Scientists Discover Method to Detect Digital Photo Retouching

A pair of scientists developed a method that is capable of detecting images that were digitally altered.

FoxNews’ website summarized the way these two individuals came upon their discovery: "Professor of computer science Hany Farid and doctoral student Eric Kee from Dartmouth College analyzed 468 sets of unedited and retouched photographs of models. They then created a computer program to highlight the differences between a natural and retouched picture, using a mathematical description of augmentations."

The photographs were judged on a scale of 1 to 5. One represented no signs of image retouching and 5 stood for heavy image retouching.

Fifty individuals were then chosen to compare each photograph. Their ratings were judged next to the two scientists' ratings. Both sets of ratings turned out to match up with each other.

"Now what we have is a mathematical measure of photo retouching," said Professor Farid. "We can predict what an average observer would say."

These statements were compiled in a study published in the journal "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."

"We start with the before and after digital images from which we automatically estimate the geometric and photometric changes, effectively reverse engineering the manipulations that a photo retoucher has made," Farid added.

Farid and his student Kee advised marketers to adopt a new rating system. It would help provide proper assessments of digital image modifications.

Farid said he undertook this research project to provide new information on manipulated images to consumers.

In July, the British Advertising Standards Authority began an investigation into retouched imagery. They targeted the companies they believed had airbrushed a large number of advertisements.

Plenty of media outlets present images of today's celebrities in perfect form. This trend seems to have a connection to the eating disorders and body image dissatisfaction in men, women, and children.

In his research report, Farid explained the negative effects of such images on today's society.

"Impossibly thin, tall, and wrinkle- and blemish-free models are routinely splashed onto billboards, advertisements, and magazine covers,” Farid explained. He also said this trend is "creating a fantasy of sorts."

This research study and advised rating system could lead to the end of such widespread problems.