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The 2005 Crane Accident is a series of 11 photographs involving one small car and two large cranes is an excellent text to use for teaching visual literacy. Most of the photographs are real but the visual “punch line” of the piece, the image showing the second larger crane toppling into the water, is in fact a fake digitally created from earlier photographs in the sequence.

Have your students sequence the photographs (make sure you present them out of order) and see if anyone notices that the last image in the sequence is an altered version of the fifth photograph. People watching the incident are in the same position in the previous image. In photo five, the green crane truck was not even at the scene. Also notice the “smudged” (digitally altered) appearance around the body of the “falling” truck and on the pier. The unchanged position of the rearview mirror reflection in the truck’s windshield proves that the photo was taken when the truck was right-side up and then the image was tilted sideways.

There are other doctored parts of the image. Can your students find them?

See the original photographs of the accident by Nicholas Griffin from Roundstone at the O’Dowds Seafood Bar & Restaurant website.