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Jack White:
"Photogrammetry?" What's That?

Photo "expert" Jack White is convinced that the backyard photos of Oswald holding the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle are faked. Part of his "evidence" for this is supposed discrepancies in the dimensions of various parts of the rifle in different photos. How does one measure the dimensions of objects in photos? Is it as simple as holding a ruler up against the photo? Read on.

Key Concept: Photogrammetry. Defined as the science of making reliable measurements by the use of (usually) aerial photographs in surveying and map making. No one can make any meaningful statements about the relative dimensions of objects in photographs without knowing the basics of photogrammetry. When Jack White gave extensive testimony to the House Select Committee about supposed "discrepancies" in the backyard photos, and various photos of Oswald's rifle, he was grilled about his expertise by HSCA counsel Mickey Goldsmith. The following is from volume II of the House Select Committee. 

For a fuller transcript of White's testimony, click here. For the testimony of a bona fide expert in photogrammetry, explaining how the concept matters, click here

Mr. GOLDSMITH. I see that you have taken a ruler and placed it by Oswald's body and also by his rifle; is that correct?  

Mr. WHITE. Yes.  

Mr. GOLDSMITH. Mr. White, do you believe that an object photographed can be measured simply by placing a ruler against the image in the photograph?  

Mr. WHITE. No.  

Mr. GOLDSMITH. When you measured the object in this photograph, what did you do beyond using the ruler?  

Mr. WHITE. This is strictly a two-dimensional measurement. Obviously I did not take into consideration any perspective which might exist or any other considerations. It is just a mere measurement of the body from the weightbearing foot to the top of the head in each case and of the rifle from the muzzle to the butt.  

Mr. GOLDSMITH. Without giving any account to other factors?  

Mr. WHITE. That is true. I am not a physicist or any sort of a scientist who could determine anything relating to the perspective. We don't know how close the rifle is to his body. We don't know how close the camera is to the subject, so it would be virtually impossible for just a plain citizen like me to interpret the perspective of this photograph.  

Mr. GOLDSMITH. Have you had any training in analytical photogrammetry?  

Mr. WHITE. No.  

Mr. GOLDSMITH. Have you had any formal training in forensic photography?  

Mr. WHITE. No.  


Mr. GOLDSMITH. Mr. White, you have made reference to several points in these photographs that suggest that Oswald's head is disproportionately----  

I withdraw the question.  

That the body of Oswald is not consistent in the various photographs in light of the head size; is that correct?  

Mr. WHITE. Yes.  

Mr. GOLDSMITH. To what extent, if any, did you compute photogrammetrically the effect of an object's tilt on its apparent length in the photograph?  

Mr. WHITE. As I said, I am not a scientist. I don't indulge in that sort of thing.  


Mr. GOLDSMITH. Mr. White, I just have one question.  

Mr. WHITE. All right.  

Mr. GOLDSMITH. When you did this study, did you compute photogrammetrically the effect of tilt on the way that the length of an object appears in a photograph?  

Mr. WHITE. I conducted a study by photographing a yardstick from three different-  

Mr. GOLDSMITH. Mr. White, answer my question. Did you compute photogrammetrically----  

Mr. WHITE. What is "photogrammetrically"? Describe to me what "photogrammetrically" is.  

Mr. GOLDSMITH. I just have one more question Mr. White. Do you know what photogrammetry is?  

Mr. WHITE. No.  

Mr. GOLDSMITH. I have no further questions. Thank you.