Fauxtography: The incredible disappearing Katie (Update: Innocent explanation?) (Bumped)

She’s on the Adnan Hajj diet. Try it and watch the pounds melt away from your waist and neck.

Unfortunate side effect of the Adnan Hajj diet: your chin is sharpened to the point where it can cut glass.


Update: Just got an e-mail from someone who claims to be in the publishing industry:

Be careful shouting “Wolf!” because Katie Couric’s true picture is likely the thin one — the fattening on the other is likely an anamorphic (uniform single direction) expansion ordinary page layout programs do to fill the picture frame on a page. It’s the sign of an amateur, not evil.

Any professional photo editors willing to weigh in on this one? I find it hard to believe that the space between her arms and waist could change that radically without the rest of the image changing too. Check out the CBS graphic behind her; it does appear to be ever so slightly wider in the photo of fat Katie, but, er, not as wide as she is.


Update: A reader e-mails:

The spaces between her arms and waist do in fact change — but in the wrong direction — that is to say, the amount of space would remain proportional whichever shot was the original. If the slimmer shot was modified to make her appear wider, then the gap between her arm and waist would also widen, but the image shows less space. The reverse is also true — if the image were compressed to make her appear slimmer, then the gaps showing the backdrop would become narrower — but the exact opposite is what we see. As a reference point I offer the wrinkles in the bottom of the blue portion of the backdrop.

Further, the lapels of her outer garment remain the same distance apart below the neckline of her scoopneck, but are closer together above that point. Also noteworthy is the distance between the pinstripes, which doesn’t change, one image to the next.


Update: Another reader:

I’m a CG artist who uses Photoshop daily. At first glance it’s not obvious if the thin or fat Katie is the original version, but it can be stated definitively that, whichever one is distorted, it was done so deliberately, not via any sort of automated stretching or contracting as suggested by your other e-mailer. Specifically, the hands and envelope in both photos are identical. They can be overlaid atop oen another in Photoshop perfectly. If the entire image had been scaled in any way, this would not be possible, as the hands would have distorted along with the rest of the image. The only way to achieve the observed effect would be to deliberately cut-and-paste the hands from the original image into the modified one. This is indisputable evidence of intentional photo manipulation…

As for which image is the original, it is most likely the “fat” version. Notice how much more detail is apparent in the pinstripes of the suit? Much of this detail is missing in the “thin” version, which is much darker throughout much of the suit, particularly around the belly, which has been pushed to black. This means that, while it is possible to adjust the pinstriped “fat” belly to produce the darker, higher contrast “thin” one, it would not be possible to easily adjust the blacked-out belly of the “thin” version to produce the less punchy but more detailed “fat” one, because the data is no longer present. To produce the “fat” version from the “thin” one would involve painstakingly hand-redrawing the pinstripes, doing it quite well, and having no discernible reason to do so.


Update: I’d have done this myself, but I don’t have access to Photoshop at the moment. Reader Patty Ann overlaid fat on top of skinny to see what shook out. Here’s what she found:

In the attached image, the example on the left is where I took the *fat* katie image, converted it to grayscale, changed the opacity to 69%, then copied it on top of the *skinny* katie image. Then I moved the sides of the grayscale image in (ignoring the aspect ratio) until the bottoms of her elbows and her eyes and chin matched their positions in the color image. I then highlighted the *ghosting* (overlap still showing from the grayscale image) and painted the overlap red. The ghosting shows on the left image, the right image just makes it pop out so you can see it easier.

So, the answer is if anamorphic (uniform single direction) expansion did occur (I would say yes) the ghosting still needs to be explained.

I would never claim to be a professional expert, but this image has had a few pounds removed in the upper arms, waist and hips (gee, just where I’d like mine removed).


Update: Here’s another overlay by reader Niko. Fat is at 50% opacity.


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