We all know of the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Now, imagine what will happen if this picture is fake or manipulated. Photoshop is undoubtedly the best photo editing program ever. And thanks to Photoshop tutorials on YouTube, Photo manipulation is not just for experts anymore. Anyone can learn the basics of Photoshop in just a few hours. But like everything useful, Photoshop can also be used with wrong intentions. The majority of “Photoshop fakes” are harmless. But, sometimes, Photoshop can be used to forge documents, manipulate images to change the context, and do other illegal stuff.
Unless the one that is manipulating the image is an expert, he or she will leave enough traces. We can look for these traces and check if an image is photoshopped or not. So, let’s see how we can do that.
How to detect Photoshop Fake
1. Look for Signs of Image Compression
When in doubt whether the image is manipulated or not, you can take help of an online tool called FotoForensics.
Start by uploading the picture “choose File” and click on the button “Upload File.” It will run some tests on the uploaded image and displays a “compression heat map” as an output.
Generally, The area where compression is done, appear brighter than the rest. Moreover, you will also see ununiform compression. If that is the case, the image might be manipulated. However, this may not be true in all cases. In those situations follow their detail guide on how to analyze the compression map to evaluate if the picture you uploaded is Photoshopped or not.
This trick is best suited to detect fake documents.
2. Check Metadata or Exif Data
When you capture an image using a camera, extra meta information like date, time, camera model, geolocation, etc., are automatically added to it. In some cases, the metadata might also have information about the software that is used to edit or manipulate the image.
Although this information cannot be viewed directly, we can use online image metadata viewer to pull up all the metadata.
If the metadata tells a different story then what the image provider has to say then it can be a possible case of image manipulation.
However, this method is not full proof. More often than not, legitimate photos have to be manipulated to remove background objects and to make it look better. Therefore, if the metadata says that the image was edited using Photoshop then it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is fake. Moreover, if a person has enough skill to manipulate an image using Photoshop they can easily modify and hide relevant Exif data with ease.
3. Look for the Shadow
If the picture consists of some scenery or similar stuff then always look for the shadows. Manipulating shadows is one of the hardest things even for a Photoshop expert. Many a time, users new to Photoshop or with limited knowledge cannot properly detail the shadow intensity and viewing angle. Thus leaving behind a blind spot to detect if the image is Photoshopped or not.
4. Pay Attention to the Image Size
Image or pictures faked using Photoshop are often too big in size compared to what the average size should have been. This is because, Photoshop work with layers and when an image is heavily Photoshopped, the image size tends to increase due to all the layers and extra content. However, do remember that one can easily compress the image to reduce the size. So, this method is not that reliable but it is good to keep in mind when looking for fake Photoshopped images.
5. Think and Use Common Sense
The best way to detect if an image is manipulated or not is by using common sense. For instance, what do you think when you see images of “Aliens eating sushi in Chinese restaurant” or “a giant cobra swallowing an adult human.” A Photoshop fake, that’s it.
Wrapping Up: Detect if the Image is Photoshop Fake or Not
To find out if an image is “Photoshop fake” or not is simply a question of “who is doing the editing”. For instance, if the editor is a beginner thus less experienced, he or she will leave enough trail. In those situations, the above-mentioned methods will be sufficient to detect image manipulation and fake Photoshop images.
However, if the suspect is an expert then you will also need an expert. And that is why we have people working in photo forensics department.
Also Read: How to Fake GPS Location on Android