The Apollospace Imaging Process
Most of the raw public domain Apollo images (including all color images) used in creating the images found on this site were acquired from Arizona State University (ASU), pursuant to an Agreement with NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) for scanning NASA’s collection of Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo imagery in the highest resolutions ever made available. These original raw scanned images are available at ASU in TIFF format and measure approximately 5800 x 5600 pixels in size at 300 dpi and sizes of approximately 190 MB each. Black and white images not yet available through ASU were acquired from the National Archives and/or NASA/JSC images sources.
Apollospace acquired the raw images available from ASU and converted them to very high quality JPEGs, measuring between 5000 x 5000 or 5200 x 5200 pixels in size at 300 dpi, but in sizes of approximately 20-30 MB following compression. The black and white images from other sources generally measure 4000 x 4000 pixel at 300 dpi.
Each image was lovingly and painstakingly corrected and enhanced as follows:
The borders of each image were cropped off. The image borders do not have uniform widths, and the images shift slightly during the scanning process, meaning the borders sizes vary. The Apollospace images are thus sized at either 5000 x 5000 or 5200 x 5200 pixels for consistency, depending upon the resulting size of the cropped image.
The images were then corrected for tone, color, and contrast.
One of the chief challenges in the raw scanned images is the lack of contrast, which results in the images having a ghostly fog. Among the observations of space by the astronauts themselves is how inky black space is. Thus, during processing, one of the main aims is to achieve as black a sky as possible without losing image details.
Because the images were shot at various exposures and lighting conditions, there is a wide contrast variation in original scanned images. For aesthetic and other reasons, the images have been processed to reveal as much detail as possible. For example, images of the lunar surface from orbit with the sun directly overhead are overexposed and, lacking shadows, the surface lacks detail and appears flat. Such images have been processed to bring out the most detail possible, which generally results in them appearing much darker in comparison to other images but allows for better detail in crater rays.
The images are then blown up to their maximum resolution and cleaned of scratches, blemishes, dust, hair, scanning lines and other defects. It is not uncommon for a single image to require hundreds of corrective actions to clean the image of blemishes, faults, and defects. The end result are the cleanest images available anywhere, even at maximum resolution, without the distracting blemishes found in raw images and most corrected images available elsewhere. As seen in some of the samples below, it is common for images to require as many as several hundred corrective actions to achieve the enhanced images available at Apollospace!
The images are further corrected and enhanced to provide clarity and consistency. Levels and colors are balanced to make viewing the images, individually and as part of a slide show, as seamless and pleasing as possible.
Here you can see numerous flaws in a tiny section from image AS09-20-3156:
Below is the raw scanned image of image AS09-22-3473. The lack of detail and fogginess of the image are obvious, as are dark blemishes to the right of the island at lower center in the image.
Here is a detail from the center/right area of the island pictured in the image, after color correction but prior to removal of blemishes:
Here is the same area after the blemishes have been removed:
Image AS09-22-3473 after full restoration and correction.
Here are various stages of correction for AS15-95-12872:
Literally hundreds of corrections were made on some images, such as seen in this section of AS10-35-5205:
Then you have raw images that look like AS08-18-2908:
And images that look like AS08-13-2299! (we’re still working on correcting mission flight images for a reason!)
And more lines, dust debris, and hairs than could or should be reasonably be counted:
The end result of these efforts is simply the finest collection of Apollo images available anywhere. Enjoy!