Words by c.z.robertson

Hemel Hempstead photo faked

2005-12-11 17:05:28 GMT/BST

The BBC (and other news sources) are showing a dramatic satellite photo of the smoke from the fire in Hemel Hempstead spreading across an enormous area of the south of England. However, I am convinced that the image is a fake. The fire is to the east of Hemel Hempstead, right by the M1, yet in the BBC picture the fire appears to be located way over to the south-west, somewhere closer to Reading.

Furthermore, a simple bit of brightness level adjustment on the photo shows some implausibly dark areas on the supposedly smoke-filled parts. Far darker than any other area of the picture.

This looks to me very much like a photoshop job.

Updated 2005-12-11 21:00: The BBC have updated their image to show the location of the depot, positioning it on the north side of the smoke-covered area. You'd think at this point that someone would notice that it's just implausible for the smoke to disperse over London yet travel in a narrow column down to Reading. It would also be good to know what the wind direction was at the time this photo was supposedly taken.

For posterity, I'm mirroring the images as they stood at 16:30 and at 20:45.

Updated 2005-12-11 23:00: Ilya Haykinson at Wikinews pointed me to the OSEI's image of the day which has made me reconsider. It looks like I misinterpreted the image and the smoke really did implausibly travel in a narrow column down to Reading. Oh well. My apologies if it turns out that I was wrong, and thanks to Ilya for challenging me on it.