Consistency of Photos of the Earth

Every time NASA (or anyone else) releases a picture of the Earth from space, flat-earthers would compare it to another picture of the Earth. Obviously, every photo is going to be different from another, but flat-earthers love to use this fact as a ‘proof’ that these photos are results of image manipulation, and that we are being deceived somehow.

But here are some real world reasons why the images of the same object —the Earth— might look different from each other:

  • Difference in the equipment used to take the photo.
  • Difference of methods in taking the pictures.
  • Different distance to the object.
  • Differences in field of view.
  • Differences in photometric variables (brightness, contrast, saturation, etc.)
  • Differences in weather and climate condition.
  • Differences in image processing.
  • Different angle of the Sun.
  • etc

Have you seen the dials, knobs and menus in a digital camera? Fiddling with these will result with different output image.

You can try taking multiple images of the same object with different camera or cell phone. There will be noticeable differences, even if it is a picture of the same object.

If you have a decent digital camera, try very fast shutter speed with manual exposure under old fluorescent lighting. Even with the same equipment, the resulting photos will have noticeable color differences.

In the old times, photographers used to pick different brand or type of film in order to get the different looks. Sometimes the results would differ very drastically. Different photographers used to have different preferences on the ‘best’ brand or types of films. Even then, different film can be more suitable to different objects or lighting condition.

When it comes to photography, there is no single picture that is the ‘correct’ one.

It can be said that filters in Instagram try to emulate these differences in output that we get by changing equipment, film or settings. A long time ago, a photographer had to change films in order to get different look obtained by different film. Today, we simply need to pick the filter that we think has the best result.

If using filters is not a crime, neither is taking those pictures of the Earth.