Basics of Photo Authentication

Photo Authentication“A picture is worth a thousand words”, is a phrase coined by Frederick R. Barnard is no less true today than it was when it was first spoken.  Ever since the invention of “Still Photography” by Louis Daguerre in 1838, people are captivated by photographs.  Now that we have moved into the 21st Century, photographs still carry a great amount of weight whether it is used to express ourselves, art, or as evidence to prove or disprove something.

No matter how you look at it, pardon the pun, a certain amount of controversy has cast a shadow over photographs.  It didn’t take long for some unscrupulous photographers to discover that photographs could be manipulated yielding very shocking results.  However, these early faked photographs could be easily identified by a very keen eye because of the poor quality of equipment and materials.

Over time, the quality of faked photographs improved as did equipment and materials making it more difficult to determine whether or not a photograph is authentic or a fake. This is especially true now that we have entered the “information age” with an abundance of high-tech digital cameras and computer software just a click away.  Now, a really good “faked” photograph could easily seem authentic to an untrained eye.

As a result, I have altered my authentication techniques and take a more guarded approach when authenticating photographs and think you should too.  Everything is not always as it seems at first glance.  Some of the key items you should look for are “pixilation”.  All digital images are made up of pixels and you need to inspect each of the key elements of an image to determine if the pixels match.  A “Tell Tale” sign of a fake image is the presence of any pixel distortion, pixel discoloration, or other pixel noise in the photographic image.  This becomes very evident once you enlarge the photo.  You should also check to see if the photo has more than one layer.  This can be done through computer software that allows you inspect the elements of the photo.  If the photo does in fact contain more than one layer or the key elements can be separated revealing another image underneath then the photo has been photo shopped provide you with evidence that the photo is fake.  Lastly, you should look at the image as a whole to make sure that all of the key elements are in proportion with each other.

Most people who attempt to pass off altered or fake photographs or images as authentic usually fail in one or all of these areas.  They are more interested in the “shock” value and publicity that their images will receive.  This is why you should take a more guarded approach when authenticating photographs.  By performing these simple tasks while authenticating photos you can greatly reduce the chance of authenticating a fake photo as authentic.

As technology and the skills of digital media artists improve, you will likewise have to improve your skills of authentication adding new techniques to your arsenal just to stay one step ahead of counterfeiters.

© J.F. Dietz 2013

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About James Franklin Dietz
James Franklin Dietz is a ULC Minister, Historian, Paranormal Investigator, Lecturer, Speaker, and Author specializing in Supernatural History, Paranormal Investigation, Ghosts, UFOs, “Crypto” Zoology, Ancient Symbols, Conspiracy Theories, Parapsychology, and Secret Societies. He is also the founder and owner of Asylum Paranormal. As a child, my babysitters were Lon Chaney, Vincent Price, and Boris Karloff who I consider to be the true “Masters of Horror”. Growing up with monsters, ghosts, and “creatures of the night” spawned a three decade long love affair with the paranormal and things that go “bump in the night”. In 2005, I began collaborating with Kasey Clark in the development of Haunted Houston Tours which opened its doors for business in 2010 offering Historical Ghost Tours in the Houston Metropolitan Area every day of the year. From its inception Haunted Houston Tours has grown into a thriving business providing its patrons a “living history” of one of the most haunted towns in Texas and has been featured in the Houston Chronicle, ABC Channel 13 News, and local Community Magazines. In my role as manager of Haunted Houston Tours, I provide mentorship for its staff and make “special appearances” as a guest Tour Guide. In 2013, Kasey Clark, owner of Haunted Houston Tours, approached me again on a new project. Immediately, we teamed and began collaborating on the development of Haunted Lafayette Tours which held its Grand Opening on October 1st offering Historical Ghost Tours in the Lafayette Metropolitan Area every day of the year. From the time Haunted Lafayette Tours opened its doors for business it was an instant media sensation and has been featured on “Good Morning Acadiana”, KATC Channel 3, and as front page news in both the morning and evening editions of The Daily Advertiser newspaper. Haunted Lafayette Tours Provides its guests with a hauntingly insightful look into the seedy underbelly of an innocent looking college town in Louisiana termed “the most haunted State in the U.S.” In my role as manager of Haunted Lafayette Tours, I provide mentorship for its staff and make “special appearances” as a guest Tour Guide. In addition to managing both companies, I am a contributing writer for Paranormal Underground Magazine on a regular basis. Currently, I reside in Lafayette, Louisiana with my wife and two dogs where I am featured as a regular Speaker at Ghost Hunters University giving lectures on “Basic”, “Intermediate”, and “Advanced” Paranormal Investigation. When I’m not speaking, lecturing, giving tours, managing my blog and writing articles, you can find me conducting active paranormal investigations gathering information for my next book.

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