Image for article titled Telltale Signs You're Looking at a Manipulated Image

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There is a lot of noise around the use of digital manipulated photos in advertisements and magazinesand for good reason: the impact of modified photos on media on consumer self-esteem has long been the subject of research – and the results are not good. More recently, tThe proliferation of easy-to-use apps like FaceTune has also led to the appearance of manipulated images on all social networks.. Celebrities aren’t the only ones slimming their waists, smoothing their skin and whitening their smiles anymore.

While there’s really no harm in using a VR filter to improve your look on your Instagram story or touch up a dull photo for the grid once in a while, some iinfluencers (and daily users) take the practice of extremes. Before you compare yourself to these seemingly perfect images, look for the telltale signs that what you see iisn’t quite the real deal.

Look for warping

The most obvious tell a lot manipulated images are distorted, which occurs when an object other than the subject is unintentionally distorted by editing tools.

“With Facetune and similar apps, I think people know to look for background distortion where (usually) the body has been bent, shrunk or bloated and the background as well,” Natalie said. Peeples, a graphic editor here at G/O Media.

Warping is such a common giveaway that it’s constantly referenced on a subreddit dedicated to detecting image manipulation. Head toward r/instagramrealitywhich has over a million members, and you’ll find people discussing social media posts from mega-celebrities and ordinary people. Whether the poster in question has 10 subscribers or 10 million, Reditors will be dissect a picture to determine whether it has been improved or modified, and warping is still at the top of the dead giveaway list.

If you see a picture of a curvy woman posing in front of a fence, check to see if the slats seem to “bend” around where her waist dips. Long hair and mirror edges can also “bend” around waists, busts and butts if these features have been edited in a photo editor. Ditto for the gym photos: Does the squat rack look like it literally bends around a guy’s arm? Metal does not do this unless it is a manipulated image.

Beware of unnatural environments

Another common theme among self-proclaimed Facetune investigators: Let’s say there is an influencer who will always post photos with a strangely clear sky in the background. Sometimes the clouds are in the exact same place in photos posted days apart. What’s up with that?

Background editing is very common, either for aesthetic purposes or to hide the location of a person. Occasionally it’s done because the body of the person in the foreground has been edited so much that it needs to be pasted over an undistorted background.

“I would say look for anything that is duplicated. If there are parts of the background that are exactly the same, they were probably cloned and dabbed in another place, and [are] probably covering or replacing something”, people said.

Check the image quality

From magazine covers to movie posters, it seems like big media projects always get called out for a super obvious Photoshop mistake. If the highly paid photo editing experts in these places can’t edit an image undetected every time, what chance do ordinary people have? There will almost always be shreds of visible obviousence left behindand reduced image quality can be one. There is not a lot of enterprising poster with some fancy iPhone apps can reasonably do.

“The telltale signs that something is faked in Photoshop or in the video will be changes in the pixelation of the subject’s features,” said Jimmy Hasse, creative director of editorial art for The Onion. “Saturation, resolution and color balance can also identify altered work. A simple trick is to add a slight blur to the edits so that they blend in with the original subject, then adding a touch of noise to further hide the seams of manipulation. He can often be slight variations in color balance—something is fresher than the rest of a lit picture, or something is muted to the point where it [looks] just a little off.

Use common sense

Stare long and hard at the photo you are questioning. Is the person’s hair too lush? Are their breasts too perky? Are their waists too ripped? Are their muscles too big? For God’s sake, do they have a single pore?

It really can be as simple as reminding yourself that no one is entirely perfect. There’s just no way anyone’s legs could be that long, no way their ass can be that round, and no way they can look that unreal.

“The proportions are important,” Hasse said. “SSometimes you can see things like bigger ears if a smaller face has been composed on a subject. If the facial features don’t line up perfectly with the original, those proportional differences stand out.

On r/instagramreality, you will find plenty of examples of edited footage where a person’s hands look absolutely huge compared to their manipulated body parts or their head looks tiny. The little head is infamous on the subreddit, in fact, because it keeps popping up. Remember that when you edit something in a photo, something nearby will suffer in comparison. Often it is a person’s head.

Don’t put yourself down

JAlthough it’s easy to compare yourself to fake pictures – even if you know they’re fake! – it’s not worth worrying about to not look like a model when you get out of bed. None of the people whose photos you look at look so good in real life Is.

This does not mean manipulate yours images makes you a terrible person. Professional photographers have been offering image editing and photo editing for years; wanting to perfect a memory is not a new desire, nor is it inherently crappy. Don’t overdo it unless you want your selfies to show up on Reddit.