Author Topic: Yet Another Fiducials Claim  (Read 1261 times)

Offline NthBrick

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Yet Another Fiducials Claim
« on: April 18, 2020, 09:35:16 PM »
Hi all, I'm currently in the middle of an argument with somebody over on Reddit surrounding several moon landing hoax claims, and wonder if anyone would be willing to lend some expert knowledge on the "missing fiducials" claim. This person redirected me here: https://moonlandingtruth.wordpress.com/2016/08/12/photo-authenticity/

To a large degree, his argument is already weak because he hasn't demonstrated the provenance of the two fiducial-related images or verified that detail hasn't just been lost to JPEG compression, but I'm not well-versed enough in the subject to reasonably explain what is happening here. Is there some particular reason why the small black lines of the fiducials tend to get washed out in bright, white, sunlit areas of the photos (or, at least, in some copies -- the photos from Project Apollo Archive on Flickr capture all of these details beautifully as nearly as I can tell).

Offline Peter B

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Re: Yet Another Fiducials Claim
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2020, 10:06:45 PM »
The expert photographers on the forum can probably explain better than I can, but my understanding of the reason the fiducials wash out against bright backgrounds is to do with the way photographs are developed. I don't think colour changes are instantaneous in adjacent parts of a photograph; so where you have a very bright object on a photograph next to a very dark object, there's a very narrow band between them of intermediate brightness. So when the dark object itself is also very narrow, it gets caught in that narrow band of intermediate brightness and so appears lighter than it objectively should. Then, add on low resolution scans of the photos and fine details such as the unusually lightened fiducials disappear.

As for the photos themselves, I can't identify the first one except that it's obviously from one of Apollos 15, 16 or 17. The second one I think is from Apollo 12, as that was the mission where the horizontal bar of the flagpole didn't work.

If you'd like to find the exact photos, here's my preferred method. First go to the Lunar and Planetary Institute. They have moderate quality versions of every photo, individually labelled for their unique codes, and grouped by magazine. If I know which mission a photo was taken on, it rarely takes more than a couple of minutes to find the photo, and thus its unique code. Then I go to the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal and search their photo lists for that photo, as they some very high resolution scans of photos. These scans are pretty much always able to show the fiducials, regardless of background.

Offline NthBrick

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Re: Yet Another Fiducials Claim
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2020, 10:54:26 PM »
Thanks for the response Peter, that strikes me as entirely reasonable and is in line with what I've read so far. I found this shot from Apollo 12 (AS12-47-6953) especially interesting:



The notable thing here is that you have the same bleed-through over the brightest white surfaces of the flag, however the crosshairs still appear on the less-bright areas of the flag, which pretty neatly debunks the claim that the flag was photoshopped in after the fact. The common denominator for all of these is that they happen where the fiducial should be in front of a bright, white surface, which I would think supports the explanation of overexposure.

Being clear, as valid as these points are, he's been unwilling to grasp that the reason no manned missions to the moon have happened in over 40 years might have something to do with NASA's low funding and lack of cohesive objective by congress, so I doubt this will be convincing. I just don't like to leave claims on the table where someone could see that because I didn't bother to refute it, it's irrefutable.

Offline Allan F

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Re: Yet Another Fiducials Claim
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2020, 09:13:45 AM »
It is the reproductive process, which degrade the analog picture. Each generation of reproduction washes details out.

What you do when you make a copy of a picture in analog form, is taking a photograph of a photograph. The process is vulnerable to sideways tranmission of light, reflections in the equipment which will lower the contrast, different types of film which will affect the dynamic range of the resulting 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 Allan F

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Re: Yet Another Fiducials Claim
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2020, 09:24:58 AM »
Also, each picture from the Apollo mission Hasselblad cameras contain more than a GIGABYTE of information. If somebody takes a JPG of less than 100K off of the internet, they have less than 0.1% of the original 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 JayUtah

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Re: Yet Another Fiducials Claim
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2020, 10:35:41 AM »
I experimented with an actual Hasselblad fitted with an actual reseau plate, shooting on modern Ektachrome developed in a commercial lab using the E-6 process and scanned professionally to a lossless digital format at 8000 dpi.  I specifically tested fiducial washout on bright backgrounds.  I was able to get fiducials to appear fainter against a bright background, but not to disappear completely.  Duplication by enlarger to a (cropped) 8x10 print on my home enlarger made them even more faint, but they still did not completely disappear.  Originally I thought the effect could have been explained entirely by halation, but the data I collected does not support that hypothesis.  I then scanned the prints at 300 dpi using an Epson home scanner.  This was to duplicate the process most likely used to create the first web versions of Apollo photography.

The two processes that made the bright-background portions of the fiducials disappear entirely (individually, and also together) are shrinking the digital image to web-compatible dimensions and using JPEG compression.  This occurred on both the scan from the original transparency and the scans of the duplicated print.

Incidentally, the optical duplication process lost a lot of tone in the image.  I've seen film-resolution scans of the original transparencies of roll 39 from Apollo 11 and compared them to scans of dupe masters.  The difference is glorious.
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Offline apollo16uvc

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Re: Yet Another Fiducials Claim
« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2020, 10:52:37 AM »
I have been thinking of doing that with my mamiya 6*7 and ektachrome 100 film.

If I get a thin glass plate with etch markings.

Jay i would be interested in pictures of your tests, documentation. I have been looking for something like that for a long time.

Did you make slide duplicates with Kodak Edupe film? Because all prints would be made from several generations of copies.
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Offline apollo16uvc

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Re: Yet Another Fiducials Claim
« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2020, 11:00:12 AM »
If you had access to several generations of slide duplicate generations, i Imagine the markings got fainter and fainter with each generation?
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Offline JayUtah

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Re: Yet Another Fiducials Claim
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2020, 11:43:29 AM »
Jay i would be interested in pictures of your tests, documentation. I have been looking for something like that for a long time.

I've been looking for them for a long time too.  They were on a hard disk that has gone missing.  I'm sure I still have it -- somewhere -- because I don't throw those kinds of things out.  The same hard disk had the high-quality roll 39 scans I mentioned.  I did the tests in the mid-1990s when I was doing the bulk of the research for clavius.org, and all my stuff has been packaged and repackaged several times and moved among various storage units.  It's good to know there is greater interest that just mine.  If my search is fruitless, maybe I can arrange to duplicate the experiments.
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Offline JayUtah

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Re: Yet Another Fiducials Claim
« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2020, 11:49:38 AM »
Did you make slide duplicates with Kodak Edupe film? Because all prints would be made from several generations of copies.

Correct.  The originals went into the vault after making only a handful of dupe masters.  The thin ESTAR base is amazingly flimsy.  You don't want to run it through any more machines than you have to.  However, I wasn't able to fully simulate the likely commercial distribution workflow that NASA's photo contractors would have employed.  Which is to say, I did not make transparency dupes and then print to paper from there.  I printed to paper from the camera original.  Any actual process would have involved more generations and thus more loss.  So I figured if loss occurs with the minimal print-to-paper process, it can only get worse if you're printing to paper from a multi-generation dupe master.
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Offline NthBrick

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Re: Yet Another Fiducials Claim
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2020, 01:45:03 PM »
I experimented with an actual Hasselblad fitted with an actual reseau plate, shooting on modern Ektachrome developed in a commercial lab using the E-6 process and scanned professionally to a lossless digital format at 8000 dpi.  I specifically tested fiducial washout on bright backgrounds.  I was able to get fiducials to appear fainter against a bright background, but not to disappear completely.  Duplication by enlarger to a (cropped) 8x10 print on my home enlarger made them even more faint, but they still did not completely disappear.  Originally I thought the effect could have been explained entirely by halation, but the data I collected does not support that hypothesis.  I then scanned the prints at 300 dpi using an Epson home scanner.  This was to duplicate the process most likely used to create the first web versions of Apollo photography.

The two processes that made the bright-background portions of the fiducials disappear entirely (individually, and also together) are shrinking the digital image to web-compatible dimensions and using JPEG compression.  This occurred on both the scan from the original transparency and the scans of the duplicated print.

Incidentally, the optical duplication process lost a lot of tone in the image.  I've seen film-resolution scans of the original transparencies of roll 39 from Apollo 11 and compared them to scans of dupe masters.  The difference is glorious.
Thanks for the informed take on it, Jay. If you're able to find them, I too would be interested in seeing the results of your experimentation. If nothing else, given how moon landing hoax claims seem to be proliferating these days, they'd be a helpful addition to the Clavius website.

Otherwise, if I'm understanding things correctly, the "missing" fiducials are probably due to a combination of overexposure in the original shots taken on the moon (consistent with only occurring on very bright, white surfaces) and loss of information between the scanning of the original photographs (especially the first-generation scans) and the conversion to lossy JPEG format for the Internet. That seems entirely reasonable.

I've also located several other examples (like the one in my second post on this thread) that have the whole fiducial covering an object like the flag, but only a part of it disappearing over very bright surfaces. Obviously, this severely calls into question the tacit claim that examples of "disappearing" fiducials are due to having other in-frame objects pasted in over them.

Offline Abaddon

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Re: Yet Another Fiducials Claim
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2020, 02:44:09 PM »
Hi all, I'm currently in the middle of an argument with somebody over on Reddit surrounding several moon landing hoax claims, and wonder if anyone would be willing to lend some expert knowledge on the "missing fiducials" claim. This person redirected me here: https://moonlandingtruth.wordpress.com/2016/08/12/photo-authenticity/

To a large degree, his argument is already weak because he hasn't demonstrated the provenance of the two fiducial-related images or verified that detail hasn't just been lost to JPEG compression, but I'm not well-versed enough in the subject to reasonably explain what is happening here. Is there some particular reason why the small black lines of the fiducials tend to get washed out in bright, white, sunlit areas of the photos (or, at least, in some copies -- the photos from Project Apollo Archive on Flickr capture all of these details beautifully as nearly as I can tell).

It's called "bleed" and it is the simple fact that the bright colours tend to wash into the surrounding image. It is a effect that has been known for over a century. Anyone arguing "missing" fiducials is talking ignorant BS.

Bleed is even used intentionally in artistic photography. Either by over exposure or over development. (examples if you need them).

The reverse is also true. Under exposure and under development can produce other interesting photographic effect such as "ghosts".

Your antagonist is talking a bucket of abject ignorance.

Next, he will go the non parallel shadows route which is also easily disproved. Be ready for that.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2020, 02:46:13 PM by Abaddon »

Offline apollo16uvc

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Re: Yet Another Fiducials Claim
« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2020, 02:46:04 PM »
I am working on acquiring a 70mm slide duplicate of the infamous Apollo 11 photo that has a 'missing' fiducial on the walki-talkie looking apparatus (I think it was for closeup surface photography?)

I imagine those slide duplicates, sometimes on big rolls with hundreds of photos that are currently circulating around collectors would be something used by commercial distributors. 

I'll make a scan of it on my nikon supercoolscan 9000 at 4000DPI and see how it holds up. I actually suspect it will have a clearer fiducial than as seen on prints of that photo. The contrast in slide film is so high that no print medium has enough dynamic range to capture it all.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2020, 02:51:44 PM by apollo16uvc »
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Offline apollo16uvc

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Re: Yet Another Fiducials Claim
« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2020, 02:48:05 PM »
Did you make slide duplicates with Kodak Edupe film? Because all prints would be made from several generations of copies.

Correct.  The originals went into the vault after making only a handful of dupe masters.  The thin ESTAR base is amazingly flimsy.  You don't want to run it through any more machines than you have to.  However, I wasn't able to fully simulate the likely commercial distribution workflow that NASA's photo contractors would have employed.  Which is to say, I did not make transparency dupes and then print to paper from there.  I printed to paper from the camera original.  Any actual process would have involved more generations and thus more loss.  So I figured if loss occurs with the minimal print-to-paper process, it can only get worse if you're printing to paper from a multi-generation dupe master.

It would not surprise me if a lot of mass distributors of slides and prints sold at shops to tourists actually just photo-copied NASA prints, instead of using 70mm slide dupes as a source for their distributions.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2020, 02:50:06 PM by apollo16uvc »
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Offline NthBrick

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Re: Yet Another Fiducials Claim
« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2020, 03:16:22 PM »

It's called "bleed" and it is the simple fact that the bright colours tend to wash into the surrounding image. It is a effect that has been known for over a century. Anyone arguing "missing" fiducials is talking ignorant BS.

Bleed is even used intentionally in artistic photography. Either by over exposure or over development. (examples if you need them).

The reverse is also true. Under exposure and under development can produce other interesting photographic effect such as "ghosts".

Your antagonist is talking a bucket of abject ignorance.

Next, he will go the non parallel shadows route which is also easily disproved. Be ready for that.
Oh, I've been around the block enough times to know how this usually goes -- just wasn't quite as familiar with the fiducials business as I wanted to be. I generally take pride in aiming to make complete, accurate, and reliable answers to ridiculous claims.

Anyway, we've already hit "Nixon called the moon on a landline!" and he's claimed that restarting a moon program should be as easy as it'll be for people to go back to work after COVID-19 lets up, so you can see what I'm dealing with. My moon landing hoax bingo card is filling up quite rapidly. :P

I swear though, these guys can get really emotional and aggressive. Having checked his Reddit profile, the guy claims he's a "targeted individual", e.g. a victim of "gangstalking", so maybe there isn't much to do against that level of delusion and paranoia.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2020, 03:18:17 PM by NthBrick »