The New Field of Photo Forensics

With the power of Photoshop and other photo manipulating software, it’s not hard to create a convincing fake image. This can be good in terms of art and creative outlets where image manipulation can serve to break through many limitations. However, it can also produce false evidence in courts and generate misinformation through the media. Hence, the field of photo forensics has been developed to dispel these fake images. In this video, you will see how these photos can be determined as fake by finding inconsistencies in the shadows of the image:

Though the math and process sounds very complicated, the idea is rather simple. If there is one strong light source, all the shadows in the image must fall correspondingly to that light source. A straight line must be able to travel from a point on the shadow, to a point on the object creating the shadow, to the light source itself (Via Mashable). Though objects and shadows can be somewhat ambiguous, forensic analysts can still project conservative estimates of where the light source may be. By comparing multiple points of estimated projections, inconsistencies can be determined. The more points that are added, the higher the probability is of determining whether a photo is real or fake.

photography forensics shadows analyst fake manipulated photo

Special computer programs allow forensic analysts to more easily determine false shadows in photographs

photography forensics shadows analyst fake manipulated photo

The white outlined areas shows where all of the shadows points intersect

“It’s well known that observers have difficultly judging the physical consistency of shadows. So we allow the observer to do what the computer finds challenging which is understand the scene content, and we let the computer do what the observer finds difficult which is to assess the validity of any geometric constraints.”

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2 responses to “The New Field of Photo Forensics”

  1. Paulie says:

    Hmmmm, so does tis article imply the moon landings were faked? And Photoshop and some algorithms decisively prove false imagery, in an atmoshpere not on this planet? The under-45 crowd needs to move onto another subject, because there are four observatories around the world that to this day still use the equipment placed on the lunar surface to laser-measure the moon’s distance (not to mention that faking something like that seven times is absurd). Not convinced? Wikipedia even confirms the lunar trips were real:

  2. Pete says:

    This guy must use the same script writer at ‘The Big Bang Theory’… I bet his name is Sheldon….

    I would definitely not be calling him to give forensic evidence because he would send the jury to sleep. He just made a simple explanation sound extremely complicated with unnecessary wording There is no point being intelligent if you cant describe things in simple terms, especially in a court of law.

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