This slide show from The New York Times Magazine takes a look at the abandoned and stalled buildings form around the country that epitomize the bust of the building market.
Photographer Edgar Martins toured throughout the U.S. to document these sites, which range from the typical Sun Belt subdivision to Connecticut McMansions to a mega casino project in Las Vegas.
"The abandoned or stalled developments -- and Matins's photos of them -- can be seen as signs of the hubris (and occasional criminality) that typified the boom and the economic and human damage that remained in its wake."
I am not sure if this was an online only thing or if these photos were in the real NY Times Magazine. So I went to the link and there is no slide show- only this "Editors' Note: July 7, 2009 The pictures in this feature were removed after questions were raised about whether they had been digitally altered." This seems odd and a big deal for the NY Times to publish photos and then take them down. Here is a news story about this but it doesn't say much more.
There is a meta filter page where people discuss whether the photos were altered. The folks there carefully examined the photos and noted that some of the photos looked like the artist split photos and created a mirror image side-by-side to create a certain symmetrical look of a building. Of the 49 on the website, I can only see a couple where this would have even been possible.
This is not a photo of some complicated current news story like a violent protest or murder scene where it is somewhat like a false story to have an altered photo.
You CAN still see the photos at the photographer's website. Go to Photography and then Ruins of the Gilded Age and then go to the PHOTOS button and you can see 49 excellent photos.
They are great and almost all of these do not seem altered in any signficant way and even the 2 or 3 that may be do not make the story any less honest. These are art photographs so if he took one of a home and did some changes to it to make it look a bit more foggy or grey, took out a truck, that is fine. It is one artists impression of a problem. Even the ones with the possible mirror change, maybe the other side had some flaw that looked odd and the mirror one probably looks very similar to the original. He took real photos and selected them and presented them in a way to make an impression. It is not like he took a photo of a nice home and put fake bullet holes in the side. It is like a painter who walks around looking and homeless people and then paints a picture of a homeless person that is not exactly like the people he saw and then it is put on the cover of a magazine.
There is not a fine line between real photos and altered photos. All published photos go through some touch ups or changes.
Who would even care about this? Initially I thought that a developer or owner of one of these projects did not want his project to look empty or abandoned and asked the NY Times to take them down but now it seems that some photos sleuths caught a couple of fishy looking photos and the NY Times editors found out about it.
Bad call, these are great photos which capture an important piece of our economic meltdown around the country. NY Times, put them back up.
EXTRA: this PDN webpage has more evidence of the altercations of a few photos. While I guess they caught him I still don't think it really matters. Most of these altercations seem so minor they do not detract from the subject. Two of these photoshop changes are pieces of the foreground or background or blurry areas that are not really part of what you are looking at. Maybe there was something that looked funny and detracted from the subject that they wanted removed.