CSI for Photographers… (Image Forensics)

A few days ago I came across a website where one can verify, if an image has been photoshopped or not. I found this quite useful. Many times when I browse through Flickr I wonder whether the images I see were enhanced or whether, what I’m looking at was exactly the way it looked when the image was originally captured by the photographer.

These days I find it quite difficult to tell the difference as some Photoshop users are so skilled that the images seem virtually untouched. Now, whether image modification is embraced or frowned upon by the masses, from what I understand, the more natural and high quality the image, the more visually stimulating and appealing it is, the better, regardless of it having been enhanced/retouched in any way.

A quote sometimes attributed to Confucius says: ” A picture speaks a thousand words”, and just maybe Photoshop is what “bold” or “Italic” are to words. Both have to communicate. Not only is it sometimes necessary but it can make or break an image. I know plenty of photographers who use  Photoshop,  Elements, Lightroom or even applications like Picnic to help improve the way the image speaks/communicates to the viewer.

I certainly have huge respect for those photographers who manage to capture exceptionally evocative and mesmerizing images without changing a single thing during post production, however these days I think it’s highly unlikely and difficult to find them. It’s not always possible to take studio lighting with, wherever one goes and that’s just one reason why images don’t always appear as we’d thought they would when we look at them afterwards.

The Image Error Level Analyzer is an application where, when one submits the URL of a specific image (Jpeg format and not too BIG!), it will analyze the picture and tell you exactly where the image quality is lacking, thus indicating whether the image has been modified or not. Any photographer will tell you that shooting in RAW format is much better than Jpeg as every time one makes a slight modification to a Jpeg file or even repeatedly re-save a Jpeg file, it loses quality and resolution. This stands out as a different color in the ELA test.

This website does have a disclaimer, however it’s still interesting enough to check out and play around with for a bit, just in case you’re as inquisitive as I am.


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