Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Is Fairfax doctoring photos?

The SMH has run two carbon related stories in the last week:

NSW drops carbon challenge, and

Mac Gen takes $700m carbon tax writeoff

Both stories were accompanied by photos showing big black clouds emitting from chimneys.

I took one look at these photos and figured that they're too good to be true.

Here's the screenshots for each story:

There's an online tool called FotoForensics that you can use to examine photos to see if they've been altered. The tutorial (link above) is worth reading to see how photos can be interrogated.

Here are the error level analysis results of these two photos:

If I've read the tutorial properly, and understand how error level analysis works, it would appear that the bottom photo has been sexed up a bit - all that white in the bottom right hand corner (which appears as billowing clouds) has high error levels, which means it's been altered. You can look at the analysis here and decide for yourself. I suggest you plug in a few of your own photos and see how they turn out for the sake of a comparison. You could even try doctoring one yourself and then analysing it.

Question - if one of these photos has been altered, and that hasn't been disclosed, then is that a breach of ethics? What will the Press Council have to say about that? Why is it that Fairfax have to illustrate every story relating to CO2, a colourless gas, with big clouds?

I realise that is more than one question. But that's too bad.


Glenn said...

BOAB, I think the billowy clouds in the second photo may be in the bottom left, not the bottom right!

Anonymous said...

Better not shout "on your right" when you ride past him Glenn - no idea where he's expect you.

Anonymous said...

bah - apologies for typos; you get the gist


Boy on a bike said...

Yeah, yeah, yeah - it was late and past my bedtime. I could barely keep my eyes open enough to proofread it. Just remember that my disclaimer is "badly proofread".

Coconutdog said...

You'll probably find that the smoke is in fact steam. They always seem to use cooling towers to get their propaganda across.