I wrote an article earlier today about the suspicion that one Direction star louis Tomlinson has shared a fake picture on his Instagram account claiming it to be an original of his newborn son.
In recent days I have seen lots of speculation as to whether or not the photo is real and part of some sick PR stunt. The purpose of this article is to share some facts about digital photography and how we professional photographers edit our images. Now to be 100% clear I am not attempting to sway your opinion either way. I merely want to give you some facts to help you make up your own mind.
My first point is that in the age of digital imagery almost anything is possible. The only thing I see as a lost cause is when an image is horribly over exposed. When this happens the pixel dated is basically lost. That is just about the only thing that I can’t recover.
Secondly every professional photographer I know, including myself edits their images. Images should be shot in RAW format and only output to JPEG or some other format when exported for web use or printing. If you don’t know what I am talking about the RAW file is a negative that has to be developed in the digital darkroom.
A properly exposed image contains all the colour data and the ways the file can be manipulated are almost limitless. When editing an image I often stack two versions of the same image on top of the other which increases the depth of colour etc and allows me to add a few creative touches. I often use a soft blur on one of the images and edit so the parts I want are in focus whilst the blur is painted in to lead the eye to the subject.
Now if you look at where Louis chin meets baby’s head above it doesn’t look quite right. I suspect that this is simply because of the lighting, there is dark shadow in that area and it looks a little “wrong.” However if the baby had been layered in I would expect that area to bee too sharp rather than too fuzzy. Speaking artistically I may even have blurred that area slightly to imply a connection between father and baby.
The area under Louis chin doesn’t look right either. It is brighter than the rest of the image. Why would this happen? Well a number of scenario’s spring immediately to mind. It may be that there was some distracting element in that space, an object or a light leak that the photographer wanted to remove and did so clumsily. That said it may be that the photographer deliberately over exposed that small area to lead the eye to it immediately.
The most important part of this image is the connection between Louis and baby, that connection is strongest around that area of high contrast.
As you can see in the image in the Tweet above someone has superimposed the baby over what looks like a still from a video. The main point is that whilst these do look similar they are not the same photo, angle, lighting, perspective and position are all different.
Whilst digging around I came across claims that the Instagram picture was converted to Black & White to hide the fact that the baby has red hair whilst neither Louis nor Briana has red hair. Seriously WTF! Who ever came up with this fuckwittery as a theory needs to go back to school. My son has red hair, neither me or my wife have red hair and neither do any of my sons grandparents. Honestly FFS.
I also came across this picture as evidence that the black and white had been converted and claiming this is the original. Bullshit. The colour image has been colorised by the editor. I have left the editing information in the caption so you can see what has been done.
When people suspect an image has been faked they would do well to remember that this works both ways. I make no claim that I offer conclusive proof that the original image isn’t fake. That is pretty much impossible. However it is entirely possible that the areas in the original have been made that way for artistic reasons.
Some people are claiming these issues as proof the image is fake. Those people want you to believe a particular narrative, probably one that you believe so when you take all the weird stuff that went on around the birth of this kid it’s easy to buy into the claims the image is fake.
All I ask you to do is to keep an open mind. There are many explanations and they are all as valid as each other. Keep an open mind, question everything but don’t be drawn into believing something based on the most flimsy of evidence.