Open Thread…Just curious

This is not a big deal and don’t want to make it such. I’m just curious as to people’s reactions to this photo. ABC News reports on a study of the effects of Katrina on the treatment of people with chronic disease such as diabetes and runs this photo with theonline article

Katrina_diabetes_abc

My first reaction was wow they actually found a picture of someone checking their blood sugar in a rescue helicopter over flooded NOLA? That’s incredible. Then I thought it must be a photoshop and it is–see photo here. Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with that–we bloggers do it all the time but I didn’t realize ABC did. That aside, the photo does make the point for the article but I find it uncomfortable for some reason which I can’t quite express. Do you have any thoughts or reaction? I just offer for discussion

34 thoughts on “Open Thread…Just curious

  1. Lex says:

    If it were labeled a “photo illustration” I don’t think I’d have a problem with it. But any photo that has been “rigged” to create an image the shooter didn’t actually see needs to be so labeled.
    It’s real easy in the age of Photoshop to slide over the line between enhancing a photo and making it misleading. Photographers and news agencies need to be clear with their readers/viewers.
    Just my $.02.

  2. Interrobang says:

    I find it misleading or disturbing or something because of the two elements used — a clean, white hand holding what looks to be a brand new, high-tech tester, superimposed over what looks to be anaerial view of the flooded city. Unless there really was someone diabetic riding around in a helicopter and checking their sugar levels for shits and giggles, that sort of doesn’t reflect the reality on the ground, so to speak.

  3. MapleStreet says:

    On one hand, news agencies have used “stock” photos for years. And the ease of photoshop makes that easier; and the photo does give a one-glimpse entry point to the story. Like Lex, I would find it much more honest if they had labelled the photo as such.
    But as someone who regularly does this action with a competitor’s product, Interrobang is quite on the mark that this could easily lead to mis-interpretations of the situation. Someone swimming through NOLA for a couple of days without access to clean supplies is suddenly in the copter with a pristine meter and apparently having no trouble with the copter bouncing around. Kind of makes it look like NOLA was just a couple of days at a beach resort – much like waterboarding is just doing the backstroke.

  4. Gromit says:

    My read is that you have a self-absorbed white person who is focused on checking his/her blood sugar, while ignoring the disaster on the ground.
    Eat some crackers and get to work, you asshole!
    Ahem, sorry.

  5. Yeah, it should be labeled as a “photo illustration” or “photo composite.”
    .

  6. chuckago says:

    It’s definitely an odd-looking/not-really-effective photo (or photo-art). But I think the larger point is that Photoshop makes it much easier to do “photojournalism” from your desk.

  7. Michael says:

    As someone who DOES photoshop stuff, I’m actually a little disturbed. While no one will EVER confuse my chop jobs with real pictures or genuine photojournalism, I do wonder if “innocent” pictures like the one above are merely the first step towards literally manufacturing photo-ops…and yeah, as meaningless as most photo-ops are, creating them out of thin air would make them even MORE meaningless.
    I remember a while back Cokie Roberts did a talking-head/television report where they Chromakeyed/blue screened in an outdoor background on a studio set…then had her dress in a winter coat (fur?–I forget)…anyway, she took some flak for that…and if you ask me, it was well-deserved.

  8. Kaleberg says:

    Yeah, it is kind of a weird image. Is it supposed to be a blood test or is it an artist’s conception of some test for toxic waste exposure? I could sort of imagine the latter as a valid context for the photo.
    As for New Orleans flood porn, consider BLDGBLOG’s take on global warming porn at http://bldgblog.blogspot.com/2007/11/climate-change-escapism.html

  9. biggerbox says:

    I find the image disturbing, both because it is made up, and because it doesn’t really make sense to me. It doesn’t function as a comprehensible illustration or illumination of the point of the article. Just the reverse, in fact. People weren’t able to properly monitor their sugars in the days after the storm. The point is there weren’t things like blood sugar monitors on the rescue copters, or low-salt, low-carb emergency rations in the shelters, or plans to cope with evacuating people with medical issues.
    A better illustration would have been a muddy, nonfunctional tester floating in a puddle, or perhaps the infamous body in the wheelchair outside the dome. But the first couldn’t be quickly assembled from other photos someone had handy, and the second, well, might have reminded people that something serious happened.

  10. BuggyQ says:

    I’m with biggerbox, with the addition that anybody trying to test their blood sugar in a helicopter is likely to be juggling that stuff. You have the strips, in their little film canister thingie, then the finger-poking thingie, then the tester thingie itself. Hell, I shot about a dozen strips across the room trying to help Mr. BuggyQ, and that was in a relatively stable home. On the ground. And there wasn’t even alcohol involved.
    And ditto to the finding it disturbing. I live with a guy who photoshops for a living, and he creates some amazing composite images. As art. But to do the same as “photojournalism”? That crosses the line.
    But at least this is better-done than that hackjob the guy did of explosions in?was it Lebanon? a year or two ago, where the smoke had been so obviously photoshopped in that *I* could tell. Mr. BuggyQ said if a student had done it in his class, he’d flunk ’em. If you’re going to do it, at least *try* to make it look real.

  11. oyster says:

    Since approximately a quarter of respondents in a recent national poll still believe that parts of New Orleans are underwater (27 months after the storm), continued photos of the flooded city are only reinforcing these false beliefs, and sure aren’t doing the city’s tourism business any favors.
    source: http://wgso.com/content/view/3441/40/
    Also, note that the picture is of a flooded New Orleans but the article does not even mention the city.

  12. mdhatter says:

    Shades of Jayson Blair.
    A great image, but unsourced and obviously fabricated.
    pure fiction, painting a hopeful story without actually finding one.

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