Thursday, July 22, 2010

BP in 'clean-up' over fake photos

1. The altered photo
2. A close-up of one of the obvious photoshop jobs
3. The unaltered photo

JUST when BP's clean-up and containment efforts in the Gulf of Mexico seemed hard enough, the oil tycoon is experiencing yet another unintended knock-on-effect of the crisis- controversy over photoshoped images on its main site.

AMERICAblog writer John Aravosis and his readers have spotted two fake images in the “Response in Pictures” section of the company’s site.

The first depicts BP's crisis command centre in Houston where efforts to cap the leak are monitored on big screens by three employees in a dark room.

But it is obvious on closer examination the photograph has been manipulated so that three of the ten screens display a cut and pasted image.

White spaces are visible around two of the men's badly cropped head and shoulders. Similarly, the images displayed on three of the screens are misaligned and reveal unnatural white and black gaps around the edge of each frame.

This poor photoshop job comes somewhat as a surprise considering BP's multi-million dollar TV commercials and newspaper advertisements about the spill.

To deepen the wound, Aravosis found that the meta information for the photo says it was created in June 2001 but the photo on BP's site is dated as 16th July 2010.

“I guess if you're doing fake crisis response, you might as well fake a photo of the crisis response centre,” Aravosis said.

According to the Washington Post, Scott Dean, a spokesman for BP, stressed that there was nothing sinister in the photo alteration and was happy to provide the original unaltered version (albeit of a much smaller resolution).

“Normally we only use Photoshop for the typical purposes of colour correction and cropping," he told the paper.

"In this case they [the photographers] copied and pasted three ROV screen images in the original photo over three screens that were not running video feeds at the time."

A second crisis response photo has also been noticeably manipulated to insert a fake screen behind BP employees.

For a cover-up so menial it is surprising BP bothered to alter the pictures in the first place.

Both photos have since been removed from the site and the photo section now displays fewer categories and images than it did before they were caught out.

“We've instructed our post-production team to refrain from doing this in the future,” Dean said.

While these alterations are of little material significance the incident has added to suspicions about BPs transparency in matters both big and small.

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