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08/03/2010

BP, not British Petroleum anymore, must be Bad Photoshop!

Steve Russell - Staff Photographer

Last month two pictures supplied to the public by BP have been exposed as severe photoshop alterations and third picture distributed was a terrible photoshop job.

The blog americablog.com has exposed two of the incidents.

The damage that these images can cause the already tarnished image of BP is yet to be seen, but, these images have media companies up in arms.

The U.S. Coast Guard had created an extremely restrictive "safety zone" around all clean up locations and equipment and banned the news media from interviewing clean-up workers. The order was to keep media about 20 metres away from an oil spill clean-up activity. These safety zones also include areas where wildlife will be taken for cleaning.

An irate Anderson Cooper of CNN said it best when he pointed out that these kind of rules make it "easy to hide failure and hide incompetence."

Out cry eventually lead to the boom ban being lifted for accredited media.

During this time BP was releasing images on its website, two images show alterations done to images that enforce the need for media to cover these events.

Control-room-altered-600 The first of the images shows a busy BP control centre with images up on most of the screens, the problem is that in the unaltered image, below, three of the screens are blank, losing some of that busy drama in the room. 

Control-roomThere have been some awesome variations of this image done, my favourite has one of the blank screens filled with the google search page and "How to plug an oil well leak" typed into the search field.

Helicopter-altered-501
 The other is of a helicopter that appears to by flying over some boats doing clean-up and fighting a fire, an image that the rules made it very hard for media to get.

The sharp eyed blogger noticed a structure in the upper left window, turns out that the helicopter is actually on the landing pad of a near by oil rig. The sea has been changed from a deep blue, maybe a dirty blue, to an aquamarine blue. As well the blogger noticed that neither pilot is holding the stick and a display on the control panel shows doors and ramps are open and the parking brake is engaged.

Bp-helicopter-1
The original image. While dodging the control panels of the helicopter would be allowed by most newspaper and wire agencies, removing the structures and changing the water colour would not.

Other Toronto Star Photo Blog entries dealing with photojournalism ethics.

Iceland volcano picture

Ethics, Computers & photojournalism

Cropping disaster? Yes! Photoshop disaster? No!

-srussell@thestar.ca 

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Don't forget the water bottle resting in the top right window, what a joke.

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