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This picture where taken by the phone without user input. Our grandchild was sitting! He has short hair. Any idea how this happen??? Grandma had phone in hand but was not taking pictures

enter image description here

  • Steve, what are you hoping to learn? How this happened? How to recreate it? I'd start by looking at what apps grandma has on her phone.... – mattdm Dec 27 '18 at 18:05
  • Maybe I should have word it without user knowledge. I am trying to put grandma at ease and looking for an answer to how it could have happen. She is spooked. Sorry but I am sincere about the question, and from what I have heard this is the place to ask – Steve Dec 27 '18 at 18:12
  • It's a fine place to ask, although it's a bit hard for us to really figure out what happened. I promise it was neither ghosts nor hackers. – mattdm Dec 27 '18 at 20:50
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I have a flip case for my cell phone, which has as slit where the speaker on the front side of the phone is. When I flip it back, this slit is just in front of my camera.

It is no surprise that a photo taken then will look like this:

enter image description here

@mattdm wrote in his answer that a black area is never flat black, and when increasing brightness, will show some sort of noise patterns. This is true for a photo taken in total darkness, as the camera (/software) tries to increase brightness and contrast to get any structures on the image. Therefore, this noise pattern is in the image, and can be made visible by further processing.

But your image is different. Though almost completely black, there is a lit area with some structure inside. The camera adjusts brightness and contrast so that this bright areas become the actual picture content, but this also means that the dark areas become so dark, that they are clipped to pure black (R,G,B=0,0,0). Let's replace this color by green:

enter image description here

As you can see, except the spot on the right and the actual photo areas, the entire image is pure black. This is not artificial.

The only strange thing is, the entire image is blueish. A phone camera typically balances colors to make the picture look natural. This is a hard job, since a sunset should be redish, while photos from noon should be blueish. Maybe, the light condition was really blue, or the balancing algorithm was somehow distracted. For example, it could be possible that in the raw image, the large, dark area had a light redish tint before it was clipped to pure black, and the camera thought that the entire image has to be shifted to blue.

(I guess I could shot a picture like yours with more effort, this was just a single shot without any efford)

  • It is artificial in the sense that you had to do it intentionally. Also, note that the edge of the obstruction in your attempt are fuzzy. Strands of hair appear to be visible in OP's sample image. Also, the "hair" in OP's image is forming an unnatural diamond pattern. – xiota Dec 28 '18 at 19:07
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The image appears to have been intentionally altered to appear in the style of the movie "The Ring". In keeping with the theme of the movie, grandma has shown the image to you, so now you are forced to show it to us.

This could have been done in a traditional photo editor or with an app "filter". If the photo was taken around Halloween, this style of filter would not have been unexpected in popular photo sharing apps.

Although sweber is able to explain the flat blackness surrounding the parted "hair":

  • The aspect ratio of the image is unusual, and the short dimension indicates that it has been altered.
  • Partial obstructions, such as fencing or parted hair, do not create sharp borders, but strands of hair appear to be in sharp relief. (So Pedro's speculation is unlikely.)
  • The "hair" appears to be straight, but forms an unnatural diamond pattern around the face.
  • The image has a cyan-blue tint, as sweber notes.
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Huh, just one possibility: grandma has long hair, she had phone against e.g. her ear with her hair half covering the camera lens and by accident pressed a button to take this image.

  • This is unlikely. Photographs through partial obstructions do not form sharp borders like that. – xiota Dec 28 '18 at 3:29

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