How is manipulation detected?

2024 Contest verification process: how is manipulation detected?

The following information is only applicable for the Singles, Stories and Long-Term Projects categories. The Open Format category welcomes a range and/or mixture of storytelling mediums, hence the following rules are not applicable (for more information about the Open Format category, see here). 

In the manipulation review workflow, a contest entry and its original version are loaded as separate layers in Adobe Photoshop.

The two images are subsequently resized and aligned to match each other. Switching between the contest entry and original image, differences between the two images become evident.

Further use of Photoshop blending modes exposes any differences between the two images, giving a clear visual representation of any details that are different. The histograms of the contest entry and original image are compared to see if there are large differences and if the contest entry contains significantly less information due to darkening or lightening.

In certain cases, the original file is lightened or darkened to inspect the amount and type of information contained within the original file. This information is then compared with the contest entry to see if the information from the original file matches the contest entry.

The images are examined at a scale of 100%, meaning each pixel of the photograph corresponds to one pixel of the screen. Viewing the images at this scale allows details to be seen that would otherwise be overlooked if the images were scaled down to fit the computer screen.

Who conducts the manipulation review?

The manipulation review will be conducted by independent forensic analysts.

How is the decision to exclude a contest entry made?
During the judging process, entrants are contacted and required to provide file(s) as recorded by the camera for their entry. If entrants can not or do not provide these files, their entry will be ineligible for a possible award.
After following the above workflow, the analysts present a technical report to the jury identifying which, if any, photographs have had content altered, noting the details of the alterations.

Entrants whose work has been identified during the verification process as having content altered by adding, rearranging, reversing, distorting or removing people and/or objects from within the frame, will be excluded and, if applicable, all other entries from that entrant will be excluded from the contest and the entrant will be informed after the winners have been announced.

Entrants whose work has been identified during the verification process as having content altered through changes in color (resulting in significant changes in hue, to such an extent that the processed colors diverge from the original colors), or changes in density, contrast, color and/or saturation levels that significantly alter content (by obscuring or eliminating information in the picture), will be contacted for an explanation in case the forensic experts have technical questions.

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