NASA Photos - How did they do it?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by robemich, Jan 10, 2010.

  1. robemich macrumors member

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    Feb 14, 2007
    #1
    I am huge fan of the old NASA photos. Take a look a the photo from the following link.

    Amazing color and amazing exposure. I am really looking to create this same look and feel through digital. I have an old Nikon D70, iPhoto and PSE 8.0.

    Could anyone recommend any techniques, methods or tutorials that might help? I figured the first thing I needed to do was a get a hold of some old space suits and build a rocket gantry in my back yard. Thx.

    -mike
     
  2. Gav2k macrumors G3

    Gav2k

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  3. robemich thread starter macrumors member

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    Feb 14, 2007
    #3
    Excellent point on the flash.

    How about this one though?

    Are the colors achieved because actual film was used? Sorry, I have no experience with film, other than scanning in some old negatives from my family archives.

    -mike
     
  4. Gav2k macrumors G3

    Gav2k

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    #4
    Yeah it's due to film something you can duplicate in photoshop.
     
  5. SLC Flyfishing Suspended

    SLC Flyfishing

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    #5
    It's a vintage look, and I think it probably is due in part to the film used, but even more because of the (relatively) crappy glass that was available at the time. Lens coatings and different formulas for optical glass along with different types of elements that are commonly used now create a much different color rendition than older lenses.

    You can replicate this look in Photoshop, but I'd also look into finding some vintage 1960's F mount primes for your D70, you might get some luck there as well and you won't spend much on the lenses.

    I'm not sure if the D70 requires these old lenses to be AI-S converted before mounting, you'll want to check into that first.

    SLC
     
  6. joepunk macrumors 68030

    joepunk

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    #6
    You will have to get those old lenses (pre-ai/non-ai) converted to work on your d70. Otherwise, mounting non-AI lenses on bodies with an AI coupler tab will cause damage to the tab.


    Have a read/search through the No Metering Lenses on Nikon DSLR flickr group.
     
  7. robemich thread starter macrumors member

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    Feb 14, 2007
    #7
    Excellent Info!

    Good ideas on the lenses. Right now, the only working lens I have is a 50AF 1.4. It definitely does not produce these types of results. I will do some search on Photoshop techniques.

    Thank you all.

    -mike
     
  8. NathanCH macrumors 65816

    NathanCH

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    #8
    I thought you were going to ask how NASA takes photos of the universe via hubble. :p
     
  9. Consultant macrumors G5

    Consultant

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    #9
    That's just standard portrait photography techniques using flash.
     
  10. afd macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    I was expecting how did they fake the moon landing pics…
     
  11. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

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    #11
    This is 120 format from the look of the image. In the early days NASA's camera of choice was. Hasselblad. These are probably prints from slides. Anyway, film always has a look and feel to it that is unique. That doesn't mean you can't replicate it with Post in digital, just that old film shooters will be able to tell. Keep us posted on your project if you go ahead with it.

    Apolo 1: Grissom, White and Chaffee. Killed in a cabin fire January 27, 1967. A great tragedy that led to many safety procedures like oxygen mix cabin air and inside hatch releases.

    Dale
     
  12. pdxflint macrumors 68020

    pdxflint

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    #12
    Nasa also used some Nikon F series 35mm cameras that were custom-modified for them for shuttle flights and spacewalks. I wouldn't exactly call the optics from those days "crappy," however.

    Some of the camera bodies and lenses used during shuttle missions are out there for sale on eBay. The mods done so they could be used with space suits are pretty interesting, and other mods actually worked their way into the retail versions. Nikon had a history of collabs with Nasa.
     
  13. pdxflint macrumors 68020

    pdxflint

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    #13
    The two NASA pictures linked to definitely are square format, if they're full frame. They look like they were scanned from older prints and there is a color shift from aging, at least that's what it looks like to me. They're shots taken to document astronauts at the time, basically internal PR shots, and depending on the photographer, could have been shot with anything. The missions in space, however, did use Hasselblads and Nikons later on.
     
  14. ViciousShadow21 macrumors 68020

    ViciousShadow21

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    #14
    i dont understand how some people still think that NASA faked the moon landings. its absolutely absurd that some people do.
     
  15. Fujiko7 macrumors 6502

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    #15
    Those photos are so evocative - they make me want to dig out my copy of The Right Stuff and re-read it.

    I guess the unique thing about those photos is the combination of the camera, film, flash and glass used, and the effect of time on the colours. You will never be able to reproduce that exactly. However, you can achieve a similar feel in post processing. Take a look at the adjustments that some of the "retro" presets available for the various packages on Presetpond make, and use those as a starting point. (For Aperture, see for example Electric Kool-Aid and Bleached Nostalgia.)
     
  16. mtbdudex macrumors 68000

    mtbdudex

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    #16
    From your link, just curious why some have green suits and some orange?
    What do the colors mean? Trainee and trainer?
    [​IMG]
     
  17. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    Jun 9, 2009
    #17
    I guess different glass coatings do affect the color rendition, but I think 99% of the "look" in these images is due to the fact that it was film, and films had a very distinctive color rendition. That's why you hear the terms "Velvia look" or why Kodachrome was so iconic. The chemical emulsions in the films did not exactly and neutrally reproduce the color spectrum and each one had its own "character".

    This kind of effect can be reproduced in PS by playing with the color response. You can probably search around and find some PS presets/actions that emulate these looks.

    Another good place is to just start playing with the white balance. In film, the white balance is "baked in" to the film emulsion, you could not change it in-camera unless you used filters or gels. You could buy film that was specifically white balanced for tungsten, or daylight, etc. Naturally, using a "tungsten" film in the sunlight will make for a very different looking image.
     
  18. Policar macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    Not really sure about "crappy glass;" my 28mm and 35mm Nikon primes from the late 60s/early 70s out-resolve most modern lenses and certainly the sensor on my digital rebel at f4 and above. The 105mm/f2.5 from that era is renowned for sharpness, even wide open. The Zeiss lenses NASA used internally (though judging by the aspect ratios, not for these images) were even better. Only zooms were categorically bad back then.

    The aspect ratio on these images (1.5:1 and 1.25:1) indicate that they were shot on 35mm and 6x7 medium format, or possibly 6X6 (Hasselblad) and then cropped. I can't say what kind of film. Probably kodachrome (slide film) if they were intended to be sent to press?

    Anyhow, the cheapest digital camera will produce way higher quality images than yesterday's film (and even today's film in most cases). But shooting on a old film camera with relatively neutral color slide film with proper exposure should give a similar look and to these photos. Otherwise, photoshop actions will emulate basically whatever you want.
     
  19. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

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    #19
    I'm not sure, but it could have to do with the branch of the military ther were attached to. The only one I recognize off the bat is Gus Grissom (center) and he was Air Force. The pilots in orange might have been Navy. More apt to wind up in the drink. The original photo in this thread is the Apollo One crew, Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee. They were killed in a pad test.

    Gus Grissom NASA Bio

    Seek and ye shall find.
    The original Mercury Seven Astronauts.

    Dale
     
  20. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #20
    I've got a chrome 90mm Hassy lens that I use on my D3x and I wouldn't call it "crappy." I've also got an AIS 200mm Nikkor, likewise, I wouldn't call in crappy either. Color renditions are simply tonal curves- shoot with old glass and apply film curves and gamma and the only telling thing will be the width of the curves, but you can desaturate and fake that.

    Depends on how it's rendered. RPP has a film-like gamma curve and actually measured film curves you can apply to your images, I'm not sure that you'd be able to tell the difference from a scanned negative since the scanning process isn't exactly neutral either- prints may be a bit different, though it depends on what you're comparing I suppose- more than likely the subjects would be the bigger give-away (clothing dyes, paint colors, etc.) if you're talking about when the F-106 was new. I certainly can't tell a huge amount of difference between something shot on Velvia a few years ago and something I run through RPP's RVP50 curves- and my eyes are pretty good.

    The Navy guys are in orange flight suits.

    Paul
     

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