Computers and phones have become so advanced at taking and editing pictures that some people literally make a living by using photoshopped images. It is okay if photoshop is not used to lie or to hurt anyone but some people do and that is why you need to be smart enough to know when you are dealing with a manipulated picture. Some photoshops are bad enough that you can notice it by just looking at an image but some are so good, you may need software to point out the manipulation for you. Here are the things you need to do to identify manipulation on any image you are dealing with.
Reversed texts and reflections
The surroundings are one of the easiest things to miss when editing a picture. Remember they only focus on one specific aspect of the photograph and may not be able to cover everything. When you look at texts in flipped images, it is easy to notice some that are reversed whether in the background or part of the image. Reflective surfaces such as windows also carry reflections of the actual surroundings in which a photo was taken. If the reflections show something different then you have your answer. If glasses don’t seem to have any reflections at all, then you can be sure the whole thing was edited.
Look for traces of deleted people/objects
When an image is edited, the editor tries to pluck out objects that may tell a different story from what they plan on telling. The moment you remove part of an original object, traces of it can be easily left in view. Look for signs of someone seemingly hugging the air, strands of hair in the view with no owner and other objects that just seem to appear out of nowhere.
Look for signs of air brushing
Every photo has its own lighting and the moment something new is added, the lighting becomes inconsistent. All naturally photographed objects also naturally have their flaws and there is nothing like perfect angles on a face. When looking at an edited image, you will notice patches of inconsistent lighting or a drop in quality of parts of the image if it is airbrushed. If multiple images are introduced to an original, you will notice inconsistency in the lighting on different parts of the same image.
Do a reverse image search
Google has made life easy by allowing you to reach the source of any image. If an image is photoshopped, chances are, it has been plucked from somewhere on the web and you can easily locate it and any other similar photos were taken in the same context. If you think an image is not genuine, just place it on the reverse image search and you will find any similarity to other photos online.
Check for patterns in the background
Photoshopping the background is a tough job. In photoshop, you may notice certain objects that should have a pattern such as wall tiles, roads or even a wall. If the background changes suddenly, or part of the background seems to have been replicated in the image, you will notice things that seem out of place. Just focus on anything that doesn’t make sense in the background and you will have your answer.
Check the metadata/Exif Data
There are many apps online that now allow you to authenticate an image, some even for free. Software that checks the Exif data of an image will tell you the device used to shoot the image, the type of camera, the shutter speed (determines the quality of the camera) and any tools used to edit the image. The data is stored alongside the photo and also includes the software of the device used to take the image and it may even include the location the image was shot in. You will need to understand a little bit of photography if the editor was very smart but, in most cases, you will just notice manipulation using the metadata.
Check the shadows
Shadows never lie when it comes to photos and they are one of the hardest things to photoshop. Even the best photo editor won’t be able to manipulate light and how shadows appear in a photo. When looking at a photograph, look keenly at the shadows the images cast and check whether size and direction are consistent. The least of light still casts shadows so you should just look keenly at any solid objects that might block light on the image and check whether there is any shadow and whether it looks natural. The other problem is shorter drop shadows that are not consistent with the image. It is easy to spot photoshop using shadows where multiple subjects exist in the photo because it makes it harder to be consistent.
Check for signs of warping
Images of people creating fake biceps or claiming to have lost belly fat are one of the most common types of photoshop you find online. It actually involves the simple photoshop of stretching and shrinking parts of an image. This type of photoshop causes warping in images. You will notice abnormally stretched skin and the area around the object. For example, look at the tiles, curtains or walls around the biceps or shrunken belly. You will notice a stretch in objects that cannot stretch and changes to the background that doesn’t agree with physics.
Look at the edges and borders
Every digital photo artist out there tries to make their work as convincing as possible. In their bid to bring perfection, they make mistakes. When you superimpose a photo on another one, however much you try to hide the manipulation, the joints will tell you out. The best things to look for are naturally imperfect edges such as hairlines, fabric and clothes. These lines cannot be perfect, most of which will look wavy or jagged as a result of being superimposed. Some editors will cut out the edges to make a straight line out of it which makes it look out of place.
Use online Edit Checkers
If going through detailed Exif data is not your thing, then just go online and use quick edit checkers. Apps like Foto forensics and Image Edited to get a quick reply to your suspicions. The apps check the image’s metadata and gives you the final answer but you can also see the report as to why they arrived at that conclusion.
Have you ever suspected an image to be photoshopped? If you have do let us know in the comments below.