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New Photoshop Tool Reveals Where Pictures Have Been Airbrushed

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 11/29/2011 2:38 pm Updated: 11/29/2011 2:40 pm

We don't know about you, but we get irked when we can sense a photo has been airbrushed, but can't really put our finger on what the changes are.

Sometimes it's obvious when -- and, er, where -- an image has been retouched. But other times, it's harder to tell. Maybe the thigh looks a little artificially slimmed, or that model's face just looks a little too chiseled. And some of those ads that claim to be unairbrushed? We've sometimes wondered how much truth lies beneath those claims.

But now it might be easier to spot Photoshop shenanigans, thanks to some Ivy Leaguers. Researchers at the Department of Science at Dartmouth College have developed a computer tool that shows where images have been manipulated, using computer software that scans the image and quantifies changes. The researchers published their findings in a journal along with images that they tested the new tool on, including ones of Fergie and other celebs.

How does it work on a technical level? Uh, we're going to let Mashable explain:

The tool would work on a rating scale of one to five. Farid and Kee created a base metric by analyzing and statistically measuring results from various before-and-after photos. They then correlated these findings with a study group that was asked to rank the amount of photo alteration on a scale of one (very similar) to five (very different). This numbered metric could then be algorithmically applied to photos of, say, celebrities and models to reveal just how much photo-manipulation took place.

This new mathematical study of photo retouching could lead to a ratings system for photoshopped images, for countries that are committed to transparency in advertising. The UK has already famously banned a Julia Roberts ad for using too much airbushing -- maybe a wider ban will follow in the wake of these new technologies.

You can see a full gallery of the before and after photos at this neat tool on Dartmouth's website. Hit the toggle button to morph back and forth between the changes.

We're just hoping no one applies this to those Facebook profile pics we whitened our teeth in.

Read the full story at Mashable, and also visit the website of Professor Hany Farid to see his work on the important new tool.


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