Photographer Believes Racist Romney T-Shirt Was Photo-Shopped – Updated

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A reader who is a photographer emailed me his analysis of the t-shirt worn by an alleged Mitt Romney supporter at a campaign event over the weekend. He believes the image was photo-shopped. When I pointed out that it’s a image from a Getty photographer he told me that he is familiar with the photographer and his work, and wouldn’t put anything past the left helping to get Obama reelected. Here is what he told me and the images he’s referring to:

Along side the original “photo,”  which received only an exposure adjustment, is an inverted image which has been digitally adjusted to enhance certain features for purposes of determining it’s authenticity.1 – When observing the letters on the original image on the left. They appear to be a solid white in color. When looking at the inverted image I noticed a white border. On the original photo it looks black, but since the black is so close in tonal value to the dark blue, it was not as easy to see until I zoomed in.2 – If this were a printed T-shirt, the border would have a slight bleed onto the cotton fabric, and most importantly, it would be the  the same color as the main body of the letters. If instead it is a transfer, one might claim that it was a shadow cast by the Sun. At the proper angle, and due to the thickness of the foam plastic used in transfer graphics today, or even if it were embroidered onto the shirt—it is plausible. But the Sun, given it’s apparent position at the top right of the scene,  would be casting it’s shadow only on the lower and right sides of the graphics—never on the opposite side as well—It’s impossible!3 -The letter E in the word THE, and the letter E in the word HOUSE, do not adhere to the contours in the folds of the shirt. I lightened the original photo just enough so I  could verify where this is so, especially on the first E. The top of the letter is almost a straight line but the shirt has a definite roll in the underlying fold of the fabric.4 – In the original photo the letters SE in the word HOUSE appear to have been manipulated with the PS liquify tool. In an effort to distort the letters from a flat plane someone used this tool to move and push the letters around and get them to look like their conforming to the folds in the shirt. The problem, the vertical height of the letters would stay fairly constant because, and as I observed in the enhanced image, there are no horizontal folds in the shirt which could possibly distort the overall height of the SE graphics to that extent.

5 – Zooming in on either image one can detect lint, fuzz, hairs, tiny pulls, etc. on the T-Shirt itself. But on the letters themselves—not a trace of the aforementioned debris on the graphics in either image. No dark spots on the white letters in the original mage, or light spots on the dark letters in the one edited.

6 – At zoom another interesting feature leads me to suspect the veracity of this image. Around all those white, black in the original, borders, on the shirt fabric,  I observed a ring, several pixels deep, which is completely incongruous to the main body of the T-Shirt. This is possibly caused by the liquify tool manipulation mentioned previously. What’s more, some of the pixels represent colors that appear no where else in the fabric.

Conclusion:

The black edges around the letters, the discrepancies between the shadow/highlight areas, the unrealistic distortion in a attempt to make the graphics look in keeping with the shirt folds, the utter lack of any debris on the graphics, when there is so much of it evident on the shirt itself, the presence of a band of odd colored pixels around the lettering; lead me to conclude that the graphics were applied using standard Photoshop techniques to superimpose graphics on a blank T-Shirt.

On another note: My online search to further verify the photo’s authenticity, failed to produce any variant of this particular image. Given the explosive nature of such a outlandish demonstration at this particular venue, I’d have thought other shots of this same attendee would have surfaced. The fact that it has spread like wildfire across the left wing blogs makes it all the more suspect.

Photo authentication

Mario J Borgatti

Also, see the comments in the post I did yesterday, and see Donald’s post at American Power. Also, Wordsmith at Flopping Aces has tried contacting the photographer but has not had a response.
Update:  Mario got back to me saying he did a little more analysis.
I’ve been doing more research into this photo and want to give you an update on my latest assessment. I concentrated on the shirt because I spotted inconsistencies immediately. As I pull back on the image and view the T-Shirt wearing individual in his entirety, I see more inconsistencies. I now have doubts as to whether that individual ever existed in that crowd at all.
I’ve read comments in which a few individuals made claims that they were there on October 12, and eye witnessed this scenario as it appears in the Getty image. Some claim to have an alternate photo as well. Even if that were the case, I would still be suspect of their intentions and investigate those images just as thoroughly as I did the first.
One individual even claims that he saw this man wearing the shirt minus the Romney sticker. If that’s true, it seriously questions the veracity of the Getty photographer who lays claim to the original photo, now plastered all over the liberal media as a symbol of Republican racism…
Update: Linked by Bits Blog and Sentry Journal – thanks!

Update: Linked by Expose the Media – thanks!