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A picture is worth a thousand words. You have to see it to believe it. Pics or it didn’t happen. The trust we put into visual cues is all but encoded into our language. But what happens when the visual information itself is a lie? How effective are we at teasing out fact from optical fiction? Not very, according to a recent study in the journal Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications.

The study found that people could detect a false image only 60 percent of the time. And even when they knew an image was false, study subjects could only identify what was wrong with it 45 percent of the time.

The results matter because, as the study’s authors note, we live in a world where images are routinely altered. A generation ago, convincingly manipulating photos was difficult and labor intensive—the domain of experts. These days, with the rise of digital photography and cheap editing software, anyone with a bit of time and access to a computer can probably make something reasonably convincing. This means way more fun visual gags on Twitter, yes, but it can also shift our perception of reality—leading us to believe things that aren’t true.

Copious air brushing in the fashion industry, for example, has been well documented in its ability to alter our perception of what the typical human body looks like—sweat, stretch marks, pores and all. More recently, false images have become political memes, spreading disinformation (malevolently or otherwise).

A widely-shared, altered image of President Trump’s sons, Donald Jr. and Eric. The photo on the left is the real photograph. The one on the right has been altered to be less flattering. unknown/C. Allergri/Getty Images

This digitally altered image purports to be President Obama’s Columbia student ID, used to give credence to the unsubstantiated belief that the former president was not born in the United States. The card fails the sniff test: Obama attended Columbia in 1981, and ID’s with barcodes weren’t issued at the university until over a decade later. Unknown

The study, led by University of Warwick psychology researcher Sophie Nightingale, relied on an online test. The researchers started with 10 real (in other words, not manipulated) pictures from Google Images. Six of them were subjected to five different forms of data manipulation each—some producing physically possible images, some staying within the bounds of reason—to create an additional 30. These manipulations included air brushing, the introduction or subtraction of people or objects, changes in lighting, and changes in landscape geography. Participants, 707 in all, were each shown 10 random images—always including all five manipulation types and all five original images, but never a repeat of the same type of manipulation or base image—and asked to determine their authenticity. If you’re curious, you can take the test yourself here.

Below is one of the altered images—you can toggle back and forth with the original. Can you spot the difference? We’ll explain at the end of the post.

Participants were best at figuring out that a photo had been manipulated if something about the resulting image was physically implausible (geometric inconsistencies, shadow inconsistencies, or something implausible added to the picture, for example). But even then, subjects weren’t necessarily great at specifying what was wrong. It was as if those sorts of pictures triggered some spidey sense, but viewers still had a hard time figuring out what was making it tingle.

The study authors aren’t entirely sure why humans seem to be so shoddy at sussing out fact from fiction. In the paper, they speculate that perhaps we have the visual shortcuts that make our brains so speedy to blame: most of us understand how a shadow should fall, for example, but our brains aren’t designed to latch onto the position of a shadow when we look at an image. We gloss over a lot of what we see so that our brains can more quickly process the information that seems most important. In the conclusion of the paper, the study authors don’t sound entirely optimistic about the prospect of training individuals to be more discerning, but they point out that making a more manual effort of taking the image in might help.

“Future research might also investigate potential ways to improve people’s ability to spot manipulated photos. However, our findings suggest that this is not going to be a straightforward task,” they write. “We did not find any strong evidence to suggest there are individual factors that improve people’s ability to detect or locate manipulations. That said, our findings do highlight various possibilities that warrant further consideration, such as training people to make better use of the physical laws of the world, varying how long people have to judge the veracity of a photo, and encouraging a more careful and considered approach to detecting manipulations. What our findings have shown is that a more careful search of a scene, at the very least, may encourage people to be skeptical about the veracity of photos.”

In other words, don’t just look at a picture expecting it to be real. Look for things that might suggest it’s not. Of course, that has its potential downsides. Going into every interaction with a digital photo under the presumption that it’s fake-until-proven-real makes it easier to discount evidence that doesn’t support your personal beliefs.

“Increased skepticism is not perfect,” the study adds, “because it comes with an associated cost: a loss of faith in authentic photos.”

The whole prospect becomes even more chilling when you realize that the same digital manipulations can tweak video, too. Many of these alterations reveal themselves with a little digging, since the data contained in a digital photo usually leaves clues as to whether or not the file has been modified. But most of us don’t have hours to spend poring over viral images to figure out if they’re real.

“Images have a powerful influence on our memories,” study co-author Derrick Watson said in a statement. “If people can’t differentiate between real and fake details in photos, manipulations could frequently alter what we believe and remember.”

So take heed: Increasingly, the fact that you see it doesn’t mean you should believe it.

To see the difference, look at the tree line. This photo was provided courtesy of Sophie Nightingale, Cognitive Research, 2023

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Spot Faked Photos Using Digital Forensic Techniques

If only all Photoshop jobs were this obvious, recognizing faked photos would be a lot easier. Stan Horaczek

We see hundreds or even thousands of images a day, and almost all of them have been digitally manipulated in some way. Some have gotten basic color corrections or simple Instagram filter effects, while others have received full on Photoshop jobs to completely transform the subject. It turns out humans aren’t very good at recognizing when an image has been manipulated, even if the change is fairly substantial. Hany Farid is a professor of computer science at Dartmouth College who specializes in photo forensics, and while he can’t share all of his fancy software tools for detecting editing trickery, he has shared a few tips for authenticating images on your own.

Try reverse image searching

A reverse image search in Google looks for images that are exact matches, as well as those that are thematically similar. Stan Horaczek

Before you start trying to CSI an image too hard, you can often debunk a faked photo by finding its source using a reverse image search. Google includes this function as part of its Images suite and looks for the exact image, as well as images that are similar in both subject matter and color aesthetics.

Another powerful tool is Tineye, which performs a similar function, but often returns fewer results that are closer to exact matches, which can make them easier to sort through.

“Often if you just do a reverse image search, you’ll find it right away,” says Farid. “You’ll see the original image that someone took from Getty Images and then added a UFO to the sky or something like that.”

Reverse image search can also be a useful tool if you suspect someone is stealing your social media photos and impersonating you. Upload your own photos to the tools and you can see where they appear on the web.

Look for weirdness

Fight the urge to zoom in too far to examine an image. This unedited image shows weirdness and artifacts when you’re up this close. You don’t have the CSI “enhance” tool. Stan Horaczek

The first step in analyzing an image involves a logical analysis, an area in which humans typically perform much better than computers—at least for now. “Computers are very good at measuring this fine grain details like compression artifacts and inconsistencies in geometry,” says Farid. “But if someone created a picture of a boat sailing down the middle of the road, a computer might not see anything wrong with that.”

Look at an image closely and examine objects that may have been inserted, or look for evidence that other objects may have been removed. Farid warns against zooming in too far, however, because that can introduce its own obstacles. “Sometimes if you zoom into an image up to 500%, it’s very easy to look at something that’s perfectly valid, like artifacts from lens distortions or noise, and start attributing that to manipulation,” says Farid. He recommends zooming to 200% or 300% maximum to avoid false positives.

This is also the time to look for errors in scale and perspective, which are some of the trickiest things to fix in a fake. Does one person in a group photo have an abnormally large head? Does an object look like it’s sitting at an odd angle? These are warning signs that warrant an even closer look.

Check the EXIF data

You can learn a lot about a photo by checking out the metadata associated with it. Stan Horaczek

When a digital camera captures an image, it appends a whole array of information called EXIF data to the image file. This data includes all the critical camera settings, as well as other info like GPS data if it’s available (which is typically the case with smartphone photos, unless the person has intentionally turned location settings off).

If you have the location of the photo, you can plug it into Google Maps and use Street View to get a general idea of what the location might actually look like. The Street View scene won’t necessarily be 100 percent accurate and up-to-date, but it can be a good starting point.

This analysis from chúng tôi shows the metadata attached to the JPEG file. Stan Horaczek

You can also sometimes find the original pixel dimensions of the image. This may not sound very useful, but you can easily look up the typical image dimensions of a photo from a particular camera and then compare them to the file you’re currently viewing. If the final version is smaller, that indicates that the photo may have been cropped to exclude information.

Also in the EXIF data is a software tag. “If an image is opened up in Photoshop and then saved, the metadata will then say “Photoshop” and then whatever version they used,” says Farid. He warns, however, that this tag doesn’t necessarily indicate that a photo is trying to trick you. Many photographs go through Photoshop or some other editing program for simple adjustments like color correction, or even just resizing.

Examine the shadows

The image has been edited to flip the man’s face, which creates a clear contradiction in the direction of the shadows. It was part of a study to determine how well people can recognize faked photos. Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications

We know that the shadow cast by an object will appear opposite the light that caused it. Using that information, investigators can actually map lines between shadows, objects, and the corresponding light sources to see if the image is physically possible.

“Out in the physical 3D world, I have a linear constraint on a shadow, an object, and a light source,” says Farid. “That means I can find all the objects that are casting shadows—as long as I can very clearly attribute a point on a shadow to a point on an object in the image.”

One of the original examples in the study about people’s ability to recognized edited photos showed a man whose face had been flipped so the light source was landing on the same side as the shadow. It can be easy to identify once you’re looking for it.

Mess with it in Photoshop

(The comparison above show two versions of the same image. The one on the right has been subjected to the levels adjustments that clearly show brush adjustments over the front license plate)

If you have access to Photoshop yourself, there are a few adjustments you can make to try and draw out artifacts that you might miss with your naked eye.

One tool Farid suggests using is Levels. You can access this by pressing Command + L (Mac) or Control + L (PC). “If you bring the white point all the way down really close to the black point, what’s going to happen is that the narrow range of black will expand out quite a bit,” says Farid. “If somebody has taken the eraser tool and erased something in a dark area, you can see the traces of the tool.” The same effect happens if you drag the black point all the way up to draw more detail out of the image highlights.

You can try a few other Photoshop tricks to shed some light on alterations. Cranking up the contrast or the sharpness will help emphasize hard edges in the photo, which can sometimes occur when an object is pasted in. Farid also suggests inverting the colors on an image (control + I or command + I) to get a new perspective on the photo, which could jolt your brain into drawing out some irregularities.

Look for patterns

There are some patterns you can recognize with your eyeballs. A novice Photoshop user may well leave repeating patterns behind when trying to clone out an object. Zoom out and look at the image from afar to see if your eye can pick up on any patterns, then zoom in closer to see if there might be some repeating objects in the scene.

Researchers also often look for patterns in artifacts left from JPEG image compression. JPEG is a “lossy” format, which means it jettisons some information from the original file to save space and make it readable by a wider array of machines. This causes artifacts, or changes in the data introduced over time—especially when you save it more than once. “Imagine you go out and you buy your brand new iPhone and even the packaging is beautiful. Everything fits just right down to the tape,” says Farid. “Try putting that back together and see what happens. It never works. The same thing is true of a digital file. When you unpack it in Photoshop, and then recompress it, you can’t get it perfectly right. It leaves artifacts that we can recognize.”

Be wary of online tools

A popular image validation tool says my photo of corn has been edited because the EXIF has been stripped and it was exported from Adobe Lightroom. This is, in fact, what the corn looked like. Stan Horaczek

There are places online where you can upload an image to check for warning signs of editing, but results can be very tricky to interpret. For instance, I uploaded this picture of corn to a popular site and it was flagged because it was “not an original camera image.” I exported a JPEG from a DSLR raw file with some color corrections myself, so I know it wasn’t faked, but it’s still flagged. It didn’t claim the photo was doctored, but it also casts doubt where there shouldn’t be any.

There are some websites that can read the software tags, like this one that can tell you exactly what actions were taken in Lightroom when editing a photo. That’s more useful, but you still need an understanding of the software itself to make an accurate interpretation.

There is software out there that can identify these more complex manipulations, but it’s typically only available commercially, for security and law enforcement operations.

“Making that stuff public is tricky because the more I make the information public, the easier it is to circumvent,” says Farid. “We release the details in scientific publications, but to really go back and implement all that technique would be really hard for somebody. That’s the compromise we have right now.

Don’t fall for false positives

The final step is realizing that sometimes things look altered when they aren’t. “Photographs just look weird sometimes,” says Farid.

How To Produce Great Content (Even If You’re A Terrible Writer)

Content has been king for a very long time, and that doesn’t look like it will be changing anytime soon. And that’s all well and good if you’re an A+ writer, but what happens if you want to pack your business blog full of great content when you think you suck at writing?

Plenty of business owners find themselves feeling frustrated with their writing abilities – either because they think the quality of their writing is poor or they simply hate the thought of sitting down and writing.

Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to create great content – even if you think you’re a terrible writer. Here are four of them to get you started:

Tell a Story

Great written content isn’t so much about volume, amazing grammar, or technical expertise. It’s about connecting with the reader. So, sit back and try to tell a story that will engage one of your customers. Pretend it was just you and your ideal customer at a table. What story would you tell to draw them in?

Once you have your story, start writing. Don’t worry about editing, grammar, layout, or any of that fancy stuff. Great content is all about the heart of the writing. If you tell a great story about a time your product or service helped someone, or about why your product or service is important to your consumers, you’ll be creating great content without even knowing it.

If you struggle with editing, spelling, or grammar, have an administrative person clean up your writing for you. The real meat of it, the story itself, is what will engage people and help them connect with your company. Anybody with a red pen can do the clean-up you need, but it’s the real meat of the story you’re creating that’s important.

Try Video

“Content” doesn’t have to mean dozens of blog posts. If the thought of writing article after article leaves you wishing for something less torturous, try producing a video series for your blog or YouTube channel instead. According to Forrester Research, one minute of video is worth 1.8 million words. That’s a lot of writing you can make up by making the switch to video.

If you’re looking for video ideas, consider a “top tips” video series for customers of your industry, or a walk through video series of the products you sell. You can also do behind-the-scene videos of your company office, introducing viewers to the real people who create the products or services you sell. All of these types of videos are engaging and will help create relationships between your brand and your followers – and that’s the goal of great content, no matter what form it takes.

Create a Podcast

Podcasting is a great outlet for leaders who want to share their ideas but don’t enjoy writing. A verbal medium, podcasting allows you to put out content on a regular basis without having to worry about spelling or Oxford commas. That said, just like a blog or other written content, this should be a consistent outlet for you and your team – you can’t abandon it after three episodes unless you want to hurt your brand.

Podcasts can be as long or short as you want, but they generally aren’t the best medium for long-form reports or presentations. The best podcast episodes are either short pieces where you share some specific information, or interviews that help people gain insight into your industry and product offerings. You can also use podcasts to highlight customer testimonials (as long as you do it in a manner that’s informative – not overly self-promotional).

Creating a podcast can be as simple or as complex as you’d like. Recording the audio is easily accomplished on most computer mics, but you can then dress it up with a custom introduction, podcast artwork, and other features. If your series is successful enough, you may even attract sponsors who pay to have their brand names mentioned in your episodes.

However far you decide to take things, though, the key to remember is that podcasting not only allows you to connect with audience members on a personal level, it’s a great way to create engaging, informative content without writing a single word.

Outsource or Hire

If you feel that your writing skills aren’t up to par, remember you don’t have to be the one doing the writing in the first place! You can always enlist other people within your company to do the writing for you. In fact, if you’re a business owner, that might be the best use of your time. That way, your writers can focus on their areas of expertise, and you can focus on yours – making your company the best it can be.

If hiring internally doesn’t make sense for you or your organization, consider outsourcing. Quality freelancers will dig into your industry, your business model, your products and your services – learning everything they need to know in order to deliver relevant content.

You may even be able to find a writer that’s specialized in your field before, which will enable him or her to provide in-depth content that readers will think comes directly from you. Searching Google or LinkedIn for writers who fit the bill can be a great way to start, but if nothing comes up, job boards such as ProBlogger, Media Bistro, or Online Writing Jobs are also great places to post opportunities.

When you hire someone to write content for you, make sure you communicate all of your expectations clearly – especially about deadlines, pay rates, and communication if work is delayed. Having these conversations ahead of time will prevent future challenges down the road and will ensure the content you receives meets your expectations (or, alternatively, that you have an option for revising content that doesn’t).

Final Thoughts

Being a terrible writer is no excuse for not creating content. In today’s crowded digital environment, it’s an absolute must, so consider storytelling, videos, podcasts, or outsourcing as viable options for your content creation needs. However you create it, your content is the story your brand shares with the world. Tell it!

Featured Image via Shutterstock

How To Download All Google Photos & Videos At Once

But since there are no good free alternatives – at least we’re yet to find one with the same search power and editing tools – there’s a good argument for accepting that you’ll have to pay to use it once you’ve used up the storage space Google gives you for free.

In any case, you’re here because you want to download your Google Photos, and that’s precisely what we’re going to show you how to do.

Of course, it isn’t entirely obvious how to do this, which is also why you’re here. We’ll explain how to download just some photos and videos or absolutely everything you’ve got on there.

How to download some photos from Google Photos

This is the simpler task of the two, which is why we’re explaining this first. The process is the same whether you’re downloading photos or videos from Google Photos.

How to download all Google Photos (and videos)

Downloading everything photos from Google Drive is quite simple, but the option isn’t in Google Photos.

Instead, you’ll need to use the amusingly titled Google Takeout service.

Google Takeout lets you download data from any of Google’s service, including your Chrome history, Google Play activity, Google Play Books, Hangouts history and much more, such as Photos. 

You can do this in a web browser on a phone as well as on a desktop computer.


Deselect everything


Select Google Photos


Select or deselect albums

Somrata Sarkar / Foundry

If you want to to download everything, skip this step.

Now you will see a list of all your albums. If you haven’t separated all your pictures into albums (because who has time for that?), Google will automatically separate them by year. You might see albums and years.


Scroll down and confirm

Somrata Sarkar / Foundry

Scroll to the bottom of the list of all services and select Next Step.


Choose export settings

Somrata Sarkar / Foundry

In the export settings you can choose how often you want to download all your Google Photo content. You probably want the default Export once option here.


Choose how to download

Somrata Sarkar / Foundry

You won’t download the photos directly. The options are to email download links to yourself, or export everything you’ve selected to another cloud storage service. Currently, the options are Dropbox, OneDrive (Microsoft) and Box.

You can also add them to Google Drive, but this seems like a strange choice when the photos are effectively already stored in your Google account.

Here, we’re using the email option.


Choose download size



Somrata Sarkar / Foundry

Your files will now begin exporting. This can take a long time – as the message says – even days. So you won’t be able to download your collection immediately. You’ll get an email when the export is complete.


Email notification

Somrata Sarkar / Foundry

This is what the email will look like when it arrives. You can now download each exported zip folder to your hard drive. 

Also note, you should get a security authorisation email from Google to confirm it’s you requesting to export your photos and not someone else. You may need to authorise it before you’re able to download your photos and videos

Note: the download links expire after one week.


Export complete

Somrata Sarkar / Foundry

Once the export is complete, it will appear under the Show Exports option in Google Takeout.

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Idphotostudio: Create Passport Sized Photos From Your Digital Photos

Passport-sized pictures are usually scary and ugly. I am not sure about everyone, but I look very bad, rather awful, in my passport-sized photos. Thankfully there is a way out to combat the ugly passport shot. I recently came across software that helps to convert our crystal clear digital pictures into a valid size passport photos. I am talking about IDPhotoStudio, a simple tool that can turn any of your digital photographs into a valid size passport photo. Even if you don’t have a printer at home, you can create your passport-size photo from any of your good and attractive digital photos and take it to some studio to get the prints done.

Create Passport Sized Photos From Digital Photos

IDPhotoStudio is a freeware that comes as a perfect solution to get a good passport size photo at home. This lightweight application lands and installs in your computer system in just a few minutes. It is simple enough to be handled by anyone.

The tool has an absolutely simple and clean interface with all options clearly visible in its main overview. With no specific steps or guidelines this tool is very simple to use. You just have to load any of your images stored on your computer system, and you can get the passport size photos in next few minutes.

You can also rotate your photo by 90 degrees to bring it in the right position. The tool re-sizes the photo to the required proportions automatically. However, the tool lacks the options of cropping and editing the image – but it still works well.

The best part about IDPhotoStudio is that it provides the standard dimensions for many countries, and you can get the passport size photos complaint to so many countries. The countries/states are compiled in alphabetic order, and you can easily select the state you want your photo to be compliant with.

Once you load your image and select the dimensions you can then set the number of copies you want for your photo. The program is set to print an A4 sheet, and you can select the number of copies accordingly.

Pros of IDPhotostudio

You can preview the entire sheet of images before you get them printed actually.

You can save the entire sheet in your computer system or can transfer it into pen drive also.

You can choose to apply greyscale or sepia effect to the photo.

You can select the number of copies you want to get printed.

Features 27 different languages and various countries.

Can rotate the image by 90 degrees.

Cons of IDPhotoStudio

We expected a lot from the program, but overall it does a great job. The developer however can add value to the program by adding a few basic photo editing options like red-eye remover, cropping, editing, adding effects, adjusting brightness/contrast . It also lacks the Undo option, and if you have selected sepia effect for the picture accidentally, you will have to start it all again.

IDPhotoStudio free download

IDPhotoStudio is a nice and useful freeware, but it might land a few unwanted software on your computer. To avoid the installation of unwanted adware install the Lite version of the software. 

In a nutshell, if you have a good quality digital picture of yourself and want to print out a set of passport-sized photos quickly, IDPhotoStudio can help you out. It is a freeware that installs and uninstalls without issues. Go get it here.

How To Find & Delete Hidden Photos With Photos Cleaner

How to Find & Delete Hidden Photos with Photos Cleaner Start Recovering The Valuable Storage Space on Android

From birthday parties to hangout sessions & private pictures, we keep them behind a security wall (hidden). & with time, maybe we forget about those or don’t bother much & feel bad about lesser storage space on the device. That’s where we need an expert solution like Photos Cleaner that helps you find the hidden files in one place & take proper action.

What Photos Cleaner is All About?

If you are also looking for managing your photos perfectly & display the hidden as well open photos, go for Photos Cleaner, without a doubt. From internal as well as external media, Photos Cleaner scans for hidden pictures to help recover the storage space.

Keeping thousands of photos on your device makes your photos collection unmanageable, and duplicate photos cause additional chaos. To get rid of such images we use a duplicate cleaning tool, but what about the images that we cannot see?

You read it right, besides the photos you see in your phone’s photo Gallery there are other photos too. These usually are social media images, from the backup you have taken, etc. Finding them manually isn’t easy.

Please note: Whatever images that you deleted with Photos Cleaner, you won’t be able to recover them as they are permanently deleted.

Find & Delete Hidden Photos with Photos Cleaner

Now that we know how powerful & reliable Photos Cleaner software is, we should move ahead with the scanning for internal & external media. The next step would be to select the photos from the scanning result & take proper decision of deleting or keeping them. Let’s start with finding the pictures & get shocked to know that you have that many old pictures:

1. Let’s start by visiting the Play Store & downloading the Photos Cleaner tool

2. Once the downloading & installation parts have been completed, tap on Scan Photos.

3. The above command will start scanning your device for external & internal media & you will need to grant permission for that.

4. Within a few seconds, the app will display a lot of pictures along with the number of pictures.

5. Since there are many, the app will automatically divide the scanning results into different categories.

7. Now, start tapping on the ones you want to view as sometimes, you cannot view the picture properly in the grid view.

9. There are 3 ways to delete pictures, one by one, select the pictures to delete, or preview & delete if you want to.

The above process will help you take out the ‘almost trash’ files from your device that you weren’t aware of.

Don’t forget to rate the overall experience with the Photos Cleaner app by coming out to the hope page & tapping on the icon (top right corner).

Wrapping Up

Intentionally or unintentionally, you had those files on your device that ultimately covered quite a good space. Now with the deletion of those files, you will be able to recover that storage space to use it for other commands.

So don’t waste much of your time & download the Photos Cleaner from Google Play Store. Install the same & let it help you reclaim the storage space back for you. & say goodbye to your old unnecessary pictures.

Next Read:

Best Android Cleaner Apps & Optimizers

How to Delete Duplicate Photos Using Duplicate Photos Fixer

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