The New York Times commissioned Portuguese photographer Edgar Martins to travel around the United States and take photographs of abandoned construction projects left in the wake of the housing and securities market collapse. They pulled the online piece (here) after questions were raised over on Metafilter (here). Initially everyone was happily debating the economy and then suddenly someone commented “I call bullshit on this not being photoshopped” and everyone suddenly started debating the veracity of the images.
The NY Times policy on digital alteration was recently discussed by Michele McNally in their Talk To The Newsroom column (here). Their ethical guidelines state that “Images in our pages, in the paper or on the Web, that purport to depict reality must be genuine in every way” anything that’s altered must be labeled a photo-illustration except of course “this does not apply to portraits or still-lifes.”
So, the Metafilter crowd started taking the Edgar Martins pictures and mirroring one side of them to show that he had simply done that and then added anomalies in so it’s not a perfect match (here and here). In an interview on Art Most Fierce (here) Edgar states “When I photograph I don’t do any post production to the images, either in the darkroom or digitally, because it erodes the process. So I respect the essence of these spaces.”
I’m going to speculate that he wasn’t liking the pictures he made on assignment and that the mirror images are not that far off from the real thing so he decided to create something a little more pleasing to his eye. Only Edgar knows the truth, but people who build houses can tell you this kind of symmetry is highly improbable.
Thanks for the tip Mason.