March 15, 2006

"The jacket was charcoal, not maroon; the shirt was light blue, not pink..."

The NYT has quite a correction today:
The cover photograph in The Times Magazine on Sunday rendered colors incorrectly for the jacket, shirt and tie worn by Mark Warner, the former Virginia governor who is a possible candidate for the presidency. The jacket was charcoal, not maroon; the shirt was light blue, not pink; the tie was dark blue with stripes, not maroon.

The Times's policy rules out alteration of photographs that depict actual news scenes and, even in a contrived illustration, requires acknowledgment in a credit. In this case, the film that was used can cause colors to shift, and the processing altered them further; the change escaped notice because of a misunderstanding by the editors.
Here's the original article with a tiny version of the photograph. (Today's correction is preserved there.) I've got the original magazine in front of me, and I can tell you the depiction of Warner is simply horrifying. When I first saw it, I was mesmerized by how they made him so unattractive, so ridiculous. I was fixated on the big Chiclet-teeth and didn't notice the jacket was maroon and the shirt pink. The effect of those things was purely subliminal. But making a man's blue shirt pink? Why do that? In the hope of reaching some unguarded, homophobic part of the reader's mind? Maroon jacket? No competent politician would ever wear a maroon jacket! You're reaching into our heads and making us think he's weird and untrustworthy.

There's still no explanation of how they got his whole face to look so bizarre. Here's how people who like him present him.

UPDATE: The Anchoress blames Warner:
[H]e should have known better. The New York Times Magazine has madea habit of putting deplorable, awful, really cheesy pictures on its front cover when it comes to two sorts of people: Any Republican, and Anyone Who Might Run Against a Clinton.

But isn't the article pretty positive? And doesn't the NYT Magazine routinely publish strange photographs of celebrities' faces? It wasn't long ago that they made George Clooney look like an alien! Here's something I wrote in the comments to this post:
I think someone over at the magazine just believes in anti-flattery for the celebrities that other magazines cater to. I think they want to make us laugh [at] and not fawn over the big shots. It's like caricature, but done with photography.


Balfegor said...

But making a man's blue shirt pink? Why do that? In the hope of reaching some unguarded, homophobic part of the reader's mind? Maroon jacket? No competent politician would ever wear a maroon jacket! You're reaching into our heads and making us think he's weird and untrustworthy.

Hey, I am fond of pink shirts. But setting that aside, the effect is horrible for a politician. I don't think it makes him look gay, but it does look awfully familiar. It looks like a photo from the 60's or something, the way the colours appear oversaturated. Actually, it looks like a Christmas photo from the 60's -- I'm sure I've seen something like it on one of those Christmas albums featuring singers from the 50's or so singing the classics, dressed in holiday colours. Since I not infrequently amuse myself by altering the saturation and hue on photographs, I suspect someone was just having fun with photoshop and saved their alterations on the master copy accidentally.

bearbee said...

Maroon polyester jackets, pink shirts and white belts.....ugh.....

Nothing homophobic, just bad taste.

Bruce Hayden said...

I can see why some might be worried about him running for president. He is good looking, articulate, and the former governor of a red state. In short, one of the best the Democrats have to offer in 2008.

Dave said...

Pink shirts do not make men look gay.

Sean said...

Warner was described to me by a supporter as "the anti-Hillary," which I fancy is sufficient explanation for the Times's printing of unattractive, doctored photographs.

Goesh said...

I still remember a girlfriend in high school having a fit because I had a shirt with some pink color on it. I thought I looked rather sporty.

Madison Guy said...

The NYT’s explanation is wonderfully bizarre. Film doesn’t make colors shift. Accidentally using film balanced for the wrong light source would, but it’s hard to imagine a pro shooting an NYT cover making such a mistake — or turning in his work if he did. The NYT neither blames the photographer nor exonerates him. Nor does it even mention the electronic image editing process that is part of preparing a photograph for print production. Weird. And what kind of “misunderstanding” were the editors suffering from? Wonder what the real story is.

Freeman Hunt said...

That's awful. They made him look very sleazy. There's no way that that was an accident. In our marketing department, we have to manipulate images all the time, and nothing like that has ever accidentally come about. That would take some doing. Terrible.

shake-and-bake said...

My reaction when I saw the cover Sunday morning was: the NYT has gone out of its way to deliberately make this man look demented. It isn't a picture, it's a hideous caricature. And it has little, if anything, to do with pink shirts and gayness. I don't know enough about the man to like or dislike him, but I have seen enough pics to know this was a photographic hatchet job, presumably for the benefit of Hillary.

AllenS said...

Ann, do you mean Chicklet-teeth, instead of Chicket-teeth?

MrsWhatsit said...

Notice the careful language -- "the film that was used can cause colors to shift" -- well, in this case, did the film cause the shift, or didn't it? The statement manages to avoid telling us. And again, check out the passive construction of "the processing altered them further." Well, okay, what processing, exactly? Who carried out this processing? Weas the processing intended to cause the color change, or not? Again, no answers.

My guess is that somebody played with the color of the overall shot in order to dramatize the shadows on his face and accentuate that scary-goofy expression. I'll bet the change in the color of his clothing was the unintentional result of that "processing." Did they think that Mr. Warner wouldn't notice??

MrsWhatsit said...

Oops. "Was," not "weas." The typing that was used to create the previous comment can cause letters to shift, and the processing altered them further.

That's my explanation, and I'm sticking to it!

AlbieNYC said...

The NYT altering reality? And failing to 'fess up when caught? I'm shocked, shocked.

chezDiva said...

I think the NY Times is full of themselves with regards to the color problem.

I found this website with photos that Alexei Hay took during the shoot - the colors look fine.

NY Times photoshopped this one and expects us to believe it.

I wonder just how much this creative license depicting Warner in a very bad light is as a result of the NY Times "secretly or subliminally" supporting Sen. Hillary Clinton?

Also note the political button on the left side of the Warner image it reads the Anti-Hillary.

Menlo Bob said...

The photographer is Alexei Hay. I found an article about Alexei online which seems to indicate that this didn't amount to a confusion about film--film confusion would be spotted prior to publication. Photographer selection was the issue. The Times would rather you believe it was someone else's fault when they could have easily adjusted colors in Photoshop.

The article:
"Maybe that's why the best of his work, though extremely polished, still feels real: frisky, funny, a little fucked-up.

Hay's realism--like that of his peers--is frankly fake, involving heightened theatrical effects that draw on both photojournalistic and Hollywood conventions...But he's up to something else, too, something nastier and nervier and brashly comic.
Even if he sympathizes with the young men and women in his photos, he's more interested in seeing their messy stories play themselves out than in identifying with his subjects or protecting them.

Boys, lost or otherwise, are Hay's strength...He understands masculine aggression and vulnerability, brutality and grace--or at least he's trying to."

AJ Lynch said...

The NYT must have too much time on their hands if they stop to photoshop pictures.

But since his appearance is the topic here, I will opine I think Warner is always a bit goofy-looking especially those Chicklet-sized teeth (apt tag, Ann!)

And there is a "too earnest" thing about him too. Like he's trying way to hard for the part.

Drew W said...

Since I would love (in futility, perhaps) for a centrist Dem to be the 2008 nominee, I actually trudged all the way through Matt Bai's Mark Warner story. I hadn't thought much about why that cover shot unnerved me, but I realize now that it did. And it had nothing to do with the doctored colors of Warner's suit. It was that I-just-ate-your-schnauzer-and-now-I'm-coming-after-you expression on his face, coupled with the effect of him looming toward you like a balloon in the Macy's parade.

Scarier still? Donna Brazile's contention towards the end of the article that Al Gore could still be a viable candidate in '08.

Bai's reaction: It's true that Gore has been a fiery critic of Bush in recent months, but former advisers who still talk to him say he seems genuinely uninterested.

If Gore took a minute to watch some of those off-his-meds speeches he was giving a year or two ago, no doubt "genuinely uninterested" would seem the safest way for him to be.

MadisonMan said...

This is pedantic, but it has to be said: There is no K in Chiclet! Chicle is the gum from a South American tree that is used to make, well, gum.

I really need a nice Spring day.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks for the alert on my especially misspelled Chiclet. Will correct.

Sean: On the cover itself there is a big white circle with the words "THE ANTI-HILLARY?" So they weren't hiding that. I certainly got the impression that they were trying to fight off her challenger.


I haven't read the (very long) article, but I think it's quite positive, so let's not over-impute things to the Times. Quite recently they had a completely bizarre picture of George Clooney on the cover. I think someone over at the magazine just believes in anti-flattery for the celebrities that other magazines cater to. I think they want to make us laugh and not fawn over the big shots. It's like caricature, but done with photography.

MrsWhatsit said..."Oops. "Was," not "weas." The typing that was used to create the previous comment can cause letters to shift, and the processing altered them further."


tdocer said...

It's Dick Nixon!

I live in Virginia and hence am very familiar with Mark Warner's visage. That's quite a hatchet job.

Ricardo said...

Two principles are at work here: (1) retractions and corrections never quite manage to undo the damage caused by the original article, and (2) any publicity is good publicity, for someone seeking exposure. Which principle will prevail, in this case?

Lou Minatti said...

The New York Times. Aren't they the newspaper that used to be considered an important source of information, but now considered irrelevant by a growing number of people?

Yes, I think it is the same newspaper.

SWBarns said...

Are Ron Burgundy fans a major demographic?

mgarbowski said...

Until I saw this post, I thought that cover image was a hand-drawn caricature. Hideous, those teeth. I kept the magazing face down all weekend, it was that painful to look at.

Sanjay said...

Making a totally unjustified stereotyping comment -- no, it's not about homophobia, Jesus, no man dressed that terribly can be gay.

It's more a retro-lounge-lizard look, no>

Truly said...

Warner's picture is horribly unflattering. You can see his pores (horrors!) and the teeth look like cheap veneers. I hope he didn't pay good money for that.

The earlier Clooney photo, as I recall, had him looking like a cat. That wasn't so unfortunate as it was frightening. I wonder if Mr. Clooney had words with anyone at the NYT, as he did with the Huffington Post people.

Coco said...

"The New York Times. Aren't they the newspaper that used to be considered an important source of information, but now considered irrelevant by a growing number of people?

Yes, I think it is the same newspaper."

Well I'm not sure who these people are. I know a lot of people don't like the New York Times becuase they don't like the paper politically, but I can't imagine how anyone could objectively consider that paper irrelevant, especially recently given the number of key national stories in which the NYT has been front and center. It may not be a paper whose worldview agrees with mine but the NYT is certainly not irelevant.

michael a litscher said...

I'm calling B.S., too.

I downloaded the larger version of this picture and a few things jumped out at me. The first is, of course, the color, which is way off.

The second is the "The Anti-Hillary" button, which isn't a button at all - it's photoshopped in. How do I know? Well, that "button" is positioned in a very odd place on top of his shoulder. In that position, it would be pointing up, so it should appear oval from the perspective of the camera. But it doesn't appear oval, it appears perfectly round. Furthermore, the white portion of the button is white, not pink-ish - it's the only part of the photograph where the colors haven't been "adjusted."

Third is the harsh lighting, which is detectable due to the clear shadow of his nose on his cheek. Most portraits, when shot to flatter the subject, are lit with a soft-box, which diffuses the light, and softens the shadows. Harsh single-point lighting, as seen in this picture, will highlight every wrinkle and imperfection in the skin.

Fourth is the position of the lighting, which in this case is called Rembrandt Lighting, where the light is far to the subjects right-hand side, casting a very long nose shadow. Most portraits today are shot with the nose shadow much shorter, so they form a small triangle under the eye.

And fifth is the choice of lense, which in this case was a wide-angle lense. The use of a wide-angle lense exaggerates the size of whatever is closest to the lense, in this case his nose, and his face, making his shoulders look narrow and small. Most portraiture is done using longer lenses to avoid this exaggerating caricature effect.

I'm an amateur photographer, and even I can spot all the intentional mistakes made in this photograph by this "pro." Clearly, everything was done to make this portrait as unflattering to the subject as possible.

Balfegor said...

It may not be a paper whose worldview agrees with mine but the NYT is certainly not irelevant.

No, but what it says no longer carries anything like the weight it once did -- even in the US, I think the Washington Post has surpassed the NYT as the "paper of record" insofar as there is such a thing any more. And that's not very far, I'd venture.

News weeklies, like Time and Newsweek probably have more impact on public opinion as a whole, I'd guess. Network news, definitely. Possibly even Cable news. In five years, maybe Blogs will be up there too -- I think they already may have surpassed the influence of the Times in a few areas (e.g. Jeff Jarvis's mad yet apparently successful crusade against Dell).

The Times, even in the set of major US newspapers, has also suffered special humiliations that few other papers have had to undergo in recent years. There were the fake news-stories, and the revelation that people didn't complain about obviously fake news stories because they didn't expect newspapers to write the truth anyway. There was Howell Raines bizarre (and unsuccessful) obsession with a small private golf course that wouldn't let women in. There was the whole Judith Miller affair. And the Times has, in each of these cases, become the butt of peoples' jokes on TV, in print, and in everyday conversation. Most recently (that I recall) the joke was the NYT's hysterical claim that talks in Iraq were in ruins over the mosque bombing, only to backtrack the next day, when talks resumed.

Now, maybe other papers have had this constant drumbeat of failure and reverse. Maybe we only hear about the Times because conservatives play it up out of Schadenfreude, and the Times' rivals play it up in the hopes they can capture more market share.

But whatever the reason, I think the NYT is seriously damaged goods now. Not yet irrelevant. Not yet the LA Times. But headed that way.

Faeless said...

He looks like Nixon in that photo. That was my initial reaction.

The smile, the retro (fake) button. He looks like a politician which is probably part of the effort.

AJ Lynch said...


I agree with your positioning of the NYT. It's still the biggest ship of its type but taking on a lotta water. And is no longer acknowledged as the best for its ambitious/ creative crew, nor cooking the best meals nor putting on the best shows.

Bruce Hayden said...

As to the NYT, Raines was mentioned, but not how he, as well as Boyd resigned over the Jayson Blair affair.

I agree that the Gray Lady is sinking, and as a result, WaPo is taking its place as the paper of record. Times Select doesn't help, esp. when the WaPo isn't following suit. Plus, all of the self-inflicted damage that they have incurred over the last couple of years.

The Washington Post is liberal, just not nearly as nakedly partisan as the NYT. And I think that that is paying off for them. I just don't see the naked spin and news supression at the WaPo as I do at the NYT. Sometimes, the Post actually goes after Democrats. Imagine that.

The problem with the NYT is that most of us don't believe that this photo was an accident. They have just too much of a history since Bush was elected President in spinning the news, photoshopping photos, etc. to be taken seriously or at their word.

amba said...

I think Warner really looks like that. I saw a long Sunday morning interview with him a month or two ago, and I found his appearance painful. He looked like a rickety, ingratiating caricature of Bobby Kennedy. Like any guy who has hair and teeth gets political ambitions. Also I found him the frustrating, careful, both-sides-cancel-out kind of moderate.

amba said...

cont'd As Democrats go, I am preferring (to my own surprise) Wes Clark. But mainly, I just want someone I can vote for, in one party or the other. Rice, McCain, Giuliani, Graham (not that I've heard he's running; if he were, he'd top my list), Clark, even Biden. Please, not Hillary. Please don't make me choose between her and Bill Frist. Or George Allen.

Johnny Nucleo said...

They really made Mark Warner (who I never heard of) look like a freak. But I'm cool with that because I want Condi or Rudy.

Please note: I have nothing against people with large teeth. Some of my best friends have large teeth. In fact, Condi and Rudy have large teeth.

Seven Years of College Down the Drain said...

Jeez. All it takes to make George Clooney look like an alien is a pair of Roddy Piper's sunglasses.

hygate said...

I'm suprised any pro photographers are still using film. The trend is very much towards professional digital cameras in the $5000 - $10,000 dollar range. Oh, and the shirt's color would have been salmon, not pink.

Menlo Bob said...

I'm a photographer who has worked for a lot of national magazines. There are no rules about what a photo should look like. It should be interesting. Many photographers market themselves on a particular style that plays with conventions of the craft. Some still use film because they prefer to do so. I believe the photographer was assigned based on his style. There was no mistake with the film or processing--just different.

I don't think it is the responsiblility of the photographer or the magazine to make people look good or look bad. In the editorial world--working for the magazine--a photographer's responsibility is to the person paying for the shoot. People in powerful positions can either go along or seek approval for the photographer. The New York Times should have made this clear and not issued misleading corrections.