Forensic Photoshoping

Started by Randy Stebbing on Thursday, December 9, 2010


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12/9/2010 at 10:53 AM

Hyrum Smith

Also there are some cases where scientists and historians create rather convincing photos where the person pre-dated or didn't actually sit for the photograph. These historians and artists use death masks, paintings, period clothing ect. to attempt to get as close as possible to a likeness. Consider this "photograph" of early Mormon leader Hyrum Smith who was the brother of church founder Joseph Smith, Jr. Hyrum's picture has photoshoped together based on some research. The problem is that I originally came across the "photo" attached to his profile there was absolutely no indication that it is a re-enactment not a real photo. Suspicious that there was an actual photo of this person I did some google searches and found the web site that discussed it in some details.

So here is the comment that I added to the photo so that others would be aware of its particular "provenance".

"... Above is a composite photographic image of Hyrum Smith based on anatomical and historical data available after years of research..." [Which means that this is not an actual photograph of Hyrum Smith] See this web page for more info:


12/9/2010 at 11:19 AM

Excellent. A re-enactment has its own value -- as long as it's known as that.

12/9/2010 at 12:16 PM

I've seen how these death mask photos are made and the are very good in thier own right.
But as always a note or comment along with a link showing the ref should tell others that it was made from a death mask.
The one they did for Shakespeare was great (Discovery Channel) but they pointed out that there was no way to be sure that the death mask itself was that of Shakespeare. Yes, people counterfeit death masks too!
What a world we live in.

4/14/2012 at 4:42 AM

They are skilled these artists and as people are interested in historical persons they can make a fairly good copy of reality. But as they found in a Kings grave i Stockholm a couple of months ago: The burried king was not the king they had thought. They had som DNA and could compare.

The willingness to make history more "alive" to todays audience have made the historians make "wax cabinet"-dolls from old skeletons from viking time and even later as for the ships Vasa and Kronan found in the Baltic sea where they have been since ≈1650. The only thing we can say for sure is "The atmosphere in the museum becomes more alive and the era more understandable". We don't know the eye-, hair- or skincolour. The scandinavians is supposed to have been very blond with blue eyes. But we don't know.

There is soma death maska made from the corps of some kings and e.g. muscian Carl Michael Bellman. They are probably mor true than many portraits, which made the kings taller, more beautiful, hero alike etc.

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