> “You have to be physically and mentally present to recognize these things and be ready for them, to recognize that something special is happening on the street in front of you. That really is the skill. It’s almost more important than getting the photograph. It’s recognizing the significance of something.”
The new Nike Sportswear x VSCO filter dropped while I was on vacation last week in the Dominican Republic. It paints a Mars-like effect on your photos. This is how VSCO describes it on its blog:
“the preset creates a bold, duotone look using strong black and red hues. The tonal range of each image is remapped to these two colors, resembling the innovative look and expressive style of Nike Tech Pack.”
As I typically do with every new preset release, I go back and try it on recent photos to see what works. Portraits and scripture seemed to work out best. Here are some of the ones that came out.
Nike has sponsored a VSCOCam filter before with the NikeLab ACG x VSCO. It also featured a dark aesthetic.
I love creative accidents. I originally applied the Nike Sportswear preset on this image and the changed it to preset X5 but the sky retained some of the red and black from the Nike preset.
You can see a bunch more pictures from the trip on the VSCO Grid and on Instagram (@bombtune).
Perhaps just as critical in determining the veracity of a photo is reviewing its context. Who published it and what story is the source trying to tell? It is election season, after all, and everyone has their own agenda.
Former Adobe vice-president Kevin Connor founded Fourandsix Technologies to develop a better system of fact-checking photos. The first thing he suggests people do in photo forensics is reverse-Google the photo to see if it has appeared online before. If you identify a match, check for edits. You should also, advises Connor, research original publish dates.
“For example, it’s not uncommon for an image to appear on social media claiming to be of a crowd in a recent protest, but reverse image searches then reveal that the image was actually taken in a completely different city years earlier.”
Connor developed the website izitru.com to help streamline the verification process. Photographers can upload their original files to its database to authenticate their images.
Last but not least, fact-checkers can run images through error-level analysis (ELA) on websites like fotoforensics.com. An ELA scans the compressed areas to reveal the modified parts of the image. But remain wary of drawing any conclusions.
“At best, ELA might be useful for directing your attention to certain areas of the image that may deserve future scrutiny, but you shouldn’t make any final conclusions based on ELA alone.”
In all cases, the best thing to do in determining image authenticity is to use common sense. Look at an image for clues. The below example shows a woman wearing a laughable t-shirt at a Clinton campaign rally, only to be voided by the original untouched version shared on Twitter.
Online images are innocent until proven guilty. Use your best judgment to sort the retouched marketing images, most notably in fashion and food ads, from the the news. But when it comes to real stories, we can’t afford fake. Media outlets like the AP forbid manipulation:
“AP pictures must always tell the truth. We do not alter or digitally manipulate the content of a photograph in any way. The content of a photograph must not be altered in Photoshop or by any other means.”
PS: The below image of 300 dead reindeer struck by lightning in Norway last week initially looked photoshopped. But the Norwegian Environment Agency confirmed the report, even capturing a video of the aftermath.