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 |

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.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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