I’m still going through my old images, deleting the ones that don’t stand the test of time.
There are quite a few photographs I don’t remember taking…is that a bad thing? Who knows. While I was in the middle of a deleting frenzy—a particular photo ransacked my curiosity.
You know what? Take a look at it for yourself and we’ll try to get through this together:
Now…no one needs to know a damn thing about astronomy to understand something is severely messed up with this moon photograph…but is that really the case? Hmmm… the mystery continues…
…Some people may know exactly what is going on here. If you are one of those people: congratulations! Give yourself permission to feel smart or some shit like that. If you don’t know what the hell is going on—brace yourself.
A sane person believes the moon looks a little something like this:
I bet you are one those sane people, right? Sure, the image doesn’t exactly represent the moon’s natural hue, but close enough. We can all agree it’s a more faithful representation compared to the psychedelic image. You have seen the moon, plenty of times! I’m sure you would remember if there were outlandish purplish/ blueish splotches of color.
** Unsolicited History Lesson ** Galileo was a NASA funded spacecraft. Launched in 1989—its mission was to study Jupiter and its four major moons. On the way to the Banded Giant: Galileo observed Earth’s moon in 1992, using a variety of colored filters. These enhanced, false-color images exaggerated the true nature of Earth’s moon. Various mineral compositions are immediately apparent in these types of images, forever changing how Earthlings view the moon.
The moon is not simply a monochromatic world. Apollo 17 discovered what seemed to be orange soil on the lunar surface. ORANGE SOIL. Let that sink in for a moment.
Luckily for you and I—we don’t need to build a fancy spacecraft to obtain somewhat comparable results.
Balance the Colors
This post is not a step-by-step tutorial. I’m far too lazy at the moment to architect such a guide. I will tell you what you need to know to attempt the project on your own. And that’s pretty much it.
The moon’s color is real. Sort of. Exaggerating the image saturation will reveal hidden hues.
When you take an image of the moon, the moon’s colors are quite faded. They truly exist—it’s not simply a figment of the camera’s imagination. Or yours. The trick is this:
Keep the color channels even
I won’t go into detail on how to exactly balance color channels, but there are a few ways of accomplishing such a task. The reason why you need to keep the color balance even is simple: a particular color channel (red) will become too overly saturated. You don’t want that to happen. Trust me.
Let’s take a look at what happens when I simply over saturate an unbalanced lunar image:
I end up with a yellow eyesore!
It’s possible to manually adjust the color curves, but that can be tedious. Most image processing programs have an automatic adjuster. Try using that and then try to manually tweak the color curves while saturating the image.
You can also stack exposures to bring out subtle moon color, but I don’t have experience with that method.
Unfortunately, I can no longer locate the website that taught me the method I’m familiar with today, which means I feel obliged to unleash the dark secrets.