Sorting the Real Sandy Photos From the Fakes

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Does this all make the Reuters photo less real? No. But it's a good reminder that the reality a photograph captures is always subject to the vagaries of lens and light. Small tweaks in the way you capture light can lead to very different images. (If you'd like a deeper reflection, I'd refer to Errol Morris.)

Also verified is this incredible image of a tanker washed up last night on the shores of Staten Island.

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And ... yes, it is real. Here's video from last night's ABC Eyewitness News broadcast showing the tanker at rest. The journalists heard a report of the tanker's grounding; they sent reporter Michelle Charlesworth down to check it out for herself. She was greeted with a scene that, save for being actual, was incredible. "We just couldn't believe it," Charlesworth said in her broadcast. "It looks like something out of a movie." 

*****

This is an easy one: this scuba diver in a flooded Times Square station was trotted out before the storm. Gizmodo (which is down) had it up at 11:05am. It's fake. At best, think of it as an artist's conception.

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Everything about the lit-up Jane's Carousel pictures from Dumbo scream fake. One, the carousel is gorgeous. Two, it's lit up like a beacon amidst the dark of the flood waters. Why are the lights on? Three, it seems difficult to get this photograph from that area. Shouldn't the photographer have evacuated? 

Well, yes, it turns out. Anna Dorfman, a book designer who lives in Dumbo, took this photo shortly before evacuating. She's confirmed that she took it. Another Instagram user and Dumbo resident, Ana Adjelic, also posted a photo of the carousel from a different angle. And we also got independent confirmation from a journalist Jeff Howe that another friend who lives in the area had sent him similar photographs. These may be the most improbable and striking images of the night, and they are real. There will be moments of serendipity and islands of beauty amidst any storm. 

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Here's an meme that's been resurrected. This seal survived the Duluth Zoo flood earlier this year. He's now being trotted out as a "wide-eyed seal" that appeared in Manhattan. Do not be fooled. This is not from Sandy.

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This 86th Street Station photo seems dubious. Brendan Cain laid out the case against the photo. "Track trough shouldn't be that opaque. It's not *that* deep," he wrote to me. He also noted that Broadway and 86th is 77 feet above sea level, much higher than downtown areas. 

But, the origin of the photo is an Instagram user named ninjapito, who hashtagged his posts, #brooklyn. If it does turn out to be real, it is most likely a picture of the 86th Street Station out in Brooklyn. I'm keeping this one at unverified, but it is definitely *not* a photograph of the 86th Street station in Manhattan. Stay tuned for updates.

Ok, update 1:32am: Mashable Stephanie Haberman notes that the geotag on the Instagram photo is 9.5 miles away from the 86th Street station at which it was supposedly taken. Suspicious. Consider that circle down there to be closer to orange than yellow. 

Dang, update 1:33am: Countervailing evidence! Brooklynite @RoseTintedVisor reports that the N line is, in fact, inundated with water, including the station near his house further down the line. "It looks like a fucking river," he told me. He also pointed me to another photo showing the N as waterway

Update, 1:51am: @RoseTintedVisor delivered pics of his own from further down the N line. It looks bad.

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Buzzfeed posted a shocking image of FDR Drive underwater without clear provenance although in the square style of Instagram. Our social media editor, Chris Heller, followed up on that video with a YouTube clip that clearly shows the road near the E 34th St exit under water. (That user, Ethan Ruttenberg has posted a series of videos of FDR under water to his YouTube account.) It's not a perfect verification, but even if someone took the time to create an elaborate fake, the reality outside is equally as bad. 

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I'm sad to report that this is as real as it gets. The photo below is an official Associated Press photograph by John Minchillo.

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Risk management experts have warned that New York's subway infrastructure could flood. Still, this photo was one of the most suspect I've seen so far. Sadly, it turns out to be real. It shows water rushing into the Hoboken PATH station through an elevator shaft. The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey just tweeted it from an official account. This actually happened.

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Here we see massive flooding in Stuy Town at 20th and C. At first I was suspicious of this photo, but it appears to have been taken by Sriram Satish, an NYU Stern student who lives in that area. I haven't been able to reach Satish, I reached Satish and he says that a friend of his posted it to Facebook, but that he's been in contact with that person and considers it verified. (The context provided in his Twitter feed also gives me confidence that this is a real photograph, i.e. he is a real person living in this area of New York.) It's also important to understand the geographical context of this photo. Though it looks like it was taken in the middle of the city, the East River is very, very close to where the photograph was taken. Take a look for yourself in Google Street View (That's the reverse shot of the image below.)  So, it's plausible that this level of flooding could take place there.

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