What a photo! Thanks Photoshop…

Photo: This ‘eco’ photo - a villainous train frightening away some pretty antelopes – was rewarded in 2006 by the Chinese state-run TV channel CCTV. But over a year later, a web-user has trumped the image: the scene was created on Photoshop.


According to the Chengdu Evening News [original article in Chinese here], this image has been reproduced by almost 200 foreign media. “Dajiala”, the web-user who exposed the sham, says he discovered the hoax by studying the EFIX details which are automatically registered in the file of a digital image. The details proved that the picture was in fact a montage of various images taken on different days.

"Is the ideology of journalists and photographers also 'touched up' on Photoshop?!"

Comment from Xiao Rui, our Observer in the district of Taiyuan and a law student at Shan'xi University:

A few days ago a web-user posted a message on the forum of one of China's biggest photo websites. "Beautiful images that impress" was the title. The article announced that the famous image entitled "The railway is one of ten factors endangering Tibetan antelopes", which made it past a strict jury into CCTV's ten best informative photographs of 2006, was not actually real, but created on Photoshop. The artist behind the photo, who is none other than a member of the prestigious Chinese Association of Photography, an elected member of the Xinhua Press [state] agency, and vice-chair of the photography section of the newspaper "Daqing Evening News", openly admitted that he modified the image on Photoshop in an interview published in the "Daqing Evening News" (16.02.08).

I'd like to say that the web-user who did this, that is to denounce the trickster, was very brave indeed in my opinion.

You can understand that the photographer wanted to draw attention to the importance of protecting the environment. But choosing this photomontage as one of the best photos of 2006 is an error on the part of the jury, who evidently lacked professionalism in their selection process.

After having read and accepted the excuses of the photo's author, I clicked on the link given by the webuser to CCTV's site, where there were plenty of files about the prizes. Here I found a detailed description from the photographer about how difficult it was to take the photo, how he spent 24 hours a day for eight days in a bunker. To read him going on about how lucky he was to be there when it happened "that the train came when the antelopes were there was pure chance"; that really got my heckles up.

That's enough! We've been had once again. (...) Who didn't feel just a little bit angry to hear about this? (...) All this dishonesty makes me sick! It makes you wonder if the ideology of journalists and photographers isn't also "touched up" on Photoshop! (...)

On the subject of the photo the artist asks: "I hope that this photo will get people talking and thinking about the Tibetan antelopes". But I'd like to know why he didn't ask himself whether the animals' living conditions of the animals were not sufficient cause to upset the public without his interfering. Did we really need a fake photo to arouse our consciousnesses? The Tibetan antelopes would do better without these kinds of lies, spread by media professionals who disguise reality!"

See Xiao's blog.

One of the ten best informative photographs 2006, according to Chinese state television CCTV