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Why it's so hard to find a photo of Neil Armstrong on the moon (copydesk.org)
494 points by damohasi on Aug 26, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 120 comments



One idea: Use this picture of Neil shot immediately after his historic walk on the moon.

After reading the Armstrong family's statement last night, that's the photo which expresses the legacy he wished.

He looks ready to wink back.

http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a11/AS11-37-5528HR.jpg


If I still worked in news (I worked in TV) I'd go with this, definitely. "Neil Armstrong, seen here back in the lunar module after his historic moon walk..."

Also, the picture of Armstrong climbing back in the Lunar Module is fine.

Conversely, to those arguing the use of a reflective shot of Aldrin's visor? I think that's worth including if I'd also included that shot inside the LM. An close up of this picture, showing Alrin's helmet, backpack, and shoulders, reading "Neil Armstrong took most of the photographs on the moon that had an astronaut in them. However he can be seen clearly in the reflection of Buzz Aldrin's visor here." Just pair it with a matching (size-wise) photograph, unzoomed.


What I love about the photograph is that it captures his total wonderment at having just fn walked on the fn moon.

He and Aldrin still have to get their spacecraft off the Lunar surface, rendezvous with the command module, fly back to Earth, and land the damn thing.

It captures a timelessness moment in between.


If nothing else, the following plaque sums the humbling nature of someone who accurately captured the gravitas of the moment: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:A11.plaque.jpg

Today, some of the flags planted on the moon still stand upright. However, 40 years of intense UV radiation have bleached them all white. The plaque remains.


Somehow I feel that bleached out featureless flags on the Moon matches the message in that plaque perfectly.


In fact, now that you know this picture was manipulated by the source, I’d urge you to have it removed from your photo archives. Permanently.

Uh, Neil Armstrong had a Hasselblad camera strapped to his chest. I'd say excuse the lack of sky composition. Besides, the original picture also captures the lander in the composition. Wouldn't you want more photographic detail in a moon landing operation photo instead of one which is more harmoniously composed but contains useless black sky? But like I said, he's taking pictures with a camera strapped to his chest.

.. And who cares if it isn't a picture of Neil? It is the best representation of the feat and overall project. Besides, he took the picture.


>Uh, Neil Armstrong had a Hasselblad camera strapped to his chest. I'd say excuse the lack of sky composition.

No, that's not what he's talking about at all. He's talking to photo journalists and he's saying if you have the doctored photo (the one with the skyline) delete it from your archives. Because you can't use it for many publications.

>And who cares if it isn't a picture of Neil? It is the best representation of the feat and overall project. Besides, he took the picture.

So every other paper can't print an article about how stupid you are that you put a picture of some other guy to represent Neil Armstrong?


>.. And who cares if it isn't a picture of Neil?

Editors searching for pictures of Neil? Because he was the one that died recently and they have to write stories about him?


The only people who care that it isn't a picture of Neil Armstrong are:

- People who know it isn't a picture of Neil Armstrong and feel like they need to point that out.

- People who are bothered by the slight inaccuracy that it isn't a picture taken of him.

Either way, he took the picture. He took one of the most famous pictures.

If the caption to the picture reads "Buzz Aldrin as captured by Neil Armstrong", who cares? Have you ever seen a caption which says that it is Neil Armstrong? I haven't. People just assume it is because he is the best known since he was the first man on the moon.


> the slight inaccuracy that it isn't a picture taken of him

Slight?

Jyap, I think you're wrong on this one and digging yourself a bigger whole. In journalism, it's certainly an obvious problem. But even amongst amateurs who prefer accuracy, it's clearly a problem. A picture of a different person is hardly a "slight inaccuracy". It is a complete and major innacuracy.


> - People who are bothered by the slight inaccuracy that it isn't a picture taken of him.

Umm the fact that its a picture of some one else is way more than a "slight" inaccuracy.

you could probably replace photos of Stalin and Churchill and no one would care about that "slight inaccuracy" :)


How about if the central photograph at a Churchill monument was a photograph of Stalin taken by Churchill taken at Yalta?

Surely, that would only be a slight detail.


What. Slight? What could be more inaccurate?


Picture of Don Walsh or Jacques Piccard, first to descend into the Mariana Trench?


Slight inaccuracy? What?


>If the caption to the picture reads "Buzz Aldrin as captured by Neil Armstrong", who cares?

I _effin_ care. E.g. I want a picture of Neil Armstrong for my article. Not a picture that _he_ took of somebody else. Not a quick sketch he did of his cat. I want a picture of HIM, preferably on the moon.

That he "took the picture" is meaningless for the purposes of _showing_ the man in action. If I was writing about Knuth I wouldn't post a picture of McCarthy he took and caption it "John McCarthy as captured by D. Knuth".

As someone who used to do photo editing for a newspaper, I assure you that this is Photo Editing 101. Your arguments are loco.


> I _effin_ care. E.g. I want a picture of Neil Armstrong for my article. Not a picture that _he_ took of somebody else. Not a quick sketch he did of his cat. I want a picture of HIM, preferably on the moon.

Neil is visible in the photo, in the reflection on Aldrin's visor. In this photo which he took while walking ON THE MOON. Which, if you take a step back and lose the journalistic tendentiousness, you will realize makes this about as cool as any picture ever taken.


>Which, if you take a step back and lose the journalistic tendentiousness, you will realize makes this about as cool as any picture ever taken.

If I want to depict Neil Amstrong, the "coolness" of a picture showing some other guy does not come into play at all.

Isn't it obvious?

I mean, seriously, "as cool as any picture ever taken"? "visible on the reflection on the visor"?


The wide use of the photo over the years is proof enough that it's a great photo. People love it. With all due respect to the copy editing topic of the linked column, people don't care in the slightest about journalistic rule lawyering regarding the criteria that should be used for selecting photographs for a news article. They care about accuracy, which evidently isn't the same thing.

If there are any worries about misunderstanding, make sure the photo's caption is clear. To someone who isn't part of the Church of Photojournalism, it honestly seems very simple.

If you are concerned with "depicting Neil Armstrong" above all else you're not going to want a photo with his visor down in any case. But that makes excluding this photo seem every bit as stubborn as excluding a photo of a Saturn V rocket or something.


Thanks for trivializing an entire profession, and the healthy helping of weasel words - I was running low.

"Church of Photojournalism", "journalistic rule lawyering"?

Has it ever occurred to you that the journalistic standards surrounding photo manipulation may have actually been arrived at after a century of experience, rather than a bunch of tightasses obsessing over haughty principles, as you've so conveniently insinuated?

This is something that bothers me about HN regularly - we have such a strong tendency here to trivialize other people's jobs, to the point where anything that isn't immediate obvious to the layman must be idiocy of some sort.

> "To someone who isn't part of the Church of Photojournalism, it honestly seems very simple."

So the fact that tens of thousands of photojournalists over the course of an entire century have arrived at, and agreed upon, this set of rules for reportage means nothing. Clearly you, a lay person who has never been deeply exposed to photojournalism, you know better. It seems simple.


> Has it ever occurred to you that the journalistic standards surrounding photo manipulation may have actually been arrived at after a century of experience, rather than a bunch of tightasses obsessing over haughty principles, as you've so conveniently insinuated?

I think the standard rules of photojournalism are ordinarily probably very useful. If the comments of the guy I initially replied to are truly representative of the field (you haven't given any opinion here), it's IMO clearly not perfect.

> So the fact that tens of thousands of photojournalists over the course of an entire century have arrived at, and agreed upon, this set of rules for reportage means nothing.

Is there truly a consensus position on something this specific? Such that it would categorically be a mistake under the rules to use a (very good) photograph of Buzz Aldrin walking on the moon when the subject of the article is Neil Armstrong? In spite of the fact that walking on the moon is what Neil Armstrong is known for, and there are no proper pictures of him doing it, and a pic of Aldrin taken by Armstrong is the closest we're going to get?

I'm skeptical that the field's century of experience leads to such a clear and unambiguous conclusion.


Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa is a great portrait but I wouldn't use it to illustrate Neil Armstrong's obituary because it's not Neil Armstrong.


The more relevant question is whether you'd be willing to use an image of it in an article about Leonardo?


For an obituary for Leonardo I'd use a portrait of Leonardo.

I'll add a bit more nuance to that - people don't always read every word of a newspaper article. That's fine, it's why the inverted pyramid [0] model is used. If there's a big headline (Neil Armstrong Dies) and a single photo (the one of Buzz Aldrin) and the fact it's not a photo of Armstrong is in a little caption, it's going to contribute to the misconception that the photo of Aldrin is actually a photo of Armstrong.

Contributing to misconceptions is bad and should be avoided. Luckily this is easy - just use the photo of Armstrong in the lunar lander.

On the other hand, it's unlikely anyone would mistake Leonardo and the woman in the Mona Lisa so it wouldn't seem so bad to me!

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inverted_pyramid


I confess that I'm puzzled by what seems to be an assumption that there's only going to be a single photo used in an obituary of one of the world's most historic figures. I agree that if I can only have a single photo in an obit, it should be a picture of the subject of the obit! I also think using a picture where one cannot see the subject's face would be tacky, regardless of who is behind the visor.

I might have some bias here as someone who reads primarily online media, but I haven't observed most venues limiting themselves to a single photo.



Interestingly, the BBC's obit had multiple videos (represented by a picture with an icon over it, as is the convention) but no still photos. I am obviously not an expert on this :) but I thought their article looked great.


Find me a credible publication that will:

A) Use the mentioned picture as the centerpiece to their article.

B) State incorrectly that it is a picture of Neil Armstrong.

Neither is likely to happen. It is just a common misconception that it is a picture of Neil Armstrong since it is the most famous picture of the mission and because people know Neil Armstrong. People see the picture and assume it is Neil Armstrong. Credible publications won't use the picture.

The parent article makes out that there aren't many pictures of Neil Armstrong. They will most likely use the one mentioned taken by Buzz Aldrin or this one:

http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/20...


The Atlantic doesn't state who it is, but Aldrin's name appears nowhere in the text: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/08/neil-arm...


The file's name is also "Neil_armstrong.jpg"


>Neither is likely to happen.

You'd be surprised. With the cost cutting of proof checking and editorial departments, and the rush to catch internet time news, I've seen much much worse misattributions and even hoaxes running around in respectable publications (far from only online ones).


From http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a11/images11.html#5903 here's an (analog, darkroom) reconstruction of the photo of Neil in Buzz's helmet. http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a11/a11.neil-mirror.jpg


Comparing the photo that Neil Armstrong took on THE MOON to a sketch of his cat is silly, and you know it.

Also, every single image you see of Saturn from Cassini has been manipulated. Almost every photo of Mars from Curiosity is manipulated. So what then?


>Comparing the photo that Neil Armstrong took on THE MOON to a sketch of his cat is silly, and you know it.

Sure, but not much sillier that saying that putting up a picture of a different person is a "slight inaccuracy".

>Also, every single image you see of Saturn from Cassini has been manipulated. Almost every photo of Mars from Curiosity is manipulated. So what then?

Notice how I, unlike TFA, never said anything about manipulation? I only raised the issue that we DO care a lot, as photo editors (1), if it's a picture of Neil in the article or if it's a picture he took of Buzz.

But, since you ask, you show those images with an explicit notice that they are manipulated. If they were images of events with political aspects, war images, images or persons etc they would not be published manipulated, but in this case we are talking about essential manipulation (stitching, colour correction, move to the visible spectrum, etc), and not creative image doctoring like pasting some space or removing a person USSR style.

(1) And presumably as readers. You don't just put out some different image that one assumes from the article content and then except readers to check the caption (which they seldom do). All sorts of perception manipulation can be carried out that way.


>and not creative image doctoring like pasting some space or removing a person USSR style.

I can't possibly be the only person confused by the author's visceral reaction to pasting in a block of black above a photo, or slightly offended by your comparing it to USSR-esque person removal.


It's a manipulation of the truth. By presenting that image as truth you have lied to the viewer. There are (or at least, should be) strict ethical controls on journalists to avoid lying to their readers. That's why quotes are what the interviewee actually said, and not what the journalist wanted them to say. And it's why pictures of events are what was actually captured by the camera, with minimal manipulation for publication, but without adding or removing stuff.


And what truth is that? There was nothing of any substance added or removed to the image, indeed adding the black only served to make it aesthetically appealing.

There's distortion of the truth, and then there's removing redeye from a picture. Which of these would you say this falls under?


The OTS antenna on top of the helmet is clipped. Adding black sky doesn't restore it.


The original image is fine. What is gained by faking the sky? Faking the sky, and adding a note to say that the sky has been faked, is fine.

Fixing red-eye is borderline and needs to be done carefully. Someone fixing red-eye and obscuring a coloboma has distorted the image, and distorted truth.

Can you really see no difference in fixing a photographic defect and adding in stuff that was not there?

Obviously it depends a bit on where the image is used, but I'd hope that any publication would list the changes made to a photograph.


>And what truth is that? There was nothing of any substance added or removed to the image, indeed adding the black only served to make it aesthetically appealing.

The truth that if you make it "a little of this is OK", "a little of that is OK" people will abuse it. No manipulation is clear cut and KISS.

And making an image "aesthetically appealing" can have consequences of viewer manipulation. E.g making pictures of war prettier, or removing some things that don't make the frame pleasing but reveal stuff about the actual situation, etc etc.

Even this manipulation hides facts. E.g the fact that Neil couldn't operate the camera with precision -- so it can be used to show that the walk on the moon was easier or more "piece of cake" than it really was. (Remember that one major use of the moon mission was cold-war era PR for the US).

>here's distortion of the truth, and then there's removing redeye from a picture. Which of these would you say this falls under?

Even removing redeye from a picture would be frowned upon in newsrooms.

E.g What if the picture is of a drug abusing athlete, and the process shows his eyes more normal than they were?


>people will abuse it

Then be outraged at the abuse. Just about any tool can be misused, but that doesn't make using that tool wrong.

>so it can be used to show that the walk on the moon was easier or more "piece of cake" than it really was.

I see what you're getting at, but even that seems like a stretch, even in the light of the cold war. "Dumb Americans can't even operate a camera right!"

I see the principle here, I really do, but a principle is not applicable in all cases. Leaving no room for nuance is not an ideal to strive for!


First, "the author's visceral reaction" is simple journalist ethics. They teach you that at journalist school. Doctored images are bad.

Second, noticed how I haven't mentioned NASA in my reply about doctored images? I gave some examples of the kind of things photo editors avoid. Nowhere I said, explicitly or implicitly, that NASA adding black was like a "USSR-esque person removal".

Also notice how I gave TWO examples? "like pasting some space or removing a person USSR style"? NASA did the first, USSR did the second. Where's the confusion?

I called both "creative image doctoring", but NOWHERE did I implied that what NASA did is equally morally outrageous as the second.


>NOWHERE did I implied that what NASA did is equally morally outrageous as the second.

No, but you compared something completely innocuous with something completely evil. I sincerely don't believe even did it on purpose, but it reads like a cheap appeal to emotion.. probably an implication you weren't trying to give off.


As a "photo editor" did you demand that all photos be published full-frame with no compensation for exposure, or was cropping/enlarging/contrast adjustment allowed? I don't really see the difference, here. It's not like the substance of the image was changed. It's really just sort of a "negative" crop, or adding a wide black border to the top.


Neil's still in the photo if you look closely at Aldrin's visor.


I always assumed that the poor composition of the original AS11-40-5903 (and many other photos from the Moon which suffer from the same problem) was because every pixel was precious, so they didn't want the uniformly black sky to take up any larger fraction of the image area than necessary. You can always add more black, unlike the rocks or equipment or whatever which was captured in the bottom of the picture.

BTW in AS11-40-5903 they took it too far and cut Buzz Aldrin's antenna.


>I always assumed that the poor composition of the original AS11-40-5903 (and many other photos from the Moon which suffer from the same problem) was because every pixel was precious, so they didn't want the uniformly black sky to take up any larger fraction of the image area than necessary.

It wasn't pixels -- it was emulsion film.

Nor was it that precious. What would they do with a photo of more rock/equipment and less space?

I guess the photos was more for a documentation/publicity use than of actual scientific interest.


The film was precious. Every gram of film had to be brought back into orbit by Eagle in lieu of some onboard instrument, backup system, additional fuel and air or sample from the surface.


A kilogram of film is still too much film. And they have too many useless and bad photos taken so it doesn't seem good pictures was their priority.


In my work, I shoot a lot of photographs when I visit a project site during design and construction. My priority is not composition or aesthetics, it's documentation so that I can answer questions which I didn't know I would have when I went so that I can avoid another trip.

They sent pilots, to the moon. They had a couple of hours. That's all. Film allowed them to collect a large amount of data which hundreds or thousands of scientists could later analyze.

Some rocks are more interesting than others. But it's better to have the scientists decide which to take a closer look at on the next landing.


Hey, it actually is a photo of Neil Armstrong on the moon - you can just about see him taking the photo, reflected in Buzz's sun visor :)


I concur! In fact, I think this would have made an excellent release of the "first man on the moon" photo; It's just a recrop of their original: http://i.imgur.com/PyiKT.jpg, so no disallowed manipulation.


Nice idea for my wallpaper (1080p) for next week.

I fiddled the curves a bit on the inset photo, but still need to do something with that blue/violet cast on the bottom right.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/8403291/armstrongs-picture-of-aldrin...


Pardon my ignorance, but why is it so horrible to use a photo manipulated by the source--especially if you know exactly how and why it was manipulated, and you still have access to the original? This manipulation seems rather benign, too. Why must it be "removed from your photo archives"?


For example, the moon landing is a subject of many conspiracy theorists who claim it was fabricated. A doctored image (esp. by NASA) published just gives them another reason to argue that there was never a moon-landing as all the images from it are obviously fake.

Second, any reporter must verify his, or her sources, otherwise they are subject to manipulation and if a source is falsifying information, for whatever reason, that information must not be used as the reported cannot know to which degree was the information tampered with. It might have been just a minor cosmetic touch-up, or it might have been a complete fabrication. So while the demand to remove from the archive a famous 43-year old image sounds odd, it's very much on par with a practise that any decent publication must follow or risk the integrity of their whole publication.


The "doctoring" of the photo involves cropping part of the bottom away and adding a black border to the top. It was clearly done to improve the composition rather than to deceive or mislead.

If crops, borders, rotations, etc. constitute "doctoring" then virtually every publicity photo NASA releases has been doctored. And if those minor transformations aren't allowed then surely none of the composite photos from the Mars probes are acceptable either, right? Compositing is way more invasive than cropping and rotating.

At any rate, NASA has published the raw version of all their photos and therefore, everything is verifiable.


To play a slightly comical devil's advocate, what if Neil Armstrong had intentionally angled the camera down to avoid photographing their flying saucer escort? From the original it's not obvious that the area above Buzz Aldrin's helmet is black.

Yes, I know, it is really, but you don't know that from the photo, and that's an important distinction when you don't know the full context your reporting of the photo will be presented in at a future date. I think the argument is that crops and rotations are generally ok (although the argument about the upside-down footprint is interesting), but a transformation which claims to add information not originally in the photo cannot be ok.


Even a simple crop can make a large effect: http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread545972/pg1


Conspiracy theorists don't need reasons to argue.

that information must not be used as the reported cannot know to which degree was the information tampered with

Yet, in this case the reporter knows to which degree the information was tampered with - and the reporter has no problem verifying it either.


I don't know if you've ever heard of a 'bright line rule' [0] - the idea is you have a simple rule everyone can understand and interpret in the same way, instead of a nuanced rule with lots of room for interpretation.

If you use a simple-to-follow rule like "no editing except to crop and correct color balance" that's easy to understand and follow.

When you allow some manipulation as long as it's noted, editors will composite a celebrity's face onto a model's body for the front page and note it's as a fake in tiny text in a contents list three pages away. Far-fetched? Newsweek have already done it [1].

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bright_line_rule [1] http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/03/business/media/03mag.html


"Conspiracy theorists don't need reasons to argue."

Yes, but that's still no reason to release a known "fake" image. Also, you can tag it with captions and disclosures, and someone might still link to the image as "look, there's no antenna on his head unlike other photos, proving the landing is a fake".

"Yet, in this case the reporter knows to which degree the information was tampered with - and the reporter has no problem verifying it either."

Publications have a no-doctored-images policy, it doesn't allow for exceptions, even if the length of the manipulation is known, especially when the original is available.


Actually, it is the other way round - not the journalist has to know how much tampering has occured - I, the reader, have to trust the newspaper to get everything right in their reporting. Unlike in science, journalists often can not or do not want to reveal their sources and attribute every statement. Therefore, I need to be able to trust the newspaper as a whole that they have appropriate safeguards in place to detect and avoid false information and tampered images. By being holier than the pope, the newspaper supports this trust.


"Conspiracy theorists don't need reasons to argue."

And people brainwashed by mainstream propaganda don't need reasons to repeat what they've heard on TV ;-)


Except a lot of them have pretty good reasons, while those brainwashed by crackpottery don't.


> Pardon my ignorance, but why is it so horrible to use a photo manipulated by the source

One reason I don’t want to see it: That’s not Neil. That’s Buzz Aldrin.

The main objection is that's not a photo of Neil.


Journalistic ethics basically.


I'd just woken up so I didn't qualify this as much as I should have, all though the tl;dr is just the three words above.

Newspapers are based around a mission of delivering facts (or at least the facts they want to share), and when that core rule is violated the inherent trust is broken. So when someone is misquoted, a story manufactured and so on then the journalists have failed, are fired and cast out of the community (mostly). Photography was one of the biggest changes to news reporting as it allowed facts to be visually disseminated as well, but because they're essentially a snapshot of the moment as it had happened modification of almost any kind was immediately held up as a no-no.

Some newspapers are getting a bit more progressive, but every 3-6 months in the photography community there's a discussion regarding whether the tools photographers use should be allowed in photojournalism, or whether in the central mission of delivering the truth photo modification, even in a trivially form, is counter as how can you say the changes haven't gone further.

For the more curious: http://www.petapixel.com/2012/06/15/time-travel-and-ethical-...

http://www.petapixel.com/2012/03/08/should-photo-contests-re...

http://www.nppa.org/news_and_events/news/2006/08/ethics.html

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/02/22/opinion/phones-instagram-a...


Rather astonishing that they would adhere to "ethics" so strictly with regard to images, when the written journalism is so often slanted, sloppy, and/or incomplete.


Generally yeah, but in this case? If they 100% knew for a fact that the sky above his head was black, then adding some black padding is fine. Maybe not from a photography standpoint, but from a journalistic one? Come on..


This is why it's so contentious, it improves the photo but it's no longer original. Oddly from a photographic side that's fine, but photo journalistic standpoint it's no longer the moment that was capture but a modified version. It's a thorny issue with grey areas.


"Burning" the edges [of the final print] to the extent it mimics the "deep black" of space, is in fact faithful to the scene. PJ's "Burn" the edges of news images everyday. That is, they "darken" the edges to create relative contast to the focal point they wish to show. This is not deemed unethical, but rather legitmatley "expressive". The terminology comes from film emulsion days, when the overexposre of the positive image to (unfiltered) light, would darkens the photosensive elemnts of the (white) paper. The fact that this was shot originally in MF film, makes me feel better about this, for some reason. The original negative would have been "clear" in this area.


It does differ from publication to publication, but it depends on how much of a stickler for rules and ethics they are.

I'm also alright with it, they had to do what they had to do to make it work and make it clear.


I wondered that too. I guess if your photo archives are supposed to be the bastion of utter truth (i.e. no manipulated one) then it makes sense, because unless you mark is as "edited" or similar, other users/people that come across the photo would assume it to be untouched.

It depends on how precise you want to be I suppose.


This is from a reddit ama where the OP has worked through Apollo 1-14. He claims it was Neil in the photo - http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/xove1/iama_97_year_old...


There were a ton of huge inaccuracies in that AMA. Here's a few things that were pointed out to be wrong: http://es.reddit.com/r/bestof/comments/xp6il/methusela1915_i...

I wouldn't rely on that for any real information.

EDIT: Not to mention the fact that the suit says "E Aldrin" on it. I have a hard time believing they swapped suits, too.


High-res NASA version of the picture where the name on the suit is visible:

http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a11/AS11-40-5903HR.jpg


Not vouching one way or the other for the AMA, but he claims that Armstrong is in the "astronaut saluting the flag" picture (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/dd/Buzz_salu...), not the one where you can see the "E Aldrin" name tag.


Yeah, that's a good point, but he also says this: "So that's who I said it was. When Aldrin came back, he told me no, first thing Armstrong did was pass the camera back to me."

It's still hard for me to believe they were passing the camera back and forth. That, with all the other inaccuracies, lead me to believe it's fake. Why someone would purposefully fake that I don't know...


Kottke uploaded the CBS news coverage of the landing to youtube. The photo is taken after the flag was raised, about seven minutes into this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwZPLfFcYoA&feature

Due to a glitch in the video it's not clear which astronaut is which leading up to the photograph, but if you watch them afterward when they talk through what they're doing, it's clear that Aldrin was the one posing next to the flag.


This is actually rather important. But I guess there is a high chance he misremembered? Hm. When they sent out a correction this should be able to track down?


Well. What he says about including stripes in the astronaut suits for future missions checks out - http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/alsj-CDRStripes.html


I don't really have a problem with the photo as long as the caption doesn't say it's Neil. It's a historic moment that everybody should recognize. He is known for this event and even took the photo.

As for the doctoring, I don't find it unethical. I don't have a problem straitening a crooked photo, adjusting the contrast, etc to make the photo visually appealing. That's not the same as adding a person. I understand journalists want "the truth" but with film there are so many artistic decisions made when processing a photo anyway. Maybe the truth is that is was very dark or bright. Should darkroom manipulation be skipped and the photo be blown out or solid black because that's the real truth? If there was a scratch on the negative I don't mind if it's repaired as long as it isn't maliciously trying to trick us.


The 'doctoring' is only slightly above the level of adding a border around the image. If this is doctoring, then all Mars photos's are 'doctored', as they're stitched together from much smaller photos.


I have to agree. If they had added the earth or some detail which wasn't in the original photo then I might feel differently. But just adding some black to fix the composition issues seems ok to me.


Why is it that nobody could land on moon after 1972? After all cold war was still on. All moon landings happened between 1969-72. It is really unbelievable that US would forego such an advanced technology that nobody else had. There are many unanswered questions here.


Didn't you watch Transformers: Dark of the Moon?


> Why is it that nobody could land on moon after 1972?

Lack of political will to fund it. Funding wars was more important than funding science.

> There are many unanswered questions here.

Sadly, no. We know precisely what happened, and that's the depressing part.


Has US ever been in an either or situation? Defence budget in 2010 is $680B, and cost of a moon landing is $18B in 2010 dollars. Given that both are deficit funded, and dollar can be printed at will, is this convincing?


> Given that both are deficit funded, and dollar can be printed at will

This bespeaks a gross lack of knowledge about how a modern economy works.


Perhaps you may find it gross to understand why US has been able to spend well beyond its means - Does dollar denominated trade ring a bell?


> Despite the vast attention paid to the astronauts’ psychological profiles and their ability to work in teams, the Apollo 11 crew verged on the dysfunctional. While Armstrong and Aldrin didn’t quite match Stoppard’s Scott and Oates, there was a fierce behind-the-scenes battle between them to be first to set foot on the Moon. Early plans were for Aldrin, as module pilot, to step out first, but one version reported by Smith has it that Armstrong, as mission commander, lobbied more vigorously than Aldrin, and Nasa backed him up because he would be ‘better equipped to handle the clamour when he got back’ and, more mundanely, because his seat in the lunar module was closer to the door. Aldrin paid Armstrong back by taking no photographs of him on the Moon: the only manually taken lunar image of the First Man on the Moon is in one of many pictures Armstrong snapped of Aldrin, showing himself reflected in the visor of Aldrin’s spacesuit. Asked about this omission later, Aldrin lamely replied: ‘My fault, perhaps, but we had never simulated this in training.’ Later, Aldrin put it about that Armstrong’s First Sentence might have been a bureaucratic concoction.

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v27/n17/steven-shapin/what-did-you-expe...


This Warrior of a Dead World: Gene Wolfe's literary portrait of Neil Armstrong http://silkandhornheresy.blogspot.com/2012/08/this-warrior-o...


In this photo: http://apple.copydesk.org/uploads/2012/08/120826ArmstrongLem...

How come the flag is waving in a environment with no atmosphere ?


http://astroprofspage.com/archives/162

tl;dr the flag had embedded wires to keep it unfurled, also the pole was flexible and springy, it kept wobbling after it was planted in the ground


Because it's hard to find anything on the moon. Where would you look? Plus photos will be much lighter on the moon so a little solar breeze would probably send the photo flying for weeks.


very insightful article. Do newspapers refuse to publish handout pictures that were manipulated by the source even if there was no wrong intention?


Here's a very comprehensive archive of images that have been manipulated by the source, or by the publisher: http://www.fourandsix.com/photo-tampering-history/


Every single picture we've ever seen from the Hubble has been intensely manipulated, but that is rarely even mentioned. The manipulation in that one picture of Aldrin is irrelevant in my opinion.


idiots, its all staged moon stuff, just like 9-11 was phoney video... hence the "september clues documentary"... go look it up and watch it you idiots


cue in the obnoxious conspiracy theorists...


idiots go watch SEPTEMBER CLUES DOCUMENTARY already


Well that's a very interesting article to bring out facts. There are at least a billion people out there who still think this guy: http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a11/AS11-40-5903HR.jpg is Neil Armstrong. Also there is another half-a-billion or so which thinks man never landed on moon.

Darn the fluff, get the truth. Upvoted.


"... at least a billion people out there who still think this guy: http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a11/AS11-40-5903HR.jpg is Neil Armstrong ..."

Even a cursory look reveals the astronaut has a name tag with "E ALDRIN" on it. Neil's always in the reflection of Aldrins visor.


That's a little more than "cursory" - I know I've never looked closely enough to read the nametag.


In the Apollo 14 mission ~ http://www.digplanet.com/wiki/Apollo_14 NASA introduced red stripes (Public Affairs stripes) to make media identification b/w COM & LMP (Lunar Module Pilot) easier ~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_space_suit


> Also there is another half-a-billion or so which thinks man never landed on moon.

Citation needed. It looks to me like only a small gang of wingnuts are part of the "moon landing conspiration believers" (I never met one). Like s slight portion of those believing that 9/11 was a CIA/Israeli job, or that there isn't any biological evolution.


I'm not claiming grandparent's number is correct, but it's at least plausible:

> A 2000 poll held by the Russian Public Opinion Fund found that 28% of those surveyed did not believe that American astronauts landed on the Moon, and this percentage is roughly equal in all social-demographic groups.[19] In 2009, a poll held by the United Kingdom's Engineering & Technology magazine found that 25% of those surveyed did not believe that men landed on the Moon.[20] Another poll gives that 25% of 18–25-year-olds surveyed were unsure that the landings happened.[21]

Note that a belief that "man never landed on moon" could be just out of ignorance, not necessarily a belief in a conspiracy. And considering that both the UK and Russia have relatively very high educational standards, it's not hard to believe the percentage is much higher elsewhere.

> Like s slight portion of those believing that 9/11 was a CIA/Israeli job,

"Slight portion"? Citation needed. :-)


Obviously you live in US, get your information from mainstream media (instead of doing your own research on the Web) and belong to the upper middle class. That's in my humble experience the only type of guy, who would never meet anyone disagreeing with government propaganda.

In Latin America, East Europe, Arabic countries, Russia and Japan ~90% of the people I talked to believe 9/11 was an inside job.

As for the moon landings - I'm one of those conspiracy believers. I've looked at what NASA&Co has to say and it's far from convincing. Here's a good site IMHO proving Armstrong and the other 20 astronauts never left Earth orbit: http://www.davesweb.cnchost.com/Apollo4.html .


Actually, my dad worked on the mission in Cocoa Beach. The real problem was that they sent the lander to Mars, not the moon. The real concern at the time was the Tycho Monolith, remember, so although the mission was originally intended for the moon, JFK authorized some changes to suit McNamara's DoD. Big change, yes, but obviously necessary for Homeland Security.

You're right that some of the photos were doctored -- good work! The primary purpose of all of the Photoshop work was to remove the red hues from the ground. Some of the backgrounds were reused, of course. That wasn't uncommon back then. And of course the constellations that are thousands of light years away would have looked distorted, so they had to be removed.

But you're wrong about the framing and focus problem. While it turns out to be impossible for a geometrically-inclined engineer to aim a camera without a viewfinder, NASA was able to work with Polaroid to invent a fixed focus lens, which they later commercialized as the Brownie.

Great research! That davesweb guy does good work. It's too bad that the govt can't acknowledge the hard work folks like him have put in. It's just still too sensitive. My Dad never should have told me, but you know how people get when they're old.

Oh, this goes with saying I guess, but they never did find the monolith. So when Bush gets his colony on Mars obviously that will be priority number one.


The biggest problem with conspiracy theories is the cover-up. I don't deny that governments are capable of lying and doing terrible things (cf. early CIA). But I can't accept the idea that a massive conspiracy would stay secret. Any of the hundreds of conspirators involved would be an instant millionaire celebrity for breaking the news.


Well, you're officially a self-admitted idiot. Congratulations. That website is a hoot. A self-proclaimed photographer who doesn't know what scatter light is.


Haha, this is because you talk to the conspiracy nuts, so obviously you're going to find 90% of them react that way. It's called selective bias, or in this case.

Obviously your an idiot and get your information from conspiracy wackos and the x-files.


Exactly! This is the very reason OP never meet anyone disagreeing with his view of the world.


Well I appreciate you providing an alternate point of view, but I'm afraid I don't agree that reading a few sketchy websites doesn't mean you "did your research" at all.

I'm mainly commenting to apologize that some of your comments are now dead- while I could understand if this one were, your grandchild comments expressing interest in other peoples' (non-conspiracy) arguments are dead which I think goes against the whole point of commenting here, especially when child comments saying "your an idiot" get upvoted.


> 9/11 was an inside job.

Indeed. The USPS did it with explosive furniture. If you disagree with me, you're NWO COINTELPRO M-O-U-S-E.

http://screwloosechange.blogspot.com/2008/07/craziest-theory...

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=476254


To be fair, there is also Neil Armstrong in that picture ;)


Because it's all a conspiracy. There isn't and never was a moon.

See here a British youth journalist challenge Buzz Aldrin about it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kKFYTBo6kA


For the record that "youth journalist" is Ali G, a character of Sacha Baron Cohen - the same guy who plays Borat.


I prefer this brief interview about the "hoax" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7KgdehBBsw&t=4m20s


I love this video. Aldrin was a test pilot for crying out loud. They could have used his brass balls in that scene from Glengarry Glen Ross. Did that dope really think he was going to intimidate him?




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