Eight issues with the “fake photo ” claim of Max van der Werff

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Dutchman Max van der Werff is a citizen journalist involved in several research projects. His latest research is on MH17. He is particulary interested in the two photos which are supposed to indicate the launch of a BUK missile.

Max his opinion is crystal clear. The photos are fake. And Dutch media is doing a lot of propaganda. He also published an analyse of the photos on his website.

Now in a war the first victim is truth. So everyone which is interested in truth should do its own investigation.

Max did! He went to East Ukraine and visited the area where MH17 crashed. He spoke to several people. He went the the apartment in which the photographer  of  the two smoke trail photos (named Pavel Aleynikov) lived . His goal: determine if the phots are real or faked.

His conclusion is written in this post titled : MH17 – ‘Buk launch photo’s’ are cheats

His opinion is based on his observations:

  1. according Max: the photographer stated he made all photos on the roof of the apartment
  2. according Max the photographer lied three times about taking photos on the roof
  3. the roof does not have cables running over it
  4. the photographer does not release the EXIF info of the photos

So, Max conclude the photos were fake and the photographer lied many times and changed his story.
This was hotnews for Russia’s biggest newsagency Sputniknews. In an article named 
No Smoking Gun: Investigation Casts Doubt on MH17 Buk Missile Trail Photos Sputniknews wrote what Max had found out. How wrong could they be.

Read more: http://sputniknews.com/europe/20150522/1022463965.html#ixzz3bM7xCcMk

This blogpost will show how wrong Max was. His own photos prove there are cables running close to the balcony of the photographer!

The photos showing the white smoke can perfectly be made from the balcony!

There are several  issues regarding  Max his claims and I will discuss them all in detail. Also I will publish how Max responded to questions and the final part of this blog is a conclusion.

  1. Max decided not to publish his own photos showing the southside of the building on his blog 7mei.nl . These photo actually prove the plume photos could be made from the balcony. And that the post of Max is inaccurate and misleading. 
  2. Max was wrong on the balcony which is part of the photographer apartment. In fact, the balcony of the photographer is the one next to the one Max think it is.
  3. Max said the photographer lied three times based on individual interviews. However Max counts each publication as an individual lie.
  4. Max is jumping to conclusions that  smoke trail photos were made on roof
  5. Max did not contact the photographer to verify what he had said to journalists. Max also did not verify where the plume photos were taken.
  6. Max knew photos could have been taken from balcony before his visit yet did not investigate it properly
  7. Max claims the photographer lied because there was a fourth picture he did not tell about. In fact more than three photos were made public!
  8. Max does not respond to questions on above issues

Later Max posted this mea culpa about his mistake not to publish the cable photos.

Introduction to the photos

Lets first start with an introduction to the photos.

Below the three photos made at July 17 and which were shared using Twitter. Initially photo 2 and 3 were shared. RTL Nieuws published photo number 1 later (in December 2014). (source )

The photos were made usung a Nikon D7000 digital camera and a 55-300 mm lens. The EXIF information has not been released by the photographer.The reason is that the photographer is afraid his identity is known and his relatives are in danger. The identity is known now. A simple search will show his name and photo.So maybe the photographer is willing to release the EXIF!

These three photos were part of a set of total 9 photos made between 16:25 and 16:30. This is an overview of filenames, date and time taken.



The nine photos are shown below. Details about focal length, shutterspeed and filename are included in the photo. These photos clearly shows what appears to be different types of weather while taken within seconds of eachother. I guess that is related to the automatic white balance of the camera.



photo1 photo2 photo3 photo4 photo5 photo6 photo7 photo8 photo9



Arnold Greidanus did some search on these phoyos. He found out some of these photos were published on Twitter, Facebook and other media. For example photo 4 was published at Facebook on July 17. The same photo was published within hours after the crash at KP.ua

Photo 6 was published in this forum also a few hours after the crash. Photo 3 was published on Twitter. Korrespondent.net took two photos.
Most of the photo’s show a moiré pattern. Probably they were photographed from a computer screen by Aleynikov’s friend Djukov (@WowihaY)

The  image below shows photo 2 was made using 180 mm focal length. (source). Photo 1 was made using 55 focal length using the same lens.

The photos including the camera were handed over by the photographer to the Joint Investigation Team MH17.



To be sure. RTL Nieuws had both missile plume photos investigated by experts. They both confirmed the photso were not faked.

I am under the impression Max van der Werff is one of the very few persons on Internet openly stating the photos are fake. Nobody so far was able to prove the photos are bogus.

MH17 Buk contrail photo analysis from Max van der Werff on Vimeo.

The many issues with Max his statements


Issue 1: Max decided not to publish his own photos showing cables running on the southside of the building close to the balcony

This photo below shows the apartment of the photographer (the balcony without windows). The lens faces towards the East. The photo clearly shows cables running towards the roof (probably attached to the elevator shaft) and going inside 4 holes in the wall just east of the balcony of the photographer. Detail photos later in this blog.


The blogpost of Max does not show any photo taken at the southside of the building. The southside has the balcony from where the two missile smoke plume photos were made. Also the video published on Max his site does not show the southside. It would have been a matter of  walking a meter towards the south, turn the camera downwards and the situation would be clear. Why travel all the way from the Netherlands to East Ukraine and show only parts of the situation?

However Max shared two of his photos made on the southside privately to two other people.

These photos confirmed to be made by Max but published by others are shown below. They clearly show cables running in front of the balcony of the photographer. The balcony by the way is not the one covered by glass but the one next to it.

The photo below was released on Twitter at May 26 by Arnold Greidanus. The photo was made by Max van der Werff. Arnold did a lot of investigation on MH17. Follow him if you want to know what happened. Arnold added the text and arrows/lines.

The blue arrows clearly show a cable which is curved. The cable runs roughly north-souts to the other building. The balcony to the left of it is the balcony of the neighbor of the photographer. The other image shows the smoke plume taken from the balcony.



The photo below made by Max was released by a friend of Max, Joost Niemoller. The photo sent on Twitter shows the wrong balcony. The red circle is actually pointing to the apartment of the neighbor of the photographer. It does show some more cables. Left side of photo is facing West.

Arnold Greidanus has the original photo as well. He  added the black boxes and lines. The yellow dot represents the correct location of the photographer.


And this photo shows the cables even better (source)


Max claims the photos could only have been taken from the most easterly part of the roof (the blue square in the photo below). If more in the middle of the roof there might be cables in the photo (green circle), but also the concrete roof would be visible. The impression below is made by Max. The origin of both red lines is the balcony of the photographer. Which Max did not enter unfortunately.

The  location where the apartment  in Google Maps


To be able to show the truth a complete picture must be given. While Max filmed the roof of the apartment building, he did not publish photos of the south side of the building n his blog. He could have asked someone living on the 9th floor (the neighbors of the photographer) if he could enter their balcony.

The first photo shows the situation from the balcony of the photographer at May 8 2011 . The view is roughly towards the South.
The second photo shows the plume photo taken at July 17 2015. Both photos show cables.

To be sure someone needs to go to the apartment and take photos of the same balcony. Or stand on the rooftop, take a long stick and try to simulate a position from the balcony. The balcony is at the 9th floor, being the highest of the building.


Issue 2 Max was wrong on the balcony which is part of the photographer apartment

Max assumes the balcony which has windows was of the photographers apartment. Probably based on the coordinates of photos made by the photographer. However the actual balcony is the one next to it. The one with no windows. As indicated by the yellow dot on the above photo.

Issue 3: Max said the photographer lied three times based on individual interviews

Max claims the photographer told three times the same lie. The lie is according to Max that all photos were taken from roof.

1. The photographer has a conversation using Twitter with a journalist of Business Insider. The article itself does not mention anything on taking photos.
2. Then the photographer exchanged some information using Facebook with a Russian journalist called Sergei Parkohmenko who wrote a blog. According the photographer he never wrote to Parkohmenko that he took all photos on the roof. There is no prove what actually has been discussed using Facebook.
3. And finally Daily Mail quoted the photographer as well. But this is a copy of the Parkohmenko blog.

So the photographer did not lie three times. He was misquoted and that was copied by Daily Mail.

Issue 4: jumping to conclusion smoke trail photos were made on roof

Max himself writes on his own blog that the photographer (called the witness) heard explosions, made photos inside his apartment of the missile plume and then went to the other side of the apartment.

I can only find one reference in the media which states the photographer made all three photos (two of the BUK smoke trail and one of crash)  on the roof. The source is TSN  which published an interview with the photographer at March 17. At March 22 Daily Mail copied the content and published it here.

However on the day of the crash, July 17, the photographer was approached by a journalist of Business Insider. He told :

Although he did not see the plane crash, he said he ran to his window after hearing the sound of an explosion after the plane fell to the ground. He could not see the situation from his balcony, so he climbed to the roof of his house and “saw the smoke on the horizon.”

This does not mean the photographer took all of the photos on the roof. He most likely was not aware at that time he took a photo of a missile trail.With ‘smoke on the horizon’ he meant the smoke of the MH17 crashsite.

Around mid December the photographer had an interview with Dutch journalist Olaf Koens working for RTL Nieuws. He told Koens he looked from his covered balcony and within 30 seconds after the explosion he made the two photos of the smoke trail. 30 seconds is not enough time to go the to roof of the building.

The TV inteview can be seen here.

So the initial statement of the photographer was that he took the BUK missile trail photos from his balcony.

Issue 5: not asking the  photographer for comment

A good practise in journalism is to ask the person ‘under fire’ for his side of the story. It is very easy to find the contact details of the photographer. Max could have asked the photographer for details like where he made which photo. Max did not contact  the photographer. I sent emails to the photographer and he responded.


Issue 6: Max knew photos could have been taken from balcony yet did not investigate it properly

Max could have known that the missile photos could have been taken from the balcony. He asked this at the Bellingcat forum in February. This was well before his visit to the Ukraine. Still he failed to publish photos showing the layout of cables on the southside of the building. Why?

Issue 7: Max claims the photographer lied because there was a fourth picture. In fact more than three photos were made public!

Max states the photographer lied because the told about number 1,2 and 3 photo. “But there are at least four photos” . Max, I have news for you! The photographer made 9 photos!

Why would it be a lie if the photographer explains that the famous 3 photos are  taken at his balcony and at the roof? He did not tell he made 9 photos because that was not relevant.

Max is  what we in the Netherlands call “spijkers op laag water zoeken”. Or Nitpicking

Issue 8 : Max does not anwer questions

I asked Max using Twitter the questions below. Max did not answer these questions. Basically Max keeps on saying he wants the EXIF data of the photos and the real story of the photographer.

1. Did you contact the photographer before your visit to Torez? Using what? (Twitter/email etc)
2. Are you sure the balcony covered by glass is part of the apartment of photographer?
3. Were you aware before your visit to Torez that the photographer could have made the two missile plume photos
from the balcony on the southside?
4. Did you take the photos showing the southside of the building which were released by Joost and Arnold?
5. If so, why didn’t you include those photos in your blogpost?
6. Why didn’t you walk with your camera a few meters to the southside of the roof to show situation?
7. What kind of information are you looking for in the EXIF?
8. You talk about a fourth photo! Do you mean this https://www.facebook.com/max.vanderwerff.9/posts/895275667197930?pnref=story?


Max’ claim the photos are fake is debunked by his own photos. These clearly shows the cables also seen in the missile plume photo. He again proves his reports have a hidden agenda and are far from being reliable.

Update May 27:I changed the orginal blogpost because of new information. Two photos were released. Also added Max (lack of) response to my questions. 




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76 Comments on Eight issues with the “fake photo ” claim of Max van der Werff

  1. Fotos are not matched.

  2. Hector Reban // May 23, 2015 at 5:00 pm // Reply

    Max has answered on twitter. Look for the original source of the claim, the testimony made by Pavel Aleynikov in an interview for the Daily Telegraph.

    He claims he ran straight to the roof and began taking pics. So now Bellingcat is changing its story for convenience that the first two pics would have been made at the balcony.

    This is not true according to Aleynikovs testimonies. When someone tried to verify this with Aleynikov on twitter, he got blocked (see twitteraccount Max va der Werff).

    So the first claim holds: all pic have been made from the roof. The first two towards the plume, the third towards the burning plane.

    Of course the pics have not been made within seconds from eachother. Pic 1 and 2 could have been made on an other day

  3. Hector Reban // May 24, 2015 at 1:37 pm // Reply

    30 seconds is more than enough to run up the stairs one floor up. Aleynikov lived just below the roof.

    There are now cables hanging in front of the balcony as van der Werff shows in footage published on twitter.

    There are of course on top of the roof, but they have to be taken out of the equation when yiou want to claim the first two pics Aleynikov made were NOT from the roof.

  4. Hector Reban // May 24, 2015 at 4:36 pm // Reply

    *NO cables in front of the balcony

    • Have a much better look at the photos. There are at least four cables in running north-west. In the view of a camera pointing towards the east from balcony.

  5. Bellingcon // May 26, 2015 at 5:46 am // Reply

    Ah, but Max DID ask the photographer for comment — and Eliot Higgins and co keep holding him back. We have no idea who filmed the Lugansk video either — probably because they’re SBU. The front lines in the area where Higgins and Aussie 60Minutes claim the smoking gun BUK missing a rocket was driven said to be fully under separatist control may have in fact been inside Ukrainian lines. The situation was very chaotic. And your ‘BUK launch plume’ photographer may have captured a plume from a GRAD rocket launch, since there was lots of fighting going on in the area.

    But SBU falsification, including BND telling Der Spiegel that the Ukrainians faked at least some of their own BUKs in photos as ‘the separatist/Russian BUK’, is never addressed by Higgins. The Paris Match photo at the center of Higgins’ and 60 Minutes case with its blurred skirt, distorted trailer and mis-sized RAV 4 SUV in front of the white tractor trailer is never addressed, just sneered at. The post hoc nature of Higgins claim that Russian and Ukrainian BUK lettering systems are the same coming only AFTER Higgins and Aric Toler got hammered on the BUK3x2/UkrainianBUK312 coincidence is also never addressed. The best Toler did was to debunk the straw man that Ukraine BUK 312 shot down MH17, when the argument was that Ukraine’s BUK312 was POSED by the SBU as the BUK that shot own MH17, and was not the actual launcher. Score more for the Soros-funded fraudsters at Bellingcrap.

  6. Hector Reban // May 26, 2015 at 6:23 pm // Reply

    Bellingcat claimes to have falsified the GRAD story, because Grads make grey plumes and BUK white ones.

    • Bellingcat did not claim about GRAD. Max made a post claiming the photo showing a white plume is in fact a GRAD launch. Some sort of trial shot.

  7. Huh, it seems, the photo with the bird (static.panoramio.com/photos/large/85944173.jpg) has flown away. Does its removal mean that Admin has realized how wrong he was, stating that:
    “This photo shows many cables running between two buildings (left side of photo, near the bird). The apartment of the photographer is on the left. You see a satellite disk.”

    • See the added new photos showing much more details on the cables. Case closed.

      • I’ve seen the new pics. I was asking why the OLD one has disappeared. Please answer.

      • @Admin, you complain that Max hasn’t answered your 8 questions, but in the same time you keep ignoring my only question above. This is not polite at all.

  8. Hector Reban // May 27, 2015 at 6:04 am // Reply

    What do you mean? Bcat says it debunks the grad explanation in their case study “examining the launch plume photo”.

  9. Hector Reban // May 27, 2015 at 6:08 am // Reply

    @admin: Take a look at the discussion at Gabriele Wolff’s blog about the cables. Conclusion: pic with cables much have been taken at a higher altitude (from a tripod with steady zooming, which provided perfectly matching second pic).

  10. Marilyn Justice // May 27, 2015 at 3:18 pm // Reply

    All of this noise about photos of a wisp of smoke that had been manipulated to from the start, to make it more visible. Nothing to prove it is a BUK trail to begin with, certainly bellingcap has not proved it was. Nor has he even proven Russians or rebels fired one. Many assumptions and much speculation doesn’t add up to proof.

    • Well, the failed debunk of Max was enough interesting for Sputniknews (big big news agency in Russia) to report about his conclusions. And the fact a Dutch guy travelled all the way to a war zone in Ukraine shows it it not just a photo of some smoke.
      You are correct it does not prove this plume is from a BUK. Although the location matches the impact angle seen on MH17. Also there is indeed no prove who fired the missile.
      However both separatists and Russia bragged about shoting down an Antonov and lied about many things. Very, very suspicious.

  11. Arnold Greidanus // May 27, 2015 at 5:39 pm // Reply

    If Max wanted to hide these pictures, why would he have sent them to me?
    His research has not been thorough indeed; I think he was blinded by his eagerness to prove his hypothesis. Anyway: he hasn’t noticed the possible line of view I noticed, I assume.

    As for the new pictures (4-9) some of them have been published earlier.
    Check my tweets of today and of May 21st.

  12. Hector Reban // May 27, 2015 at 6:30 pm // Reply

    The so-called bragging can easily been explained.

    When one should read the Strelkov Vkontakte page for himself, one would have noticed that the initial posting – the famous million times copied one allegedly from Strelkov – was deleted, but *replaced* with a kind of explanation/warning.

    So there was no denial and it was no fake page, something that was put forward in many claims.

    In that warning the editors of the page explained they posted day-to-day reports about the fighting, sometimes in direct contact with the commander. In my view it was (and is) a kind of semi-official PR page, with Strelkov at the background, sometimes authorizing items himself.

    The editors state that whenver Strelkov himself layed down a message/press release, they would show he authorized that particular message, with a kind of red arrow. With that “signature” it would be clear the dispatch came straight from the chief.

    When the posting about the presumed downing of the Antonov-26 went online, within half an hour after the shooting, this was not authorized.

    So what could have happened in my view was local journalists/war-PR service employees working for the site made the videos of the smoking plane from a spot fairly far away from the crash site.

    They assumed too eager and too early with no clear and specific knowledgde of the facts an AN-26 was downed, merely jumping to conclusions because the same event happened three days before (14 juli, AN-26 shot down by rebels).

    It should be remarkable from the beginning for everyone they very specifically mentioned “AN-26” in the dispatch. It always troubled me for sure.

    So they put it on Vkontakte without authorization, and within 25 minutes it was copied with the same videos and the same formulations by the Russian news.

    So they bragged too early too eager, jumped to conclusions and claimed a “success” without having their facts straight and official briefing from men in the field.

    BTW, I have a screenshot of the replaced message.

    • It is really annoying that the majority of the “researchers” ignore the well known fact that Strelkov had no VK account. The joyful (and later deleted) posting about a downed AN-26 is not a stronger “evidence” than the joyful reactions expressed by local people when they witnessed the crash of the plane, thinking it was a military plane (which we can see on many videos). I’m interested in the warning/explanation message – could you please provide a link to the screenshot? Thanks.

  13. Don't Believe Bellingcrap // May 27, 2015 at 8:13 pm // Reply

    To all those who say it was a Russian BUK manned by a Russian crew, how exactly would soldiers of the 53rd Air Defense brigade mistake a lower and slower flying Ukrainian An-26 for a 777 flying at higher altitude at much more rapid speed? How would a trained Russian crew take down MH17, then upon realizing their mistake take a slow, winding, route that even the editor of this site admits doesn’t make much sense back to Russia, all while neglecting (conveniently for Eliot Higgins and his SBU photo sources) to cover the damned thing with a tarp in broad daylight? The Aussie 60 Minutes program never addresses these points, or tries to prove rather than simply assume the ‘Lugansk BUK’ was fleeing through separatist controlled territory given how porous the front lines were on July 17.

    As for the AN-26 shot down on 14 July, even Eliot Higgins won’t tell Bellingcrap’s followers whether he agrees or not with the initial Ukrainian claim that the plane was shot down by a Russian air to air missile fired from just inside Russian air space, or a Russian SAM in Russia. Either of which could have easily brought down the plane at altitude without any separatist or Russian BUK in Donbass.

    The Strelkov ‘don’t fly in our skies’ page may have been linked to some Strelkov supporters, but there’s no proof it is authentic. It is the Ukros version of ‘Carlos Buca the Air Traffic Controller’, who may have been a fake but if so was an elaborate fake because the man or persons behind that account were almost tweeting in real time minutes after the crash that it was Ukrainian fighter jets. And no, simply because the Spanish Embassy and the lying Ukrainians who instantly confiscated the ATC tapes and have never released them claim Carlos never existed does NOT disprove his existence.

    • “To all those who say it was a Russian BUK manned by a Russian crew, how exactly would soldiers of the 53rd Air Defense brigade mistake a lower and slower flying Ukrainian An-26 for a 777 flying at higher altitude at much more rapid speed?”
      Who said that they had expected an An-26? The Ukraine also uses IL-76. Just about a month before MH17, on 14th June 2014 the separatists brought down one of them near Lugansk.
      However, it does not prove that the Russians did it.

      The Carlos story: you have to be Ukrainian citizen to work in Ukrainian ATC.
      However, it does not mean that there wasn’t a Ukrainian person using this fake name.
      ATC recordings is with the DSB and the important parts have been published.

  14. Jim Dobbin // May 27, 2015 at 11:37 pm // Reply

    Such a nonsense debate over irrelevant photos that prove nothing. Have any of you guys ever seen a Buk missile launch? Do you even know what type of a smoke trail it leaves? I will tell what type of smoke trail it doesn’t leave and that’s the one in the pictures above you are all arguing about. It looks a lot more like the trail of a Grad launch if anything. Either way stop allowing yourselves to be sidetracked by that guy Eliot Higgins whose tactic of losing the ignorant in a sea of assumptive detail seems to be working well above.

    From any of the work he’s done that I’ve read he follows the same script. He bases his work around the assumption those reading it are ignorant to his methods of research. He may actually be quite right on that fact as even the few experts who have been asked about his work (the real qualified ones with actual real experience – not the YouTubers) warn extreme caution in following his methods. So what chance does Joe Public have of deciphering his writings when science can’t?

    “Stephen Johnson, a weapons expert at the Cranfield Forensic Institute, part of the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, said that the application of crater analysis techniques to satellite imagery was “highly experimental and prone to inaccuracy”.

    “This does not mean there is no value to the method, but that any results must be considered with caution and require corroboration,” Johnson said in an email after reviewing the Bellingcat report. ”

    We also had the late Richard Llyod (ex UN weapons inspector) and MIT Professor Ted Postol not just warn caution against Higgins’ “investigative methods’ but they straight up rubbished him and his work. Then we had the WhoGhouta blog point by point challenge and discredit his Damascus Sarin theory. A blog that contained experts in their chosen fields of study and was hosted by, let’s say, an expert of the highest standing internationally in warfare who remained nameless for their own reasons.

    All that said, Higgins isn’t an investigator he’s a guy that relies on your ignorance to pass off his clever style of losing the reader in translation.

    The focus of this whole debate upon a Buk and MH17 should be on the very obviously faked “Paris Match” photo upon which this house of cards is built. Anyone with an ounce of sense and wit can tell immediately that the Buk in that picture simply doesn’t belong there. It is literally impossible to take that picture. An out of focus shot would have left the ground and/or trailer blurred also but that isn’t the case. Where are the Buk’s tracks? Where are the rear ramps that would be needed for the Buk to mount the loader?

    We have all taken out of focus pictures either whilst moving or in a rush and we know what one looks like, right? Have you ever taken a picture that blurred out the very thing you focused on and left everything else looking clear? Where are the originals so the world can take a closer look? Why are they kept secret?

    Here’s what we know for sure, the answers lie with the Russians and the Americans. Not some guy on a laptop in the UK – get serious here for a minute. Higgins hones in on every word the Russians say, finds discrepancies, and then exaggerates them for self-serving interests and to help cloud the reality. He happily uses SBU photos and videos without ever questioning their authenticity. He happily uses photos that could have been taken at anytime other than the time he needs them to have been taken.

    Did Russia shoot down MH17? Only a fool believes that and there are many of them out there. Did the rebels? Possibly but highly unlikely. This simplistic view of how Buk operates that is presented by Bellingcat and Higgins is clear evidence if ever needed that these balloons haven’t a clue about the equipment, how it works, how it fires or what is required for it to target a plane. They want you to think it just drove into town, shot down.

  15. Hector Reban // May 28, 2015 at 6:07 am // Reply

    @admin; What’s your vision about the fact Max says there’s a Moiré pattern visible on the first two pictures?

    @Mrs V. I am busy to open a wordpress blog to post my screenshot on 🙂 I will be back. Or maybe you have a twitter acoount?

    • Could well be photos were taken from computer screen and distributed via Twitter etc.

      • Why would Dyukov photograph the photos from the computer screen, instead of simply download/save them and post on Twitter?

        • Hector Reban // June 5, 2015 at 2:01 pm // Reply

          Obviously it’s strange the pictures that – as I understand it – Arnold Greidanus traced at other websites, almost all contain Moiré patterns. Following this assumption these should all originate from Djukov alias @WowihaY.

          I’ve still a question too.

          The pictures above are displayed as if they are NEF files clearly aren’t. From what source has the admin received the above thumbnails and pictures?

          Is it possible to get into contact with his source to send the NEFs of the pics to dr. Neal Krawets (@hackerfactor) to test them?

  16. Hector Reban // May 28, 2015 at 7:45 am // Reply

    Another comment about the Aleynikov pic:

    The plane crashed at 16:20:03 EEST. Aleynikov heard an explosion, ran to his balcony and saw the alleged launch plume. Then he took two pictures of the plume at 16:25:41-7.

    Probably he heard an explosion when the tanks hit the ground. But how much time did it take for those tanks to fall to the ground after 16:20:03? More than 5 minutes? As I perform a quick calculation it must have been about 30-40 seconds. So it should have hit the gorund at 16:20:50 or in that range.

    It looks like Aleynikov has stared 5 whole minutes at the plume after he heard the explosion and only then began taking pics??

    • You will be surprised by the large amount of time it takes an item to fall from 10.000 meters. It will take about 3 to 5 minutes.
      See http://www.whathappenedtoflightmh17.com/russian-radar-does-not-show-any-ukraine-fighter-aircraft/ (end of blog)
      An item like a body falling out of the sky will not increase speed all the time. Look for terminal velocity. For a body terminal velocity is around 200km/h.
      For a plane which still has wings attached to it and has a lot of resistance maybe even lower.

      • > You will be surprised by the large amount of time it takes an item to fall from 10.000 meters. It will take about 3 to 5 minutes.

        The DSB report estimated the fall time to be 1-1.5 minutes.

        >For a body terminal velocity is around 200km/h.

        In 1-1.5 minute time the plane must have traveled ~13km (10km vertically) which means it would have traveled – crippled as it was – at an average of 600-800 km/h

    • I’ve read before that it must have taken about 4 minutes for the plane to fall down after it was hit.

      Judging by the time of the first “plume” photograph and Aleynikov’s statement that he took it about 30 sec. after the supposed launch of the Buk rocket, Bellingcat presume that the camera time stamp was about 4 – 4:30 min. ahead:
      “According to the photographer, the first picture was taken about 30 seconds after the explosion. Because we know that flight MH17 was hit around 16:20 EEST, the camera’s time stamp was approximately 4 minutes to 4 minutes and 30 seconds ahead of the real time. The metadata (or Exif data) of the original files show that all date and time properties like camera date, modified date, and file date show a date of 17 July 2014 and times of 16:25:41 and 16:25:48.”

      • Hector Reban // May 28, 2015 at 4:15 pm // Reply

        Guess important is which explosion he heard; the one in the sky or the one when the plane fell on the ground. I assumed it was the second. Then the timeframe would fit if it took the plane about 4 minutes to hit the ground.

        • Guess, important is in which interview he told the truth 😉 He reportedly heard all the THREE explosions that we would expect to be heard in a Buk case.
          To Olaf Koens (RTL) Aleynikov said (traslation: Max van der Werff):
          “It was 4:20 p.m. We heard an explosion. Not a very loud one. 15 seconds later a loud bang followed and all the windows were shaking.”
          — so, he first heard the launch of the rocket, and in a while – its explosion at 10 km up in the sky. According to mysterious earlier information (no idea where it popped up from), 30 sec. after one of these two explosions (after the stronger one, I guess), Aleynikov took his first photo of the “contrail”.
          Then Olaf Koens continues:
          “Five minutes later he made another photograph (…) – the smoke of MH17 that in the meantime had crashed.”
          According to mysterious earlier information, it was about 5 min. later when Aleynikov heard the third explosion (of the plane hitting the ground) and took the third photo.

    • The plane was struck by the missile at 16:20:03. The crash occurred around 16:23:XX. Since the missile would need over half a minute to fly to the plane, the launch time was around 16:19:15 or 20.

      At 10 km distance from the alleged launch site like Aleynikov, the sound of the launch would not be heard until the missile had already flown 30+ seconds. Similarly, the sound of the explosion of the plane and missile at 20 km from Aleynikov would not be heard until almost a minute after it happened, and the sound of the crash at 10 km away would take 30 second to carry to him.

      As far as Aleynikov is concerned, if everything happened as described, he would have heard a launch and overflight just before 16:20, an explosion around 16:21, and a crash explosion around 16:24. One would also need to factor in reaction time of realizing something happened, finding a camera, turning it on, leaving a room to the roof or balcony, and focusing to get the shot. The smoke plumes would of course be visible before anything could be heard. Hearing them relies on not having background noise within the room, from the building, or from nearby human activity that might obscure the sound.

  17. Hector Reban // May 28, 2015 at 11:26 am // Reply

    You are absolutely right about a human person. But for an airplane you have to take into account that buoyancy force and gravity will enter steady terminal velocity at another cross section/mass ratio.

    The wings, when the plane is flying with its engines taken out, don´t count for much, I guess (though my flow mathematics are a bit rusty, I must add ;-))

    When I fill in the variables for a free falling plane (this is a positive assumption; the plane with the fuselage made a curved fall, not a fall straight down of course), and I use the Keisan Casio online calculator, I got this with some trial and error:

    mass: 350.000 kg
    air resistance coeff. k: 0,24
    Gravity: 1 g

    Terminal velocity: 440 m/s
    Free fall Distance: 9,9 km

    Free fall velocity: 45 seconds

    But maybe I´m doing something wrong here.

  18. Hector Reban // May 28, 2015 at 11:29 am // Reply

    *Free fall time: 45 seconds

    • Hector Reban // May 29, 2015 at 8:36 pm // Reply

      Also Micha Kolb in his voluminous report about the evidence takes 45 secs for the plane to hit the ground. So those 5 minutes before the first 2 pix were taken do play a roll here, if its not only for establishing the position of the plume.

    • The plane doesn’t free-fall. It “glides” or flies on a ballistic trajectory. Remember it had forward momentum when it was struck and began to break up. The forward momentum doesn’t instantaneously disappear, it reduces with wind resistance and is supported by any remaining lift provided by the wings or the shape of individual parts. Rostov radar recorded forward speed dropping from 900 km/h to 200 km/h and the fall taking 2-3 minutes.

      The wide scatter of the debris field shows the obvious effects of the plane moving forward and to the left in a kind of slow death spiral. The major debris is scattered over 9 km apart between Hrabove and Petropavlivka, and the minor debris extends another 9 kilometers to Pol’ove.

      Because of this, the time to impact is also longer than 45 seconds.

      • Hector Reban // June 11, 2015 at 5:36 pm // Reply

        And what’s your conclusion regarding the Aleynikov chain of events?

      • Hector Reban // June 11, 2015 at 6:10 pm // Reply

        Sorry, I see you posted the answer already. Thanks!

        • That is okay. I’m not actually convinced he actually heard much of anything. The distances are so large, and he was indoors in a town in summer. Go to an airport and see how close you need to be to actually hear the takeoff of a jet plane. You certainly won’t here it at 5 miles! Its more likely he was alerted to events by twitter feed or text messages.

  19. O.K., I have one more question to @Admin:

    what about the 10th photo?

    Or, if we stick to the numeration in the article, we should call it Photo Zero; it is named DSC_9264.NEF, taken on July 17 at 11:32 a.m. (or at 11:28, if we take into account the 4-minute gain).

    The tiny thumbnail of this photo apparently shows a landscape, similar to the landscapes on pictures 1-9. What interesting event happened in Torez area 5 hours before the crash of MH17? Obviously, it was interesting enough and deserved to be photographed. Or, was Aleynikov simply practicing his professional skills at noon? Well, it’s pretty possible, but still, I’m very curious about that Photo Zero.

    Which makes me think:
    1. What time did the GRAD firing occur on July 16?
    2. If Aleynikov’s camera time stamp was 4 minutes ahead of the real time, wasn’t it possible to be 1 day ahead of the real date?
    Just thinking. Any ideas (or corrections) would be appreciated.

    • No. 2 was a hasty question of mine. If the camera was 1 day ahead of the real date, the date of the crash site photos would have been wrong too, which is not true.
      Nevertheless, the rest of my questions remain valid.
      @Admin, it’s your turn now.

  20. elliot_au said : “Fotos are not matched”

    Yes, elliot_au, and may it be that they don’t match because after 4 years one set of wires (which seem to be loosely hooked on the other wires even 4 years ago) may have dropped lower ?

    And even if you believe that the position of wires does not change over time, there are still many ways in which the picture of the missile trail could have been taken, especially considering the large amount of wires over the building, even as shown in Max van der Werff’s own roof-top video.

  21. And let me note that Max van der Werff’s video shows that the second picture (without the wires) matches perfectly with Max’ video evidence from the south-east side of the roof.

    I’m not sure why so many people here question some many things unrelated to these pictures, and unrelated to the valid points that “whathappenedtoflightmh17” admin already summarized in this post.

    What I DO know is that the truth is already here, and it will not change.

  22. Gabriele Wolff // June 2, 2015 at 8:23 pm // Reply

    Did the fotographer provide you with the nine fotos and the nine file data?

    Did the fotographer provide you with the information that his balcony “without window” on the southside of the building was situated left from the loggia (“covered balcony”).

    What does it mean, “a balcony without window”? Then he couldn’t have seen anything what can’t be true looking at his foto with the south-east view.

    What is to be seen on the first (unmarked) foto taken at 11:32?

    Why do you show file data with nine objects (including the unmarked first) and then nine fotos without the first: that means there’s a file missing for the ninth crashsite foto.

    Why don’t you show the fotos in a way that one can read the technical data?

    Just asking. Because you don’t tell.

  23. The same question for the third time:

    What is there on Photo Zero, taken at 11:32 on 17 July 2014?

    Will you finally show it, admin?

  24. Arnold Greidanus // June 5, 2015 at 10:10 pm // Reply

    Photo zero is the one published on Business Insider: http://www.businessinsider.com/donetsk-resident-speaks-about-malaysia-airlines-crash-2014-7? It shows trails from missiles (Grads probably) at Saur Mogila. Aleynikov tweeted about this that day too: https://mobile.twitter.com/rescuero/status/489687941405749248
    Why this picture was published in Business Insider instead of a MH17 crash site smoke pics is discussed in comments on Gabriele Wolff’s site (I think it was in part 3 of her series on MH17 info war).

    As for the Aleynikov pictures: Marcel received them as they are presented here, so no originals. Alas.

    • Thank you.
      And sorry, but the thumbnail of Photo Zero doesn’t look like the photo of Saur Mogila published on Business Insider at all. No way this is the same picture.

  25. Arnold Greidanus // June 10, 2015 at 10:23 am // Reply

    @Mrs. V. You’re right about the thumbnail. It doesn’t resemble the BI picture indeed! So, it remains a mystery for now.

    • Yep, a mystery… Has Aleynikov himself explained that Photo Zero was from the Saur Mogila incident (which obviously isn’t true)?

  26. Anyone care to explain to me why photo 0 (dsc_9264) can be interesting? This man has a hobby which is photography. Photo 0 can be anything.
    I do not have this photo btw nor do I have the original NEF (RAW) photos with EXIF info.

  27. Gabriele Wolff // June 10, 2015 at 9:13 pm // Reply

    I don’t understand your question. Of course it’s crucial to know what picture was taken on July 17 at 11:23.

    Because this fotographer tweeted exactly at 11:32 about smoke at Saur Mogyla. As he couldn’t have tweeted and taken a foto at the same time, and because the thumbnail linked to foto No. 0 does not show the Saur Mogyla foto which Business Insider published after interviewing the fotographer on July 17 (which stems from the same fotographer who also posted a video showing Saur Mogyla) this foto is very interesting.
    Because it seems to show the same area as the fotos from 16:25. Probably showing other wheather conditions.

    I’m sure that you know what I’m hinting at.

    As you don’t tell who provided you wíth the fotos and their alleged files I regard you as a part of the problem: the whole SBU claim with its social media narrative about the BUK shooting from South of Snishne has no clear sources.

    • My theory is that at 11:32 Aleynikov might have photographed some (unknown) event at the same area (judging from the visible similarities in the two landscapes), and then used that photo (or some of its elements) to produce the “Buk trail” photo.

      • Hector Reban // June 11, 2015 at 5:44 pm // Reply

        Maybe our friend Djokov/WowihaY, who probably is a SBU asset, saw this picture right before he tweeted an Aleynikov pic of the black smoke at 16:40 eest.

        As I retrieved from the internet in one of his social media accounts he claims his hobbies are computers, networks and digitil imaging.

        So maybe- but its speculatyion at large – he rose to the occasion. It fits the fact Djukov posted the trail only after 3 hours after the crash took place and Aleynikov said nothing about the plume pic in his interview with business Insider.

        Neal Krawetz, developer of photoforensics, claimed there were some problems with the original pic Bellingcat has in its dropbox.

  28. Gabriele Wolff // June 11, 2015 at 7:38 pm // Reply

    There has to be an explanation why Aleynikow omitted his plume fotos in his interview with Business Insider; there are two possibilities: he hadn’t taken them or he had to wait until Djukov and SBU decided whether or not to publish them. And in which fotoshopped version like the one with the wrong wheather WowihaY did post at 19:23, followed by Anton Gerashchenko 20 minutes later.
    I’m not surprised that RTL refuses to reveal the two studies it ordered claiming that the plume fotos are not suspicious.

    • A possible expanation is that Aleynikow did not realize he made a photo showing the smoke plume of the missile while talking to Business Insider.
      The weather is not wrong. Please Gabrielle keep an open mind as an ex Staatsanwalt. Take a look at the other pictures taken of the black smoke of the crash site. Here you see the same effect. One of the photos shows what looks like a blue sky. It is caused by the whitebalance of the camera.

      • But Aleynikov DID realize that he was making a smoke plume photo! He took the photo with the wires in order to photograph the plume, not the beautiful nature. Several seconds later he noticed the wires, and that’s why he zoomed in and took the second photo of the plume, without the wires. If that smoke plume was so important to him, that he photographed it TWICE, wasn’t it easy to guess what had caused it, when the plane crashed?

  29. Hasn’t the smoke photo been debunked by Neal Krawetz?

  30. AlexanderCrowther // July 6, 2015 at 10:14 am // Reply

    Are these pictures true or not…this is very debatable. There is a high chance they were altered by the SBU…but there is also a high chance they are real. As far as Max van der Werff…I know him. He actually went to the Ukraine. He posted a video of Lev Aleksandrovich (eyewitness) who saw 2 SU-25s over Petropavlivka.
    Is he telling the truth…no one knows
    Was it seperatists…I dont know, Was it Ukraine….I dont know
    There is about 50% chance that the Ukrainians did it and the same for pro-russian seperatists. We need more evidence…

  31. If Aleynikov and SBU show Photo Zero to the public, we will most probably have more evidence. But they keep silence. When somebody hides something, (s)he always has a reason, and the reason is not good.

  32. sotilaspassi // August 27, 2015 at 8:05 am // Reply

    at Admin

    Very good stuff. Confirms what I’ve followed during 2014, but had not saved for myself.

    I hope JIT is able to visit the balcony.

    Just a note: The tension of cables change vs temperature vs it’s material vs it’s structure.

    btw. as it seems first photo focus was in cables, I wonder if the photographer knelt down to get cables out of view for the zoom in picture2.

  33. sotilaspassi // August 27, 2015 at 8:56 am // Reply

    my attempt of summary

    16:19:30 Possible BUK launch.
    16:19:36 Launch should be heard in nearby village.
    16:19:40 BUK flies 2000km/h and dives into clouds.

    16:19:50 BUK has burned all it’s rocket fuel and is now gliding to target 3000km/h
    16:19:51 Launch should be heard in Snizhne

    16:19:55 Sound of Launch reach the photographer.
    16:20:00 Sound of Launch reach Torez
    16:20:03 BUK explodes. MH17 cockpit is destroyed and it separates from plane body.

    16:20:30 Sound of Launch reach Hrabove.

    16:21:05 Sound of Explosion reach the photographer.

    16:21:50 Sound of Explosion reach Hrabove
    16:22:xx MH17 comes visible through cloud. Spinning, pieces and people flying.
    16:23:xx MH17 center body crash to ground near Hrabove

    16:24:xx Sound of crash is heard by photographer.

    Photographers goes to balcony to take some
    16:25:41 picture of the “BUK” smoke.
    16:25:48 another picture

    Photographer goes to roof to
    16:30:06 photograph the crash site.

    Or something. 😉

  34. sounds like a good summary sotilaspassi.
    However I know a missile exploded, but a BUK exploded also? 😉

    admin, it is amazing how the various agents of the Kremlin flock to you when they are upset you find all the flaws and expose them about Max.
    Kudos and good job.
    I imagine Max was probably also paid a stipend or consultant fee by them for travelling and to write an article that would not get exposed very easily that challenges some of the existing facts.
    I am glad you exposed the flaws in his articles, Thank you.
    As well as all the hard work you did for this article.
    Learned a few new things.
    About the only thing I would disagree with you is that you stated he probably took a photo of the sky and did not know he caught the BUK missile plume.
    They are centered and one he zooms in closer for.
    I wish he brought two cameras up on the roof.
    One on tripod doing a video of the launch site and using the other camera to take photographs.
    He was obviously prepared with high definition camera, and had the settings up there.
    Looks like all are 15 megabyte size or larger.

    It is also shocking how a overcast high cloudy day in the first plume image can look almost like blue skies when zoomed in and the right filters applied -possibly application automatically controlled.
    15MB says it is not your average digital camera you get for 100 USD.
    Nikon D7000 suggests about a $1500 camera new and gets good reviews.
    I think it said 16.2 MP.
    Good high detail images, I am glad he was the one that heard the noise and captured all the images he did.

    Small question that I am not sure you can answer.
    Did he make it a habit (hobby) to watch the skies and capture other artillery or missile launches?
    I can imagine both night and day he could see a lot from that location.
    And also, did he say he recorded any video that day?
    Thanks in advance.

    Fare thee well

  35. Boggled:

    “About the only thing I would disagree with you is that you stated he probably took a photo of the sky and did not know he caught the BUK missile plume.”

    Yes, the story that he did not even see it is a crock of crap. He didn’t take two pictures with different zooms of something he didn’t see.

    “Did he make it a habit (hobby) to watch the skies and capture other artillery or missile launches?”

    Pavel Aleynikov (that is his name), is an amateur photographer and also a former member of the Ukrainian military. He did make it is a habit to photograph military operational action in the direction of Saur Mogila. If you look at his blog and Twitter (@rescuero) you can find pictures he took of the shelling in June and July.

    “And also, did he say he recorded any video that day?”

    He posted videos from other days from his apartment. I haven’t seen anything about a video from that day.

    • Thank you Andrew for the additional info, knew his name but never really tried to pursue more about him personally.
      Undeniable evidence from a mafia thug can be just as credible as some from a President of a nation, and sometimes more credible.
      As I have time I try to learn more old stuff and keep up to date on the new stuff.
      The newer stuff sometimes takes priority.
      I had not seen Max rebuffed so hard, glad to see admin was up to the challenge and did it thoroughly.
      Makes me wonder why Kobs, Justice, Reban, Wolff, and even you did not challenge him as thoroughly as admin did?
      They certainly try very hard with anything that puts the separatists or Moscow in a bad light.
      Looking through admin’s research, I think any of y’all could have done similar.

      Fare thee well

  36. Gabriele Wolff // September 23, 2015 at 9:00 pm // Reply

    I wonder why foto 9266 with NEF title is a copy from the photoshopped WowihaY tweet showing blue sky and easily detectable white clouds.


    I thought the original fotos should look grey without a distinctive white plume:


    The bmp-versions of the “originals” from Bellingcat even look worse. Just grey-in-grey mud fotos.

  37. Gabriele Wolff // September 23, 2015 at 9:02 pm // Reply

    I wonder why foto 9266 with NEF title is a copy from the photoshopped WowihaY tweet showing blue sky and easily detectable white clouds.


    I thought the original fotos should look grey without a distinctive white plume:


    The bmp-versions of the “originals” from Bellingcat even look worse. Just grey-in-grey mud fotos.

  38. Liane Theuer // May 8, 2016 at 9:46 pm // Reply

    This link about the BBC „Conspiracy Files“ :

    contains a drone photo of the location where the plume photos were shot :

    As you can read, BBC claims that the plume photos were shot from the roof !

    But I think it is impossible to take the pictures from the position the BBC shows.
    There would have been parts of the roof floor and parts of the buildings between the photographer and the plume in the picture, I think.
    To have a clear line of sight, the photographer should have gone to the edge of the roof. But there are no cables.

    • > But I think it is impossible to take the pictures from the position the BBC shows. There would have been parts of the roof floor and parts of the buildings between the photographer and the plume in the picture, I think.

      That’s correct. But the Buk plume pictures were shot from balcony, not roof. People at mh17.webtalk.ru (РВШ, and now dead vealmi) established the location of the camera up to half a meter precession.

      What Oleynikov shot from the roof was the crash site.

  39. Басар // June 26, 2018 at 11:12 am // Reply

    Некоторые картинки вам, точно, понравятся..

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