13 July 2012

Phake Photos Make Come Back #nlpoli

The Mighty Ceeb ran a story on Thursday about a block of three houses in downtown St. John’s.  Tourists and some residents are upset by a set of wires that one of the local phone companies has installed in front of the houses.

They quoted Les Cuff, who lives in one of the houses.

"Instead of having the three houses nicely unbroken, now you have three houses with a big bundle of wires in the middle, he said. "It just looks unsightly."

The guy lives there and he never noticed this stuff before?

CBC even offered a side by side photo, labeled “before” and “after”.

row houses and wires

The cutline under the photos describes them like this:

Before, reveals the homes as they are shown in the province's tourism ads. After, reveals the homes after the fiber optic wires were installed.

Technically correct but misleading.

You see, the tourism photo is notoriously photoshopped.  Notorious in this case means a bunch of people kicked up a fuss about the way someone cut out street signs, buildings and telephone poles and added in trees that just were never there. You can find part of the fuss at Geoff Meeker’s blog at the Telegram, but you’ll have to hunt around for it.

To the right, they’ve removed the old CBC Radio Building which admittedly is not a pretty sight from that angle and dropped in a pine tree, and a random house.

To the left, they’ve removed the houses of Henry Street and replaced them with what appears to be an oak tree.

The cumulative effect of these changes is to create a scene that, in reality, does not exist at all. I have spent a lot of time looking at row houses in downtown St. Johns. Try though you might, you will not find a configuration of three houses together that looks anything like this; that protrude so cleanly from their surroundings the way these do.

The view of the three houses hasn’t been “unbroken” for the better part of a century.  So what exactly is this fuss all about?

Well, the tourists should be pissed at the manipulation that led them to believe these houses existed exactly as illustrated.  They never did.

The locals can be annoyed at the telephone polls but maybe what they need to do is push the city to require that all lines disappear and moved underground.  Yes, it will be costly, but it will also enhance the beauty of the downtown.

And as for the CBC, well, let’s just say that the story left out a huge chunk of relevant information when the newsroom gang wrote about “iconic” houses.