Can you trust what you see?

One of the things about digital photographs is that it is very easy to edit them, that lamppost growing out of someone’s head is no longer a problem, nor is that disembodied arm at the edge of the picture. Photoshop, or one of its brothers, is your friend!

But photo-editing software can do so much more, it can create pictures of things that just couldn’t exist. Take a look at the picture below, what do you see a picture of a locomotive on a turntable inside a shed? No, look again, that’s no shed its part of a ruined cathedral and you can see through the base of the turntable pit.

Or how about this one, a train crossing a narrow bridge after coming out of a castle gatehouse, well it could happen, but it’s highly unlikely.

This next one is obviously impossible, but if you knew nothing about cloisters and railways you might just believe that what you see is true.

Image editing software gives us the ability to change the world we see around us. Photographs taken 100 years ago enable today’s historians to know what towns and buildings looked like back then, what would a historian in 2116 make of the pictures above? Perhaps nothing because they would know that such things couldn’t be, but how could they be certain?

So how about this photo. It was taken at Didcot Railway Centre and is an interesting composition of a set a loco wheels with a locomotive in the background.

It is however a fake, the locomotive and the wheelsets were in different parts of the railway centre, and were merged together in PhotoShop.

So what about you?  Do you believe the content of every photograph you see?

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