The photographs taken by the Apollo 11 astronauts are some of the most well known in the world, but a large number have only recently been restored to their former glory
“When you get back… you will be a national hero. But your photographs… they will live forever. Your only key to immortality is the quality of your photography.” – Richard W. Underwood, NASA Chief of Photography for Mercury, Gemini and Apollo.
Almost everyone around the world is familiar with Aldrin’s footprint in the Moon soil or the American flag standing proud against the pitch black vastness of space.
But a large number of Apollo 11 photographs that didn’t have any scientific or historical value have remained “unseen” – until now.
Over the past few years, the Apollo VII–XVII project has been working on bringing this lesser known imagery back to life.
Chosen purely for their photographic and aesthetic merit, the photos were meticulously restored from original scans of the 70mm film the astronauts shot during their mission.
In order to do these hidden gems justice, the Apollo VII–XVII team gathered huge amounts of information about the Hasselblad cameras and photography techniques used by the astronauts.
The cameras had no view finder, and astronauts had to manipulate them wearing clunky space gloves – not to mention the numerous weightlessness difficulties they faced.
However, an experienced photographer, familiar with shooting space-to-ground photography, was always sitting at one of the desks in Mission Control during the periods when the astronauts were awake.
This expert was able to offer advice on camera settings when the astronauts wanted to take a shot that they were not trained for, or which deviated from the ordinary camera settings.
Thanks to an extensive restoration and colour grading process, these unknown Apollo 11 photographs have now been brought back in such detail, brilliant colour and quality, that they give a truly unique perspective of this amazing moment in history.