How Truthful are Photos? My Altered Cars

The Age of Information. The internet has given us the keys to an almost limitless resource. Bias is unlimited too, making the search for something resembling the truth almost as difficult as finding the proverbial needle in a haystack.

Of course, the manipulation of words and photos is not new. History shows that photojournalists have been doctoring images and altering the story for a long time. Altered Images: 150 Years of Posed and Manipulated Documentary Photography  shows “images that broke the basic rules of photojournalism.”

Objective journalism and an opinion column are about as similar as the Bible and Playboy magazine.
– Walter Cronkite –

While it is easy to digitally doctor images, it is hard to do it really well. I found that out when I altered these Car Photos!

I created these ‘Toy Cars’ with the photo editing program GIMP (a program that lets you work with layers.) I started with a Corvette that the The Car Guy owned for a few years.

Basically it involves cutting the photo of the car into five vertical strips that extend from the top to the bottom of the photo, making a layer out of each strip. Then, starting at the front of the car, some of the strips are left full width (the front and back wheel sections), while the rest of them are made narrower (highlight the layer, and drag the arrow from the front to the back or use whatever method your program uses).

I did this several times until I had reduced the front, middle and back strips by about 50%. When the strips are moved into place, the car is shortened into a ‘Toy’ car. If you want to include some landscape on either end of the car, cut those into strips too, but don’t alter them.

This all sounds much easier than it is… it is tricky to get the narrowed strips to match up properly with the unaltered ones. This technique worked very well with the Corvette, since it is such a long car.

I also shortened my PT Cruiser.


PT Cruiser

If you saw either of these photos in an article about, say, customized cars, would you be able to tell they had been digitally altered?

The truth is out there. Anyone know the URL?
– Author Unknown –