Fake Photos Your ‘New Reality’

   Using Photoshop in my work as a visual artist, I know how far I can get to make fake pictures from the originals one. I can alter them to my own biases and idiosycrasies. The transformation can be done seamlessly. So, when I found the headline “Faked Photos Alter Real Memories” ( November 26, 2007) I was not surprised. If I transform my  drawings to achieve my own view it’s OK. But in the media case, altering photos to get premeditated reactions of the potential viewers is political misleading.

 I quote from “Faked Photos Alter Real memories“…”The original Tiananmen Square image was altered to show a crowd watching at the sidelines as a lone man stands in front of a row of tanks. The Rome anti-war protest photograph was altered to show riot police and a menacing, masked protester among the crowd of demonstrators. When answering questions about the events, the participants had differing recollections of what happened. Those who viewed the altered images of the Rome protest recalled the demonstration as violent and negative and recollected more physical confrontation and property damage than actually occurred.”…, Look at the pictures,



“It’s potentially a form of human engineering that could be applied to us against our knowledge and against our wishes, and we ought to be vigilant about it,” said UC Irvine psychologist Elizabeth Loftus, who designed the study. “With the addition of a few little upsetting and arousing elements in the Rome protest photo, people remembered this peaceful protest as being more violent than it was, and as a society we have to figure how we can regulate this.”, see here

 I quote from another reading Editor: Photos From Lebanon Can’t Be Trusted ( August 10 2006) …”In Lebanon, where Hezbollah has made widespread use of human shields, firing missiles on Israel from positions dug in next to UN observer posts and within inhabited villages, what the international press has wanted to see and has reported is evidence of Israeli war crimes. Until now, Hezbollah and photographers like Hajj have been able to ensure that they will. Everyone in the news business gets taken for a ride sooner or later. It’s an occupational hazard. What is surprising is the scale of it in Lebanon. And what is tragic about this is, as a Boston Herald photo editor noted, editors everywhere can no longer trust the pictures from Lebanon. The public cannot know what is staged and what is real. They cannot know the true scope of the devastation that Hezbollah’s aggression against Israel and its cynical tactics have brought on the Lebanese people. The con artists have shafted themselves and their own people with their cheap tricks.”… Look at the original an the manipulated photo.


(This is one of the worst use of the Photoshop cloning  tool).

From another site look at this altered photo


May 2007: In an advertisement for IMAX 3D theaters promoting the latest Harry Potter movie, the bust of actress Emma Watson was digitally enlarged. A similar advertisement in regular theaters was unaltered. Warner Brothers Pictures released a statement that said “This is not an official poster. Unfortunately this image was accidentally posted on the IMAX website. The mistake was promptly rectified and the image taken down.”, see more.

Another doctored photo from the Telegraph (UK).


…”A magazine owned by a millionaire friend of Nicolas Sarkozy doctored a photograph of the French president to remove his “love handles”, it has been claimed.”…”Paris Match, the celebrity weekly owned by the media mogul Arnaud Lagardere, was said to have applied a computer air brush to the image of Mr Sarkozy to get rid of the unsightly bulges of fat around his waist, which are known as poignées d’amour in French.”…, see more.

And finally here is a ‘Instant Tutorial’ to detect manipulated photos.

From “Computing Photographic Forgeries” (March 24 2007)…”We’ve developed a bag of tricks,” Farid says. “Every time somebody tampers with a photograph, we try to understand what they did and how to detect it.”…” A (nother) way to doctor an image is to piece together two separate photographs. For example, during the 2004 presidential campaign, an image surfaced on the Web showing John Kerry speaking with Jane Fonda at an anti-war demonstration in the 1960s, complete with an Associated Press insignia. Some veterans of the Vietnam War reacted with rage at seeing the presidential candidate sharing a stage with the controversial actress and anti-war activist. But the picture, it turned out, was a fake. “Even after it was determined that it was a fake, people were still talking about Kerry at a war rally,” says Farid. “The power of the images stays with us.”

Fonda Kerry

…”Each latest version of Photoshop has new tools that allow for better forgeries, so Farid continually needs to figure out new methods.

“This is an arms race,” Farid says. “I can already tell you how it’s going to end: We’re going to lose. It’s always going to be easier to create a forgery than detect a forgery. But we’re going to take the power to create forgeries out of the hands of amateurs. We will raise that bar up until you have to be very, very good to do it.”… see more

Dear reader, here is more on my new article “Visual Lies in Tibet the Gaza Strip and Salvador Dali”.


I published this story on NowPublic and add here the comments by  NowPublic editors and contributing members.
good stuff: korzac, an important and interesting article. All these examples speak to the fact that consumers of media must look at footage and reports as pieces of a larger picture as apposed to conclusive testament to reality. And this also reinforces the importance of making the news process public and allowing wittinesses to share their stories and footage and diversifying the reporting away from single source news organizations.
  About your point of “diversifying the reporting away from singles source news”. Journalism, pro or ‘amateurs’, willing to make more than simply quoting news, by relating news between blogs, posts, pictures, conventional magazines and journals, may discover  fresher aspects of what is brought to the media consumers by monolithic source news. Perhaps ‘non-journalist’, as many contributors to NP are, like this sort of game !   ryan thanks for the comment and flag
.Kaitlin  super-editor-copy.jpg Kaitlin   at 19:44 on November 28th, 2007
good stuff: korzac, well-researched and sourced article. Good stuff.
   Kaitlin thanks for the comment and the flag.

Thanks korzac, this is well-researched and thought-provoking.

good stuff: korzac,even more reason to trust no one -> Good stuff.
   ricknight thanks for the comment and the flag.

A Good Article.Photos have been faked since photography first began.
Matthew Brady in a way faked his photos during the American Civil War by moving the bodies of dead soldiers to different positions. In other ways he was given credit for photos he did not take himself.
Ghost photography as early as the 1800’s also featured artificially imposing images of the deceased with those alive by utilizing double exposure.The best way to tell the authenticity of a photograph is to analyze the negative. In digital photography whenever an image is altered a history of such changes is recorded within the photo program itself and image stamp. The original is the only source of proof.

I was shocked at the Tiananmen Square Photo though. It had always been a favorite of mine. Stuart Franklin the Magnum photographer who took it was at the top of my list now I must remove him.
Photos can be altered when you get low light, blurriness etc..when you have no choice but when you try to pass it as original authentic now you have issues to deal with. Anything is possible with technology to fake a photograph therefore the authenticity of a photo must be based on the integrity and honesty of the photographer.

“A photographer uses his camera to capture images. A graphic designer alters images with his computer. One is not the other and any photographer who uses his computer to alter his images is not a photographer but a fraud.” Ace Preston

   I come from the painterly medium, using acrylic paint etc, and today a heavy user of computer work to discover things I doe not  see on a canvas. So basically I am constantly altering my work burying one layer under another layer of paint or photoshop. My honesty is that the final upper layer is the one where I ‘know’ that there is nothing more to bury and I have to show it to someone. In the case of a photographer, I agree with you, that his ‘upper layer’ is the instant he capture his image. 
   Ace thanks for the comment.

I look forward to more of your stories and thanks.Barry 
   Thanks for the comments and the drawing.    Shlomo

Thanks to all the NP members adding pictures to my post.

Currently, Canadian Law disregards Digital Photos of crime scenes or anything that is presented as Queens evidence due to photo manipulation.

jordan with the histogram (in my case from photoshop CS2) of any photo you can know if a the photo has been manipulated. There is a loss of information and the pixel distribution is not continuous, it has discrete spikes. So an amateur reveal’s his manipulation; but with the Photoshop RAW plugin you my alter the photo and  changing continuously the information, there is no loss. The point remains :the changing of  visual content.
Thanks for the comment and the flag.

good stuff:  korzac, I like this story. It’s good stuff. When I learned to use photoshop I was amazed to find out how much images can be altered and I sadly realized that a virtual world or reality can be elaborated combining it with other means in order to manipulate specific needs. I work with teenagers and I constantly witness their desire to look like top models and celebrities “who really don’t look like that naturally”  and how their selfsteem is affected when they don’t achieve their goal.
   patgarcia you raise an important point: Beauty as a manipulated consumer product.  The naive natural look of a person is  remplaced by a synthetic manufactured one.Thanks for the comment and the flag.

good stuff: korzac, Thanks for bringing this to us.  What a Brave New World we are entering. 
   barbara thanks for the comment and the flag.

good stuff: This can be done with video and moving film too.  Soon when we see a world leader speaking it may be a simulacrum instead of the real person!

It’s good stuff.

   moonwolf your point is important because many of us are TV ‘ addicted..   Thanks for the comment and the flag.

I guess you have enough checkmarks but I thought I would explain the pics I added since it was 3am when I added them.The two pics I added are from the recent Georgian Protests. ThePhotoshop picture slipped out to some blogs and people posted them not
even realizing that they had posted the altered image.There are some recent videos going around that are questionable also like the dear almost hitting the motercycle rider. And don’t forget about UFO’s but that will stir up a whole other debate.  Good stuff.  Interesting and fun article.
   ifindtrends I wasn’t aware of your post..  The pics fit into the subject. Thank you for the comment..

 And before the digital photo age, fake paintings: Van Meegeren’s fake Vermeer’s here is a master forgery Christ  and the Disciples at Emmaus  by Van Meegeren ,(1937).

Van Meegeren Vermeer ‘Christ and the Disciples at Emmaus.

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