Photoshop CS2: How to Recognize Deceptive Photographs

Photoshop CS2: The Bad and the Ugly

Photographers, graphic designers, and artists now have access to one of the most powerful tools that Adobe’s offered through their Photoshop CS2 software. Digital artists can alter landscapes, touch up faces, and create fantasy images that boggle the mind. Altered images, however, have pervaded the news media through deceptive photojournalism. In this article, Linda offers some infamous and not-so-famous photographic alterations that have been detected over the past century. Accordingly, she’ll lead you through the methods that were used to create these images.

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Staged Photographs: A Media Problem

Since the mid-1800s, photographers and graphic artists alike have altered their camera’s output. Wartime images seem particularly prone to distortion, as propaganda demands drama to win hearts and minds. Thankfully, blogs have investigated recent images that seem too good (or too awful) to be true and these writers have shown the world that we need to keep a sharp eye trained on what the media offers to an international viewing audience.

Staging photos and videos is one problem within the realm of altered images that has existed for decades. Take, for instance, the notorious “Case of the Cottingley Fairies” as told by the James Randi Educational Foundation:

“In 1917 two innocent-seeming English schoolgirls, 16-year-old Elsie Wright and her 10-year-old cousin Frances Griffiths, launched a deception that somehow managed to fool many people over the following years, including the creator of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. While playing in Cottingley Glen, just behind the Wright home, the girls took what they claimed were close-up photographs of winged fairies dancing amid the foliage. The girls then took each other's picture with the wee creatures, and photo experts who were consulted said that the images were not double exposures nor had the negatives been altered. The simple fact is that the girls had just posed with very obvious cutouts of fairy drawings to make the "authentic" pictures.”

Linda Goin

Linda GoinLinda Goin carries an A.A. in graphic design, a B.F.A. in visual communications with a minor in business and marketing and an M.A. in American History with a minor in the Reformation. While the latter degree doesn't seem to fit with the first two educational experiences, Linda used her 25-year design expertise on archaeological digs and in the study of material culture. Now she uses her education and experiences in social media experiments.

Accolades for her work include fifteen first-place Colorado Press Association awards, numerous fine art and graphic design awards, and interviews about content development with The Wall St. Journal, Chicago Tribune, Psychology Today, and L.A. Times.

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