Is this a real photo or a composite?

This food shot (of a gormet chef’s fanciful vision of future fast food) looks so surreal (something about the lighting looks off…) that I question whether it’s a real shot or a composite:

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There’s a slide show on that page of all of the food shots. Some are clearly real and ordinary. That one just looks the oddest. Though the recipe is real:

Real or fake?

The white border around the roll where it is seen against the styrofoam container tells me that it wasn’t photographed in the container. I vote for composite

That’s what I was thinking … but i wasn’t sure if it wasn’t just a JPEG artifact.

From my monitor here, the pic is a digital drawing and not photographed.

On this computer, I’d say it’s fake.

My reasoning is with the shadows: from looking at the container, it seems the light source is pretty much directly overhead. But, the shadow on the roll doesn’t seem to reflect this: where’s the shadow from the lid of the container? I only see it on the far right corner of the roll, where it’s sticking out from the container, and therefore wouldn’t have a shadow if the light was directly overhead. The back part of the roll, inside the container, doesn’t seem to have the right kind of shadow that would have been cast by the lid of the container.

(Hopefully that made sense.)

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It looks too perfect and flat to be anything but a computer drawing. Nothing looks that clean in the real world.

[Cthulhu]Hey…a Genie circumcised me last night…anyone see my foreskin around?[/Cthulhu]

Definitely a composite. Too sharp and the colors are too smooth.

I’d have to go against what others are saying and vote that it is real.
I think what makes it look so “surreal” is the fact that the background has been silo’d out and they’ve created a fake shadow.

I’m with Photog on this one. Think it’s real. Definitely a cut-out, but real photo. The colors are oddly saturated, but it’s not by any means “too sharp.”

So, you think the roll is actually sitting on that lettuce, and both are sitting in the styrofoam? Personally, I think that all of the items pictured are real and were actually photographed (though I have to admit, the day-glo colors of the roll’s gelatin makes it look strangely flat and fake), but I wonder whether they were all photographed together, touching each other.

Yep. I do think the roll is sitting on the lettuce which is in turn sitting in the styrofoam. The shadow on the bottom (from the styrofoam) is a fake, but I’m fairly certain the other elements are as they appear to be.

I agree the photo is real except for a little “shaping” of the bottom shadow. What tells me the shadow has been shaped is its sharp edge (which goes against the apparently very soft, toppy source) and, more damningly, the lack of the roll’s outline in the shadow even though it clearly overspills the container’s edges.

The absence of a shadow from the lid on the roll doesn’t mean anything. These two elements were possibly lit with separate instruments to avoid an ugly artifact, but more likely the lid was placed in such a way as to avoid a shadow. Further, the container lid could have been physically separated from the bottom piece and moved back slightly to help achieve that effect. True, it could have been “retouched” in photoshop to hide whatever shadow there might have been, but that doesn’t mean both elements weren’t there in front of the camera when the exposure was made.

Speaking as a professional lighting technician who has done his share of tabletop work, the goal is usually to leave as little work for “post” as possible. The amount of nit-picking, careful work that goes into food photography would boggle your mind if you are unfamiliar with the work (and drive you slowly insane if you are ;)). And this photo looks entirely believable as a non-composite.

Nope. Actually, I think the roll is sitting atop some sort of support mechanism which is, in turn, sitting within the styrofoam. The support mechanism is keeping the roll from sagging, and the lettuce (while appropriate to the food being presented) is there to hide the support.

Its a highly stylized photo (which, I think is supposed to be part of the gag), but its real. In fact, I mentioned the fake shadow. In reality, the real shadow is there - look closely. But, they’ve essentially drawn in a fake shadow by keeping some of the background that has been otherwise removed.

Here’s how that worked. They shot all this stuff on a white background for easy silo’-ing. But, in order to keep an edge on the white styro, they had to shoot it a bit dark. That rendered the white background slightly gray. Some PhotoShop wiz then deftly removed most of the BG but kept some around the bottom of the styro to look like a shadow. (personally I think my 3 yr old could have done better, but again, I think that may also be part of the gag.).

So, I think its real, but intended to look a bit fake.

Photoshop pro (who does a bunch of compositing myself) checking in here.

My guess is composite, in three parts:

**1. Top Lid. **Note that neither the roll is casting a shadow on the back of the styrofoam lid NOR is the lid casting a shadown on the roll. The lid was added seperately from the bottom portion.

2. Roll & botom of container. Note the slight contoured drop shadow that the roll is casting on the container on the lower left. Given the lack of attention to detail of other lighting and shadow details, that little corner is too natural a shadow effect to be added by this artist.

3. Drop Shadow on base. Man, they weren’t even trying.

P.S. You wouldn’t believe the percentage of images that are composited these days. It’s getting REALLY common.

Looking at it again, I can see that it appears the top lid and bottom are made of different materials. The lid appears to be made of styrofoam, and the bottom of a shinier plastic. Also the two elements (as reproduced, of course) have a very slight difference in color. The more I look at it, the more it appears to me that the two halves of the container are not matched (although there is a slight hump in the middle of the inner front lip of the bottom that seems to correspond to the tab in the upper lid).

However, I still believe they could have both been present at the same time in front of the camera. Shadows alone do not disprove this. Looking at the tab, you can see a lot of relief in the styrofoam’s texture, which indicates to me that it is pointed almost directly at the source. The lid’s front shadow would thus skim just outside the lid’s rim. The other possibility is that the front rim’s shadow is lined up with the lid’s back inner edge, where the back side meets the top. In either case, such lighting placement is consistent with the way the roll and lower container are lit. The key light is also quite broad and soft so in any case shadows would be subtle and graduated.

It is hard to tell, though. If I had shot this image, I’d’ve blocked both elements together in the same light and shot them separately in their original positions. In other words, the shadows neither prove nor disprove the two elements being shot separately.

What I meant to say was, I’d’ve shot them separately if I thought it was necessary to do so.

Well, now, I’m not a photographer or compositor or anything, but it seems to me that in addition to your points, the food is too big for the container it’s in. Some future!

Yea, this is a poor hackjob of photoshop. Having used photoshop, I can tell you, though with no claim to be a pro, that the photo is fake. You can tell by the colors, and by the shadows, or lack there of.

Aren’t there filters people can easily run an image file through to see if it’s been composited? If so, has anyone done it on this file?