In a show of military strength and power, North Korea recently released an image of several hovercraft vehicles storming a beach. It looks pretty intimidating, but an expert on doctored images says that it’s a Photoshopped fake.
The photo shows six amphibious military vehicles speeding through the water and landing on a snowy shore. A few of the vehicles have landed, with soldiers pouring out of them onto the beachhead. The photo, released by the North Korean government, is meant to scare and intimidate, but almost immediately after it went public Photoshop experts cried foul.
MSN News talked to Hany Farid, Dartmouth’s computer science and digital forensics professor about the photo. He is considered one of the country’s foremost experts on photo fakery, and says that North Korea’s hovercraft photo is either mostly or completely Photoshopped.
Farid points to the most obvious signs of photo manipulation, the hovercraft vehicles themselves. The crafts closest to the camera look like they’ve been “cloned” from one part of the image to another. Basically, you see several hovercrafts, but you’re only really looking at several copies of the exact same one.
“This type of cloning is very common. It’s very easy to do — Photoshop has a ‘clone brush’ that’s very easy to use,” he said. “The drawback is, if you duplicate something, the eye can see it. What they tried to do was make it look like there were more hovercrafts, but what they cloned is an actual object, and we’re pretty good at noticing that.”
Farid also cited this image, an infamously bad Photoshop from Iran which shows missiles launching. He admits that North Korea was a bit more sophisticated in their Photoshop forgery, because they at least changed the size of the images to reflect camera distance.
“The two hovercrafts, you can see they are a little bit different in size. They either took the one on the left and shrank it or took the one on the right and made it bigger,” Farid said.
In the end, Farid says that any image released by Iran or North Korea is automatically suspicious, since both countries have a long history of releasing doctored images.
An image from December 2011 that showed Kim Jong-il’s funeral was accused of alteration, after the original showed several men looking away from the scene. The manipulated version, the men were digitally removed, giving the impression that everyone was focused on the funeral as it passed through Pyongyang.