The Museum of Hoaxes
hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive
 
Rare planetary alignment decreases gravity, 1976
Actress who claimed she was kidnapped by puritans, 1950
The Great New York Zoo Escape Hoax, 1874
Man flies by own lung power, 1934
Dead Body of Loch Ness Monster Found, 1972
The Olympic Underwear Relay, 1956
Samsung invents the on/off switch
Iceberg floats into Sydney Harbor, 1978
The Instant Color TV Hoax, 1962
Jean Gauntt, the Immortal Baby, 1939
The Case of the Moving Pyramids
During the early 1980s, many magazines and newspapers began to use digital imaging devices to manipulate photographs. The most popular such device was sold by Scitex America. The machines were very expensive, but they allowed images to be altered with far greater ease than darkroom techniques allowed.

One of the earliest high-profile instances of digital photo alteration appeared on the February 1982 cover of National Geographic (top), which showed a camel train walking in front of the Pyramids of Giza. Readers weren't informed that the pyramids had been moved slightly closer together, in order to fit the vertical format of the cover. No one might have noticed if the photographer, Gordon Gahan, hadn't complained. It then became a source of major controversy. Sheila Reaves, a journalism professor at the University of Wisconsin has speculated that, "The enormity of moving such a large object brought home to people that you can move a shoulder or a smile."

Less remarked upon was that the photo was also staged. The camel train had walked by while Gahan was setting up his equipment. He paid them to walk by again.

Bottom: another shot of the pyramids from the same photo shoot by Gahan. In this photo, the pyramids haven't been moved.

Links and References
Kiel, Judy. Who Moved My Pyramid? An Overview of Digital Imaging Ethics in Photojournalism. (pdf file)


All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.