February 19, 2007

More Fauxtography

You would think that after the downfall of Adnan Hajj that the professional media would have developed a sharper eye for noticing crudely PhotoShopped photographs, but even though Charles Johnson and others debunked a crude Iranian PhotoShop purporting to show U.S. munitions being used to subvert the government of Iran over the weekend, it didn't keep the ever-gullible L.A. Times from running the photo today.

Bloggers did a good job showing the PhotoShopping faults that Times photo editors should have quickly and rather easily caught, but simply doing a Google image search should have quickly proven the rifle ammunition claim questionable.

The ammunition box in the Iranian PhotoShop shows the front of a box of ammunition with the words "CAL. 7.62x39mm 123 GR. BALL" and the distinctive Winchester USA brand logo on the right side of the box. Here is the photo with the ammunition box isolated as it appeared on LGF:


Here's the thing: The Winchester USA brand ammunition I'm familiar with (I sell it in multiple calibers) doesn't look anything like the box on the photo. Typically, when ammunition is stacked, the top of the box is obscured, and so most ammunition manufacturers, including Winchester, put the caliber of the bullets on the end of the box, as seen here in a picture of showing the common packaging of a box of Winchester USA brand 7.62x39mm ammunition.


Is it reasonable for the photo editors of national news organizations to do some rudimentary checking to make sure pictures they publish aren't crudely PhotoShopped propaganda? You would think so, as that would seem to cut to the heart of their job responsibilities these days where image manipulation is now available to the masses.

It seems reasonable that if a news organization is going to run a picture of a certain building that they might want to take steps to make sure that is the building pictured, and so it seems reasonable that if they are going to run pictures from a foreign regime purporting to contain U.S. bullets and munitions, that they would do some basic fact checking to see if the bullets are in the correct packaging, and perhaps they should check to see if the grenades in the photo aren't Russian.

It isn't rocket science to check pictures for fauxtography, but it apparently eludes the best minds that the L.A. Times has to offer.

Update: Apparently, I'm not alone in keying in on the ammunition packaging. Outside the Wire has links to pictures showing the differences between military and civilian ammunition packaging.

As you might suspect, they aren't that subtle.

Update: YNET is now running with the story, and a reader states in the comments that the ammunition boxes shown in the Iranian story appears to be Winchester USA commericial (civilian) ammunition boxes from approximately 20 years ago.

Some smoking gun.

Update: Reader Don Jordan send along a couple of pictures of some 7.62x39mm Winchester USA ammunition he owns dating to 1994.


He thinks he saw box design used in the Iranian photo being sold around San Diego about 11-12 years ago. He also has a friend with an extensive collection of older 7.62x39mm Winchester USA ammunition who might be able to get a better handle on the date this particular civilian ammunition box design was in use.

Update: It looks like we can pin down the date of manufacture to circa 1993.


That spring, says reader Robert Miller, is when he got this Winchester USA 9mm ammunition that shows packaging indistinguishable from that used in the Iranian photo (nice background, Robert). The Iranians are claiming we're supplying their insurgency with economy civilian practice ammunition made about 14 years ago.

I'm less than impressed.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at February 19, 2007 03:03 PM

Thanks for the REAL photo of what a Winchester ammunition box looks like. However, isn't is possible that the Iranian photo is of an older box, much older. Check out how the stars go all around the USA on the real box, but only go in a semi circle on the fake one. Why photoshop an emblem that is almost accurate?

Posted by: BohicaTwentyTwo at February 19, 2007 03:29 PM

Yes, it is possible that the Iranian PhotoShop did use an older Winchester box, but I find that unlikely for several reasons.

The first is that Iran is attempting to state that the United States is currently shipping ammunition into Iran, which would probably indicate current packaging over older ammunition.

The second is that the shape of the box would seem to indicate commercial packaging, not military packaging.

The long rectangular boxes used for commercial ammunition packages two rows of 10 rounds each on plastic clips. This is bulky, and is not what I expect in more typical military packaging, where space is at a premium. Most 7.62x39 military grade ammunition that I've comes across comes in far more compact packaging, without the plastic clips (and the intervening air space) that adds so much bulk. Representative packaging for military 7.62x39 ammo in 20 round packages is about the thickness of two packs of cigarettes back-to-back, which then tpyically comes in larger sealed metal "sardine cans" to protect the ammunition from moisture.

Further, is it very doubtful that the U.S. would use ammunition so readily traced to American ammunition manufacturing companies, when it is far easier and far less expensive to purchase bulk lots of surplus 7.62x39mm ammunition for the region itself, or simply divert some of the ammunition use by the Iraqi military of police.

Nothing in the Iranian claim makes the least bit of sense, and the ammo packaging is just part of the story.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at February 19, 2007 03:52 PM

Hey Confederate Yankee.

LGF reader MeanMrMustard posted this picture.

He says this style box is 20 years old.

Posted by: Geepers at February 19, 2007 04:31 PM

Very crude Photoshop. Notice in the original image here:

You can see the octagonal tiles on the ground. In the PS'd one, the tiles are partially cloned out, but partially still there.

For instance, you have the group of 7 canisters above the cartridge box in the original photo (which appears to be an old, old box of winchester NON MILITARY ammo) you can tell that the tiles have been munged out of existence, and the AK mags have been cloned out, the AK rifles in the upper LH corner have been cloned out, and replaced with more canisters.

Posted by: Buddy at February 19, 2007 04:47 PM

P.S. Those two photos are NOT exactly the same photo, though, and it does appear there is a US manufactured box of 7.62 ammo (civilian, not milspec) in there. The grenades are russian, though, and the second photo is QUITE OBVIOUSLY photoshopped.

Posted by: Buddy at February 19, 2007 04:53 PM

P.S. Those two photos are NOT exactly the same photo, though (view angle is different), and it does appear there is a US manufactured box of 7.62 ammo (civilian box, not military) in there. It does appear to be two shots of the same 'layout' of equiment. The ammo is widely available, repackaged, old milsurplus, for instance here:

The grenades are russian, though, and the second photo is QUITE OBVIOUSLY photoshopped.

Posted by: Buddy at February 19, 2007 05:01 PM

A 20 year old box of commercially available civilian ammunition is hardly evidence. This is, of course, as opposed to months old military grade RPG rounds and SAM missiles.

Posted by: BohicaTwentyTwo at February 19, 2007 05:08 PM

Look - if the LA-Times hadn't run that picture - we wouldn't have the smoking gun on the Fars picture - once you have seen the LA-Times picture and the Fars picture you can see that the little "oddities" - like the remaining part of the stock and the strap, which always looked a bit odd - fit in perfectly when you see the LA-Times picture ..

Like I say - I love free speech - it lets me see the enemy real close up ..

Posted by: drk at February 19, 2007 05:15 PM

RE: More Fauxtography

The picture is blurry but the silver cannisters appear to be a VOG 25 40mm round for the AK47 under barrel grenade launhcer GP-25 and GP 30. I have seen plenty of these up close (pictures attached).

Sorry, I do not know how to forward the photos which came from friend now in Afghan.

Posted by: Harry at February 19, 2007 05:27 PM

The rational and logical reasoning here, on THIS site, is designed to appeal to rational and logical souls...

The propaganda picture from Iran can be debunked, but the main targets for that (Muslim ignorati and American/EUnuch supporters of Islamo-fascism) cannot follow these debunkings, either because the Islamists are kept in a state of ignorance by their clergy, OR because they are already emotionally committed to the pretext that 'America CAUSES terror'...

Nevertheless, GOOD WORK.

"The Best-Beloved of all things in My sight is Justice." The Glory of God

Posted by: Karridine at February 19, 2007 07:56 PM


Posted by: PETN Sandwich at February 19, 2007 07:58 PM

The hand grenades featured in this "photo" are Soviet F-1 Fragmentations grenades. Not of US origin.

Posted by: AICGOD at February 20, 2007 09:53 AM

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 02/20/2007
A short recon of whatís out there that might draw your attention.

Posted by: David M at February 20, 2007 04:08 PM