Image manipulation is everywhere. We are so used to seeing altered pictures that many of us don’t even know that the photos we are looking at are fakes. A coworker can enhance their vacation pictures to make them look enticing. In fact, they can even put their image in a tropical location and make you think they had an exotic trip. The truth may be that they laid on their couch all week long. Photoshop sells a fantasy and we are buying. From celebrity magazines to advertisements for our favorite products, fake imagery is a big part of life. In a quest for realism, how do you spot the not? Here are some helpful tips.

  • Focus on the Face

    When looking at pictures, one of the first places you can spot a manipulated image is in the face. You can quickly notice small imperfections that will help you distinguish a manipulated photo. Today’s society wants longer lashes as well as wrinkle free and smooth skin. Did you know that enhancement specialists can work days getting the skin to be perfect on a close-up for a beauty campaign? Don’t focus on the pores to spot a fake photo, rather, look for a complete porcelain like blemish-free skin. No one’s skin is perfect. If it appears to be seamless, it is probably altered.

  • Study The Body Closely

    One thing that you will notice in an altered photo is that the visual characteristics have been tampered with. For instance, if a surface should be solid, but it appears to be bent or liquid looking, then it has been transformed. It is very difficult to successfully duplicate some of the body’s features. When using Photoshop, it is hard to keep edges straight, corners and tiles exactly as they were in the original photo. When the photo is changed, the background may not be as straight as it was.

    Look closely at the human face. Poor blending and problems with edges are a good way to spot trickery. Another great area to monitor is the area where the hips meet the ribs. Does it match perfectly?

  • Look To The Light

    Look at the way the light interacts with the photo’s objects. Do shadows or highlights seem to violate the laws of physics? When a person has been removed or added to the picture, the lighting will often be incorrect. The biggest way to spot a fake is if an object doesn’t cast a shadow. There may also be highlights coming from all different directions. Lighting is a difficult thing to fix in an altered photograph.

  • Conduct A Reverse Image Search

    So, it is not the most airtight method, but you can discover if a photo has been altered by using a reverse image search. If there have been obvious manipulations you will be able to tell by doing this inquiry. Simply put the photo in the Google search bar. It will bring up all sources of that image. If it has been manipulated, you will quickly get the results. You may even find a background used in many pictures.

Advertising is all about false beauty. No model is thin or perfect enough. Society buys into the fake image that mirrors perfection. Some stars insist that certain filters be used on television and printed materials. Yes, vanity rules the world. However, no matter how perfect these pictures appear to be, there are imperfect people behind the imagery. True beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The next time you look at a magazine cover or photo online, pay close attention to the details. Soon, you will become an expert at spotting the fake.


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