Second, I am making a commitment. If anyone disagrees with these results, he/she is free to hire another expert. I will be happy to post the results of another report on this blog, even if the results are sharply in disagreement with what the report that I was given.
Third, and I apologize for this, the report is in the form of a pdf. This is to protect the author of the report from having his work altered or plagiarised in any way. I realize it makes it a bit more difficult to read the report - you'll have to download it and open it on your own computer - but there's no way around this.
To review, I asked the expert to look at the following two photographs.
(Original caption from Flickr account: CBS 11 doing a live interview as the legislative session comes to an end. ) For the rest of this discussion, this is referred to as Image 1.
(Original caption from Flickr account: Myself, Governor Palin, Press Secretary McAllister. ) For the rest of this discussion, this is Image 2.
These photos were allegedly taken on April 13, 2008 in Juneau, less than one week prior to Trig Palin's birth.
Why is there so much focus on these photos? I think it's essential to review this briefly. Those who have supported Sarah Palin over the last four months, and who have insisted that there is "no doubt" that Sarah is Trig's mom in fact have very few pieces of "concrete proof." These two photos are two of only five known photos taken during the period of time during which she was said to have been pregnant (March 5, 2008 through April 18, 2008) in which there is an unobstructed view of her midsection. The other three are:
One, taken March 26th, which showed only very dubious evidence of pregnancy.
One, taken around April 8th, which shows a pregnant appearance. (However, I have asserted that the "belly," while certainly present, appears oddly flat, not "round and taut" as I would expect in a woman close to 35 weeks pregnant with her fifth child. In addition, screen shots from a video taken this same day show clear evidence of a square shape under her shirt.)
One, taken March 14th, which shows no evidence of pregnancy whatsoever.
These two photos - then - in my opinion - are the ONLY two which show her realistically pregnant. The belly is, in my opinion, rounded and quite natural-looking. And because of this, the photo of her being interviewed (Image 1) is pointed to again and again and again as proof-positive that she was pregnant with Trig. Just recently, on a website which supports Sarah Palin for president in 2012 (TeamSarah.org) there was a thread - now removed - which questioned the pregnancy. Like clockwork, someone posted this photo.
Frankly, without this ONE photo I personally believe that she would not have been able to "prove" the matter last August 31- September 1. This photo - along with the uncorroborated announcement that Bristol was "five months pregnant" - saved her candidacy. That's why this photo was - and continues to be - critical.
So ... without further ado, here's the link to the full pdf from the professional analysis. For those of you who want the result without having to wade through the analysis, here it is.
Image 1 (2814199887_67e84850f4_b.jpg) shows some signs of alterations consistent with an image that has been composited from different sources. However, due to the fact that the image available for analysis is only 1024 x 768, it is not possible to give a conclusive analysis.
Image 2 (2814979078_4815e908a9_b.jpg) shows no signs of alterations.
"Some signs of alterations." Admittedly, this is not proof positive. I concur that. But that the image shows any signs of alterations --- any signs at all --- should be very troubling considering that this is the single photograph that has been pointed to repeatedly as demonstrating that Sarah Palin is Trig's mom.
What are these signs of alterations? First, the area around her hair - a very common place to look for pixels that don't "match" in altered photos - shows signs of masking, a technique used when photos are composited. Second, as was pointed out in an earlier post on this blog, the area around her neck shows signs of adjustment - "a redundant pattern of murky pixels." Third, some discrepancy was noted in the area of the door that can be seen through her glasses, though if her glasses were clear and clean there should not have been a discrepancy. (However, to be precise, the expert felt that at 72 dpi, there was not enough detail say conclusively that this area had been altered: he calls it only an "area of interest.")
Fourth - and this was something that the expert brought up on his own (I had asked him only to look at the photos at the pixel level) in Image 1, Gov. Palin's body position seems, in his word, "peculiar." Many others have noted this. She is simply not facing where she should be if this picture is what it represents itself to be - a still shot of a news interview in progress. Even if, while Gusty was speaking, Palin's attention was drawn to something off camera and she glanced away, her body should still be facing the camera person squarely. But Palin's body is facing down the hall, quite nearly away from the cameraman, her expression almost unfocused. She does not appear in any way to be part of the action around her.
This report is not proof positive. It is not conclusive. But the main reason that is not is primarily because we do not have access to high-quality images from a known and reliable source from which solid conclusions can be drawn. What we have are low-resolution images taken by an unknown person uploaded anonymously to a Flickr account.
Considering all the other questions, concerns, and anomalies with this photo, that it shows any signs of alteration at all is profoundly troubling.
Here are just some of the questions surrounding the provenance of these photos ... and some comments on each.
1. This photo was released nowhere prior to Sarah Palin's candidacy being announced. While this is not per se a problem - lots of photos of Gov. Palin were no doubt released only after her VP nomination thrust her into the national spotlight - it is, in a word, unfortunate, that this most crucial picture was not seen anywhere prior to August 31, 2008.
2. The identity of the photographer is not known. Anyone who is willing to view these photos as "proof" should be at least slightly concerned that no one has ever been willing to publicly state who actually was behind the camera when the photos were taken.
3. The Flickr account holder is "Eric99559," and he/she has never been identified. In Image 2, the man to the left of the photo is Dan Carpenter, a photographer with KTUU - Channel 2 news (NBC Affiliate in Anchorage) , and the caption on the photo states that this person is "myself." This would lead one to assume that Eric99559 is Dan Carpenter. But this has never been confirmed.
4. The woman interviewing Gov. Palin in Image 1 is Andrea Gusty, a reporter with KTVA in Anchorage. She has gone on record as stating this photo was taken April 13th, a Sunday, which was the last day of the Alaska State Legislative Session. However, quite oddly, her account of the day (which is available for a fee on the KTVA website) is in conflict with the account published in the Anchorage Daily News the next day. Gusty's report states:
The halls are silent in our state Capitol after a bustling 90-day session wrapped up late Sunday night. More than 700 bills were introduced and less than half were voted on. Those that did make it are headed to the governor's desk for approval.But according to the Anchorage Daily News, the session was adjourned "with time to spare," "at lunchtime," a fact that was met by considerable rejoicing from most legislators. This is not a minor difference, one person saying for example that it was over "at lunchtime," and another saying it was 1 PM. There is a huge difference between lunchtime and "late Sunday night." Was Gusty actually in Juneau on April 13th? If so, how could she confuse lunchtime and "late Sunday night?" Or was her written report uploaded to the KTVA website at a later time, and simply inserted with the date of April 14th into the sequence? Yet, archived video on the Anchorage Daily News site from KTVA on April 14th mentions that Gusty is in Juneau. I simply cannot understand how such an error could have been made.
5. Image 1 is a still photo of a news interview in progress. No actual video is now (or as far as I can tell after diligent research, ever has been) available.
6. The EXIF data on these two pictures, available openly on the Flickr account, show that these two photos were taken three minutes apart in 2005. Here is the EXIF data for Image 1. Here is the EXIF data for Image 2. Questions have been raised from the beginning about the incorrect date on these photos, with those skeptical of the idea that Palin may have faked the pregnancy insisting that the incorrect date is no big deal. The camera used was a mid range digital SLR. It cost around $700.00 when it was released, new, in 2005. Here's a page which is full of information about this camera. When it was released in 2005 it was a very nice, high end (9 megapixel) camera, a camera that would have been purchased by either a professional or a serious amateur. Here is what I have learned from conversations with two separate tech support people at Fuji:
There is no "default" date in this model camera (that the camera would reset to if the batteries died completely.) The first time the camera is turned on, the user must set a date. The camera will not work without this being done. After that point, the date is hard programmed into the hardware of the camera itself and even if the camera's battery dies completely is never lost. However, it can be changed by the user.I find it extraordinarily odd that a professional grade camera used in what we are supposed to view as a professional interview environment has the wrong date, since there are only two ways this could happen with this particular camera. Either the date was set wrong when the camera was initially turned on OR the date was intentionally changed. Why would a professional photographer change the date in his camera - by many years?
7. These photos were intentionally downsized AFTER being uploaded to Flickr. Both images were uploaded as 3418 x 2616 images, then made smaller, to 1024 x 768. This is the procedure that was used. (It is very important to note that this is the procedure that MUST be used in order to maintain "original appearing" EXIF data.) (My thanks to Patrick and Kathleen for figuring this out.)
First, the picture was uploaded by Erik99559 to flickr in the ORIGINAL size, which was then recorded in the exif-data.Why would someone do this? This is a FREE account - there is no expense involved in having larger resolution photographs up there. Someone had to follow a very specific set of steps to post pictures that had much smaller resolutions than the originals - but maintained "real" appearing exif data (except for the original size, which can't be altered.) So... why change the resolution so significantly AND then delete the original uploads? Is it because it is much much easier to spot alterations in higher resolution photographs?
The original size, as recorded in the exif data, was:
Image Width: 3488 pixels
Image Height: 2616 pixels
THEN, the person who uploaded the picture went into the INTERNAL FLICKR EDITING PROGRAM and changed the size of the picture to 1024 x 768 pixels. He then saved the change and replaced this picture with the original flickr picture.
AS A RESULT, the picture was from then on viewable on flickr ONLY in 1024 x 768 or smaller file size.! The exif data doesn't change at all after you have done the procedure as described above.
You have to click in the end on
"save as new copy"
....because if you click "replace picture", it says in the flickr description that the picture "has been replaced", however, if you just save it as a "new copy" on flickr, then you get a new copy in the smaller size with the ORIGINAL exif data !!! (then you just have to delete your picture in the original size or make it private)
8. It is at least worth remarking on the reference to Bill McAllister as Gov. Palin's press secretary. He was - as of mid August, 2008. But at the time the photo was taken, he was still employed by KTUU.
So, let's summarize.
This photograph is the single most often pointed to piece of evidence that Sarah Palin was "definitely" pregnant with Trig Palin in April. But upon examination, what we really have is this:
We have two photographs with incorrect dates, one of which shows signs of being composited, taken by an unknown photographer, uploaded by someone who has never come forward to an anonymous Flickr account after Sarah Palin's VP nomination. They were intentionally made smaller after they were uploaded and the originals either deleted or made private. The only person who has ever commented publicly on the photos, Andrea Gusty, has affirmed they were taken April 13th, but her published account of that day conflicts sharply with other news reports vis a vis what time the legislative session ended. No corroborating video of the photograph of the video shoot can be found.
And these are the only two photographs in which Sarah Palin appears unequivocally pregnant. These photographs have been looked at by millions and used countless times to argue that Sarah Palin was pregnant. My merely pointing out this almost endless list of problems with these photos gains my being termed a "moonbat," "wingnut," and/or many other names I would not even publish here. Would any court in the US accept photos with so many problems as any sort of evidence whatsoever for anything? I doubt it.
The fact that no one in the main stream media - with far more resources at their disposal than I have - has not looked at these photos more critically months ago is absolutely appalling.