On what cannot be seen “just by looking”

• “The only thing you can confirm ‘just by looking” is how the photograph looks to you right now.”

New technologies make it possible for viewers of photographs to change focus planes, lighting effects, etc. so that different viewers see different versions of the same photograph.

Q6 of the Trust Checklist ensures that every TCQ-qualified photograph will look the same to all viewers (see also #1606).

• “You cannot confirm ‘just by looking’ whether you’re seeing what the camera (or the photographer) saw.”

Digital technology makes it easy to depict things that the camera did not see during the exposure; the effect of this on viewer trust is a major theme of this website.

• “You cannot confirm ‘just by looking’ the direction in which the camera was pointed.”

It is routine to reshape things in photographs (“perspective correction”) to make it appear that the camera was pointed in a different direction than it actually was—

— but doing so always disqualifies a photograph from Q2 and from TCQ.

• “You cannot confirm ‘just by looking’ how much of the photograph was in focus when recorded.”

Even on a smartphone it is easy after taking a photograph to blur undesirable areas of the photo

but doing so always disqualifies a photograph from Q2 and from TCQ.

• “You cannot confirm ‘just by looking’ whether multiple exposures were combined to produce the photo you’re seeing.”

Because combining multiple exposures can produce untrustworthy results, the Trust Checklist imposes strict limits on how exposures may be combined in TCQ-qualified photographs; see also here.

• “And you definitely cannot confirm ‘just by looking’ how much you should trust the photograph.”

Not one of the 9 characteristics of the most-widely trusted photographs can be reliably assessed “just by looking” at a photo.