Too legit to quit?
March 28, 2013 2:35 PM   Subscribe

Photo submitted to TV station in Montana - the horses at first seem almost "inserted" or 'shopped into the photo, but on closer look, seem legit. Any experts want to take a crack and confirm/deny this is an unaltered photo? Imgur link.
posted by davidmsc to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
ELA analysis looks legit. The horse area would brighter in the second image if they were inserted.
posted by theodolite at 2:41 PM on March 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

theodolite, thank you - didn't know such an online tool existed!
posted by davidmsc at 2:42 PM on March 28, 2013

theodolite's answer is good.

Also, it probably looks fake because the background is so far away from the horses (they might even been on a small hill?). I think my brain was viewing the trees as a backdrop and expecting shadows, but that can't happen the way the horses are positioned.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 2:44 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah I looked at it blown up and it seems real to me. One thing that threw me is the slight blur around the horses- but that would seem to be the photog simply missing focus, because some of the grass just behind them is very sharp.
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:54 PM on March 28, 2013

I’m no photo expert by any means, but I think it looks fake because the colors on the horses are so saturated and the background is so drab. But that’s probably what it looks like in real life.
posted by bongo_x at 2:54 PM on March 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

ELA analysis looks legit. The horse area would brighter in the second image if they were inserted.

I wouldn't put too much faith in that.
posted by Jairus at 3:03 PM on March 28, 2013 [16 favorites]

If it's a fake, it's a very good one. Front horse is partially in front of, partially behind the grass on the ground (and the grass matches the rest of the photo). The front horse is also casting a shadow consistent with the shadows in the foreground (grass) and the background (mountain), and the shadow is partially behind/in front of the grass in the foreground, and the shadow is on the second horse. The horses are all looking/listening in the same direction in a way that's behaviorally consistent with them being together.

I think it just looks fake because it was slightly out of focus and then (guessing) someone probably used unsharp mask on it, which sharpened up the really crisp lines on the trees but didn't work so well on the softer shapes. And also, horses with full winter coats can look out of focus on even the best days...
posted by anaelith at 3:19 PM on March 28, 2013

You guys/gals are great - thank you. Think we're going to run with it as an Official Viewer Photo!

And Jairus - that was fun(ny)!
posted by davidmsc at 3:24 PM on March 28, 2013

Isn't looking fake more important than actually being fake if you are going to show it on air? Viewers will just think you got duped.
posted by smackfu at 3:28 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's not fake, or it's a "legit" composite. (Two pictures of the same scene mixed together for exposure purposes.) If you zoom in and look at the horses eating and their feet, you can see that they are legitimately in the grasses.

What happened is that the lens is at infinity focus, but the photographer was just a *little* too close to the horses and they are just out of focus. Also, someone above is right, the photographar and horses are on a bit of a hill, so you can't see the area where the the scene comes into focus. The photographer should have backed up 10-20 feet.

It's a nice picture except for the focus screwup.
posted by gjc at 4:28 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

masking off hair is quite challenging — so challenging that I am inclined to say almost no amateurs can do it in a convincing way. this would be quite good masking. I also noticed that the horses are slightly out of focus. if you took a separate photo of horses, they'd be the center point in your photo and most likely in focus. so either this person was incredibly cunning and googled "out of focus horses" or it's just real. what I cannot account for is dodging/burning or adjusting of color temperature. tone mapping, especially when done selectively, is quite powerful. do these horses look similar in other blue sky background images?

my feeling: real.
where I have been wrong before: droga5 commercial "bike hero." that was a huge production made to look like an amateurish film and it was one of the first like it out there. radar wasn't tuned to that at that point.
posted by krautland at 11:05 PM on March 28, 2013

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