Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


IF YOU happen to find yourself in Houston, Texas, between June 2 and August 25, 2013, this city’s Museum of Fine Arts is hosting “Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop.” The exhibit, originating at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, is described in Science, 3 May 2013. It sounds like great fun.


Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop, by Mia Fineman, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. Both and list it.

For those of us many miles away from Houston, the catalog sure looks to be a good alternative. It’s also fun to search out faked photos in one’s own collection. Maybe you have some to share? If so, send them to me ( and I’ll share them.

In the meantime….


Soldiers just wanna have fun, circa 1910. Image from Faking It.

This photo reminds me of a family story: One of wife Dottie’s grandfathers was in the Illinois State Militia in the late 1800s. Told they were having their official photo taken the next day, all the men in the platoon shot bullet holes through their hats for effect. No need for Photoshop there.

According to curator Mia Fineman, one of the first faked photos, dating from 1846, shows four Maltese Capuchin friars. Well, actually, the original negative had a fifth guy in the background, but a touch of art took care of him.

One of my sources on early aviation is Dominguez Air Meet, by D.D. Hatfield, Northrup University, 1976. The book contains a selection of newspaper photos of the event, held January 10-20, 1910, at a location not far from today’s LAX.


Early air meets featured a variety of craft, but not likely in the same photo. Image from Dominguez Air Meet.

The idea of cut-and-paste stood the test of time. When R&T Art Director Bill Motta documented testing of the Cunard QE2 and British Airways Concorde (, he made good use of scissors as well as photographic images.


“Once again, our high-buck test equipment comes through.” Images from Road & Track, April 1988.

A more modern—but equally outrageous—example of photo trickery was the matter of Kirill’s Breguet. Back in 2009, the official website of Kirill I, Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, ran a photo of His Holiness in consultation with Russian Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov. At the time, the patriarch’s lavish lifestyle was the subject of much Russian blogging, and people quickly noted the irony of a $30,000 Breguet watch on his wrist.


A high-living Kirill I, inset; main image after Photoshop, albeit with a miracle of reflection.

No problem. Soon to appear at the website was a new photo—sans watch but miraculously retaining its reflection in the highly polished table.

The matter went viral, the original photo was reposted, but not before His Holiness claimed any watch must have been doctored into the photo.

The antics won Patriarch Kirill the 2012 Silver Shoe Award, a Russian honor given to “the most dubious achievement in show business.” A special category was devised: The “Miracles up to the elbows” category.

One of these days, I must recount the tale of the transpolar flights of the Tupolev ANT-25. And their possible photo-faking.  ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2013

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This entry was posted on May 29, 2013 by in I Usta be an Editor Y'Know and tagged , , .
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