Odd Victoria's Secret image analyzed with Photoshop forensics

Here's a forensic "hacker analysis" of a Victoria's Secret image which was featured on Photoshop Disasters. The analysis begins with what appear to be tell-tale signs of clumsy digital manipulation, but goes on to explain how to peel back data in such images to understand how they've been processed. I've pinged Victoria's Secret for comment, and will update if a reply arrives.


  1. That’s a really cool piece for me, someone mostly unfamiliar with photo-editing software.

    The only gripe I had was that the author continually referred to the photo-editors as artists. Bleck.

  2. Thanks for this post. I have been using Photoshop for over 10 years and this was fascinating in the extreme.

    @ #1: He was referring to the “photo editor” as an artist because in most cases the people who do these edits are employed in many levels of design at the company in question, not just editing photos. This is especially true these days when companies are downsizing and the specialists who only do one thing are the first to go.

  3. Error 503 … congrats :) Looks like too many sites featured this analysis at the same time, the page isn’t reachable anymore …

  4. It’s fucked up enough that the fashion industry overwhelmingly represents only light-skinned women as being attractive. But then when they have a very attractive dark-skinned model, they change her skin? The fashion industry may represent the cutting edge of modern urban trends, but it has the ethical framework of colonial-era Georgia.

  5. Don’t know how recently they did this, but the image on the linked Victoria’s Secret page has been replaced with a different version of the same photo. The bag that was photoshopped out of the “disaster” version is there again.

  6. When Louis Godey’s artists did this kind of stuff to get those impossible waists in Godey’s Lady’s Book, it was simply considered artistic license. Then came photography with its aura of truth. With Photoshop and its peers, that aura of truth has evaporated. We are back where we started where one must assume that all images may evidence artistic license.

    My guess is that the next five years will see cameras that smooth one’s skin, highlight facial features and knock off a few pounds as transparently as adjusting the focus and white balance. This will probably only be the beginning. Photos will be no more believable than drawings. They’ll project artistic truth, not physical truth.

    Given my usual anti-DRM sentiment, I have to admit that DRM might have one valid use, in special DRM crippled cameras that would only produce verifiable pictures with auditable filtering, processing and photogrammetric properties.

    P.S. After seeing the new Star Trek movie with its nearly continuous lens flare effect, I’ve been waiting for a camera with a built in lens flare filter driven by an accelerometer.

    1. Kaleberg,

      Panasonic video cameras have had the skin-smoothing feature for years. And they don’t pussyfoot around in describing its intended use (from the manual):


      When ON is selected, soft skin tones are
      reproduced when people are shot,
      making them look more attractive.

      1. Looks like Sony’e XL series has it too (from the XL2 manual):

        Using the Skin Detail Function

        You can adjust hue, chroma, area and Y level to determine the skin area and soften the details to reduce the appearance of skin imperfections. A zebra pattern identifying the skin area appears, alternating with the normal picture (a white pattern appears on a connected TV or computer screen).

        1. And Canon (ok, I’ll stop now..):

          Skin Detail Function

          When shooting close-ups of people, the camcorder automatically softens details to reduce the appearance of skin imperfections for a more complimentary appearance.

  7. Interesting, but that that particular example is not removing a hip or “anorexizing” a model, and isn’t that far removed from what photographers used to do with regular old film– enhancing certain areas, airbrushing out zits, brightening the exposure, etc.

    (I used to work for a record company that airbrushed out the cleavage crevasse on a certain female country singer because she was concerned they were “tarting her up” too much (in opposition to her Christian values)– the result was this weird flat ledge on her chest that didn’t look at all natural.

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