Is film better for the truth?

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Jim Chinn

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This is not intended to be a us vs. them thread. But I was thinking after reading up on the various uses of photoshop to embellish (a nice way of putting it) older images.

If someone scans a negative into a computer and then destroys the negative, is there any way to disprove that the image from the negative later manipulated by software is not the original image on a negative?

If I produce an image or images in my digital camera, manipulate, combine, edit out details etc and then destroy the files leaving only a printed copy, can anyone prove this was not an orignal scene?


As a journalist, it seems that it would be improtant to have a record that could be examined by experts and determined to be ture. A negative would provide that level of credibility.

Then i realized that the manipulated image could be transferred to film, giving the impression that it originated there.

My question is: do you think that as people become more and more aware of how easy it is to manipulate images and alter their content, they will eventually quit believing anything they see.

For many years people have looked on print and TV journalists as rating lower then used car salesman.
It always seemed that photographers were seen as better communicators of the truth. Are we at the end of that era?
 

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i see what you are saying jim68134 ... but even 100 + years ago photographers manipulated images and altered scenes. take post cards for example - if you look at post cards from the turn of the last century even into the 1920-30s, you will see evidence this - people walking on a boardwalk or down a street -people walking a baby stroller &c. they were "dropped into the scene" - smoke in smokestacks (= progress) and that was painted in as well, and then there were the photographers and retouchers who 'swapped heads' in portraits. if you haven't seen the movie "photographing fairies" .. ( i know it is fiction but ... ) you get to see an edwardian era portait photographer doing things like that ...

the expression " believe none of what you hear and none of what you see " has been around for a long long time :smile:
 
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I think it is more relevant today though because manipulating photos has never been easier. And with a 24 hour news cycle demanding constant feeding, the temptation to "sex up" something is pretty great.

That said, in the end this is nothing new. The Soviets mastered this decades ago.

To me, the real issue is this -

Why do we automatically believe what we see?
 
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Jim Chinn

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Yes I understand that manipulation of images has been going on since basically the beginning of photography. However, upon close examination it is pretty apparrent that these images were faked. But today with digital, how do you know if it has been faked or not?

If I take a picture of someone holding a gun outside of a bank that got robbed with a digtial camera and delete the file leaving only the printed photo, would this be admissable as evidence? Could the defense attorney argue that there is nothing to prove the image was not manipulated, that the man had something else in his hand and I added the gun later?

On the other hand, if I make an image of a politician walking out of the back door of a motel with a 12 year old girl in here underwear on film, would not the film be proof enough that it really happened? Would the existence of film, that could be examined by experts, protect me from a lawsuit if nothing else?

So, does it not make sense to use a camera that provides physical proof of the truth that could be scientifically examined? With a dgital camera, unless you have the actual flash card the image was first on, how do you ever prove the image was "real"?
 

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I have worked in digital prepress for 7 years now. In that time I have been quickly released from two jury pools for that very reason. It seems to me that my having experience in image manipulation is not desirable in the forum of American bilnd justice.
 
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Plus, those "Kill 'em all and let God sort them out!" T-shirts you wear to jury duty don't help... :smile: :smile: :smile:


All kidding aside, it is is a big issue LEGALLY. Many areas still use film as "proof". And the way I hear it, chain of custody/tampering issues are big with PDs and DAs now.

Of course the standard of proof for your average media outlet is MUCH lower....
 
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I posted in another thread about a fake photo made in France that went through police and army analysis and was considered real - some 20yrs ago, fully analog processing.

For police and alike, they will have to resort to digital signatures of the digital archives.

Jorge O
 

David A. Goldfarb

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The logic of this belief about the relation of digital manipulation to traditional manipulation I think is a bit circular. With the development of Photoshop it became easier to manipulate images and manual retouching skills have declined, but when manual retouching was in wide use, there were lots of people around with the skill to change images in a substantial way that would be difficult for laypersons to detect. Perhaps the decline of traditional retouching techniques increases the "truth effect" of the traditional photograph, but at the same time, makes traditional photographs all the more subject to manipulation, since people are more likely to trust them.
 

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I believe David is "right on".

Truly. dr bob.
 

Sirius Glass

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I agree Juan. I also believe in "photographic truth", that which the camera captures not that which the computer manipulates.
 

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....
My question is: do you think that as people become more and more aware of how easy it is to manipulate images and alter their content, they will eventually quit believing anything they see?
...
It always seemed that photographers were seen as better communicators of the truth. Are we at the end of that era?

The OP wrote this in 2004. Eighteen years later, it is kinda amazing at how prescient the OP's question were.

The answers to both of these questions has proven to be, emphatically, Yes. Unfortunately, it seems there is no way back.
 

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But believing straight up that digital is less truthful than film hurts a lot of digital shooters who actually record a scene and do no manipulation outside of basic adjustments that do not affect the recorded scene as originally photographed.

Now, this thread started so long ago, I don't think anybody had expected Gates and Bezos to be where they are today (maritally). A lot has changed in digital manipulation since that time, so no question it is much easier to alter image, but I do not think it is any harder to actually figure out it is fake, especially in legal sense and with available tools to chase the changes in a digital file.
 

Sirius Glass

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FauxTow$hop did great damage to the photographic truth of digital photography. That and "pictures" of sharks jumping out of water to bite a rescue helicopter.
 

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There is no "truth" in photography to begin with. The act of pointing a certain focal length lens from a certain point of view introduced bias and distortion from the get-go. On the other hand, it takes considerable skill and planning to produce a convincing fake scene, either purely with analog components or digitally. A casual viewer can be easily fooled, and even more so with newer AI software. That is why critical thinking and observation are so important today, yet lacking in so many.
 

Sirius Glass

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The truth is what is captured on the film. In court I won a law suit with a photograph. The judge asked if it was digital or film. I told him it was film. He asked to see the negative. He took a long look at the negative and decided the case in my favor. The courts still trust what is on film when they can examine a negative directly. Do not try this with a digital photograph.
 

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The truth is what is captured on the film. In court I won a law suit with a photograph. The judge asked if it was digital or film. I told him it was film. He asked to see the negative. He took a long look at the negative and decided the case in my favor. The courts still trust what is on film when they can examine a negative directly. Do not try this with a digital photograph.
A photograph, film or digital, can easily be staged and presented as evidence. It is not necessarily the truth.
 

Sirius Glass

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[Quote: Pieter12] A photograph, film or digital, can easily be staged and presented as evidence. It is not necessarily the truth.[/Quote]
Read what I posted, not what you want to see. The courts believe what is on the surface of a negative and are suspect digital photographs. Yes the photographer can include or exclude objects from the lens, but once on film, the negative always tells the truth. You can thank FauxTow$hop and sleazy digitsnappers for ruining digital photography's credibility.
 

Chan Tran

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This is not intended to be a us vs. them thread. But I was thinking after reading up on the various uses of photoshop to embellish (a nice way of putting it) older images.

If someone scans a negative into a computer and then destroys the negative, is there any way to disprove that the image from the negative later manipulated by software is not the original image on a negative?

If I produce an image or images in my digital camera, manipulate, combine, edit out details etc and then destroy the files leaving only a printed copy, can anyone prove this was not an orignal scene?


As a journalist, it seems that it would be improtant to have a record that could be examined by experts and determined to be ture. A negative would provide that level of credibility.

Then i realized that the manipulated image could be transferred to film, giving the impression that it originated there.

My question is: do you think that as people become more and more aware of how easy it is to manipulate images and alter their content, they will eventually quit believing anything they see.

For many years people have looked on print and TV journalists as rating lower then used car salesman.
It always seemed that photographers were seen as better communicators of the truth. Are we at the end of that era?
I don't quit believe on things that I see. I don't believe in photographs.
 

wiltw

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This is not intended to be a us vs. them thread. But I was thinking after reading up on the various uses of photoshop to embellish (a nice way of putting it) older images.

If someone scans a negative into a computer and then destroys the negative, is there any way to disprove that the image from the negative later manipulated by software is not the original image on a negative?

If I produce an image or images in my digital camera, manipulate, combine, edit out details etc and then destroy the files leaving only a printed copy, can anyone prove this was not an orignal scene?


As a journalist, it seems that it would be improtant to have a record that could be examined by experts and determined to be ture. A negative would provide that level of credibility.

Then i realized that the manipulated image could be transferred to film, giving the impression that it originated there.

My question is: do you think that as people become more and more aware of how easy it is to manipulate images and alter their content, they will eventually quit believing anything they see.

For many years people have looked on print and TV journalists as rating lower then used car salesman.
It always seemed that photographers were seen as better communicators of the truth. Are we at the end of that era?

Digital files have their original creation date, and modified date, as properties of the file. That is displayable. Creation date = scan date. Modified date = Creation date, no edits to original file!

Here is one photo's Properties...
properties.jpg
[/URL]
Notice that oddly the Creation Date is AFTER the Modified Date! So even if you scanned and tried to play games with Scan vs. Edit date, the file still has the original date of creation attached to it.

Now, folks who know digital files have EXIF data, and that EXIF data can be modified with EXIF editors will challenge the veracity of data embedded in files. So I took it upon myself to edit the EXIF to show a somewhat early for digital date (certainly before the Samsung phone existed) and then save it. Here is what happened...

properties_editedEXIF.jpg


I could have
  • altered the image to include someone who was not there,
  • altered the EXIF to show a different date (2000) than was actually recorded when it was shot (2017),
And then stored the altered image, and the creation date shows a different date than the EXIF information, but there is not difference between Creation Date and Modification Date.
So digital information is not entirely dependable....it can be gamed, as demonstrated here.
 
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BradS

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But believing straight up that digital is less truthful than film hurts a lot of digital shooters who actually record a scene and do no manipulation outside of basic adjustments that do not affect the recorded scene as originally photographed.....

That was the issue 18, 20 years ago, when digital imaging was still in its infancy but now, we're in a post digital era. Post digital in the sense that very few give the matter any thought at all. I doubt that the masses even ask, or know to ask, "is this a digital image or a film photo?". They don't even assume its a digital image. They simply do not give the matter any brain energy at all. Incidentally, I often feel that we are also in a post truth era. Whether the blame rests entirely upon digital and, indeed whether digital imaging is a root cause, is kinda irrelevant at this point. Here we are...and there is no going back. The toothpaste has been squeezed from the tube....now, put it back.
 

Sirius Glass

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[Quote: Chan Tran] I don't quit believe on things that I see. I don't believe in photographs.[/Quote]

With the image manipulation that is so prevalent in digital photography I completely understand.

Some will point out that photographers in the past added and removed object from film photography, however just because something was done in the past does not necessarily make it correct today. For example racial discrimination.
 

Sirius Glass

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For some and their credibility is nil as a result.
 
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