Highly altered images of models and celebrities in fashion magazines have come under increasing scrutiny, with France even proposing that all airbrushed pictures come packaged with a health warning. A new tool could make that easier, as it analyzes photographs to detect digital retouching, Wired reports. Publishers have “gone a little too far,” explains the Dartmouth specialist who helped create the tool, adding that there are “negative consequences” associated with a barrage of such images. The new tool would rank images from 1, or barely altered, to 5. It takes into account geometric adjustments (slimming the hips, widening the eyes) as well as photometric adjustments (removing wrinkles, changing skin tone), Mother Nature Network notes.
The creators analyzed 468 sets of photos to develop a computational model, which then scored each photo. They then tested the scores by having people evaluate the pictures, and found that the scores they gave closely matched. “Now what we have is a mathematical measure of photo retouching,” the Dartmouth expert explains. “We can predict what an average observer would say.” Such labeling makes more sense than simply labeling whether a photo has been retouched or not, he adds. “Anybody knows that there's different types,” but this tool will address the question, “How much is too much?” The New York Times has an helpful illustration of images ranked 1 through 5.