Romney Campaign Instagram Photo: Bad ‘Shop or Shoddy Stitch?

A botched Photoshop job or a camera app gone wrong? That’s the question being asked of one particular photograph that was recently posted to the official Instagram account of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

The photograph (above, at bottom) was captured at a rally held in Nevada about a week ago, and shows a large crowd assembled to hear the presidential hopeful speak. Problem is, there’s clearly something wrong with the photograph.

Here’s Zeke Miller of BuzzFeed’s analysis of the image:

It seems like a clear-cut example of shrewd Photoshopping for political purposes, right? That’s what a lot of people think.

AmericaBlog reported on the photo with the title, “Romney photoshops image to exaggerate crowd size, gets own name wrong.” BagNews’ title reads, “Oh Doctor: Romney Instagram Etch-a-Sketches Campaign Photo.” DailyKos writes that it’s the “worst Photoshop ever.”

The photo has also attracted over 1,000 comments, with many of the newer ones left by people mocking the apparent poor ‘shop job.

However, other commenters point out that the photo could very well be a poorly auto-stitched panorama created using an app. Rather than being intentionally manipulated, the image could be the result of separate photos incorrectly spliced together.

Just a couple of weeks ago we were sent this strange-looking panorama by photographer Adam Thompson, who wrote, “Check out the hilarious effect I got using the iPhone’s panorama feature”:

Original on top, closer crop on bottom

Someone might look at the image above and think, “Wow… Half of each car was ‘shopped off!”

This month we were also sent the following panorama, shot using the same iOS 6 Panorama app, by Kyle Hart of Rhino Camera Gear. It’s a “single exposure” that shows his brother Ryan twice:

These images show that photo-stitching and panorama apps can — and often do — produce wacky results (both intentionally and not). Since the Romney campaign panorama at the center of the controversy was shared through Instagram, which is only available on mobile devices, it seems likely that it was also shot/created using some kind of mobile camera app.

Regardless of whether the photo was a intentional ‘shop job or an innocent stitch glitch, it’s definitely one should have been spotted and rejected by someone in the campaign, especially because it does portray a crowd to be larger than it actually was. It’s just that in our age of fallible camera apps, we mustn’t rush to rash conclusions regarding cause and motive.

  • WhipArtist

    I’m going with bad stitch. I originally thought it was a Photoshop job, since the pool of lighted people on the right seemed really fishy to me, but the sun is way over to the left (as you view the tent picture). You can verify this against the shadows at the top.

    Still, it shows an embarrassing lack of attention to correctness. That’s something I would expect from a Romney presidency, too.

  • TommyW

    Neither counterpoint applies in this case. The cars appear duplicated because they were moving and stayed with the camera. Similarly for the staged stitch, the figure *moved*. Clearly the crowd did not move. Not a bad stitch, a clear and very poor attempt at increasing crowd size.

  • brandon

    bad stitch. happens all the time. that one of the cars is pretty funny though.

  • 9inchnail

    When was it posted? If it was posted during the rally, it’s clearly just a bad stitching job. If it was posted hours or days after the event, it’s propably Photoshop.

  • Matthew Everett

    Actually, the crowd did move in a sense. Unlike the cars and Mr. Hart’s brother, which moved in relation to the camera, the camera moved in relation to the crowd. This is the result of very poor camera phone skills. If you don’t mind your panning fundamentals, it is very easy to introduce parallax error in a lot of stitching apps for iPhone. The end result is an image like this and, if you don’t care enough to take the 30 seconds to try again, you send it out on Instagram.

    While this image certainly reflects poorly on the campaign, it is nothing more than a bad stitch. Now, I can’t say what their intent was in posting such garbage, but I can’t believe anyone that can open Photoshop and find the clone tool is capable of butchering a job like this.

  • Kris J Boorman

    “I can’t believe anyone that can open Photoshop and find the clone tool is capable of butchering a job like this.”

    If only!

  • fuzzywuzzy

    Quite obviously a bad stitch, panoramas can be very hit-and-miss. Nobody’s *that* bad with the clone stamp.

  • Ken

    It’s an obvious bad stitch.

    GO ROMNEY!!!!

  • Ken

    “Still, it shows an embarrassing lack of attention to correctness. That’s something I would expect from a Romney presidency, too.”

    This is something I would expect from an Obama supporter too.

  • El_Fez

    And keep right on going. . . .

  • Kel

    Good one?

  • guest

    good job, fighting stupid with stupid.

  • 10inchnail

    You are aware that people use “the photoshop” to do “the stitch”, yes?

  • John37

    Why would Romney’s campaign not notice before uploading?

    No matter if this was incompetently stitched or an especially sad first experience with the clone tool, how is it possible that this gets uploaded? And what does it tell you about the quality of the people working in that campaign?

  • bob cooley

    Not necessarily, there are plenty of stitching programs, and even apps directly on the phone – it doesn’t have to be Photoshop used in the stitching…

  • Paige Ozaroski

    Some cameras stitch right in the camera without any type of separate computer or program. My Sony rx100 does it. You don’t need photoshop – don’t even need a computer at all. Just the camera.

  • hank scorpio

    Right. Just go away already.

  • hank scorpio

    Probably the same person who cloned North Korea’s missile launch

  • frankelee

    Weird, no extra crowds of supporters showed up in those photos above.