The camera never lies? Here's what the data says about Kate's edited photo

It was supposed to be a family photo to mark Mother's Day - and to quell speculation about Kate's health post-surgery.

But the release of the picture of the Princess of Wales with her three children has backfired spectacularly, with the royal taking the blame for editing it.

Major international picture agencies pulled the photograph amid concerns "the source had manipulated the image" after people cited several peculiarities, including issues with Princess Charlotte's sleeve, the uneven pattern on Prince Louis's jumper and the window frame behind Prince George.

This sparked more controversy and conspiracy theories about the princess - with Kate forced to admit she had edited the photograph.

Analysis of the photo's metadata by Sky News' data & forensics unit found the image had been saved in photo editing software Adobe Photoshop twice on an Apple Mac - but it is unclear if it was saved on the same device.

The first save was made at 9.54pm on Friday night, with the second at 9.39am on Saturday morning.

The image was taken at Adelaide Cottage - the family's home in Windsor - on a Canon 5D Mark IV, which retails at £2,929.99. A Canon 50mm lens was used, which is priced at £1,629.99.

Kensington Palace said the image was taken by Prince William.

However, it is widely known Kate is the keen photographer in the Royal Family. She was named patron of the Royal Photographic Society in June 2019.

Chris Gorman, a news photographer, with 30 years of editorial experience, told Sky News it is likely the princess set up the camera for William to take the photo - but then got carried away editing the image.

Nearly all professional photographers now use what are called mirrorless cameras, he said.

A Canon 5D Mark IV is a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera, which is still a good camera but is slightly old tech.

"It's the same camera as I have got," he said. "I thought Kate would be on the latest camera - and she's not. I was feeling conspicuous among my peers and now I know Kate and Will are shooting on it I won't be so worried.

"That camera, though old, is a very high-end top-of-the-range camera. It is capable of producing top-notch photos. I'm glad they didn't take it on a phone."

Though Kate knows about cameras, clearly her Photoshop skills are not as good as a pro, he said.

"I am really surprised the palace doesn't have a go-to Photoshop expert," he said.

"What she has tried to do is clone areas - probably she preferred Charlotte's sleeve from another frame, and has tried to make it look better. I suspect there was probably a minor discrepancy - and she has sat there poring over that and given it too long. So I bet if you see the original picture, you would go. 'Why did she do that?'

"It is a can of worms - once you start fiddling around like that - you think as a photographer afterwards, 'I should have left this'.

"When Photoshop is mentioned in the general public, it is misconceived - people refer to it as fakery.

"I don't believe she has tried to fake the picture, she has just tried to smarten it up. Unfortunately, for them, they are the most scrutinised family in the world - and anything that was slightly out in that picture was going to be noticed."

Ryan Jarvis, who has been a professional photographer for 15 years, agrees.

"I can't think why some of the edits were made. If you look at the window frame in the background, it does appear to be misaligned.

"Was there someone reflected in the photo? Was there a group of people, staff perhaps, in the background which were distracting? What was so bad about it in the first place that would warrant so many changes?

"I don't think she has done anything wrong, she just wanted to edit the photograph - as any professional or serious amateur would do."

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Some extra information from the metadata pulled via Photoshop by Sky News' data & forensics unit showed the shutter speed (1/125 sec), aperture (f/3.2) - how much light you let in, and the ISO (640), which is the camera setting that will brighten or darken a photo, and refers to the sensitivity of the camera sensor to light.

Commenting on the exposure data, Mr Jarvis said: "I have photographed hundreds of families with young children. With children you wouldn't want to go any slower than that - not with children who are clearly laughing and giggling.

"If it was me I would have doubled that speed to 1/250 just to purely make sure the image is sharp - and to capture that moment. The children wouldn't have been standing or sitting still.

"If Princess Charlotte had moved her left hand very slightly just as Prince William was taking the picture - that would have left a slight motion blur - so it is possible Kate might have edited it because of that."

He continued: "When you choose your aperture you are basically selecting how much of the image you want to be in focus. So it seems a perfectly reasonable setting for that. The higher that number - the more the background comes into focus.

"Louis looks the sharpest - so when Prince William took the photo the focus could have been on him rather than Kate, George and Charlotte. But that's not unusual - Prince William is not a professional photographer."

He added: "The ISO affects how sensitive the camera is to light. You can tell it's not the sunniest of days - there are no hard shadows on their faces. It was probably an overcast day and so that ISO is within what I would expect it to be."

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Mr Gorman also described the shutter speed as being "relatively slow".

"It was fairly dark conditions it was taken in. I don't think there is any flash on it," he said.

"It's exposed fine and composed well. What has almost definitely happened - several pics taken, kids are goofing around, you know what kids are like, pulling faces, etc - and she may well have gone, 'I have not got a perfect one'.

"It's possible the original frame has image blur - and she has decided to take parts of a frame from another shoot and make changes.

"She has sat there for too long looking at - and worrying about something. She had a picture and she wanted it to be absolutely perfect - studio perfect. If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Mr Gorman added: "She should know she should be shooting from a raw file which gives the photographer the best quality possible from the camera. And it's likely that is how she began the editing process.

"If you are shooting a raw file - if there is a discrepancy in the picture - it is easier to fix it if there is any image blur.

"It might have been a jpeg she was working from."

Kensington Palace has said it will not be releasing the original unedited photo.

Mr Gorman said: "If I put anything out to newspapers, if I have made any changes, I would have to declare it, so I am surprised."

He added: "I would suspect - they want this whole thing to go away quickly, and if they release the original picture it gives the story more airplay - and the other is, that if it is dramatically different - then they have got problems."