How to detect if an image was manipulated with photoshop



On the Internet, we live surrounded by images. Given the advances, we have been able to learn from photography and digital graphic design, encountering photographs involved is becoming more common.

Graphical editing tools such as Photoshop, Gimp or the like provide several image retouching facilities, offering results that are difficult to distinguish as false in the face of a common look if the person who executed that intervention has the necessary skills.

In itself, intervening in a photo does not necessarily represent something bad. By an aesthetic criterion or to capture a particular artistic vision, tweaks and photomontages are a valid and therefore widely used resource.

The problem with all this arises when an image is intervened to distort reality, with all the ethical implications that this entails.

Visual verification, the first step

Before testing any tool, a first filter can be done yourself. If the first details don't appear with the naked eye, you can spin finer following the path of the lights and shadows present, which should be regular.

Shapes and figures and proportions also say a lot when analyzing a photograph. These irregularities, if not well treated during editing, can be observed with some dedication.

Also, the lack of symmetry in some components of a plane or the difference in visual quality between objects, are contributing factors of possible intervention.


Tools dedicated to image verification

When visual verification is not enough, you can get extra help with the following free web apps:

  • FotoForensics: Inspired by an image recognition technology dating back to 2007, this tool, present since 2012, acts as an "advanced microscope" that detects common irregularities in intervened images.
  • Forensically: Operating similar to the previous alternative, this option has a much friendlier interface, which analyzes the same factors, but with more analysis criteria to handle.
  • Image Edited: Another similar option, with a simpler interface. It offers similar analysis and verification tools, mainly focused on error levels between pixels.
  • Exif Data Viewer: Although this tool does not analyze the content of images as such, it is presented as a useful alternative when working with your metadata. EXIF data contains several identifiers for an image. In the case of digital photography, they provide data about the camera used and in the case of image files in general, they provide details about the software used, if applicable. This data is actionable and even delectable but is often neglected when editing a photo.

Although the first three tools listed are presented as extremely similar alternatives, coming from different sites, they could present their analyses in different levels of detail, especially in the graphic aspect.

Reverse image search

Outside of the possibility of identifying, in particular, the points at which an image was intervened, it is sometimes necessary, or at least interesting, to go further.

Using a reverse image search mechanism, web tracking is done from a file, rather than keywords.

Searching from an image can allow you to find the same photo in multiple corners of the web, if available. In this way, in the case of a photo montage or a retouched image, you can find the original part.

Google Images offers this tool in its search engine, just like other third-party tools, such as TinEye.

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