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Lee Harvey Oswald's passport photo real or not?

John Butler

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9 hours ago, John Butler said:

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.   Photo%201957 a.jpg

Some things stand out to me about this photo. The neck looks way too thick, wide and long for the head, and the head/face appears too small. It looks like a head/face of a smaller size from another photo was superimposed. To me, it just looks out of proportion.

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Hey roger,

good call.  I never noticed the neck.  Once you point it out it is obvious.  

The oswald figure has a lop sided nose.  The left side is longer and the nare or nostril opening is larger than the right nare.  The left eye is smaller than the right eye.  The left jaw is larger than the right.  To me these exceed normal variation.

sorry for the one finger typing.  Am on the iPad.

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On ‎12‎/‎29‎/‎2016 at 7:56 AM, Tom Hume said:

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.



John, did you find a significant difference between the keystoned face in 133 and non keyed 133b? I think the width difference between backyard and mug shot may be too large to be caused by KS.

Note: I just tested it at about 12 degrees and found 9% reduction in width. So my guess was wrong, the keystoning causes enough of a change but wouldn't it narrow the face rather than widen it? The original discrepancy I saw was the backyard face is the wider of the one.

Regarding the reversing of the keystone effect by tilting it the other way, I think it would return the vanishing point to its original perspective. But once the width is shortened by the first keystone it would not be recovered by tilting the other side. It seems to me it would further reduce the width. So the register of height to width would be off. I'm thinking if you add KY to the vertical it would correct the height/width ratio but not the vanishing point. And if you add a reverse KY in the width it will fix the vanishing point but further distort the height/width ratio.
General info for the group: I don't remember who mentioned the shadow under the nose but I have tested the angle and the skeptics are correct. If you tilt your head to line up with the sun the shadow straightens out. So the strange angle is just due to his tilted head.

John, wow that sure is a fat neck on the chubby Oswald photo

Edited by Chris Bristow
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Photo Editing techniques

12/31/2016 9:54 AM

This will be my last post on this subject.  My intent was to show that you can still find things in the visual record of Dealey Plaza.  What you find will more than likely be controversial to other folk.  There are things out there that are being missed.  I’m going to move on to the Marie Muchmore film.

Jack White was beaten up when he suggested that the entire visual record in Dealey Plaza is tainted.  Whether that is true or not is debatable.  However, it makes a strong null hypothesis to test the visual record of Dealey Plaza.  Assume that what you are looking at is a fraud and try to find evidence to say it is otherwise. If you can’t find evidence to prove it authentic then conclude that it is false.  Remember, reasonable doubt is assumed with one fact that is contrary to many other related facts.

A good example of this is that you can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that anyone fired a rifle from the sniper’s nest on the 6th floor of the TSBD.  I know this logic is ridiculous that if you can’t prove something beyond a reasonable doubt then it didn’t happen.  But, courts thrive and cases are settled on the principle of reasonable doubt.

Here is a list of things I have found in photo alteration by photo editors.  This is a rough list and I am still working on it.  I pass it on to you for your consideration.  I am sure you can add more.

Photo Editing techniques to disguise, distort, and otherwise create an illusion of reality

  • Only show the back of a person to the viewer to disguise the person

  • Remove an object or person from a photo

  • Insert an object or person into a photo

  • Disguise an object or person as something different

  • Size error in the placement of an object or person

  • Use readily noticeable or unusually dressed people as visual markers in the film or authenticators of other films

  • Disguise a person by using a face mask from another person, or some body part

  • Use two or more photos of different people to construct a composite person in a photo

  • Use two or more photos or films to construct a composite scene

  • Use different people to confuse and confound the reality of a scene by having different people doing the same thing at the same time in different films

  • Use the same people to suggest a different story by placing them in a different location

  • Use photo camera lens techniques such as magnifications, cropping,  distortions such as blurring, and others to distort or eliminate data in a scene

  • Use cropping of a photo to represent the photo taken

  • Use paint to change colors, paint in new appearances of objects and people, and otherwise distort or change the original into something different according to your storyline  

  • Retouching,  the use of paint or ink to modify an image or smooth the insertion of an object of person

  • Use airbrushed black paint to obscure a scene, a light coat simply darkens a scene

  • Insert a person or object to cover of block what would have shown in that frame

  • Seize the original photo or film and substitute an alternative or modified deception

  • In films alter time or sequence by deleting frames, or adding frames, or substituting frames.

  • Create frame gaps in a film to use the material from the gap in other parts of the film

  • Create frame gaps to hide what occurred in those frames

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Just spitballing here...

Clearly there are ways to 'fake' images! John, you have already stated many ways that it could be done. The fact that it can be done is not in doubt. How many images recently of celebrities have been 'outed' as being 'airbrushed' to hide 'blemishes' etc. In such cases the fact that the image has been changed by your definition it has been done to "disguise, distort, and otherwise create an illusion of reality". Is it thus misleading? Yes. Is it suspicious, or hiding something sinister? No...

Extending that thought further... there are many instances where the media has altered images for reasons that are not sinister! The famous photo of the Kent State Shootings for example, where a pole was edited out before publication - the thought being that, because the pole looked like it was coming straight out of a person in the foreground's head - it made the photo aesthetically better. There's a case of a photo being (by definition) faked, but not with sinister motives. (* As an aside, perhaps in such examples the word fake isn't the best to use because it does carry certain connotations imho).

In reference to the famous Backyard Photos of LHO - when printed on the front cover of Life magazine the scope is shown on the rifle, but when the same was printed simultaneously on the front cover of the Detroit Free Press the scope had gone. (No contentions on my part on why that was).

When it comes to the assassination of JFK and any photos/videos/images etc associated directly with the case, one thing to keep in mind is that a lot of it is not 'first generation' copies and that can be an issue. Another thing to keep in mind is that the scrutiny of said photos/videos/images etc is higher because of (imo) two things. 1) There was no trial of Oswald, and thus no 'legal' resolution either way in that regard and 2) Oswald saying the BY photo was faked... (So much more could be said here but thought it best to keep it overly simple). So with Oswald saying those photos were faked and also saying that he didn't shoot anyone that day - and throw in to the mix that witness statements about everything that went on that day don't all match... what are we left with? More scrutiny is needed of the visual record of the day.

As we know, people can view the same thing and see different things. Sure, some people can lie about what they have seen, but more than likely people can just be plain mistaken - the visual record then takes on more of an important role. It is impossible to reconcile everything that every witness has said. Also it has to be said that even the most credible of witnesses can still be mistaken on something and a less credible witness might be correct. In theory the visual record should go some way to clearing up problems with differences in witnesses.

That's not the case though!

As I said, just spitballing there. ;)

1 hour ago, John Butler said:

Assume that what you are looking at is a fraud and try to find evidence to say it is otherwise. If you can’t find evidence to prove it authentic then conclude that it is false.  Remember, reasonable doubt is assumed with one fact that is contrary to many other related facts.

I read that a few times and I think you might have meant something different to how I read it. Can you clarify that what is should say is. "Assume that what you are looking at is a fraid and try to find evidence to say it is. Otherwise, if you can't find evidence to prove it authentic..." Slight difference but makes a difference? ;)


P.S. on the subject of Jack White. Yesterday I managed to pick up the book Muder In Dealy Plaza What WeKnow Now That We Didn't  Know Then... inside is a 16 page 'Insert' about some of the work Jack White did on some of the photos. Haven't had a chance to delve too much in to it yet but I am interested in it (even though I am very sceptical about such alterations really).

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