Tuesday, July 20, 2010

BP Caught Photoshopping Command Center Photos?

Are you kidding me. Just when you think that BP's PR department couldn't make things any worse, bloggers found that the BP command center was photoshopped. The Washington Post picks up the story and there are all kinds of reasons to doubt BP's version, which was that instead of showing empty screens at the headquarters, the photographer clumsily inserted images of the ROV video feeds.
An enlarged version of the photograph reveals flaws in the editing job. One of the 10 images sticks down into the head of one of the people sitting in front of the wall, while another piece of the image is separated from the other side of the head by jagged white space. The right side of the same image also hangs down below the area on which the video feeds were projected.

John Aravosis pointed out the alterations Monday evening on his Americablog.com and observed, "I guess if you're doing fake crisis response, you might as well fake a photo of the crisis response center." The photo doctoring comes as BP has promised transparency in a bid to regain the public's trust.

Scott Dean, a spokesman for BP, said that there was nothing sinister in the photo alteration and provided the original unaltered version. He said that a photographer working for the company had inserted the three images in spots where the video screens were blank.
Why would the command center's screens be blank at any point during this crisis? Would not someone want to know what's going on at every moment, lest another leak or problem be discovered?

While the answer to that question would seem to be yes, it is possible that some of the feeds were shut off as ROVs and their respective cameras moved in or out of position (and anyone following the disaster has seen just that on any number of pages dedicated to the ROV remote feeds). Yet, to edit the photos to insert images of the well in the empty space is just as misleading and once again shows that BP is mismanaging the public relations campaign just as badly as it did with the well safety and integrity that led to the catastrophe.

It would appear that the underlying photo used as the basis for the photo editing was from years back (essentially a stock photo) and the oil well ROV images were badly superimposed on it. And John Aravosis has found other BP photos from the command center that have gotten the photo editing treatment.

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