Something’s not right, Part 2 [revamped], using Forensically, an online and free tool

Rather than doing a new post, I am simply updating this, as there are comments going one beneath and I do not want to erase them by deleting the post. So consider this revamping Part 3, really.

A commenter asked me a while back to apply Photoshop contrasting to the image below of the governor of Montana, Steve Bullock, and I just remembered that request today. See the results beneath the fold, and add your own opinion, as mine is guesswork at best.


Original Post:

I need other eyes on this photo. It is Governor Steve Bullock of Montana, who is positioned in the political spectrum as a “liberal,” and so who is forced now and then to mouth progressive-sounding platitudes. In this photo, he is taking credit for some schools getting a breakfast program grant.

The photo looks hinky to me. What do you think?

I am using a tool called Forensically, a free online photo analysis program. I’ve been reading the material to go with the work, and want to emphasize here that the program advises that I NOT use screen captures. Unfortunately, that is all that is available in the matter of Governor Steve Bullock. Further, the program says that any photograph run through Facebook loses all metadata and geo tags. I got this photo from Bullock’s Facebook page. In the future, I am going to try to use JPEGS, and watch out for copyright.

Given all those limitations, the program also says that we have to use our heads. Photo analysis beyond mere visual inspection, as I have done for so long now, requires patience and accumulation of experience and knowledge. I initially looked at the Bullock photo above and thought he looked seven feet tall, and from there we went into further analysis. I still think the photo is a composite. But since it is a screen capture, we cannot be sure.

This is now an academic exercise. Steve Bullock is just a politician, and a front and conduit for many financial ambitions. He is not a person of interest.

Bullock Clone Detention

Clone Detection: This part of the program identifies copied regions within an image. This would be the pink areas above. It indicates that someone has gone through and made subtle changes to fine tune or mask parts of the photo.

Bullock ELA using Forensically

Error Level Analysis: By comparison of an original image to a recompressed version, the program can make manipulated regions stand out. They can look brighter or darker. This is the part that throws me for a loop, so I offer below a photo I know to be real, of me and two friends at a baseball game. This is a JPEG, and it is only been re-saved once, that is to white out the faces of my friends, since I do not have their permission to use them.


The idea with ELA is that the general overall density of a photo should not vary. While the blue on my shirt is just too much for ELA to overcome, I do see consistency throughout this photos except for the white squares. In the Bullock photo I see a mishmash of dense and light consistency, and lines all around him. As time goes on, perhaps we will get better at this, and remember, it is a screen grab while the photo of me is a real photo.

Bullock Noise Analysis Ocpacity 39

Noise Analysis: This tool is said to be useful in identifying manipulations like air brushing, deformations, and cloning. Note here that it very clearly shows the lines around Bullock in a manner that indicates he has been pasted in, and that there have been some Photoshop airbrushing around him to blend him with the surroundings. Note here that the white bag and the young boy’s head serve to cut Bullock off at the legs. I am wondering if the bag was introduced for that purpose.

Bullock Level Sweep

Level Sweep: This tool makes edges that were introduced when pasting more visible. Note Bullock’s jacket again, but also note the young boy to the left – he is repeatedly showing up as an introduced feature. Note the vertical line on the front of Bullock, mentioned a couple of times by a commenter. That is not impossible, just unlikely to occur in real life.

Bullock Luminance

Luminance Gradient: Since this is an indoor photo, or paste-up, I did not use this tool to check light sources. It can also be used to check edges. If the edges are sharper in some places than others, it is a sign that the image has been pasted in. Here Bullock is surrounded by bright edges, but so is everyone and everything. I don’t know what to make of that.

Bullock PCA

Principal Component Analysis (PCA): The designer of this software uses this feature to make certain manipulations easier to spot. In this case, I would say that the young boy looking up at him (top of his head) and the governor’s jacket and fruit box look off, along with the bag in the foreground, no longer white. But as a rank amateur, I say that with reservations. It is, after all, a screen grab.

That is everything I can do with a photo. I urge the readers to use Forensically, as it is in beta version and free online. You can upload your own photos or save them from other locations. [Photos you upload are not saved on his server.] Avoid screen captures. Maybe we can share photos and maybe you can, like me, get better at this stuff as we push forward.

I am officially done with the Bullock photo.

15 thoughts on “Something’s not right, Part 2 [revamped], using Forensically, an online and free tool

    1. According to Neal Kravetz’s “a picture’s worth” I read some years ago, the imprint of a copy-&-paste faked image looks quite different.
      However, the paper is about 10 years old – I expect Photoshop & Co. to have improved in this area, and hide such fakes much better.


  1. A perfect vertical line runs down his right side .

    Not sure where to post this , I don’t know if you’re suffering from public hoax fatigue or not , or if want to pick through this or not .
    So I’m listening to NPR on lunch break , they do a spot on the new Netflix movie
    ” War Machine ” . They tell me about Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings’ hard hitting anti war in Iraq and Afghanistan pieces for the hard hitting politically relevant to young people monthly . Then I hear this :
    Michael Hastings died in car crash June 18, 2013 (aged 33) .
    Oh yeah another one of these .
    Also searching found this:
    Reed Hastings
    CEO of Netflix
    Wilmot Reed Hastings, Jr. is an American entrepreneur and philanthropist. He is the co-founder and CEO of Netflix and serves on the boards of Facebook and a number of non-profit organizations.
    W R Hastings Jr is now waging a war of words against
    To think a million young drones are listening to this and are clueless as to how they are being had , makes me shake my head ….


  2. Among all the other issues one of the kids appears to be about 3 years old. No desks, etc. Stuffed animals? Class size? Doesn’t have any similarity to any school class I was ever in.


  3. This is way off topic, but since some european readers visit this blog, perhaps they can help.
    Somebody has to do some explaining, let me elaborate:
    Tomorrow, the UEFA Champions League will be played in Cardiff, Wales… Really? Cardiff??? In a stadium built for Rugby??, Whaaaat?? The most popular and beautiful game on the planet, Football (soccer for the uninitiated), the most prestigious club league in the world will hold the final (Juventus vs Real Madrid, go Juve!! BTW) in a tiny city with no great football team or club and no continental footballing tradition? And as usual, most of US sports fans clueless/oblivious about this final. What is really behind all this? National Stadium of Cardiff? I demand some answers… and any help will be much appreciated.


    1. First of all I am English and support Everton.

      Cardiff fans won’t be happy with that comment about no great football team! Great football teams are not just about prestigious lists of trophies…It’s about the spirit and community of the people who go and watch and being part of the ups and downs. Remember …”cos if you know your history it’s enough to make your heart go woooah…” I’m sure they have their heroes and great moments to talk about.

      I am not sure about any dodgy reasons which is perhaps what you imply in your question, but first of all Cardiff is a capital city. I think its about 11th biggest in the UK. If you live in the UK why should everything be London focused? When Wembley was getting rebuilt the FA Cup was played there. Also a grass pitch is a grass pitch, just paint different lines on and it can be rugby or football. I think the stadium was originally built for the rugby world cup but the Wales football team play there.

      Also Swansea are in the Premier League, there is always the chance they could by some miracle get into the champions league. I think it’s good that the final is not in Paris, London or Madrid. There’s also been many brilliant players from Wales… Ryan Giggs, Neville Southall and Ian Rush in my lifetime. Wales did well in the last world cup.

      I don’t think it matters about there being no great continental football tradition. The teams from Wales play in the English leagues. English Leagues have a tradition of continental victories. I personally think it’s good. Spread the opportunity to see great teams around.

      None of this probably answers your question! But I’ve had a go at things from my English perspective.


      1. Blue, thank you for your comment. I can see you are a “toffee” from the start of your nick! Hey, Wayne Rooney hailed from Everton before ManU. I apologize if I sounded disrispectful towards Cardiff, that was not my intention whatsoever. Of course, if we talk about football tradition, England and the UK, of all places, has the noblest football tradition of all, no question. In fact, I consider Manchester United F.C. ceased to exist the day it was taken over by Malcolm Glazer (BTW, he was the same owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers among other teams, also it is reported he never set foot at Old Trafford, to ever watch a match, can you imagine? Now we know he wanted the team not for sporting reasons)… but I digress… What I meant by great footballing team, I meant it in the commercial and continental undertone of the term (think Real Madrid, Barcelona, AC Milan, Ajax, Bayern Munich, Red Star, etc). I should have used “great footballing brand” perhaps to convey a more proper idea of what I meant. Anyway, thanks for your words. I can see a proud fan right there and I respect that. Your insight and english perspective are much appreciated. For non-football fans and just as a simile of what we are (or some of us are) about to watch tomorrow (today, for some): Seems to me like the SuperBowl pitched Green Bay Packers against Denver Broncos and the stadium chosen was the stadium of the Milwaukee Brewers or the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. (Just in case: no disrespect to Milwaukee or Pasadena).
        For the rest, If you are not a Football (soccer) fan, and you were to watch just one Football match for the year, this is it. Football is not what it used to be, say, 20, 30 years ago… nothing is, huh?, but just that match, will be worth watching. Not for the quality of football perhaps, which it will have some for sure, but for the emotions present there. May the best team win.


    2. This is way off topic, but since some european readers visit this blog, perhaps they can help.

      According to Google Maps, there is a Cardiff city football club, with a “standard” football (“soccer”) stadium. But don’t ask me to look such matches at TV, can hardly imagine something more boring …
      That sports/football/soccer thing is the single greatest officially sanctioned distraction for adult males in Europe. Complete with beer&chips at home, and mass brawls near the stadium for those on excessive adrenaline levels …


  4. Yes, thank you. You both are right on your comments… What I find interesting though, it’s not a footballing city nor stadium, even if it’s a 4, 5 star stadium (which it is, for sure) and with the huge, humongous amounts of money football moves around… and we know by now Wales is a quite conspicuous piece of land… this event is a cover for something else as usual… anyway, thanks for chiming in!


  5. Off topic but I saw this character called Chris Cornell while checking my yahoo mail (when I sign out it always redirects me to Yahoo news). Seems to be the most recycled scenario. I believe that age 52 is very common. Actually I want to ask people that researched these singers/actors, what are the most common ages of death ? (In my mind I have the numbers 27 and 52)


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