Jump to content
The Education Forum

Lee Harvey Oswald's passport photo real or not?

John Butler

Recommended Posts

he following photo of Lee Oswald is a composite photo.  This is my reasoning.

First off the eyes are mismatched in a way that is not found in humans.  One eye, the left (photo right) is set lower in his skull than the other.  This is not a human condition.  In any skull you look at you will see that the eyes sockets are level and on a horizontal plane with each other.  This is the normal human condition.

You can also see the eyes are mismatched by looking at the two black lines lettered A.  The right eye’s (photo left) center is level with the top of the figure’s right ear.  The left eye (photo right) is not.  The black line run’s from the bottom of the left eye to the top of the left ear.  This indicates two photos were used to make this face.  The face of whoever is below is covered with a face mask that doesn’t match correctly.  One eye, the left, and the left ear are lower than the others on the right side.  They are not on the same plane. 

Well, one would guess if you were a clever then you could say his head is tilted.

The level of the eyes in relation to the ears does not change when the head is tilted right or left.  They remain on the same plane.  The level of the eyes and ears change if the head is tilted forward or backward.  If the head is tilted downward the ears appear to move upward from the level of the eyes.  If the head is titled upward the ears appear to move downward from the level plane of the eyes.

The right and left unlettered red arrows point out to you that this person has a face mask applied to this photo.  Applying a face mask to a figure in a photo is a standard photo editing technique to disguise or change the appearance of someone.  At least in those days, that appears to be true.  Who is this below the face mask?    

Once this has been pointed out you should be able to see the different coloration or different light reflection in the forehead area near the hairlines.  This different coloration continues down the face until it is lost in the shadows of the jaw line.  There are noticeable lines on the side of the face in this area indicating a cut out face from another photo was used. The red lines marked X, at the bottom of the Oswald figures jaw point to a suspiciously dark shadow under the jaw that really doesn’t reflect the rest of the lighting and shading in the photo.  This is an area of paint applied to shape the Oswald figure’s jaw to match the real Oswald’s jaw which is narrower than this figures.   If you look closely the figures left (photo right) jawbone is bigger and wider than the right (photo left)

These are mistakes a portrait artist would not make.  If you are a photo editor and not an artist you could make these mistakes.  Well, does it matter now?  Probably not!  The average person will never see these mistakes and that allows the photo editor, in some cases, wide latitude to make small mistakes in their editing.  As far as I know no one has pointed out any problems with this photo in over 50 years.

What is the consequence of this composite passport photo?  The consequence is that Lee Oswald (Harvey) is being set up to be the patsy.  And, this was one step discussed here taking him in that direction in late September, 1963.  An Oswald double made the trip to Mexico.  Lee Oswald (Harvey) did not make the trip to Mexixo.  Obviously, the Oswald double did not look sufficiently like Lee Oswald (Harvey) and this passport photo had to be readjusted after its use in Mexico and subsequent return to the U.S. of the Oswald double.  There are no photos of Lee Harvey Oswald in Mexico.

Remember, there is a well laid trail of Oswald going to Mexico and then a well laid trail of Oswald coming back from Mexico from about Sept. 24-25, 1963 to Oct. 3, 1963.  There are no photos of who traveled by bus to Mexico and back.  To identify who is Oswald was one would have to rely on witness descriptions which probably would not be that exact.






Edited by John Butler
save space
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi John (from one new member to another, welcome :) )

A very interesting thought process you have made there.

Just had a look at the list of Warren Commission Exhibits at number 2788 listed as ' Photograph of Lee Harvey Oswald taken after his return from Russia in late September 1963 (FBI item 451-4). ' Same photo, different condition.

I took that image and drew a line from top of ear to top of ear and it lines up very well with both the 'inside' and 'outside' corners of both eyes...

oswald straight line through eyes.JPG

Seems quite normal to me to be honest.


Link to comment
Share on other sites


Thanks for replying.  What do you think of the notion the Oswald figure has a face mask applied?  There is also another anomaly.  The Oswald figure appears to have his shoulder amputated.  Many of the things seen in the visual record of Oswald are hard to interpret.  Their are other examples of the use of face masks.  That is one persons face superimposed on another persons face to disguise the person.  The New Orleans pamphlet scenes are a good example.  Your comments are appreciated. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 hours ago, John Butler said:

Many of the things seen in the visual record of Oswald are hard to interpret...

Never a truer word spoke. ;)

Hopefully this won't sound like I'm being too obtuse here but I don't feel I can really answer directly your question about the face mask having been applied. I just don't know and don't have enough direct expertise to agree or refute it...

... Just from looking at the photo you posted compared to the one I posted, to me, it looks like the first one is a 'bad' copy with lots of 'artifacts' on it that may make any photo analysis that much harder to definitively answer (one way or another).

Setting that aside, going on the assumption that it is a composite, I presume that you are of the opinion that it is a 'real' photo of an 'Oswald double' that has been altered with a 'face mask' to make it look more like the 'real Oswald?


Link to comment
Share on other sites

John, regarding the level of the eyes I have to tell you there are a few mistakes. As an Optician I have measured over 20,000 patients pupillary distance as well as the difference in relative height between the eyes. When a patient has one eye that is 3mm or more lower than the other we may compensate by lowering the bifocal in that eye. People do have uneven eyes.
A persons ears do not always line up relative to the eyes, they can be unequal.  In this case though his left ear will rise up to closely match the other side if you rotate your photo about 3+ degrees to the left. Here is the mug shot photo and backyard photo rotated to vertical for comparison. The uneven eyes in the passport photo are also due to his tilted head. If you rotate your photo it will correct the uneven eye and ears. My best measurement shows his right eye sits 1mm farther out and 1mm or less down. His pupillary distance should be about 34/33
If you want a related puzzle to consider, the mug shot and backyard photos cannot be matched in both the vertical and horizontal dimensions at the same time without distorting one of the photos. The backyard image has a much wider face. You will notice in the photos below the distance between the ears matches within 3% but the vertical dimension is way off.



Edited by Chris Bristow
Link to comment
Share on other sites

You might want to take a look at this photo here:


Yes, this is a woman with makeup and without, but the point is people do and can look different in different photo settings.

A mask? Yikes, we're now getting into "no moon landing" territory here. Let's try to be plausible and realistic here.  Thank you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Michael, I protest! There is no way whatsoever those two woman are the same (if indeed they are in fact woman at all) the one on the left does not have her ears pierced whilst the one on the right is wearing earrings. I call shenanigans on this photo and state unequivicoally that they have been faked. (of course I'm kidding entirely ;) )

Back to the topic of the thread, I think there is much to be said about the 'quality' of the image too. I would say that the image in the first post looks like a bad copy (or a copy of a copy, or a copy of a copy of a copy) of the same image I posted which negates any 'correct' analysis of it in the first place. The lines that are in the photo in the first poto that led to John believing it was a face mask could just as easily be an 'artifact' of something from the 'copying' of the photo.

Oh yes people do and can look different in different photo settings; I was going to use a couple of old photos of me to show that, but your example was much more pleasing on the eye.


Edited by Alistair Briggs
adding text to clarify position
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks folks for replying and sharing your thoughts.  My idea is working.  I am getting wiser heads to look at a difficult problem.  I chose this photo because it is a difficult photo to interpret.  No one has yet addressed the amputated left shoulder.  The missing shoulder says this is a composite fraud.  It is the first thing I noticed about the photo.  The lines of the face mask could be camera artifacts but, it is hard to explain the differences in lighting in such a small area as one side of the line as versus the other on both sides of the face.  The right side of the Oswald figure's head in the hair has straight cut lines.  The human form does not have any straight lines anywhere.

 I would first like to address Mr. Bristow's comments.  That's going to be a longer post than I want.

Once again I appreciate your comments.  If you find errors in spelling or grammar mistakes it is generally due to Agent Orange diabetes and neuropathy.  My fingers don't feel the keys on the keyboard.  Other than that it is due to aging senility.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi John,


I agree that Oswald's left shoulder in your example at the top looks mighty weird.


Hi Chris,


In the pair of Oswald head-shots you posted, the backyard photo on the right, CE133A, exhibits quite a bit of keystone, which has the effect of widening the face. The same is true for 133C, but interestingly, CE133B shows no keystoning. 


Not being handy with Photoshop, I removed the keystone in the version below by tilting my monitor 11 degrees and photographing it. I wonder if your two faces would line up better if you first photoshopped out the keystone.


Edited by Tom Hume
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you so much Mr. Bristow for your excellent comments.  Your explanation of the eye issue has been a great help.  When I first started looking at this photo something perceptually wrong with the eyes went on my “artistic radar” and the “eye of the artist” said there is something wrong here.  I am aware of the normal variation in the human form and that one side of the face is generally larger than the other.  There’s variation in all facial structures.  To me, the variation in the eyes seemed greater than normal variation.  One eye socket seems noticeably lower than the other at the level of the skull.  Generally, this is not true.  There are minor variations. 

There is another problem here.

People believe what they see in a photo as being the best copy of reality.  That comes from our experience taking photos.  We know what we see in that photo is real.  This transfers to looking at other photos sometimes without our thinking about it.  So, we accept what we see.  This is the best explanation I can come up with that explains why people miss things in photos that have been available for over 50 years.

It could be I reading too much anthropology.  Anatomists studying fossil bones make and claim great changes in function over minute changes in structure.  Enough to name different species based on these minute changes that other folk probably would not see or consider.  Here’s an example.  About 10 years ago a revolutionary fossil, Homo Floresiensis, was found.  A great deal of controversy evolved over whether this fossil was modern (diseased) human, primitive human, or an ape.  One particular study involved the small bones of the hand, I think there are 8 or 9 bones just below the wrist.  The bones shown in this article were the bones of humans, apes, and Homo Floresiensis.  Frankly, in their illustrations and photos I couldn’t see the differences.

Mr. Bristow your explanation is wonderful and is probably correct but, being an ornery fellow I am not conceding the point at this point.  I’m going to post another photo.  This is one that Jack White called the chubby faced marine Oswald.  No one not even Jack has noticed things wrong with this photo.  He may not have thought he needed to since he was talking about composite photos at the time.  To me this photo is clearly a fraud due to greater than normal variation.   

Perception has to do with what the eye is trained to see. 

Can you see anything wrong with the following.   

Edited by John Butler
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Tom and Chris,

The Warren Commission and The House Select Committee on Assassinations validated the backyard photos as true and real.  Robert Groden and Jack White were beat up at the committee hearings as not being photo experts or photogramatists and their work was dismissed.

They didn’t go in for the kill or as I suspect they were not allowed to.  The backyard photos are a complete and absolute fraud.  The proof is simple and is beyond reasonable doubt.  The proof is undeniable and irrefutable.

There are 3 light sources in the photo that appeared on the cover of Look magazine.  I’m using what’s called proper right.  That is the right side of the photo is the Oswald figure’s right side.

  1.  The shadows from the steps are cast from right to left.  The sun is on the right.

  2.  The Oswald figure’s shadow is cast from left to right.  The sun is on the left.

  3.  The triangular shadow under the Oswald figure’s nose is cast from overhead.  The sun is over head.

You can’t have 3 suns overhead at the same time in Dallas, Tx expressed in one photo.  This is the good old earth not the Predator’s hunting planet.

This doesn’t have a lot to do with what you guys are discussing and I am sorry for interrupting.  But, I wanted to get this in somewhere in a post.  This is part of the greatest fraud in Dealey Plaza.  It’s part of what I call the Zapruder paradigm.  If you are interested I can post a definition of sorts.  Once again sorry for interrupting. 






Edited by John Butler
save space
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, of course the shadows in the backyard photos have always been controversial. Andrej Stancak is a very busy guy, but the last I heard, he was working on a 3-D model of the Neely Street backyard. This might lead to a definitive rendering of where all the shadows should have fallen if the photos were legit.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When it comes to looking at any photos of Oswald I always take a keen interest in what people posit about them. It's fascinating sometimes to see different points of views and different perspectives from different people on differing sides of the 'debate' as to whether they are or aren't faked/altered/changed etc. I do sometimes wonder though if there is a tendency to 'over-think' the issue - almost like because there is a 'suspicion' that one may be faked it leaves other photos in a position that they are more open to scrutiny, and the more they are scrutinesed the more 'unusual' things are found in the photos and those things may be unusual things but they may be normal unusual things that may appear in photos anyway but because they happen to be found on photos of Oswald, and because there is a thought that photos of Oswald may be faked then unusual things are 'highlighted' more and are held up as being evidence of the photo being faked because that is what they may look like...

(*that might make more sense in my head, than it reads!)

My thinking at this moment  is that there are only two things that have raised any speculation about any image of Oswald, and both are in relation to the Backyard Photos. The first is that Oswald, on being shown one of them by Captain Fritz, claimed it was a faked photo. The second is the fact that the same Backyard Photo published simultaneously on the front cover of Life magazine and the Detroit Free Press had one major difference; the former had the 'scope' on the rifle, the latter didn't! Both of those things, I think, were the underlying reason why there was any doubt in the first place about the Backyard Photos, and by extension, every photo of Oswald...

...  on the subject of Oswald's claim that the photo he was shown was faked, here is what is written in Vincent Bugliosi's Four Days In November... Captain Fritz has asked Oswald again about whether or not he has ever owned a gun, Oswald says he has never owned a gun, then Fritz shows Oswald an 8 by 10 inch black and white photograph (the BYP) and asks Oswald to explain it...


"I'm not going to make any comment about that without the advice of an attorney,"Oswald replies smugly.
"Well, is that your face in the picture?" Fritz asks, pointing at the image.
"I won't even admit that," he sneers.
"That's not your face? Fritz asks, scarcely believing that Oswald would deny what is so obvious.
"No," Oswald says. "That's not even my face. That's a fake. I've been photographed a number of times since I got here - first by the police, and now every time I get dragged through the hallway. Someone has taken my picture and put my face on a different body."
"So that is your face?" Fritz asks.
Oswald answers quickly to cover his own contradiction.
"Yes, that's my face," he says. "but that's not my body. I know all about photography, I've worked with photography a long time. Someone has photographed me and then superimposed a rifle in my hand and a gun in my pocket. That's a picture that someone has made. I've never seen that picture before in my life."
Fritz lays the photograph on his desk.
"We found this photo in Mrs. Paine's garage, among your effects," Fritz tells him.
Oswald rolls his eyes toward the ceiling.
"That picture has never been in my possession," he snaps.
"Wait a minute," Fritz shoots back, "I'll show you one you probably have seen."
The Captain reaches back into the envelope and pulls out a small snap-shot, the original photograph used to produce the enlargement. He shows it to Oswald, who squirms.
"I never have seen that picture either," he says defiantly. "That picture's been reduced from the big one."
Fritz asks him how that's so, and Oswald gets in to a long argument with Fritz about his knowledge of photography, asking Fritz a number of times whether the smaller photograph was made from the larger or whether the larger was made from the smaller.
"We made this enlargement from the snapshot we found in the search," Fritz finally acknowledges.
"Well, I understand photography real well," Oswald says arrogantly, "and at the proper time I will show that they're fakes. Right now, I have nothing more to say about them."

Setting aside the way Bugliosi has written it almost as if it was a 'novel', and the how each thing was said ('smugly', 'sneers', 'squirms', arrogantly' etc) is open to debate... it does to me, perhaps, shine a different light on the subject of whether or not the BYP were faked.

What we have in that exchange isn't just Oswald claiming simply that the photo is a fake! At first he claims it isn't his face in the photo, then contradicts that by saying that it is his face on a different body, then seems to even contradict that by saying that someone has superimposed the rifle in my hand and the gun in my pocket. Also of some interest is that there is no mention of the newspapers in the hand either way! Something doesn't quite add up there in my opinion...

I offer all of that up just for consideration.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

John, I think you’re on to something with Lee’s tiny left shoulder in the image you posted, as Lee’s torso appears to be square to the camera. I’ve been resizing other pictures of Lee to match head-size and dragging my transparent image to overlay yours. Lee’s left shoulder appears to be four to six inches too narrow.


Maybe somebody that’s good with images (that’s not me) could give us a visual demonstration of this.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tom Hume, Thanks for the reply, The keystone effect may be the reason Oswald seems to be looking about one degree to the left. I have compared a photo were Oswald is looking 2 degrees left taken my own photos to conclude that if the face is rotated 2 degrees it has little effect. Question: I thought the keystone effect in this case was due to a horizontal tilt of the photo which would narrow the face instead of widen it?

John Butler, thanks for the reply, the photo you posted does look chubby. The problem for me is so many folks look very different after boot camp I expect them to beef up in the neck and face too. The other problem is fat makes it hard to find bone structure to measure. The eye position looks correct to me but it can't be measured to the mm. I will take a closer look. One thing you can see from his collar is that the camera was not straight in front of Oswald it was maybe one foot to the left of center. That will cause dimensional differences between his left and right side.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now
  • Create New...