World Press Photo: ‘No evidence of significant photo manipulation’ in award-winning shot

World Press Photo | The Huffington Post U.K. | The Hacker Factor Blog | news.com.au
World Press Photo says Paul Hansen’s photo of mourners in Gaza was “retouched with respect to both global and local color and tone. Beyond this, however, we find no evidence of significant photo manipulation or compositing.”

The organization previously told Huffington Post U.K. that it would ask “two independent experts to carry out a forensic investigation of the image file.”

Hansen’s winning photo.

Neal Krawetz published a blog post Sunday that examined Hansen’s photo. “In my opinion, it has been significantly altered,” Krawetz writes. Error Level Analysis shows “rainbowing” and incorrect shadows, he says.

So here’s what likely happened… The photographer took a series of photos. However, the sun’s position made everyone dark and in silhouette. So, he combined a few pictures and altered the people so you could see their faces.

That analysis is “deeply flawed,” WPP writes. Eduard de Kam, one of the experts it consulted, said its pixels “are exactly in the same place in the JPEG (the prizewinning image) as they are in the RAW file. I would therefore rule out any question of a composite image.”

Hansen told Anthony Sharwood he “developed the raw file with different density to use the natural light instead of dodging and burning. In effect to recreate what the eye sees and get a larger dynamic range. … To put it simply, it’s the same file — developed over itself — the same thing you did with negatives when you scanned them.”

“It is an amazing photographic record of the authentic tragedy in Gaza,” Poynter’s Kenny Irby said in an email. “The rendering of light is aways a super subjective issue, made even the more complex by new imaging innovations.”

In February, Paolo Pellegrin’s photograph honored in Pictures of the Year International’s annual contest also became a subject of controversy. Hansen was named Photographer of the Year – Newspaper in that organization’s most recent contest.

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  • Filski Gierlinski

    This debate can run n run, but IMO as long as people/objects are removed or added to the images and only light levels have been altered then it retains its integrity.

  • GEORGE MCGINN

    I read an earlier story about how two software products showed gross manipulation, including changing the angle of the light at the time of day it was shot.

    However, the issue of photo manipulation is as old as the enlarger of the very first darkroom.

    Neither film nor digital camera sensors will ever capture the dynamic range that the eye can see. And it is what the eye sees that makes a photographer press the shutter button.

    So when a photographer manipulates an image to recreate exactly what he or she saw, is that over manipulation?

    David Johnson said it best when talking about HDR. It is not about removing or adding items to the image, it is to get the image to the point or close to what inspired the photographer to take the photo.

    It isn’t the photographer’s fault that any camera used is faulty when it comes to dynamic ranges. And we should be allowed to work the image to as close as we saw it. Otherwise, the image taken straight from the camera is the real fraud, as it does not resemble what real at the time the photo was taken.

    I am happy the initial allegation has been disproved and reversed.

    However, without a set of guidelines, this issue will come up again and again.

    Maybe it is impossible to come up with the right set of guidelines for working images, as the language to write it will never exist.

  • JoelCave

    So the witch hunt is over?

  • Esombeed

    in this case) the same image, copied 3 times, and each of the 3
    versions altered to allow different exposures (or level of brightness)
    for specific parts of the final image. HDR is about making an image
    that is closer to how our eye will see a scene. The sensor in one jpg

  • kgelner

    Never mind that the whole photo was staged to begin with…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=534858071 David Johnson

    Enough …

    This discussion is over … single image HDR, completely allowed by the contest rules. Its a ‘press photo’ contest, not ‘print photo journalism’ contest.

    Eduard de Kam, an expert in the Netherlands who scrutinized the image:

    “When I compare the RAW file with the prizewinning version
    I can indeed see that there has been a fair amount of post-production,
    in the sense that some areas have been made lighter and others darker.
    But regarding the positions of each pixel, all of them are exactly in
    the same place in the JPEG (the prizewinning image) as they are in the
    RAW file. I would therefore rule out any question of a composite image.”

    HDR is not pixel manipulation (the real definition of ‘photoshopped’), but
    (in this case) the same image, copied 3 times, and each of the 3
    versions altered to allow different exposures (or level of brightness)
    for specific parts of the final image. HDR is about making an image
    that is closer to how our eye will see a scene. The sensor in one jpg
    image is incapable of the dynamic range our eyes are capable of … we see shadows as clearly as bright areas, sensors do not.

    A sensor that is capable of capturing RAW, also captures every dynamic
    range of every colour from white to black (thats why the RAW file is so
    large), and the user chooses which level he wants for a given shot or
    exposure point. This is how he did this shot. He used RAW to expose
    every desired shadow and bright spot, and used 3 layers to do so. It is
    not cheating.

    Regarding cheating with the RAW file … impossible.
    You can not alter a RAW file and resave it
    as an out of camera RAW (CR2 or NEF, etc) file,
    the XMP file is needed to retain the alterations within a PSD (photoshop file),
    without the XMP, there is only the out of camera RAW,
    or how the camera saw the image in the first place.

    Argument over … lets move on

  • http://www.facebook.com/bill.marvel.58 Bill Marvel

    There is no such thing as an unmanipulated photo. As soon as the photographer makes a decision as to focus, expoure, composition, framing — even at what instant to snap the shutter — we are no longer dealing with reality. We are dealing with an artifact, a constructed vision.
    Photography has no privileged position as truth-teller.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=656715835 Andrew Beaujon

    Thanks! Updated with WPP’s comments.

  • http://twitter.com/paoloracca Paolo Racca

    Digital photography experts confirm the integrity of Paul Hansen’s image files: http://www.worldpressphoto.org/news/digital-photography-experts-confirm-integrity-paul-hansen%E2%80%99s-image-files