**Update:** BP photoshopped another picture


Update: Congratulations to commenter David, who came close to guessing what was up with the photo. The un-photoshopped version of this helicopter shot, which BP America has uploaded to its Flickr account, shows that the photo was taken on the deck of a vessel at the spill site. That explains the tower and the fact that the helicopter is not actually flying.
BP spokesman Scott Dean told the Washington Post yesterday that the photographer, who works on contract with BP, pasted in blue sea where the edge of the landing pad was showing.
“He also adjusted colors and contrast so that the interior of the helicopter was brighter, Dean said.”
The WaPo says — arguably — that the changes were minor, but the embarrassment was major. It doesn’t bode well for a company trying to convince America of its transparency that bloggers are finding altered photos of the spill response. But it also highlights a discrepancy between standards set for photojournalists and PR folk. In the past, professional photojournalists have lost their jobs for doing just what BP did.
In 2003, L.A. Times photographer Colin Crawford was fired for merging two photos of a scene from Iraq.
In 2006, Reuters fired a Beirut-based freelance photographer for photoshopping a photo of a city after an airstrike to make it appear that there was more smoke.
And just this week, a photographer for Getty Images was fired for using Photoshop to remove a person from the background of a golf shot, probably for aesthetic purposes.
Getty’s PR manager told Photo District News:

Getty Images actively advocates and upholds strict guidelines pertaining to the capture and dissemination of its editorial content … As such, when Getty Images was made aware of (the) altered image in our coverage of this event, it was immediately removed…from our website and a mandatory ‘kill’ request was sent to our feed-based subscribers. In adherence with our zero tolerance policy on photo manipulation, we terminated our relationship with freelance photographer Marc Feldman.

BP has uploaded the “before” and “after” versions of photos that have been photoshopped to its Flickr account under an album called “BP Altered Images.” The album includes a third photo exposed by Americablog, which spotted the first chop job, showing a technical team in front of a large projection screen. The image on the projection screen, which is blown out in the original photo, was enhanced.



Tom Fowler posted yesterday that an observant blogger noticed BP had done some crummy photoshopping on a picture of its control room to make it look like more video feeds were running. BP was called out and spokesman Scott Dean told the WaPo that nothing sinister was intended by the alteration.
Well today, the folks over at Gizmodo have pointed out another BP photoshop job — this time on an image showing a view of the oil spill site from the cockpit of a helicopter.
The image — featured on the “Response in pictures” section of BP’s website — has more not-so-great photoshop work and then some, because as one commentor on Gizmodo pointed out, whoever worked the photo forgot about the window near the co-pilot, which depicts a totally different scene (That is unless the co-pilot likes to decorate his side of the cockpit with posters..)
Gizmodo points out that the air traffic control tower in the upper left hand side of the picture probably shouldn’t be there if the helicopter is flying over the well site. The water also changes colors, blurs and cuts off one of the vessels as it moves from the left toward the middle.
Zooming in on the dash of the helicopter, Gizmodo notes that the readouts indicate the door and ramp are open and the parking brake is on. The pilot also appears to be holding the pre-flight checklist.


Original image from BP’s website.

Categories: Gulf oil spill
Sharon Hong

No Responses

  1. TiredOfWhiners says:

    KB wrote:
    Now it makes all the sense in the world. Maybe that’s why they impeded and slowed down so much of this effort.
    It took so long because WalMart doesn’t stock 10,000 psi valves and subsea equipment tailored for wellheads a mile below the surface. What GOOFBALL thinks that you can do in a few days what normally takes more a year or two to put together- a high-pressure, high-volume, offshore oil production system? Get a grip folks- go out and order several million in customized equipment and see if it arrives in Fedex time. Blaming the government for delays only means that you would rather they spend taxpayer money to stockpile items to fix industry mistakes. Our economy isn’t that big.

  2. TomFowler says:

    I never do a comb over, just a comb forward. I asked them to try and make it look like I shaved but it’s too hard to photoshop out permanent five-o’clock shadow.

    As far as getting other pictures up there… I wish they would too. Sharon Hong, Jennifer Dlouhy and Jill Cohan do most of the real work here.

  3. Steve says:

    Jim: you are such a hack.

  4. KB says:

    I was wondering why Democrat Markey up in Massachusetts has continuously pushed taking the cap off that well…I read this in a recent Chron write up I never saw before:
    “Based on the 60,000-barrel rate, if BP were assessed the $4,300-per-barrel fine prescribed in federal law for negligent spills, the fines could be around $18 billion by some analyst estimates –”
    Now it makes all the sense in the world. Maybe that’s why they impeded and slowed down so much of this effort. They get a hell of a lot more money when it’s spewing bbls for months, almost enough to pay for some of the debt O is ..wait a minute…that’s not near enough to cover 4 trillion dollars of new spending, but hey, almost 20 billion twice ain’t bad for 3 months of “work”.

  5. avez64 says:

    It’s obvious BP is so used to doing whatever they want with no consequences, they’re not even making much of an effort to conceal lies and efforts at PR spin. How can we believe a word they tell us? And how can we believe our government is going to protect us and gain recompense for us when BP doesn’t get called onto the carpet even for blatant lies and misrepresentation? We’re REALLY going to trust them to tell us how much oil has spilled? They say the government is in control of determining spill rate, etc.; so, who’s giving them the information? Is there government monitoring equipment on site that I haven’t mentioned? Too many questions, not enough answers. :-(

  6. 42 says:

    “Oh what a tangled web we weave,
    When first we practice to deceive!”

  7. MarfaDude says:

    “We are BP’ers – we have your best interests at heart, and we strive for the best that we can be.”
    Texas-R-BP-Joe Barton

  8. Greg says:

    This is almost as dishonest as having a blog with Tom Fowler’s picture on it, but the post are by other people. What’s up with that? Also, I think Tom’s picture at the top of the blog has been Photoshop-ed to make it look like he has enough hair for a comb over.

    In the BP helicopter shot the boats don’t even look real. It almost looks like a computer graphic.

  9. filbert says:

    apparently, the pilot is nervous b/c he’s crossing his fingers. Maybe he’s hoping the helicopter won’t crash or that no one will notice the photochop…

  10. Jackalope says:

    I have news for you: every weather forecaster you see on TV is photoshopped. They are actually standing in front of a blue wall and not a map.

  11. pam_g says:

    What a bunch of goofs — with so many opportunities for *real* pictures, why invent things? Hope the pic of the pipe cap at the bottom of the sea is not some photoshopped fakery.

  12. RunningBear says:

    slow news day!

  13. BP is Shameful says:

    Photoshopping implies a ‘lie’. An underlying theme that just keeps giving.

  14. WatchPuppy says:

    BPBPBP: Bigger Profits By Promoting Bad Practices

  15. Jim says:

    If BP wants to publish photographs of Tarzan swimming around the rig, so what? Isn’t the work they have been doing what you are supposed to be reporting on? There is nothing about the photographs that in any way is an official submission of data. As to the command center photographs, again, so what? Would you rather see a picture of white walls? A photo represents an instantaneous moment in time, what does it have to do with what was there 10 seconds before or after, or for that matter, what does it have to do with anything? I am sure there are hundreds of photos taken where all the video screens were on at the same time, who cares?

  16. JohnD says:

    “Zooming in on the dash of the helicopter, Gizmodo notes that the readouts indicate the door and ramp are open and the parking brake is on. The pilot also appears to be holding the pre-flight checklist.”
    Not to mention that the pilot has his fingers crossed…. All in all, not a good day to be a BP PR person!

  17. Rorschach says:

    I also like how the Pilot has his fingers crossed…..