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Massimo Mazzucco, LuogoComune.net

August 6, 2005


In light of my experience in digital manipulation, I am quite convinced that the Luton picture below is not -- unfortunately -- half as fake as we'd all like it to be.

First of all, let's keep in mind that we are looking at a very poor quality image. This is probably due to the original low definition of the CCTV, plus some serious compression, possibly optimization, that must have taken place once in picture format.

The image above, with numbers on it, is the picture published by
wagnews.  The one below it's an "original," linked by the same site, which I have re sampled myself to a similar proportion. Further down you have the same enlargement, uncut.

Below in red are the notes from the wagnews site, listing the alleged anomalies. In black are my comments on each of such anomalies. It is obvious that the main issue rotates around the white-capped kid and the "bar on his face" question. But all together the minor issues also seem to send the same message to me.

1 - The Haversack. A crude job, and it shows.
In full honesty, I don't see a job at all. If he's talking about the white spot to the left of the face, it has the same exact density/luminosity of any other pothole filled with water behind/around the person. If he's talking about the apparent "short face" instead, it's most likely a poor/missing scan-line from the TV system. Otherwise, I can't see anything wrong in that area at all.

2 - The Half Leg. How does this person walk at all? It looks to me that the "missing leg" may be partially covered by the top edge of the metal frame attached to the pole in right foreground. But in any case, the lack of definition and the wet cement are plenty to justify that weird effect, as the lower leg may well be bent behind the higher part, possibly a foot dragging at the moment of the shot.

In any case, my point is that when you import a human figure, you don't do that one limb at the time. Unless you are "rebuilding" a person from scratch, with different body parts (I did attach a "donor" arm to a girl once,  but there was a reason for it: She needed to lean on the sail), you cut out the whole figure, then just drop it where it belongs. This is why I don't see a possibly missing leg as a clue to some heavy compositing anyway.

Let's cut to the chase now.

3 - The Iron Face. The bar should be behind. Is there a face?
4 - The Bar Split. The two ends of the crossbar don't line up.
5 - The Split Two. Same problem as above. Must be a twist in space.
7 - The Ghost Bar. Some of this crossbar should be behind the person.

My enlargement is possibly a little better than the numbered picture above, and it does make some difference. What appears to be a vertical bar [#2] seems to me but a backpack strap, or maybe a lighter, vertical stripe on the garment itself. In any case, it's not straight. And the infamous "bar on the face" [#1] seems instead to be the face itself -- the left cheek, most likely. What I see there, from top to bottom, is a) The white cap; b) Its visor; c) Possibly dark glasses, or the shadow from the visor itself; d) Some puffy cheeks; e) The darkness of the garment around the neck.

As for the horizontal bar below the number "2" -- the one that seems to run "in front" of the figure -- it likely runs either below the backpack, or below the bent elbow, before disappearing behind the backpack of the kid in FG.

Let's put it this way. For what we can see, the entire area of the image may have been rebuilt from different parts, but -- relatively speaking -- those parts seem all in perfect harmony between one another to me.

Regardless of the above, I have a major objection to that being a superimposed figure, for only an idiot would choose to lay that figure BEHIND another existing figure. There is nothing more challenging, more difficult -- and more unnecessary, in this case -- than to insert a figure behind anything else in foreground.

Finally, there's another clue that tells me that the kid DOES stand where he seems to be standing, and that is perspective. Look at the reflection of his figure in the shiny wall/surface behind/above him; then consider the apparent short distance between the railing and that wall itself (look at floor level, to the kid's right, where the railing meets the cement), and now "triangulate" the kid's head, its reflection in the wall above him, and your POV. Were the kid to be behind that railing, the distance between his head and the head's reflection would be minimal. The more the kid were to move toward us instead, and away from the rail, the more that distance would increase, because of the vertical "triangulation"/change in perspective.

One last-minute addition -- it just hit me: If you wanted to superimpose the railing to the kid, that bar may end up in front of the face Ok, unless you cleared it properly. But if you are superimposing the kid to the bar, how in heavens can the bar end up covering his face, unless you came in with a faceless kid to begin with?

6 - The Face Blur. Face has been darkened and blurred -like the others. True, it does seem so, or it's just bad compression, with similar pixels. In any case, that would indicate at best a photo-retouch on an existing picture, which is the exact opposite to the alleged photo-montage we are talking about.

8 - The Something. Another anomalous square area. It must be something. Something, yes, it must be indeed. But it doesn't look particularly square to me at all, given the low-definition of the picture, which means high pixelage compression. Sixteen similar pixels can easily turn into one flat, meaningless square in this kind of situations.

9 -The Clown Foot. What a large foot -with a halo effect all around. The foot does look big, but it seems to me the effect from the pants being caught between the heel and the back of the shoe.

While the "halo effect" seems more the result from some "sharpness" having been applied to the image than anything else. Notice how all four figures have a similar one, each to their left side only. The halo from a cut-out picture instead goes all around the figure, and it's also usually much thinner. (In the Schwartznegger article, look at the raised hands in the pictures toward the end).

10 - The Floater. Someone was a bit too heavy with the white reflection. If only a thin layer of water were present next to the foot, that is exactly the kind of reflection I would expect in that situation, and nothing less than that.

11 - The Peg Leg. Must be a serious fracture. Also yet more halo effect. Same as in #9 above. Just the bent of the jeans to me, and that sharpness effect again.

12 - The Shadow. Why wall shadow if the light comes from behind him. That's exactly why -- because it's him casting that shadow on the wall. (This seems so obvious to me, I fear I might have misunderstood the objection).

13 - The Square Nose. Must have walked into a door. Interesting eye too.  This is again, most likely, some "pixels gone bad," due to the high compression/poor definition of the image. And then again, even if it were a touch-up, it has nothing to do with the alleged photo-montage the whole excitement is about.

My conclusion, in practical terms, is that whether the pic a fake or not, it's far too easy to debunk this claim. Is it still worth taking the risk?

Massimo Mazzucco


Sezione 11 Settembre

See also:

Xymphora, CIA disinformation agents

Rantburg, "Bomber" Superimposed onto Metropolitan Police Surveillance Camera Photo?:


:: Article nr. 14419 sent on 07-aug-2005 07:46 ECT


Link: www.luogocomune.net/lc/htmpages/lutonEn.html

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