PetaPixel

Photo Analysis Accuses Some Photogs of Faking Cute Animal Photos in Cruel Ways

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Photographs like the one above by photographer Shikhei Goh go viral on a fairly regular basis. If the stories are to be believed, given enough patience and a little (or a lot) bit of luck, animals can be captured doing all sorts of amazing things.

According to an analysis published on Weibo, however, the stories can’t (or rather shouldn’t) be believed. Photos like these, the article claims, are staged by photographers who force pet store animals into awkward and unnatural poses.

Some of the photos pointed out as potential fakes in the original post — which has been translated into English by photographer Jenn Wei — are well-known and have won their photographers many an award in addition to press attention. But even so, the original analysis claims that many of them are “obvious” fakes.

Left: original image; Right: showing possible thread placement. Image credits: Photograph by Shikhei Goh

Left: original image; Right: showing possible thread placement. Image credits: Photograph by Shikhei Goh

Take the photo above for example. Shot by the aforementioned Goh, it’s part of a series of “amazing dancing geckos” that was featured in The Telegraph. Apparently, when placed on the reflective black surface, the geckos enter a “trance-like state” and start to boogie. But the analyst isn’t buying it.

“These are leopard gecko, naturally found in Central Asia and common pet. Anyone who’s had them as pets know they won’t be able to pose like this even if they took ecstasy,” claims the analysis. “All these are with the help of a simple thread.”

And that’s how the author believes most of these shots are faked: string. Because the upright animals always seem to have their limbs arranged in a straight line, he says the animals are forced into these positions using string which is then removed in post.

Left: original image; Right: showing possible thread placement. Image credits: Photograph by Shikhei Goh

Left: original image; Right: showing possible thread placement. Image credits: Photograph by Shikhei Goh

Most of these fakes, according to the original article, come out of Indonesia. And beyond the animals getting into positions that would be otherwise impossible to reach, or acting in unnatural ways, many of them are apparently in the wrong country.

The stories, which often include a walk in the rainforest or a friend’s backyard, couldn’t have happened naturally since many of the animals in the outdoor photos (although found in pet stores) aren’t actually native to Indonesia at all.

Left: original image; Right: showing possible thread placement. Image credits: Photograph by Shikhei Goh

Left: original image; Right: showing possible thread placement. Image credits: Photograph by Shikhei Goh

There are many more accusations and examples given in the original article, so head over to Wei’s translation if you’d like to read the whole thing. As we said before, some of the accusations (for example, against a National Geographic award-winning photo) are fairly serious, so a grain of salt is suggested when reading.

However, the message is there for anyone who hasn’t already heard it enough times: don’t always believe what you see. Until automatic fake photo detection systems like this one become a reality, the days of Photoshop have made “believing your eyes” a bit less straightforward.

Pseudo-nature Photographers of Indonesia [Hee Jenn Wei via Boing Boing]


Image credits: Header photograph by Shikhei Goh


 
  • http://www.foggodyssey.com/ foggodyssey

    Reading this article makes me think of the photo with the frog sitting upright. I guess I can blame the Indonesians for this now, as it freaks me the hell out! lol (fyi; theres actually a video as well)

  • https://twitter.com/adamhowardcross Adam Cross

    It’s all extremely sad and depressing, this 500px user takes very young birds out of nests and places them in situations where they wouldn’t be so he can photograph them being fed, sometimes removing entire nests and placing them where adult birds wouldn’t even build a nest. it’s horrible http://500px.com/yanen31

  • AMonkeyInMyPocket

    What’s the deal with Indonesia? I was a member of Pixoto for a while until I got fed up with all the Indonesian fauxtographers spamming the galleries with literally HUNDREDS of faked sunset shots and other obvious manipulations. It seems they’ll do absolutely anything just to get some worthless Internet “fame.” I don’t get it.

  • AMonkeyInMyPocket

    Whoa, that guy is an a-hole! Sticking baby birds atop cactuses just to get a crappy snapshot and some “likes”? What a sicko. Really sad :(

  • Lee

    It is possible to capture 1 or 2 pictures of such animals and say you are “lucky”. But a whole set? …. wow. That required luck that could win you million dollar lottery. Shame.

  • MichaelD

    I can’t believe anyone is taking this totally evidence-free* article seriously. I have a picture of a concert with two thousand people holding their hands up. It was lots of work getting all those threads in place, but it was worth it!

    * picture one: any two points describe a straight line.
    picture two: well, that’s a stretch, isn’t it
    picture three: oh, give . me . a . break.

  • Joey Duncan

    lol, this comment is only slightly racist.

    :-P

  • AMonkeyInMyPocket

    Oh, it’s definitely a blanket generalization … but it was supported by an overwhelming amount of evidence :P

  • ramanauskas

    Can you substantiate that? I’m not familiar with Indonesian birds, but the ones out of the nest in those photos look like they are old enough to have fledged and left the nest already. It’s not hard to find that kind of shot opportunity if you’re in a bird-rich area where you know where the nest sites are.

  • Sean McCann

    Are you saying you believe these photos were taken without some heavy manipulation? And that these dudes found red-eyed treefrogs in their backyard in Indonesia? Are you on glue?

  • AMonkeyInMyPocket

    Sure, some of them may seem like a bit of a stretch, but images like this one seem to show some pretty strong evidence of manipulation. I think it’d be incredibly naive to disregard the concept that some people will do absolutely anything to get attention.

  • SweetNana55

    This picture looks like it was taken through a glass tank to me, possibly in a pet store. Could it be the frogs were standing up against the glass in an attempt to climb out?

  • RobotSpaceBrain

    I really wondered about this one… seemed too good to be true!

  • AMonkeyInMyPocket

    Judging from the position of their feet on the log, and the natural lighting, I don’t think they were leaning against glass in a pet store. Possibly they’re being held up by fishing-line or something similar — the positioning of all five limbs being on the same plane seems really suspicious.

  • Leonardo Abreu

    Damn humans… :(

  • Carl Meyer

    Nailing animals is older than photography.

    If those animals are only posing with the help of a thread at least is more humane than using needles, breaking their joints, drugging or killing them.

  • Reef

    Don’t care how long it’s been going on, it’s still pathetic. I believe the alleged thread in these shots was sewn thru their limbs – that would be with needles.

  • https://twitter.com/adamhowardcross Adam Cross

    there are some there that don’t even have a full head of feathers, they’re nowhere near fledging. The number of them that are basically identical in composition and pose, it’s unreal. The photos of them feeding off of a toy motorcycle and a vintage Canon camera and his Sony DSLR? they’re just a little too “perfect” and wouldn’t happen in real life. There is even a chick sitting inside the petals of a flower, other chicks randomly sitting on top of a single bamboo stem, and even one being fed from the stem WITH a small frog stuck to the stem, too. these things just don’t happen.

  • Rohani Tanasal

    Adam Cross.. You Need To learn more about WISDOM n NOT for a JUMPING CONCLUSION about taking a Wildlife like a little bird feeding. I am aready seen how they learn n treath a young bird about to take a photo WITHOUT harmless them, just u need to know when before the young bird is ready n before it can fly away. that change only came once. IF you can Take a photo how the mother ‘s Bird can feed them in

    NOT a original way. please write to us, we will go to your place n see. if all of you can come to indonesia. we will show u how we care to the bird ecosystem. n show u our way wtih PROVE not just talk only

  • Rohani Tanasal

    Thank you RAMANAUSKAS. maybe you have learn enough about the bird n know about when n wehe n HOW if the bird is ready or not. AFTER their are ready n BEFORE they learn how to flw, we just have a liitte opportunity for only 3 or 4 days to take the amazing shot. just need a patien, learning about them life. it’s not hard to find an amazing shot. TQ for your opinion ( I am Rohani Tanasal, also learn about the bird for many years, if you also interested to birding shot, can contact me at [email protected] or my FB)

  • sam

    … i hate people torture animal. …
    somemore this comes from the country that give the whole south-east-asia haze problem all the time..

  • Robert Johnson

    I own red eye tree frogs, and this is NOT a natural position for them.

  • Genkakuzai

    That is pretty damn disturbing.

  • Jenn Wei

    Hi DL, i’d made some amendment on the translated Dancing Geckos, the original weibo refers as gecko, a reader corrected on the name.

    Analysis: This is uromastyx (corrected by josefek) naturally found in Central Asia North America, Middle East and Iran.

  • DesertandSeas

    http://500px.com/yanen31

    This link shows birds posed on cameras and a toy. If a fella is clever enough to be able to do that-and not harm the bird-it stands to reason that many of the more natural looking pictures on this site could be just as posed. We can agree on that, right?

    If they are posed-then say so, no harm-no foul.
    But trying to pass off all those shots as natural? Really?

    Mr Wei-Keep up the good work.

  • Syuaip

    Please don’t use this case to generalize Indonesian photographers. I know some of the good guys (Indonesia nature photographers) which are willing to put their time and their wallet to go across Indonesian jungle looking for naturally good shots. I know also one of them whom created for masses photo-books using their own money.

    This Shikhei Goh guy is a disgrace. But please, don’t judge totem pro parte.

    Thank you.

  • Neil

    In other disturbing news, it has come to light that females of the species homo sapiens have been subjected to all kinds of inhumane cruelty for the sake of “getting the perfect shot” – In some cases the females are covered in toxic chemicals to make their hair a more pleasing color and to highlight their eyes, cheeks and lips. There are even reports of some photogs encouraging objectification of these poor females by making them remove their clothes and pose unnaturally…

  • Menchu Pichu

    While you are not telling of whether those photos are of fashions or pornos, I doubt whoever shoot them will submit them to National Geographic competition…

  • Adol

    It’s a biased analysis on a hateful photographer since 2011, you all should read the photographer opinion before judging him.or read Luky Nuryadin post

  • Jenn Wei

    Agree.

    i added this on 22nd August.

    CONTENT DISCLAIMER: This article had gather a series of trending photographs, coincidentally these photographers are from Indonesia.

    We should not be stereotype, this is pointing towards a certain group of photographers- Pseudo-Nature; regardless of race, nation and border.

  • Adol

    faked ? any proof of that ? any links ? or you just bashing ?

  • TommyNA

    I am from Indonesia and when I first learned the dragon fly photo win NG grand prize, I thought the jury were all stoned or on dope….

  • AMonkeyInMyPocket

    They’ve cracked down on the fakes in the past months, but crap like this would show up all the time on the leaderboards (this one is still in the “top photos of all time” list): http://www.pixoto.com/images-photography/landscapes/sunsets-and-sunrises/sunset-jump-54931186 — figure is lit from the left, there is absolutely no way he’s shooting directly into the sun as the manipulation implies.

    Here’s another one: http://www.pixoto.com/images-photography/landscapes/sunsets-and-sunrises/83147480

    The landscape galleries were typically flooded with composites like this. All from Indonesia.

  • Adol

    you don’t even know how the photo is made , the blog is based on OPINION,you’re disgracing yourself

  • Syuaip

    I have seen the video of how this exact guy simulates a rain storm for a dragonfly, just for him to get the perfect picture. I read also how he told National Geographic on how he walked during a rainstorm, stumbled upon the dragonfly and felt hard to decide of whether to take pictures or not…

    That, Sir, called researching for the fact.

  • Adol

    he did simulate a rain to take the picture, but he told the exact same thing to NG about how its made, and NG didn’t disqualified him, thats the fact I know, I know it from an Indonesian photographer who is close to Shikhei

  • sikdave

    But did the photographer use thread? Coz that’d be just evil…

  • jamesduta

    Syuaip, Shikhei Goh is not a disgrace. He has made mistakes indeed. But rectified and moved on with great works. He shared everything in his workshops, nothing hidden. I was with him at Nat Geo office in Washington in the Chief Executive Editor when they interviewed. The fact that NatGeo didnt disqualify him, was not his fault. Natgeo had their own judgement.

  • Syuaip

    Thanks for adding this info.

  • Fong

    Shame on you, seriously you bloody sick.

  • Rohani Tanasal

    first u need to know the behavior of the bird, it has many phase from egg untill it is ready to fly. 1 of the phase beetween it ready to go out from the nest but still not yet to fly. the fella will very clever to make a sound to it’s mother.this is the only phase we can make a special shot, n friendly. it is NOT harmless.. we look after them n play with them. that phase only 3- 4 days. after that cannot take a shot again because they already go n fly, few young bird is become so close to us so we can have more day to take a shot.., hope for not the JUMPING CONCLUSION for only see with the eye before knowing the truth

  • Rohani Tanasal

    MR Piotrek , first u need to know the behavior of the bird, it has many phase from egg untill it is ready to fly. 1 of the phase beetween it ready to go out from the nest but still not yet to fly. the fella will very clever to make a sound to it’s mother.this is the only phase we can make a special shot, n friendly. it is NOT harmless.. we look after them n play with them. that phase only 3- 4 days. after that cannot take a shot again because they already go n fly, few young bird is become so close to us so we can have more day to take a shot.., hope for not the JUMPING CONCLUSION for only see with the eye before knowing the truth

  • DesertandSeas

    I stand by my post.
    If the shot is posed, the subject placed in frame, or worse-a young bird imprinted- then say so. No harm-no foul.

  • Rohani Tanasal

    seems that u know nothing about bird life.. n never learn it Mrs desetandseas

  • DesertandSeas

    I stand by my post.
    I don’t think you understand any of the posts. There is a difference between posed shots and passing them off as wildlife shots.
    Do not proceed down this ad hominem path any further.
    Read the article and read the posts-you are failing to explain clearly how: 1.) what you do is acceptable, 2.) that the bird is not harmed, and 3.) just how you pose the birds.
    I have no interest in your explanation. I have no wish to continue this line of posts with you, do you understand me?

  • imyourconcience

    I read that this one included an upright nail. I’m not sure how legitimate it is but still.

  • Davis

    Sooo…..we’re believing some “analysis” from a bunch of MIT scholars? Oh….wait…it’s just a blog about nothing