Website Calls Your Bluff on That 'Unedited' Photo

The photo came out of the camera like that, I swear! Not really, and now there’s a website that can prove it.

Developer Piotr Chmolowski shared a new tool he’s created, Pixel Peeper, to reddit and other sites a couple of days ago, and it’s quite revealing – literally.

Drop any JPEG file into the site (it’s not saved on any servers, so it’s for your information only) and you’ll get a readout of all of the edits made to the photo through Adobe Lightroom. If you’re a Bridge/Photoshop user, the edits that were made in Adobe Camera Raw, as far as I could tell in my testing, appear accurate as well. You’ll also be able to tell what camera was used and what software it was edited on.

The tool can read the EXIF data of a file and create a visual display of the information within, provided the user didn’t strip out the metadata before upload. Unfortunately, popular services such as Instagram and Facebook remove metadata from images, so if you were hoping to glean information from images posted there, you’ll be out of luck.

If you’ve ever wondered how a photograph was processed, here’s an easy way to find out.

There’s a demo of the site in action posted by Chmolowski here on imgur.

And you can check out what it says about the featured photo on this post:

Pixel Peeper in action.
Looks like, indeed, this photo was definitely not  straight out of the camera.

[via reddit]

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Pink Ninja's picture

that's so awesome. I feel annoyed when people try to pass off composites as SOOC!

Nick Giardina's picture

Just tried it with a bunch of photos I exported from lightroom and it shows nothing. Every slider at 0.

Sean S.'s picture

The photo must be exported from LR with full EXIF intact.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Yep... Method has slight limitations... Like, for most of photos it will not work :)

Andrew Ashley's picture

At the risk of causing a kerfuffle, what is the big deal with straight out of the camera? I don't think I have ever posted a photo that would qualify as straight out of camera, even in my film days there were adjustments in the darkroom, cropping, dodging, burning. And what does that even mean, especially in the digital age? I get that composites being passed off as the perfect shot is annoying, but seriously, a nice shot is a nice shot. And an over-processed shot still looks... well... over-processed. And yes, I am mildly disappointed in those photographers who choose to lie, but that's because lying never a smart thing to do. Why don't we just create a safe community where we don't slam those who use these techniques so they feel more comfortable being upfront about it? "Wow, great shot, love how you pulled those two images together seamlessly! That takes great skill!" Rather than, "Liar, liar pans on fire!" *end rant*

Wasim Ahmad's picture

I totally agree! I have many photographer friends that pride themselves on going straight-out-of-the-camera only, and I don't get it - things can always be improved with some slight editing, and that's nothing to be ashamed of. I feel like I can always get better results from tweaking a RAW file and running some Nik Software stuff on it (will miss those tools when they stop working). That said if you can nail it straight out of the camera, you have my respect. You also probably have a lot more time left over.

Andrew Ashley's picture

Agree, but when you shoot raw what does "nail it straight out of camera" really mean? Almost every raw file when imported into Lightroom looks washed out and... well... raw. And if you are shooting jpg, then you are leaving the "editing" to the camera's internal software. Even in the film days, when you send out your film you are leaving color matching and the like to the processing shop. So really, the only real "straight out of camera" would be B&W film, developed neutrally. And having come from that world leads to some really flat images. Oh well, agreeing with your comment, but really just saying every shot is processed to a greater or lesser degree, whether with software internal to the camera or after the fact. The only thing we can hope to "nail straight out of camera" is composition, which along with a good exposure gets you 95% of the way there, most of the time. All of these qualifiers make me feel like a lawyer...

David Reece's picture

I agree. We are now taking our photos in RAW/DNG format, so they MUST be edited to get the picture correct. Silly.

Anonymous's picture

Rather than looking at this as a "gotcha" tool, it should be thought of as a learning tool.

Wayne Denny's picture

From the creator's original post (I saw it a couple days ago), I think that's how he intended it. Someone asked if it could export a preset based on a photo, and he replied somewhere along the lines of "How would anyone learn from that?"

David Meyers's picture

Didn't work for me, and mine was blatantly photoshopped.

Anonymous's picture

Maybe your edits were too subtle to detect! :-)

Alfie Goodrich's picture

First thing to note about EXIF is that Photoshop's 'save for web' dialog typically strips it out. I used to get loads of emails (and still get a few) from people following my work online all saying 'why do you remove your EXIF, are you trying to hide something?'

1. I dont remove it. Photoshop does.
2. I am a photography teacher and a father. So in my life and my work, my philosophy is about educating people to be better at stuff than me.
3. Would reading the data stream from Michael Schumacher's Ferrari mean you could drive the Nurburgring as fast as he could? No. Probably not.
4. Learn some visual literacy and read photographer's images the old fashioned way. Growing up, going to exhibitions and reading photo books, rarely did I have ISO, speed, aperture etc all laid out on a plate. It was fun and educational to figure out the settings myself, through a process of interrogating the image.

So, with my Hasselblad H4D, I typically am so impressed with the way the camera renders the image, that I do very little post-production. If I am tethering, I can create a style in their Phocus software and shoot the 'finished', processed image straight away.

With my Nikons, I have created a number of custom Picture Controls. Their software isnt perfect but it's a way of creating specific aesthetics that remind me of the films I used to like shooting in the past.

That's one of the good things about film I keep in my repertoire: shooting in a fixed aesthetic that encourages me to hunt for subjects that will work in that aesthetic. Or, knowing the perfect 'look and feel' for a specific subject I'm shooting for a client and be able to do it there, then, in front of them. Instead of relying on doing it all in post. Nothing wrong with post. I'm not a snob, who uses SOOC as some sort of BoyScout merit badge. I'm lazy and prefer to be put shooting than spending loads of hours in front of a computer. Obviously the flexibility of RAW is one of the things I love about digital and why I would never go back to shooting film on a daily basis for my work.

I use the LiveView and Kelvin setting to set a custom white balance in a kind of WYSIWYG mode, on the screen, when I am on location. That way I can dial in the mood as specifically as necessary of create a mood that I like by comparing the screen rendition to the real world... whilst I am there. Very important. Colour mood can be a difficult thing to nail when you are back at the computer and removed from the scene that was in front of you when you shot the photo.

I don't really use lR very much as I developed a workflow that suited me before LR was even on the scene. And, as LR can't read the styles in my Nikon RAW files, I use the Nikon raw software as the first step inmy Nikon workflow.

I use LR on big event jobs, where I'm using multiple brands of camera and need a quick turnaround. Or, where I am producing the whole event shooting and have several shooters and therefore several cameras/brands of camera.

I used to shoot assignments for Getty where the client would want me to do the edits and send them the RAW, JPEG edit and the .xmp files, so that they could open the RAW in LR themselves and see all the changes and, if necessary, do further tweaks or ask me to do them.

I have nothing to hide. I believe educating my clients makes them understand better the craft that goes into what I and we as photographers do.

I also hand all the RAW files to my clients, mainly so they are also responsible for the backup of the data but for a number of reasons which I finally got around to writing about recently (see link below).

Only be educating our clients can we be sure to help them realise the value in having professionals do the work. We dont build value by complaining and moaning. :-)

Anonymous's picture

"I have nothing to hide." Obviously. ;-)

Michael Clark's picture

First off, not everyone uses Adobe Camera Raw/Lr/Ps. I prefer to convert my raw image files using Canon's *Digital Photo Professional* most of the time, especially since version 4 was released a while back.

With DPP, if I make some camera settings before I take the shot (i.e reduce saturation to -2 or contrast to +1 or set WB correction at G9/B2 which would be roughly equivalent to 45 mireds towards green and 10 mireds towards blue) and then open the raw file with DPP those are the settings with which DPP opens the file. If I then convert and save as JPEG without making any changes whatsoever on the computer the 'recipe' portion of the EXIF maker notes looks identical to if I had left the camera zero'd out at the default settings and made the changes using DPP's controls instead of the camera's. There are some additional things one can do in DPP that can't be set in camera before the shot (i.e. the HSL tool). But with certain camera models even lens correction for geometric distortion, peripheral illumination, noise reduction and sharpening can be set in-camera before the shot or after the shot using DPP with no difference in how the EXIF info is recorded when exported.

dean Farrell's picture

Adjustments via lightroom I would call out of camera. Those are just like use different time periods or chemicals in a dark room.

Alfie Goodrich's picture

I dont see it that way. SOOC in the old days meant a roll of film that hadnt been processed. That's why the term SOOC for me is such a laughable description. SOOC with film meant you couldnt even show it to anyone :-)

Eric Lefebvre's picture

Doesn;t work with images edited in Canon's Digitial Photo Pro software (what I use). It tells you basic meta info like Camera Lens Focal Lenght Shutter Speed and software but none opf the adjustments form DPP show up.

Tim R's picture

Nice web interface visuals to interpret the metadata. As with any photo, if the metadata is there, you can read it. Nothing new here, just a nice presentation of the data. Also I strip all editing metadata on export.