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 –

19 thoughts on “How Truthful are Photos? My Altered Cars

  1. Well done! They both look like something out of the animated “Cars” movies. Its terribly hard these days to believe anything you see / read online, as nearly all of it has been modified (in one way or another) by various “sources” (so much so that “Photoshopped” is now a verb!)


    1. I agree. I think we have to ‘take everything with a grain of salt’. I follow Scott Adams on Twitter, and he suggests that we wait for 24 hours before we begin to deconstruct breaking news stories. Then, don’t form an opinion until we’ve read the left, middle and right viewpoint.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks E.C. I think I’ve shown how difficult it would be for a viewer to see how it was altered – and I’m not even all that good at doing things like this.

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  2. That’s amazing – I just read about GIMP the other day. I went to which I have used for putting text on pictures for my blog, and I just wanted a birthday hat “sticker” for a squirrel. Their freebies are gone, so I was looking around and GIMP came up.


    1. I used to use Photoshop Elements but was unhappy about how ‘invasive’ the program is. It put things on my computer that were hard to get off, was always popping up with reminders to upgrade, etc, etc. So I tried GIMP. It is more like Photoshop, and takes some time to learn. Once I got it more or less figured out, I’m happy with it.

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      1. I’m going to try it out now that I hear you endorse it Margy. I don’t want to subscribe to anything with automatic renewal – it is too hard to get it stopped. I don’t do auto-renewal for anything but WordPress and Malwarebytes and they ask you in advance of the billing renewal.


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