What tools are there to debunk pictures

Daves!

Member
Hi everyone. Im pretty new here and came to learn from you guys how to debunk. My first tools ofcourse is rational thinking and logic.
The rules which i found here, on how to behave towards a person with a discutable claim is absolutely brilliant and im very gratefull for such a "guide".
Im pretty active in a Dutch ufo sightings page where people post almost daily pictures of uap/ufo's.
Its mesmerizing how many times i get to see a picture and my first reaction is its fake because on metabunk they already debunked many of these pictures or videos's.

So comes the question what tools ( software apps ) or programms can i use to analyse i picture that its been messed with ?
Where do i learn more of that ?

Thanks in advance for all your tips and advice!
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
The first tool(s) i would recommend is Google Images and Yandex Images, to see if others have already analyzed the photos.

I'll let others answer your main question.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I mostly just use Photoshop, zooming in, and adjusting levels, curves, exposure, etc. I also look at EXIF data using Invisor on the Mac, or EXIFTOOL

There are a variety of online tools, but I've not really used them, and they don't seem super useful. Like: https://29a.ch/photo-forensics/

Here's a fake I made as a joke (UFO/IUD):
2021-08-20_12-35-49.jpg

But the tool there don't really tell me anything I can't tell by eyeballing it. But it might be useful if you don't have something like photoshop.
 

Daves!

Member
I mostly just use Photoshop, zooming in, and adjusting levels, curves, exposure, etc. I also look at EXIF data using Invisor on the Mac, or EXIFTOOL

There are a variety of online tools, but I've not really used them, and they don't seem super useful. Like: https://29a.ch/photo-forensics/

Here's a fake I made as a joke (UFO/IUD):
2021-08-20_12-35-49.jpg

But the tool there don't really tell me anything I can't tell by eyeballing it. But it might be useful if you don't have something like photoshop
Thank you! Exactely what i was looking for.
Im going to purchase photoshop i never knew people can use it for debunking.
Are there tutorials where people explain how to use it ( for debunking ) and what to look for ?
I already check many posts here but could use your experience in this for where to start. Thanks in a million!
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Im going to purchase photoshop i never knew people can use it for debunking.
Gimp is free. its alot like Photoshop. Photoshop is obviously superior, but you can test drive Gimp to see if a Photoshop purchase is useful. I think you can usually get a 30 day trial of Photoshop as well... but if you play a bit with Gimp first you wont waste the whole free Photoshop month learning the basics.

Tons of youtube videos on Gimp and Photoshop.
 

derwoodii

Senior Member.
my experience here at MB with photo analysis was to seek assistance from skilled members as the even the simplest forensics tools requires some expertise or time to school up in their use.

If you have a picture that suspicious submit it in the appropriate thread and members will check it and show and tell how it was checked.


I have used

https://29a.ch/photo-forensics/#forensic-magnifier

and

http://fotoforensics.com/

however i discovered that many suspect manipulated pictures are reduced in quality inverted or clipped and meta data removed to avoid better checking, this it self can be a hint to question the source.

& the source is a good start "search google for image" and Tineye https://tineye.com/ can save a lot of time when you discover the picture has a web history.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Thank you! Exactely what i was looking for.
Im going to purchase photoshop i never knew people can use it for debunking.
Are there tutorials where people explain how to use it ( for debunking ) and what to look for ?
I already check many posts here but could use your experience in this for where to start. Thanks in a million!
It varies a lot. That's kind of like asking a plumber how they fix a leak. It depends on what needs fixing.

Did you have a photo in mind? What photos have you seen in the past that you were unable to investigate?
 

Daves!

Member
It varies a lot. That's kind of like asking a plumber how they fix a leak. It depends on what needs fixing.

Did you have a photo in mind? What photos have you seen in the past that you were unable to investigate?
Thanks for helping a newbie like me it is much appreciated!

I have submitted one case where people helped me to solve its this tread : https://www.metabunk.org/threads/need-help-in-analyzing-this-uap.11946/#post-255933

But there is indeed maybe 1 picture that needs to be de-bunked or analysed. Learning here with the tools and advices people gave here i hope to debunk this one or in case it cant be debunked why it cant be.
Im pretty eager to learn because its not only fun but also i find it good to help others in the future with the things i learned here.
 

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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
But there is indeed maybe 1 picture that needs to be de-bunked or analysed. Learning here with the tools and advices people gave here i hope to debunk this one or in case it cant be debunked why it cant be.
You need to supply all the context of an image, like where it was taken, what it is supposed to show, what did the person who took it say was going on.

Also, do you have access to the original file?

Just looking at this, there's not a lot that can be done with it. It is a low resolution photo of some lights. No obvious edits. The simplest thing I'd do is put it in photoshop and boost the levels to see if there is anything more in the darkness. There isn't. 2021-08-20_15-00-10.jpg
 

Daves!

Member
debunk of what? it's just some lights in the dark. like:
Untitled.png

Doesn't look remotely like a UFO
Yep thats also my thoughts. That it doesnt look like a UFO thing is i want to proof it.
Maybe not the best case but i find it more interesting how people debunk this or other cases.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
how people debunk this or other cases.
you would need an exact location of the camera.

ex: if i remove the car headlights in this live cam shot... the light pattern sort of matches up too. (i'm saying it could be any lights anywhere without specific info)
Screenshot 2021-08-20 190333.png
 

Daves!

Member
Yep thats also my thoughts. That it doesnt look like a UFO thing is i want to proof it.
Maybe not the best case but i find it more interesting how people debunk this or other cases.
Oh wow... Is that what you got out of the picture ?
Was the picture upside down and darked ?
Did you use Photoshop ?
 

Heavytread

Member
I'm relatively new here, but I'm certainly not new to debunking wild claims. Some quick suggestions and thoughts:

First of all, if you are just starting out, I'd personally be careful about using the word debunking in a general sense for what a critical thinker does when presented with a wild claim (which can take the form of a picture or video). You are absolutely challenging that claim and testing to see whether or not it is internally consistent, and whether or not it shows obvious signs of fakery or can be explained by mundane phenomena. But IMO you shouldn't have the mindset that everything can be explained or that everything exotic looking is definitely 'fake' in the sense that someone has fabricated it; that will create a lot of bias in terms of your thinking. You'll notice that folks like Mick tend to use the word 'probably' a lot, and rarely reach definitive conclusions except in cases where a smorgasbord of overlapping and mutually supporting evidence can be found that neatly fit the observed phenomena.

For example, I consider the Chilean Navy's UFO video fairly definitively solved, because there is so much conclusive evidence that it's just a distant airplane that alternative explanations are simply implausible at this point. I mean it could be an alien spaceship acting exactly like a known commercial flight, but..

For other stuff, what you'll find is that skeptics tend to debunk individual claims. For instance, we still don't really know what the 'objects' in the gofast or gimbal videos are. They're probably something mundane but there simply isn't enough evidence in the videos to positively identify them. But the community here has, in my opinion, done a pretty good job of debunking the individual claims made by breathless promoters of the idea that these are exotic craft. Whatever is in those videos is almost certainly not:
  • Surrounded by a space-time distorting aura
  • Making physics-defying sudden moves or displaying startling acceleration
  • Moving at hypersonic speed
  • Rotating
Etc. Even those conclusions are stated with a relative degree of confidence, and that confidence scales in proportion to how closely the observed phenomena match observations of mundane phenomena in plausibly similar circumstances.

To paraphrase Arthur Conan Doyle: once you have eliminated the impossible.. actually that's about it.

After a few decades of reading about conspiracy theories and watching thoughtful, critical people shoot them full of holes, I can confidently say that the best tools I've seen for analysis of photos and videos are attention to detail and domain-specific knowledge. You can't buy that from Adobe.

Consider the requisite tools used to debunk a bunch of the sensational photographs or videos that have recently passed through here and other skeptic forums:
  • Knowledge of how phone cameras can be subject to internal reflection
  • Knowledge of how image stabilization can cause apparent motion relative to stationary objects in a field of view
  • Understanding how objects can be measured at a known distance using a starting FoV value
  • Trigonometry. Seriously. Trig.
  • Finding pictures that show similar features and have well known mundane explanations ('spotlight throwing shadow of tower against low-lying clouds')
  • Finding pictures on the Internet containing elements that were obviously re-used to fake the picture or footage
  • Knowing what satellites look like. Recently, knowing what StarLink looks like ;)
  • Knowing what lenses with bladed apertures do to out-of-focus light
  • Noting or inferring date/time information and using the positions of stars observed in the video to infer that it was filmed under a heap of commercial air traffic :)
Other types of photo or video forensics rely on a good understanding of how image or video creation software works, and just plain old attention to detail:
  • Spotting inconsistent shadow directions, or inconsistent colour palettes
  • Noticing that elements in videos move according to a pattern consistent with key frame interpolation (e.g.: easy ease)
  • Recognizing the consistency of stock media generators (e.g.: suspiciously consistent atmosphere distortion on a close-up video of the moon)
  • Noticing glitches where fakers just plain messed up-- they forgot to mat something out, or an object vanishes for a frame, or stops suddenly because the faker forgot to extend an automation track through an entire video project
Etc.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Was the picture upside down and darked
it doesnt have to be darked. phones do that themselves, i had a full moon the other night and the sky was all blue and every tree branch showed black against the sky and moon. beautiful. but when i tried to capture it with my phone i basically got an all black screen with a glob of light in teh middle that looked nothing like the moon.

as far as upside down, it depends on where she was and what she took a pic of. my pic is of chernobyl, i turned my upside down because the "triangle" lights went the opposite way. it was just for demonstrative purposes, i didnt think she was actually at Chernobyl.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
done a pretty good job of debunking the individual claims made by breathless promoters of the idea that these are exotic craft.
they could still be exotic craft. but the claims were more specific than that. "it's low to the water, therefore..." "it speeds off at a rate that defies physics..." etc.
 

Daves!

Member
I'm relatively new here, but I'm certainly not new to debunking wild claims. Some quick suggestions and thoughts:

First of all, if you are just starting out, I'd personally be careful about using the word debunking in a general sense for what a critical thinker does when presented with a wild claim (which can take the form of a picture or video). You are absolutely challenging that claim and testing to see whether or not it is internally consistent, and whether or not it shows obvious signs of fakery or can be explained by mundane phenomena. But IMO you shouldn't have the mindset that everything can be explained or that everything exotic looking is definitely 'fake' in the sense that someone has fabricated it; that will create a lot of bias in terms of your thinking. You'll notice that folks like Mick tend to use the word 'probably' a lot, and rarely reach definitive conclusions except in cases where a smorgasbord of overlapping and mutually supporting evidence can be found that neatly fit the observed phenomena.

For example, I consider the Chilean Navy's UFO video fairly definitively solved, because there is so much conclusive evidence that it's just a distant airplane that alternative explanations are simply implausible at this point. I mean it could be an alien spaceship acting exactly like a known commercial flight, but..

For other stuff, what you'll find is that skeptics tend to debunk individual claims. For instance, we still don't really know what the 'objects' in the gofast or gimbal videos are. They're probably something mundane but there simply isn't enough evidence in the videos to positively identify them. But the community here has, in my opinion, done a pretty good job of debunking the individual claims made by breathless promoters of the idea that these are exotic craft. Whatever is in those videos is almost certainly not:
  • Surrounded by a space-time distorting aura
  • Making physics-defying sudden moves or displaying startling acceleration
  • Moving at hypersonic speed
  • Rotating
Etc. Even those conclusions are stated with a relative degree of confidence, and that confidence scales in proportion to how closely the observed phenomena match observations of mundane phenomena in plausibly similar circumstances.

To paraphrase Arthur Conan Doyle: once you have eliminated the impossible.. actually that's about it.

After a few decades of reading about conspiracy theories and watching thoughtful, critical people shoot them full of holes, I can confidently say that the best tools I've seen for analysis of photos and videos are attention to detail and domain-specific knowledge. You can't buy that from Adobe.

Consider the requisite tools used to debunk a bunch of the sensational photographs or videos that have recently passed through here and other skeptic forums:
  • Knowledge of how phone cameras can be subject to internal reflection
  • Knowledge of how image stabilization can cause apparent motion relative to stationary objects in a field of view
  • Understanding how objects can be measured at a known distance using a starting FoV value
  • Trigonometry. Seriously. Trig.
  • Finding pictures that show similar features and have well known mundane explanations ('spotlight throwing shadow of tower against low-lying clouds')
  • Finding pictures on the Internet containing elements that were obviously re-used to fake the picture or footage
  • Knowing what satellites look like. Recently, knowing what StarLink looks like ;)
  • Knowing what lenses with bladed apertures do to out-of-focus light
  • Noting or inferring date/time information and using the positions of stars observed in the video to infer that it was filmed under a heap of commercial air traffic :)
Other types of photo or video forensics rely on a good understanding of how image or video creation software works, and just plain old attention to detail:
  • Spotting inconsistent shadow directions, or inconsistent colour palettes
  • Noticing that elements in videos move according to a pattern consistent with key frame interpolation (e.g.: easy ease)
  • Recognizing the consistency of stock media generators (e.g.: suspiciously consistent atmosphere distortion on a close-up video of the moon)
  • Noticing glitches where fakers just plain messed up-- they forgot to mat something out, or an object vanishes for a frame, or stops suddenly because the faker forgot to extend an automation track through an entire video project
Etc.
This is golden. Cant thank you enough.
Im pretty sceptical in uap/ufo cases.
And you are right that you should be carefull for biased thinking.
 

Scaramanga

Member
I really don't think any special software is required to eliminate the majority of UFO videos and pics. I know of one UFO forum where the majority of pics are very obviously lens flare...for example...which is easy to spot. Also, quite a number of UFOs are created by the photographer 'enhancing' a photo, and of course added contrast and sharpness can add all sorts of extra pixels that were simply not there in the original. Then there are cases where people simply can't grasp that an aircraft moving away has a contrail going downwards and is not a 'UFO crashing'. As for videos, one can watch out for the object not having the same relative motion ( for example camera wobble ) as the background. And frankly.....if the UFO emits a bright flash before zooming off, that is another classic hoax signature. 99% of UFO cases can be dismissed using nothing more than one's own brain....which is probably the best free tool of the lot.
 
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