The controversy over the photo, entitled ‘Gaza Burial,’ erupted after the prize was awarded in April, when analysts suggested that Hansen had made extensive use of editing software to alter the lighting in the original photo to such a degree as to breach the rules of the competition.
The picture, taken on November 20 last year, shows a funeral procession for a Palestinian man and his two young children killed by an Israeli air strike in Gaza.
Blogger Dr. Neal Krawertz went further on Sunday, when he suggested it was possible the award-winning picture was in fact a composite image, perhaps constructed from three other pictures.
However, an analysis conducted on behalf of the World Press Photo foundation dismissed most of these claims, and found that the placement of pixels in the original file did not differ from those in the image file Hansen submitted for the prize.
In a statement released by the foundation yesterday, two experts who examined both of the computer image files of the photo said: “We have reviewed the RAW image, as supplied by World Press Photo, and the resulting published JPEG image. It is clear that the published photo was retouched with respect to both global and local color and tone.
“Beyond this, however, we find no evidence of significant photo manipulation or compositing.”
According to the rules of the World Press Photo prize, “only retouching which conforms to currently accepted standards in the industry is allowed.”
However, while the prize has been confirmed, the debate about where the line between the acceptable retouching and forgery of photos intended for the news media is drawn is likely to continue.
Quoted in an article on the controversy over Hansen’s photo in Der Spiegel, the American photographer Micah Albert, who won first place in the foundation’s ‘contemporary issues’ category this year, said: “The discussion on enhancement in photojournalism is overdue … As a communicator, I want to know where the boundaries are.”