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Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

Is it real, or is it Photoshopped?

Posted by prof e on November 7, 2012

With cell-phone cameras everywhere, and digital photo sharing sites and apps like instagram so easy to use, we are seeing more photos than ever before. And while most of these photos are true depictions of real events, others are intended to mislead or deceive. Take, for example, the photos at right that came out in the days surrounding the “Superstorm” named Sandy. Of the four photos at right, only one is “true” or “real.” Can you guess which one?

Not only are fake photos easy to create, they are even easier to distribute. One cleverly made photo can go viral via social media like twitter, Tumblr and Facebook.

People with Photoshop skills can make composite photos that often defy detection. Photoshop has even become a verb, as in, “I ‘photoshopped’ him out of the picture and put Josh in his place.”

Photoshopped images in advertisements have even attracted the attention of European lawmakers who are threatening to ban the use of Photoshop or digital retouching in ads targeting those under the age of 16.

Oh, and by the way, the only photo that depicts Sandy in an accurate way is the shot of the roller coaster surrounded by water. The photo of Lady Liberty is from the movie The Day After. The shark is photoshopped, and the photo at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was taken in September.


10 Responses to “Is it real, or is it Photoshopped?”

  1. Bilal Abdullah said

    Pretty much all of the picture look real, but you just know which ones are not real because you just know. People tend to put up fake pictures of things all the time and pretend that their real. A prime example is the Bin Laden murder when they posted a picture on Google of the supposedly real dead Bin Laden, but it wasn’t.

  2. Steve Prewitt said

    Around the time that Superstorm Sandy was damaging the east coast I saw every one of those pictures through facebook except one. The only one I did not see was the picture that was not photoshopped. Even though the photograph of the soldiers was not photoshopped, the way in which it was presented it might as well have been. It was not just social media that was promoting that picture but I also saw it on major news networks as well. I find it very interesting that it was taken months earlier but instantly everyone just believes that it was from Sandy. It goes to show that seeing is not always believing.

  3. Breanne Loesch said

    Noting that even the term photoshopped is becoming a norm in our daily vocabulary shows that photo editing is no longer the luxury it used to be just a few years ago. The ever advances in technology show that not only will we need to keep up with the next new iPhone or Facebook makeover… but also with advances in photo editing and the need to read through the bias of photos we are exposed to as well.

  4. Patricia Lovato said

    As it has been mentioned above, I saw every one of those photographs posted to Facebook especially the shark image, the soldiers at the tomb, and the Statue of Liberty. People were posting and sharing those images with fear that those were really happening. The soldiers, as mentioned in the blog was taken in September, but because it was during a heavy rainfall; people associated it with the storm. They were all over the news media and tabloids and considering the fact that a headline could have read “False Photographs” people proceeded to ignore that and look at the image building upon their fear of the storm until reality hit that they were photoshopped. The creators altered the truth for what they wanted people to believe! I thought that it was not only immature, but showed how the artist(s) primarily got what they wanted which was a false belief until the truth was exposed!

  5. Tenea Lindsay-Sanders said

    I completely agree, although I have not seen all of these photos, at first I could not pick out the correct picture. The picture that ended up being real looked to be the second most Photoshopped picture. I believe that it all comes down to perception, how gullible are you? With all the photo shop going on if you do not see it with your own eyes or it is not accredited most people do not believe it is real.

  6. Chris Price said

    I’ve seen most of these photos before on Facebook.Some of my friends actually though the photo with the sharks was real i had to tell her it was photo shop.Even on the internet people where posted all these picture of sharks in the subway system. With technology today it shows how easy it is to alter the perception of people during a crisis.The Week’s Editorial Staff posted a article the 10 fake picture of hurricane sandy letting people know that all the photo of the storm wasn’t real

  7. Amy Schultz said

    With less and less of our generation taking the time to read, images are slowly becoming our way of “reading” or finding out information. So it is easy for photographers to convince us that all these images are true especially since we are across the county when these events were happening. The social media makes these images spread at fast rates that get to all of us faster. Photography has come a long way from documenting a war, and informing citizens to mass producing fake images to hoax people to think they are real.

  8. Aimee Harmon said

    User generated content (YouTube, FaceBook, Pinterest) can be both extremely powerful and also extremely dangerous. Users of the sites use mass customization, which Turow describes as the use of the sophisticated technology in order to send large numbers of people messages tailored to their individual interests. So with true pictures and graphics, the messages and communication between people can be beneficial, influential, and necessary. But for the media that gets mass distributed that isn’t true, it can be extremely misleading and causes our society to be in the unknowing state we are constantly in. I myself fell victim to the untrue graphics as I believed that the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier depicted the Sandy tragedies, and actually had conversations with friends and family describing the tomb, and the events that took place during the Sandy disaster. Only until I read this blog did I realize that this wasn’t the case.

  9. Samantha Baker said

    It is amazing how easy it is to alter a photograph with today’s technology. It is no longer something that the elite can do, average citizens have the power to produce and distribute fake photographs. What might be more alarming is that advertisements have been using this technology before consumers got their hands on it. Action must be taken or our world will turn into a fabricated reality. The persuasion of “customized media driven by target-oriented advertising and PR” will only continue to encourage people to live in their own personal bubbles (Turow, 590). Who is to say that photoshopped images will not make their way into these already tailored advertisements. Media literate people may have a chance of understanding or recognizing when something is not being one hundred percent truthful, but children don’t stand a chance. Turow says that “scholarly research shows that the youngest children often don’t have the skills to be critical of advertisements’ claims” (548). I agree with European lawmakers that maybe the next step to stopping the complete corruption of our media world is to ban digital enhancements in ads that are targeted for children under 16 years old. Just because the ability to change a photograph is there does not mean that, that needs to become the practice of everyone in the world. Photoshopping can be entertaining at times, but it is also altering the way that history will one day be remembered. For instances, the fake photos from the storm disaster Sandy will be kept for many years, and when later generations look back on it will they remember what really happened or what a few people decided to make happen?

    Turow, Joseph. Media Today: An Introduction to Mass Communication. 4th ed. New York: Routledge, 2011. Print.

  10. Cassidy Glass said

    Photoshop used to be special or appreciable, but now with the technology it is often frowned upon. The modern media has made it so easy for the average person to manipulate the truth whether it’s information or photos. “In 2009, about 76 million U.S. household had internet access.” (Turow) Now a days it is unheard of for someone not have some kind of access, and now since the average citizen can have access to this technology the things that used to be hard have been programmed to be user friendly. Photoshopped pictures like these of the aftermath of sandy are created by someone behind their computer, and what’s so sad is so many people fall for the fake representation of what really suffered. Photoshopping has taken the credibility from a picture away and that is upsetting.

    Work Cited:
    Turow, Joseph. Media Today: An Introduction to Mass Communication. New York: Routledge, 2011. Print.

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