Kate Photo Is 'Massive Own Goal' for Palace

It appears to be 'bad job of Photoshopping,' expert says
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 11, 2024 1:20 PM CDT
Kate Image Appears to Be 'Bad Job of Photoshopping'
Britain's Kate, princess of Wales, smiles during a visit to Sebby's Corner in north London, Friday, Nov. 24, 2023.   (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, Pool, File)

Princess Kate's family photo released on Mother's Day in Britain can still be seen here, but news agencies including the AP, Reuters, and AFP issued a "kill notice" because there were signs it had been manipulated. The princess later apologized for the "confusion," saying that "like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing." More:

  • Reuters reports that broadcasters say metadata shows the image was saved twice in Adobe Photoshop on an Apple Mac.
  • The Guardian takes a close-up look at some of the more obvious edits, including Princess Charlotte's knee and sweater. Experts who spoke to Newsweek also spotted problems with the background.
  • Hany Farid, a University of California, Berkeley, expert in image analysis, tells the BBC that the image could be "a bad job of Photoshopping," possibly involving a composite of images. "There is a relatively new feature where you have a group of people, the camera identifies them through face detection, and it takes a series of photos in rapid succession," he says. "And invariably what happens when you take a photo of a group of people is somebody has their eyes closed or someone's not smiling, and so what this feature does is it looks at four, five, six, seven, 10 photos, whatever, and composites them together. When it does that it sometimes makes mistakes."

  • Farid says, however, that's there no sign artificial intelligence was used—or, as some have suggested, that Kate's face was added after the photo was taken.
  • PR consultant Mark Borkowski tells the Guardian that the palace appears to have scored a "massive own goal" in an attempt to dispel rumors about Kate's absence from public life after a January operation. "It's plausible she's at home playing with the computer and using an AI tool, but if they're really going to regain any sort of trust they should release the unedited photo," he says. "It can't be that bad if they just made a few tweaks."
  • Arthur Edwards, who takes photos of the royals for the Sun, tells the BBC that standards for submitting photos to agencies are strict. "You photograph it, you can crop it, you can put a bit of sharpener on it if you have to ... and then you send it," he says. "You don't alter the actual picture itself. For instance, if one of the people in the picture has red eye, you can't take the red eye out, you have to leave it as it is."
  • Sadly for fans of "spot the difference" games, the palace says it will not be releasing the unedited photo.
(More Kate Middleton stories.)

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