Friday Funny- Whale of a Tale

So, this week I received a great forward called “Paddle Faster!” Where a guy is on a kayak in Sitka, Alaska and as he was paddling across the bay a large whale chasing its dinner came up all gaping-maw like beneath him.

It’s an impressive photo, and I tried to enlarge the photo and look for pixels being altered, but couldn’t find where it was merged.  Still, I GOOGLED it and I found that it was an altered image:

Here is the original image from Shobe Studios in Alaska.

I thought then we’d keep this the FF-LOL theme and I’d feature some really great altered images.

Here are some great images thnx to Dartmouth that did a nice work up of altered images from the 1800’s through current times.

circa 1865: In this photo by famed photographer Mathew Brady, General Sherman is seen posing with his Generals. General Francis P. Blair (far right) was added to the original photograph.

Of course I’ve also heard rumor that Brady would move the dead on the battlefield in order to make it more dramatic.  I guess sensational journalism started early.

Alternatively many of us have wanted to get rid of that person in our lives that mars an otherwise great photograph of ourselves.  Some resort to ripping or cutting the picture, drawing a Groucho Marx mustache on the offender, or in the cases of some of the bloodiest dictators in history, they’d just pretended that person never existed.

circa 1930: Stalin routinely air-brushed his enemies out of photographs. In this photograph a commissar was removed from the original photograph after falling out of favor with Stalin.

Not to be out done, another bloody dictator took a page out of the same book.

1936: In this doctored photograph, Mao Tse-tung (right) had Po Ku (left) removed from the original photograph, after Po Ku fell out of favor with Mao.

Mussolini wouldn’t have looked so bad ass in his photo op if they left in the dude holding his war pony.

1942: In order to create a more heroic portrait of himself, Benito Mussolini had the horse handler removed from the original photograph.

“OK,” you say. “Sure, having some minion alter your crummy black and white photograph when you’re a dictator is one thing, but try that with more current media and you get caught.”

Welllllllllllllllllllllll, not always.  At least not by some eagle-eye for digital manipulation, sometimes your friend or fashion designer recognizes their work.

August 1989: The cover of TV Guide displayed this picture of daytime talk-show host Oprah Winfrey. This picture was created by splicing the head of Winfrey onto the body of actress Ann-Margret, taken from a 1979 publicity shot. The composite was created without permission of Winfrey or Ann-Margret, and was detected by Ann-Margaret’s fashion designer, who recognized the dress.

It’s not just people who are altered to make the story look better, sometimes the scenery is manipulated to pull at the heart-strings.

November 1997: After 58 tourists were killed in a terrorist attack at the temple of Hatshepsut in Luxor, Egypt, the Swiss tabloid Blick digitally altered a puddle of water to appear as blood flowing from the temple.

Models being air-brushed to have smooth flawless skin, slimmer bodies, faces, legs- pretty much a completely different person has been in the news a lot lately.  But, below they used two photos of the same person, from different times.  That’s just weird.

July 2003: This Redbook cover of actress Julia Roberts is a composite of Roberts’ head taken at the 2002 People’s Choice award, and her body taken at the Notting Hill movie premiere several years earlier. Publisher Hearst admits its mistake: “In an effort to make a cover that would pop on the newsstand, we combined two different shots of Julia Roberts. We acknowledge that we may have gone too far and hope that Ms. Roberts will accept our apology.”

Given the amount of remastery done to models it seems a little harsh that this photographer got canned after making some improvements to his war-time photo.

April 2003: This digital composite of a British soldier in Basra, gesturing to Iraqi civilians urging them to seek cover, appeared on the front page of the Los Angeles Times shortly after the U.S. led invasion of Iraq. Brian Walski, a staff photographer for the Los Angeles Times and a 30-year veteran of the news business, was fired after his editors discovered that he had combined two of his photographs to “improve” the composition.

Where as this tabloid is still going strong…

April 2005: This digital composite of actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, rumored to have a romantic relationship, appeared on the cover of Star Magazine. The picture of Pitt was taken in Anguilla, a Caribbean island, in January 2005. The picture of Jolie was taken in Virginia some time in 2004. On page 8 is a disclaimer noting the image is a “composite of two photographs.”

I suppose I should be an equal opportunity critic and post here how a men’s magazine that I’ve seen one of my prior co-workers read altered one of their male cover-pieces.

May 2007: The biceps of tennis player Andy Roddick were conspicuously enlarged on the cover of Men’s Fitness magazine. Roddick commented that he was “pretty sure I’m not as fit as the Men’s Fitness cover suggests”. He also noted that a prominent birthmark on his right arm had been erased. Richard Valvo, a spokesman for Men’s Fitness, said, “We wouldn’t comment on any type of production issue.” Adding, “I don’t see what the big issue is here.”

Alright, enough of the serious stuff. has a great section called Photoplasty where they challenge those with a digital flair to submit their own ‘fun’ images.  Here are just a few from 26 Old-Timy Ads…

Hope you guys enjoyed this, and remember, next time you’re watching that political campaign on TV, browsing the tabloid while standing in line at the grocery store, what you’re looking at could be a carefully crafted fake.


4 responses to “Friday Funny- Whale of a Tale

  1. So that is a lot of research and I am highly impressed! And a very interesting post. I sort of knew that photographers altered photos way back when but not that way back!

    • Yes, I had seen something previously about it, also on, but that Dartmouth article did the best talking about the changes that took place. I enjoyed it, especially with how well that Whale photo was doctored up.

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