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The History of Lying With Images

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the i-can-tell-by-the-pixels dept.

Technology 72

An article at The Verge discusses a new exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art which traces the history of photo manipulation, starting in the mid-1800s. Early photographers used simple techniques like painting on their negatives or simply forming a composite image from many painstakingly framed shots. That period of time even had its own approximation of modern memes: "A large number of prints from that era — featuring decapitated subjects holding, juggling, or otherwise posing with their own heads — might be seen as the lolcats of their day, owing to an alluringly macabre and widespread fascination with parlour tricks and stage magic." However, lying with pictures really took off when business and government figured out how effective it could be as a tool for propaganda. The exhibit has many examples, such as President Ulysses S. Grant's head superimposed onto a soldier's body and a different background, or another of Joseph Goebbels removed from a photo of a party. The article likens these manipulations to more recent situations like the faked pictures of Osama Bin Laden's corpse, and often-hilarious altered ads featured on Photoshop Disasters. The article ends with a quote from photographer Jerry Uelsmann: "Let us not delude ourselves by the seemingly scientific nature of the darkroom ritual. It has been and always will be a form of alchemy."

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Nothing new (1)

Caesar Tjalbo (1010523) | about 2 years ago | (#41645669)

Just a footnote in the history of lying^w mankind.

Re:Nothing new (1)

Ferzerp (83619) | about 2 years ago | (#41645751)

We do have a remarkable propensity for trying to mislead one another don't we?

It's like the species, collectively, is a pathological liar.

Re:Nothing new (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41646673)

Well, I imagine lying would happen in any group of moderately sentient beings with independent, conflicting interests and an ability to lie, no matter how rational they might be. And when lying is advantageous to the liar, then it can't be pathological.

Re:Nothing new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41647953)

Well, I imagine lying would happen in any group of moderately sentient beings with independent, conflicting interests and an ability to lie, no matter how rational they might be.

The way you wrote makes it seem like you see lying as an irrational action. For a selfish actor, lying is the rational choice if it's more advantageous to itself than telling the truth.

Re:Nothing new (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41648983)

Eh, the original poster saw lying as some sort of deep imperfection in humanity. I just pointed out that lying would be present (and indeed, lying and other social tools of deception show up in other intelligent species on Earth) for anything that has certain basic qualities like humans.

Re:Nothing new (1)

Ferzerp (83619) | about 2 years ago | (#41649599)

But lying within the species is not a benefit to the species as a whole, hence, the species is a pathological liar (in my view).

Re:Nothing new (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41649893)

But lying within the species is not a benefit to the species as a whole

And what makes you think that? Or that vague "benefit to the species" is any sort of relevant characteristic?

Re:Amoral Assholes. (1)

hoboroadie (1726896) | about 2 years ago | (#41656115)

Your mileage may vary.

Re:Nothing new (1)

cellocgw (617879) | about 2 years ago | (#41649659)

It's like the species, collectively, is a pathological liar.
Sadly, Mr. Data wasn't until Number One explained about bluffing in poker. It was all downhill after that.

Re:Nothing new (2)

poofmeisterp (650750) | about 2 years ago | (#41649669)

We do have a remarkable propensity for trying to mislead one another don't we?

It's like the species, collectively, is a pathological liar.

Survival instinct + intelligence = interesting maneuvers.

Re:Nothing new (2)

lawnboy5-O (772026) | about 2 years ago | (#41645915)

Wait until they get a load of the linguistic programming that has transpired...

Re:Nothing new (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41646113)

Just a footnote in the history of lying^w mankind.

Yeah like when we pretend IQ tests are "culturally biased" only when we discover that blacks tend to do poorly. Until then the tests were great. White people who did badly were just flunkies. But no, not blacks, when it comes to them our worldview will only admit a few specific not-their-own-fault reasons why they do poorly. Same way the Catholic Church refused to look through Galileo's telescope, because they know what he said "just ain't so" and must be a trick. After all, everybody knows the heavenly bodies like planets are always perfect spheres without crater or blemish. Everybody knows, of course, that blacks are every bit as intellectually able. No matter what, NO MATTER WHAT, it cannot be that they think being a thug is more important than getting an education, nosirree, we cannot start thinking that this is a choice they make and that choices have consequences, noooo way, that would make you a bad person.

How to tell you are a shallow small minded emotional bed-wetting liberal? You think I am talking about a race and not about choices people make that others, who worry about race, read things into that are not there.

Re:Nothing new (1, Insightful)

swalve (1980968) | about 2 years ago | (#41649201)

The problem with racists like you is that you cannot, or refuse to, differentiate culture from race. When a white guy does something bad, it reflects on him. But when a black guy does something bad, you saddle the entire race with blame for that individual's actions.

Of course tests can be culturally biased. Imagine giving a test written in England with UK idioms to kids from Montana. They aren't going to know what those idioms mean. That's the problem.

Re:Nothing new (2)

rubycodez (864176) | about 2 years ago | (#41649405)

The tests are culturally biased but on average asian people score over 10% higher than white people, while blacks score over 10% lower.

I'm bringing this up because I'll bet over half of slashdotters can't have a rational discussion on these facts.

Re:Nothing new (1)

swalve (1980968) | about 2 years ago | (#41650361)

If you correct for socioeconomics, those differences disappear. In the US, the tests are biased toward the middle class and upper classes. They are culturally biased against poor people and the different ways intelligence manifests itself in those circumstances.

Re:Nothing new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41650425)

the tests are biased toward the middle class and upper classes. They are culturally biased against poor people

More like they are biased against dumb people. And poor people tend to be dumb. Because if they were smart, they wouldn't be poor.

Re:Nothing new (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41650399)

Of course tests can be culturally biased. Imagine giving a test written in England with UK idioms to kids from Montana. They aren't going to know what those idioms mean. That's the problem.

But the Blacks in question aren't from another country (despite their insistence in being called "African-Americans"- exactly where is "Africa-America"??)- they are from the same country and therefore should know the same stuff.

Re:Nothing new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41647375)

Say 'aye' if you parsed the title as "The history of lying -- with images!".

I'm a nerd (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41645907)

I just want to see the first-ever shopped photo of a girl. You know, from a qualitative post-positivist perspective, using qualitative observational research methodologies. I want to make sure I understand this shit.

You want lying with images? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41645941)

Real estate. The scummiest "industry" that exists. Everything is image. Condos sold on image only.

Re:You want lying with images? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41647087)

As someone who has visited houses photographed for the purpose of selling, and occasionally photographed the houses myself, you speak the truth. The MLS photogs are *masters* at framing out defects. If you the verite of my snapshots accompanied the ads, those places might attract considerably less foot traffic and sell for 10s of thousands less. That, and I've been known to research issues with the surrounding land (superfund site, proximity to landslide, etc.) that they will not tell you about until you are knee-deep in closing. Terrible, seedy business...

Re:You want lying with images? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648869)

Finally, some honesty and realism about real estate. If I hear one more "it's an investment" and "you get it all back when you sell" brainwashed real estate zombie, I don't know what I'm going to do but it's going to be violent.

Re:You want lying with images? (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#41658705)

Scummiest? There's SEO, insurance, used car sales, telecoms, social media, curated computing...real estate might not be in the top 20.

Uelsmann (2)

ChrisMaple (607946) | about 2 years ago | (#41646089)

Uelsmann is sort of a hero of mine. His images are boldly imaginative and technically impeccable. That he was able to create what he did in the pre-digital era is astonishing.

An online resource (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41646111)

Hany Farid's [fourandsix.com] work

10th Post (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41646169)

Pics or it didn't happen.

Re:10th Post (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#41646253)

Pics or it didn't happen.

I wonder if we'll ever get to the point that faking is so good that it can't be detected. (I wouldn't be surprised if spy agencies can already fake them so good that no one else can detect it.)

Think of the implications for creating political scandals, or for getting "undesirables" thrown in prison.

Re:10th Post (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41647167)

We're already there if you really want to badly enough to spend ridiculous sums of money on it. It's purely a matter of attention to detail. Making sure the shadows line up the way that they ought to and that skin tones don't shift inexplicably. Not to mention that reflective surfaces are monitored to make sure they're consistent.

It's very hard to make an undetectable photoshopping, but it's definitely possible to get it to the point where nobody is going to notice it who wasn't there for the original shot.

Re:10th Post (1)

cusco (717999) | about 2 years ago | (#41653267)

I'm quite sure it's been done, images are too valuable NOT to fake. A low-resolution digital image of a member of parliament having sex with a collie would be powerful blackmail material, especially if accompanied by a whispering campaign. Processing could be done in Brazil or Russia or Sri Lanka, and even if they took six months altering one pixel at a time it could be completely affordable. Information on an upcoming vote or classified data concerning an international treaty negotiation could make an inside stock trader rich overnight.

Re:10th Post (1)

poofmeisterp (650750) | about 2 years ago | (#41649677)

Pics or it didn't happen.

On the other hand, "Pics and it probably didn't happen" actually does work. :)

The timing is seems to be pretty good for ... (2)

giorgist (1208992) | about 2 years ago | (#41646177)

The timing is seems to be pretty good for the photoshop fail of the Russian orthodox Church http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2126092/Watch-closely-Russian-church-apologises-Photoshop-fail-20-000-timepiece-disappears-wrist-Patriarch.html [dailymail.co.uk] Although Nokias PureView was a pretty good one as well :-) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ud0wbhUqX1Q [youtube.com]

"lolcats of their day" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41646241)

Just... shut the fuck up, OK? Stop taking whatever retarded new thing some morons come up with and apply it to historical occurrences.

We Photoshoppers... (1)

kiriath (2670145) | about 2 years ago | (#41646251)

have been around for AGES.

Re:We Photoshoppers... (1)

bogaboga (793279) | about 2 years ago | (#41646331)

We photoshoppers...have been around for AGES

You made this up, right?

The begining of Photoshop lies in the late 80s. You're not saying 25 years or so, is "AGES", as you put it. Are you?

Re:We Photoshoppers... (1)

kiriath (2670145) | about 2 years ago | (#41646633)

Photoshoppers in spirit sir!

Re:We Photoshoppers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41647387)

vs just being a douche that jack off to a single brand name right?

Re:We Photoshoppers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648765)

vs just being a douche that jack off to a single brand name right?

...right into our Kleenex.

Re:We Photoshoppers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41649021)

Sigh. You know where that software got its name from?

Long before digital, you could take your film to a "photo shop" for development. They usually corrected slight exposure errors for you too. And you could pay extra for services like cropping. The good ones could do more of the stuff you today do in "Photoshop" too. Such as lying with images. It really has been around forever. Today as computer software, ages ago as darkroom artists.

mod up anonymous parent post (1)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about 2 years ago | (#41656205)

Photographers and developers definitely "photo-shopped" images in the dark-room well before the software named "Photoshop" existed. In fact, this history of photo-manipulation in the dark-room or in front of the lens is exactly what this whole topic is about: photo-shopping and photo-manipulation in the early days...

Re:We Photoshoppers... (2)

Will.Woodhull (1038600) | about 2 years ago | (#41649741)

Sir, you are implying that I cannot photoshop with the Gimp.

I CAN most definitely photoshop with the Gimp. I can do a better job of photoshopping with the Gimp than most persons can do with Photoshop. And I can always do it at less cost.

You are most definitely wrong, Sir. Photoshop is entirely unnecessary for photoshopping.

Re:We Photoshoppers... (1)

halcyon1234 (834388) | about 2 years ago | (#41657175)

I can do a better job of photoshopping with the Gimp than most persons can do with Photoshop.

And I'm sure most people can easily gimp an image with Photoshop. Otherwise, sites like Photoshop Disasters wouldn't exist.

Re:We Photoshoppers... (1)

Penurious Penguin (2687307) | about 2 years ago | (#41647147)

Accentuating [eccentrici...gency.info] the subtleties of angels.

I have great respect for national security, and I know I may have harshly ridiculed a likely candidate for Mother of the Year, but I figure it fair enough to retort theater with theater, especially since I became a terrorist for my interest in Ron Paul [slashdot.org] and very little of much of anything makes much since since.

I go way back (3, Funny)

wbr1 (2538558) | about 2 years ago | (#41646423)

I started with Adobe CD (Creative Daguerreotype) alpha 0.4
The healing brush was a razor and skill. And jeez were gradient fills slow.

Re:I go way back (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41647405)

what, no deluxe paint?

Any Cottingley Fairies ? (5, Informative)

reiko13 (1525617) | about 2 years ago | (#41646501)

http://www.philipcoppens.com/cottingley.html [philipcoppens.com] This is my favorite story of Photoshopping without Photoshop. I still don't get why many people believed those photos, especially Arthur Conan Doyle...

Re:Any Cottingley Fairies ? (2)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 years ago | (#41647745)

It's all about "supporting conclusions that you wish were true." It's a good thing that our modern scientific minds are immune to this sort of fallacy.

Sadly the Moon Landing was not included (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41646619)

Take a look sometime, you can see in many pictures a line where the sand meets the 2D background. In some pictures it looks like the studio is only about 20 feet.

Re:Sadly the Moon Landing was not included (4, Funny)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | about 2 years ago | (#41647133)

How do you know they didn't send men to the moon to create fake photos of a studio? It goes that deep. That's what she said.

Re:Sadly the Moon Landing was not included (2)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 2 years ago | (#41648403)

How do you know they didn't send men to the moon to create fake photos of a studio? It goes that deep. That's what she said.

Yup. The hard part was getting that giant wind machine up there to make the flag flutter.

Re:Sadly the Moon Landing was not included (1)

hoboroadie (1726896) | about 2 years ago | (#41656189)

I thought the special effects were most amazing when Commander David Scott dropped the feather and the hammer.
That fooled everyone.

Re:Sadly the Moon Landing was not included (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#41661255)

They sent up huge tanks of helium as a gas for the wind machine to save weight, that's why it's so scarce now.

Deja vu all over again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41646825)

http://www.amazon.com/Photo-Fakery-History-Deception-Manipulation/dp/1574881663

The standard of lying (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41647263)

is still Soviet Russia.
http://englishrussia.com/2012/04/30/photoshop-of-the-soviet-time/

Re:The standard of lying (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#41661313)

In Soviet Russia thing airbrushed out of photo is YOU!

Any women's magazine cover will show you (3, Informative)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about 2 years ago | (#41647595)

Pretty any women's magazine cover and most of the photos inside will show you multiple ways of lying with images.

Re:Any women's magazine cover will show you (1)

Kugrian (886993) | about 2 years ago | (#41648871)

Pretty sure it's the case with all magazines.

Re:Any women's magazine cover will show you (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 2 years ago | (#41649427)

Also the pictures on containers of food at the supermarket often look better than the contents, and those on menus better than the served dishes. Strange, no?

Happy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41647927)

How about this one, I'm going to call it 'happy couple':
http://timeswampland.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/150176668.jpg?w=600&h=400&crop=1

Manipulation just one part of the problem (2)

lurker412 (706164) | about 2 years ago | (#41648191)

Manipulation--whether in the darkroom or with a computer--is only one of the ways images can mislead. Scenes may be staged. Even when they are not, framing an image in the viewfinder and deciding when to release the shutter determine what small bit of reality is rendered. It may or may not be an honest, representative sample. Every photographer knows that you don't need Photoshop to lie with a camera.

Re:Manipulation just one part of the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648231)

Every photographer knows that you don't need Photoshop to lie with a camera.

Any politician knows you don't need a camera to lie.

Re:Manipulation just one part of the problem (1)

itsdapead (734413) | about 2 years ago | (#41648265)

Any politician knows you don't need a camera to lie.

Yeah, but it is harder to tell with a camera because you can't see its lips moving.

Headline is lying... (2)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 2 years ago | (#41648395)

Flash: Photographers have been manipulating images since before photoshop. Photography is an art; and unless you are claiming to be doing photojournalism, where accuracy is important, adjusting an image to capture what you want to convey is part of the process. it's no more lying than the painter who leaves out things in a landscape or adds details to make a picture more appealing. It's the ability to compose a shot, get the lighting right, and then work darkroom magic to get it perfect is what separates a photographer from someone with a camera.

Of course, photos can be manipulated to deceive as well; it's all a matter of intent.

Re:Headline is lying... (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 2 years ago | (#41649439)

Artists and sculpturers have been manipulating images for thousands of years

Re:Headline is lying... (1)

Will.Woodhull (1038600) | about 2 years ago | (#41649837)

Photography is an art; and unless you are claiming to be doing photojournalism, where accuracy is important, adjusting an image to capture what you want to convey is part of the process.

Above is true but does not go far enough, it is not the whole truth. Even in photojournalism and perfectly accurate photos, images can and should be composed in the viewfinder and diddled as needed in processing to best convey what the photographer feels is important.

The only truly accurate photos are the forensic ones taken at crime scenes, those of OR-7 when he trips a shutter release during his search for a girl friend, and those from the security cameras at your favorite store. Oh, some scientific photos, but not many. Most use false colors and other manipulations to bring out truths that otherwise would be missed.

Re:Headline is lying... (1)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | about 2 years ago | (#41652553)

Photographers? Talk about painters.

In the tomb of a Pharaoh (I think it was Rameses II), some of the painting was about his "crushing victory" in Qadesh. Turns out the "crushing victory" consisted in avoiding being crushed himself.

As long as there is a way to transmit information, there is a way of lying. News at 11.

One good book (3, Informative)

Slugster (635830) | about 2 years ago | (#41648621)

about this subject (historical propaganda retouching) is titled "The Commisar Vanishes". New copies are a bit pricey but lots of example photo pairs are online.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Commissar-Vanishes-Falsification-Photographs/dp/0805052941 [amazon.com]

Re:One good book (1)

TarPitt (217247) | about 2 years ago | (#41649743)

If I had mod points, I'd mod this post up

History changed (2)

epSos-de (2741969) | about 2 years ago | (#41649517)

The famously creepy portrait of Stalin and Lenin was also in the exhibit: http://i.huffpost.com/gen/740931/thumbs/o-STALIN-570.jpg [huffpost.com] Stalin actually faked a lot of history. He lied himself to the top, but started as a simple thief and bagger. One can dismiss the idea, but not the effect.

JFK - the movie (1)

Kittenman (971447) | about 2 years ago | (#41651825)

I remember when Olly Stone released this - some folks mentioned that if the version of history is seen, it tends to remembered as real, rather than what really happened. (Not saying that JFK was/wasn't killed by a conspiracy - that's all besides the point).

Moon landing hoax believers probably jumped in number after "Capricorn One".
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