Just What Processing Is Acceptable?

Some would say that any editing at all is unacceptable, unethical, or deceptive. I would strongly disagree with this position for many reasons. I think that the examples on the previous page support these reasons. Some of these are:

  1. I suspect that much of the concern about image processing comes from those whose scientific or journalistic background tells them not to alter the data. I believe this concern may be excessive and misplaced, as I think the illustrations demonstrate. Not only do these changes not make alterations that are significant, these images are taken for esthetic and general illustrative purposes, not for scientific measurement or journalistic precision.

  2. Most of the processing results in the display of more accurate information about the object, not less.

  3. Since I discuss and disclose my processing techniques here, the processing is not deceptive. Having said that, I think the viewer's perception of the objects imaged will be essentially accurate even for those who have not read these details (see number 6 below).

  4. All of the artifact removal editing is done to remove things that do not exist in the sky. These artifacts have been created by the atmosphere, the telescope, the camera, the processing, or a combination of several of these.

  5. Most artifact editing is done on field stars that are not the subject of the image in the vast majority of cases. Further, it is clear to me that distorted field stars left unedited can distract the viewer from the true subject of the image.

  6. I go to great pains to minimize the amount of image modification and check my images against other respected imager's results, especially in terms of color balance and detail. Clearly this is a matter of integrity and judgement, and I do my best to be faithful to the object imaged. In the final analysis, these decisions are always up to the individual imager.

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