Our world today is populated by visually driven humans.
Even before the rise of the Internet and social media, images and pictures have always been the peak expression of our glorification of biggest historical events as a society.
They are so powerful that people with the power see that it is necessary to tweak and manipulate them to fuel their own ends and fool the people into believing the lies they want enforced.
Now that the Internet, social media, and image manipulation technology is more accessible than ever, waves of edited or photoshopped pictures appear on people’s screens made for different reasons, from shock to flamebaiting to spreading conspiracy rumors.
Although humans have been developing a keener eye for manipulated images, it is undeniable that there are edited pictures that fooled most of the world, if not all of it.
By now, we all know that you can’t believe everything you see on the internet. Experts at Photoshop are able to manipulate images in whatever way they please.
Below are 15 photoshopped images that played us all for suckers. Check them out and tell if you yourself would’ve been fooled if it wasn’t for what this article revealed.
Let’s get straight to no. 15:
15. Time Magazine’s “Dark Cover-up” of O.J Simpson
Former American football player O.J. Simpson was infamously caught and detained by the authorities for murdering his former wife Nicole Smith and her friend Ronald Goldman.
News publication companies rabidly disseminated images of his mug shot all over the country as it was being marketed by the media as the century’s biggest trial at that time. Oddly, TIME Magazine released an issue that has an altered version of the mug shot.
The alteration has something to do with the saturation of the image’s color, which allegedly made Simpson’s skin darker, as if his dark skin is being emphasized. The corners of the picture were edited to make them look blacker, as if charred, and his prisoner ID number was made smaller.
It was noticed by the public because copies of this Time Magazine edition were sold and put on shelves beside the original, unaltered mug shot covers of competitor brand Newsweek. Did time have dark motives for offering the public a dark image of OJ Simpson after he committed an even darker deed? We don’t really know.
14. The Male Tourist of September 11, 2001
Right after the tragic WTC destruction of September 11, 2001, a picture of a male tourist was sent to every e-mail. Rumors tell that it was believed to be the last image taken using the film roll of a camera that luckily survived the obliteration of the famed Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.
Like any secret that eventually gets exposed, the picture was proven to be just another edited image. How so? The weather in the picture failed to match the weather in New York City by the time the WTC was attacked. The man on the image was also seen to stand somewhere on the South Tower, which seems to be the tower the plane on the picture crashed into.
The truth is the North Tower was the one first to take a hit. It was also confirmed that the observation deck of the World Trade Center was closed that time when the planes crashed into the building. It was also very unlikely for an average camera to take a very clear and detailed shot of an airplane towards the tourist’s location at a very high speed.
Only a camera with a tremendously fast shutter speed would be able to do that. To top all the con artwork done, the airplane on the image was a Boeing 757. The planes that crashed into the WTC were 767s. The picture was enough to tickle the senses of the emotionally stirred masses but the fizz fizzled out pretty quickly.
13. Shark vs. Helicopter
This oddly sensational image of a shark chasing a helicopter is an edited combination of two separate photographs that shows a scene of a Great White Shark busting out of the San Francisco waters to launch an assault on the military team riding the helicopter, particularly the soldier trying to climb a rolled down ladder attached on a Special Forces UH-60 Black Hawk chopper.
The image went “viral” via e-mail with the note that the picture had been apparently chosen as National Geographic’s Photograph of the Year. The finished edited picture was made possible by two separate photographs. One was a photo of an HH-60G Pave Hawk chopper shot by Lance Cheung for the U.S. Air Force, and a photo shot by Charles’ Maxwell, an Afrikaner photographer from South Africa.
The helicopter image was indeed shot in front of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco but the Great White was shot in False Bay, South Africa. The hoax would’ve been less obvious to NatGeo geeks, particularly, if it wasn’t for the fail that is the zero instances of any Great White Shark appearance in the Bay area.
12. Josef Stalin and the Missing Commissar
The former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had a habit of erasing the existence of his enemies from pictures. This picture became famous for the removal of the commissar Nikolai Ivanovich Yezhov from his place beside Stalin on the image, after he outlived his use to Stalin.
Because of this, Yezhov became famous for being dubbed “The Vanishing Commissar” by art historians after the removal of his presence in pictures after he was executed in 1940. Commissar Yezhov was a die-hard Stalinist and was the head of Stalin’s secret police group during the time of the Great Purge.
He oversaw mass arrests, detentions, and executions of people accused of disloyalty against the Soviet rule. What’s ironic is that Yezhov ended up getting arrested, detained, tortured, put on trial, and executed for (wait for it…) disloyalty. After his death, Stalin proceeded to eliminate Yezhov from all pictures after he fell out of the Soviet leader’s favor.
11. Kerrigan and Harding sharing the rink
Once upon a time, this digital composite image of two famous Olympic ice skaters, Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding, was featured on the front cover of the New York Newsday.
Kerrigan and Harding were publicized and acknowledged as rivals in the sport. They were shown on the picture practicing together, right after Kerrigan got attacked by a person that was known to be associated with Harding’s husband.
The picture was famously captioned, “Tonya Harding, left, and Nancy Kerrigan, appear to skate together in this New York Newsday composite illustration. Tomorrow, they’ll really take to the ice together.”
The New York Newsday tried to justify the edit through the caption but the public are just too quick to criticize using their eyes. Not really the ice-breaking antic of the century, New York Newsday.
10. The Kerry-Fonda Anti-War Tandem
John Kerry ran for president last 2004. It’s not surprising that a black propaganda material was created to ruin Kerry’s name on the height of his fame.
The image “reveals” a picture of John Kerry joined by Jane Fonda in what it seems like a gathering. Fonda was known to be an anti-war activist shunned and maligned by her countrymen. The picture was revealed (truly, this time) to be an image created by merging two separate pictures: one for Kerry, and another for Fonda.
It was made to look like a news image from the 1970’s. Although these pictures were both shot in the 70s, Kerry’s picture was actually shot on the 31st of June, 1971, and Fonda’s was shot in August, 1972. This hoax picture painted a thousand (anti-war) words. You’ll know it won’t launch a thousand ships (to war).
9. The Images from 2006 Lebanon War
Adnan Hajj was a controversial freelance photographer who was assigned by Reuters to deliver news regarding the war between Lebanon and Israel.
Everything was going smoothly until Hajj published photos of the conflict. The pictures were discovered to be manipulated by Hajj in a way that magnifies the already miserable look of the situation of Lebanon due to Israel’s military aggression.
This “magnified” look was a product cloning and lighting tools provided by image-editing software. Hajj defended himself by stating his admission of his poor command over the tools he used when he was on duty. Hajj used cloning and lighting to increase smoke, make copies of buildings all over, and a whole plume of smoke.
Hajj’s actions were heavily criticized for contributing to a phenomenon called “Hezbollywood,” which is the sensationalizing of the Lebanon-Israel conflict by media entities to promote the image of Israel as ruthless aggressors. Hajj was fired by Reuters after the issue. You can say that Hajj chose to “shoot” powerful “bullet” at Israel and the camera was his preferred gun.
8. Lukket’s 50’s Vintage RAND Computer
This 50s RAND computer photograph was a contest entry in a photo-editing contest organized by a website called Fark.
The contest theme was an image of a mockup submarine control panel. Lukket’s edited image was already everywhere in the internet’s bulletin boards and emails even before he submitted it to Fark. It caught so much fire that the popular myth-debunking site Snopes decided to debunk the Lukket’s myth through an article.
After Snopes published their write-up about Lukket’s photo, Lukket won Fark’s contest. The photo continued to be the subject of debate and confusion between September 2004 and March 2006, even in the San Luis Obispo Tribune, a newspaper known for crediting Popular Mechanics and Bob and Tom, the TV/radio celebrities.
7. Kent State Massacre by the National Guard
This photo won the Pulitzer Prize for then-photojournalism college student John Filo, which shows female Kent student Mary Ann Vecchio screaming while kneeling over the body of another student named Jeffrey Miller.
The National Guardsmen of Ohio fired into a crowd of supposedly unarmed demonstrators protesting against the war in Southeast Asia the United States was participating in back then. The Guardsmen ended the lives of 4 students and injured 9.
The original image shows a fence post behind Vecchio. This post was removed in the published version, which won the Pulitzer. In the original version, the fence post looks like it’s impaled into Vecchio’s head from the top. The image was an eerie sight in an already vicious setting.
6. A Thinner Katie Couric
Back in 2006, American journalist Katie Couric told the public about the impending exit of Dan Rather from CBS news and that she would be the to replace him.
Marketing went to the next level when the photo editor of CBS published the official picture of Couric that was edited to make her look thinner.
Although it may have looked like the photo editor did what he did to make her more appealing and pleasing to the judgmental eye of the viewers, Katie Couric responded candidly, saying “I liked the first picture better because there’s more of me to love.” The editor did not know he was walking on thin ice.
5. George Bush edited out
George W. Bush and his publicity team had a crazy idea (maybe after watching George Lucas’ Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones) of removing the former United States President from a picture of him speaking in front a crowd with soldiers behind him.
His body was replaced by soldier copied and pasted over where the podium was supposed to be. The edited photograph was used for Bush’s 2004 presidential campaign.
At first look, it seems like Bush wanted to show the people of the United States a vibrant following from the military or maybe he wanted to show them that the U.S. military is as powerful as it should be.
Eventually, Bush’s campaign managers would spill the beans and tell everyone about the obvious con job.
Bush’s campaign team corrected and launched the campaign again to the television stations with the original picture. Bush probably was itching to remake the Episode 2 through his military campaigns.
4. Trotsky: A Soviet Vanishing Act
The Soviets really had a fixation with magical disappearances in their time. This is a picture of a celebration of the October Revolution by the Soviets last Novemeber 7, 1919 shot by a photographer named L.Y. Leonidov.
Vladimir Lenin stands in the middle of the picture, as you see by his famous goatee and Soviet headgear. Standing left of Lenin after two people is Leon Trotsky, wearing glasses and saluting. Trotsky at this time was a mighty political personality, standing as the might chairman of the Supreme Military council.
Trotsky, and three people (Kamenev, Khalatov, and an unknown person) were eventually airbrushed off the photo for being Stalin’s opponents, just in time for the the Art of Photography in Moscow in 1967.
3. A politically incorrect way to political correctness.
The University of Wisconsin administration probably had a bad day when they realized that their institution wasn’t as ethnically diverse as they think.
To actually look like they can walk the talk, they edited a picture on their brochure cover by using digital photo-editing software to insert a black student in a crowd of football fans, who all happened to be white (unsurprisingly).
The original copy of the white fan crowd was shot back in 1993. Diallo Shabazz, the inserted black student, was shot the year after. The officials of the University of officials said that they really tried to search for pictures that depict the supposed ethnic diversity of the University’s student body. UW might have thought their brochures were too white that it scares non-white students.
2. Abraham Lincoln wearing John Calhoun’s body
This heroic post-Civil War portrait of famous United States President Abraham Lincoln was never shot. The head and the body were from two separate people.
The head is obviously owned by Lincoln and was taken from a picture shot by Matthew Brady. It was cropped and pasted on the body of Southern statesman, and rumored instigator of the American Civil War, John C. Calhoun.
In the original Calhoun picture, the words on the papers on the table states the words free trade, sovereignty of states, and strict constitution. This was edited to in the edited Lincoln version, where the words were union, constitution, and proclamation of freedom.
This nearly iconic portrait of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln is a composite of Lincoln’s head and the Southern politician John Calhoun’s body.
The date of the composite was thought to be shot in the mid 1860’s, decades after the creation of the first permanent photographic image in 1826 and before the birth of the Eastman Dry Plate Company (that became Eastman Kodak) in 1881. The only reason for the composite was Lincoln’s lack of heroic poses in pictures. Lincoln looks like he’s not into branding that much.
1. NatGeo’s space-warping ability used on the Pyramids
How cool would it be if you have the ability to manipulate space? National Geographic thought they actually had the ability but when truth struck them, they resorted to a more realistic skill of photoshopping.
NatGeo had an issue with the Great Pyramids of Giza, Egypt as front cover and cover story. Gordon Cohen’s picture that was used as the cover photo were edited to squeeze the pyramids together, despite them being just too far away from each other for one close-up picture of both at the same time.
NatGeo needed to fit the pyramids into the vertical format of the magazine. Tom Kennedy, the director of photography of that time, admitted the editing job and recognized the impracticality of their actions.
He states that they stopped using the editing technology they used for the magazine and that they won’t repeat the same mistake ever again just for the sake of doing supposedly practical methods to create a more gripping image. It would’ve been more compelling they actually had the ability to warp space. Sci-fi and historical architecture have always been a great match.