Digital photography has created a massive amount of incredible images. Although professional photography has and always will require quite a bit of skill, the rise of amateur photographers is unmistakable. We've pointed out some cool photography before, and here are just a few more examples.
High school junior Kelsey Upton was puzzled. Why was a stranger from Iowa sending her a text message?
Her confusion turned to terror last fall when she learned that the person who had sent the message had plucked her personal information from a pornographic website. Without her knowledge, someone had placed her name and phone number on the site next to a photo of a naked woman, in an explicit position, who somewhat resembled her.
Her father, a federal investigator who previously worked for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, traced the posting to a Citadel cadet, with the help of law enforcement officials. But to their dismay, Upton and her father learned that no crime was committed. Now Randy and Kelsey Upton, who live in Oxford, Ga., plan to meet with legislators and other public officials to try to make such actions a crime. "I want him arrested," said Kelsey Upton, now 17. "But if that won't happen, I want a law about this so someone doesn't just get a slap on the wrist."
Well, the Uptons are in luck. Sort of. The Agitator informs us that Georgia State Representative Pam Dickerson is looking to close this legal loophole by making it illegal to "intentionally cause an unknowing person wrongfully to be identified as the person in an obscene depiction in such a manner that a reasonable person would conclude that the image depicted was that of the person so wrongfully identified." This would include using a person's name, telephone number, address or email address.
However, Dickerson feels that isn't enough. She then adds:
"Such identification shall also include the electronic imposing of the facial image of a person onto an obscene depiction."
Now, rather than just closing an unfortunate hole in Georgia's libel laws, Dickerson is aiming to make a pastime as old as the internet itself, photoshopping celebrities' heads onto porn stars' bodies, a misdemeanor punishable by a year in jail or a $1,000 fine.
Now, I'm not here to suggest that the long and storied history of creating celebupr0n makes this a part of our rich cultural heritage and an unassailable act of free speech. What I am suggesting, however, is this:
2. Existing libel/defamation laws should already be handling Photoshopped head transfers. There's really no reason to take this from the civil arena and turn it into a criminal act.
3. It looks as if the Citadel is already planning on handling this internally as an issue between two cadets. Adding another law to the books is redundant at best and, at worst, is just encouraging people to holler for new laws every time they've been wronged.
4. If this law goes through, it will be subject to endless expansion, much in the way cyberbullying legislation has been stretched to cover such ridiculous acts as eye rolling and so-called "deliberate exclusion." Offended citizens who find themselves photoshopped into other (non-sexual) compromising positions, like say, having their male heads attached to clothed female bodies or made to appear as though they endorse businesses and lifestyles that they clearly don't, will feel the law doesn't go far enough. The internet is a very inventive place while most lawmakers are not.
5. It will be ridiculed mercilessly. See also this post (possibly NSFW) and this clip (possibly not safe for your brain):
We've covered the uncanny valley of various visual works before, but it's interesting that synthetic speech doesn't seem quite as polished as digital photo and video editing. Apple's Siri might be able to respond with some pretty witty comebacks, but everyone can still tell that the voice is computer generated. Here are a few interesting links on artificially-generated sounds and voices.
Photoshop has pretty much become a generic verb for altering a digital image. It's so common to use software to fix flaws in photos that it's a bit difficult to find unaltered photos now. Well, software will come to the rescue for that, too, and it'll help people determine which images have been touched-up. Here are just a few examples of some cool photo-enhancing tools.
Digital cameras have really made the field of photography much more approachable. Even monkeys can take some pretty decent photos. So how hard can it really be to take some nice shots? Here are just a few projects that show a bit of the spectrum of artful photography.
from the damned-if-you-do,-damned-if-you-don't dept
There's a story making the rounds about how the UK Advertising Standards Authority is banning certain cosmetics advertisements including Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington, because the images are way too Photoshopped.
The ASA says that ads can't mislead, and the makeup company (in this case L'Oreal) did not provide enough evidence that the digital alterations did not, in fact, mislead.
Now, this story was interesting on its own, but what made it even more interesting is that another makeup firm, Estee Lauder, seems to be in a legal dispute, for the exact opposite reason. Ima Fish recently alerted us to the news that model Caroline Louise Forsling had sued the company for the following advertisement:
She claims that the photo was just a "test shot" before any makeup was applied, and was for a different product. She claims that the showing of her untouched-up face on the left has 'irreparably' damaged her career. Of course, in suing over this, she effectively admits that the image on the left is the untouched-up image. She could have just as easily told people that the right-hand side was the "real" image, and the left-hand one was digitally altered, and gotten on with her life.
Either way, it should be noted that in both of these stories, they're about supposed "anti-aging" products, and I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise that digitally altering images is how such products are advertised, rather than showing any actual before and after shots, because I imagine "real results" are likely to vary from what's seen in any of these ads.
The market for digital cameras has been undergoing some significant changes in recent years. Instead of more megapixels, consumers are now chasing higher and higher ISO numbers. But pretty soon, it looks like cameras will be able to handle some computationally-intense operations and offer some amazing image processing functions. Here are some quick links to some existing and upcoming cool cameras.
And here we go again. Apparently a few websites had posted some photos that allegedly showed actor Jake Gyllenhaal stretching in his underwear. Supposedly, the image is faked. However, that hasn't stopped Gyllenhaal's lawyers from trying a somewhat novel approach to it, demanding websites take it down, because the image (among other things) could be seen as defamation:
How is that possibly "defamation"? As Eriq Gardner notes in his writeup (the one linked above), if the image really is Photoshopped, then he isn't stretching, so that's perhaps something "false." But it really does seem like his lawyers are very much stretching. It's hard to see how this causes any "harm" to Gyllenhaal. In fact, it would seem that having lawyers send out silly takedown notices like this does more harm to his reputation than the photo in question.
Thankfully, it appears that some sites aren't backing down, with at least one noting that the takedown itself now makes the photo newsworthy: "We're keeping the photo up, since it hasn't been proven fake and because their letter bumped it from 'funny and cute' to 'actually newsworthy.'" That site, Queerty, also explains why this isn't defamation:
Oh, really? Defaming him? Well, we don't like defaming anyone. You might even say that we are gays and lesbians allied against defamation.
But what exactly is the defamation here? Is is that people might think, wrongly, that Jake wears underpants? Or that his reputation is sullied by the idea that he allowed someone to photograph him without pants on? Or that he stayed in what looks like a cheap motel?
Simply calling something defamation doesn't make it so, as Howard Stern learned in 2009 when he tried -- and failed -- to sue someone for suggesting that he's gay. Is that what's going on here?
Jake's a public figure, and we can talk about him if we want to. We can even speculate about what he looks like in his underwear. We can't -- and won’t -- claim that this picture of him is definitely authentic, since we just don't know.
I wonder if these claims of "defamation by photoshop" will start to become more common. Perhaps it would be good to get some court rulings on the books that show this is a ridiculous claim.
Update: Clarified a bit in the middle to note that it appears that it was the agency, not Aniston's representatives directly who are making this threat to Gawker.
You may recall late last year the legal threats that came down after some designers started discussing the possibility that a Demi Moore photo on the cover of W magazine may have been Photoshopped in an odd way. The lawyers came out and threatened those who were talking about it, leading the story to get much more attention (as per usual).
However, it appears that some Hollywood types still haven't quite figured this out. Apparently Jennifer Aniston's the representatives of photo agency are threatening to sue Gawker because the site dared to post an image that it claims is a pre-Photoshopped photo of Aniston, which the agency people insist are doctored. Either way, Gawker is standing up for its fair use rights, and as this is the story, it seems entirely newsworthy to publish the image in question:
Once again, it looks like an attempt to hide something has only served to turn that into the story itself. You would think that people would recognize this already, so it's a bit surprising that they don't.
It doesn't take long to realize that the helicopter cockpit you're looking at is not actually in the air at all. In the upper lefthand corner, above the pilot's head, you can see an air traffic control tower. Oops. And, at the link above, they also zoom in on some of the panel instrumentation, suggesting that the door and ramp are open and the parking brake is engaged. Oh, and that document in the pilot's hand? Pre-flight checklist.
Perhaps BP is practicing in an effort to Photoshop the oil out of the gulf... However, somehow, I get the feeling it would leave some... artifacts.