Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

AP: art or science

  • Please log in to reply
32 replies to this topic

#1 Peter Zbib

Peter Zbib

    Messenger

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 434
  • Joined: 20 Jun 2014

Posted 24 July 2019 - 02:46 AM

Been following with much interest the contributions to the topic I started on AI use for AP

Very surprised to notice that so many people seem to consider that it is, in large parts, art

Art? Data acquisition is art? Stacking is art? Gradient reduction is art??

For my part I consider that color saturation and curve transformation are (in PI) influenced by one’s artistic judgement

But noise reduction is no art to me

So I would say the last stretch of processing, say the last 10% are art. If we take into account the photon fishing part (data acquisition), I would consider that AP is 95% technical and 5% artistic (not to consider the considerable influence of $$$ on the quality of the result)

Now the tornado of comments can start 😂

P

Btw: I love AP 😜



#2 siriusandthepup

siriusandthepup

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1068
  • Joined: 14 Feb 2006
  • Loc: Central Texas, USA

Posted 24 July 2019 - 02:51 AM

That 5% is the very important part...


  • Jon Isaacs likes this

#3 Peter Zbib

Peter Zbib

    Messenger

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 434
  • Joined: 20 Jun 2014

Posted 24 July 2019 - 03:15 AM

Not getting the flats right?

 

what’s the point of the last 5% if your guiding has a problem (eg walking noise)?

 

the last 5% is the salt. I am a heavy heavy user of salt (with reasonable blood pressure!). Without the salt, many dishes come out blaaahhhh but frankly, the important part of the cooking is NOT the amount of salt you add.



#4 ManuelJ

ManuelJ

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1454
  • Joined: 19 Dec 2005
  • Loc: Madrid, Spain

Posted 24 July 2019 - 03:51 AM

AP is 100% art, although it requires technical skills, but many other arts also require them.


  • Stelios, kingjamez, cfosterstars and 2 others like this

#5 freestar8n

freestar8n

    Vendor - MetaGuide

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 8914
  • Joined: 12 Oct 2007

Posted 24 July 2019 - 04:44 AM

For me I am doing astro-imaging - and for me it is in the category of technical scientific imaging where the data are faithfully presented and any aesthetic choices in presentation are minimized and specified.  There is absolutely no reason other people should do it this way also - but it means that I completely reject the idea that this inherently art.  The forum titles here refer to Imaging - and I am fine with that.  There is another forum related to "Astro Art" and if people feel they are doing "art" with no restrictions on what they do to the data - and the goal is simply to create a swirly pattern of colors that people find compelling - then I would think that would be a better fit - for them.

 

My images are data driven and the only aesthetic choice is a global operation using levels to make the dark and bright regions visible.  No masking, no deconvolution.  Sometimes I use a form of gradient removal and I specify it.

 

My goal isn't to create art - but to let the data speak for itself and convey objects in the sky in a visually effective manner.  The main effort is in acquiring the data and calibrating/stacking in a statistically optimal manner.  After that it is some kind of data-driven color balance - if it isn't monochrome - and levels to bring out faint detail.  Cropping and orientation are also aesthetic choices involved.

 

The best analogy I can think of in terms of "photography" is nature documentary imaging.  If you take a picture of a tiger in the wild doing something - it is much more effective visually if you know it is an actual image of a scene in nature that hasn't been mucked with arbitrarily.  You can also go ahead and allow cloning of zebras and a crescent moon into the scene - and deletion of rocks that somehow don't look good - but that would be in more of an art category than nature imaging.

 

Frank


  • AhBok likes this

#6 schmeah

schmeah

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5344
  • Joined: 26 Jul 2005
  • Loc: Morristown, NJ

Posted 24 July 2019 - 05:41 AM

Yes, it is photography with many technical aspects. What is science to you? Is it science when you read an astronomy article to learn more about your target? Okay perhaps. Much of it is math. Some, like Frank, Jon and others post opinions on optics etc, backed up by oodles of personal data, testing, formulae etc. That can be considered scientific. But all the capturing and processing that 99% of us do is simply specialized photography...and art. Doesn’t make us scientists.

 

Derek


  • 2ghouls likes this

#7 Peter Zbib

Peter Zbib

    Messenger

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 434
  • Joined: 20 Jun 2014

Posted 24 July 2019 - 06:03 AM

I do agree that the word « science » is misused here. I should have used « technical » instead. 

 

The point is more on the « other side ». 

 

Ready to accept a general definition of « art » (merriam-w, wikipefia, whatever). There’s so much pure physical and or technical work, that I feel more like in a junior year optics lab than in a painting or sculpture workshop

 

subjective I guess



#8 spokeshave

spokeshave

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2149
  • Joined: 08 Apr 2015

Posted 24 July 2019 - 06:26 AM

This thread will no doubt stir some controversy. However, as someone who does "science" for a living, I think it is important to separate "science" from "technology". Science is the process of advancing a hypothesis and through observation, experimentation and reasoning, concluding that the hypothesis is either supported or refuted. I certainly know people who would add that unless the above is submitted for review by qualified peers, it is not real science. It is also strongly implicit in the definition of "science" that the hypothesis and methods to explore the hypothesis are novel in some way, with the exception of the scientific tradition of repeating newly-published endeavors to either substantiate or refute them. Technology, on the other hand, is the application of previously established scientific conclusions to a practical end. 

 

I can't honestly see how a case can be made that the type of astrophotography being discussed is in any way "science". Of course, there are those of us who do photometry or spectroscopy and even some of us who publish refereed work. But they are the exception. Most of us just produce pleasing images. That's not science, even though it can be highly technical. It is simply applying technology to achieve the purpose of producing an image. Even if extra care is taken to minimize the artificial influences during processing, and equipment is selected that is often used for true "science" is employed, unless it meets the criteria in the first paragraph above, it is not science.

 

Having said all of that, non-scientists often have a tendency to redefine "science" to suit agendas.The lay definition of "science" is often pretty squishy, and, well, unscientific. So, I prefer the "scientific" definition of "science" since it is really quite unambiguous.

 

Tim


  • schmeah, cfosterstars, md11spotter98 and 1 other like this

#9 Wouter1981

Wouter1981

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 131
  • Joined: 09 May 2017

Posted 24 July 2019 - 06:49 AM

Art? I don't like to use the word art for anything anymore. Blotches of paint thrown to a canvas, lumps of undefined matter clumped together, words in a nonsensical way mumbled together. It's all considered art these days. I rather use skill. Give me a skilled painter over an artistic painter anyday. I rate a skilled welder or metalworker much higher than a "artistic" sculptor. Luckily there are still a lot of artists that are skillful, but the word "art" has been completely hollowed out.

And AP is more about skill than technical. Hard to put a percentage on it, because you really do need some basic technical equipment. But when I look what some people can achieve with a simple homemade tracker, a DSLR with a cheap lens and some free computerprograms, it really is mostly about skill and experience.
And some luck of course... living in a country where there isn't a single spot darker than bortle 4 doesn't help, no matter how skilled or technical you are ;-)

 



#10 kathyastro

kathyastro

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 912
  • Joined: 23 Dec 2016
  • Loc: Nova Scotia

Posted 24 July 2019 - 06:52 AM

Point taken re "science".  So is it art or technology?  Yes, it is!

 

Data acquisition is art? Stacking is art? Gradient reduction is art??

If all you do is acquire data, stack it and reduce gradients, you end up with a pretty crappy picture.  It is all the tweaking you do after those steps that make it a good picture. 

 

Which steps do you apply?  That decision, for which there is no right or wrong answer, makes it art.  For each process that you apply, how do you adjust the parameters?  Anyone who has used PixInsight knows there are gazillions of them.  And there is no right or wrong answer to what settings to use, which makes it art.  As soon as you get into the realm where there are no right or wrong answers, where everything you do is a judgement call, you are talking about art.

 

And yes, there is art (i.e. judgement) even in data acquisition, stacking and gradient reduction.


Edited by kathyastro, 24 July 2019 - 06:52 AM.


#11 AhBok

AhBok

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2360
  • Joined: 02 Dec 2010
  • Loc: Lakeland, TN

Posted 24 July 2019 - 07:15 AM

Nightscape photography is at least 50% art.

 

For regular DSO imaging I agree with Frank’s excellent post above. I see some guys use NB imaging for “artistic” use of color which is fine, of course, but I much prefer the use of false color only to enhance contrast of fine details.

I’m not a fan images with all red, all blue or all green stars. I don’t see art in stretching images, though achieving an excellent result might involve a good eye.

But, eyes-beholders and all that!


Edited by AhBok, 24 July 2019 - 07:17 AM.


#12 2ghouls

2ghouls

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 830
  • Joined: 19 Sep 2016

Posted 24 July 2019 - 07:25 AM

Yes, I approach astrophotography as art.

As others have said, many artists need strong technical background/ skills to accomplish their vision. I just read a book about the making of 2001. Kubrick had to solve many technical challenges to make all those special effects look perfect in the 60s on film.

Many of my artistic choices happen well before I start data acquisition. Since my big projects (currently the cave) take months to capture, I want to make sure that the orientation and framing is exactly to my liking before I start. When working with rarely imaged parts of the sky, this can be challenging, which is why with my last big project I used known bright/colorful stars to anchor the scene. For my current project (cave nebula), the composition is instead based around the dark nebulae in the scene. I realize there are many different ways to approach the processing of dark nebulae and I should know my approach before I start the project to know if my framing will work.

Adam Block recently gave an excellent presentation on the Astro Imaging Channel on how he approaches artistic decisions in his astrophotography:
https://youtu.be/SPFsoO0ZWeg

For further reading on this topic, check out “Lessons from the Masters”. Especially a chapter in that book from Robert Gendler near the end on composition with many examples.

#13 Umasscrew39

Umasscrew39

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 826
  • Joined: 07 Dec 2016
  • Loc: Central Florida

Posted 24 July 2019 - 07:28 AM

Point taken re "science".  So is it art or technology?  Yes, it is!

 

If all you do is acquire data, stack it and reduce gradients, you end up with a pretty crappy picture.  It is all the tweaking you do after those steps that make it a good picture. 

 

Which steps do you apply?  That decision, for which there is no right or wrong answer, makes it art.  For each process that you apply, how do you adjust the parameters?  Anyone who has used PixInsight knows there are gazillions of them.  And there is no right or wrong answer to what settings to use, which makes it art.  As soon as you get into the realm where there are no right or wrong answers, where everything you do is a judgement call, you are talking about art.

 

And yes, there is art (i.e. judgement) even in data acquisition, stacking and gradient reduction.

Agree with Kathy.

 

I've been a life science researcher for over 30 years so I'm well acquainted with the science/data aspect but even in my career world there are a lot of aspects we say a certain process or technique to understand the biological data is an art.  All depends on your interpretation of the words.  I just started using PI a couple of months ago and that clearly demonstrates using scientific methods (e.g., algorithms) to bring out the artistic side of an individual as to what is pleasing to them while doing AP.   To me, this is all part of the joy in doing it.  As I always tell my friends when asked which of my images I like the best...... I like all of my images, even the bad ones, because I did them.

 

Bruce



#14 ChrisWhite

ChrisWhite

    Aurora

  • *****
  • Posts: 4775
  • Joined: 28 Feb 2015
  • Loc: Colchester, VT

Posted 24 July 2019 - 07:35 AM

I'd say it's based on the goals of the imager.

For me it's mostly art.

I choose the target. I pick the composition. I choose the exposure length and total integration per filter based on what my interests are. I pick the pre processing tools and settings based on what I perceive to aesthetically appealing.

Most of my images are false color.

I post process ENTIRELY with the goal of creating a pretty picture in my own mind's eye.

Then I share and present that image in a way that makes it look best.

I'm not at all inspired by creating factual images of what a target should look like. Ymmv
  • tcchittyjr, bmhjr and junluo168 like this

#15 Peter Zbib

Peter Zbib

    Messenger

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 434
  • Joined: 20 Jun 2014

Posted 24 July 2019 - 08:26 AM

As far as I am concerned, I can (or try to 🙄) be creative when I use the AP hardware and software tools. Sometimes to solve a problem other times to try to achieve some objective related to what I am after in the final pic.

It can be a lot of fun. (Otherwise I wouldnt be doing AP)

But I certainly dont call it art.

#16 gezak22

gezak22

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3074
  • Joined: 15 Aug 2004
  • Loc: On far side of moon. Send help.

Posted 24 July 2019 - 08:43 AM

If you are documenting what you are doing, if you are filing discovery reports when your image shows something appears to be an uncatalogued object, if you are imaging "empty" areas in hopes of catching an undiscovered object, you are doing science.



#17 OldManSky

OldManSky

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2101
  • Joined: 03 Jan 2019
  • Loc: Valley Center, CA USA

Posted 24 July 2019 - 08:51 AM

AP is 100% art, although it requires technical skills, but many other arts also require them.

So is "regular" photography.  The final product (whether astro or not) is a result of composition, subject choice, lighting choices (yes, even with stars!), and all of the subjective choices made in post-processing.

To get the best result, it takes technical skill -- whether astro or not.  In "regular" photography, if you don't understand lens performance, effects of aperture and shutter speed settings, light theory, color theory, the technical ins and outs of multiple flash systems (and communication between units), noise levels, and the technical aspects of post-processing, you aren't going to get good results.  But it's still art.

 

By the way, my point in the other thread was that AI/ML can and more and more will assist with/take over some of the technical parts, and leave us more able to focus on the artistic parts.  Regular photographers didn't, in the past, have autofocus -- learning the skill of focusing with a ground glass was a technical skill that has now almost entirely been automated.  So now the photographer can focus (pun intended) on composition and framing and color and light and not worry so much about focusing.  In AP, "smart" systems already help us autofocus, we have flat wizards (to assure good flat exposure levels), automated sequencing, GOTO, etc. etc. etc.  Adding more "smart" systems that can analyze images and decide on the best darks/flats to use, choose processing steps to minimize noise, etc. will do the same, let APers spend more time on the art of their work.  



#18 terry59

terry59

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 9188
  • Joined: 18 Jul 2011
  • Loc: Colorado, USA

Posted 24 July 2019 - 08:51 AM

Been following with much interest the contributions to the topic I started on AI use for AP

Very surprised to notice that so many people seem to consider that it is, in large parts, art

Art?

 

Data acquisition is art? Yes....framing, FOV, image scale choices are all artistic activities. 

 

Stacking is art? Number of subs, rejection algorithm choice, settings for the chosen algorithm will all impact the image so, yeah

 

Gradient reduction is art?? Choices here will impact the image so yeah again

 

All my view of course

 

 

For my part I consider that color saturation and curve transformation are (in PI) influenced by one’s artistic judgement

But noise reduction is no art to me

So I would say the last stretch of processing, say the last 10% are art. If we take into account the photon fishing part (data acquisition), I would consider that AP is 95% technical and 5% artistic (not to consider the considerable influence of $$$ on the quality of the result)

Now the tornado of comments can start

P

Btw: I love AP


Edited by terry59, 24 July 2019 - 08:52 AM.


#19 Peter Zbib

Peter Zbib

    Messenger

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 434
  • Joined: 20 Jun 2014

Posted 24 July 2019 - 09:06 AM

Gesak22: absolutely.
Telemetry (? Right spelling/name) has to follow scientific standards

I misused « science » when naming the thread

#20 junluo168

junluo168

    Lift Off

  • *****
  • Posts: 15
  • Joined: 06 Mar 2019

Posted 24 July 2019 - 09:29 AM

I'd like to quote Don Goldman of Astrodon:

 

“Our hobby is technically demanding to keep the telescope pointed on a star all night long and to keep the system in focus as the night cools. However, the end result is art. We attempt to frame our object and colorize it in an aesthetically pleasing manner to present the awe and mysteries of the universe. Like famous artists using oil paints and canvas, we all have different styles neither right or wrong, just expressive. Therefore, I firmly believe that what we do in this hobby is “technical art”, as I continue to mention in my invited talks. We are landscape photographers on a cosmic scale.”

 

 

https://astrodonimaging.com/about/


Edited by junluo168, 24 July 2019 - 09:47 AM.

  • 2ghouls and ks__observer like this

#21 Peter Zbib

Peter Zbib

    Messenger

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 434
  • Joined: 20 Jun 2014

Posted 24 July 2019 - 09:45 AM

That’s a pretty neat way of putting it but it gives preeminence to art.

I have studied maths. My elder son is an artist. I would not dare explain to him that AP is mostly an artistic hobby 😂 (he spent a few nights out with me)

So my feeling is the reverse of what Don G. coined
  • junluo168 likes this

#22 gezak22

gezak22

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3074
  • Joined: 15 Aug 2004
  • Loc: On far side of moon. Send help.

Posted 24 July 2019 - 10:10 AM

Nothing brought me more joy in this hobby than filling out a discovery report for the nebula around Abell 39. I consider this more science/techical than art.

p2348706554-4.jpg


Edited by gezak22, 24 July 2019 - 01:41 PM.


#23 bobzeq25

bobzeq25

    Hubble

  • *****
  • Posts: 17158
  • Joined: 27 Oct 2014

Posted 24 July 2019 - 10:30 AM

This thread will no doubt stir some controversy. However, as someone who does "science" for a living, I think it is important to separate "science" from "technology". Science is the process of advancing a hypothesis and through observation, experimentation and reasoning, concluding that the hypothesis is either supported or refuted. I certainly know people who would add that unless the above is submitted for review by qualified peers, it is not real science. It is also strongly implicit in the definition of "science" that the hypothesis and methods to explore the hypothesis are novel in some way, with the exception of the scientific tradition of repeating newly-published endeavors to either substantiate or refute them. Technology, on the other hand, is the application of previously established scientific conclusions to a practical end. 

 

I can't honestly see how a case can be made that the type of astrophotography being discussed is in any way "science". Of course, there are those of us who do photometry or spectroscopy and even some of us who publish refereed work. But they are the exception. Most of us just produce pleasing images. That's not science, even though it can be highly technical. It is simply applying technology to achieve the purpose of producing an image. Even if extra care is taken to minimize the artificial influences during processing, and equipment is selected that is often used for true "science" is employed, unless it meets the criteria in the first paragraph above, it is not science.

 

Having said all of that, non-scientists often have a tendency to redefine "science" to suit agendas.The lay definition of "science" is often pretty squishy, and, well, unscientific. So, I prefer the "scientific" definition of "science" since it is really quite unambiguous.

 

Tim

I'm a heavy duty scientist.  <smile>  The "scientific" part of AP is that a necessary step for almost all people is to research and study the science _behind_ the techniques we use.  Getting the proper subexposure is one good one, understanding _why_ LRGB works another.  I can't see pure artistic talent getting you far, things are all too often unintuitive.

 

But it can never be truly "scientific".   Color is my favorite example.  Because of the low level signal, and the nature of our (diverse) human eyes, color is always art.  That's not to say you can't do strange things to color that are clearly unrealistic (like the Hobble palette <smile>), just that you can't say your color is realistic.

 

So, the original question poses a false "or" choice.  It's _unavoidably_ both.



#24 AhBok

AhBok

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2360
  • Joined: 02 Dec 2010
  • Loc: Lakeland, TN

Posted 24 July 2019 - 10:39 AM

RGB/OSC = Impressionism
NB = Surrealism
Me = Paint by the numbers

(LOL!)
  • schmeah, bobzeq25, bmhjr and 1 other like this

#25 bmhjr

bmhjr

    Apollo

  • ****-
  • Posts: 1275
  • Joined: 02 Oct 2015
  • Loc: Colorado

Posted 24 July 2019 - 10:46 AM

RGB/OSC = Impressionism
NB = Surrealism
Me = Paint by the numbers

(LOL!)

All my imaging is art.  Like putting lipstick on a pig.  biggrin.png


  • AhBok and bobzeq25 like this


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics