Monday August 14, 2006

If you can use photoshop then Fidel must be alive

castro holding a recent newspaper . . . and then you woke up.

No, seriously. What are you trying to do, lull us into a false optimism? This is just sad . . . my cat can work photoshop better then this. I used to do better photo montage with MS Paint when I was in jr. high. Or, were you trying to say that if you can whip up a cartoon with Fidel in it it proves he’s alive?

What, in Cuba they always do a 4-inch bottom margin on the front page of the newspaper, so that bearded dictators have a comfortable spot to grip? Well, ok, i’ll play along. Look at his fingers. Look at the newspaper right around his fingers. Anyone who’s ever held a newspaper knows that’s not how it looks to hold one. OK now look at the newspaper closely. You’ll notice that the paper is sort of an off-white in the photograph. Compare to Fidel’s (sporty, I must say) Adidas jacket. The jacket, along with his face, is clearly lit by crappy flash. The paper, on the other hand, has a much more natural lighting to it, sort of a diffused indirect-sunlight sort of thing.

Speaking of light, though, my favorite thing is the “shadow” the newspaper casts. Look at the neat little line running along the right side of the bottom part of the newspaper. We’re supposed to believe that this is the shadow cast by the camera’s flash. It doesn’t follow the shape of the bed because it’s all about the shape of the object (paper) relative to the flash and the lens. True: crappy flash pictures really do work this way; you can try it. The problem is that the exact thing should happen with the shadow of the top half of the newspaper. But our Comrade Photoshopper thought it looked pretty natural this way: newspaper casting a shadow on the vertical part of the bed, not horizontal. Give me a break. Buy yourself a newspaper, sit in front of a bed, and have a friend flash you. Have fun: get yourself a Cuban-flag-colored Adidas jacket!

Maybe the el Nuevo Herald guys learned photoshop on the island. Sorry, kids: I’m not sure if that’s a real newspaper or not, but I’m damned skippy that it was never in the same room with Fidel.


Fidel with Hugo Chavez and Raul

Here’s the photo released this morning, Fidel with Hugo Chavez and Raul. I haven’t had a chance to look at it closely yet, but on first blush I find this one a little more convincing. While it’s certainly possible that they montaged ‘em together, if I were trying to inspire confidence I wouldn’t choose a picture of FC lying in a hospital bed. Also, Chavez would have had to go along with it, and why would he put his integrity on the line like that? On the other hand, we have the weird “be prepared for bad news” comment coming out of Cuba, so it’s a mystery. I still say the first photo’s a fake, though.

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  1. mkh    Mon Aug 14, 08:28 AM #  

    I don’t believe for a moment that this is a real photo. However, I wondered if maybe that is the way he gets the paper: a laser printed proof organized by story for him to approve before publication. If Cuba had real newspapers they would work from a type-live copy, but, well, they don’t have real newspapers.

    Oh, and part of my (admittedly thin) reason for this conjecture is that it looks like there’s a staple in the top-left corner.

  2. The Man    Mon Aug 14, 08:56 AM #  

    The photo—both photos—are genuine. The War in Iraq is going well. Officers in the Broward Sheriffs Office used restraint at the FTAA meetings. Budget deficits are good for the economy. I’m from the government, and I’m here to help you.

  3. gansibele    Mon Aug 14, 09:14 AM #  

    I noticed the shadow too Alesh, that’s the strongest sign that the picture is manipulated. But I think it was probably done because the original picture had some other paper on it and they decided to switch it with Granma afterwards, not because the guy is dead and the photos are part of some prepared plot. The ones from today look real to me. I just can’t really imagine Chavez going along with a kooky plan like that.

    But just to feed the conspiracy theorists out there, Chavez always wears his red shirt when he visits Cuba. Is the symbolic attire of his “revolutionaries”. So the other picture, and the pictures with Raul could have been taken earlier this year.

    It would be more convincing if Castro was holding the day’s edition of the NYT for example.

    MKH is right, Castro reads the paper, and a bunch of other papers and news clips, etc; in a photocopied dossier prepared every morning. Same with Bush btw.

  4. gansibele    Mon Aug 14, 09:23 AM #  

    Oh and I think the “prepare for adverse news” may mean that his health may not let him come back in a full fledged capacity. This may be reading too much into it, but he’s fond of the word “adversity”, he has used it over and over. One of his recurrent memes is “turning adversities into victories”.

  5. Tere    Mon Aug 14, 09:42 AM #  

    I can tell that picture’s a fake because that Adidas track suit is sooooo 1999.

    No, seriously, my tip off was that he looks younger than he did in the last real images (from earlier this summer, I think?). Unless, this whole “intestinal bleeding” thing was just a cover for a facelift!

    Most definitely a fake – they’ve lied their way through 45+ years of “revolution” – why stop now?

    Also, it should be noted that it is common practice in the castro regime to doctor pictures according to the message they want to send. Both Armando Valladares and Carlos Alberto Montaner have covered this. One major example is how, when some commrade or other falls out of favor, he mysteriously disappears from historical group pictures. Literally, they erase people from the record books.

    Then again, that could just be a wax fidel on loan from Madame Tussaud’s….

  6. Miami Transit Man    Mon Aug 14, 10:39 AM #  

    Chavez? Integrity? Ha! That’s a funny one Alesh… His integrity went down the drain the first time he opened his mouth…

  7. Jonathan    Mon Aug 14, 10:46 AM #  

    The first photo looks fishy but I don’t know. The main thing is that Castro is out of public view, and the longer that is the case, the more likely it is that he is dead or too sick to function. If he really were recovering there should have been video or a public appearance by now. I agree with Alesh re the second pic. If that’s the best they can do to inspire confidence in Castro’s health, his health probably ain’t good.

  8. gansibele    Mon Aug 14, 12:56 PM #  

    Coño, Alesh, I just read the “photoshop on the island” reference. I learned my first computer programs in Cuba (Ventura Publisher, Coral Draw and Autocad) and I know many designers who learned Photoshop there, in fact I moderate a Yahoo group of Cuban designers. I can assure you that they are as skilled as any group of students I’ve seen in Miami (I taught at MAS and have been at many portfolio reviews for IFAC). As long as you have the software, even if you don’t have access to WOW! books and the like, with experimentation you can become really good.

    Tere, Carlos Franqui also talks about how he “disappeared” from the photographs with Fidel.

  9. Gus    Mon Aug 14, 02:20 PM #  

    Great post Alesh.

    You gave us an idea for a fun contest…

    Photoshop the Fidel Castro Image.

    I hope you enter and show us all your MS Paint skillz.

    First Prize receives a Free Ticket to Disney World.

    The contest ends Friday.

    Check out my image of el jeffe on the beach.

  10. AL    Mon Aug 14, 04:00 PM #  

    I’ve seen this movie before and it’s called “Weekend at Fidel’s”

    Plot Outline: A pair of losers try to pretend that their dead dictator is really alive.

  11. NicFitKid    Mon Aug 14, 07:11 PM #  

  12. Manola Blablablanik    Mon Aug 14, 07:43 PM #  

    WTF? The last photo on this page

  13. Manola Blablablanik    Mon Aug 14, 07:56 PM #  

    One thing is for sure, it seems like the headline is bogus: Absolved by History?

    Also, the jpg image files on the website are optimized to the crappiest setting. Doesn’t let you enlarge or look closely with better resolution.

  14. Tere    Mon Aug 14, 09:07 PM #  

    What’s with the matching outfits? And who knew a sick dictator had time and energy for so many wardrobe changes?

  15. alesh    Mon Aug 14, 09:36 PM #  

    gansibele~ no offense intended, though I see where you’re getting that from. I was tying the photoshop of fidel’s photo (?) with the El Nuevo Herald job. It’s a cheap joke. The fact is that where access to serious tools (ie photoshop) is scarce (ie cuba), those who get the access make the most of it, and will tend to excel, per hour of practice, above casual hacks (ie myself). Therefore it stands to reason that per hour of practice Cuban phtoshoppers would be better then americans (esp IFAC kids). Therefore it must be that Cuba’s most talented artists refused to take part in the deception, because the photo of Fidel they released does more harm then good: it’s pretty self-evidently fake.

  16. mkh    Mon Aug 14, 10:46 PM #  

    Manola, that last photo is important medical evidence: after all these years they finally removed the stick from Fidel’s ass.

  17. gansibele    Tue Aug 15, 12:53 PM #  

    none taken Alesh. MKH, submit your caption to the contest they have running in babalu, it’s way funnier than anything they got there. Oh and Sheba was great! higly recommended.

  18. cohen    Thu Aug 17, 08:42 PM #  

    adidas presents fidel castro and the revolution

  19. alesh    Fri Aug 18, 08:40 AM #  

    As per the Kleptones, the revolution WILL be televised.