A new study suggests that four in 10 people cannot tell a digitally manipulated picture from an untouched one. The Guardian’s head of photography has a few tips to make it easier
One of the perils of picture editing in the digital age is finding yourself duped by a fake image or a photo that has been manipulated. Guardian picture editors scan up to 30,000 images a day – often selecting at pace those that seem worthy of publication – especially when feeding the hungry beast that is the Guardian website.
But, as a University of Warwick study has discovered, spotting a fake is a tricky task, made almost impossible by the sophistication of artistic tools now available to a skilled photo manipulator. Researchers found that four in 10 people couldn’t tell a digitally manipulated picture from an untouched one. An individual can seemlessly become a crowd, a clear sky can be replaced by a tempest, textured skin made smooth, waists pinched in. There is almost no limit when it comes to creating a scene that – even to the most astute beholder – is apparently genuine.