did I say two reporters? Make that three. Notice green shirt guy in this photo, the same as the first one.



Palestinians run as smoke rises from a missile fired by an Israeli aircraft after they gathered at the scene of an earlier airstrike on a Hamas base in Nusseirat, central Gaza Strip, Friday May 25, 2007. An Israeli airstrike hit a Hamas training center south of Gaza City on Friday, destroying the compound and lightly injuring at least three, witnesses said. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
So, three photographers witnessing the same scene?

So far we have what could be a doctored photo of a missile (by Mahmud Hams--AFP stringer), and the aftermath of a real incident but which may have had some staging to dramatize it for three photographers on the scene (Hams plus AP stringers Hana and Hamden).

But there's more. Look at these photos together. The top one is by Hams and the second one by Hana. (click for sources)



Doesn't it seem odd that the two photogs would be standing side by side at the exact moment that an Israeli missile

So, what exactly do we have here? A real incident with a fake missile photoshopped in for dramatic effect? (See this for similar)

A real incident, with incredibly lucky photogs in a media swarm on the scene, but with staged aftereffects? (See this for similar)

Something fishy going on here. Could use some help with this one. I'd love to hear some theories about the plausibility of this one.

Again, don't want to overstate the case here, but it just seems so unlikely that at least two photographers are on the scene (possibly a third with them, or nearby) at the very moment a missile strikes....and one of them has the wits about them to actually snap a photo of an incoming missile a dozen feet in the air.
Before it lands.

UPDATE: Some of Charles' keen eyed people saw this Saturday, when I was busy painting the Shackleford mansion, and he is pretty convinced that it's not fauxtography. How come none of you peeps is keeping me up to date on this?

Anyway, Charles thinks the pixelization is due to JPEG compression and the error here is labelling a "bomb" a "missile". A bomb would make more sense since it would reach a much slower terminal velocity than a missile.

But still, the timing would have to be incredible for the photog to get this shot.

Chris Byrne writes in and says it, "is an American GBU (a laser guided bomb). In the picture it has been shrunk, and rotated (look at the lighting)."

I dunno. My asking for help is not a rhetorical question.

But the aftermath scenes certainly seem staged.

UPDATE II: Soccer Dad sends me this link to Elder of Ziyon, who also picked up on this. He finds a fourth photog, Ibraheem Abu Mustafa. Clearly staged.

UPDATE III: Ace has the same questions as me. If this is a laser guided bomb, as many are suggesting, I know it would be slower than a missile, but it's still got to have a fairly high terminal velocity depending on the altitude of the plane dropping it. Do the Israelis drop these kind of bombs from low-level runs or from altitude?

Man, if this is real, I want this Hams guy to help me buy my next lottery ticket.

I know that "staged photos" aren't as sexy as "doctored ones", but the other photos are clearly staged. And it would still be an important story if only to add context about all the news about Israel bombing "Palestinians" lately.

UPDATE IV: John Donovan also thinks this is consistent with a GBU, which apparently stands for Glide Bomb Unit.

UPDATE V: Chris Byrne adds this:

The pixellation errors here are from a cut and paste. There are no similar JPG artifacts in other areas of the photo, including similar color contrast areas on the skyline.

This picture would have been submited to AFP in raw format, or another uncompressed or barely compressed format for their post processing; that pixellation is not jpg artifact.

If the people were in sharp focus and at the correct depth of field setting (and they were), the bomb wouldn't have been that clear; it would have been one big blur.

The shutter speed needed to capture this image, in realtime speeds, would have been ridiculously high; higher than a Nikon D1 or similar pro digital camera is capable of capturing without far more motion blur. I know, I have one.

The angle of the light on the tail of the bomb is from a significantly different angle that that of the light on the people.

The scale of the bomb is incorrect for the picture; this again is a source of the pixellation.

I'm having a hard time figuring out exactly which model of GBU it is without a scale reference; but believe me it IS a GBU...

And "Running Out of Time" adds this in the comments. Seems cogent, but what do I know?:
I'm a pretty decent wannabe sports photographer, and based upon my limited experience (I've captured baseballs coming off bats from deep in the outfield and golf balls arching through the air) that from a technical standpoint it would be possible to capture such image with prosumer quality gear (I use a Canon 10D with L series lenses).

What strikes me as odd about the picture is the relative sizes involved. Without knowing the exact distances or the lens used to capture the picture it will be impossible to provide a definitive answer but it is possible to make educated guesses about the picture.

The ratio's in the pictures appear to be off. Assuming the multicolored shirt wearing guy is six feet tall, he appears to be 3/4 of an inch tall in the provided photograph. This gives us a ratio of 72:3/4 or about 96:1

The GUB-10 is 172 inches long and in the photo is .1875 inches tall. This gives us a ratio of 917:1.

This means the missile/bomb would be roughly 10 times the height of the guy in the picture away, or about 60 feet away.

60 feet away from a 2000 pound bomb going off...

It just doesn't strike me as correct.

Of course I'm doing this on the fly and my math could be way off.

Heck, the entire theory could be off.

UPDATE VI: Allahpundit is going with the incredibly lucky angle. Me? I dunno, I'm still unconvinced that it's real. It just seems too incredible. But, then again, I thought the same thing when I saw Hogzilla II

UPDATE VII: Chris D Weighs in with a lengty e-mail to me. Let me just throw up some of what he says.

I'm a CG artist and work with Photoshop on a daily basis, and like to think I know my way around a digital image.

The "noise" around the bomb has nothing to do with compositing. It is a by-product of jpeg compression algorithms. It does nothing to argue either for or against the authenticity of the image, as compression occurs when the file is saved in the .jpg format. Whether the photo is real or if the bomb was pasted into a high-res, uncompressed image, the compression artifacts would look exactly the same....

Two or three of the people seem to be looking up and to their right (stage left), vaguely but not precisely towards the bomb. Considering it's indeed unlikely they'd be able to focus on the transonic-ish bomb, it's worth noting that the weapon is indisputably a Paveway LGB, which means the plane that dropped it would still be flying somewhere overhead lasing its intended target. My bet would be that plane is what they're looking at (if not something completely unrelated, like a helicopter, or a vehicle moving on a nearby hill, or what have you).

I like a good case of fauxtography as much as the next guy, and I hate to think these photos could be used a propaganda by the enemy. But I also hate it when we (the supposedly sane ones) jump to hasty conclusions in our zeal to unmask yet another media conspiracy, replete with arguments from dubiously-informed individuals like Mr. Byrne, and fueled by moral outrage. It all feels a little too Truthery for my tastes, and I think it behooves everybody to avoid the siren's call of such excesses.

I'm not 100% sure it's fake, but I definitely lean that way. Why? The odds, that's all. It's an extraordinary claim to say you captured a photo of a bomb milliseconds before it hits with such high resolution and clarity. And, in my mind, extraordinary claims take extraordinary evidence.

Unlike most photographs, it seems to me that the extraordinary nature of the photo makes the default position "fake" until proven not-a-hoax. Just like the Hogzilla II photos of recent days. I really didn't believe it at first.

I'm not from Missouri, but fellow Jawa Howie is, so let me just say I remain skeptical of the photo until some one "shows me".

Last update (I hope): I guess since I control the blog, I control the parting shots. EODDan in the comments (for those of you too lazy to scroll through them, which is pretty much every one, including myslef normally):

I'm a military Explosive Ordnace Disposal technician. I've seen lots of bomb and lots of bombs being dropped (both in person and in testing videos). I concur with the previous poster about this photo being of a GBU (Guided Bomb Unit). Further, it appears to be a package installed on a 500lb Mk82 bomb. Once the GBU is installed on a particular bomb it gains the appropriate digits 10, 12 etc. I'd have to look at tech data to tell you precisely what the nomenclature of the pictured bomb is, but I can tell you that this picture is bogus. For the fins to still be folded the bomb would have to have just been dropped. You'd still be able to see the plane that dropped it. This would however account for the clarity of the image. A bomb dropped on a combat target, even one dropped at very low altitude, would still be blurred. We're talking about jet fighters here, not biplanes. I've watched test video taken by scientists with high speed cameras designed for the purpose of studying bomb impacts. Even their film comes out blurred sometimes. Also, the scale is definitely off as yet another commenter mentioned. The blast in other fauxtoes is yet another fakery. The apparent blast seat is not in line with impact point you would expect from the previous picture. The blast itself does not look right for a heavy cased bomb either. It looks very much like the result you would get from a bare charge placed on the surface. Finally, as another astute commenter pointed out, neither the fauxtographer or his subjects would have been likely to survive the blast in the image. The blast wave would have knocked them all off their feet and caused serious injuries, but not before they had all been ripped to shreds by primary and secondary fragmentation. In spite of what Hollywood (and Paliwood) would have you believe, it is not possible to outrun a high order explosion.
Last parting shot from Tom:
It is a fake pic. Look at the feet. the man in the green shirt and the person in the grey sweats does not have feet
The feet........I dunno, maybe the grass is just higher than it appears?

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 06:25 PM | Comments |