100,00 Moon Shots

Andrew McCarthy has an amazing and impressive photographs of the moon on Instagram.

To call these photographs is somewhat provocative. In his trilogy, Ansel Adams focuses (sorry! Not sorry) on the camera, the negative, and the print. In The Negagive, he specifically discusses exposing film to light in controlled ways that caused chemical reactions on the film, and it remains common to hear photographers talk of ‘an exposure’, in much the same way that we dial phones.

In that sense, this is 100,000 exposures, and the development process brings them together in what we might have previously called a montage.

But in a very real sense, your camera stopped exposing film to light a long time ago, and started performing tricks. The conversion of RAW to jpg or other compressed format is not just tossing a bunch of light information from the sensor, but also a bit of saturation, sharpening, and other enhancements. (If you have a fancy modern camera If your fancy modern camera allows you to select scene modes, try setting the camera to “Faithful” or “neutral.” That will expose some bits of what the camera does, but white balance is still being estimated and set behind the scenes.)

Is that “exposure” or “development?” Well, all models are wrong, some models are useful.

Your camera gets even more clever when it develops HDR (high dynamic range) photos: it takes 3 or 4 exposures in rapid succession, and combines them up to give you a high impact bit of trash. (Okay, I have opinions about the overuse of HDR. The “Your money back” button is on the side of the page.) Similarly, a panorama is developmental magic where a phone knows how quickly the sensor is moving, how much it’s bouncing up and down, and uses that information as it stitches images together.

I don’t even know how to explain the computational magic in portrait mode. There’s recognition of a face or faces, separation from background, blurring of the background, and more, all in real time. (“What’s an exposure again, grandma?”)

And so, when Mr. McCarthy engages in developing magic that my computer phone camera doesn’t automatically do for me, it’s not that far from the developing that is done, either in the camera or in photoshop.

So… nice exposures. Enjoy!

Via DIYPhotography.