These days we have all sorts of incredibly sophisticated tools at our disposal, both to create fake images and to detect them.
The first photographic image was made with a camera obscura by Joseph Nicephore Niepce in 1827. By the mid-1850s, photography was everywhere. Somewhere around this time, the phrase "The camera never lies" was born.
The idea was that, before photography, the main medium for capturing images was painting, but painting is a very subjective thing and the artist can easily affect the way things look. By comparison, a photograph was regarded as being totally objective – it was considered to reflect the absolute reality of a moment in time. Based on this, it was widely believed that a camera (or a photo) was not able to lie.
Of course, people being what they are, it wasn't long before folks began to use photographs to "experiment with the truth." One classic case is known as the Cottingley Fairies, which involved five photographs taken by 16-year-old Elsie Wright and 10-year-0ld Frances Griffiths in England in 1917. One of these images is shown below.
Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle, creator of the Sherlock Homes stories, was very enthusiastic about these photographs and interpreted them as clear and visible evidence of psychic phenomena (actually he was somewhat gullible, and he interpreted most things as evidence of psychic phenomena).
These days, of course, we have all sorts of incredibly sophisticated tools at our disposal, both to create fake images and to detect them. In my recent The Ancient Order of Froth Blowers
blog, for example, I was waffling on about the recent Transit of Venus
. Someone commented about a rather cool photograph showing a plane traversing the sun at just the right time as shown below:
The jury is still out on this one. I've seen lots of discussions covering little nuances about this image – most people seem to think it's genuine, but some commentators aren’t so sure.
Fortunately, in addition to my incredible good looks and amazing sense of fashion, I have been blessed with an eagle eye and a razor-sharp intellect, so 99.9999% of the time I can tell at a glance whether an image is genuine or if it's been "Photoshopped." Take the following for example:
There is no doubt in my mind that this is 100% true-to-life. This was obviously taken in the swimming pool at our last family get-together. I would recognize my mother-in-law and father-in-law anywhere!
If you know of any interesting or amusing "Photoshopped" images on the web, please post a comment with a link to share them with the rest of us.
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