This picture is looking a bit weird. You see Michael Jackson rehearsing just two days before his death – but that is not the weirdest thing about it. Look closer — look between his legs. Why is it so dark there, when he is standing in front of a large neon-sign?
It even made it to the website Photoshop Disasters, which is a fun place to look for really bad photoshop-editing. And lots of people chimed in with how bad this ‘job’ of putting Michael in a place where he never appeared was done. A few believe that the picture is not a fake – it is an object or a door painted black – standing there between Michael and the sign. And then a few people think the black area is a clone-job to remove something from between his legs, which probably looked silly.
I have carefully looked at the electronic version delivered to newspapers (4096 px wide). And as a efficient photoshopper myself, I can without a doubt say:
1: It’s definitely not a total fake – Michael Jackson wasn’t photoshopped in front of this sign. The picture is coherent and bears no sign of photoshopping. You see the right reflexes everywhere – and I couldn’t spot a single ‘clone-pattern’ either. In Michaels dark trousers you even see some correct small red reflection.
2. But – Someone very skilled and with very good time might have edited the area between Michaels legs. If so, that has involved taking the time to make a dark reflection in the bright reflective area leading up to the sign. Also taking the time to leave no trace of a pattern and keeping the noise consistent in the dark area. I simply don’t believe it – what could have been so important to remove – and why not just choose another picture from the event if this wasn’t suitable for publishing? Easier than spending hours with photoshop and risking a lot of trouble.
3. What has been deleted anyway? It looks like something is missing, but if you look at the letter S behind Michael, it is actually possible that the easiest solution to this question is simply that the lower end of the S is obscured by Michaels legs – and the dark area is then the spacing between the I and the S. Simple as that – and case closed.
4. So with 99,99% certainty – nah, make it 100% I dare to say that this picture is as real as they come – and this time Photoshop Disasters screwed up themselves. Well – everyone makes a mistake from time to time …
Bonus: A cropped version of the picture was also released right after the original (2000 px wide) – so the photographer Kevin Manzur must have thought his picture looked a bit weird and could use some cropping. He cropped it exactly where the discussion took off – below Michael Jacksons crotch.