You have probably all seen this 20th Century Fox introductory screen dozens of times. As I was settling in the other day to watch a movie, the cloud formation on the screen caught my attention. Upon closer inspection I was surprised to see obvious and clumsy signs of photo manipulation.
Welcome to the Fourandsix blog, where you’ll find tips on image forensics techniques and commentary on issues relevant to photo tampering and the responsible use of imaging tools.
I was sitting on my deck the other day on a video conference call. As the sun turned the corner I noticed that my face suddenly turned a surprisingly bright blue. At first I thought something was wrong with the color balance on my camera. I then realized that the sun was striking the blue table-top and then illuminating my face from below. The appearance of objects and people in a scene are affected by the color of their surroundings (painted walls, carpet, grass, etc.). This simple physical fact can be helpful to an image forensic analyst.
In some ways computer generated imaging (CGI) is impressive. In other ways, however, it is still fundamentally lacking in its ability to create photo-realistic images. You can see for yourself by taking the latest “fake or foto” quiz sponsored by Autodesk (makers of the popular computer rendering software Maya).
Forensic stylometry has been used to discover the writings of authors ranging from James Madison to J.K. Rowling. At the same time, this forensic technique has been at the center of some high profile blunders.
In 2010 the television commentator Glenn Beck held a rally at the Lincoln Memorial. Rep. Michele Bachmann claimed over 1,000,000 were in attendance. Beck claimed a crowd of 500,000, and NBC News counted 300,000 in attendance. At the same time, the firm DDIS, hired by CBS News, arrived at a head count of 87,000. Politics often gets in the way of counting crowd size. Recent advances in image analysis and aerial photography, however, have begun to improve the reliability of such measurements.