Imagine if there were a reliable tool for detecting manipulation and Photoshopping in photos that every photo desk or photo contest juror could use. Manipulated photos could be screened from photojournalism contests before they cause a scandal, news photographers might be deterred from trying to punch up their images, and PDN Pulse might have fewer image manipulation stories to report.
Poynter.org reports that Kevin Connor, former Adobe product manager for Photoshop, has teamed up with Hany Farid, professor of computer science at Dartmouth College and a noted forensic expert on digital images, to create a suite of software tools designed to detect the alteration of digital images. The company they’ve formed, Fourandsix, has produced a beta version of one of the tools in the planned suite, according to Connor, and they hope to test it soon. The suite of tools will eventually be targeted to law enforcement agencies and news organizations who want to detect whether or not images have been manipulated.
Connor tells Poynter that customers should not expect the tools to provide a “magic bullet” or easy, push-button solution. The suite offers “not one but a series of technologies.” He says, “What you have to do is approach it as a detective and examine all the various clues in the image itself and the file that contains the image.”
The suite should make more widely available several of the forensic methods that Farid currently uses to analyze images –from precisely measuring the angles of shadows to comparing pixels. In December, Farid was asked by The New York Times to use his techniques to analyze an official photo from North Korea’s news agency (see right); as the Lens blog reported, Farid determined that a portion of the image had been cloned to erase individuals on the sidelines of the Kim Jung-Il funeral procession.
Farid explains many of his forensic methods on the Fourandsix.com blog.
Photo Manipulation Scandal Follows Same Old Script