This photograph was taken on October 28, 1898 outside of the agricultural school at Mikve Israel when Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, astride a white stallion, with helmet of gold stopped for a moment on his way to Jerusalem. By the roadside, stood a solemn figure with a black beard: Theodor Herzl, founder of modern Zionism. Herzl considered the Kaiser’s recognition crucial for international approval of his plan to resettle the Jews in the land of Israel. All the Kaiser could muster was the observation: “The land needs water, very much water.”
What’s wrong with the photo? First, the Kaiser is on a dark horse. The original unusable photo can be viewed by clicking here.
On the right edge of the original photo you can just make out Herzl holding his safari hat. The Kaiser’s horse has its head completely out of the frame. Can you imagine taking such a poor photo? Have you ever had one of those days, when nothing seems to go right?
To salvage the situation a photo of Herzl was taken on the roof of the school and superimposed onto the photo after seating Kaiser Wilhelm II on the dark horse and cropping the photo on the right.
Surprised? Actually there are quite a few examples. See the Time magazine website http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1924226,00.html on “Doctored Photos” with the warning “photographers have been manipulating imagery since the medium was invented”.
Here are another two photographs from the early 1900s of Jaffa Gate, after the Kaiser’s visit (the wall has been breached and the moat filled in so that the Empress Augusta Victoria’s carriage can enter). These photos were taken by one of the photographers of the American Colony, probably Lars Larsson. Which one is the earlier one? Do you think the image in either one of them has been manipulated?
The clock tower at Jaffa Gate was one of seven built by the Ottoman Turks in 1908 on the occasion of the silver jubilee of the reign of the Sultan abd al-Hamid II (there are still clock towers in Jaffa, Safed, Nablus, Haifa, Nazareth and Akko) but was taken down by the British about 1920.
The entire American Colony/Matson collection of photographs, some 22,000 negatives were donated by Eric Matson’s heirs to the American Library of Congress who have digitized the collection and made it available for viewing at http://memory.loc.gov/pp/matpchtml/matpcac.html