Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Dangers of Cropping

I've been researching some "ghost photos" lately and just want to comment on something. When you're looking at a photo without access to negatives, or in these perilous digital times, without access to the uncompressed original images - you can't really know what has been done to the photo. In the case I'm researching right now, the image has been cropped (and probably enlarged) to the point that it is VERY difficult to tell what the photo is really showing. Sure it might be showing some weird phenomena - but it might not.
Take that photo leading this post - it might, if given no explanation, be presumed to be a person's buttocks. It has "crack-like" features, and hair - and it's plausible enough.
But in the true context, uncropped, the photo shows itself to be an arm. Just an arm. No butts about it.
So... Before you start guessing at what a photo "really" shows, try and find the context in which it was taken. Do the images scale properly? Is the angle unusual? Is there really something there, or is it pareidolia? The most recent famous case like this has to be the miniature Bigfoot on Mars, but there are thousands (or more) like this out there waiting to trip up the unwary.
That's all for now.

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