The plight of the refugees: I can't seem to find a photographer's name to put with this picture, which has gone viral in a big way all over the world. The official caption seems to be "Yarmouk residents gather to await food distribution from UNRWA," and the best attribution is apparently "UNWRA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency] Archives." According to one article, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia presented it on the Senate floor, and I saw a feature about it on the evening news, although I can't recall now whether I was watching NBC or CBS (I think it was the latter). The BBC says it was taken on January 31st. A number of TOP readers have sent me tips about it. The scene, of Palestinian refugees in Damascus, Syria, massing for food handouts, looks like CGI from an apocalytic Hollywood movie. It's possible it was taken with a cellphone by a relief worker.
UPDATE: The Hacker Factor Blog thinks this photo has been doctored. (Thanks to "Anon" for this.)
UPDATE to the update: Hugh Crawford disputes this claim in his Featured Comment below. And has convinced Yr. Hmbl. Ed.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post said these were Syrian refugees, but they are semi-permanent Palestinian refugees inside Syria. (Thanks to JL for the correction.)
Zany accident: This very unfortunate coincidence was captured by Marc Israel Sellem of the Jerusalem Post. It appears to show Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu making a Hitler mustache with the shadow of his finger on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's face. The newspaper disavowed it explicitly and the photographer removed it from his personal Facebook page, where it first appeared, at the request of his employer (although it still appears on his website). It was of course inadvertent, and had no intentional meaning—just an accident of the light. No doubt an embarrassment to both people pictured. And yet still very strange indeed.
Most stars per pixel: The most famous photograph in the world at the moment is this mass selfie taken at the Oscars in an attempt by host Ellen Degeneres to beat the all-time retweet record set by Barack Obama with his re-election message. And it succeeded, being retweeted 779,295 times in half an hour and allegedly crashing Twitter. It shows a number of very famous actors, one TV show host, and one very lucky Kenyan fellow who was in the right place at the right time (perhaps his famous sister ought to have been where he is, and he should be the one photo-bombing from the back, instead of the other way around). That the stunt might have been product placement for show sponsor Samsung takes just a tiny bit of the fun out of it. And personally, I like Al Roker's Oscars selfie too (scroll down at the link).
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
MJFerron: "That first photo of the refugees in Syria not only tells a story of life there but reminds me how lucky I am to have born in a rare moment in time and in place where even a commoner like me lives a luxurious life in comparison. One often forgets this."
Hugh Crawford: "These amateur forensics people in an echo chamber are impossible to accurately describe without veering off into ad hominem no-no-land.
"There is even a video on YouTube that shows the photograph being taken at between 12 and 15 seconds where the person taking the video is a a little above, behind, and to the left of the man taking the still image and the person in the U.N. uniform and helmet making an announcement with a megaphone. You can see the photographer raise his arm and what is probably a cellphone to take the picture.
"Apparently a person named Neal Krawetz made the following analysis that the echo chamber folk are excited about:
The shape of the crowd in the photo is different than the shape of the crowd in the video. So in a few seconds, the entire crowd shape changed.
"As though someone with a megaphone said, 'the food's over there!'? It looks about the same to me though.
Virtually everyone is facing forward in the photo. The video clip (from 12 seconds to 15 seconds) shows that there are people looking in every direction. Yet the photographer claims to have captured that one special moment when nearly everyone was looking forward at the camera. (I showed this photo to a few photographers who all agreed that a crowd that large looking at the camera like that was either staged or digitally altered. And given the video, the photo was clearly digitally altered.)
"As though the person with the megaphone were standing next to the photographer? In big group photos I have seen photographers use a megaphone to get everyone to look at the camera for the photo. I suppose something like 'pay attention if you want aid' would do. Even an announcement about a lost cat would get most peoples' attention if it was really loud and the person making it was wearing a smurf blue helmet and body armor.
The video shows a haze over the crowd that gets thick in the distance. The photo shows the haze over the buildings but not over the sea of people.
Almost like the video was exposed for the U.N. guy in the shady foreground, shot in lower res then compressed to YouTube data rates and seems to have a lot of U.N. blue veiling flare on top of shooting directly into the sun with a zoom lens and overloading the sensor.
People get smaller in the distance—it's called 'perspective'. In the video, you can see that the people near the camera are big, people in the distance are small, and there is a smooth height transition from big to small that follows the depth. In the photo, we have big people near the camera and small people right behind them; there is no transition related to the perspective.
"Yet if you are shooting the same scene from a lower vantage point closer to the people in the foreground those people will obscure the people immediately behind them; this too is called perspective.
"There is some more whining about the finer-detailed portions of the photo having different compression artifacts than other parts (do these guys know anything about how adaptive discrete cosine transform compression works?), confusion about reflected light (hey it looks like a big blue light reflector was next to the photographer, but that's impossible so it must be an alteration).
"I am getting so tired of these people who are intent on trying to discredit anyone they don't agree with on the flimsiest, and often made-up, grounds."
CK Lai: "Re: the selfie. Samsung can say anything it (they?) likes. Unfortunately, they have a history of being...shall we say...economical with the truth? 'Samsung and its media buying firm Starcom MediaVest negotiated to have its Galaxy smartphone integrated into the show.' Article: 'Behind the Preplanned Oscar Selfie.' YMMV."