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There's some controversy over the Daily Mirror's recent cover showing a crying child. The context implies it's a British child crying because of a lack of food, but (as blogger Dan Barker uncovered) it's actually an American child who was crying because she lost an earthworm.

Turns out it was a stock photo that the Daily Mirror acquired from Getty Images. But the Daily Mirror is defending itself. Its editor Lloyd Embley writes, "Imagine the stink if we'd used a pic of an actual child who had received food parcels."
Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Wed Apr 16, 2014
Comments (1)

If this was just a random unsourced picture on the Internet I would probably suspect that it had been manipulated to create the dragon effect. However, it comes from a professional photographer, Noel Celis of AFP Photo, and is hosted on Getty Images. And these sources provide no indication that the photo was manipulated in any way. So I have to conclude that it's real. In other words, that it's a case of pareidolia, rather than photo fakery.

Getty Images offers this caption:
"A fire breather performs in Chinatown in Manila a day before the Chinese New Year on January 22, 2012. The Lunar New Year falls on January 23 and is the begining of the Spring Festival holiday."
Categories: Pareidolia, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Wed Apr 16, 2014
Comments (2)
Manchester artist John Hyatt took some photographs of the landscape around Rossendale in Lancashire. But when he later enlarged those he images he noticed they showed tiny winged creatures that looked like fairies.




Hyatt told the Manchester Evening News:
"It was a bit of a shock when I blew them up, I did a double take.
"I went out afterwards and took pictures of flies and gnats and they just don't look the same.
"People can decide for themselves what they are.
"The message to people is to approach them with an open mind.
"I think it's one of those situations where you need to believe to see.
"A lot of people who have seen them say they have brought a little bit of magic into their lives and there's not enough of that around."

Hyatt's fairy photos are currently on display at the Whitaker Museum in Whitaker Park, Rossendale.
When not photographing fairies, Hyatt is director of MIRIAD (the Manchester Institute for Research and Innovation in Art and Design).

So what could those things in his photographs be? I have no idea. Perhaps they're just insects. Perhaps they're bits of floating pollen. Or perhaps they're something else entirely.

I doubt the shapes have been photoshopped in. That seems too easy.

I'm also pretty sure Hyatt didn't prop the figures up with hatpins, which was the technique used by Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths to create the Cottingley Fairies.
Categories: Paranormal, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Fri Apr 04, 2014
Comments (12)
Recently seen circulating on Twitter with the caption, "Heart glare reflection on the shores of Hawaii".


The picture was taken in Hawaii. That's true. Waikiki beach, to be specific. But the 'heart glare reflection' isn't real.

The photo is a manipulation created by DeviantArt user 'charmbuster' back in April 2008. He wrote: "an experiment... this is a slight photomanip, the shape was so close i had to make it a heart! (waikiki beach)"

It's been floating around the Internet ever since 2008. Sometimes it's titled 'sea heart' or 'beach heart'.

(via PicPedant)
Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Sat Mar 08, 2014
Comments (0)
In August 2011, hundreds of cats were rescued during a hoarding case, and then a team of veterinary students volunteered their time to spay and neuter the cats in order to prepare them for adoption.

A photo of this mass spaying/neutering event (named Operation Cat Nip) ran in the Gainesville Sun.


But about a year later that same photo began appearing on Twitter, stripped of any explanatory context, and accompanied by the caption: "Retweet if you say NO to animal testing."

The photo also had a watermark added, "Cause Animale Nord,"which is the name of a French animal welfare society.


Thousands of people obediently retweeted the photo, many of them adding messages expressing their disgust and disapproval, unaware that the photo had nothing to do with animal testing.

Like many viral photo fakes, this one has gone through cycles of being debunked, disappearing for a while, and then suddenly resurging in popularity. Right now, it's again in a popular phase.
Categories: Animals, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Fri Feb 28, 2014
Comments (2)
This cow illusion has been circulating since at least 2011.


And here's the original, which, I believe, is a stock photo. Though I don't know which stock photo agency it's from.

Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Thu Feb 20, 2014
Comments (0)
Trending recently on social media, a picture of "Venice Frozen".


There hasn't been freezing weather recently in Venice. So yes, the picture is fake. Anyway, even if it did freeze in Venice, the ice there wouldn't look that clear blue.

The photo is a composite created by Robert Johns. He posted it two weeks ago on his Instagram account.

He created the image by taking ice from a photo of Lake Baikal (taken by Daniel Kordan), and inserted it into a photo of Venice (taken by Luis Manuel Osorio Fernandez).


Lake Baikal by Daniel Kordan


Venice by Luis Manuel Osorio Fernandez

Robert Johns has done a series of these frozen Venice images. He intends them as art photos, not as deliberate hoaxes. But once the top image got onto social media, it was out of his control. And a lot of people on Twitter, Facebook, etc. really seemed to believe that it was an actual image of a frozen canal in Venice.

Some of his other frozen Venice photos:



Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Mon Feb 17, 2014
Comments (1)

Found circulating online, as captioned in the title. Somewhat obviously photoshopped, particularly with the person jumping off the diving board at the front. But it's a cool idea.

I believe the image originates from the site of Bolig Partner, a Norwegian home construction firm, which is urging people to "Realize your dream home in the New Year!"

The ship itself is a VARD Offshore Subsea Construction Vessel.


The house which was digitally placed on the ship's helipad comes from an image on the site of Ultimalt, a Norwegian paint company.

Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Thu Feb 06, 2014
Comments (0)

Theodore Roosevelt served as President of the United States for 8 years, from 1901-1909. He was, as Wikipedia notes, acclaimed for his "cowboy persona and robust masculinity." However, his masculinity was not so robust that he once rode a moose, despite what this photo appears to show.

In 1912, Roosevelt split from the Republican Party, after having become unhappy with its increasingly conservative policies. He then ran for President as head of the newly formed Progressive Party. After forming this party, Roosevelt exuberantly proclaimed, "I'm feeling like a bull moose!" For which reason, the Progressive Party was often referred to as the "Bull Moose Party."

Two months before the election, on Sep 8, 1912, the New York Tribune ran a set of humorous pictures under the headline "The Race For The White House," showing the three main presidential candidates astride the animals associated with their parties.


William Howard Taft was shown riding an elephant (for the Republican party). Woodrow Wilson sat on a donkey (for the Democratic party). And Roosevelt rode a moose (for the Bull Moose party).

All three images were fake. They had been created by the photographic firm Underwood and Underwood.

Close inspection of the Roosevelt image reveals the signs of fakery. The firm had extracted Roosevelt's image from a photo of him riding a horse and pasted it into a shot of a swimming moose. Scratch lines are visible around Roosevelt's leg, where the photo editor tried to simulate water ripples. Also, Roosevelt's image is more sharply focused than that of the moose.

But, of course, the image was not supposed to be mistaken for a real scene. It was clearly presented as political humor.

Roosevelt lost the 1912 election to Woodrow Wilson, and the image of him riding a moose disappeared into photo archives. But in the 21st Century the image resurfaced and began circulating online where many people assumed it depicted an actual event.

For instance, in March 2011, Cracked.com included the image in an article titled "18 Old-Timey Photos You Won't Believe Aren't Photoshopped." The author of the article wrote:
This picture is real, this scene existed, and yes, at one point in our history, you could have actually voted for this man.

We do not know if this was a publicity stunt, a routine hunting incident or seriously how our beloved President Theodore Roosevelt used to ride to work every day. All we know is that it was taken during the 1900 presidential election campaign and as far as we are concerned, virtually guaranteed William McKinley's re-election for as many terms as God gave him.

On that note, President McKinley was dead a year later.

Their information was incorrect in almost every detail except that McKinley did regain the White House in 1900, and he did die a year later.

However, Theodore Roosevelt definitely never rode a moose.

References:
Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Thu Jan 23, 2014
Comments (3)

This photo of "Hercules, the World's Biggest Dog" is one of the best known "hoax" viral images on the Web. It started circulating in early 2007, initially on its own, but soon the Internet had supplied an explanatory caption:
Hercules: The World's Biggest Dog Ever According to Guinness World Records
Hercules was recently awarded the honorable distinction of Worlds Biggest Dog by Guinness World Records. Hercules is an English Mastiff and has a 38 inch neck and weighs 282 pounds.
With "paws the size of softballs" (reports the Boston Herald), the three-year-old monster is far larger and heavier than his breed's standard 200lb. limit. Hercules owner Mr. Flynn says that Hercules weight is natural and not induced by a bizarre diet: "I fed him normal food and he just grew".... and grew. and grew.

The information in this caption is correct, but not when applied to the dog shown above. The text is actually taken from a description of an English mastiff named Hercules that was owned by power lifter John Flynn (shown below). So wrong dog!


But what are we to make of the top photo, the one of the giant dog being walked by the man and woman alongside the white horse? We know he's not Hercules, but who or what is he? Is he really that big?

The top debunking sites feel that the dog can't really be that large. For instance, David Emery calls the photo "an obvious hoax." Hoax-Slayer says, "It seems clear that the image has been cleverly manipulated, perhaps by replacing a picture of the man's horse with a disproportionally sized picture of a dog." TruthorFiction.com says, "the picture appears to be fabricated." Snopes alone is a little ambivalent. It says the photo appears to be "a digital manipulation," but it leaves open the possibility that the dog is a "freakishly large example of its breed."

The reason for the skepticism is that the dog appears to be a Neapolitan Mastiff (not an English Mastiff), and that breed is not known to get that big. Breeders say Neapolitan Mastiffs top out at 31 inches at the shoulder. But the dog in the photo seems to be around 36 inches at the shoulder, easily.

Also, just look at that beast. He's horse-sized! The photo has to be fake!

But it's worth noting here that the photo is actually one of a set of three photos of the dog, the couple, and the horse. Although the top photo is often detached from the set and circulates alone. Here are the other two photos:




The existence of three photos of the same dog gives me pause. Because it's easy to dismiss one image as a fake, but three photos is unusual, especially since the dog looks similarly massive in all three shots. Yes, all three photos could be fake. But then again, perhaps that dog really is freakishly big.

I'll say this: if the images are fakes, then they're good ones. Particularly the one of the couple sitting down with the dog. The shadows and the lighting look right. There are no obvious signs of manipulation — except for the bizarre size of the dog.

Often it's possible to debunk a fake image by finding the original, unaltered version of the photo. But other versions of these giant dog images have never surfaced. This suggests to me that if the images are fake, then the faker possesses the original copies of the images and has never made them public.

Nor have the man and women ever been identified, which is a shame because they could obviously shed light on what the deal is with the giant dog. Perhaps they have no desire to be Internet celebrities.

But wait! There could be a fourth image. While searching for pictures of Neapolitan Mastiffs, I came across this photo.


Perhaps I've been staring too long at my screen, but that looks to me like it could be the same dog and the same guy. Sure, the guy is a little older, wearing different clothes, has a goatee, and is squinting into the sun. But his features look the same. And the dog has a white patch on his chest like the dog in the "Hercules" photo, and he's wearing a studded collar (if you look closely you can see that the dog in the "Hercules" photo appears to be wearing a similar studded collar).

The dog in this fourth photo doesn't look quite as massive as the dog in the viral "World's Biggest Dog" photo. Nevertheless, it's a very big dog! Far bigger than most other Neapolitan Mastiffs.

Which suggests to me that there really is a giant Neapolitan Mastiff out there. Now perhaps his size was digitally exaggerated in the top photo that went viral. Or perhaps the angle of the shot exaggerated its size. Or perhaps the man and woman aren't that tall, which made the dog look larger than it really is relative to them.

I just don't know. But I don't think the "World's Biggest Dog" photo is the slam-dunk, has-to-be-photoshopped case that most other debunking sites have listed it as. I'd go with Snopes and leave open the possibility that the dog in the photo might actually be a "freakishly large example of its breed."
Categories: Animals, Photos/Videos, Large Animals, viral images
Posted by Alex on Tue Jan 21, 2014
Comments (0)

The internet seems to believe this is a "long exposure photo of a lightning bolt hitting a tree."

It's not.

Well, it is a long exposure shot, but not of lightning. It's a photo created by "light painter" Darren Pearson (aka Darius Twin). Wikipedia defines light painting as "a photographic technique in which exposures are made by moving a hand-held light source or by moving the camera."

Pearson light painted the blue flames at the base of the tree. He then cut-and-pasted the lightning bolt itself into the photo from a NOAA image of a lightning strike (below).


Pearson posted the image on his Facebook page on Oct. 17, 2013, with the caption "The old Benjamin Franklin trick wink"

So in its original context this was clearly presented as an art photo. It was only when the Internet recaptioned it, that it became a fake (or misleading) photo.

And for the sake of comparison, here's an actual photo of lightning striking a tree.

Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Thu Jan 09, 2014
Comments (3)

As 2013 ended and 2014 began, this photo started circulating online, along with the claim that it showed a satellite's view of the fireworks over Europe at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve.

But no, that's not what this photo shows. For a start, Europe isn't all in the same time zone, so the fireworks didn't go off all at the same moment. Second, fireworks wouldn't have created such intense illumination.

The image was actually created by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and shows changes in illumination from 1993-2003. Sciencephoto.com offers this explanation:

Lights are colour-coded. Red lights appeared during that period. Orange and yellow areas are regions of high and low intensity lighting respectively that increased in brightness over the ten years. Grey areas are unchanged. Pale blue and dark blue areas are of low and high intensity lighting that decreased in brightness. Very dark blue areas were present in 1993 and had disappeared by 2003. Much of western and central Europe has brightened considerably. Some North Sea gas fields closed in the period.

This image also circulated back in January 2013, following New Year's Eve, with the same claim. Look for it to reappear a year from now.
[via Astronomy Blog]
Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Fri Jan 03, 2014
Comments (0)
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