Can that be real?

When reading a news post on the web, I often have occasion to ask myself “Can that be real?” or “Is this true?” and I’m often thinking about the image accompanying the post (as well as the post itself).

“Can that be real?” can have two meanings – does this image come from the context the text describes, and/or has it been “photoshopped” – altered in some way.

Luke Winkie has written a very informative post about 3 easy ways to tell if a photo is fake: use Google’s “Search by image” function,  Topsy, and Snopes.

He uses the image below of a young boy comforting his little sister, represented as having been taken just after the recent earthquakes in Nepal, as his first example. “…the picture itself  isn’t fake, but it most certainly wasn’t taken anytime this year, and there’s a good chance it wasn’t taken in Nepal. It’s just another artifact in a world whole world of sentimental and reappropriated pap presented as authentic….”

Do you ever wonder if an image has been “photoshopped” – altered in some way to fake the point?  writes about several recent “news photos that are not quite what they seem in this post at the Telegraph.co.uk.   writes about this image of North Korean hovercraft in the Guardian.com.

This picture released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on March 26, 2013 and taken on March 25, 2013 shows the landing and anti-landing drills of KPA Large Combined Units 324 and 287 and KPA Navy Combined Unit 597 at an undisclosed location on North Korea's east coast. (AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS)

This picture released by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency on March 26, 2013 and taken on March 25, 2013 shows the landing and anti-landing drills of KPA Large Combined Units 324 and 287 and KPA Navy Combined Unit 597 at an undisclosed location on North Korea’s east coast. (AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS)

“It seems that folks get caught because they do such a bad job of using Photoshop, which makes you wonder how many “good” edits never get caught.”

I often learn of a photoshopped image by the aftermath, not because I spotted the poor photo workmanship. Here are two examples: “The AP has pulled a freelance photographer’s images from its wires because he copied one part of the photo to another in order to cover up his shadow.” (Read the full post at Poynter.org), and “Bloomberg Politics acknowledged that it made a “bad call” with a photoshopped image of Hillary Clinton that was shared on the outlet’s Twitter account.” (read the full post at CNN Money.com)

Photoshopped or Not? Three Ways To Tell If An Image Is Real Or Fake by Fatima Wahab offers several sophisticated guides to help you look closely at an image in order to judge its authenticity. Click on the title to read her informative post.

This image is a composite image featuring the Statue of Liberty and the stormy sky of a 2004 supercell thunderstorm in Nebraska. (Photo : Facebook)

This image is a composite image featuring the Statue of Liberty and the stormy sky of a 2004 supercell thunderstorm in Nebraska. (Photo : Facebook)

Often the faked photo has been created, or used, because of its emotional component.  The picture on the left, supposedly an image of a storm over New York, serves as a good example of this.   (Use the Google “search for this image” function to see how many times this appeared on the web!) “Snopes.com commented on the fake image saying”[…] it’s a digital manipulation created by merging a picture of the Statue of Liberty with a separate photograph of a supercell thunderstorm snapped in Nebraska by photographer Mike Hollingshead on May 28, 2004.” (link to Enstars post) (link to original storm photos http://stormandsky.com/04-5-28.html)

The fake selfie of a man being run after by the IDF Photo: DAM

The fake selfie of a man being run after by the IDF Photo: DAM

Another recent viral photo of “a Palestinian man being chased by Israeli soldiers” which carries an emotional message is also a “fake”: “Photograph apparently taken by man pursued by IDF is revealed to be stunt by Palestinian hip hop band DAM – but that does not prevent it sweeping the internet” Read the story at the Telegraph.co.uk

Being cautious about accepting  the “truth” represented in an image certainly helps one to become an inquiring, knowledgeable, thinking and reflective viewer. And perhaps a “digitally literate”one, too.

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