Saturday, 23 January 2010

Fake photos and fake poetry

There's a poetic irony in the news that a photographer used a tame wolf in the picture that won him the title of National History Museum Wildlife Photographer of the Year,as well as a handy £10,000. The lupine stunt double is apparently called Ossian, the name of a fake ancient Celtic bard whose poetry took Europe by storm in the 1760s before it was revealed it was all the work of a deluded Scottish poet, James Macpherson (and a bit rubbish). In his Sorrows of Young Werther, Goethe uses Werther's growing love for Ossian's work to show he's going a bit mad.

The wolf photo is obviously copyrighted, and all the pictures of Ossian I could find are mawkish, hideous things. But, thanks to a tip from Jonathan Jones, here is a very impressive faked photo from Soviet photographer Yevgeny Khaldai of a shellshocked reindeer during the siege of Murmansk in the Second World War. As this page describes, the reindeer was there, but the explosion and planes are added. Incidentally, the planes are British - Murmansk is in north-west Russia, close to Finland, so British forces helped to defend it.

In other news tenuously related to photography, coffee-table-book publisher Taschen is having a sale at its Berlin store, which means I now have a few wonderful books and a big headache about how to get the bloody things home in my luggage.

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