The venerable New York Times carries a section today about fake photos, including Lincoln’s head pasted on John C. Calhoun’s body and a really elaborate paste-up of US Grant made from three photos.
There’s an excellent web site devoted to this sort of fakery, The Museum of Hoaxes. Photo fakery started as soon as the camera was invented (one of the photos dates from 1840), although digital photography and new tools like PhotoShop have made it much easier. Some time ago I made another post about some other fakes including the famous photo of the sharpshooter at Devil’s Den.
The MOH lists six basic techniques for faking photos:
1: Inserting details. This includes placing an element from one photo into another to create a composite image, reproducing a detail of the photo by cloning it, superimposing an image onto another, or drawing-in details.
2: Deleting details. This is usually done by extending background elements over the unwanted detail. Or one can crop out the unwanted detail.
3: Manipulating elements within the photo. For instance, adjusting the color, resizing details, or rotating or moving details.
5: Staging the scene. This is considered fakery particularly in photojournalism. Varieties of staging a scene include using models and cutouts and inserting a prop into the scene.
6: Taking a photo at a trick angle. The most common example of this is the use of forced perspective.
Swapping heads is very popular, in addition to the Lincoln/Calhoun example above, these include Oprah Winfrey on Ann-Margret’s body and the recent Sarah Palin bikini shot. Much more and worth a look—it will make you positively paranoid.
Also… today is the anniversary of the burning of Washington by the British in 1814.
UPDATE: The Times of London also weighs in on the issue with fake torture photos, fairies, and some of the ones we’ve already seen.
UPDATE: Heads continue to roll, i.e. to be swapped from one body to another. The latest, also chronicled by the Times, is Microsoft Poland, which put a white guy’s head on a black man’s body (but left his hands intact). This works both ways, as when the University of Wisconsin digitally added a black student to a brochure to “stress diversity.”
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