Let’s take a look at some EXIF data: A semi-aggressive and unprovoked dive into photographic dupery

The old rule in comedy and satire is that you can always slam up, but you never punch down. You can trash anyone and anything and get away with it as long as you are “below” them on some accepted albeit imaginary anthropomorphic scale. For the underdog, practically anything goes. A simple example of this would be, an average ”Joe” picking on the wealthy. Joe can take crack shots all he wants at anything from lifestyle choices to flip flop sizes - and it works. It's funny and perfectly acceptable because Joe is seen as the underdog. But, if Rick millionaire fires back with just one derogatory insult, then the humor tends to wane and it comes across as crass and condescending at best.

I'm not here to argue whether this is right or wrong, rather to simply establish my firm understanding of this culturally tilted ethos - especially as it relates to commercial competition.

I have followed these rules in all of my heavy handed promotion and writings, often landing jabs wherever I could. My implications aren't always subtle but I stop short of coming out and identifying my intended targets by name. Fair game. And man, have I been tempted to go after some of the ridiculous Facebook crazies but have chosen not to, mostly guided by these principles. Whether in poor taste or just not worth the effort, I would not consider myself the underdog compared to a lot of these kinds of vendors and I feel extremely fortunate about that. So instead, I focused my efforts on more positive ventures.

But, and this is BIG but, what if the way we are qualifying the “underdogism” is skewed so grossly that anyone who chooses to play fair will never find themselves at equals to, or above them on this accepted imaginary scale in a commercially competitive way. This can be good in some ways, meaning as the underdogs we can dish it out as much as we like. But we can’t deny the conundrum then that on a fair playing field we may still be equals.

So, where the heck am I really going with all of this? I confess. Originally I had intended on calling out by name, some of the more blatant offenders with undeniable proof of their dupery. I had links and images and all sorts of ammo that I intended full well on using aimed directly at some of the worst examples. A few of my early drafts were unflinching jabs at some of the industries most loved and reputable vendors. In fact t
he title and entire preface still reflect that. The prose however, was driven by emotion rather than good intentions. So after a number of rewrites and sensible discussions, I have opted to give you the tools to explore these shenanigans yourselves rather than drop the hammer on specific vendors.

You see my good friends, a lot of Adobe Lightroom users don’t realize this, but all of the adjustments they make to a photo are recorded as EXIF data and can be viewed using this extensive viewer. It’s all right there in plain sight for anyone with the viewer to see. So when you push that slider to 100, or transform that green to a sweet yellow, or the brownish to orange using hue adjustments, there’s no hiding it. With the data viewer below you can see it all.

Of course there are ways to circumvent this and it only works with Lightroom processed images, so it's not going to solve the problem entirely, but I encourage you to go back and take a look at some of the edits that your favorite vendors made to the pics you drooled over. I am certain in some cases that you will be surprised, or maybe not, depending on your level of skepticism. But your assumptions will be confirmed at least.

I am going to use one of my own pics for demonstrative purposes. Here's what you do.

First, open this link and book mark it. You'll want an easy way back to it. This is the tool we are going to use to view the EXIF data.


Next, choose any pic you want to see the data for. Right click on it and select "copy image address". Guessing the function is very similar in windows but please correct me if I am wrong.

Here is the actual pic above, so go ahead and right click on it.

Then paste the image address into the data viewer. Hit enter.

An that's it. Scroll down to see any and all edits made to an image in Lightroom. I'm sure a lot of it will be unfamiliar, maybe a little confusing even. Try to zero in on stuff like saturation, vibrance, hue adjustments. These are the ones that can really affect or enhance far beyond what is actually there and by far the most abused.

Of course, now that I have put this one out in the open I am sure most of the unscrupulous will use other programs to edit or start removing some of the pics from their forums and databases to avoid your efforts. But ultimately I just want you, the consumer to have some form of leverage against the crap thats been going on with pics these days. This tool is a great place to start because the last person who should ever be the underdog is you!
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