I recently came across this photo that someone claimed to have taken on a Fuji brand camera. They claim that it’s a result of double exposure of their singular dog, but this doesn’t seem like double exposure to me at all? Both dogs in the photo seem to be lit up by natural lighting, as well as giving off reflections in the water. Is it possible that the person had lied, and instead photoshopped it? Or are there actually just two different dogs in the picture?
Could this image have been 'shopped'? Yes.
Was it? Possibly. That's about as far as you could take this argument.
There's no way to prove it wasn't, now. …A negative logical argument cannot be proven.
Any photo could have been "photoshopped". Photos are never a truly accurate reflection of the reality they attempt to capture. From decisions about what to frame and what to exclude, to how brightly or darkly they expose, to depth of field and length of exposure - every photograph involves conscious or unconscious choices that affect the outcome. Two photographers shooting the very same scene at the very same time can come up with two very different photographs just based on those choices.
In the case of your example, if it was "shopped" it was done skillfully to make it look like a double exposure. The water in the background looks exactly what a double exposure of the ocean near a beach looks like, the water in the foreground was only there for one of the exposures, as the other was taken when a wave had receded.
For more about how much the photographer's choices can affect the outcome of a photo, please see:
- This answer to Which raw settings should I stick to or avoid to keep my photo "natural"?
- This answer to Where lays the border between correcting photo and creating a new one using PC?
It's always been that way, even before digital replaced film.
From the the first answer linked above:
Just study the differences in prints Ansel Adams made of Moonrise, Hernadez, New Mexico over the years. He took the image in 1941 and produced over 1,300 prints from the negative over the course of his life. It is probably his most well known image, and certainly the negative from which he produced the most prints. The prints he considered the definitive versions weren't made until the mid-1970s! He spent 35 years fiddling with it in the darkroom before getting the look he wanted from the scene he recorded in 1941! Yet Adams is often cited as one of the best examples of the straight photography movement!
For further reading:
The future of photography
What it definitely is not is two dogs in a single shot, because the reflections in water have a different orientation (and I have never seen this kind of angle in breaking waves).
If it were a double exposure there would be some superposition of both exposures such as wavy patterns on the dog in the back and I don't see any.
So it is likely photoshopped.
Edit: changing my mind... the murky bottom of the picture looks like the result of a double exposure.
1Have you never been to a beach with a very gradual slope down into the water? The waves come in an roll up the beach 20-30-40 feet, then recede that same 20-30-40 feet before doing it again. If one exposure was taken when the water was at each of those extremes, there would only be water from one of the frames in the foreground. That's exactly what I see in this frame. Jul 9, 2022 at 23:05
Yes, but the dog in the back should be mixed with the wavelets from the picture with the dog in the front. So yes there is a murky bottom and the reflection of the back dog overlays the breaking wave of the front dog. But the dogs are too clean.– xenoidJul 9, 2022 at 23:47
Does the dog in the back have to be in the same exposure as the wave in the back? Does the dog in the front have to be in the same exposure as the wave in the front? What if the dog in the front is from the same exposure as when the wave in the rear was approaching (so dog heard it and turned around) and the dog in the rear is from a second exposure after the wave has washed trough the dog? The more I look at this, I'm thinking the same dog was in roughly the same physical spot in both exposures, it was the photog that moved to prevent risking sea water splashing on the camera. Jul 9, 2022 at 23:54
Was it shopped? I don't know, it's too low resolution to be certain.
Could it have been shopped? Possibly. There's a line most likely to have been used to composite two separate images. Along the top of the near wave.
There's an odd indistinct area bottom right that could be the result of poor compositing, but the line along the wave & dog is [could have been] done too well for this area to have been missed by the shopper.
The dog at the back is greyer than the one at the front - different exposure or different dogs; I don't know.
Was it a traditional double-exposure? I very much doubt it. There would be interference of the water in both dogs.
It would be considerably easier to have used that wave line than attempted to 'add a dog' to an otherwise complete image, because of the complexity of the reflections. That would need quite the craftsman.
The dog(s) is(are) so much brighter than the water that very little interference would be visible. Jul 10, 2022 at 20:28
I don't think it's Photoshop, in fact, it's more likely they are two different dogs than there's a retouch done in Photoshop.
To be a "clear" montage of a double exposure, two requirements must be met, unless it's done by a super-professional, which it can also be.
1 - Somewhere there must be a repetition pattern, especially in areas as irregular as water waves. Analyzing the photo carefully I have not been able to see a single group of repeated pixels.
2 - In image overlays, especially those that share the same background, the seam usually gives a very clear montage clue: some point or blurred group of pixels, some pixels out of place, etc. With the Photoshop zoom tool, it's very easy to distinguish it. In the example image, although the JPG is not of such good quality, there's no sign of seam, and the change in the water waves' direction between the two dogs should be clearly visible.
How would there be repeated pixels when the water is constantly churning? The background water looks exactly like what I get doing bracketing for HDR shots of sunrise over the sea. Jul 9, 2022 at 23:02
In such an irregular background, in a montage, this same irregularity lends itself to showing some area, no matter how small, with a repeated pattern, whatever the background, especially in the joints. None are visible in the photo. Jul 9, 2022 at 23:11
Have you ever taken multiple exposures with your camera pointed out to sea at a beach and merged the results? I have. This is what it can look like when the waves are just choppy enough that the water is never in the same place in more than one frame. Jul 9, 2022 at 23:20
I'm not talking about a montage with one side of the frame from one shot and the other side of the frame from another. I'm talking about overlaying both complete images that were shot from a tripod from an identical camera position. Jul 9, 2022 at 23:21
Ok. I'm talking about what the question is about: Photoshop or not Photoshop. Jul 9, 2022 at 23:26