This photo of “crowded” California beach is not what it seems

May 4, 2020

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

This photo of “crowded” California beach is not what it seems

May 4, 2020

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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We have already seen that the change of perspective and focal length can drastically change the story. And after the latest controversy over a “crowded” beach in California, we can see exactly how it works in the context of reporting.

After a photo of the beach was published, people started a heated debate over it, claiming that it was “fake.” And in a way, they were right. The photo wasn’t doctored, but it was taken with a telephoto lens, making the beach look overcrowded. Filmed from a helicopter, the situation turned out to be much different.

It all started when The Orange County Register published an article about people hitting the beaches after the closure was lifted. The accompanying photo makes it seem as if the beachgoers were breathing up each other’s necks.

It didn’t take long for the photo to go viral. Some people accused the OCR of using a stock photo, some believed that it was from the archives, and some claimed that it was doctored. To address these accusations, the OCR responded with an article titled OC beach photo: Real news sometimes stranger than #fakenews.

In the article, they explained that the photo was taken by Mindy Schauer, who has worked at the OCR for over 20 years. They write that she took the photo from the Newport Beach pier with a telephoto lens “because she wanted to get as much of the beach as she could to accurately depict the scene.” They even shared the photo along with the EXIF data, which shows two things. First, the photo wasn’t from the archives but it was indeed shot on 26 April this year. And second, it was taken with a telephoto lens at 380mm focal length. As all photographers know, it creates quite a lot of lens compression.

screenshot KTLA 5
screenshot KTLA 5

In the video above, you can watch as Los Angeles news station KTLA 5 discusses the controversial photo. It’s great that they filmed the same beach on the same day from a helicopter. In their video, you can see that the beach wasn’t nearly as crowded as it appeared in Schauer’s image.

screenshot KTLA 5

As we mentioned before, the perspective and focal length can change the entire context. If you’re a photojournalist, you absolutely need to take it into consideration. If you don’t, you might create confusion, and not to mention that you may be accused of spreading fake news. And if you’re a reader – don’t forget to always keep your critical thinking.

[via PetaPixel]

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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29 responses to “This photo of “crowded” California beach is not what it seems”

  1. AgNO3 Avatar
    AgNO3

    What? photos can lie? No.

    1. Fack-uuuu Avatar
      Fack-uuuu

      Are you serious? They say it’s the same beach at the same time?! No way! Count the umbrellas in both pics and you DONT get the same count!

      1. m00npenny Avatar
        m00npenny

        The beach is miles-long. The helicopter shot is maybe 75 feet worth.

        1. Fack-uuuu Avatar
          Fack-uuuu

          You must not be able to count above 1!

          1. schinud omsub Avatar
            schinud omsub

            Are you from the one-child generation?

          2. Fack-uuuu Avatar
            Fack-uuuu

            Shutup boomer….you must not be able to count to!

          3. schinud omsub Avatar
            schinud omsub

            Free Tibet now

          4. Fack-uuuu Avatar
            Fack-uuuu

            Actually I have 1 brother and 3 sisters moron! So you failed again! You must be getting used to failing though!

  2. Braaainz Avatar
    Braaainz

    Best way to combat fake news is to find the OCR for such a deceptive story. At least they owned up

  3. Brandon g Avatar
    Brandon g

    Same beach, same day. What the author of this Article fails to mention, different times. Beach crowds will vary, during the different times of the day.

    1. m00npenny Avatar
      m00npenny

      But no one is at work, its a coin toss as to when people will show up.

    2. wildflower49 Avatar
      wildflower49

      Yes, they specifically mentioned the two hour difference in the news video.

  4. caljac Avatar
    caljac

    If you start with a bias for a story, you will always find “facts” or pictures to support your narrative. As with everything in life, truth is a matter of perspective, or which lens you choose to use when looking at an event.

    This story is analogous to how the main steam media seems to “frame” stories about President Trump. Always looking for the worst possible light to capture the moment, but one that serves their purpose to sell advertising space.

    1. Jim Avatar
      1. Don Macleay Avatar
        Don Macleay

        I was with you until you used Trump as an example. What would this excuse for a man do without press bias to hide behind?
        If anything, the press goes light on him, especially when he says things that are not tried, which is often.

  5. Joel Dubey Avatar
    Joel Dubey

    What a well written article. Factual with no apparent hidden agenda and respectful even though you didnt have to be.

  6. masher Avatar
    masher

    In the old days this picture would be called propaganda. Just saying.

    1. RyanB Avatar
      RyanB

      You mean this article? It’s a real photo regardless of the focal length. It shows what is really there. If you looked at a macro of an ant or flower would you think they are portraying a giant human sized ant or flower? However you see this, the people were clearly disregarding social distancing, even an ultra wide angle Len would show that.

      1. TheKingJAK Avatar
        TheKingJAK

        Clearly disregarding it? No, especially not when outside with constantly moving airflow. They pulled the same nonsense in Florida with zoomed in photos, and with the level of zoom they used for some of these stories they could’ve made the Moon appear to be swallowing up an entire skyline.

  7. Ahmad J Ali Avatar
    Ahmad J Ali

    We will see three weeks from now when the ventilators are needed or not. Keep opening up the US. Herd immunity is what is needed.

    1. Arthur_P_Dent Avatar
      Arthur_P_Dent

      Then do your part and go to a local hospital and deliberately get infected.

  8. UzUrBrain Avatar
    UzUrBrain

    Obviously people commenting have never looked at a beach through the normal lens then a high power telephoto lens.

  9. schinud omsub Avatar
    schinud omsub

    Trite to nuance journalism from propagandist. It is the readers’ emotional demand for wickedness.

  10. Angel Santiago Saltamontes Avatar
    Angel Santiago Saltamontes

    The Party knows this WELL, & their servants in media prepare to order. Don’t say i said anything political here, Snowflake, i didn’t NAME anybody; if YOU thought what YOU thought THAT says rather a lot; one might say it leaked. Yeah, the camera always tells the truth, but its product is used to lie. Which brings us back to The Party again, and their servants again. Funny how that is.

  11. Mr.. Mayhem Avatar
    Mr.. Mayhem

    This Country will never get better if nobody follows restrictions. The restrictions are for a reason idiot’s. There are so many stupid human beings on this planet it unbelievable

  12. cinda Avatar
    cinda

    For those of you commit agenst this aticle if you have a camera experiment. See if what they say here is true or not for yourself.

  13. TANLAAGOURA Avatar
    TANLAAGOURA

    What a bunch of fucks. If they knew the images were deceptive, don’t publish it

  14. TANLAAGOURA Avatar
    TANLAAGOURA

    This is why people say the media spreads rumors and scares people

  15. Debbie Avatar
    Debbie

    No. The lens doesn’t cause compression. The distance to the subject causes compression. If Mindy says there were thousands of people at the beach, there were thousands of people at the beach. In fact, I saw a video where lifeguards said that 40,000 people went to Newport Beach that weekend. We had a heatwave. People went to the beach and some were not social distancing. Yes, they were being foolhardy.