Author Topic: How NOT to think like a CT, and a sudden understanding of what they feel  (Read 1333 times)

Offline Everett

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A while ago I was thinking about the whole "spacesuit/zipper" thing. From Jay's website, I remember reading (years ago) (for entertainment, mostly, I find nutters amusing) that the actual pressure seal was a pair of overlapping "flexible rubber/plastic/polymer type material" which I might remember as being Neoprene. It occurred to me that the suit would still leak, and that said seal wouldn't be particularly high quality, compared to a mechanical seal such as on the helmet or gloves. Father thinking went to that the suit (and the rest of the Apollo equipment) was pressurized to 4 psi pure oxygen. (Apparently I was off a little.) As such, any "air" lost would also be the breathing gas, which as a necessity would have been carried in their backpacks (now I know called the PLSS) to replace what the astronaut breathed, and so of course NASA (who I recently re-learned didn't actually design it) included extra to replace what was expected to leak and keep the EVA duration the same. It then occurred to me that the leak rate could vary depending on how exactly the astronaut moved; so then you would simply take the highest likely rate and use that, to maintain a margin of safety. An example of how NOT to think like a CT.

A few weeks ago, while reading Hufschmid's site (and enjoying plenty of pointing a laughing at his expense) (I posted a thread on it, which apparently is the most recent one in this subforum), I came across a black and white photograph of the rover (posted in said thread) that looked, well, too "perfect," but in an artistic sort of way. Frankly, it looked like somebody (in last two decades) took what was likely a much more mundane picture and used the levels (or related) tool in photoshop on it (which I actually HAVE done, and have (although non-photographic) experience with the program), simply for artistic reasons to make a pretty picture. Nothing wrong with that. Many of the "anomalies" looked like the result of heavy use of said tool. (Which I am all too familiar with, as an unwanted side effect.)

Then I learn that they actually did take a roll of B & W film to the moon, and that actually is the original. And now I know what a HB feels on first encounter. "That can't be right." "They couldn't have planned the picture that way." "But how..."

Then about 20 minutes ago I realized something. I've never actually used a film camera other than a cheep disposable Kodak one when I was a kid. (Too young, otherwise.) I'm used to digital pictures, where you get an "absolute" original from the camera, which normally doesn't get any editing, other than perhaps cropping. But back then, the film had to be developed. And I recalled from quite some time ago that the levels tool is essentially the same thing that used to be done in the darkroom. And in developing film, every picture had choices made, by the person developing the film, to produce a good result. Essentially, every picture was, what today would be, starting in the levels tool, and then choosing the best result. A choice had to be made, and no one was more "right" than any other. There was no "unedited raw original," like a modern digital camera puts out. (Other than a negative, I suppose.) So the reason the picture looks so good is simple - some clever guy in the darkroom had to chose how to develop it to make the best possible picture, and did a pretty good job. Other than what he called "anomalies," which were the side effect of making the rest of the picture look good. (Same as in photoshop, really.)

Come to think of it, as I'm writing this sentence, apparently I suffer from some of the same generation gap he does. (Although without the stupidity.) I feel we should cut people who just had their first encounter with the theory, having say, watched the Fox program, and honestly want to know, a little more slack. (Which we don't seem to get all that often.) Now I understand what they feel like.

**Could a good job in the darkroom explain, at least in part, some of the "the photos were too good" claim, making up for a less than perfect job on the moon?

**By the way, why 'did' they take a B&W roll of film to the moon?

Offline onebigmonkey

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Come to think of it, as I'm writing this sentence, apparently I suffer from some of the same generation gap he does. (Although without the stupidity.) I feel we should cut people who just had their first encounter with the theory, having say, watched the Fox program, and honestly want to know, a little more slack. (Which we don't seem to get all that often.) Now I understand what they feel like.

This is a fair point, and anyone who does that can do what you do and ask "Now is that right?" and put some effort into asking questions. Inquiring minds will read the answers to those question and decide on their merits. Closed minded morons will reject answers they don't like the look of in favour of ones that confirm their prejudices. I have no time for the latter variety,

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**Could a good job in the darkroom explain, at least in part, some of the "the photos were too good" claim, making up for a less than perfect job on the moon?

Not just a darkroom, but a very good camera on very good film and lots of practice using them.

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**By the way, why 'did' they take a B&W roll of film to the moon?

B&W is much better at showing contrast than colour, so it helps reveal detail :)

Offline ka9q

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**By the way, why 'did' they take a B&W roll of film to the moon?
Two reasons. In those days B&W film had better resolution than color film at the same speed. It was also available in much higher speeds, though not all of the B&W rolls were of the high speed variety.

The thinking was strictly utilitarian, not aesthetic. Even though there's very little natural color on the moon, for some reason the color photographs just look better to me than the B&Ws.

Offline Allan F

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"Developing" a film is just pouring some chemicals on it in a specific order according to a receipe. No decisions are made with regards to the individual frames on the film. You can - if you have decided to underexpose the film a stop or 2 or 3 - push the film to an acceptable level by changing the timing and temperatures in the development process. BUT you will lose some contrast, and perhaps develop some graining in the finished picture.

When the film is finished developing, and is dryed, it is used to produce positive prints. THERE you can crop and alter the lighting, and use paper with varying contrast. BUT everytime you stray from the optimal exposure, you will lose some details in the finished picture.
Well, it is like this: The truth doesn't need insults. Insults are the refuge of a darkened mind, a mind that refuses to open and see. Foul language can't outcompete knowledge. And knowledge is the result of education. Education is the result of the wish to know more, not less.

Offline gillianren

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I think most of us are sympathetic to those who've just encountered the whole thing--provided they approach the question with a little humility and don't assume that everyone else is at their educational level on the subject.  What's hard to take is the people who are at the "no stars!" level who think they're the first person to bring the whole thing up.
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"Conspiracy theories are an irresistible labour-saving device in the face of complexity."  --Henry Louis Gates

Offline Everett

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"Developing" a film is just pouring some chemicals on it in a specific order according to a receipe. No decisions are made with regards to the individual frames on the film. You can - if you have decided to underexpose the film a stop or 2 or 3 - push the film to an acceptable level by changing the timing and temperatures in the development process. BUT you will lose some contrast, and perhaps develop some graining in the finished picture.

When the film is finished developing, and is dryed, it is used to produce positive prints. THERE you can crop and alter the lighting, and use paper with varying contrast. BUT everytime you stray from the optimal exposure, you will lose some details in the finished picture.

Do you think they did a little lighting alternation when making positive prints? Or did they just get lucky and get a pretty picture? (Or are pictures like that common on any B&W roll of film, and I just didn't know that?)

Offline JayUtah

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With respect to the Ektachrome color film, the ground processing lab did take liberties at times with the E-3 process, for various reasons that haven't all been documented.  This has caused preservationists no end of consternation because the longevity of some of the images has suffered as a result.  All dyes shift over time; my high school graduation photo is much more orange than I remember it.  And the Ektachrome dyes have shifted too -- in some cases considerably.  Photographer Michael Light used to write and speak on this.  See if you can find his book -- or better, attend one of his lectures.
"Facts are stubborn things." --John Adams

Offline Trebor

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"Developing" a film is just pouring some chemicals on it in a specific order according to a receipe. No decisions are made with regards to the individual frames on the film. You can - if you have decided to underexpose the film a stop or 2 or 3 - push the film to an acceptable level by changing the timing and temperatures in the development process. BUT you will lose some contrast, and perhaps develop some graining in the finished picture.

When the film is finished developing, and is dryed, it is used to produce positive prints. THERE you can crop and alter the lighting, and use paper with varying contrast. BUT everytime you stray from the optimal exposure, you will lose some details in the finished picture.

Do you think they did a little lighting alternation when making positive prints? Or did they just get lucky and get a pretty picture? (Or are pictures like that common on any B&W roll of film, and I just didn't know that?)
Not sure which photo you are referring to exactly but with good B&W film you can get superb results if you know how to use it.

Offline Allan F

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Actually, here's some pictures taken on Ilford 400 ISO film, exposed and developed as 1600 ISO. (NOT my pictures).
https://www.facebook.com/mortenryming/posts/1449873678369394
Well, it is like this: The truth doesn't need insults. Insults are the refuge of a darkened mind, a mind that refuses to open and see. Foul language can't outcompete knowledge. And knowledge is the result of education. Education is the result of the wish to know more, not less.

Offline Geordie

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**Could a good job in the darkroom explain, at least in part, some of the "the photos were too good" claim, making up for a less than perfect job on the moon?
Not just a darkroom, but a very good camera on very good film and lots of practice using them.
I like to do all my editing, cropping etc. before hitting the shutter release.
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**By the way, why 'did' they take a B&W roll of film to the moon?
The drugstore down on the corner was out of colour.
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             She's on fire\  With the heat of the beat right beneath her feet\
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               She's on fire, fire, fire, fire, fire!

Offline raven

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Also, they could fit a lot more B&W photos on a single roll, 200 vs. 160 for colour, though I don't know how much that was a factor.

Offline nomuse

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It is an interesting feeling, and if you take it with the right attitude, can be a great feeling, to catch yourself lying to yourself.

It is so easy, as Feynman said, for any of us to fall into that mental trap, that feedback loop where every bit of evidence that might prove you wrong gets rationalized away or even edited out.

Changing your mind is hard. Taking the next step is harder still; admitting that you were wrong (usually we rationalize it around until we were right all along or are completely blameless because circumstances lead us astray, or that the problem was we knew the subject too well and our trained expectations ran up against one of those rare cases that doesn't apply.)

I've done it, and recognize through doing it that for every time I openly admitted I talked myself into the wrong position and stubbornly rejected good data to stay in that position, there has to be a hundred cases where I am not even aware I'm doing it.



(My most informative experiences are with acoustics, where perception plays all kinds of games, where you can sometimes but far from always rely on having the experience to recognize them -- but where discovering the plug was pulled out the whole time is a great cold-water bath to those aspirations of infallibility.)

Offline Geordie

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Do you think they did a little lighting alternation when making positive prints? Or did they just get lucky and get a pretty picture? (Or are pictures like that common on any B&W roll of film, and I just didn't know that?)
Not sure which photo you are referring to exactly but with good B&W film you can get superb results if you know how to use it.
Also, you'd be amazed at the jump in quality you get just by using a medium format sized camera and film, as opposed to 35mm, which is probably the smallest size used "professionally". It's a trade-off between image quality and ease of use. There are people out there who would consider the big 6x7cm frames used on the moon as unacceptably small, and yes the detail afforded by 8x10 in. or greater large format cameras would have allowed for some incredibly detailed images, but the astronauts would have had to spend all their time messing with huge cameras, tripods, and large single sheets of film, for a dramatically smaller total number of images.
.           She's on fire\  And she burns through the night at the speed of light\
             She's on fire\  With the heat of the beat right beneath her feet\
              She's on fire\  And the name of the game is to fuel her flame\
               She's on fire, fire, fire, fire, fire!

Offline jfb

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Then about 20 minutes ago I realized something. I've never actually used a film camera other than a cheep disposable Kodak one when I was a kid. (Too young, otherwise.) I'm used to digital pictures, where you get an "absolute" original from the camera, which normally doesn't get any editing, other than perhaps cropping. But back then, the film had to be developed. And I recalled from quite some time ago that the levels tool is essentially the same thing that used to be done in the darkroom. And in developing film, every picture had choices made, by the person developing the film, to produce a good result. Essentially, every picture was, what today would be, starting in the levels tool, and then choosing the best result. A choice had to be made, and no one was more "right" than any other. There was no "unedited raw original," like a modern digital camera puts out. (Other than a negative, I suppose.) So the reason the picture looks so good is simple - some clever guy in the darkroom had to chose how to develop it to make the best possible picture, and did a pretty good job. Other than what he called "anomalies," which were the side effect of making the rest of the picture look good. (Same as in photoshop, really.)

Actually, there is an "unedited raw original"; it's the latent image on the unprocessed film.  It's just that the act of development is "lossy", and your initial edit can't be rolled back  :) 

(Caveat - IANA pro photographer; I'm not even an amateur.  I took a darkroom class and processed some of my own film, but that was a couple of decades ago).

Some errors in development can be dealt with at the printing stage with by using different contrast or color correction filters, different paper, dodging and burning, etc.  I had a couple of rolls that were severely underdeveloped and very "thin", and getting a good final image required non-trivial amounts of manipulation.  But if you blow highlights or lose details in the shadows, they're gone forever. 

Like you said, you have to make a lot of decisions when developing film - which developer to use, how much time, what temperature, how much agitation, etc.  Each film stock had a "standard" development process (time, temperature, and agitation) for a given developer and exposure level that gave consistent results, but you could play with it a bit.  Color film had fairly tight tolerances (otherwise you'd get weird color shifts), but B&W film was extremely flexible.  You could increase contrast and grain by using more agitation or developing at a higher temperature, or minimize it by going the other way (couple that with deliberately under- or overexposing, and you could get some pretty eye-popping effects).  Different developers had different effects on the film.  Different film stocks were better for different applications. 

Ansel Adams made a science of it with his Zone System, such that you knew what the final print would look like before opening the shutter. 

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Come to think of it, as I'm writing this sentence, apparently I suffer from some of the same generation gap he does. (Although without the stupidity.) I feel we should cut people who just had their first encounter with the theory, having say, watched the Fox program, and honestly want to know, a little more slack. (Which we don't seem to get all that often.) Now I understand what they feel like.

**Could a good job in the darkroom explain, at least in part, some of the "the photos were too good" claim, making up for a less than perfect job on the moon?

Maybe.  You can correct for exposure in the development process, up to a point.  IIRC (and I may not), the astronauts didn't monkey with exposure settings that much while on the moon.  Also IIRC, they shot a calibration image on each roll before leaving Earth; when they got back, they'd cut off that frame and process it independently, and depending on the result they'd adjust the development process accordingly. 

And given the number of poorly-exposed images that came back, those "too good" photos were simply the result of the astronauts nailing it. 
 
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**By the way, why 'did' they take a B&W roll of film to the moon?

B&W typically does (or at least in 1969, did) a better job in contrasty situations than color film, especially color transparency film.  Part of the reason shadows look so stark in the Apollo images is that film cannot capture the range of brightness between highlights and shadows, so you wind up sacrificing one for the other. 

Offline Obviousman

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IIRC (and I may not), the astronauts didn't monkey with exposure settings that much while on the moon.  Also IIRC, they shot a calibration image on each roll before leaving Earth; when they got back, they'd cut off that frame and process it independently, and depending on the result they'd adjust the development process accordingly.

Correct. Most every photo was pre-calculated. Look at the numbers in the cuff checklist, which were the camera settings:



And also correct on the calibration: