Update: Olympus has released an official response to the allegations.
Since Olympus abruptly fired CEO Michael Woodford (pictured, on left) four days ago, the company’s stock price has fallen from roughly ¥2,480 to its current price of ¥1,417, a 43% drop that wiped out nearly $4 billion in value. As we reported yesterday, Woodford is now asking the UK to investigate the company’s financial practices, and is claiming that he was booted when on the verge of exposing fraud.
Last Friday, we reported that Olympus had fired CEO Michael Woodford, claiming that he clashed with the company’s 92-year-old management style. Woodford is now coming out with different story: he believes that he was dismissed after raising questions about $1+ billion in payments the company made in acquisitions between 2006 and 2008. The Financial Times writes,
Mr Woodford [...] had been pressing other directors since July to explain payments related to the 2008 purchase of Gyrus [...]
Olympus’ own auditors had privately identified problems with the Gyrus transaction, the documents show. KPMG, Olympus’ auditor until 2009, said in an internal report dated March that year: “In our opinion proper accounting records have not been maintained.”
Olympus replaced KPMG as its auditor when its contract ended two months later.
Mr Woodford stressed that he had seen no evidence that Olympus executives benefited improperly from the acquisitions. But he said large amounts of money seemed to have “disappeared” into the hands of poorly vetted outside financial advisers and investment vehicles.
According to BusinessWeek, Woodford has met with the U.K. Serious Fraud Office to request that they investigate the acquisition. Olympus is also considering suing Woodford for leaking internal information to the press.
Ex-Olympus chief questioned payments (via 4/3 Rumors)
Last Friday, 45-year-old Chris White was at the Braehead shopping center near Glasgow, when he took a snapshot of his daughter Hazel eating some ice cream. He was then confronted by security guards — and later the police — who cited the Prevention of Terrorism Act to explain that it was in their rights to confiscate his phone. While they did allow him to keep the photos, they demanded his personal details. Afterward, White created a Facebook page titled “Boycott Braehead” in an effort to draw attention to the incident.
Earlier this week, a Reuters photograph showing a Libyan rebel firing an RPG caused a stir after people on a number of sites suggested that it might have been Photoshopped. Well, it turns out the photo is 100% real — not only did Reuters confirm this with us, but forensic expert Neal Krawetz arrived at the same conclusion after analyzing the image:
By using a suite of analysis methods, it becomes extremely difficult for a fake image to pass unnoticed. While an intentional forgery might pass one or two tests, it takes a level of skill that most photographers and amateur graphic artists lack. This picture easily passes every test (including a whole slew that I didn’t include here). I have no reason to question the authenticity of this picture.
Typically, amazing photos come about through digital modifications. However in this case, Anis Mili has truly captured an amazing photo. And he did it without using a crutch like Photoshop.
You should definitely give Krawetz’s blog post a read — it’s an interesting look at image forensics.
Without a Crutch [The Hacker Factor Blog]
You’ve probably heard the expression “It’s the photographer, not the camera”, but apparently Nikon — or at least one of its PR people — hasn’t. A few hours ago the company updated its Facebook page with,
A photographer is only as good as the equipment he uses, and a good lens is essential to taking good pictures! Do any of our facebook fans use any of the NIKKOR lenses? Which is your favorite and what types of situations do you use it for?
Needless to say, the post was met with quite a bit of disagreement in the comments.
Singer Bob Dylan is being accused of plagiarism after several paintings in his recent art show were found to have “striking resemblances” to works by photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Dmitri Kessel and Léon Busy. An example is Dylan’s painting titled Opium (above left), which appears to be directly copied from Busy’s Vietnam (above right). A Flickr user also found that Dylan had copied six photographs — one of which an artificial Photoshop edit — from his Flickr stream.
Update: Erin from Reuters contacted us informing us that this is in fact a genuine, non-manipulated photograph. Here’s a good explanation of why it’s real.
Reuters published the above image as an Editor’s Choice photo yesterday, and almost immediately readers began leaving comments questioning whether the photograph was Photoshopped. The debate soon spread to other websites, including Reddit, and it appears that the photographs has since been taken down (though it can still be seen in its original slideshow from last week).
A huge photo scandal erupted over in Sweden this past weekend after a well-known and award-winning wildlife photographer admitted to faking some of his photographs. Terje Helleso — a nature photographer who was named Nature Photographer of the Year by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency in 2010 — was discovered to have published multiple images in which stock photographs of hard-to-find animals were Photoshopped into nature scenes.
Apparently Nikon has decide to save some trees (and shipping weight) by no longer including user manuals in some of its digital cameras. Since most people likely never touch the manuals anyway, it’s not really a problem, but the company’s draconian stance towards downloadable instruction manuals has some customers grumbling.
Advertising Standards Authority, the ad industry watchdog in the UK, has banned an advertisement by Lancome featuring Julia Roberts for being misleading, stating that the flawless skin seen in the photo was too good to be true. Parliament member Jo Swinson first brought the ads to the authority’s attention, and later told the BBC:
This ruling demonstrates that the advertising regulator is acknowledging the dishonest and misleading nature of excessive retouching. Pictures of flawless skin and super-slim bodies are all around, but they don’t reflect reality.
This comes about a month after the American Medical Association called upon ad agencies to stop the “altering of photographs in a manner that could promote unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image”.
Thanks for sending in the tip, Harry!
Image credit: Photographs by David Shankbone and Lancome