Photoshopping in the "worseness"

Readers may recall that we caught NOAA NCDC red handed putting in a photoshopped flooded house a couple of years back for an official government report.

Image above taken directly from the CCSP report. Read more here

Then there’s the famous polar bear on the ice floe image ursus bogus.


And let’s not forget Al Gore’s hurricanes for his book cover:

So when Tom Nelson asked today “Who’s got time to investigate BlackSmokeGate?” I decided to take on the task. Here’s the photo in question:

Tom was rightfully concerned that white steam rather than smoke comes out of these plants, as shown in this photo.

This station has been identified in the comment section of the article using it as Eggborough power station. Check out the white cloud coming from the power station in this Wikipedia photo.

I decided to run a simple but well known tool to detect if Photoshop had been used. Bingo!

Output from

Basically all that was done was to highlight a part of the steam with the point to point select tool, feather it and adjust the contrast to make it look darker.

[UPDATE: I found a different version of the image on the web at Sky News here and ran it through PSKiller’s detector. It’s even more damning:

PS Quantization tables are a dead giveaway. ]

I’ll bet somebody could find this image original in some stock photo library. It is from John Giles PA Wire. It gets a lot of play according to Nelson. For example here it is used in conjunction with Climategate2:

Nelson asks:

If you have time to compile a list of the mainstream media uses of this photo, please let me know. If you’ve taken some action to protest this propaganda (maybe a letter to an editor?) please also let me know.

By the way, has this photo been altered in any way? [YES – Anthony]

Update: A TinEye search for the top image yields 92 results.

A TinEye search for the bottom image yields 94 results.

To illustrate how easy this is to make black smoke from steam, I located an image of a smoke stack online of the Zimmer Power Plant Smoke Stack in Moscow, Ohio, here

Then I applied the simple technique I described.

  1. highlight a part of the steam with the point to point select tool
  2. feather it
  3. adjust the brightness and contrast to make it look darker.

Granted it was a rush job and I didn’t go all the way to the right in the plume, but this took all of 45 seconds:

See how easy that is to make black smoke where there was only steam before?

UPDATE2: Here’s another example of Photoshop at work. The greens must really hate this power station in Britain. “Black” smoke from cooling towers? Really? Everyone knows they produce water vapor, and even the sun angle doesn’t look right in this one from the Guardian.

Eggborough cooling towers Photograph: Murdo MacLeod

It doesn’t survive the test either:

And yet if you do an image search for this power station, you’ll find nothing like this image anywhere else except on the Guardian Website.

UPDATE: Autonomous Mind looks into the photo above, conversing with the photographer is interesting more for what he doesn’t say. Well worth a read here:

Has the Guardian published fauxtography?

– Anthony

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November 25, 2011 10:09 am

Maybe this is why Phil Jones and his fellow travellers don’t know how to use Excel. They spend too much time playing with Photoshop! ;->

Nick Shaw
November 25, 2011 10:13 am

LOL, Paul! Can’t add to that at all!

November 25, 2011 10:18 am

Charlatans, fraudsters and snake oil sellers the lot of them…

November 25, 2011 10:21 am

One can also position themselves so that the plume is directly between the photographer and the sun. This will, if the plume is dense enough, make the plume appear dark just as a cloud can appear dark if the sun is behind it but white if viewed from a different angle.
Judging from the lighting and shadow on the stacks, it appears as that is what has been done here. The plume is directly in front of the sun so the photog is taking a picture of the “shadow” side of the plume.
REPLY: I also thought about that possibility, and doing an image search for Eggborough power station I can’t find any image at all like it. I don’t think that is the case here, especially since a contrast adjustment was made. Finding the original will tell for certain. – Anthony

November 25, 2011 10:34 am

If I remember my PhotoShop, some Replace Color will do even better. Try green fumes 🙂

chris y
November 25, 2011 10:38 am

Why would you deliberately change the color of water vapor? As we all know, water vapor is a very dangerous greenhouse gas, with an atmospheric lifetime (based on the climate scientist definition of ‘lifetime’) that is essentially infinite. This is much more dangerous than CO2, which has a climatian atmospheric lifetime of *only* a few centuries. Once this anthropogenically released hydrogenated hydroxy poison, this *universal acid*, is dumped into the atmospheric commons, it never goes away. There have already been thousands of documented deaths caused by this toxin, many of them children.
The malicious alteration of this type of photograph to make water vapor look like carbon soot is a deliberate attempt to deflect attention away from the real climate threat lying before us-
Watery Anthropogenic Vapor Emissions!

November 25, 2011 10:41 am

A picture tells the story of photoshop edits 😉 if man made global warming is so obvious why the need for photoshop? I think the problem is the lack of sacrifice of the people. We need to burn more people to appease the economic and volcano gods. If the results are not as models predict then we obviously didn’t burn enough people /sarc

November 25, 2011 10:45 am

I just opened it in CS5, it’s only 250 X 400 pixels so it is very pixelated. But I don’t think I quite agree with your analysis. I assume you mean the polygonal lasso tool when you say point to point selection. But even feathered that would leave straight edges which this black area does not have.
Maybe they took another plume, darkened it and then layered that on top of the other white plume. I have worked at power plants for 40 years or so and agree that the image is bogus. Plants can emit dark plumes and do so when they are soot blowing which happens daily at least. But the time limit on the dark plume is less than 6 minutes or it has to be reported to the regulatory agencies. And to be honest this is usually done after sunset to avoid public alarm. And if there is an event which trips a unit off line then you can also get dark plumbs while they bring the unit down.
But there is no way to generate a segregated half white half black plume like this one shows out of any stack that I’ve ever seen.

November 25, 2011 10:54 am

I live in Leeds quite close to the massive power stations of the Yorkshire coalfield – Ferrybridge, Drax and Eggborough. I have always considered them quite monumentally grand and impressive in the flat landscape. Steam comes out of the eggcup shaped cooling towers and the tall chimneys vent the combustion products from burning the coal and also now some biomass. The flue gases have been scrubbed by various processes to render them less noxious.
It seems very wasteful to me just to vent so much hot steam into the atmosphere, In Europe they have urban combined heat and power stations (though not on this massive scale) that provide both electricity and domestic and commercial space heating via steam pipes.

November 25, 2011 10:57 am

There is a power plant near where I currently live in SW Pennsylvania. When first installed (long ago), it had no pollution controls, but these have been added over the years. Recently my wife said look at all the dirty pollution coming from the stack. Because of the viewing angle, the location of the sun, and the thickness of the plume, it did look quite dark. I pulled to the side of the road, pointed out the SO2 scrubbers, electrostatic precipitators, etc. and told her it was nothing but steam. When we drove back past a little later, it was obviously a white stream of steam.
Even without the SO2 scrubbers, you will not see a dark billowing clouds of smoke. More like a faint non-white mist. I can’t recall seeing a billowing smoke stack in more than 30 years, maybe longer. The Green Peace folks have done the same misleading photo trick at Thailand’s Mae Moh power plant. I know from first hand experience that the Mae Moh plant has modern scrubbers, precipitators, baghouses, etc. Unfortunately for Mae Moh, the low BTU lignite they burn has a high sulfur content and removing 90%+ of the SO2 still releases a lot of SO2.

November 25, 2011 11:05 am

The BBC regularly uses footage of steam billowing from the cooling towers when talking about “CO2 emissions” and “pollution.” Similar pictures accompany much Greenpeace propaganda and the same for Fiends of the Earth and other eco-terror organisations.

November 25, 2011 11:11 am

The photo is currently on show (yet again) in the UK Guardian under the rather appropriate headline
“Howlers and omissions exposed in world of corporate social responsibility”
Funnily enough they omit to mention their own howler and lack of social responsibility.
Link is

November 25, 2011 11:24 am

While not quite a photoshop “worseness”, and more a presidential “worseness”, our honorable President Zuma (South Africa) welcomed our guests to Cop17 in a presidential TV broadcast tonight. Luckily our kids are grown; otherwise they would have been frightened to learn from the President that climate change is already upon us, affecting the lives of millions of our people. So, as long as everybody brought a cheque credit card, cash we should be able to compensate all those millions to make everything right again. Please, if climate change (the catastrophic kind) is already “upon me”, will somebody please point it out – I seem to be missing it.
PS I hope the strikeout across “cheque” and “credit card” works, sort of loses its effect if it doesn’t.

November 25, 2011 11:25 am

Geoffrey Lean, the Telegraphs environmental correspondent has the same picture on his 24th Nov blog with photo credit (Photo: PA)

Alix James
November 25, 2011 11:26 am

You can also get this effect by burning (i.e., dodging and burning).

November 25, 2011 11:32 am

The first photo continues in use by the Government of Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, who use it in a poster.

November 25, 2011 11:33 am

Simple use of the ‘burn’ tool with a wide brush is more effective. I imagine that’s what was done here..

November 25, 2011 11:34 am

Does anybody really need a tool to think that was photoshopped?
I’ve never seen the delineation between dark and light in a moving smoke cloud that sharp. Please, I guess if earth had no atmosphere it might look like that, but, since it does (oh wait there;s that pesky observation thing again getting in the way) there’s no way that is possible.

geography lady
November 25, 2011 11:45 am

Steam from a stack makes for a very impressive looking pollution problem. Having worked for a local agency and having to learn to read smoke–you get to calibrate your eyes to the amount of density of smoke coming out of a machine–I haven’t seen much in the last 30+ years from smoke stacks. Just impressive steam pictures. But much of the public thinks it is pollution because the media or the TV celeb says it is pollution.
—Discusting to me.

November 25, 2011 11:46 am

This reminds me of a journey I made in Germany by train. I saw from quite some distance a white plume going into the air, apparently a condensating steam plume from a powerplant. It was nice bright white and formed half a bow just like a rainbow does do when it shows up while rain and sun are acting together. At the top of the bow the white bright bow disappeared and turned into somewhat greyish shine, then the bow continued downwards and when the train and me in it approached the site somewhat closer the bow went down and was completely black! It shadowed the sky behind it, the light could hardly come through the black plume although it was widening already. So in these nice white shiny droplets coming up from the big chimney there were black condensation nuclei where the steam had condensed upon. This black plume went completely opposite and mirrorwise to the white plume and went down to earth again. So the people about ten kilometers further away from the plant may have smelt some unpleasant odour and there laundry may have turned black.
So Anthony, maybe you speeded up the reality by blackening this plume at the shadow side and maybe you thought having illustrated a falsification, but meanwhile it could be just the simple truth:
white plumes (often) hide black plumes.

Dire Wolf
November 25, 2011 11:53 am

With or without photoshop, this is an old and treasured technique of Global Warmism. A few years ago at a barbershop I found my self yelling at a TV showing a Discovery Channel warmist screed illustrated by huge plumes of steam obviously ascending from the cooling towers of a nuke plant. What made it even more bizzare in context was that this was near Charleston, WV where everyone regularly passes an identical plant on the highway. For Warmists any plume is CO2 (even though CO2 is invisible).

November 25, 2011 12:02 pm

Of course the blackish plume is photoshopped, it is because the edges and the sky behind would be to shiny, so you have to do something to get these too large contrasts in light in good proportions. The plume could consist of very big droplets and then there is so much light backscattered that the backside is completely shadowed. The same happens with nimbo cumulus even without cloud and lightsource being in the same direction.
To find in such a minor contrastfull made photo a proof for window dressing or whatsoever is just very childish, please keep yourself to more appropriate comments on climate news.

November 25, 2011 12:06 pm

Dire Wolf, it is not the “warmists” who use such photos for articles, but it is the media: they want to show plumes if the subject is emission. by the way, only white plumes from cooling towers are not accompanied with CO2, al other plumes are. So in fact it is not really wrong to couple CO2 tot plumes.

November 25, 2011 12:08 pm

Scorle says:
November 25, 2011 at 11:46 am
“This reminds me of a journey I made in Germany by train. […]
So in these nice white shiny droplets coming up from the big chimney there were black condensation nuclei where the steam had condensed upon. ”
Hmm. We installed a lot of flue gas scrubbers approx 1995 in old East German power plants. In which year did you travel, and was it Western or Eastern Germany?

November 25, 2011 12:11 pm

The plume contains some water vapour, but it is not steam. It is mainly nitrogen and carbon dioxide. Water vapour comes partly from dampness of the fuel, but also water contained in crystal form in mineral impurities (coals are typically about 50% carbon).
A great deal of design effort goes into making power stations as efficient as possible. There are reasons why the flue gas is hot. One reason is to avoid condensation inside the stack, to avoid corrosion due to the acidity of some of the combustion products (even after scrubbing).
Another important design objective is the work done by the heat contained in the flue gases. The heat ensures that the flue rises and disperses, and energy needs to be provided to achieve this.
The main reasons why power stations are not more efficient are: (1) the third law of thermodynamics; and (2) restrictions on building new plant which leave us with no choice but to run relatively inefficient 1970’s technology (the power station equivalent of those quaint old cars in Cuba).

November 25, 2011 12:18 pm

I find this particularly worrisome. When the next Pope is elected (signalled by a puff of white smoke from the Sistine chapel smoke stack) the worlds media will not be capable of discerning it through their global warming glasses.
It could be a long election process as black smoke signals – no result.

November 25, 2011 12:23 pm

Scorle says:
November 25, 2011 at 12:06 pm
“Dire Wolf, it is not the “warmists” who use such photos for articles, but it is the media: they want to show plumes if the subject is emission.”
Most of the media are warmists.
” by the way, only white plumes from cooling towers are not accompanied with CO2, al other plumes are. So in fact it is not really wrong to couple CO2 tot plumes.”
So it is not really wrong to photoshop the material you want to use in reports? You must be a fan of Hisbollah and Reuters.

Reply to  DirkH
November 28, 2011 4:27 am

Dirk H. I am fan of posting relevant information on scientific climate issues on a site that is claiming willing to do so. However discussions about if a condensing cloud looks dark at the shadow site or not is interesting from physics and photographers point of view, but it has nothing to do with global warming issues.
The the story about the white cloud turning black after evaporation of the droplets.
The white cloud I saw was formed outside the chimneys: to capture the droplets they should have
made sufficient supersaturation (cooling) before the chimney and more precisely before the droplet capturing devices. May be they did, probably they did even, but even then you have a lot of interstitual aerosol, sized 100 to 500 nanometer, not acting as cloud condensation nuclei and again supersaturation behind the chimney as long as you end up above ambient temperature. Since it was a bit freezing on that day it would have been a hell of a job to get the dew point from about 30 to 40 degrees to below zero to avoid supersaturation in ambient air.
So you see it was a normal plume from a burning process at a company 9in West-Germany) and although I do not know what kind of company, I assume they are restricted by legislations concerning the emissions.
It is not strange to see such amount of black aerosol if there was for instance a coal fired process of a steel company.
It is just that they cannot capture all the aerosol. However, my point was: even when a white plume seems to be clean with shiny bright waterdroplets, it can hide a lot of nasty blackish stuff (in the droplets and between the droplets) that becomes often only visible after loosing the camouflage of the light effecting droplets.

November 25, 2011 12:34 pm

I should add that my previous post was referring to stack emissions.
The visible plume rising from cooling towers is water vapour. However worth repeating that nobody is wilfully being wasteful, the rejected heat comes from basic thermodynamics.
It is being wasteful to operate old power stations – new coal fired plant would be somewhat more efficient (although “somewhat” equates to a lot of fuel), but would be blocked by planning and permitting.

November 25, 2011 12:34 pm

Everyone knows it is evil black “carbon” that is causing the earth to burn and what it should look like. It is just inconvenient that it does not show up where it is needed to be. Referring properly to CO2 “would just dilute the message” of course.

November 25, 2011 12:38 pm

why don’t we reverse engineer it back to it’s pre photoshop image? Searching for it’s twin would be easier.
Now how to do that? Don’t know. But I think Crosspatch is on to something with his guess that the clouds are back lit by the sun. Perhaps this photo is a combination of careful camera placement and photoshop enhancing.

November 25, 2011 12:42 pm

The angle of the sun in the sky would be about 15 – 20 degrees above the horizon. That means the background blue sky is shaded too dark.

November 25, 2011 12:46 pm

There is no evidence of “Photoshopping” as you call it. When you constantly cry wolf, especially in areas you don’t understand, you are going to destroy your own credibility.
According to the AP guidelines ( you can use Photoshop for minor adjustments, like cropping and resizing the image. This will result in PhotoShop tags and quantization tables being used. PhotoShop automatically does some minor contrast and sharpening adjustments. It’s not a ‘smoking gun’ that the image has been intentionally distorted.
The distortion in this image comes from taking the picture with the sun behind the towers, causing the exhaust plume to have deep shadows. Except for a full image contrast adjustment, there is no need for the type of techniques described by Anthony. (I suspect a full image contrast adjustment may have been done to emphasize the difference between light and dark, making the dark blacker).
I found a similar image ( and ran it through te PSKiller website, and it found nothing except for missing EXIF info.
If Anthony had any real evidence, rather than insinuation, this would be a major scandal, the photographer John Giles would be fired, and the AP would remove his images from the collection (eg.
If you want to learn about finding real evidence of image manipulation, you should check out Neal Krawetz’s blog

November 25, 2011 12:48 pm

Hmm… Just an idea, don’t know if it would work but if you wanted to remove those particular traces of photoshopping, why not do your photoshopping, then take a picture of the photoshopped picture and then present that as the original?

Warren in Minnesota
November 25, 2011 12:50 pm

I disagree with the identification of the station. The Wikipedia photo of the Eggborough station shows one flue at the top of the chimney. The photo associated with BlackSmokeGate has two flues. This difference is my disagreement.

November 25, 2011 12:52 pm

Scorle says:
To find in such a minor contrastfull made photo a proof for window dressing or whatsoever is just very childish, please keep yourself to more appropriate comments on climate news.
Except that the entire global warming enterprise is an endless parade of window dressing, and that is exactly what this picture is used for, 94 times and counting.

November 25, 2011 12:52 pm

I am a press photographer and made comments under this post of Tom’s on him blog this morning. I invite you all to go and read them. The photographer works for Associated Press (Press Association in the UK). If anyone so suspects that the image was altered beyond what he took, feel free to ring him up and discuss, or email. As a fellow press photographer, I would surmise there is no ‘enhancement’ in this photo, perhaps some contrast added. In our profession, it is a firing offense to meddle with nature. It is what it is. Billowing steam, possibly on a cool morning, backlit by sun, just as clouds are perpetually backlit. Clouds that are ‘thick’ darken, sometimes to near black, clouds that are ‘thin’ tend to white. The poster above who suggested the dark side is the shadow of the thick steam has it correct. This photo was taken for greatest visual impact, for better or for worse. The “problem” with it is that most innocent viewers will assume it is filth they are seeing instead of a cloud.

November 25, 2011 12:57 pm

I note an oil slick emerging from behind the pinkish house?

November 25, 2011 12:58 pm

Here is another image by John Giles of the same stack, that you can analyze with TinEye and PSKiller:,,2306742_4,00.jpg

Steve from Rockwood
November 25, 2011 1:17 pm

crosspatch says:
November 25, 2011 at 10:21 am
One can also position themselves so that the plume is directly between the photographer and the sun. This will, if the plume is dense enough, make the plume appear dark just as a cloud can appear dark if the sun is behind it but white if viewed from a different angle.
An honorable person would not use a darkened photograph of “steam” in a photo on pollution.

November 25, 2011 1:18 pm

Reply to Marchesrosa:
Power plants generate a LOT of water vapor. But by the time it gets to the top of the stack it has been run thru a number of heat extraction devices to suck every bit of recoverable eanergy from the hot gasses. However you have to leave the gasses hot enough to carry up to the top of the stack and away into the air. So you cannot remove all the heat.

November 25, 2011 1:19 pm

The issue is not the content of the photo, but what the photo is said to represent. Don’t forget, there was never any enhancement or alteration of the beautiful photos of polar bears said by crooks to be ‘stranded’. That photo was taken innocently enough but was subsequently used for nefarious purposes. Such is the case with this steam photo. I live in a steel producing factory town. We received complaints over the years for using dramatic looking photos of steam from our stacks as if … well, just as this photo is being used and arguably abused.

November 25, 2011 1:22 pm
November 25, 2011 1:26 pm

And finally… 🙂 We press photographers use photoshop for every single photo we take. Like some people use Word for every single word they write. The verb ‘to photoshop’ has connotations beyond, and is subject to misuse. If the photographer enhanced this photo beyond what he and the camera fairly saw, he and the AP should be taken to task. Like I’ve said, we don’t take kindly to undeclared manipulation, as in Al Gore’s hurricane set up above.

November 25, 2011 1:27 pm

Lol – I live in Fort McMurray – the most photo-shopped stacks on the planet. In by far the most photo-shopped tailings ponds, landscape – or moonscape if using the photo-shopped version – since this planet was formed 4+ billion years ago. You guys are ALL small time amateurs – we destroy entire planets. We are the only true professionals on a planet destroying level these little pipes shown here wouldn’t even qualify as a home furnace chimney in my neighborhood. Sorry if this appears rude – but my response is indeed correct.

November 25, 2011 1:27 pm

The last photo with the “black” steam rising from the cooling towers has also been cropped. The tall stack is emitting a plume that is casting a shadow over the cooling towers and making the steam from the cooling towers look blacker than it should. The full photo is very small, but can be seen at:
This is not to say that other tricks have not been played with the pictutre: heightening contrast, etc.

November 25, 2011 1:32 pm


November 25, 2011 1:34 pm

The UK has a code of practise that all news editors are supposed to adhere to. Lets see what the first clause is

1 Accuracy
i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.


November 25, 2011 1:36 pm

Found a similar photo. Looks like the same power plant. Steam cloud is slightly different, but has been photoshopped in a similar way. Actually, it almost looks like they did a better job on this one, as the one you have posted above has definite artifacts of contrast change (with apologies to robertdavidgraham, but my husband was able to see the artifacts after just a few seconds of looking at the picture).

Vince Causey
November 25, 2011 1:49 pm

The Giles picture could well appear dark because it is backlit. More interesting is the Eggborough photo by Murdo Macleod.
It is clear from the shadows that the sun is positioned to the left of the towers and from a direction that is behind the camera. We know this to be true by considering 2 distinct shadows. The front right cooling tower does not have any shadow from the left towers falling upon it. If you look at where the shadow of the front left tower falls, you can see it is upon the second tower from front in the right hand row. Notice also, that of the four towers in the left hand row, all are bathed in sunlight except for a vertical shadow falling on the third tower from the front. Where does this come from?
To find the answer, scroll up to an earlier, wider shot of Eggborough, where the camera has captured a tall stack. This stack is positioned well to the front of the tower with the shadow. This further confirms that in the Macleod picture, the sun is to the left and behind the camera.
Now, we can be certain that the dark shadows cannot be the result of deliberate underexposure of a back lit object. There is absolutely no explanation why the cloud appears dark in that area. Then if you look closely at the dark area, you can see that it has a straight edge to it. This is an impossible result of natural shadow, because there is no straight edge at that position that could have caused such a shadow.
The only conclusion is that the photo has been doctored to render a dark area.

Gail Combs
November 25, 2011 1:53 pm

I think I agree with the Prof. Photographer. The Photo was not “Photoshopped” It was created using filters and high contrast type film. The very dark blue of the sky and the unrelieved black of the towers are the dead give away.
I created some very dramatic sunset pictures in the 1970’s just by underexposing the film.Might be worth an experiment to see if one of us can reproduce this type of picture just by under exposing the film in an old 35 mm camera.

John F. Hultquist
November 25, 2011 1:56 pm

I took your Zimmer Power Plant “white smoke” and made it parrot-barf-orange. I have an old version of Paint Shop Pro. It is very easy to make the plume any color desired. If I posted this one, the Company would likely sue me!

November 25, 2011 1:59 pm

Warren in Minnesota says: “I disagree with the identification of the station. The Wikipedia photo of the Eggborough station shows one flue at the top of the chimney. The photo associated with BlackSmokeGate has two flues. This difference is my disagreement.”
Wankerpedia? That says it all. Actually, there are four flues, not all of which seem to be in operation. There appears to be a slight darkening of the flue, below where the black paint ends, which may indicate occasional soot discharges, perhaps from blowing off heat exchangers or boiler tubes of some sort.) After considerable study, I can’t rule out soot coming from one flue.
After playing around with Anthony’s picture, it seems that simple adjustment of contrast can make an ordinary water vapor plume, with slight darkening due to backlighting, look very dark, indeed.

Doug Badgero
November 25, 2011 2:00 pm

What is ironic is that without scrubbers installed the “smoke” coming from a coal plant in the USA is nearly impossible to see. There is an unscrubbed coal plant south of Lansing, Michigan that can be seen from Interstate 69. You can tell when it is operating based on the status of steam coming from its forced draft cooling towers, and when it is operating you need to look real hard to see any evidence of anything coming from its boiler firebox stack. Even then the visible evidence is primarily because of temperature differences between the exhaust plume and the ambient air. These doctored pictures wouldn’t even be possible if the plant didn’t have scrubbers to clean up SOx emissions.

November 25, 2011 2:02 pm

To Alcheson:
It would work better to print the manipulated image and then scan the print. However you can strip all EXIF data from a file by use of various utilities. Photoshop itself will do it if you ‘save for web’. And the EXIF data does not show a list of everything that was done to an image in PS.
I found the blue channel histogram in this image to be quite suspicious, it is very spiky. Hard to describe but its a very discontinuous histogram with sharp vertical discontinuities. Image manipulation often damages the histogram especially if the original image was a jpeg file instead of a raw image.And images are often manipulated in one color channel.
But at this tiny size you really cannot say much of anything since jpeg compression and size reduction can introduce all sorts of artifacts themselves.

November 25, 2011 2:02 pm

Very interesting Anthony. Nothing surprises me anymore with regard to the propaganda.
Keep up the good work.

Gail Combs
November 25, 2011 2:03 pm

To my comment at November 25, 2011 at 1:53 pm I should also add that my sunset photos I considered “Art” because they were created and did not in any way resemble the actual sky and clouds I was photographing.
So while these photos may not be “photoshopped” they still do not correctly reflect reality and therefore are a deception.

November 25, 2011 2:06 pm

@gail combs. You made me smile. We use digital cameras and photoshop exclusively these days. Most of us haven’t seen a roll of film in the last 15 years. Photoshop is filters and contrast exposure and saturation and you-name-it all wrapped up into one wonderful program that is eternally subject to infinite creativity and, of course, abuse for those like Al Gore who are so inclined. There are variables, perhaps too many, to reproducing this stack photo. (Air temp will effect condensation, whether the factory is operating at peak or not, height of the sun, clarity of the sky, etc). It is possible and most certainly do-able to have exaggerated the dark areas of this photo. I can do it in the blink of an eye, and make it look FAR worse. Would I do it? No. Did this photographer do it? You’d have to ask him.

November 25, 2011 2:16 pm

I was referring to the waste of heat from the Eggborough cooling towers not from the chimney. Ever since I was a child people have been remarking on this waste of heat to the atmosphere from the power stations.

November 25, 2011 2:20 pm

But surely this is just plain silly.
Everyone with half a brain knows heat exchangers do not emit “smoke” – EVER.
Everyone with half a brain who cares to look at the evidence knows that during the 60′ and 70’s all power stations were fitted with filters and electrostatic scrubbers to remove particulates from the emissions. This was done because of public pressure forcing the changes due to pollution from smokestack fallout in close neighbourhoods – nobody wanted the power stations closed just cleaned up.
Everyone with half a brain knows modern power stations have such pollution control equipment – probably even better.
I laugh every time I see the water vapour from a heat exchanger cited as “horrible” pollution in a news broadcast. In Australia that invariably occurs on the ABC – our equivalent of the BBC – a biased climate crusading organisation.
On a side theme it is a shame to see Sir David Attenborough hitching his “wagon” to the AGW camp – it will tarnish his otherwise credible reputation when CAGW is shown to be wrong.
After all, technically the world is in an ice age even now as there are large areas of the Earth permanently frozen yet it seems there isn’t enough for the alarmists – give me a bit of warmth any day.

Gail Combs
November 25, 2011 2:23 pm

Ron says:
November 25, 2011 at 2:06 pm
@gail combs. You made me smile. We use digital cameras and photoshop exclusively these days….
I still love my old 1974 Nikon 35mm and we have the old 4X5 speedgraphic (1950’s) from my father-in-law’s newspaper.
We have a digital too and I hate it after 35 years with my Nikon. The only advantage I can see is the “instant photo” and being able to photoshop more easily. But then I like to drive a horse pair and carriage too.
The playing with the contrast/underexposing still stand though.

April E. Coggins
November 25, 2011 2:29 pm

At this news site, the photo was used as evidence for this caption. “Eggborough Power Station, a coal fired plant near Selby. The UK Government was this week accused of failing to take responsibility for tackling air pollution which is causing the early deaths of tens of thousands of people a year. (John Giles/PA Wire)” Oh, and the title of the picture? “Polution.”
I am sure the news site would deny any manipulation of public opinion, they are just reporting that someone has made an accusation of the killing tens of thousands of people each year and as a responsible media site, they are merely illustrating what that polution might look like, if it were to actually exist.

November 25, 2011 2:36 pm

This comment follows the claim that the photo was not doctored via Photoshop.
“This photo was taken for greatest visual impact, for better or for worse. The “problem” with it is that most innocent viewers will assume it is filth they are seeing instead of a cloud.”
If the photographer lacked such integrity to take this “for the greatest visual impact” why would anyone buy the claim that it is not photoshopped?
In either event the photographer is a fraudster

November 25, 2011 2:42 pm

Gail. ‘The playing with the contrast/underexposing still stand though.’ Of course, and there is some of that in most photos as a raw image cannot, except under ideal conditions, convey precisely what was seen in a visually dramatic fashion. (To wit, you found that underexposing your sunset produced more colorful results, more like what you saw.) The idea in NEWS photography (as opposed to those trafficking in illustrative photography, a hat that we news photographers also wear) is to use the tools (camera, photoshop) to relate what you see in an honest manner. I am no Pollyanna, however I do absolutely believe the profession has an overwhelming bias through peer enforcement and employer mandate towards integrity in that regard, unlike the climate science profession. Again, I think the photographer himself should weigh in, and perhaps he will eventually. Anthony’s site is widely read.

April E. Coggins
November 25, 2011 2:45 pm

So sorry, the picture I linked to was a slightly different picture than the one being discussed. It was taken by the same photographer for the same sales point, but was taken either just before or just after the one being discussed. Again, I am sorry for the mistake.
BTW, I am no photo expert but there is a two pixel whiteish area in the upper right hand of the plume that doesn’t make sense.

November 25, 2011 2:46 pm

Wil says:
November 25, 2011 at 1:27 pm
“Lol – I live in Fort McMurray – the most photo-shopped stacks on the planet. In by far the most photo-shopped tailings ponds, landscape – or moonscape if using the photo-shopped version – since this planet was formed 4+ billion years ago. You guys are ALL small time amateurs – we destroy entire planets. ”
I can tell you that the destruction hasn’t reached me yet in Braunschweig, Germany, so, no, you didn’t destroy the entire planet yet. Actually it’s pretty nice around here. Maybe you should solve your local problems?

November 25, 2011 2:55 pm

Rosco – when you burn coal and oil (and other fuels) there is no escaping the need to dispose of combustion products. For power generation at the scale of terra watts, the volume of flue gas is immense.
Scrubbers do not remove CO2. I don’t think this gas is a pollutant although it does produce a weak acid when mixed with water. Like it or not, there are people who consider it to be a pollutant, and in the market for ideas, perception counts.
Scrubbers remove the great majority of dust and sour oxides in percentage terms, although total volume is still considerable. It is not reasonable to imply that there are no emissions. And a power station boiler is a heat exchanger.

November 25, 2011 2:57 pm

Wil says:
November 25, 2011 at 1:27 pm
“Lol – I live in Fort McMurray – the most photo-shopped stacks on the planet. In by far the most photo-shopped tailings ponds, landscape – or moonscape if using the photo-shopped version – since this planet was formed 4+ billion years ago. You guys are ALL small time amateurs – we destroy entire planets. ”
Ah, that natural Oil spill cleaning operation. I have good news for you. You’re surrounded by millions of square miles of pristine forest. So if that small operation bothers you just move 10 miles in any direction.
And I thought it was something big.

Al Gored
November 25, 2011 2:57 pm

The use of photos steam on cold days is a standard trick. With or without photoshopping it is designed to mislead.
But maybe AGW photoshoppers ought to invent some new terminology. They can call pixels proxies and then mix them up in the fine Hockey Schtick tradition. And then ‘adjust’ them to account for Chinese aerosols and all that.
A few dead polar bears lying beneath some of these stacks would have been nice.

Steve Keohane
November 25, 2011 3:02 pm

Gail Combs says: November 25, 2011 at 1:53 pm
I think I agree with the Prof. Photographer. The Photo was not “Photoshopped” It was created using filters and high contrast type film.

I would also guess a polarizing filter would darken the steam’s diffuse light. I still have my old Pentax Spotmatic 35mm I got new in ’71. Things were done in the darkroom, if you did your own film, that are/were the equivalent of Photoshop in digital photography. The chemical process produced a lot more unique, unexpected and unreproducible results in my experience.

November 25, 2011 3:29 pm

Because of a Kalifornia moonbat law that required the neutering of all Pit-bulls, and a panicking landlord, I was forced to neuter my dog. Afterwards, I wanted to make a statement. I set about trying to take a photo of him looking all miserable and dejected in his Elizabethan Collar, and caption it, “This is what the Lefties want to do to you!”. Being a normal happy and care-free Pit-bull, he did not cooperate (he though the stupid collar was a toy!). I ended up taking some 30 photos before I got what I wanted.
Was the photo genuine? Yes it was.
Was it propaganda? Most certainly. Though the photo was real, it misrepresented my dogs response to his situation.
To thous commenting that Photoshopping means nothing, The fact remains that the image is being used to create a false impression. Using the truth to lie is still a lie.

November 25, 2011 3:30 pm

I predict, with certainty, another coffee table art publication looming……. just in time for Christmas.
“…..It was this drive, like a ship powering through Antarctic waters, pushing aside floes, which left in its wake relationships, family life and, most damaging from the point of view of posterity, a shadow over his photographs through his manipulation of images. It wasn’t called manipulation back then; it was called composite photography. One famous Hurley image of Shackleton leaving on his rescue mission for South Georgia in 1916 after their ship had been broken up by ice has a sky background of sun rays radiating from behind a cloud, much like a religious fresco from the Middle Ages. Hurley added it to the scene for dramatic effect.
The commercial success of Antarctica adventures depended heavily on the money that could be recouped afterwards from exhibitions and films. Hurley threw himself into the tasks, often accompanying the film to theatres and providing the narration. He even made a second trip to South Georgia for the Shackleton film to capture wildlife he missed on the first.”……
bold added 🙂

Nigel McDougall
November 25, 2011 3:36 pm

Just a minor point: steam is invisible. I know this because I just boiled an egg for my wife’s breakfast. The white stuff that got sucked up by the exhaust fan was not steam – it was condensed steam, i.e. cloud, fog, mist.
Readers might be amused by a municipal law in Tasmania. The smoke from a wood fire must not exceed 15 metres, or is it 10 metres, who cares it is unenforceable … or is it? On cold, humid mornings the plumes from wood heaters are long and white. The local council hasn’t prosecuted anyone yet. How would they meausre a plume from a flue, and how would they prove that it was smoke not water? I suppose they could change the colour of the plume, by engineering a photo, to convince a magistrate that a flue was emitting planet-killing pollution.

November 25, 2011 3:58 pm

Anthony, have you noticed, if you put both images
into Google image search, Google automatically comes up with a search proposal co2 for those images!
The words “carbon-dioxide” in the first image might trigger this, but what about the 2nd image?
Google seems to be very biased!

Richard Saumarez
November 25, 2011 3:59 pm

I don’t understand why they should want to turn steam clouds black. Why not pink? Or even worse, Green.

Another Gareth
November 25, 2011 4:03 pm

There are a number of pictures taken by John Giles at the same time as this one viewable (albeit with an appropriate watermark across them) at
Search for the word eggborough

mike g
November 25, 2011 4:04 pm

Sometimes there is a puff of black smoke from a coal plant’s stack if there is a startup in progress or some kind of upset occurs. The regulator has opacity meters installed on the stacks to measure this and strictly limits the amount of black smoke that can be emitted. As has been mentioned the effluent from the stack is not steam. It is flue gases, CO2, NO2, etc, and what particulates have not been precipitated out of the flue gases. It is “steam” you see rising from the hyperbolic cooling towers. There was a comment about what a waste that was and that it should be possible to use it for district heat. Not so. District heat provided from a coal burning power plant would use some of the main or extraction steam, which would sacrifice some of the plant’s efficiency to provide a saleable product (steam for district heat). What comes from the cooling towers is merely water vapor and, mostly, water droplets from the exchange of the heat in the circulating water with the atmosphere. This water is perhaps 105ºF when it enters the cooling tower and something close to ambient air temperature, or a little below, when it leaves the cooling tower and is returned to the turbine’s condenser. Upwards of 50% of the unit’s heat is lost through the cooling towers. But, it isn’t useful for much since its temperature is so low.

November 25, 2011 4:12 pm

So the BBC was using this (probably stock) photo nearly 5 years ago:
Move along guys, nothing to see here….

mike g
November 25, 2011 4:12 pm

The energy provided by such power stations is what allows each of us to enjoy our standard of living. It will not be replaced by wind or any other renewable resource without considerable negative effect on those living standards. The aggregate effect of the effluent on ones health is trivial compared to the effect on ones health of freezing in the dark.

November 25, 2011 4:16 pm

I’m always bemused when images of this nature are trotted out as ‘proof’. Especially when they talk about Carbon Dioxide, which is a ‘colourless, odourless gas’ above 216.6 degrees Kelvin. Surely ‘massive plumes of CO2’ would be invisible?

Dizzy Ringo
November 25, 2011 4:18 pm

I think the most disturbing thing is that. although they claim to be scientists, they haven’t the foggiest idea of how a power station generates electricity.

Gail Combs
November 25, 2011 4:19 pm

Ron says:
November 25, 2011 at 2:42 pm
…..I do absolutely believe the profession has an overwhelming bias through peer enforcement and employer mandate towards integrity in that regard, unlike the climate science profession. Again, I think the photographer himself should weigh in, and perhaps he will eventually. Anthony’s site is widely read.
I hope you are correct, but I have seen the news media used as a “weapon” too many times to think there is much ” integrity” left at least at the higher levels.
Yes there is integrity at the lower levels thank goodness but if the story steps on the wrong toes it is OUT. I know of four journalists fired over issues during the “Farm Wars” here in the USA and at least two other self serving lies. Lies where I was in a position to KNOW the TV news coverage AND FILM FOOTAGE was not just “Doctored” but entirely fictional because I was at ground zero and I know what happened.
As my Father-in-law, owner of a newspaper, used to say, the only thing you can trust is true in a newspaper is the sports scores.

November 25, 2011 4:25 pm

There is a lot of grey and dark grey in the photo of the Earth’s atmosphere in the header of this blog… I see some ominous plumes too… hmmm… is it all water vapour?…
Ahhh… it IS photoshopped!
Still a very beautiful view tough… 😉

Patrick Davis
November 25, 2011 5:05 pm

“Rosco says:
November 25, 2011 at 2:20 pm”
He was once a full-blown supporter of the coming ice age scare in the 70’s as I recall.

November 25, 2011 5:35 pm

Ron says November 25, 2011 at 2:06 pm:
@gail combs. You made me smile. We use digital cameras and photoshop exclusively these days. Most of us haven’t seen a roll of film in the last 15 years. …

As a measure towards accuracy, accountability, traceability and authenticity, *I* have made it policy to retain the untouched originals for any pictures/images I have taken, should the need arise in a public forum or a courtroom to defend my photographic ‘works’ or what my works depict … can this be said by everyone?

November 25, 2011 6:11 pm

Is it any wonder that when the communist terrorist in the western world disappeared in the late 80’s that the militant lying cheatards greens was belched out to take its place in, oh wait for it, the late 80’s?
It’s so sad really, because the true green, grass roots, never really lied and cheated about anything until they got infiltrated by the socialists. :p

Ian H
November 25, 2011 6:33 pm

From the comments it looks like a lot of Journalists are here – to keep an eye on the unfolding revelations from the climategate material no doubt. Journalists are supposedly interested in the news. However I’ve observed that they are typically more interested in discussing Journalism. No doubt that is why so many have ended up congregating here.

November 25, 2011 7:44 pm

Hey Ian. Everyone reading here could only hope ‘a lot of Journalists are here’. So far in this thread, I think I am the only confessed journalist that I’ve seen, and a photo journalist at that. The *reason* I am here, posting on this thread, is that it concerns my area of long expertise, thirty years worth, both in the field and management. We all could use more journalists here, and should seek ways of making that so. Because… most journalists I work with, and likely most journalists period, would not have the time of day for a sceptical non-AGW point of view such as that expressed ever so cleverly and correctly here. Let us work together huh?

November 25, 2011 10:02 pm

Hint to Journalists, everything about Climate Science’s alleged “science” is fake: “perception is reality.”

November 25, 2011 11:23 pm

Scrubbing CO2 from air could be a long-term commitment
Submitted by Jamie Williamson on Fri, 07/02/2010 – 15:06 Washington

Peter Melia
November 26, 2011 12:14 am

The photo is in today’s Daily Telegraph, someone named Lean.
I joined the legions of commenters protesting about it.
He might be having a lean time this morning.

November 26, 2011 12:17 am

In Tips n Notes
View from the Solent
posted two links of interest. A letter from Lord Turnbull & Lord Lawson to Chris Huhne (UK Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change) and the other link on scams and how they develop in for eg health.
Climate Gate: A symptom of driving science off the cliff
Being driven off a cliff reminded me, besides lemmings, photo-shopping and such, of the first colour feature film produced in Australia. The dramatic Jedda (1955) and all the photo-shopping in shades of colour, geography and rock art that went on with this film. And the subsequent digital remix for DVD release. All the colours changed! The main actors were all dubbed, with the narrator (and a main actor) of the plot (Joe) attributed with a false name in the credits.
Link below 1/3 provides a clip of Jedda who Marbuck stole and which the elders sung him to death for this behaviour.
‘Joe’s’ real identity was apparently not realised until 1994, when ‘accidentally’ he was interviewed at a BBQ. (BBQ – where Ozzies stand around outside cooking steak on a gas or wood fired appliance).
…a shocking account of the institutional privileges of whiteness is a post-modern account of [black] theatre and its influence on race relations projected to the Australian landscape and peoples.
Sadly, Robert Tudawali (Marbuck) of northern Australia (Tiwi Islands) of Jedda fame died in 1967 as a result of continuing ill-health & compounded by burns possibly caused when he was set alight when he refused to allow his young daughter to be taken for marriage.
Rosalie Kunoth (played Jedda) of central Australia continued her career away from formal acting and is now Chancellor of a university & Shire President, representing also her homelands of Utopia in Central Australia.

November 26, 2011 12:20 am

I hate to say it, but one of your examples is clearly not a “shop”. It might be processed in Photoshop, but it is not altered in terms of cloud appearance.
I’m working in the visual effects industry. Even for someone with a professional background it would be a massive pain in the behind to tone down those faint clouds without also receiving heavy edge artifacts against the light sky background. And even if you made it, why would you then omit parts of the white clouds from that adjustment? It doesn’t make sense at all…
For me that is clearly a cloud shadow hitting the plumes. You can even recognize the straight outlines of that shadow volume precisely following the lighting direction and perspective.

November 26, 2011 1:21 am

Some dislike the term “photoshopped” because there are other image processing programs with different names that produce similar to better effects. (For example, I have been using CorelDraw since 1993). So, running a specific Adobe Photoshop detector over an image might not give the right answer. There are many techniques to fiddle the steam in the examples shown. Some detection techniques that work on digital camera images do not work on film images scanned separately.
As a phlatelist, I have developed forensic methods to find minute variations in postage stamps and I would almost guarantee that I could produce a false defect that one would not be able to prove as being false. The reverse equation, whether I can find all examples of adjustments in a set of trial stamps or photos, is harder to answer, since much depends on file size. I usually work with image files of 30MB or so, so these tiny creatures for Internet transmission after heaps of compression can be quite difficult.
BTW, a reputable stock agency would perhaps be interested in the laws broken by users who modify their stock images without express permission. It’s like a copyright infringement (and it’s an insult to the photographer as well.)

Mike McMillan
November 26, 2011 1:33 am

Yep, Photoshopped.
Most images these days are jpeg format, whose lossy DCT compression algorithm divides the image into 8×8 pixel squares. Enlarged enough to see the pixels, you find horizontal, vertical, and checkerboard patterns, aliases that result from the math formula applied to the square. After you Photoshop a jpeg, you then have to recompress the image to save it, so you are compressing the false alias data, resulting in more alias data at the pixel level.
Unless you crop exactly on the 8 pixel boundaries, you get additional distortion. This happened In the smokestack image, where you can see the recompressed squares offset and overlying the original squares, rather than having the clean square boundaries of an original image.
About the only practical way to trick up an image is to start with a RAW image, uncompressed but ridiculously large. Better cameras can save in the RAW format, and Photoshop can handle RAW images. After you retouch it, you can then save it as a jpeg, and it will look original, at least at the pixel level.
But why bother? It’s not like cuddly drowning polar bears emitting CO2 images are going to be peer reviewed or anything.

Another Gareth
November 26, 2011 1:39 am

Having considered this picture and the others like it by the same photographer at the PA image library I linked to above, I’m quite settled on it not being photoshopped. For a start, if it was me altering it digitally I would have removed the incidences of dust that have appeared on some of the other images due to using a small aperture on the camera.
Setting the camera to correctly capture the bright blue cloudless sky in the background and standing in the right place would be enough to achieve those images imo.

Ben of Houston
November 26, 2011 2:49 am

Any Idiot with a smoke readers license can tell that’s steam. It’s too fluffy to be smoke.
Seriously. That’s how you tell white (sulfur) smoke from steam, by the fluffiness (it’s hard to describe). Steam behaves completely differently than smoke, and you never have smoke in the middle of a steam plume. If it’s hot enough to smoke then it’s evaporated all the water off. If it’s not, then if it’s a flare, the steam will be focusing the flame. If it’s a boiler, the steam will knock out the smoke.

November 26, 2011 2:57 am

It seems odd to me that from the same stack a plume with both white billows and dark would emerge. See the upper part of the plume? Billows white as snow. How would that happen?

November 26, 2011 3:23 am

Outstanding post. Lies are endemic in the establishment, and not just with regard to AGM.

John Marshall
November 26, 2011 3:33 am

Why has Eggborough Power station come in for so much attention? It is not the largest in the UK, which is Drax, though Drax has started to burn wood chips for some unaccountable reason. I trust they will return to coal soon if only to up the power output.

Bloke down the pub
November 26, 2011 3:44 am

This is not a new problem, in fact it pre-dates photo-shop and the like. About thirty years ago I wrote to the editor of the Telegraph about a photo they had printed which had a giveaway clue that it had been altered. I suggested that it reduced confidence in their publication but his rather snotty reply claimed they only adjusted photos to make them clearer, even though that particular example had gone much further. Nothing new under the sun.

November 26, 2011 3:59 am

Geoff Sherrington @ 1.21am
Gee Geoff, would you be able to produce a reasonable likeness to one of those 1885 blue 4 pence Inverted Black Swan stamps?

November 26, 2011 4:18 am

Living in Thailand I could have given them any number of pictures of flooded houses from the ongoing (4 months and counting) flooding disaster. Naturally the government – at the urging of the UN secretary general who happened to be in town doing photo-ops wearing a life vest – blamed global warming. The real reason was the idiot agriculture minister decided to release 9 billion cubic metres of water from the upcountry dams at the very instant that 7 billion cubic metres of seasonal monsoon water were flowing down off the central plateau and it hit fair and square on the main flood plain north of Bangkok, where previous governments happened to have placed the country’s main manufacturing plants (including the all important electronics and automotive factories – numbers 1 and 2 export earners) cutting down the forests and filling in the run off canals as they did so.
I think this is one reason governments love the whole scam, it allows them to blame someone else for their horrendous foul ups.

Steve Keohane
November 26, 2011 5:36 am

Geoff Sherrington says: November 26, 2011 at 1:21 am
BTW, a reputable stock agency would perhaps be interested in the laws broken by users who modify their stock images without express permission. It’s like a copyright infringement (and it’s an insult to the photographer as well.)

In the art world, where people do mixed-media/collage, changing an original image 35%,is enough to render it a new image, avoiding copyright infringement. ( in the US )

November 26, 2011 6:26 am

Have a go at this photo. I’d be interested to hear the interpretations from the armchair critics here.

old construction worker
November 26, 2011 6:31 am

I have look at both images of the towers. To me, in the first image, the tower and vapor looks out of portion as if the tower and the vapor were taken at different distances. Also it looks as if the image of tower was taken at a different time of day than the vapor. Too much lost of detail on the shaded side of the tower. But what do I know, I’m just an old construction worker.

Alex the skeptic
November 26, 2011 7:11 am

This photoshopping reveelation increases more and more my belief in man-made global warming. I mean it is all man-made; the photos, the hockey-sticks, the hidden declines, all of it is man-made. All scams, in fact, are man-made.

Alex the skeptic
November 26, 2011 7:23 am

Laurie says:
November 26, 2011 at 2:57 am
It seems odd to me that from the same stack a plume with both white billows and dark would emerge. See the upper part of the plume? Billows white as snow. How would that happen?
Well Laurie, how does that happen? Never heard of man-made global warming? LOL

Peter Plail
November 26, 2011 1:01 pm

There are some pretty naive people commenting here. Suggesting that the press don’t do things like this because there are rules against it seems pretty laughable considering the current telephone hacking enquiry currently under way in the UK.
As for the image in question, I am prepared to believe that it is pretty much as taken and that Photoshop was used for legitimate purposes. I live about 10 miles from Fiddler’s Ferry power station ( The cooling towers generate massive quantities of vapour and depending on weather conditions can have a massive effect on the local climate. I have observed on an otherwise clear, sunny days, clouds forming above and downwind of the towers. The clouds extent literally for miles and are of sufficient thickness to blot out sunlight from the unfortunate residents underneath, for hours at a time. The shaded area is clearly visible from high ground around Daresbury a few miles south-east of the station across the Mersey.
PS I am a regular user of Corel Photopaint to modify photographs to create images for clients which would be difficult or too costly to create otherwise.

November 26, 2011 7:15 pm

This is old news for Canada’s CBC too:

Ben of Houston
November 26, 2011 7:17 pm

Ron, I see that every morning. The steam plume is backlit by the dawn and it appears Black. If you look at that picture, the plumes are fluffy and the coloration is completely wrong for black smoke. It appears to be a series of short cooling towers with a wet scrubber on the right.

November 26, 2011 7:46 pm

Jordan said
“Rosco – when you burn coal and oil (and other fuels) there is no escaping the need to dispose of combustion products. ”
I think we all know that – the simple fact is in the past smoke stacks were dirty and today there is almost no visible emissions of smoke or particulates – a huge improvement that those old enough to remember appreciate.
I never said anything about CO2 – obviously there is no installed technology to remove it – BUT the real pollutants – the sulphur oxides, particulates etc – have been removed to an amazing extent.
It is disingenuous to call a boiler a heat exchanger. To enlighten you – heat exchangers recover water from the steam. The emissions from heat exchangers is water vapour and very little else.
For your info the idea of a boiler is to increase the pressure in the steam and “superheat” it – I’m sorry to inform you that steam is contained in the boiler /turbine system not released as you seem to imply by your comment.
My Dad was a power station engineer and I have engineering qualifications – I found your comments discourteous – you should appreciate there have been massive strides in pollution reduction – that was my job for 30 years to enforce antipollution laws .
No one ever said 100% had been achieved – all I highlighted is the dishonesty that Anthony identified – the misuse of harmless emissions of water vapour designed to hoodwink gullible people.

November 26, 2011 8:33 pm

Steve Keohane says: November 26, 2011 at 5:36 am re 35% altered content
I can’t start to imagine how one would conclude that 35% of an image (or more or less) was altered. Perhaps you could give an example. Some organisations split images into altered and unaltered classes for purposes like competition or news reports. I have no objection to manipulation, so long as it is stated.
Ron says:
November 26, 2011 at 6:26 am. Have a go at this photo.
Almost impossible. The RAW file, perhaps, but not this tiny jumble.
You might keep in mind that people, including me, who have worked for years on subtle ways to detect alteration are not going to reveal their secrets. That would simply allow fakers and cheats to work around the detection methods. You might be surprised at the extent of cheating among some of the big names in photography world-wide, who seem to think that their greatness takes them beyond the rules of mere mortals. On the bright side, I suppose a few past counterfeiters honed their skills in the many idle hours spent in prisons.

P.G. Sharrow
November 26, 2011 11:08 pm

If you look at the right stack, you will see smoke. The left stack is mostly steam. As to “Photo Shop” I doubt if it was needed to “get” the needed picture, just to “size” the picture for the article print. pg

Steve Keohane
November 27, 2011 9:03 am

Geoff Sherrington says: November 26, 2011 at 8:33 pm
Steve Keohane says: November 26, 2011 at 5:36 am re 35% altered content
I can’t start to imagine how one would conclude that 35% of an image (or more or less) was altered. Perhaps you could give an example.

I can’t give an example, I am told this by an artist with a PhD in art, who taught art for 20 years. It is a legal concept, presumably determined in court. Sounds like a very messy pursuit should one try to take up that exercise.

Steve Keohane
November 27, 2011 9:24 am

Geoff Sherrington says: November 26, 2011 at 8:33 pm
You might keep in mind that people, including me, who have worked for years on subtle ways to detect alteration are not going to reveal their secrets.

I imagine digital pixels are easier to detect than chemical grain fakery, as a chemical negative fake can be generated, and would be an original image. The digital side is another matter. I stumbled into a career via a teenage hobby of photography and darkroom experience in the sixties. After working for two start-up IC fabs, went to a big house, HP. I spent my last two years researching two sub-micron optical microscopes with digital measuring capabilities. One was heavily enhanced digitalization, from a company that was doing satellite image enhancement for the gov’t, essentially creating ‘new’ pixels by interpolation from surrounding pixels. This was well over 20 years ago, CCD chips were small, and only in grey scale. It has been interesting to see how the shift from film to bytes has transitioned.

November 27, 2011 2:59 pm

Rosco – you tend to overstate the performance of flue gas clean-up, and references to “heat exchangers” were vague.
A boiler is a heat exchanger, so nothing disingenuous from me on that one.
The boiler transfers thermal energy from the hot flue gases to the water circulaing in the steam cycle.
The boiler doesn’t pressurise steam in the Carnot or Rankine cycles – that’s the job of the boiler feed pump.
From your comments, it looks like you are referring to the condenser. But that’s reading between the lines – you never actually made it clear.
Saying that sour oxides have been removed to “an amazing extent” is the type of hyped-up claim that usually attracts criticism here.
SO2 and NOx removal rates can be in upper-ninety %, but thats for optimum steady state conditions and maximum output. Most fossil-fuel-fired power stations only spend some of their time at optimum conditions, and spend much of their time responding to demand and providing balancing services. Removal performance is lower in practice.
As somebody said above, one of the generating units could have been going through a start- up when the above photo was taken of the Eggborough Power Station stack. I can assure you that there will be a dark-smoky plume for quite some time as the boiler is slowly warmed during a start.
I made no suggestion that steam in the steam cycle is released (although there is a steady release of steam known as “blowdown” which is necessary for management of boiler water chemistry).
It’s a pity that you found my comments discourteous, but yours were vague and made exaggerated claims. That kind of thing can reflect badly on the discussion on these boards.
Look again at the main topic of this discussion – it is the Eggborough stack. There is a lot more than water vapour in that plume. I hope that people don’t go running off to take issue with that photo by claiming that the plume is steam. Fine if people want to raise objections to other photos of cooling towers.

George E. Smith;
November 27, 2011 5:32 pm

“”””” robertdavidgraham says:
November 25, 2011 at 12:58 pm
Here is another image by John Giles of the same stack, that you can analyze with TinEye and PSKiller:,,2306742_4,00.jpg “””””
So all those who claim that the sun is behind this “cloud”, and the thickness (density) of the cloud is preventing light from shining through it, please point to exactly where behind the cloud the sun actually is.
Note that the near side of the chimney is totally featureless, with all pixels virtually at zero. I suggest that this could not occur, if the sun is behind the cloud; much more likely that is is dead center behind the chimney. Referring to robert’s above posted picture, of course.
I’ve looked at a lot of clouds in front of the sun; never seen one that looks quite like that one; the black areas simply don’t match the cloud thickness or density, specially with the sun actually behind the chimney; if it was behind the cloud, the left edge of the chimney would be sunlit.
Sorry the sun is a hald degree near point source, and as clar as that blue sky is (in the foreground) the near sun scatter would be small. (but not zero).
I’d say the picture is faked somehow, even if just with filters.

November 28, 2011 7:07 am

It looks Photoshopped to me

November 28, 2011 12:40 pm

I have written (snail mail) to Geoffrey Lean asking him to publish the original unadulterated image. In case you didn’t know, his stance on climate affairs resembles that of a typical Team member, and he gets to write in The Telegraph perhaps two or three times a week, I seem to remember. Now Christopher Booker (Sunday Telegraph amongst other English papers) is entirely different. He’s a true sceptic and an effective author.

November 28, 2011 1:44 pm

RE: Eggborough et al … I love riding the train from London to York (or driving on parallel motorways / A roads). Seeing the massive power stations makes me utter … KING COAL!!!! YEAH BABY! Cooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllllll …………… !

Ray B
November 28, 2011 8:59 pm

As someone with almost 500K digital images under his belt I’d like to weigh in.
Angle one- angle.. Digital cameras have a lot less stops of contrast than the eye. They do not see into shadows well, and tend to darken the midtones in the shadows. You can easily get the effect of the darker clouds on the bottom by shooting past or off to one side of the bottom to a lighter area. The camera meters to the lighter area, leaving the bottom quite dark. I use this technique frequently to get the effect that I am looking for, often on sunsets and sometimes on snowmobiling pictures.
Item two is LEVELS. Take the photo into Photoshop or Fireworks. In Photoshop I believe it is Image>Adjust>levels. In Fireworks it is Extras>Adjust Color>Levels.
Move the center slider responsible for the mid tones most of the way to the right. It drops the mids from the image, leaving the bottom of the cloud quite dark. Try it once.
I use that same center slider moved a little to the left to overcome the deficiency of digital cameras to look into shadows. It lightens up the mids giving some detail in shadowed areas. That cuts both ways, and I can make that cloud quite dark and menacing with the adjustment of that one center slider.

Bergman Oswell
December 2, 2011 8:18 pm

If your cooling tower is producing black steam, the problem is not nuclear power, but the local water quality.

Mark P. Kessinger
December 5, 2011 1:27 am

This is a fundamentally dishonest criticism, frankly. The images as used in the report are presented as un-captioned design elements, intended to provide some visual interest to the printed page as well as to provide the reader with a visual cue as to what the text is referring to in that general area of the report. There is absolutely nothing deceptive about altering a stock photograph, so long as that photograph is not presented as a image of an specific place at a specific point in time. These kinds of design graphics are used every day in official reports both in the private sector as well as in government. There iks nothing at all wrong or deceptive about the practice per se.
On the other hand, when an entity such as, oh, say, Fox News, presents an image of, oh, say, a Glenn Beck rally in DC, and Photoshops in parts of the crowd from another event such as, oh, say President Obama’s inauguration, and airs that image as being a fair visual representation of the event being reported on, that is deceptive, because it DOES purport to be a valid visual representation of a particular place at a particular point in time.
Below is link to a graphic I created from page 58 of that report, the page which contains the image. (And no, i have NOT edited the graphic other than to extract the page from the full .PDF file and to then save it as a .JPG file.

Mark P. Kessinger
December 5, 2011 2:13 pm

[SNIP: Policy violation. -REP]

Joe Horner
December 9, 2011 11:15 am

Even worse example of this just been broadcast on ITV news here in the UK about 6:50pm at the start of an item on Durban). Not only were the cooling towers belching black smoke, but they had glowing red blobs almost as if they were “alive” with evil coal!

Joe Horner
December 9, 2011 11:16 am

Ps: needless to say a complaint HAS gone to Ofcom, for all the good it might do!

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