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Exhibit A:

This image has been floating around the internet for quite a while. Over four years, I would guess, which is a lifetime in internet years.

I don't know why it caught my attention, but it did, and I decided to see if I could find any information about it. Or rather, although it's obvious the picture has been photoshopped, I was curious how much it had been altered.

I soon dug up a second (seemingly earlier) version of the picture. Exhibit B:

The girl's tongue is shorter here, but it's still very long. So is this the original photo? Or has it also been shopped? I don't know, but my suspicion is that it's the original. Which means the girl in the picture really does have a very long tongue. Who this girl is, I have no idea. But I wonder if she's aware that she's famous on the internet as 'long-tongue girl'?
Categories: Body Manipulation, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Wed Apr 25, 2012
Comments (4)
Posted by "klove614" on reddit: "Going through pictures from the other night...holy shit"

Reddit users quickly pointed out that the ghost in the background bears a strong resemblance to this poster of Janis Joplin:

Categories: Paranormal, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 24, 2012
Comments (1)

A picture taken by Reuters photographer Rupak De Chowdhuri. The Reuters caption states:
A Hindu devotee with his neck pierced with a knife attends the "Chadak" ritual at Krishanadevpur village, north of Kolkata April 13, 2012. Hundreds of Hindu devotees attend the ritual, held to worship the Hindu deity of destruction Lord Shiva, on the last day of the Bengali calendar year. The photographer was unable to check the veracity of the action of this devotee.

The options are:
  1. This guy really does have a large knife sticking through his neck. In which case, he must have been in pretty bad shape whenever he pulled the knife out.
  2. It's one of those fake magician's prop knives.
I don't have a definitive answer, but given that the knife coming out of his neck is bent at a different angle than the knife going into his neck, I think fake' is the correct answer.
Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Sun Apr 15, 2012
Comments (10)
A nice example of the forced perspective illusion. Photo taken October 28, 1960. (found on eBay)

"Careful placement by photographer gives illusion that Aileen Gallagher is setting clock on tower of Chicago's Wrigley Building as Illinois and other sections of nation prepare for return to Standard Time from Daylight Saving Time at 2 A.M. this coming Sunday. Aileen, Trans World Airlines hostess, is standing on ledge about two blocks from clock."
Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Fri Apr 13, 2012
Comments (0)
In an ad that ran in Entertainment Weekly, Jennifer Love Hewitt's breasts were noticeably smaller than they were in the same ad that ran just about everywhere else (including, briefly, on this site). I suspect this was done by some marketing person in order to give bloggers an excuse to write about Jennifer Love Hewitt's breasts, and post comparison photos. I fell for the ruse. (via Huffington Post)

Categories: Body Manipulation, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 10, 2012
Comments (4)
If you follow internet memes at all, you're going to be aware of 'Ridiculously Photogenic Guy'. The title has been attached to 25-year-old Zeddie Little of New York. A picture of him was taken while he was running a 10k race in South Carolina. He seemed to look upbeat and well-composed, while everyone else looked like they were suffering. Someone uploaded the picture to reddit, with the comment, "My friend calls him 'Mr Ridiculously Photogenic Guy'". The image and title promptly went viral, making Little an overnight internet celebrity.

Ridiculously Photogenic Guy

This immediately reminded me of the Gorgeous Guy phenomenon, from way back in 2001, in which a guy's picture was uploaded to San Francisco's Craiglist with the comment, "Gorgeous Guy @ 4th and Market at the MUNI/Amtrak Bus Stop (Mon-Fri)." The Gorgeous Guy's picture soon went viral, resulting in the real-life Gorgeous Guy being tracked down and invited to appear on CNN, The Tonight Show, etc.

Gorgeous Guy

The punchline of the Gorgeous Guy story, however, was that his initial burst of internet popularity turned out to have been artificially engineered. David Cassel of the San Francisco Bay Guardian discovered that the initial flood of messages promoting and gushing about the "Gorgeous Guy" all traced back to the same IP address — which was the address of the company where Gorgeous Guy worked. Cassel suspected that Gorgeous Guy had been promoting himself, though Gorgeous Guy himself insisted it had been his co-workers playing a prank on him.

There's absolutely no indication that Ridiculously Photogenic Guy's popularity was artificially goosed up in any way. In fact, Zeddie Little seems to be trying his best to avoid his unasked-for celebrity status. But it is odd how these internet memes echo and repeat themselves.

Incidentally, after I wrote about the Gorgeous Guy incident in the book version of The Museum of Hoaxes, Gorgeous Guy contacted me, and I continue to get updates from him every few years. Last I heard, if I remember correctly, he was working as a real-estate agent somewhere.
Categories: Celebrities, Photos/Videos, Social Networking Sites
Posted by Alex on Mon Apr 09, 2012
Comments (0)
Sloppy Photoshopping: The Russian Orthodox Church recently posted a picture on its website of Patriarch Kirill during a 2009 meeting with Vladimir Putin. The photo wouldn't have caused any controversy — except that bloggers noticed a difference between the Patriarch's arm and the reflection of the arm on the shiny surface of the table. The reflection showed an expensive watch on his wrist. Oops. The watch was a gold Breguet watch valued at $30,000.
Links: BBC, ABC News. (via Accipiter in the Hoax Forum)


Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Fri Apr 06, 2012
Comments (0)
This picture and caption has been circulating around the internet recently:

This a Moon Melon , scientifically knows as asidus. This fruit grows in some parts of Japan , and it's known for it's weird blue color. What you probably don't know about this fruit, is that it can switch flavors after you eat it. Everything sour will taste sweet, and everything salty will taste bitter, and it gives water a strong orange-like taste. This fruit is Very expensive. It costs about ¥16000 JPY (which is about 200 dollars).

Unfortunately, as intriguing as the moon melon sounds, it's just the product of digital color effects. lists a large variety of melons, including some odd ones such as Christmas Melon, Citron Melon, Collective Farm Woman Melon, Japanese Melon, Santa Claus Melon, Red Moon Melon, and Persian Melon. But no blue-colored Japanese Moon Melon.

From an article on, I found this list of fruits and vegetables that legitimately do come in shades of blue:
  • Black currants
  • Black salsify
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Dried plums
  • Eggplant
  • Elderberries
  • Grapes
  • Plums
  • Pomegranates
  • Prunes
  • Purple Belgian endive
  • Purple Potatoes
  • Purple asparagus
  • Purple cabbage
  • Purple carrots
  • Purple figs
  • Purple grapes
  • Purple peppers
  • Raisins
Categories: Food, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Fri Apr 06, 2012
Comments (3)
The following photo and caption has recently begun to circulate online. It's all over Facebook.


"And suddenly, I looked at the bull. He had this innocence... that all animals have in their eyes, and he looked at me with this pleading. It was like a cry for justice, deep down inside of me. I describe it as being like a prayer - because if one confesses, it is hoped, that one is forgiven. I felt like the worst shit on earth."

This photo shows the collapse of Torrero Alvaro Munera, as he realized in the middle of his last fight... the injustice to the animal. From that day forward he became an opponent of bullfights.

I haven't been able to figure out where the photo originally came from, but it definitely doesn't show Alvaro Munera's moment of epiphany during a bullfight. Munera is an ex-bullfighter who's become an animal-rights activist. But (as described in an article about him on his career ended not from a moment of zen communion with a bull, but rather in 1984 when a bull caught him and tossed him in the air, resulting in a spinal-cord injury that left Munera paralyzed.

I've seen another version of the photo and quotation that attributes the words to "Fabian Oconitrillo Gonzalez". But I have no idea who he might be. If he's a bullfighter, I haven't been able to find out anything about him.
Categories: Animals, Photos/Videos, Sports
Posted by Alex on Wed Mar 07, 2012
Comments (4)
Italian artist Anna Utopia Giordano (great name... can that be the name she was born with?) has created a series of works that comment on the media obsession with photoshopping models to look thin and flawless. She's taken famous classical nudes and made them thinner. So Botticelli's Venus gets slimmed down for the beach, as does Francesco Hayez's Venus. The New York Daily News quotes her as saying:

Art is always in search of the perfect physical form. It has evolved through history, from the classical proportions of ancient Greece to the prosperous beauty of the Renaissance, to the spindly look of models like Twiggy and the athletic look of our own time.

Categories: Art, Fashion, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Tue Mar 06, 2012
Comments (1)
The Daily Mail recently posted an article online about the early history of photo fakery. The Daily Mail doesn't exactly have a reputation for quality journalism, so it shouldn't be that surprising that the article starts off with an historical error. It claims that an image (shown below) of Abraham Lincoln posing in a 'heroic' stance "could be the first ever Photoshopped image."

I understand the Daily Mail is using 'photoshopped' as a generic term to mean an image altered by darkroom tricks. But even so, the Lincoln image hardly qualifies as the first photographic fake. For one thing, the Daily Mail dates the image to 1860, but I believe the image really dates to 1864 or later. (I have a brief article about the image in the photo archive. It was a case of an unknown photographer pasting Lincoln's head onto the body of a portrait of John Calhoun.)

So what would actually be the first ever 'photoshopped' image?

A photo taken by Hippolyte Bayard in 1840, "Portrait of the Photographer as a Drowned Man," is generally acknowledged to be the first 'fake' photo. But it wasn't a case of darkroom trickery. Bayard simply staged the scene by posing as a suicide victim, and then he wrote a false caption claiming the photo showed himself after having drowned.

The earliest photos, created by the daguerrotype or direct-positive method, didn't lend themselves to darkroom alteration, because they didn't produce a negative. One positive print was created, and that was it.

It was the calotype method that really ushered in the era of darkroom trickery, because it created a (paper) negative that the photographer could alter and use to produce as many positive prints as he wanted. William Henry Fox Talbot invented the calotype method in 1841, but it took a while to gain popularity, for a variety of legal and technical reasons. During the 1850s, the calotype was improved upon by the collodion process, that produced a glass negative.

Oscar Rejlander is credited as being the first photographer to recognize the extent to which negatives could be manipulated in the darkroom in order to create entirely new images. He pioneered the art of combination printing -- that is, combining multiple photographs into one -- which later came to be known as photomontage. This is the technique people are generally referring to when they talk about images being photoshopped.

In 1857, he produced The Two Ways of Life (below) -- a combination print consisting of 32 images stitched together. This might qualify as the first photoshopped image. Although photoshopped implies fake, and The Two Ways of Life wasn't fake because Rejlander never claimed it was a real scene. He was using photographic techniques to create something that looked like a painting.

I think spirit photographs might qualify as the first ever use of 'photoshop' techniques for deliberate fakery. The idea that photographic tricks could be used to produce 'ghosts' in images was first suggested by Sir David Brewster in 1856. His idea was that the long exposure times required by the collodion process could be exploited by having someone quickly walk into the frame of the picture during the exposure, then out again. Their image would appear to be ghostly in the subsequent photograph.

Two years later, the London Stereoscopic Company used this technique to produce an image it titled, "The Ghost in the Stereoscope." Though it didn't claim this was a real ghost photo.

Three years later, in 1861, William Mumler of New York realized you could also use double exposures to create ghosts. That is, if you used a poorly cleaned glass negative on which a faint image already existed, this would create a ghost image in a subsequent photograph. He used this technique repeatedly, to great profit. Below is one of his first spirit photos from 1861.

So perhaps Mumler is the first true photo faker. Although there were so many photographs being produced by the late 1850s, I wouldn't be surprised if there are other, earlier deliberate fakes that I'm not aware of.
Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Fri Mar 02, 2012
Comments (2)
Last week an image showing the "tip" left by a rich banker who had dined at a Newport Beach restaurant spread around the internet. The financial tip was slightly less than 1%, on a bill of over $100, but the patron also left a life-advice tip: "GET A REAL JOB".

Naturally, the image provoked the customary rage reaction from netizens.

The image originally was posted on a blog called "Future Ex-Banker" run by an anonymous blogger who said he worked in the corporate office of a bank for a boss who represented "everything wrong with the financial industry." He further claimed of this boss:

So proudly does he wear his 1% badge of honor that he tips exactly 1% every time he feels the server doesn't sufficiently bow down to his Holiness. Oh, and he always makes sure to include a "tip" of his own.

The image has now proven to be a hoax. The owner of the restaurant, True Food Kitchen, searched through their receipts and found the original copy, which included neither the stingy tip nor the insulting piece of advice. The "Future Ex-Banker" blog ( has been taken down.

I gotta say, the original image was a pretty good photoshop job. I'm guessing that the hoaxer scanned the original receipt, digitally erased some of the information, then printed out a new copy, wrote the new "tip" on it, and took a picture of it. That would be easier than doing the alteration entirely digitally.

I'm also curious whether the hoaxer was a liberal or a conservative. Given that the hoaxer had to know that the hoax would eventually be exposed, it makes me think this might have been black propaganda by a conservative, trying to make it look like a liberal/progressive hoax.

Links: Daily Mail, Huffington Post, Smoking Gun.
Categories: Photos/Videos, Politics
Posted by Alex on Thu Mar 01, 2012
Comments (5)
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