Photoshopped Or Not, Dartmouth Researchers Can Tell

By Sudarshana Banerjee

Dartmouth researchers have come up with a way to determine if an image has been digitally retouched, and quantify just how much has been changed. According to the researchers, Dartmouth Professor of Computer Science Hany Farid, and doctoral student Eric Kee, when numbers can show how much of a photo has been digitally altered, may stop people from doing just that.

How exactly did the researchers do this? Figure out a system to determine changes in pictures? The researchers collected a whole bunch of  original and retouched photos and went mathematical on them,  using a modeling technique to extract data. A single metric was designed for each pair of photos, which represented the extent to which the photos had been changed. The researchers also touched base with some 350 human observers, and incorporated their responses into the mathematical model. The end result was a composite indicator of how much the photos have been altered.

You will find a paper authored by Mr. Farid and Mr. Kee here. The authors propose that various agencies label photos accordingly if they have been digitally altered. They also hope that ‘a quantitative method to evaluate digital alterations of photos might likewise serve as a deterrent against extreme retouching.’

Want to see more before and after images? You will find them here.


We live in a world where beauty is measured by how many inches we do not have, and most of us do not have the benefit of certain Adobe products. Some of us may look at digitally altered pictures of celebrities and models, and using that as a yardstick of beauty meander through life with little self esteem and no hope of a size lesser than zero. We might as well be gawking at aliens, and sighing in anguished hope. Especially as we do not have photometric manipulations to remove our laugh lines, and gemoetric alterations that fit us into a leotard that can also double as a computer cable.

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