How to tell if a photo’s been faked

A few weeks ago I saw a video online showing what appeared to be a dumpy old woman (or maybe even man in drag) speaking on a cell phone in an old film from 1928. Turns out it’s part of this whole new wave of "time traveler" photos and videos. Basically, people find these clips and shots from throughout history with inexplicably modern people or elements in the frame. Now there’s this photo of a dude wearing a Nine-Inch-Nails T-shirt and sporting an SLR and sunglasses—even though the photo is from the 1940s. Weird, right? Even though it’s probably not really a time traveler, it’s neat that nobody really seems to know what exactly is going on in these pictures. It gets really fun when you start throwing science at the photos, and when the science says it’s not faked. There’s this software called the Error Level Analyzer which can unearth composited and faked photographs by searching out differences in the level of JPEG artifacts that occur in composites. Read all about it, including links to those old time-traveler photos, at Photojojo.

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