Dartmouth computer science professor analyzes altered North Korean pic

By The Dartmouth Web Staff | 1/4/12 3:16pm

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Courtesy Of Reuters

Dartmouth computer science professor and digital forensics expert Hany Farid teamed up with The New York Times to analyze an altered photograph of late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's funeral.

The Photoshopped image, distributed by North Korea's state news agency, removed a small yet presumably visually unappealing group of men to the side of the procession. As of now, it is unclear exactly why the photo was doctored.

In an interview with The Times, Farid said those who altered the image added snow to remove the men's tracks.

“Almost nothing changes,” Farid told The Times. “Except where the men were standing.”

Farid's team's analysis prompted several news agencies to remove the photograph, whose alteration crossed independent journalistic guidelines for photo editing, which generally only allows cropping and adjustment of color tones for the printing press.

In communist North Korea, such guidelines do not exist and the media-controlling state can easily doctor images.

An expert in digital manipulation, Farid developed a highly useful metric for photo retouching with Dartmouth grad student Eric Kee. The technology has also received praise from supporters of more realistic and healthier ideals of beauty.

Farid presented his technology at last year's Dartmouth TEDX conference.

The Dartmouth Web Staff