There's a team of truth-in-photography checkers at The Atlantic today. You can send them images you're seeing of Sandy to find out whether they're real. Dog on man's back in chest-high floodwaters? Fake—not from this storm, anyway.
The writers are doing more than making a game of gawking at disaster. (Images like this are reminders of why not to do that.) They're delving into the old but fascinating question about how true photographs can be, and what kind of true.
For instance, have you seen the shots taken last night of Goldman Sachs, which stayed lit up by using generators while everything around it, including the Freedom Tower, went black? These images are satisfying shorthand for the disastrous financialization of the economy.
But Alexis at The Atlantic points out that Goldman Sachs always looks more lit up than everything around it, even on regular nights. And also, that the most striking photographs from last night probably have the contrast punched way up to accentuate the difference between Goldman Sachs and everything else. Yes, Goldman Sachs is the evil empire; no, Goldman Sachs does not stand alone.
For now, we probably can't do much more than try to look carefully. Here's an image of a small Niagara formed at Ground Zero.