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Sometimes (as it was with the (then) imminent release of Hollywood features such as "Stealth" and "Zero Dark Thirty" a photo of a great looking movie prop makes it's way onto the internet and gets passed around as the real thing.
Hoax photos are fairly easy to debunk - usually due to lack of EXIF data and (or) through examining it in detail in various programs to see if it has been manipulated. Here's a link to an article I did a few years back debunking a supposed alien presence at a CSETI event. LINK
Note: I took a lot of heat for this article - especially from supporters of CSETI - because I'm sure my disclosure cost them some money from some future rubes.
Another recent example of Photoshop fakery (state sponsored even) was when Iran released photos of a multiple missile launch where one missile failed to launch - so they Photoshopped one in and (the artist) did such a poor job that it was laughingly obvious. That botched attempt to portray Iran's military might - became an Internet meme and a laughing stock. LINK HERE
But then - there are those photos that fall in a grey area and cannot be proven or debunked. That is where this photo of a supposed stealth Black Hawk helicopter falls. Don't ask me who took the original photo (or created it) because I do not have that information.
Does it pass the tests?
It passes the my own set of test criteria in many areas - but not in others.
First there is the EXIF data that shows it was photographed in 2008. Rarely do hoaxed photos have EXIF data attached.
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Second - when (light blasted) the image holds up without any obvious signs of retouching. Also at close inspection the pixel structure holds up.
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|FALSE COLOR TO REVEAL RETOUCHING|
|LIGHT BLASTED |
But where it is "ifie" is in the fact that
It's only one photo.
Who takes one photo? I've always applied this criteria because most people when they see something unusual it's human nature to take more than one photo.
However not being in that moment - in that place, I cannot know the reason why no more photos were taken. There are many reasons only one photo could be taken, maybe there are others that were out of focus - etc - and who knows - there may be more.
Only time will tell.
But - there are other things that strike me odd.
It's clearly evident the helicopter is not painted with the special IR reflecting silver paint as was the case with the partially destroyed bin Laden raid helicopter - but since the photo was taken (supposedly) in 2008, that modification could have come later.
There are also no special sickle-shaped blades as most aviation experts speculate is needed to silence a stealth helicopter.
In the suspect photo there are only the standard regular four blades, not five as most speculative drawings show.
Other things that struck me proving it could something (other than real) is it could be an RC model- since there is no sense of scale or one from the Zero Dark Thirty production, since it looks so much like the one in the movie.
|(C) Zero Dark Thirty|
However again the Zero Dark Thirty version is a five bladed helicopter and the EXIF data (although not empirical) does not support this assumption.
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But then there's my final litmus test, one I apply to every photo I get of questionable origins.
Could I use my Photoshop skills to fake one as well?
And the answer is - given the time - YES.
So the photo passes and fails - and thusly there is a 50 percent chance it is real and (concurrently) a 50 percent chance it's fake.
In light of this - I'm assuming by posting it, chances are it's not a classified photo - at least until the Feds confirm it by knocking on my door. I'm not holding my breath.
That said - since I don't know without a doubt it is real - I post it here for public review.
A full frame image - as I received it is available HERE to those who'd like to analyze it further.
Post your opinion in the comments please.
UPDATE: As Steve Jobs would say, "One more thing.":
All photos submitted to me without attribution are in themselves suspect and thus probably not real.
Whistle blowers - such as Wikileaks and Edward Snowden have the tendency to crow about their leaks.
But this photo - no one is claiming it.