Grand Canyon Idiot
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FAKE INTERNET PHOTOGRAPHY

GRAND CANYON IDIOT

Written by Rick Archer, May 2007
Story contributed by Gareld McEathron

I have obsessed over this picture ever since I first viewed it.  I hope it is a trick picture.  Unfortunately the shadows made by the dog and the people make this picture extremely believable... and therefore very sad. How can anybody be so stupid as to throw a frisbee and risk the life of a trusting dog?

However I remain suspicious of this picture for a simple reason - why were the three people next to the dog so completely oblivious to the danger?  And who would throw a frisbee in a canyon?  If a picture totally defies all common sense, chances are good there is something sneaky going on.   Therefore I think this picture is a fake.

Let me add that after a brief Internet Search, I found this picture as an entry in a 2005 contest to create a deliberately faked picture.    See for yourself.


Here were some of the comments on the fake frisbee dog picture:

JClark said - Not really, the bush looks like it could stop him. If that bush wasn't there...

HotChef said - now that's funny. . . . got to be the best out of some poor entries

Escape said - LOL! best work!

lalaland - could have been done better but the idea was priceless

godzillatemple said - Masking around edges of dog could be better, but a truly hilarious idea and generally well done!

jachang said - Funny! (Not for the dog...) Good entry.

 Penbender said - This is genius! Great idea and execution (no pun)

KiwiHarpoon said - this one made me laugh man, very novel idea.

Raindrop said - Something unique!

Bast said - That one is cool but the dog looks too blurry, especially his tail. :)

Mandirio said - Awwwww!!!! The dog's rear-end looks a little blurry, though. Otherwise, nice!

casey said - This is the funniest foto i've seen. Good job

 

A Sad Footnote to the story of the Grand Canyon Dog

On October 21, 2011, Kevin Kitchen wrote me to say that he had been forced to put his beloved heeler dog Ben to sleep due to cancer at age 9.  I could tell that Kevin was deep in grief.  Kevin obviously loved his dog deeply. 

Kevin and his wife Keri own a ranch in Pilot Hill, California.  Among other things, they breed dogs.

Ben, pictured on the right, was one of their prized Heeler dogs.  Apparently a heeler is an Australian cattle dog in the same tradition as the border collie in Scotland.   Ben is none other than the celebrated "Grand Canyon Dog".  Ben is dog seen leaping to his death.

Kevin wanted to assure me that the picture of Ben was definitely a fake.  Furthermore, Kevin explained that he himself had nothing to do with the infamous Grand Canyon picture. 

In his youth, Ben was quite an athlete, so they posted pictures of Ben leaping for a ball on Kevin's website.  Apparently someone noticed the picture of Ben on Kevin's website and used it to create the Grand Canyon picture. 

Kevin has no idea how Ben's picture came into use.  In his own words:
"
I have no idea who did that to our dog. I received word of it from a friend of a friend of a Ö They didnít even know our dog or our website."

Whoever borrowed the picture certainly did a good job.  As you can see, the ball was removed and replaced by a frisbee, plus Ben's body was rotated slightly. The picture was indeed effective in fooling countless of unsuspecting Internet viewers into thinking someone had cruelly sent a trusting dog to his death. 

It was nice of Kevin to contact me and clear up the mystery.  As a result of Kevin's thoughtfulness, Ben's memory will live on as the famous Grand Canyon dog taking the deadly leap of faith.  Thank goodness it was just a joke.  It is sad that Ben passed away, but at least we can remember him as one of the most famous dogs on the Internet.

   

Surely you have heard the saying, "Don't trust anything you read or see on the Internet." 

Thanks to modern computers and photoshop programs, it is actually fairly easy to create fake pictures using digital manipulation.

As one example, I do not believe this picture is real.  It was sent to me as a joke with the caption, "Can you find the hidden waterfall in this picture?"  I enjoy the joke, but assume it is a clear example of someone merging two completely different photos to make us laugh.

As I study the picture, the background and the foreground do not seem to agree.  It appears the woman has been "pasted" onto the waterfall background. 

Let me also say that given the silly context of the picture, this adds to the likelihood that someone has created a fake picture for the fun of it. 

Since no one is harmed, who cares?   As long as things are done in fun or for a good purpose, I have no problem with digital manipulation

Many people try to manipulate pictures for political reasons. 

However, this particular photograph just makes me grin.   I am also a little envious - so well done!

This is my favorite "fake picture" of all time.

Back Story:  When Images "Lie": Dancing with Sarah Palin and Barack Obama

In October 2008, at the height of the gear-up for the November presidential elections, Martin Rice, a Tampa Bay musician and graphic designer, vented his frustrations visually and digitally. He created an image of Barack Obama dancing with Sarah Palin, and captioned the pic with "unfortunately, this is what the country wants."

In September, approximately 52 million people watched the first debate between candidate John McCain and then-candidate Barack Obama. A few weeks later, 18 million people watched a single episode of Dancing with the Stars.

Rice sent the pic to a few friends. Within a week, the photo had been picked up by multiple new sources, including CNN and ABC, had been posted to more than 1000 blogs, and turned into an iPhone wallpaper. Within 2 weeks, a Google image search for "obama palin dancing" returned more than 1.5 million hits.

What are some of the dangers and powers of photo parody in a "viral" world -- that is, in a world where an image can become popular, downloaded, and reproduced on thousands of web sites within minutes? What are some of the dangers and powers of photo parody in making political statements?  source


Some people fake pictures to hurt people.  Take these Jane Fonda and John Kerry pictures.

 


These are not my words, but I definitely agree.  

"I donít care which side of the political coin you are on Ė fakes to this extent are just wrong.

They amount to nothing more than slanderous cheap shots by people who donít have the intelligence to debate the legitimate issues at hand. Just as candidates for public office should be questioned about their stances on the issues, so should imagery of them that gets passed around the internet. It is up to the public and news organizations to do the questioning on all fronts.

Merging Pictures

I personally have absolutely no artistic talent.  So I admire anyone who can. 

I am pleased to say I can take partial credit for creating the most famous "dance cruise" picture in the world.  I created the picture on the right... well, sort of. 

If you type "dance cruise" into Google, then click "images", my picture usually comes up on the first screen. Today - November 8 - it was the first picture listed.

For about 20 years, I subscribed to a graphic art service known as Dynamic Graphics.

The four pictures below were all sent to me in different issues.  The art service was very protective of the identity of their artists.  Therefore I have no idea the name of the man or woman who created three of these pictures, but I admire his work greatly.  Another artist whose work I admire greatly is Frank Fruzyna.  Frank created the picture of the senior citizens on the cruise ship that I used as the background for my "dance cruise" picture.  You can read about Frank here.

Keep in mind that I am an amateur.  If I can manipulate images this easily, a real pro can create something that you or I would never know was a fake.

   
   

I began creating fake pictures in the mid-2000s as a way to solve simple problems.  Whenever I finished  my various cruise trips, I enjoyed publishing pictures of the people who went on the trips with us.

What do you do when you try to create a close-up of a man who is 6' 7" and standing next t his 5 foot wife?  I have to back so far away to get them both in the picture that it is no longer a close up.

One simple answer is to raise the lady's head in the picture.  Now it becomes a close up.  As you can see with this picture of my friends Pat and Jess Carnes, that is exactly what I did.

I was in a bit of hurry and didn't disguise my work very well.  But I doubt that they minded.  Now their close-up was the same distance as my other pictures.  While I was at it, I solved another problem as well.

Can you see that the lighting on their faces is different?  Pat, who is an attractive woman, was frowning in the original.  So I simply found a second picture where she was smiling and combined the two.

I promise you it is not difficult to create fake pictures.  I create fake pictures myself all the time, but in the process I follow a personal credo to never do harm.

Here is a goofy picture from our 2008 cruise trip. 

On our 2008 Cruise, Steve Gabino gave me two pictures of him jumping.  So I combined the two pictures to make it appear he was jumping on top of his friends in the pool. 

An obvious fake, but who cares?


Let's say I have a group picture of 12 women.  Eleven are smiling and one has her eyes closed.  I simply find another picture where the same person has open eyes and paste it over their closed eyes.  Now I have created a picture that makes everybody look good.

In the picture above, Lori had her eyes closed.  I gave her open eyes.  This was a good job.  The only clue is that her eyes appear a little "sharper" than everyone else's.  Plus you can see she is looking at a slightly different angle than some of the other women.  If I hadn't pointed it out, no one would have ever noticed.

Again, a fake picture done as a good deed hurts no one and creates a better picture.  I see no harm in it.

Here is another example of my work.  Study these three pictures I took on my 2007 Hawaii trip.  That is my wife Marla plus my friends Denise and Jim Duncan

Marla

Denise

Jim

The four of us went on a waterfall tour on the Big Island in Hawaii. Our day ended with a dip in a pond.  There was one particular spot that served as the perfect launching pad.  All three people used that spot to go in one at a time.  I took an individual picture of each person.  All three pictures above are "real".

When I looked at the three pictures I took, I laughed at the similarity.  Then I decided to have some fun - I merged the three pictures.   The picture on the right is a complete fake.  However I took my time and tried to make it a perfect fake. Decide for yourself how well I did.

Pretty sneaky, huh?  My guess is you would never suspect my combination picture is fake if I hadn't told you ahead of time.  After all, there is no reason to "fake" such a simple moment. 

So what about the picture of Ben the dog jumping after a frisbee into the Grand Canyon? 

It certainly looked real, didn't it?   However, if an amateur like me can create a realistic picture like the one on the right,  I just know it would be very easy for me to create a similar dog jumping-to-oblivion picture if I put my mind to it. 

You can't believe anything you see on the Internet.  

Marla, Denise, Jim all in one merged picture.

 

THE GRAND CANYON IDIOT

Our next situation is a true story.  As you will see for yourself, the pictures you will see were definitely not doctored. 

This was labeled a case of "photographer photographs photographer". 

The following photographs were taken by a professional photographer named Hans van de Vorst at the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

Mr. van de Vorst was out on his own photo shoot when he witnessed a man taking a huge risk.  He swung his lens and took the amazing shots you are about to see.

The descriptions below are his own.  Let me add the identity of the photographer being photographed is unknown to me. 

 

Hans Van De Horst: "As I walked to the edge of the canyon to take my own pictures, I was simply stunned to discover this guy standing on this solitary rock high above the Grand Canyon.

The canyon's depth is 900 meters here. The rock on the right is next to the canyon.  At the moment, the man is safe, but his position seems precarious. 

Watching this guy on his thong sandals, with a camera and a tripod I asked myself 3 questions:

1. How did he climb that rock?
2. Why not take that sunset picture on that rock to the right, which is perfectly safe?
3. How will he get back?"

I found myself unable to move.  A morbid fascination came over me.  Was I about to witness a tragedy?  And should I do something to prevent it?" 

   

"I was not alone.  The man's folly had captured the attention of dozens of onlookers.  Now the sun completed its descent behind the canyon's horizon.  The man picked his gear and tucked it under his arm.

Having only one hand available, he prepared himself for the jump.  This took about 2 minutes. At that point he had the full attention of the crowd, most of whom had their hands covering their mouths with worry. 

I gasped.  He was actually going through with this!  I lifted my own camera and braced myself for whatever might happen.

He got a little running start and jumped on his thong sandals... The canyon's depth is 900 meters here." (900 meters is over half a mile)

   

"I estimated the gap between the rocks to be four feet apart.  After he jumped, for a moment, his body was suspended in flight. I could not help but gasp.  Nevertheless, I continued to take photos.

Now you can see that the adjacent rock is higher.  I had wondered if the jump down from the higher ledge was so easy that he didn't think about the jump BACK in the other direction. 

Unable to jump upwards, this man tried to land lower and use his one free hand to grab the rock.

I hoped he found something easy to grab.  The rock was quite steep. If he didn't get a good grip, he wasn't going to get a second chance."

   

"We've come to the end of this little story.  As you can see, he made it.  Amazing.

Look carefully at the photographer. He has a camera, a tripod and also a plastic bag, all on his shoulder or in his left hand. Only his right hand is available to grab the rock. Plus the weight of his stuff is a problem.

He lands low on his flip flops.  Both his right hand and right foot slips away... At that moment I take this shot.

He pushes his body against the rock. He waits for a few seconds, throws his stuff on the rock, climbs and walks away.

Some people should not be allowed out alone!"

   

Rick Archer's Note: I checked out this story on the Internet.  Van de Horst did indeed post these four photographs on the Internet at Flickr.com.  I found this information by googling 'Hans van de Vorst grand canyon'.  If you wish to learn more about this story, you should be able to do the same. 

However, there is a Twist to this story.  Remember the Rule:
You can't believe anything you see on the Internet.  

As I was writing this story, I had just added the suggestion how a reader could use Google to learn more about anything that seemed curious.  I was just about to publish this story and wrap it up.  But just before I hit the 'PUBLISH' button, I got a little more curious about this situation... so I decided to do some more research. 

If you are interested in what I found, just scroll down a bit.  You will be very amused. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
   

THE FOLLOW-UP TO THE STORY OF GRAND CANYON IDIOT

Before posting my story, I asked my wife Marla to take a look at the pictures of the Grand Canyon Idiot. 

Marla gasped.  Her first word was, 'Unbelievable!'

But then she got suspicious.  Marla said, "
No one in their right mind is going to risk a jump like that with thongs and one hand!  You need to dig a little deeper."

Taken aback by her admonishment, I decided to double-check.  So I went back and clicked a couple more sites that I had previously ignored. 

To my surprise, I found another picture of the exact same spot taken by someone else.  Unlike the Van de Horst pictures, the photo below came with some explanations.  From what I was able to gather, the rock formation is actually a very well-known spot in the Grand Canyon.

I found this picture on the Internet with the title Leap of Faith. 

So that's what we will call this spot.

What is odd about the picture is the presence of a young lady watching "the Leap" who isn't even fazed.  She doesn't bother to help or show much concern. 

I learned this particular jump has been tried many times. The leap creates spectacular pictures such as the one at right.  

It makes for a great picture indeed because it appears the consequence of failure is almost certain death.

But guess what?

There's a secret to this picture you will want to know about.

 

In reality, it turns out there is a wide ledge about eight feet below that is conveniently out of the camera's eye. 

Although a fall might result in some bruises, there is definitely not a 900 meter plunge to the bottom to fear. 

Below is a picture that will give you a distinctly different perspective.

 

Hmm, now this kind of changes things, doesn't it? 

Thanks to some more Internet search, I found the picture on the right of the same
Leap of Faith rock.  I'm not sure, but that shimmering gadget might be a tripod.  You don't suppose that is the same guy out there from the Van de Horst photos? This might be another picture of the same guy in the original photos. Same jeans, same tripod, same black hair. 

I had wondered why there weren't more Van de Horst pictures.  Why just four?  Because pictures like this one were conveniently omitted to keep the suspense alive.

So in the case of the foolhardy photographer, it seems our friend Mr. Van de Horst was having a little fun with us.   I think he played a joke on us. In fact, I think his buddy was in on it.

And I am glad they pulled it off.  It was a fun story.  Good April Fool's Joke.

In 2011, I was sent this photo of the "Leap of Faith" by Bill Whetstone. 

He and I both agreed that maybe this jump is a lot more insane than I first realized. 

I had not realized just how narrow that promontory was.

Yes, we now know there is a ledge below the leap, but that ledge is at most 10 feet wide. 

As "nets" go, one bad mistake on the jump due to a case of nerves and some could easily fall awkwardly to the ledge below and then on down to the canyon below.

In another, that Leap is still pretty risky.

 
   

THE INCREDIBLE CAR ACCIDENT

Talk about lucky!! 

Note that the truck is facing the wrong direction to the damaged barrier above. Traveling from the right side of this picture to left at a high speed, the driver lost control and hit the guard rail.

Due to the angle he hit the concrete barrier, his truck went airborne! When the truck came down, the back of the truck landed on top of the crushed concrete barrier.

A split second later the nose of the truck hit the ground where the second arrow begins.

The force of the two impacts bounced the truck back up in the air and caused it flip in mid-air like some Evel Knievel daredevil stunt. 

The driver screamed and held on for dear life as his truck flew across the culvert upside down and backwards.

The truck landed on its side, teetered for a moment, then came down to rest where you see it in the picture.   Magically, the driver walked away unhurt.  But my guess is he has nightmares.

Calling All Crime Scene Investigators!

Do you like solving mysteries?

I read the accident description, but was never able to make any sense of it.   Unfortunately, I have no way of determining if the description is accurate.

I tried recreating the description of the crash above with a toy truck and never did come up with a satisfactory trajectory.  But I am certainly no expert.

At this point I completely admit I am stumped.  I have illustrated three scenarios to help with visualizing possible flight paths.

See if you can figure it out!

Here is the mystery.  The most likely scenario doesn't work.  The car has a bashed-in front, so the nose had to hit the ground at some point.  In this scenario, I have the nose hitting the area next to the broken barrier and flipping.  The only problem is the truck would land facing the wrong direction!

It is hard to believe the car did two flips, but in this scenario I have the back end of the truck hitting near the broken barrier first.  The major problem with this scenario is that the back of the truck has no damage.  If you can figure it out, please email your scenario to dance@ssqq.com

As if the accident isn't remarkable enough, now take another look from a different perspective in this picture.

Unbelievable.  The truck landed just feet from the gorge.  wow!

So was this picture staged?  Possibly, but not likely.  This is one picture I don't think was faked. 

I have to say, the presence of the emergency vehicles lends a great deal of credibility to the picture. 

I think this accident picture is real.

 

POSTSCRIPT:

On another part of my website, I have pictures of an extremely gruesome motorcycle accident. 

The motorist's body appears to be severed in half.

These pictures have been on the Internet since 2007.  They have caused a huge Internet controversy... was the accident real?  Were the pictures faked?

Three years have passed and the jury is still out.

Even Snopes, the well-known Urban Legend page, says the authenticity of the pictures is still undetermined.

If you are up to the challenge, you are more than welcome to go look and make up your mind.  However, I promise you these are highly upsetting pictures.  I was very disturbed when I saw them for the first time.  So if you do decide to go look, brace yourself.

Bizarre Accidents

 

 

   
Airplane Stupidity I Airplane Stupidity II Larry the Moron Grand Canyon Idiot
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