Another Thing BP Can't Do Right: Photoshop

By Joseph Calamia | July 21, 2010 5:54 pm

Notice anything weird in this picture from a BP website of Gulf relief photos? We’ll give you a hint: Look at the the upper left. That’s right; there’s a control tower in the window of a flying helicopter.


As directed by the blog Gizmodo, take a closer look at the high-res version. A screen on the cockpit clearly indicates “Check Status / door open / parking brake / ramp open.” Meanwhile, the photo’s caption on the BP site reads: “View of the MC 252 site from the cockpit of a PHI S-92 helicopter 26 June 2010.” If not this relief helicopter, something sure is up.

In a story that has since gone viral, John Aravosis at AMERICAblog appears to have first spotted the traces of poorly executed Photoshop jobs in several BP pictures from the Gulf oil spill. The blog also shows inserted screens and pasted-in images of the busted oil well on Houston command center monitors. Follow those links for all the damning visuals.

As reported by The Washington Post, BP spokesperson Scott Dean said that a photographer working for the company had used Photoshop to insert the Houston command center photos and that it was not normal company use of the program, usually reserved for photo correction and cropping.

“We will replace the Photoshopped version currently on with the original image tonight…. We’ve instructed our post-production team to refrain from doing this in the future.”

Related content:
Discoblog: Punked! Slate’s Doctored Photos Mess With Readers’ Memories
Discoblog: Partial Face Transplants for Everyone!
Discoblog: What Happens When a BP Exec Spills His Coffee–and More Cathartic Comedy
Cosmic Variance: Great Moments in Framing

Image: © BP p.l.c.

  • Vinowen

    Team? There was a team of people that was responsible for these bad shops? One unpaid summer high school intern I might believe, but a team?

  • Tom

    This one has a few things wrong, just at a first glance:

    On the right side of the viewscreen, a small piece is simply *cut off*, down near the bottom. A closer look also reveals a sharp trim-line.

    The altimeter shows the aircraft is about 130′ above sea level, moving at 30 KIAS. That’s probably a little low slow even for a helicopter in transit.

    The engine indicators all seem to show zero. There is no fuel flowing. The rotors aren’t spinning. (Look on the left-side display. It’s the needle just to the left of the radar altimeter… which is showing 10′ above the ground.

    Neither man has his hands on the controls. A helicopter is flown with both hands; one on the stick (the cyclic) and one on the collective (a lever to the side of the seat that looks like a sports car’s parking brake.)

    The water changes colors – dramatically – just to the left of the boats.

    Yeah, this is a ‘shop, and not an especially good one.

  • Dennis

    The guy on the left has his fingers crossed…

  • Rose

    Wow. As a photo enthusiast myself, I can tell you that this picture is nearly impossible. You don’t need to look at tiny details. The photography is just wrong.

    First of all, the focus is off. You can’t have the people in the foreground to be in focus and also the ships in the distance. That’s too much depth of field. It’s not natural.

    Second, the exposure (brightness) is ridiculous. How can the dark interior and the sunny exterior both have perfect exposure in the same shot? It’s not possible to have both parts in such detail without manipulation.

    I don’t understand how a photographer could think that this would pass as an authentic photo.

  • Cynic View

    Looks like their Quality Assurance team for this project is the same as the leaky rig’s.

  • georges

    Fingers crossed that no one finds out we photoshoped that one 😉

  • Scott Bruce

    Is that a piece of the heli-pad near the bottom right corner?

  • JohnV

    That’s comically awful.

  • Andi

    I live in New Orleans, the gulf of mexico is BROWN.
    Even oil free..

  • Brian

    I think I found a few more BP lies. Could it really be that BP has released images of penguins, walruses and orcas frolicking in the Gulf of Mexico?

    We report, you decide.

    FUNNY, check it out.


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