Previous news story    Next news story sorts the real Sandy photos from the fakes

By dpreview staff on Nov 1, 2012 at 19:08 GMT

Hurricane Sandy has left a swath of destruction across the Caribbean and eastern United States. Thousands of images have been circulating around the web, showing flooded streets, destroyed homes and submerged Subway stations. Some of the images that have popped up around the Web are truly unbelievable but how do you know which ones are fake and which ones are real? The Atlantic has posted an exhaustive (and continually updated) article, sorting out the genuine images from the fake.

This genuine image shows a tidal surge in Atlantic City - just one image among thousands which shows the extent of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy this week.  

According to the author, Senior Editor Alex Madrigal, the story is 'an effort to sort the real from the unreal. It's a photograph verification service, you might say, or a pictorial investigation bureau'.

Madrigal, who is accepting submissions of suspect images, explains - 'The fakes come in three varieties: 1) Real photos that were taken long ago, but that pranksters reintroduce as images of Sandy, 2) Photoshopped images that are straight up fake, and 3) The combination of the first two: old, Photoshopped pictures being trotted out again'.

It should come as no surprise that this image, which purportedly shows a shark swimming in the flooded streets of Brigantine, New Jersey, is a composite. 

What's most striking about the article is how many of the images that don't look real, actually are. The destruction is incredible and the relief effort is ongoing. This link contains information about how you can help. 


Total comments: 32
By Blackfjord (Nov 5, 2012)

It confuses me when people say photography is dead due to photo manipulation. I don't use photoshop. I simply enhance sharpness, color, exposure. Photography feels quite alive in me.

Comment edited 31 seconds after posting
By msstudio (Nov 5, 2012)

For Anybody who complains how photoshop ruined photography I suggest a quick visit to the Metropolitain Museum in NYC and review the show " Faking it".
Photo manipulation is as old as photography itself and as we little more creative photographers know and live by its not for nothing that photo graphic translates into drawing with light (roughly).
Now there's just a different tool in the shed that sometimes some people overuse to compensate for the lack of skill.
I personally love the fakes as it introduces a little humor into such a severe catastrophe. Caricature is a great relieve, even as a photograph.
Obviously a news photograph has to live up to different standards, but as we all stop purchasing newspapers and magazines and they subsequently cut budgets and the creation of own and verified content we as a society are giving up on a independent, third party onserver that can report and keep tabs on world event and public figures.

1 upvote
Ivan Azzopardi
By Ivan Azzopardi (Nov 3, 2012)

I dont think about real or fake as i do not agree with photo editing software unless it is traceable.Some people say it is creativity but i still dont agree. Thats what comes out you cannot determine real from fake not even in competitions magazines and even newspapers. Photography is ruined with photo editing software. Good luck digital artists !!

Comment edited 38 seconds after posting
Wye Photography
By Wye Photography (Nov 4, 2012)

I totally agree with you Ivan.

In fact I will go so far as to say Photoshop has already killed photography and its all full of liars and cheaters who pass off photoshopped images as photography. Photography is old world now, manipulation in king, manipulation wins competitions. Photography ends when the shutter is fired.

Of course, all those digital liars and cheaters will vehemently disagree with what I have said. That is because they are dishonest fraudsters, fakers and liars.

Francis Carver
By Francis Carver (Nov 4, 2012)

I hardly watch ANY new movies for this very reason. The do not even need to have directors any more -- only hundreds of poor little dwarfs spending their miserable lifetime in dark cubicles front of monitors. In movie-talk b.s., these are your "amazing digital visual effects artists," ha-ha-ha. These poor folks could not tell real from fake if they lives depended on it. But their livelihood certainly does.

By sadwitch (Nov 5, 2012)

What irony reading this kind of comments in a digital photography forum. To think philosophically, the art of photography is itself a manipulation of perception. It's about capturing what the mind sees and not what the camera sees. If the mind is limited by what the camera sees, what art is there to be explore?

1 upvote
By jimkahnw (Nov 5, 2012)

All photography is fake. It's a two dimensional rendering of three dimensional objects in a moment of time. Its verisimilitude has seduced viewers since it was invented.

Paradigm Changer
By Paradigm Changer (Nov 3, 2012)

I give extra marks for the 1.5m shark - who'd be afraid of a cutie like that? :)

Joe Ogiba
By Joe Ogiba (Nov 3, 2012)

I bet the people in that photo are happy now that the photo of their homes in a flood is a fake because some joker added a shark fin. Are people really that stupid ?

1 upvote
doctor digi
By doctor digi (Nov 2, 2012)

The one with the cat is not fake. It's a real cat! Anyone can see that.

By qwertyasdf (Nov 3, 2012)

And they didn't even give a reason and called it fake, how arrogant!!!
Definitely a real cat.

By GaryJP (Nov 7, 2012)

A photo with a cat? Which camera were they testing?

By Zanziboy (Nov 2, 2012)

The shark photo almost had me fooled. There are so many lawyers in New York, it seemed possible one of them would have gone for a swim.

By klopus (Nov 2, 2012)

Sorry, disregard.

Comment edited 29 seconds after posting
By aardvark7 (Nov 2, 2012)

This isn't a story about separating real from fake, it is one of real from absurd! Most are akin to having a hand drawn $50 bill and trying to pass it off as real.

There certainly is an issue about fake pictures in the news and many recent stories concerning those in war zones, but these are just nonsense and dilute the serious debate.

1 upvote
By bigfatron (Nov 2, 2012)

It (submission of fake images) certainly seems to be a common thing these days. There was a big 'meteor' (I think it was later thought to be reentering space junk) over the UK a month or so back and quite a few images that popped on news sources from supposed eye-witnesses turned out to be images lifted from obscure corners of the web of other meteors.

By naththo (Nov 2, 2012)

They need to stop being troll and send fake picture cos it is harassing the poor innocent city who got hit hard. I felt sorry and sad for them. I will never want see fake image of them like that. They need to realise that meme or fake image of Hurricane Sandy are very immature thing to do.

1 upvote
By WhoozOn1st (Nov 2, 2012)

While not the most important consideration in the immediate wake of Sandy, I appreciate efforts to differentiate the real from the not when it comes to widely disseminated images. Unfortunately the work of backayonder's "Photograph verification service" will never be truly completed; fakery is forever.

By brn (Nov 1, 2012)

The real ones are impressive enough. No need for the fakes.

By backayonder (Nov 1, 2012)

So will the World be better off once the Photograph verification service have completed their work?

M Lammerse
By M Lammerse (Nov 1, 2012)

In a world where Fox News and RT dominates the 'news' view of tens of millions of people a couple of photo soups don't do any real harm I guess...

Comment edited 28 seconds after posting
Rod McD
By Rod McD (Nov 2, 2012)

People used to believe that something in print had more credibility than something spoken, and they used to say that' the camera doesn't lie'. Unfortunately there's no basis for believing either and it's worse today than it ever was in the era before Photoshop. Shoddy journalism and faked photos appear all over the net. As both a consumer of "news" and a parent of internet natives, I think it's great that someone's outing fakes in the media.

Hennie de Ruyter
By Hennie de Ruyter (Nov 2, 2012)

I suppose a picture showing you shooting JFK would also need no verification. The world will certainly be the worse if no-one even try to verify news (including news photographs).

By lmtfa (Nov 3, 2012)

@M Lammerse:

I shouldn't be surprised an Arnhem, Osaka, Netherlands LEFTY spotlights Fox. Although if you mention Fox you must watch it. I guess being a Faux Japanese is same, same.

By alan900 (Nov 3, 2012)

Case rests.

By dmanthree (Nov 1, 2012)

Don't be so harsh. I won a $50 bet with a fool who claimed one of the "shark" photos was real. I'm still laughing, he's still p!ssed.

By MuMinded (Nov 2, 2012)

Thank goodness for the foolish and gullible in this world.. without them I would be broke..

(just kidding....)

1 upvote
Chev Chelios
By Chev Chelios (Nov 1, 2012)

damn, I thought the cat picture was real.

this article was hardly worthy of being a news item.

By Peter_H_77 (Nov 1, 2012)

Yep, with scores of fatalities, and countless livelihoods ruined, I'm glad somebody has finally scoured the internet to sort out the real images from the fake ones. The cat image was particularly funny. Proper news at last..

1 upvote
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Nov 1, 2012)

There's a link in our story to information about how to help/donate. We're certainly not making light of the effects of the hurricane. But there's another point here, which is the veracity of images in the age of crowd-sourcing. It's a very interesting, troubling question - now that we're living in an information age, and images are currency, how do you know when you've been ripped off?

By Peter_H_77 (Nov 2, 2012)

One man's field is another man's garden.

Not a troubling question for me in this context but it is what it is I guess. And I'm certainly not suggesting you're making light of it by any means. There's always plenty of fakes out there of course.

I wouldn't expect the pixelated dog-man to make it onto the front pages anyway. It just looks all wrong. I'd be standing on the dog.

By mcampbe1 (Nov 4, 2012)

I work for FEMA and am in NJ presently and going to NY. I look at long term recovery and have been in many disasters. The problem with real photography is that CNN and any other new outlet always looks for the worst damage and the best angle to show that damage. I have had to chase down so many spurious reports of destroyed towns, that turn out to be one really bad street in a large town. I dont believe real photos as the full story until I look at a whole community. The fake photos aren't the issue if we are talking about reporting reality.

PS - I take my own D90, 18-105, 50 1.8, Sigma 10-20, Nikon 70-300 with me. Since I cant get the Govt to buy one for me. Got to be photographer in a flight over Cedar Rapids in 2008.

Total comments: 32