… if you don’t want to see a particularly gruesome image of the assassinated Osama bin Laden.

I’ve put it at the bottom of this blog so you don’t have to look at it without scrolling down, not for any vicarious pleasure, but for the simple purpose of showing what can be achieved with digital image manipulation software such as Adobe Photoshop (other digital image manipulation applications are available).

What purports to be the shocking photograph of the dead bin Laden which President Obama deemed too disturbing for public view has of course cropped up all over the place, mainly on right-wing conservative American websites. And they are truly scary (the websites, that is).

You will have read in previous postings on this blog that US courts do not allow digital photographic images as evidence because of the ease with which they can be manipulated. Actually as anyone who has battled with Photoshop will know, it’s not that easy, but a truly skilled Photoshop artist can make it look simple — and realistic.

The image is indeed shocking — until you look at the image on the right.

On the left you will see a purported photograph of Osama bin Laden after he stupidly opened the door to some visiting American gentlemen. On the right you will see a much nastier image — Osama bin Laden alive.

Compare the two images.

Look at the angle of the head.

Look at his ear; look at the highlight inside it.

Look at the highlight on the tip of his nose.

Look at his mouth hanging slackly open, doubtless in the process of delivering some deranged spittle-flecked invective.

The images are identical, except that in one he appears to have met with an accident.

It’s the same image. The one of the left has been Photoshopped — it’s a completely fraudulent image. I’m not suggesting for a moment that this is the image that Barack found too disturbing to release; that one is undoubtedly real and I’m sure it’s profoundly unpleasant.

But in lieu of having the real thing, some talented Photoshop artist has been employed to provide slaughter pron for slavering right-wingers. It’s very good — until some clever chappie like David Hoffman unearths the original image.

Unless of course Hoffman has been even smarter and recreated the image on the right from the original on the left!

Now you can see why American courts don’t permit digital images as evidence. The camera lies through its teeth.

Thanks to David Hoffman Photographs for putting the two images together, and for Will Carleton of Photo Archive News for bringing them to my attention.

Wanted Dead Or Alive




Add your comment


34 Responses to “Look Away Now …”

  1. Greg says:

    Not worth commenting as it has now been reported that Jihadist websites have confirmed he’s dead. The only fact worth reporting.

  2. Bernard howden says:

    Looks life like, he deserved what he got. hope he rots in hell.

  3. Todd says:

    2 things, this image has been floating for a while now- you’re a bit late in debunking it. Secondly this is a phot blod not a place to post political opinions such as “mainly on right-wing conservative American websites. And they are truly scary (the websites, that is).”
    Please stick to phot related content in your articles.

    • peta says:

      Interesting article… I have been reading comments on many threads about this event, BBC for example. They seem to be flooded with Americans moaning about Brits and Euros who dare to pass comment on America. Frankly Todd, blow it out your nose, free thinking is allowed. I have news for you Todd everything is politics… after all you seem to think that you can tell others what should or should not be said in their own blog… =B-P

      Trying to tell people what they can and can’t say or think is ultra-politics, and very frightening, just like those horrible websites Gwyn referred to.

      Hilariously I have even seen Americans (as in USA) laying into other Americans assuming that because they were not trotting out the ‘Tea Party crypto-Fascist” agenda, therefore they must surely be Euros or snotty Brits.

      Yawn… (Mumbles something about first amendment)

      PS. I guess you are probably from Eltham or somewhere Todd.

  4. Adrian says:

    This photo looks so Photoshopped and in a bad way from where im sitting

    If You look on a decent screen You can even see a couple of eyes on his head. not kiddin

  5. Stuart Booth says:

    Gruesome as it is – and in several respects as well as the immediate – you are right to bring to our attention………..in fact I tend to only trust fotoLIBRA images these days.

    Rest of the comments are a bit, er, ‘off’ in my opinion….and, specifically, bollocks to Todd, I say,

    Well done, Gwynne ,and ignore the smartarses

  6. Wow, I would much rather find out how much each photocall is going to pay members than read/see this kind of post. I thought this website was about licencing images and not political mumbo-jumbo or the difficulties of photoshop. I am seriously thinking of looking for another market place to promote my images. Please excuse me fotoLibra for perhaps being too serious, but isn’t it time to be professional and tend to business?

  7. If either Photo Archive News or David Hoffman Photographs are not members of fotoLibra I wish to express my discontent with them being mentioned in this post and having photos posted in this post as I believe that members photos are certainly more important in these postings. Wow, and with clickable links to their websites as well…how do I get one of those posted for my website? Actually thanks to the posting as Photo Archive News looks like it may be my future market place!

    • peta says:

      What’s wrong with you Scott? It’s a god damn blog about photography, I don’t recall anyone getting pissed off when a very interesting blog post of Gwyn’s showed how a pro got banned from a top shelf photo competition for over use of photoshop…

      Shut the door on your way out mate, try not to slam it.

  8. Martha Moran says:

    Great post, Gwyn. I will forward widely.

  9. necati says:

    Osama bin ladin ‘perhaps I may be the world’s biggest terrorist.
    But one of the biggest terrorist of the lack of torture, killing of people in this way.
    the lack of limbs of a human being to destroy the barbaric.
    Obama made ​​a terrorist and a blind eye oyu.lanetliyorum usameyi die.
    no torture

  10. Very interesting points made – and very wise of Obama not to release photos. Thanks Gwyn.

  11. Brian says:

    Is this a “real official” photo or just the fantasy of some US redneck? They’ve plainly used heavy jpeg compression on the “dead” photo, covers a multitude of sins. Surely the US government can do better?

    This thread IS photo related. Manipulation of photos can be for many reasons, not least political. If you know why, then how is largely irrelevant.

  12. peta says:

    good blog Gwyn, may increase traffic here, that would be a good thing. 🙂

  13. Mike Mumford says:

    Society and the profit lead media regurgitate the bad news into more bad news endlessly. The mind-set, is greed set to have everything free on a plate. From the digital world of free downloads, the technology give us free power to do almost anything, real enactments or unreal fantasy.
    We have to balance logic against ideology, religion, and ignorance.
    In a free society there is a price to pay, we should have a media that educates, and improves society’s morals, not dilutes and mocks them. We have a sick society today where the politicians can be elected with only 40% turnout, first pass the post. More like a dog race than the human race. Dogs have their place not as playthings dress up as babies, but put to better useful work that real dogs do so well.
    Barack Obama has a difficult time in the land of the free, freedom to hold a gun, or take it with you to school. The gunman or woman is guaranteed media coverage if you take out as many innocent people as you can. Just like any video war game feed and encourage from an early age, what can you expect?
    David Hoffman is a product of this media free-for-all age, this time the gun is replaced by computer graphics, no longer is a picture worth a 1000 words, but equally now a 1000 lies.
    Moral truth requires applying an inner discipline, freedom has to be respected and earned, please do not through it away, too many lives have been lost, all societies across the world deserve better.
    http://landscape-guides.co.uk/cat.asp?CatID=62 Go out into the fresh air, see the wonders of nature, use your photographic skills to enhance the wonderful things around you, and enjoy.

  14. Martin Billings says:

    A complete waste of time and effort. What exactly were you trying to do? The actual truth will not surface for at least 40 years. At this point in time I personally could not give a f***.

    The evil little bast**** bin Larden is no more. That’s all that’s important. Retribution? Well if anybody of his making is considering making moves to kill innocent people we’ll deal with it like we have already done. No more to be said I think.

  15. Forensicaly it could be any old goat farmer except if you look at the teeth,you will notice somewhat of a match.All that is left after the forensic pudding,is what shape his ass is in.

  16. Jamie Waddell says:

    As an ex Royal Marines Commando and keen photographer I can tell you that the weapon used against Bin Laden would have made a bigger mess than that! Those are quite pretty compared to what the real one would show!

    • Florinbaiduc@gmail.com says:

      Thanks for posting this…not. I unsubscribed from fotolibra as a result…
      The idiot posting this did not think some browsers show images first, then the text, as the page loads.

  17. lucky says:

    this is something bad am so sorry for the guy..l mean man….osama bin laden……

  18. Guy Laurence says:

    No doubt this kind of sick phototrickery will appeal to right wing rednecks who are to ignorant and stupid to see that it is a fake. I think it gives a glimpse into the addled minds of fundamentalist hate mongers.

  19. Gerry Robertson says:

    This just shows how unreal and untrustworthy digital photography has become. I am a digital photographer and I rarely use Photoshop for anything other than cropping and levels adjustment. It makes me seriously consider returning to film-based processes, just for the sake of integrity (yes, I know that film has, also, always been manipulated. its just that it is so much easier with digital). However, I don’t think it is a very good mock-up; would the resolution been so poor, or the compression so great, on such an important photo, had it been real??? I agree with Jamie Waddell.
    Some comments on the political aspects of this blog show how, in a world where the fingers are quicker than thoughts can be considered, the skills of argument and debate are being lost. Freedom of speech requires measured thought, otherwise it can very easily become bigoted abuse.
    Thank you Gwyn.

  20. Eric Dodds says:

    People who want to see these images should join up; you get to see plenty of them as well as the real thing and not fake either.

  21. rob wildlife2 says:

    THIS is WHY I detest Photo shop changes.. Photo Shop to enhance, crop, etc but to FUDGE PHOTOGRAPHS of any kind..man, nature,water,animals,flora you name it is NOT PHOTOGRAPHY it is blatant UNTRUTH!

    RAW photographers use Photo Shop or MAC programs a great deal to enhance photos filters,blurrs, layers; etc. which is NOT PHOTOGRAPHY but TECHNICAL SKILLS.. photograph competitions should NOT allow photo shopping of any kind..

  22. it time says:

    it is reality buh we don’t know the truth because we are not there so let watch out….

  23. mike says:

    No matter that this is a fake picture
    It is important that he go to hell

  24. Yes I agree that explicit graphic images of a slain person is a sight that common viewers are least interested to view. Good decision by Obama. The biggest threat to human race has been removed from this world is sufficient relief to mankind. It doesn’t have to be proven with vivid photographs; it doesn’t serve any purpose at all. DNA tests proved it and his family members admitted it – what else is remaining? After all these if someone is dying for seeing distorted faces; let him visit some morgue or develop one for himself using the computer.

  25. Julia Rich says:

    Oh dear, photoshop is culpable again….. except everyone conveniently forgets the Cottingley fairies, and an out of favour communist party member’s image being removed from group photos – and that was on gen-oo-ine film. It is the user, not the program, and the user’s intent to deceive that is the problem. I prefer the comment made on the internet by a witty person concerning a “Disney weekend”, a prince got married and a villain was killed – pithy eh? Remember that villain or not, there were those that loved him and will miss him, even if most of us will not. Images such as these do no-one any favours, only sicken the viewer (and I was trained as a paramedic) by their spurious intent.

    • Gerry Robertson says:

      Yes, Photoshop is culpable in the same way that guns and gun makers are culpable. There are things in this world that are not just relative, they open doors that allow our weaknesses to be played to. In the days of film many photos were faked and manipulated, now, the vast majority of media images from celeb photoshoots to assassinations of bad men are twisted to project images that are entirely false. If almost everything a person sees is photoshopped and CGI how do we make sense of the real world? Or, has Buddhism got it right, everything is an illusion? Somehow, I think, Truth has to be something we should insist on, otherwise, what is there? This might sound as if I’ve strayed far from the original subject but the willingness of ‘photographers’ to lie and to persuaded into lying, on such a vast scale is frightening. Yes, a photographer who lies is culpable and those who provide him/her with the means to do so is equally so! Are the people who sponsor and protect the men like Bin Laden any less guilty than he? Should we kill them all and then fake the photos? Goodness, I enjoy a good rant.

  26. Linda Erhart says:

    This is disgusting and inciteful. Sorry to see it on your site.

    • Brian says:

      If you think photo manipulation started with Photoshop, you must either be very young or misinformed. Photoshop just makes it easier.

      Few black and white negatives were ever printed “straight”, or colour negatives, come to that. Printed slides? You could very rarely print them “straight” anyway, the paper couldn’t cope with the contrast. A quick look through old photography books or magazines will show a plethora of stuff about the art of the darkroom.

      I used to spend hours in the darkroom, doing nothing much more than respotting, dodging and burning etc. But there was much more than one could do with nothing more than an enlarger.

  27. Gwyn Headley says:

    I do feel sorry for the people who were offended by this blog post and I apologise for disturbing their sensitivities. The intention of the post was clearly stated as being “for the simple purpose of showing what can be achieved with digital image manipulation software” and the fake image was clearly prefaced with alerts.
    Please avoid the Daily Mail and The Guardian websites, among others, where the image was also posted — or you could write and complain to them as well.

    • Brian says:

      I don’t think you did any wrong, Gwyn. You made a very valid point, not least that when it suits them, people seem to willingly accept even bad Photoshop images as the real thing.

      The poor sensitive souls who are offended should realise that “Photography” is not just their way of making money, it is media, enlightenment, propaganda, titillation and just about every other human habit you can think of. Why do so many clients here want staged pictures of, for example, a confident woman and a nervous looking man? Because those pictures convey something.

    • Jim Walker says:

      I was not offended by the blog post of the faked photo, as much as I was about your totally unnecessary political comments. Please stick to the photography subjects and leave the politics to other blogs, where they belong. This is the second post I have seen where your obvious Left Wing Political Bias overloaded your comments on what should have been a purely photographic subject. Do you really think that just because I, and I hope, others like me are artists and photographers that we must also be Left Wing Socialists. I am sorry to disappoint you. Our political views are probably as diverse as our photography.