Oct 042011

Here’s a survival skill. And a quick lesson in visual literacy. A civil engineer checking his FB posts noticed something odd about the Philippine government’s Dept. of Public Works and Highways page. Something just didn’t seem right with the three officials standing in the debris by Manila Bay after the recent typhoon. A quick analysis and it turns out that the image was Photoshopped. After a rash of excuses, the Dept. announced that it was done by an “overeager” employee who has now been suspended. Since then, other bloggers have mockingly placed the three public officials in a variety of contexts all over the world.

As blogger Pierre Albert San Diego makes clear in his take-down of the fabrication:

Now, if you didn’t have knowledge in Adobe photoshop, you would’ve just glanced at it and moved on with your life

Fine, perhaps, unless you are depending on that government agency. Everyone doesn’t need to know Photoshop, but some basic observational skills go a long way toward keeping us from being deceived.

So now the experiment:

Take a look at the original image (reproduced below). Try and determine the details that serve as evidence of image manipulation. Then click on the link after the image (at the bottom) to see if you caught all the clues (I definitely didn’t).

Wait a minute, no cheating now . . . c’mon, no one will know how good or bad you did except you – and if you’re lying to yourself, you got bigger problems than a government agency lying to you. Enjoy!


Done? Okay now click on this link to see the analyzed image.

Here’s a selection of what others have done with the three officials now that the image has gone viral.