Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Do you trust photography?

Nice Photoshop work, eh?

Actually, this is the real thing taken 42 years ago
by Colonel William Anders during the Apollo 8 mission on December 24, 1968. This was the mission which put humans into lunar orbit for the very first time and gave human eyes the opportunity to see the far side of the Moon for the first time ever. (Robots had taken photographs on previous lunar missions.)

This image is declared by many as one of the most influencial photographs ever taken. Some credit the whole earth movement to this one image. Most of the time, however, we see this famous Earthrise over the Moon with the moon horizontal for the earthrise. (Tip your head sideways.) Actually, Anders took the original as you see it here.

Here's the rest of the story:
In order to take photographs of the far side of the moon, the Apollo spacecraft had been rolled so that its windows pointed towards the lunar surface. During this time, the Moon was between the spacecraft and Earth, cutting-off all radio communication with Mother Earth. As Apollo 8 emerged from the far side on its fourth orbit, crew commander Frank Borman rolled the spacecraft so as to position its antennas for radio contact with mission control. Looking to the lunar horizon for reference he exclaimed - "Oh my God, look at that picture over there! Here's the Earth coming up!"

It turns out that in fact, three photographs were taken, one in black and white and two in color. The black and white shot was taken first - by Commander Borman, and the two color shots were taken moments later by William Anders.

So we have two photographers, each with different perceptions of the same view. Frank Borman saw the 'Earthrise' as a moonrise on Earth, with the lunar surface horizontal and the Earth rising above it.

William Anders, however, framed his photographs from the perspective of being in orbit about the lunar equator. So his horizon was the plane in which he was traveling. This meant he framed it so the edge of the Moon was vertical, with planet Earth a little to the left but with its North and South poles aligned the same way as the North and South poles of the Moon.

So even in space, two photographers see the same subject differently.

Regardless of which way the photograph was taken, the image shows our Mother Earth from space. No Photoshop at Mission Control 42 years ago.

Has our perception of photography changed in 42 years?

No comments: