Disputed Oswald picture is real, say researchers

It is one of the most controversial pictures in history —a backyard photo of Lee Harvey Oswald showing him holding the same type of rifle used to assassinate US president John F Kennedy.

Disputed Oswald picture is real, say researchers

And now a new analysis has found that the picture is authentic.

Oswald said it was fake, shortly before he himself was assassinated, and conspiracy theorists have long argued the picture was altered as part of a government plot.

Theories that the photo was a fake have been used to cast doubt on the evidence pointing to Oswald as the sole assassin of JFK on November 22, 1963.

However, the picture is real, according to 3D analysis by Dartmouth College, ending an argument that Oswald’s pose is physically implausible, and that there are inconsistencies in the lighting, shadows, and proportions in the image.

Dartmouth College used digital image forensics and 3D modelling.

“Our detailed analysis of Oswald’s pose, the lighting and shadows, and the rifle in his hands refutes the argument of photo tampering,” said Henry Farid, senior author of the study.

Using a 3D model of Oswald, the researchers said they put it in the same pose as Oswald in the photo. Adding mass as part of a “balance analysis” to different parts of the model showed it remained stable and led to the analysis finding the photo physically realistic.

“It is highly improbable that anyone could have created such a perfect forgery with the technology available in 1963,” said Farid. “As our digital forensic tools become more sophisticated, we increasingly have the ability to apply them to historic photos in an attempt to resolve some long-standing mysteries.”

Studies by Farid in 2009 and 2010 rejected the claim that the lighting and shadows are inconsistent, but did not address the claims that Oswald’s pose is physically implausible. In the new study, Farid and his team conducted a 3D stability analysis to determine if this claim was warranted.

Farid said: “Our analysis refutes purported evidence of manipulation in the Oswald photo, but more generally we believe that the type of detailed 3-D modeling performed here can be a powerful forensic tool in reasoning about the physical plausibility of an image.

“With a simple adjustment to the height and weight, the 3D human model that we created can be used to forensically analyse the pose, stability, and shadows in any image of people.”

Dallas police released photographs of Oswald holding the supposed murder weapon, taken by his wife Marina, the day after the murder.

Oswald argued that while the photograph contained his face, somebody had altered the body and rifle elements of the image.

More in this section

IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox