When Fox Attacks: Steinberg and Reddicliffe

Silicon Alley Insider and MediaMatters report that Fox News is up to some pretty juvenile tricks, retouching photos of people it doesn't like. What was done to the photos, and was it an accident? The answer may disgust you.

Here are the images from AlleyInsider:

Clearly as SAI points out, something has been messed with. But could it have been an accident? The proportions of the images look different, and sometimes when translating between computer and television media, an inexperienced designer can get confused by the aspect ratios involved and make an ugly picture. Television uses non-square pixels (aspect of .9) and computers use square pixels. A mismatch here can make people look squat and fat, or tall and skinny. (You see a similar effect when you watch non-HDTV media on a widescreen HDTV, but it's because of the shape of the display, not the shape of the pixels.)

Let's take apart the Reddicliffe image first. In Photoshop I cropped out both versions of the image and overlaid the smaller "original" image in a layer atop the Fox image. In the Layers palette, I did "Group into New Smart Object" to let me place with the sizing of the top image without degrading the image quality each time I tinkered with it. A little experimentation showed the best fit was at 110% vertical scale and 100% horizontal scale. 110% is the inverse of the .9 aspect ratio I mentioned before that vexes computer designers working in TV. Maybe it was all an innocent mistake?

I think I have a good fit. Now, let's compare the two with the negative technique I showed in the second Obama/OpenDNA Birth Certificate article.


Enlarged 200% for clarity.

There's a little bit of fringe around everything attesting to an imperfect fit between the two. But the three big parts that stand out are:
Eyes. There are significant darkenings under the eyes. No other areas seem to change this way, eliminating a broadcast pipeline problem as the cause.
Teeth: There is a color alteration localized to the teeth area, in the yellow hue. There doesn't appear to be any yellowing elsewhere, that could be explained by a contrast/hue mismatch in broadcast.
Hair: Whoa. There's a big change here. Not just brightness/color alteration, but a whole section of hair has been removed. The smeary/streaky look of the uncovered skin suggests the lower parts of the forehead have been propogated upward to cover the former hair, with something like Photoshop's Smudge tool or Liquify filter.

None of this was an innocent mistake. Here's an animated gif using the "image flip technique" that makes it so easy to spot differences between images.

Let's move on and look at poor Steinberg now.

To line up Steinberg, I had to scale the "original" photo to 93% width and 103% height. So, it's still 10% taller than wide, but the whole thing was then shrunken a bit. What else was done?

Here we go again:
Eyes: Same dark circles as Reddicliffe. Looking tired never makes anyone look nicer.
Hair: The hair was actually cloned downward to cover more of the forehead. Does this make him look menacing or something? Hirsute?
Nose: Those nose was enlarged a LOT. This doesn't make ANYBODY look good.
Cheeks: More darkening, a la the eyes.
Ears: The ears were pulled outward, looking much more awkward.
Chin: This one isn't as obvious in the negative/delta image, but let's look at the flip image to see it:

Wow. That's a digital plastic surgery hatchet job.

Ok, so where does this leave us?

People in the media have LOST THEIR JOBS for doctoring photos:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adnan_Hajj_photographs_controversy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Walski
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allan_Detrich
http://www.pdnonline.com/pdn/newswire/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id...
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1976828/posts

More about digital image tampering in the media:
http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/farid/research/digitaltampering/
http://www.zombietime.com/reuters_photo_fraud/

AttachmentSize
reddicliffe.jpg39.86 KB
steinberg.jpg42.64 KB
reddicliffe-overlaid.jpg37.36 KB
reddicliffe_delta.jpg50.47 KB
steinberg-overlaid.jpg38.97 KB
reddicliffe.gif53.57 KB
steinberg_delta.jpg44.04 KB
steinberg.gif56.01 KB