Photo surprises still appear
While I was never fully attracted into the world of film photography (too much fiddling with chemicals and fear of poisoning myself, no matter how careful), I was always impressed with what could be done in the darkroom (by someone who knew better), and the sort of surprises that could be pulled out of shots, from areas where there was apparently nothing to be seen – to the untrained eye at least.
I tend to think this no longer applies in the world of digital, not because it can’t be done, but because it can be seen as ordinary and needing little effort. Studying Photo
shop (or rather its various and more reasonably priced clones) can provide a handy reminder that knowledge of appropriate techniques, and the application of appropriate filter layers, can achieve much the same as a ‘wet’ darkroom, and with a lot more safety (ok, this is maybe only important to me.)
I was running a series of long exposure trials during some nice evening light, after spotting a clear dusk sky with some contrails crossing below a bright Moon. The real reason was to see how the extended exposure affected the sharpness of the final result when the ISO was fixed at 100 ASA (which is of no interest here), but was interrupted when a low flying jet passed through one of the shots.
At first glance, the shot didn’t appear to have seen the aircraft, which was no great surprise, but more intriguing was the apparent absence of the aircraft’s lights or strobes, which I expect the long exposure to have caught, if not as light trails, then at least as light spots.
The untouched capture is shown below (not the original though – this one is reduced for the blog), and while it took a moment or two, I did eventually spot the aircraft lights – they can just be spotted in the upper right quadrant of the image (but they are just splodges in this blog version of the original). A star is more noticeable, below and to the right of the Moon – but then again, it’s not moving, so delivers more light to the spot.
Curious about what was recorded of the aircraft, or its lighting, I tried some extreme post-processing just to find out what might have been caught, and was intrigued to find not only the strobes, but also the coloured marker or navigation lights could be seen.
The push-processing might make for horrible image (I’ve spared you the whole scene, and just clipped out the section with the lights), but it does show that even digital image sensors – which some people like to criticise as having no sensitivity – do catch detail that can be recovered. And if need be, rendered useful if enough time is spent fettling them. But that’s not justified in this case, which was just to satisfy a little curiosity.
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