In the English village of Cottingley near Bradford, Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths took a series of photographs of what appeared to be ‘Faeries’ at the bottom of their garden.
The images attracted a lot of attention, and were seen as genuine by some well respected media and literary figures, including the author of the Sherlock Holmes novels, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
‘The pictures came to the attention of writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who used them to illustrate an article on fairies he had been commissioned to write for the Christmas 1920 edition of the Strand Magazine. Doyle, as a spiritualist, was enthusiastic about the photographs, and interpreted them as clear and visible evidence of psychic phenomena. Public reaction was mixed; some accepted the images as genuine, but others believed they had been faked.’ – Source
This happened in 1917, when photography was in it’s infancy and people simply lacked the skill to spot even an obviously manipulated image, and the pictures managed to retain their enigmatic qualities, until the ageing Elsie and Frances finally revealed them to be a hoax some sixty years later.
All except the fifth and final picture in the series, (above) which Frances always maintained was genuine.
But that’s another story.
Robert Kenneth Wilson who at the time was a British surgeon, claimed in 1934 that he took the infamous ‘Nessie’ photograph while driving along the northern shore of Loch Ness. When asked, he said that while driving he noticed something moving in the water and stopped his car to take a photograph.
The image he took, showed the slender neck of what appeared to be a serpent-like creature rising out of the water. For many decades, this photo was considered the best confirmation of the actual existence of a sea monster in the Loch. However, interestingly enough, when Wilson submitted the photo he refused to have his name associated with it. Therefore, it came to be known simply as “The Surgeon’s Photo”.
It was not until sixty years later in 1994 that the image was revealed as a hoax when a man named Christian Spurling, who shortly before his demise at the age of ninety, made a confession. He stated that big-game hunter Marmaduke Wethere put together a plot that involved himself and Wilson. According to Spurling, Marmaduke was seeking revenge for having been publically embarrassed when he had earlier claimed to have found Loch Ness Monster tracks along the side of the Loch but unfortunately for Marmaduke the tracks turned out to have been made with a desiccated hippo’s foot.
The plot involved having Spurling make a model of a monster-like serpent. Spurling did this by attaching a fake serpent’s head and neck to a toy submarine. The model was then placed in Loch Ness and photographed. Wilson’s sole purpose in the hoax was to serve as a credible front-man.
Robert Capa’s famous photograph, ‘Falling Soldier’, was taken in 1936, and depicts a soldier in the Spanish Civil War at the moment of his death, twisting towards the ground as a rifle falls from his hands.
But a recent book, ‘Shadows of Photography’, a Spanish researcher named Jose Manuel Susperregui presents evidence that suggests that the photo was not taken at the town of Cerro Muranio, as was originally thought, but outside the town of Espejo, 35 miles away.
A small difference perhaps, but according to Susperregui, that’s enough evidence to show that the photo was staged, similar to the other photos from the series on that front. And along with the help of the Spanish media, he managed to match the background of the photo with a current location.
Historians added even more convincing proof: the fighting in Espejo had not yet begun when Capa passed through the area. Source
The cover of TV Guide in August 1989 showed this picture of American daytime talk-show host Oprah Winfrey. This picture was created by splicing the head of Winfrey onto the body of actress Ann-Margret, taken from a 1979 publicity shot.
The composite was created without permission of neither Winfrey or Ann-Margret, and was detected by Ann-Margret’s fashion designer, who recognised the dress in the image.
Images are far easier to manipulate these days, and people are much more aware of the fact that camera’s are more often than not, linked to computers with imaging software as standard.
Most camera phones are more than capable of being able to edit images taken with them, so anything in theory is possible to end up online for whatever purpose is intended for them.
The picture above for example, appeared on the internet just weeks after 9/11.
It went ‘viral’, being viewed and shared hundreds of thousands of times, regardless of the fact that one look should have revealed it’s obvious flaws.
How could the tourist not have heared a plane of that size hurtling towards the building he was allegedly standing on?
And just how did the camera survive?
Daniel Baines of Derbyshire, England created this fairy prop to sell on eBay as an April Fool’s prank.
Even after he was forced to admit it was fake, he still had hordes of angry believers verbally abusing and threatening him online, and accusing him of ‘covering up the truth’.
And what about this?
This picture has not been digitally manipulated, but it has been used out of context to prop up a somewhat weak media headline about snow falling in Egypt a few years ago.
The image does not even show the Sphinx in Egypt as the article alleged, but it does bear a startling resemblance to models located in the TOBU WORLD SQUARE theme park in Japan.
You can see the top of the model of the Eiffel Tower behind the pyramid in the picture.
Here is another view of the model for comparison.
Cameras can, and do lie, especially when linked to computers with Internet access.
The fashion industry frequently use manipulated images, as does Hollywood, the mainstream media have been doing it for years, and the alternative media are not so different in that respect, as many who operate within that genre, also use an inordinate number of photo-shopped or clearly manipulated images to reinforce whatever theory they are trying to convince people of at the time.
This is of course, good news for the movie industry, the mainstream media and the online viewing figures of certain alternative media blogs and websites, who use this type of image as a matter of course – but it also has it’s disadvantages, especially for those who genuinely seek the truth.
Because, it is now virtually impossible for an image that has been manipulated with skill, to be identified as such, and is certainly a world away from the enduring charm and innocence of the Cottingley Faeries….