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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.