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Astrophotography and Sketching >> Beginning and Intermediate Imaging

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DaemonGPF
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Your opinion on the subjective side of AP... new
      #5815735 - 04/22/13 05:16 PM

As we all know, astrophotography for the majority of us in this part of the forums is more often about aesthetics, and less about the pure science. In other words, we strive for "pretty pictures". (I in no way mean that in a negative manner as I absolutely fall into that category myself.) So needless to say, as we process our images there is some artistic liberty involved in processing approaches, etc. I for one could usually care less what one does to their data at the end of the day as it's really your image, your data, your right. When it comes to those "pretty pictures" being published, however, I usually care less about what a person puts out there for the world to view provided they declare any manipulation that involves things like composite data, alteration to color schemes, adding, or removing components in the image. In a nutshell - anything that changes the data by injecting or removing things that aren't really there(Again I know this is somewhat subjective and we could debate semantics all month long, but I think in general you get what I'm suggesting).

What does bother me is when someone puts an image out there in the media, in which the image is clearly not even physically possible, and yet the submitter declares it to the world that it is an accurate representation.

Example - The recent comet visit had many of us trying our hardest to frame up a captivating shot of the comet and tail against a striking landscape, or background/foreground.. I saw one on a prominent media outlet site taken supposedly from here in my neck of the woods, from an area I'm keenly familiar with, and it had a certain terrain lined up with the moon and the comet in a manner that is physically impossible, because from the vantage point this was shot, and based on where the comet and moon was - it had to be a pic of the terrain 180 degrees from the comet and moon at dusk. Clearly it was done to make it look really captivating. I get it. But, there was not even an attempt to make an accurate representation of the true setting whatsoever. But it was presented as a true image. It would be like compositing Andromeda in next to Rho Ophiuchi and saying this is what you saw. I saw a few that were similarly impossible from the Annular Eclipse last year that I took note of as well.

Seems to be a higher tendency for this sort of thing when an astronomical event is such that it allows for every joe schmo with any sort of camera to jump into the game. In other words, when you go from a niche astrophotography community of thousands(?) to suddenly millions/billions out there with a smartphone camera, $50 digicams, etc. - I suppose there's always bound to be some fraudulent claims in order to get those 15 minutes of fame or whatever...

Anyway, I've been chewing on this for a little while, trying to figure out a way to raise this subjective topic up without calling anyone out specifically. But I am curious to see what others think on the matter. I have not called any of these people out, nor written to the publishers regarding the concern. It's probably not my place, nor would I ever want to start some sort of witch hunt on astrophotographers as a result. What do you think though?

Are you a purist, and any post processing is bogus?

Are you other end of the spectrum and could care less at all?

Do you think there's a certain amount of disclosure that should occur?

Other?

Just trying to understand If I'm just off the deep end with my perspective, or if others have similar feelings on the matter. What rules - unspoken, written, or otherwise - do you think should apply? I'm really curious. I've been involved in AP now for about 6+ years and can't say I've seen this topic broached.

To each their own - this is not meant to start any sort of battle, just friendly, open conversation.



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Alex McConahay
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Reged: 08/11/08

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Re: Your opinion on the subjective side of AP... new [Re: DaemonGPF]
      #5815982 - 04/22/13 06:15 PM

I have a few pictures that are obvious composites. I have a crescent moon in the same field as the sun. And I have the observatories of Mauna Kea atop the lava flow of a volcano with the Orion Nebula and m31 above. And me and my buddies in a group shot with Stephen Hawking. But I don't try to pass these off as real .

What about my aurora shots where I had to seriously warp my corners to correct the fisheye effect on the stars? Are they still real?

And how about narrow band with false color?

I think as long as you are going for pretty pictures it is okay to emphasize things and de-emphasize things. But you can't change where things or erase and add things and call it a true representation of the subject.

At NEAIC there were more than a few comments about the "sin" of "painting" in photoshop. The pix insight contingent really had something to express.

When do we move from enhancing to creating?

But,you know, to each his own!!!!

Alex


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Ranger Tim
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Re: Your opinion on the subjective side of AP... new [Re: Alex McConahay]
      #5816210 - 04/22/13 07:37 PM

I am reminded of the "Moon over the Melting Arctic" photo that makes the rounds periodically via email. I don't care for blatantly false misrepresentations/juxtapositions of objects in the sky. There is a lot that bugs me about it, sort of like those paintings with Elvis, Marilyn, Frank and JFK all sitting in a diner somewhere. Except that most folks don't recognize faulty sky manipulations. I guess it won't bother 'em either!

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terry59
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Re: Your opinion on the subjective side of AP... new [Re: DaemonGPF]
      #5816227 - 04/22/13 07:49 PM

When I first started getting interested in AP I liked the highly processed images. As my knowledge of the subject has increased I find that I much prefer minimally processed images because I now know how it's done. When I have good data it takes very little effort to get a result I am pleased with. I see far too many over processed images any more and those are the ones that get high ratings on astrobin.

As far as assigning a color with NB images, I think artistic license should be invoked. I've seen some fantastic image colors and am not particularly impressed with the hubble palate.

I don't like manipulated images and it's easy to find many examples of an AP subject so caveat emptor applies there, IMO


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shawnhar
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Re: Your opinion on the subjective side of AP... new [Re: terry59]
      #5816336 - 04/22/13 08:48 PM

What is this "good data" you speak of and where can I get some?
Composites should be labled or they could be misleading to the uninformed (like me!). Passing them off as real is a lie, plain and simple.
Color on the other hand, most of it isn't real anyway, so I say go for it! I had a really cool purple M42 that I never posted cause I knew everyone would dog me for it.
Sorry but almost ALL of the scientific data images are ugly in the raw, making them pretty is a bit of an art and as such, lends itself to interpretation. I have had to manipulate my images to the breaking point due to no guiding and light pollution, and that's just to try and get them to look like the other images I see here. I think that's understood though, nobody's pulling wool over anyone's eyes in this forum.


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wolfman_4_ever
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Re: Your opinion on the subjective side of AP... new [Re: shawnhar]
      #5816441 - 04/22/13 10:01 PM

I don't care but I do label what is real and isn't.

I will routinely frame a shot with the frame at an angle. i will them photoshop blend stars in to make the frame more square/wide angle. It's funny to watch people tilt there head when the frame is tilted yet when it's square, all is well in the world.. lol. Mosics to fill "space" is kinda pointless..

Now photoshoping subjects in places not possible.. well that's how the world/technology is going nowadays..


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zerro1
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Re: Your opinion on the subjective side of AP... new [Re: wolfman_4_ever]
      #5816464 - 04/22/13 10:17 PM

It all comes down to disclosure. That's why we post the info about our images. How many subs, equipment used, pre and post processing along with techniques used. We all disclose when it's a mosaic. I've done a picture of the milky way that included a final frame with the North Cascades in the shot, but disclosed it! Look at the stuff that Robert Arn has done. There is some artistic license but always disclosure! http://www.astroarn.com/home

It's not wrong to create an image that is more art than reality. What's wrong is professing "art" to be reality.


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BlueGrass
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Re: Your opinion on the subjective side of AP... new [Re: DaemonGPF]
      #5816563 - 04/22/13 11:29 PM

Josh,
I agree with your position. I just spent the last 30 minutes working out a diatribe about this and decided brevity would suffice. For those of us with even minimum experience, a level of understanding is reached where the old adage about something and Shinola kicks in and we simply look and move on... Quality and excellence stands on its own. At least that's what my goal is...


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*skyguy*
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Re: Your opinion on the subjective side of AP... new [Re: BlueGrass]
      #5816683 - 04/23/13 12:54 AM

A responsible astrophotographer will disclose/include as much pertinent information on their image as possible. This certainly goes a long way to verify the "validity" of an image. An image released without information will naturally invite questions on its authenticity ... as it should!

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Maverick199
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Re: Your opinion on the subjective side of AP... new [Re: *skyguy*]
      #5816785 - 04/23/13 02:57 AM

On the good side however, most of the seasoned imagers here try to keep the object as close to an original representation as possible. In other words, I think most of the imagers who have the wherewithal try to post an image which is distinguishable. There will be exceptions somewhere out there but whenever I see an image which appears manipulated, I 'wiki' and try to compare the same.

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haytor
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Reged: 11/29/07

Loc: Smethwick near Birmingham UK.
Re: Your opinion on the subjective side of AP... new [Re: Maverick199]
      #5817045 - 04/23/13 09:16 AM

Interesting topic this, at the end of the day, i care little how images are put together, provided the producer of the image gives sufficient details on how they processed their image/data, this does at least give us all some insight and we can make up our own minds whether the image created is a fair representation of the object imaged.

For my part, i am in a minority that much prefers mono,or mono/NB images that do not include colour, thats not to say i dont like colour images, because i do, but for me mono,and mono/NB none colour, are the most honest and detailed images i see., purely a personal preference.

Its rare to see two images of the same target, that are in colour that looks the same, personally i am rubbish with producing colour images, colour i find, is far to subjective, those that produce colour images tend mostly to produce an image that they themselves find pleasing,and quite right too, some use colour far too heavily, too much saturation or too vivid, which to my mind blots out finer detail that i try to preserve in my mono images. I am not keen on seeing things like artificial spikes on stars added by software, if they are a natural feature such as those produced by Newts, then that is acceptable.

These are just my thoughts, others may not like my points, but even i have to admit that its mostly a case of each to his or her own tastes, and we should respect others views, there is really not a right way or wrong way, we each mostly create images that pleases us as individuals.My way may not be the right way, but who`s to say....i`m sure my two stitched images of the crescent and veil nebula below, would fool no one,



best regards,

Tom

Edited by haytor (04/23/13 10:01 AM)


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JJK
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Reged: 04/28/08

Re: Your opinion on the subjective side of AP... new [Re: haytor]
      #5817204 - 04/23/13 11:05 AM

Quote:

Interesting topic this, at the end of the day, i care little how images are put together, provided the producer of the image gives sufficient details on how they processed their image/data, this does at least give us all some insight and we can make up our own minds whether the image created is a fair representation of the object imaged.

For my part, i am in a minority that much prefers mono,or mono/NB images that do not include colour, thats not to say i dont like colour images, because i do, but for me mono,and mono/NB none colour, are the most honest and detailed images i see., purely a personal preference.

Its rare to see two images of the same target, that are in colour that looks the same, personally i am rubbish with producing colour images, colour i find, is far to subjective, those that produce colour images tend mostly to produce an image that they themselves find pleasing,and quite right too, some use colour far too heavily, too much saturation or too vivid, which to my mind blots out finer detail that i try to preserve in my mono images. I am not keen on seeing things like artificial spikes on stars added by software, if they are a natural feature such as those produced by Newts, then that is acceptable.

These are just my thoughts, others may not like my points, but even i have to admit that its mostly a case of each to his or her own tastes, and we should respect others views, there is really not a right way or wrong way, we each mostly create images that pleases us as individuals.My way may not be the right way, but who`s to say....i`m sure my two stitched images of the crescent and veil nebula below, would fool no one,

best regards,

Tom




Tom, as you say, to each his own. However, I would prefer that someone who makes fantasy images state what they did (unless it's published in a book or website that is known for this).

I agree that monochrome images are very appealing. Another cool thing about them is that if they're good, then the composition and technical aspects are excellent, as the crutch of color isn't there to support the image.

That said, I don't mind color added to images, even narrowband ones, because this information can provide useful information (the elemental composition) in one image.


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rigel123
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Re: Your opinion on the subjective side of AP... new [Re: JJK]
      #5817246 - 04/23/13 11:25 AM Attachment (5 downloads)

So, truth, or fiction...you decide! It is scary to think of what you could get away with dealing with the general public! Note: I could call this, New super galaxy cluster discovered!! You know this could start an entire new post, but I agree, if you are doctoring things beyond comprehension, make a note of it in your description, and yes, this is a collage of my galaxy shots I put together to show the relative size of each as they were imaged with the same equipment.

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haytor
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Re: Your opinion on the subjective side of AP... new [Re: JJK]
      #5817258 - 04/23/13 11:30 AM

quote...

Tom, as you say, to each his own. However, I would prefer that someone who makes fantasy images state what they did (unless it's published in a book or website that is known for this).

I agree that monochrome images are very appealing. Another cool thing about them is that if they're good, then the composition and technical aspects are excellent, as the crutch of color isn't there to support the image.

That said, I don't mind color added to images, even narrowband ones, because this information can provide useful information (the elemental composition) in one image. End quote....

Could not agree more with you, as said, i love to see colour images, but given i`m rubbish at processing colour and given my preference for mono, i simpy enjoy what i do.

Quite right too, that NB images with added colour can provide information regarding elemental composition, most useful for those with a more scientific approach.

best regards,

Tom.


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haytor
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Re: Your opinion on the subjective side of AP... new [Re: haytor]
      #5817268 - 04/23/13 11:35 AM

warren,

regards,

Tom


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darbyvet
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Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Seneca Falls, New York
Re: Your opinion on the subjective side of AP... new [Re: rigel123]
      #5817295 - 04/23/13 11:48 AM

I was thinking about this last night.I was watching a series of lectures by Alex Fillipenko on astronomy and cosmology.What I found was that when he showed many of the pictures of DSOs and galaxies they were really *BLEEP* looking images. Then I realised that if you are looking at a supernova you dont need hours and hours of data and processing to see it and the images he showed were produced for scientific purposes not aesthetics.
I think most amateur astronomers, however, are more interested in getting the best detail and best looking picture.
Prof Fillipenko was very complimentary of amateur efforts and he showed some of the more famous spectacular Hubble images to show just how good amateur images are.
My own opinion is that I process the images I take to make them look pleasing to my eye.I do look at other images to try to get the color balance right, but I have no interest in trying to change the data i collect to artificially enhance an image.
BTW the lecture series is AWESOME. 96 30 min lectures that go into tons of detail about astronomy and cosmology.


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Jared
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Re: Your opinion on the subjective side of AP... new [Re: DaemonGPF]
      #5817414 - 04/23/13 01:00 PM

This is a problem that comes up all the time in other forms of photography. In photojournalism, for example, just what sort of changes are you allowed to make before your "editing" moves your photos from journalism to editorial? Can you crop? Burn/dodge? Adjust white balance? Cut and paste? In general, most photojournalists would say it is O.K. to crop (you do that just in selecting a particular lens), that it's O.K. to burn and dodge to fix exposure errors, but not to enhance the impact of the image, and that white balance to make colors more accurate is fine. Cutting and pasting are a no-no (just ask National Geographic about moving some pyramids for a cover photo a few years back). Even exposure adjustments can get a photojournalist or a newspaper into trouble, though. For example, in the U.S. you might get in trouble for darkening or lightening a black person's skin tones in order to play with people's perceptions and biases.

In landscape photography, since the intent is artistic rather than journalistic, the lines are generally a little less clearly defined. Most landscape photographers, for example, will not move objects within their photographs. They generally (though not universally) will not do things like cloning out power lines. Most certainly will crop, selectively burn and dodge, adjust white balance to taste (rather than to accuracy), adjust contrast, etc.. Even here the lines can get blurry, though. If you have an annoying discarded beer can in the foreground of your picture, should you pick it up? How is that different from cloning it out of the image? Is either one any different from choosing a different field of view, or walking away from the beer can a few feet? Most landscape photographers would say that moving the beer can out of the way is fine because you are, at least, still taking a picture of an objective "reality" even if the photographer to some extent manufactured that reality.

To me, it really comes down to intent. I don't believe that telling a lie has anything to do with saying something that is true or not true. A lie is a statement made or withheld with the intent to deceive. Was the photographer you mentioned lying when he moved the comet to another part of the sky and didn't disclose the fact? I would say yes--the photograph was likely shown as a representation of reality, and it's not O.K. to deceive people. Had the picture been labeled as a composite, I would have been fine with the change.

In general, I think that astrophotography as an art form would not be very rewarding without aggressive post processing. It is important that astrophotographers be up front in how they modify their images, or the general public will not learn to trust that the modifications are intended to draw out and enhance details that really exist, rather than to cheat and distort. Again, it's about intent. By disclosing how we have processed our images, we help people to trust what the art form can provide.

Personally, I would encourage you to send a friendly note to whatever magazine or newspaper published the image and let them know it is a composite. Most serious media outlets don't want to be cheated or lied to any more than the rest of us, so they will perhaps learn to ask astrophotographers a little more about their images before they print them.


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DaemonGPF
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Re: Your opinion on the subjective side of AP... [Re: Jared]
      #5818099 - 04/23/13 05:42 PM

Really good responses, everyone. Thanks for your input. It is important to pause sometimes and get other perspectives. It can certainly help one see past their own blind spots occasionally.

Keep them coming. This is turning out to be a great discussion.


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Lenbo
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Re: Your opinion on the subjective side of AP... new [Re: DaemonGPF]
      #5819497 - 04/24/13 10:54 AM

I became interested in AP about 6 months ago and graduated to PixInsight a few months back. Pretty steep learning curve for an old guy like me but having fun. Although I don't want to build composites or significantly alter images I have no problem with those that do but would appreciate disclosure. I'm so inexperienced I might not recognize them. I find the discussion relating to color especially interesting. At one point I almost posted a question in relation to what was acceptable practice but after looking at lots of images I noticed lots of differences and decided to just do what pleases me. I'll admit I'm more into the asthetics than the science but I just try to enhance what I have for the most part. Lots of nice stuff out there. Bringing out a decent image is challange enough at present. Len

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Jared
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Re: Your opinion on the subjective side of AP... new [Re: Lenbo]
      #5820021 - 04/24/13 03:22 PM

Color is probably worthy of its own complete thread. Very few of us use G2V values to try and make the colors accurate. Even if we did, though, showing colors at all is, in one sense, a distortion since there is no way a person could ever see those colors.

Lots of people just getting into astronomy speculate about how amazing galaxies and nebulae might look if only we were closer to them. What they don't understand is that you need a certain amount of surface brightness to perceive color, not just a certain amount of total light. Think of it this way--we are located insidethe Milky Way and we still can't see any color in our own galaxy!

Personally, I am fine with whatever color balance a person ends up with. Probably a good idea to mention if you are using mapped colors (narrowband images, for example), but other than that go with whatever color balance and saturation pleases you.


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