NYTs: Faked Photographs: Look, and Then Look Again

In a preview of celebrity magazine cover techniques, a popular image of Abraham Lincoln is actually his head grafted to the more majestic body of John Calhoun, a senator and vice president.
In a preview of celebrity magazine cover techniques, a popular image of Abraham Lincoln is actually his head grafted to the more majestic body of John Calhoun, a senator and vice president.

What a marvel the first photographic images must have been to their early-19th-century viewers — the crisp, unassailable reality of scenes and events, unfiltered by an artist’s paintbrush or point of view.

And what an opportunity for manipulation. It didn’t take long for schemers to discover that with a little skill and imagination, photographic realism could be used to create manufactured realities.

“The very nature of photography was to record events,” said Hany Farid, a professor of computer science at Dartmouth University and a detective of photographic fakery. “You’d think there would have been a grace period of respect for this new technology.”

But the tampering began almost immediately: affixing Lincoln’s head to another politician’s more regally posed body; re-arranging the grim detritus of Civil War battlefields to be better composed for the camera; erasing political enemies. READ AND SEE ALL

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