Animal Inventory Blog

Keeping track of animals in popular culture.

Harmony between humans and animals created via Photoshop

Posted by lisagbrown on February 26, 2008


A scandal has arisen in China in which one of the winners of CCTV’s Top 10 News Photos of the Year (2007) has recently admitted to photo-shopping his picture. The artist, Liu Weiqiang, is a well-established and respected photographer who (before this incident) was the assistant director of photography at the Daqing Evening News.

Weiqiang’s winning photo is of the newly constructed Qinghai-Tibet Railway, a structure that has been marred in controversy over its potential impact on the migration patterns of the Tibetan antelope. In the artist’s photo (above), a pack of antelope is shown ambling beneath the behemoth structure, apparently unaware or unafraid of the train passing above.

The photo came under intense scrutiny when numerous bloggers noticed inconsistencies in the image. The photographer, who originally claimed to camp out for 8 days waiting for the perfect shot, has now admitted that he photo-shopped two separate photos to create the award-winning image. At first he defended the image claiming that it was not intended as a news photo. It was originally used as the poster image for the Kekexili nature preservation area with the intent, he claimed, of helping the antelope. Since the uproar, however, Weiqiang admitted his wrongdoing and resigned from his post at the Daqing Evening News.

The artist’s reasoning for falsifying the image remains unclear. However, protests and concern over the train’s impact on the environment perhaps created a need for propaganda material to dispel public outcry. At the very least, it can be said that the doctored image was born out of a divisive situation between environmentalists and urban expansionists. There was a need to prove, in some capacity, that human encroachment on this territory does not impact the existing flora and fauna. Before the photo was revealed as a fake, it certainly made an impression on the public. As Weiqiang said on the evening he accepted his award, “I want to be able to capture the harmony among the Tibetan antelopes, the train, men and nature on July 1, 2006. I want to express through this photograph that the earth belongs to everybody. Everybody wants to see harmony among men and animals.” Now, however, it is hard to say how this incident will influence debates over the harmony between the Qinghai-Tibet Railway and the Tibetan antelope.

Meanwhile, Weiqiang’s photo has been stripped of its winning title, and the impact of the structure on the antelope population remains unclear.

Sources and further reading:

Chinese Editor Resigns over Fake Tibet Photo (Yahoo)

Photoshop Helps Photographer Win Award (China Economic Review)

Interview Transcripts with Weiqiang(Shanghaiist)

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