Objects may be older than they appear


Apparently there are now photos that prove that the activists on board the Mavi Marmara really were carrying weapons. At least, that's what you may hear since the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted some images on its Flickr page. But it seems someone overlooked the fact that a digital image file often contains information on when the photo was actually taken. If you're interested, you can head over to this blog to discover that some of the photos are as much as seven years old.

But we can totally trust the government of Israel to do a fair and honest investigation of this incident.

H/t to Steve Hynd.

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As someone says on the Flickr page, they can't even lie convincingly.

pogge--thanks for this site. Am not surprised but have emailed it to some people who might be.

How stupid do they think we are???

Oh. Wait. I think I already know the answer to that question.

One point, that can lead to two interpretations.

The point: metadata is a bitch. A lot of people don't realize how hard it is to actually remove the data about data that is automatically created by computer programs. It's everywhere and it can be just as important as the data itself in certain circumstances.

1st interpretation: from some of the metadata it shows that photos were taken in 2003 and 2006, and then modifyed in 2010. The modification is another flag--what was modified? Was it as innocuous as cropping, resizing, or reformatting the information? Or something else? Metadata is a bitch because it records a whole slew of information and users have no control over this--and attempts at "scrubbing" the data is fairly obvious to users who know what to look for.

2nd interpretation: as pointed out by some commenters at the linked site, digital cameras are not connected to a system and do not automatically update their data and time. With that in mind, each camera has it's default date, depending on the age of the camera and model in question. It could be as simple as the photographers, like a lot of people but unlike myself, not being anal enough to properly set the date/time settings on the camera after changing the batteries. Metadata is a bitch because computers are stupid and operate on yes/no machine logic. If humans don't program their cameras (or whatnot) correctly and accurately, a whole slew of funny and/or weird results can exist, especially in non-networked devices.

Pogge et all, I don't remember if you have a rule re:profanity, but if so please feel free to edit my post and send a rebuke to my email :)

It could be as simple as the photographers, like a lot of people but unlike myself, not being anal enough to properly set the date/time settings on the camera after changing the batteries.

You raise a valid point and if there were a number of photos all with the same date that might be a plausible explanation. But in this case we have at least half a dozen different dates so we would have to believe that each picture was taken by a different camera and that in every case the photographer had neglected to properly set the date/time settings. It's a stretch. The simpler explanation is that they just grabbed a bunch of images from files that were laying around without considering the metadata.

Especially since some of the items were deeply unconvincing to me even without date problems. I mean, OK, a small knife--plausible, although successfully bloodying it on an armoured commando, perhaps less so.
But a stack of flak jackets? Where the fleep would they have gotten those, and how exactly would they have hidden them from the Turkish authorities, and if they were using them why would they look as pristine as the picture?
And, pepper spray still in plastic packaging? Wha? Yeah, I'm sure the peace activists were defending themselves with *that*. Maybe they bludgeoned the commandos with the packages. Overall, the pictures really look like what the dates suggest they are: Random unrelated pictures that some PR flack acting on a really short deadline could scrounge up and thought might seem vaguely plausible.

I mean, if I were an Israeli authority, and I wanted to show the world that the people I just whacked had weapons, I wouldn't show a bunch of apparently unrelated pictures with no background or context. I'd take a freakin' video (for that harder-to-photoshop air of realism) and I'd pan around from the incriminating stuff to things like the name painted on the vessel or on its life preservers or whatnot. My take is they couldn't do that, or any other similarly convincing thing, because there was nothing to take video of on site, because they're lying like rugs.
Even so, it shows their incompetence. I mean really, they didn't have the brains to bring stuff to plant? Come on, this operation was planned well in advance and this was the best they could do?

Um, pogge? psst? Just a wee private question over here: there's a date/time setting on my camera? *blush*


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This page contains a single entry by pogge published on June 2, 2010 2:19 PM.

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