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Altered BP photo comes into question

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By Steven Mufson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Apparently BP is no more adept at doctoring photos than it is at plugging deep-sea oil leaks.

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A blogger has noticed that the oil giant altered a photograph of its Houston crisis room, cutting and pasting three underwater images into a wall of video feeds from remotely operated undersea vehicles. The altered photo is displayed prominently on the company's Web site.

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.

(Photo gallery: Oil spill containment and cleanup)

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.

"Normally we only use Photoshop for the typical purposes of color correction and cropping," Dean said in an e-mail. "In this case they copied and pasted three ROV screen images in the original photo over three screens that were not running video feeds at the time."

Dean said BP usually has a couple remotely operated vehicles on the surface at any given time for maintenance.

"We will replace the Photoshopped version currently on bp.com with the original image tonight," he added. "We've instructed our post-production team to refrain from doing this in the future."


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