They came. They saw.
We didn't quite buy the photographic evidence.
"Worst. Photoshop. Ever," snarked one poster on Flickr, the online photography community, about Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's appearance in an online Pittsburgh Post-Gazette photo in front of Fallingwater. The celebrity pair, in town to celebrate Pitt's birthday, looked to many as if they been digitally dropped in front of the Frank Lloyd Wright treasure from another shot entirely (above, left).
The demon hand of Photoshop seemed visible around their gleaming raiment. "Unless, of course, Pitt walks around with a thick black line on his back," added the Flickr poster. "Then OK, it might be real, but I don't remember seeing it in Oceans 11 or Snatch."
Both the P-G and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, which owns the building, insist that the photo provided by the Conservancy is legit, and that the American royals were in fact at the house.
"We did not alter that image in any way," says Cynthia Ference-Kelly, director of communications for the Conservancy. "There would be nothing for us to gain with that." The photo was taken by the Conservancy's curator of education, Cara Armstrong, and given free to media outlets.
Larry Roberts, assistant managing editor for photography at the Post-Gazette, says the lightened image online, which appeared before the darker print version hit newsstands, was simply inexpertly corrected by a P-G photo tech. "It's not a faked photo," he says. "It was just a poor example of lightening a photo."
Most images that appear in print have been tweaked in some way, and this was no different, he says. But the P-G did get lots of calls about the picture, and the blogosphere was alight with speculation.
"So many people are talking about it," says Joe Miksch, who edits and writes the blog Pittsburgh Dish with his wife Colleen Van Tassell. Their entry about the photo mentioned the Flickr fulminating and featured a photo editor friend from Connecticut, opining that the photo appeared to be manipulated.
Miksch, who has worked in daily and weekly newspapers, thought the debate "indicative that people do care about the media -- that's kind of the bright side, it wasn't just the lunatic fringe."
But it included, apparently, a lot of Photoshop-savvy people, who reworked the photo with everyone from Myron Cope to Ron Jeremy and other mythical creatures. For these Photoshopped not-exactly-Brangelinas, see Art Seen, page XX.