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Isn't Astrophotography Fake?

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#1 midasjohn

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Posted 09 October 2021 - 08:51 AM

I always wowed at the Nebula Photos and the Solar Prominences until I got into the many YouTube Instruction Videos on making them. Then I found myself reaching the conclusion that basically it's fake. Regular People believe things "look like that" like pictures of the Orion nebular but they are all just over exposures or swap-n-chops ... If you moved closer to those objects in space they would never ever appear that way in reality. There also seems to be an obsession with all the kit. Not for me at all. Visual Observation or snaps of what I can see for me. I'll leave the Observatories and their Professional Astronomers to work in 'unreal wavelengths'.

Does anyone else feel this way about Astrophotography and Imaging?
I suspect I'm in some kind of extremist minority who wish to see things the way nature intended, through the eye piece 😃
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#2 Astrola72

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Posted 09 October 2021 - 09:04 AM

How do you know what M42 would look like up close? Those colors are real, the human eye just isn't sensitive enough in color to see them. Up close you would see those colors. You would also die of course! But those colors are not fake. Now, when you get into narrow-band imaging and false-color representations, you could make the argument. But even then, if done correctly, the colors are representative of actual data.

 

And, I know it's just a common phrase, but - nature has "intent"? Sorry, I've been catching up on my evo devo lately.


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#3 ziggeman

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Posted 09 October 2021 - 09:05 AM

Its not 'fake'. Its 'how sensors sees it over time'. Human eyes are limited. They can not sense certain wavelengths and have a low treshold so they need more light seeing things than ccd sensors does.

Animals like bees and other insects sees wavelengths humans not do. Like UV. Snakes 'see' infrared light with an extension from their mouths corners. Humans cant see this infrared. Its human eyes that are limited. Nothing is fake. Its how the 'sensor' sees it.


Edited by ziggeman, 09 October 2021 - 09:07 AM.

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#4 StarAlert

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Posted 09 October 2021 - 09:10 AM

I always wowed at the Nebula Photos and the Solar Prominences until I got into the many YouTube Instruction Videos on making them. Then I found myself reaching the conclusion that basically it's fake. Regular People believe things "look like that" like pictures of the Orion nebular but they are all just over exposures or swap-n-chops ... If you moved closer to those objects in space they would never ever appear that way in reality. There also seems to be an obsession with all the kit. Not for me at all. Visual Observation or snaps of what I can see for me. I'll leave the Observatories and their Professional Astronomers to work in 'unreal wavelengths'.

Does anyone else feel this way about Astrophotography and Imaging?
I suspect I'm in some kind of extremist minority who wish to see things the way nature intended, through the eye piece

Oh boy…

popcorn.gif


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#5 Dbracknell

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Posted 09 October 2021 - 09:12 AM

I agree to a point. The colors that show up in the photos are actually there, but it takes long exposure to bring out the colors. The problem is, when they continue in photoshop to make these fantastical scenes. Personally I would much rather see the universe through the eyepiece than on a screen. Why buy all of that equipment to look at photos on a screen that you can look up on Google for free?

Another thing,those photos show the world unrealistic expectations, since being in this group, I've found that a lot of the members are into outreach and spreading the hobby. It's really hard to do when someone has seen a long exposure of the Andromeda galaxy, then they see a white smudge in the eyepiece. They tend to be underwhelmed with what they see.
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#6 StarAlert

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Posted 09 October 2021 - 09:14 AM

Its not 'fake'. Its 'how sensors sees it over time'. Human eyes are limited. They can not sense certain wavelengths and have a low treshold so they need more light seeing things than ccd sensors does.

Animals like bees and other insects sees wavelengths humans not do. Like UV. Snakes 'see' infrared light with an extension from their mouths corners. Humans cant see this infrared. Its human eyes that are limited. Nothing is fake. Its how the 'sensor' sees it.

Astrophotography… how bees, snakes, and other insects would see the universe if they could look through a telescope. smile.gif


Edited by StarAlert, 09 October 2021 - 09:15 AM.

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#7 Dbracknell

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Posted 09 October 2021 - 09:22 AM

Astrophotography… how bees, snakes, and other insects would see the universe if they could look through a telescope. smile.gif

🤣
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#8 MikeHC8

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Posted 09 October 2021 - 09:24 AM

I am a visual person, but first want to thank everyone who post there photo's because I enjoy them very much.  I like looking at the sky and learning at the same time, I don't want to take any pictures for myself and reduce the time I have outside, second I have tried astro photos a long time ago, and I know it is not for me, the cost and learning curve it to great for myself.  The DSO visual sometimes are a disappointment to others, but you must prep people of what they are looking at, and sometimes they are traveling in time, because they are from millions of years ago.   I sometimes wonder looking at M31 and think if we could look at it in realtime it maybe much closer then we think, but that part of visual and everyone on this site shares and goes to different parts of our hobby.  Thanks to everyone 


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#9 midasjohn

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Posted 09 October 2021 - 09:25 AM

I agree to a point. The colors that show up in the photos are actually there, but it takes long exposure to bring out the colors. The problem is, when they continue in photoshop to make these fantastical scenes. Personally I would much rather see the universe through the eyepiece than on a screen. Why buy all of that equipment to look at photos on a screen that you can look up on Google for free?

Another thing,those photos show the world unrealistic expectations, since being in this group, I've found that a lot of the members are into outreach and spreading the hobby. It's really hard to do when someone has seen a long exposure of the Andromeda galaxy, then they see a white smudge in the eyepiece. They tend to be underwhelmed with what they see.

Yes I have had the same response from people who were interested in Stargazing but had expectations fed from the output of Astrophotography. Severe anticlimax. Whereas if they hadn't seen all that Netflix stuff, they would have likely been in awe. I also wonder how many hours are spent online, sat in front of computers and slavering after equipment, instead of actually getting out there and viewing.
I'm glad for everyone who enjoys it. It takes all sorts and it is still related to Stargazing. So I guess it's all good. It doubtless brings down the cost of equipment and 'each to his own' as they say.

Edited by midasjohn, 09 October 2021 - 09:26 AM.

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#10 jeffreym

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Posted 09 October 2021 - 09:26 AM

I think you might be an extremist but that's fine.  Amurture astronomy covers a LOT of topics.  Participate in the areas that are fun for you.  It is just a hobby.  

 

I will say I lean your way on this, I like to see for myself a thing at the eyepiece.  

 

However, the photons being illustrated by the photos are real.  Yes, there is some art to choosing the exposure and the colors that become emphasized in a final image.  I think that's okay, and beautiful, and interesting, and I'm glad someone else is having fun doing it.  We get the beauty without the work.  

 

Use the enhanced images to help your eye look for detail that you might have otherwise overlooked while observing. Look at images as a tool to help your eyepiece observations.  Knowing what to look for is very helpful.  The images provide that.

 

Take care and have fun,

Jeff


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#11 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 09 October 2021 - 09:28 AM

I always wowed at the Nebula Photos and the Solar Prominences until I got into the many YouTube Instruction Videos on making them. Then I found myself reaching the conclusion that basically it's fake. Regular People believe things "look like that" like pictures of the Orion nebular but they are all just over exposures or swap-n-chops ... If you moved closer to those objects in space they would never ever appear that way in reality. There also seems to be an obsession with all the kit. Not for me at all. Visual Observation or snaps of what I can see for me. I'll leave the Observatories and their Professional Astronomers to work in 'unreal wavelengths'.

Does anyone else feel this way about Astrophotography and Imaging?
I suspect I'm in some kind of extremist minority who wish to see things the way nature intended, through the eye piece

 

I am 100% visual..

 

What I see is limited by the capabilities of my eyes. My eyes capture a limited spectrum. A camera captures a wider spectrum.

 

Astrophotography is not fake..it real photons captured by a sensor just as what I see is real photons captured by a sensor.

 

Regular people who believe they could look through a telescope and see an image comparable to a full color astrophoto..they need to be educated.

 

Cameras can see things the human cannot.. everyone should know that.

 

Jon


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#12 midasjohn

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Posted 09 October 2021 - 09:31 AM

Yes, 'Real Photons' is a definite FACT that's important to appreciate. Thanks everyone.
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#13 DAG792

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Posted 09 October 2021 - 09:37 AM

How do you know what M42 would look like up close? Those colors are real, the human eye just isn't sensitive enough in color to see them. Up close you would see those colors. You would also die of course! But those colors are not fake. Now, when you get into narrow-band imaging and false-color representations, you could make the argument. But even then, if done correctly, the colors are representative of actual data.

 

And, I know it's just a common phrase, but - nature has "intent"? Sorry, I've been catching up on my evo devo lately.

Well OP is right in saying that all the nebulas wouldn't appear like they do in astrophotos even if you were just 1 AU away from them. And that's because surface brightness doesn't change no matter how close or distant you are from an object. 

A great example of this is the Milky Way galaxy, its integrated brightness is quite a lot more bright than any other galaxy you can see, as we are the closest to the Milky Way. We should see vibrant colors in it all the time based on your logic, but we don't, because the Milky Way's surface brightness is the same as other galaxies(more or less). 

 

Other than that, I think this is gonna be a fun thread grin.gif


Edited by DAG792, 09 October 2021 - 09:38 AM.

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#14 StarAlert

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Posted 09 October 2021 - 09:38 AM

This thread has got me thinking out of the box, now… If UV and IR are so appealing to the human eye, why don’t we see more full-spectrum wedding pictures, for example?
Or are they full spectrum? 


Edited by StarAlert, 09 October 2021 - 09:41 AM.

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#15 daveco2

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Posted 09 October 2021 - 09:41 AM

I always wowed at the Nebula Photos and the Solar Prominences until I got into the many YouTube Instruction Videos on making them. Then I found myself reaching the conclusion that basically it's fake. Regular People believe things "look like that" like pictures of the Orion nebular but they are all just over exposures or swap-n-chops ... If you moved closer to those objects in space they would never ever appear that way in reality. There also seems to be an obsession with all the kit. Not for me at all. Visual Observation or snaps of what I can see for me. I'll leave the Observatories and their Professional Astronomers to work in 'unreal wavelengths'.

Does anyone else feel this way about Astrophotography and Imaging?
I suspect I'm in some kind of extremist minority who wish to see things the way nature intended, through the eye piece

Of course, you're right.  First, the whole idea behind using an astro camera is to integrate a stream of photons that your eye never could.  That's why astronomers before invention of the camera didn't see most nebulas and only hints of the brighter ones.  Second, the whole idea behind image processing is to make visible an object lost in noise and the background by manhandling pixels.

 

So, why do I have no interest in visual observation and spend all my time (and considerable bucks) taking pictures?  Because I want to see what my eyes can't and then marvel at nebulae with their billowing convolutions, sharp edged shock fronts, and the open star clusters that drive them, to have my imagination run wild thinking of the forces involved and their immense scales, to apply on some small scale the physics I spent a lifetime studying.  It is almost a surrealistic experience to tease forth an image from bland data - punched up, color manipulated, enhanced, dynamic range manipulated - hoping to get within one percent of the extraordinary Hubble images.  


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#16 RiderRoy

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Posted 09 October 2021 - 09:42 AM

Take a look at the astro photos people used to take with film before the digital days. That's what we would see if our eyes could do time exposures. 

All the flats, darks, lights and histogram tinkering aside. There's so much more in the night sky than the greyscale that we're capable of taking in with the naked eye. Even filters for visual will add to what you can see. 


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#17 B 26354

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Posted 09 October 2021 - 09:46 AM

Personally I would much rather see the universe through the eyepiece than on a screen. Why buy all of that equipment to look at photos on a screen that you can look up on Google for free?

That's like asking "Why play a musical instrument?", when you can just use your earbuds and your phone.

 

Some of us enjoy the performance (and the results) of the artistic and technological processes involved in photography. Personally, I have prints made of the photos that I take, so I can hang them on my library's walls, and give them to appreciative friends and relatives.

 

I also wonder how many hours are spent online, sat in front of computers and slavering after equipment, instead of actually getting out there and viewing.

I've been a visual DSO observer for almost seven decades. Any time I'm running an imaging session, I have my visual instruments sitting right next to the scope-and-camera setup, so I can enjoy an entire night of observing, while the camera's happily clicking away.

 

biggrin.png


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#18 jcj380

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Posted 09 October 2021 - 09:49 AM

I understand the OP's position to a certain extent.  By extension though, is everything you see on TV fake even if it's "live"?  It's scanned and processed and transmitted and converted and given that it takes a finite time to get to you, it's not realtime reality.  So I guess it's a question of one's philosophy, which is fine.

 

I admire beautiful color DSO shots that people have processed, but I admit that I don't care for overprocessed pics or pics with false color.  But that's a matter of personal definition and taste.

 

Also, I've started "snapshot" photography with remote scopes, but I usually only do luminance shots, i.e. monochrome.  To me this eliminates any potential "fakeness" that might be introduced by processing.

 

Meh.  Bottom line - who cares?  If you like it, do it.  If you don't, then don't do it.  Or as the CEO says, "Stay in your lane."  LOL.



#19 csa/montana

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Posted 09 October 2021 - 10:09 AM

 

I suspect I'm in some kind of extremist minority who wish to see things the way nature intended, through the eye piece

If you really wish to see things the way nature intended; then you would not be using an eye piece; rather simply your eyes.

 

Everyone has their own way of enjoying the night sky.  I will never get into astrophotography, only because I don't want to learn how to do it, and of course the expense.  However; I certainly would never knock those that turn out beautiful work; rather I simply enjoy their many hours of work to do it.

 

Just because something isn't what we wish to do; does not make it "fake"!


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#20 spereira

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Posted 09 October 2021 - 10:23 AM

Even the Hubble has to "fake it" ...


That is why those images are called “false color images” in many instances.

smp
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#21 kathyastro

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Posted 09 October 2021 - 11:18 AM

Meh.  Different strokes for different folks.

 

I knew enough about astronomy when I was a kid to know that I would never be satisfied with just visual astronomy.  Yes, It is very cool to capture million-year-old photons with your own retinas, but I knew that, if I wanted to actually see what is out there, I had to do AP.

 

There is nothing fake about it.  It is just seeing in a way that is different from naked-eye viewing.  I resist the urge to alter the data arbitrarily.  I even feel guilty when I use a mask to reduce background noise.  My goal is to show what really is there.


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#22 555aaa

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Posted 09 October 2021 - 11:44 AM

A lot of the colors are cartooney but that’s what’s popular. There are real vivid colors in many nebulae. A picture is telling you a story so as long as it’s clear what the story is it’s not fake. People tend to over saturate galaxies but they do have colors. You should look at some of my white light pictures of nebulae on astrobin, user is brucev

#23 ShaulaB

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Posted 09 October 2021 - 12:04 PM

Back when I was starting out, I used a 6 inch f8 Newtonian. After three years, and travel to dark skies, I was able to view the entire Messier list.

Then a friend with a 20 inch Dob invited me to look at galaxies. Wow! Spiral arms! And color in nebulae! Unreal! In the 1980's, very few people here had big aperture scopes, so I was blown away.

Astrophotography is just a technology for collecting more photons.
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#24 DirtyRod

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Posted 09 October 2021 - 12:26 PM

I can respect the artistic license but most of my images tend to look more like what a I can see with my eyes. If it’s greenish in the EP I won’t tint it blue to be more “correct”. For those that are too dim to see visually, they will probably look more like what’s posted on the net.


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#25 Sketcher

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Posted 09 October 2021 - 12:29 PM

The same argument could be made that what we see with our eyes is fake.  Colors exist only in our brains.  Our eyes have cells that are sensitive to different wavelength ranges.  Our brains interpret the different wavelengths, as differentiated by those cells, as different colors.  But the objects that we see neither emit, nor reflect the colors in which we see them.  Sure they emit and/or reflect various wavelength ranges; but the colors we see are a fantasy -- a judgement call that's made by the ways in which our eye-brain systems have evolved.  Objects tend to emit and reflect visible (to us) wavelengths as well as other wavelengths that our eye-brain systems are unable to detect and/or make sense of.

 

As others have pointed out, different animals have eyes (or other sensors) that are sensitive to different wavelength ranges.  Some see a more or less black and white world.  They're not able to differentiate as many different wavelength ranges as us.  Then there are other animals (as well as some humans) that can see and differentiate wavelength ranges that we (or most of us) are blind to.  So what color is that mouse in the corner?  I can guarantee that a rattlesnake will see that mouse looking very different from how we see that mouse.  Whose view is "correct"?  Whose view  is fake?  Both views are based on real data that's received from the EM radiation that's reflected off of and/or emitted by that mouse.  Neither view is fake.

 

With a different set of cells in our retinas and/or a different "wiring" of our brains, we could see familiar objects in very unfamiliar colors.--  unfamiliar colors that would be just as real as those we are accustomed to.

 

Then there's intensity, or brightness.  Some objects are brightest in wavelengths that our eyes are blind to.  We're missing out on all of that data.  So a faint object to us may appear bright to a creature that can detect other wavelengths, and vice versa.

 

Colors are fake.

 

Basically, we're practically blind when it comes to being able to see some astronomical objects as they really are.  We're unable to see most of the EM spectrum that comes our way from them.

 

OK, so returning to imaging:  I'm a visual observer.  I prefer to see my astronomical views as my eyes see them -- naked-eye, through an eyepiece in a telescope, or with binoculars.  But even the most outrageously colorized images, even those with some wavelengths enhanced more than others, even with some (or all) of the colors changed, even with contrast enhanced, etc; those images are based on real data that was collected from the object.  Even those images are every bit as real as what we see with our eyes.

 

In the real world, there are no colors.  When our instruments collect data at wavelengths invisible to our eyes, we give those images false color so that we can see them.  A quick search will show images of celestial objects -- color images -- based on infrared, or X-ray, or radio wavelengths.  If those images of the M87 black hole (from the Event Horizon Telescope) were not colorized in visible-to-us wavelengths, we would be looking at completely invisible images.  Is that object really some orange-red color?  Absolutely not!  It's "real" colors, as detected by the EHT, don't exist -- not for our human eye-brain system.  It was colorized -- so we could see it.  That image could have just as accurately been colored in shades of pink, or shades of green, or even a rainbow of colors -- and it would still be a real image, based on real data -- nothing fake about it.

 

Outside the brain, colors don't exist.  There are no colors in the natural world.  One could divide any wavelength range (from any object) into smaller bits and assign each of those bits to a different color, and one would end up with a real (as opposed to fake) image -- just as real as what we see with our eyes.

 

Again, I'm a 100% visual observer.  I have no imaging equipment -- at least nothing intended for imaging celestial objects.  I dabbled a little bit with astrophotography (using film) in the 1970s.  More recently, I had to do a bit of imaging using robotic telescopes, along with a bit of processing using professional software; but that wasn't something I did by choice.  It was part of a job (and not an unpleasant part smile.gif ).  So I'm not totally "in the dark" when it comes to astronomical imaging; but as an astronomical hobbyist, it's all visual for me -- just a matter of personal preferences.

 

I make visual observations and often choose to include astronomical sketches; but i recognize that astronomical imaging is a more powerful tool that more accurately records more data.  There's nothing "fake" about it -- not even when colors are changed and/or enhanced.  After all, even the colors we see, the colors that our eye-brain system assign to those different wavelengths which we see, are arbitrary.

 

Bottom line:  Images produced thru the use of digital cameras, telescopes, and image-processing software are real -- just as real as that which we see with our eyes -- nothing fake about it.


Edited by Sketcher, 09 October 2021 - 12:37 PM.

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