Are you a True Crime Rocket Scientist? Test Your Observation Skills on this Everest Summit Photo

Photographic staging and covering up goes hand in hand with the misdirection of staging a crime scene.

When it comes to doctored photos, there are two basic aspects to look at.

1. Is the image definitely altered? If so what has been altered, and how has it been altered? What hasn’t been altered?


2. The second aspect to figure out is why.

The image above has been doctored. There are a few obvious telltale clues that reveal these changes, as well as less obvious objects in the original that are the same in both photos. Look closely and carefully. Can you identify all the “mistakes” – the giveaways – in the doctored photo? Answer by leaving a comment below.


Why would this climber go to lengths to doctor this particular image in the first place? Think about it without context. What is the climber trying to prove? Where is he/she? Who is he/she? Why is it important to know the context? More context here.

Throughout history, photos have been doctored as a form of politics and propaganda.

Why is it historically so important to mislead the masses in these instances? More context here.

Which high-profile true crimes involve photo manipulation, or photos and video simply not being provided to law enforcement, or both? Which high-profile criminals are known to “play to the cameras”, or to be more accurate, paid for PR to “restore” their image?


A classic example of all of these is O.J. Simpson. Remember the ugly ass shoes that were supposedly worn at the crime scene by Nicole Brown’s killer, but not by O.J.? It’s through photos that they were linked to O.J. Remember how O.J.’s defense made his home appear blacker, for example by putting a painting of Rosa Park prominently in O.J.’s home for the benefit of the mostly black jury, when they visited his Rockingham home.

Meanwhile the media – TIME in particular – were rapped on the knuckles for deliberately trying to make OJ appear blacker than he really was. And then there was O.J. himself explaining away things like bloodied gloves and photos of bruises Nicole Brown had recorded of herself.

Listen to the clip below.

Probably the most elaborate cases of staging and misdirection are the Ramsey and McCann cases, and both also include the selective release and censoring of certain family photos.

There’s also a relationship, just as we see in the O.J. Simpson case, between the staging and pageantry we see in court, and the staging of the home/crime scene. In this the media, lawyers, PR folks and invariably the suspects themselves are active players and co-conspirators.

When all work together, the shadowy veil tends to distort reality. But when one area of the pageantry doesn’t fit, the whole veil can turn to dust.

The Case of: JonBenét Ramsey

More: Defense attacks prosecution’s case; says Simpson was framed

Barbara Walters discusses staging O.J.’s home for the jury

O.J. Simpson’s Motive revealed

How the O.J. Simpson Case Explains Reality in 2016

New “Last Photo” of JonBenet Ramsey has just been released – and there’s a problem…

Why it’s Obvious the McCanns’ “Last Photo” is Fake

Why it’s Obvious the McCanns’ “Last Photo” is Fake

According to the McCanns, this is the last photo of Madeleine – taken hours before she was snatched, on the day she was snatched: May 3rd, 2007.


But it’s more likely this is the first photo taken at Praia da Luz of the little girl on holiday. In other words, it was probably taken on April 28th within a few minutes of their arrival from the airport, or the next day, April 29th, at the latest.

Look at Gerry McCann’s skintone on his face and hands on May 4th:



Gerry McCann on May 18th, 2007 [below]:


If the last photo is fake, why is it fake? There are a few reasons why this photo may be chosen as the “last photo”. The most important is that Madeleine appears happy. It’s a “happy family photo”. If this photo wasn’t taken at the end of the holiday, then it suggests there weren’t photos of Madeleine later on in the trip where she appeared happy, or in a “holiday” setting. This would in turn raise worrying possibilities – that for whatever reason, the children, the family, weren’t getting along as well as they should. And this in turn might turn into concern about things like sleeping habits, the child’s behaviour, discipline and the possibility of parents sedating their children at night.

All of these, incidentally, were issues raised by the Portuguese cops.

So the Last Photo is a big deal. If the Last Photo isn’t what it purports to be, what else is a misdirection?

I’m not convinced Gerry is wearing the same shirt at the Ocean Club pool as he was on the bus. The tone is slightly greyer and lighter, and the sleeves seem longrt, and more creased. It’s not impossible though.

Madeleine [and Amelie] have clearly changed their clothing from what they wore on the flight from East Midlands Airport:


But the aspect I want to highlight is the most obvious. Why are the skins of all three people in this image so pink?


If the McCanns arrived on April 28th, then this image was taken on Day 6 of their holiday. It sure doesn’t look like they’ve been on holiday in the Algarve for 6 days, does it?

I traveled to Praia da Luz this year, arriving on the night of May 1st. By the end of Day 1 I’d already gotten a hectic sunburn to my neck and arms. The skin wasn’t merely a tone or two darker, it had actually burned red on the first day. This was despite flying in from South Africa, at the end of a summer there.

Although I’d brought a cap for the sun, and the weather in early May in the Algarve is fairly mild, a few days later I bought a wide-brimmed straw hat [I still have it] and Factor 50 sunblock. In no time at all I’d developed a sandal tan on my feet, and a short sleeve tan. Though the nights are chilly the days in early May can be warm, and if one lounges in the sun, the sun can be blazing hot.

The three individuals pictured above look as though they’ve just arrived in Praia da Luz. They look as if its’s their first day in the sun, and the first time at the pool.

When I arrived the first thing I said to a guest on the first morning [she had come from the pool] was: ‘Is the water warm?’ Her answer: ‘Are you kidding?’

More: What to make of the “Last Photo” of Madeleine McCann?

Proof! The ‘Last Photo’ is Fake