However, what many people don’t realize is that the falsification of photographs started long before Photoshop made it as easy as the click of a mouse. Faked photographs have been around almost as long as photography itself. The invention of photography presented a new medium for hoaxers and manipulators to transform images to fit their needs. Whether a hoaxer’s intention was hurtful or humorous, the new technology of photography presented an unprecedented opportunity: a way to create images that looked so real that people had no choice but to trust them.
Two Little Girls Drew the Cottingley Fairies So They Wouldn’t Get Punished
With the adults obviously dubious, the girls took a camera to the brook and came back with proof – pictures of both girls with fairies and gnomes. After both girls’ moms shared the photos around, the pictures sparked a public phenomenon. Even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes and a famous spiritualism supporter, weighed in on the photographs, believing them to be genuine proof of humanity’s ability to commune with the spirit world.
How They Did It: Almost 60 years later, Frances and Elsie finally admitted that their photos were fakes. Elsie had art training and drew the figures on paper. The girls fixed the drawings to hat pins and stuck them in the ground for the photographs. Then, they destroyed the evidence in the brook. A hoax so simple that a child could do it.
The Bluff Creek Bigfoot Was Just a Man in a Suit, Obviously
Patterson managed to capture footage of the creature before she disappeared back into the trees. Patterson died of cancer a few years later and went to his grave stating that the whole story was true.
How They Did It: The Big Foot in the video looks like a costume purchased straight off a Halloween store rack, and it basically was. After a TV special about the case aired in 1998, a man named Bob Heironimus came forward and admitted that he had been the man in the suit. Patterson hired him to play Big Foot in a short film that he planned to sell. A costume designer named Phillip Morris also stated that he was the one who sold Patterson the suit. His company Morris Costumes is now a massive costume manufacturer that supplies Halloween costumes across America.
The Loch Ness Monster Was Actually a Much Less Dangerous Sea Creature – A Toy Submarine
How They Did It: The picture stood as a testament to the existence of the marine creature until 1994, when a man named Christian Spurling confessed to his involvement in the hoax. The Daily Mail previously hired Spurling’s step-father, Marmaduke Weatherell, to find the Loch Ness monster and Weatherell felt betrayed when they debunked what he found. So he set out on a plot of revenge straight out of an episode of Scooby Doo: he and Spurling constructed a model out of a toy submarine from Woolworth’s with a sculpted head attachment and photographed it. They sent the photo to Wilson, whose pedigree made him a trustworthy Nessie spotter, and Loch Ness was never the same again.
Hippolyte Bayard’s Anger Drove Him to Create History’s First Fake Photograph
The corpse which you see here is that of M. Bayard, inventor of the process that has just been shown to you. As far as I know this indefatigable experimenter has been occupied for about three years with his discovery. The Government, which has been only too generous to Monsieur Daguerre, has said it can do nothing for Monsieur Bayard, and the poor wretch has drowned himself. Oh the vagaries of human life…!
How They Did It: Bayard simply staged the scene and wrote a misleading caption. The photo is influential as the first ever faked photograph, so at least Bayard got into the history books for something…
The Falling Soldier Wasn’t Dying, He Was Acting
How They Did It: The story of Capa’s photos started to unravel when other images in the same series were released. Academics studied these photos next to this most famous version and determined that Capa did not snap these images near Cerro Muriano in Andalusia as he claimed. Instead, the photographs were taken near Espejo, a place that the war didn’t reach until after Capa published the photographs.
William Mumler’s Ghostly Subjects Included Abraham Lincoln
Mumler’s fame grew so large that his photographs appeared on the cover of the national magazine Harper’s Weekly. Although his contemporaries were skeptical, no photographer could find any evidence that Mumler faked his ghostly photo shoots. Despite his detractors, he had at least one very famous fan. In what would be her last photograph, Mary Todd Lincoln sat for a photo with him, Abraham Lincoln’s ghost visible behind her.
How They Did It: Skeptical photographers both then and now ascribe Mumler’s spooky shots to one of two methods. One possibility is double printing, when the subject and the spirit appear in two different negatives that the photographer later combines. The other is double exposure, when the person designated as the ghost leaves the picture mid-exposure to produce a transparent, ghostly effect. Mumler ensured that no one would ever know for sure when he destroyed all his negatives shortly before his death.
“Death in the Air” Utilized Models Built by a Hollywood Prop Designer
How They Did It: Gladys Cockburn-Lange couldn’t have had a more British sounding name if she chose it herself. Oh wait, she did. Gladys was actually Betty Archer, the wife of Wesley David Archer, a Hollywood-employed model builder. Wesley Archer built the models in the photograph and superimposed them over aerial photographs to create the hoax. The National Air and Space Museum finally exposed the hoax in the early 1980s.
The Famous Faces in Ada Emma Deane’s Spirit Photography Led to Her Downfall
How They Did It: Deane’s first giveaway was her requirement that she receive photographic plates in advance of the photo shoot. In 1924, the same newspaper that bought her Armistice Day picture also debunked her hoax. They revealed that the floating heads in her picture were not dead soldiers but were very much alive, including the faces of some well-known athletes. She maintained her innocence, claiming that she if she were faking it, she wouldn’t be so stupid as to use such recognizable faces.
A Lamp Shade and Some Ping Pong Balls Created a UFO Phenomenon
How They Did It: A lamp shade with some ping pong balls glued to it. That’s it. A friend of Adamski’s even confirmed that he saw the model with his own eyes
What Newspapers Called Nazi Air Markers Were Nothing More Than a Coincidence
How They Did It: The “markers” were nothing more than innocuous shapes on the ground: a bird feeding area, a configuration of fertilizer sacks, and the remnants of a plowed field. The government actually investigated the markers months before and determined that they had no military significance – until they realized their benefit as propaganda, that is.
Francis Hetling’s Victorian Photographs Were More Modern Than They Looked
How They Did It: Despite the investigations of numerous experts, it was a fluke that exposed the hoax. A man who saw the photographs recognized one of the children as the child of a friend, a child who was very much still alive. In the end, it was an ad man named Howard Grey who took the photos and got his friend Graham Ovendon to make them look old.
Ted Serio’s “Thoughtography” Was Just a Camera Trick
In a theatrical display that included screams and distorted facial features, Ted held a tube he called a “gizmo” in between his head and a Polaroid camera. When the Polaroid image appeared, it contained a faded, blurry figure of one of Ted’s “thoughtographs,” like a car or a building. A psychiatrist took an interest in his work and published a book about him, which led to an article in Life magazine.
How They Did It: The key to the hoax probably rested in the one part of the scheme that Ted controlled – the gizmo. Professional magician and skeptic James Randi suggests that Ted probably slipped a lens containing a photograph transparency into the gizmo before he took his photos. Randi was able to recreate the procedure himself with his suggested method.
The Giant Human Skeleton Was Created During a Hoax Competition
How They Did It: This is one of only two digitally altered photographs on the list, but for a hilarious reason. In a meta twist on hoaxery, Photoshop wizard “IronKite” created the image for a contest called“Architectural Anomalies,” which challenged entrants to “show a picture of an archeological discovery that looks so real, had it not appeared at Worth1000, people might have done a doubletake.” In other words, he created a fake hoax that accidentally became a real hoax. If he didn’t win the competition, he definitely should have.
Cheesecloth Helped Invent Photographic Proof of the Afterlife
How They Did It: It was nothing more than a magic trick. Mediums hid cheesecloth, gauze, papers, and even animal parts on and in their bodies and could then reveal them on cue. Whether a medium had the cheesecloth up her sleeve and slid it out or swallowed and regurgitated it, their skills at slight of hand are what produced the effect, not spirits from another world.
Colin Evans’s Levitation Trick Relied on the Most Advanced Technology – Jumping
How They Did It: Colin’s technique was so crude it’s almost embarrassing for those people who believed his hype. According to reports from the time period, Colin conducted his seances in complete darkness. Colin didn’t care a bit about his in-house audience because all he wanted was the photograph. The only light came from the momentary flash, which caught him at the peak of his leap and created a very rudimentary levitation effect.
Two Photographs Combined Forces to Spawn the Wem Ghost Apparition
How They Did It: In 2010, Brian Lear, another man from Wem, found a much older image that casts doubt on O’Rahilly’s assertions. In a 1922 postcard of a street in Wem, a girl standing on the sidewalk bears a remarkable resemblance to the ghost girl in O’Rahilly’s snap. Experts now believe that O’Rahilly used a double exposure technique to create the image, similar to the methods used in spirit photography.
A German April Fool’s Day Joke Got Lost in Translation
How They Did It: April Fools! The world’s hoaxiest holiday struck with a vengeance more than eighty years ago when this April Fools joke got out of hand. Even within the article, there’s evidence of the fraud, but these jokes got lost in translation. The original international distributor of the photo got the man’s name wrong. In the original article, it’s Otfried Koycher, a pun on the German word keuchen, which means to wheeze. When the jokes got translated away, what was left was a real news article that may have fooled millions.
A Recent Loch Ness Monster Was Just Fiberglass
How They Did It: Despite orchestrating this hoax in the age of computers, the hoaxer’s methods weren’t digital at all. George Edwards finally confessed that he repurposed a fiberglass hump from a National Geographic Documentary about the Loch Ness Monster that he worked on the year before. He claims he did it as a joke, to poke fun at those Nessie hunters who value the science of the quest over the fun of it.
The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall’s Ghost Might Be Real, but Her Photo Isn’t
How They Did It: While there’s still no conclusive proof and probably never will be, experts like famous skeptic Joe Nickell believe that the photograph is just a result of two images layered together.
Roger Fenton Staged “The Valley of the Shadow of Death” but a Pebble Dislodged His Story
How They Did It: The discovery of a second, similar photograph led to the downfall of Fenton’s credibility. The other version is almost exactly the same except for one thing – no cannonballs on the road. Experts set about examining the photographs against one another and discovered a minute detail that blew the hoax wide open: pebbles in the cannonball picture rested lower than the same pebbles in the non-cannonball picture. This led experts to conclude that the movement of the cannonballs into the frame dislodged the pebbles, which meant that the photograph was staged.
The Alien Autopsy Video Was Just Another Creature Feature
How They Did It: First of all, the UFO at Roswell has long since been identified. It was an Air Force Surveillance weather balloon. Yet, for almost 70 years, conspiracy theorists have been searching, debating, and creating answers for what that object might have been.After viewing the film, experts argued that the movement of the alien corpse resembled a dummy and that the doctors in the footage did not actually operate the way a real doctor would. A man in Manchester, England, has even come forward and admitted that he was hired by Santilli to create the dummy. Ten years later, in 2006, Santilli came forward with a half-confession: he claims that the footage is a recreation of actual footage provided to him by a military photographer. According to him, time degraded the footage beyond recognition. Despite all the hopes of Roswell conspiracy theorists, Santilli’s lies seem to be the only cover-up here.
A Photo of Ulysses S. Grant on His Horse was Actually Three Separate Images
How They Did It: At the advice of a researcher, employees at the Library of Congress took a second look at the photo and began to notice some discrepancies. First, Grant was a three-star general at the time the photo was purported to have been taken, but in the photo he only has one star. Second, the horse Grant rode at the time didn’t have any white socks, but the horse in the photo did. Third, the photo shows a group of soldiers casually sitting with their backs turned to their superior, something that never would have happened during battle. In the end, researchers discovered that the print in question is actually a photo montage of three separate images: one of Grant’s head, one of another general’s body, and one of thebackground scene with soldiers watching a battle.
The Falling Body in This Family Photo Added a New Element to an Old Image
How They Did It: To date, an official confession or explanation has never been offered. However, experts examining the photo point out that the shadows on the body do not match the shadows in the room. They also point to the fact that the corners of the photo contain vignetting, a darkening of a photo that occurred on older cameras, but that the vignetting appears too symmetrical to be true to the photo. Therefore, experts believe the photograph to be the result of some tricky Photoshop skills, or perhaps a double exposure at the very least.
A “Cody” Action Figure Created a Hostage Situation in Iraq
How They Did It: Upon seeing the news story, a toy company named Dragon Models asserted that the soldier in the photograph bore a striking resemblance to “Cody,” one of their action figures. A week later, an unnamed Iraqi man took credit for the hoax online and posted a photo of the set-up, complete with the soldier and the tiny gun.