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Old 21-10-2020, 10:59 AM
Stefannebula (Stefan)
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AI sharpening in Astro, is it fair? -Your opinion?

After seeing some impossibly sharp images on APOD and Astrobin IOTD recently, I asked around and found out that the trick behind them is Topaz Denoise AI and Sharpen AI. - see attached images for reference

I am interested in your thoughts about the use of these algorithms in astrophotography.

At what point do our image processing algorithms change from manipulating information that is already within the data, to generating information that was never there?

Should people explicitly disclose when these algorithms are used, if submitting them to APOD or competitions? Should there be separate categories for AI sharpened data?

I understand the general debate about whether Astrophotography more science or art, but I think this is a specific case where this distinction matters. How is it fair to compare data taken with a 24" Planewave to an 80mm refractor that is 'sharper' purely because of AI in a competition setting?

I know this has probably been discussed ad nauseam, but I couldn't seem to find any specific discussion, and I just want to hear what other people think
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Old 21-10-2020, 11:16 AM
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To me, AP is technical photography, nothing to do with art.
So, if enhancement bring out details (which are REALLY there), no problems here...
As far as competition is concerned... who is competing with whom here? My answer is "Big optical and software companies", and we (well, some of us) are paying for it
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Old 21-10-2020, 11:42 AM
jahnpahwa (JP)
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Definitely fair especially when the stakes are very high
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Old 21-10-2020, 11:57 AM
glend (Glen)
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Imho, and this will not surprise some, there is far too much interference processing going on lately. When astrophotography becomes just a series of programs and scripts, then it is not photography any longer. Yes it is art, and art usually involves personal interpretation; when you have a bunch of people all running the same apps and scripts with the goal of processing to their view of nirvana, then the hobby has lost its attraction.
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Old 21-10-2020, 12:54 PM
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rustigsmed (Russell)
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Like any denoise or sharpening tool if used in moderation it is fine and it is enhancing real details. with topaz ai denoise it can definitely be pushed too far pretty easily. once you've used it the program a few time however, it is pretty easy to spot images which have pushed the envelope too far creating fake detail. if you're talking about competitions you'd hope the judges were well enough informed of topaz ai denoise.

cheers
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Old 21-10-2020, 01:23 PM
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multiweb (Marc)
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I don't understand what fair means in the context of processing. Sharpening, noise reduction, color balance, layering, masking are all processes used to enhance a photo whether you want to show true details or factored compositions to give a perception of something else. It's up to the user to decide. AI is a marketing thing thrown everywhere nowadays. AI this, AI that. Maybe it stands for "as if..." I have the TOPAZ labs AI suite. It sort of does its own thing at times good other spectacularly wrong.
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Old 21-10-2020, 07:04 PM
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absolutely fair and fine in my mind. there is no "real". it's all simply perceptions and sensory interpretation. already with quite technical approaches you can see the endless variety of how the same objects are represented, colours are just what we attribute to, we have palettes that are invented or refined. I can understand why others feel differently. For me it's about what looks best to my eyes or my perceived audience.
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Old 21-10-2020, 07:09 PM
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In or out?
- selective masking
- noise reduction
- deconvolution
- changing colour balance
- increasing saturation

Still trying to understand what the problem with a script is since it is just executing a series of steps you would have done manually.

The hobby is already challenging. Anything that makes life easier and makes you happy is fair game.
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Old 21-10-2020, 10:30 PM
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There is also a good deal of plain and simple plagiarism that goes on with images posted on the web.

Amazing how the object of interest has Hubble like details but the rest of the field is filled with low resolution blobs and the poster is too dim to realize their dodgy image is shouting out : "this is a fake"

One would hope if entered into a contest the judges would spot such clumsy efforts and cull them accordingly.

David Malin is a master at this, but even he admitted the "fakes" are getting better and more difficult to spot. He even suggested having a new category: best fake.

Rest assured if there is a dollar to be had, there will also be those who will cheat to get it.

I have yet to see any 80mm telescope, even with the best AI sharpening, out-resolve a 0.5 metre class instrument.

While there are no prohibitions to over processing, in a contest environment my hope is the judges will spot the difference without much fuss and consider works more deserving.

Last edited by Peter Ward; 23-10-2020 at 07:34 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 22-10-2020, 07:34 AM
jahnpahwa (JP)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peter_4059 View Post
In or out?
- selective masking
- noise reduction
- deconvolution
- changing colour balance
- increasing saturation

Still trying to understand what the problem with a script is since it is just executing a series of steps you would have done manually.

The hobby is already challenging. Anything that makes life easier and makes you happy is fair game.
This is a good point. These scripts are something that a human could and often do perform manually.
How does this compare to adaptive optics? No human could ever perform that job quick enough to aid capture, right? At least these tools are accessible to most, if not all, which is probably good for competitions, no?
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Old 22-10-2020, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by multiweb View Post
I don't understand what fair means in the context of processing.
Agreed......this question makes no sense.
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Old 22-10-2020, 10:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Ward View Post
There is also a good deal plain an simple plagiarism that goes on with images posted on the web.

Amazing how the object of interest has Hubble like details but the rest of the field is filled with low resolution blobs and the poster is too dim to realize their dodgy image is shouting out : "this is a fake"

One would hope if entered into a contest the judges would spot such clumsy efforts and cull them accordingly.

David Malin is a master at this, but even he admitted the "fakes" are getting better and more difficult to spot. He even suggested having a new category: best fake.

Rest assured if there is a dollar to be had, there will also be those who will cheat to get it.

I have yet to see any 80mm telescope, even with the best AI sharpening, out-resolve a 0.5 metre class instrument.

While there are no prohibitions to over processing, in a contest environment my hope is the judges will spot the difference without much fuss and consider works more deserving.
Spot on Peter. I'm one of the IOTD judges on Astrobin, and there was a lengthy discussion about this image behind the scenes. Initially the image was called out, but some have rallied to the photographers' defence suggesting this is result of extensive overuse of Topaz in processing. Personally, as an experienced Topaz user for the past year, I'm in your camp - regardless of it being awarded APOD & other accolades, I'm firmly convinced that there is a mix of professional and amateur data blended here and attempt has been made to mask this in processing.

My overall thought here though is... Why bother?
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Old 22-10-2020, 11:35 AM
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Atmos (Colin)
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I've had a bit of a play around with the Topaz Labs DeNoise and Sharpening. I agree with Marc, AI does get thrown around a lot as it is the current buzz word. If you write a deconvolution algorithm that measures the average PSF and then runs the deconvolution a number of times looking for specific artefacts and tunes the variables until the the best fit (least artefacts) out come happens, this is now called AI.

I personally have never been a fan of the appearance of the noise reduction from Topaz DeNoise. Even when run at low levels it has a very artificial and unique look that I personally don't like in astro.

I gave the Sharpening a go last night and found that on some images it does improve sharpness a bit but on others it did a lot more damage than good. One thing I did notice is that it makes small stars look like it has been taken under 0.2" seeing! Larger ones not so much and the bigger they are the less "shrinkage" they have.
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Old 22-10-2020, 01:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy01 View Post
.......

My overall thought here though is... Why bother?
Humm.. I found this little ditty about online fakes..

Fake it till you make it
Show off to the world
What you are not

Why is the need so strong
Something that is wrong
Is it worth the S***
Only to fit

The show is on
Innocence is gone
Falseness is accepted
Originality is rejected
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Old 23-10-2020, 09:10 AM
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FWIW...

I compared a few images of the “Soap Bubble”. Both are close up and cropped and resolutions vary so nothing definitive could be said, but they seem to make a few of the points mentioned already in this thread.

One is an APOD with a 2.5m Newt the other is an APOD with a 127mm triplet refractor. The 127mm APOD is certainly gorgeous from a certain distance...

More a comment on sharpening than AI processing. Not sure AI sharpening has been used but it does seem likely
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Old 23-10-2020, 10:13 AM
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Here's Damian Peach's view on the matter when it come to planetary imaging
https://www.patreon.com/posts/40809286

There's not doubt that the process can produce images that look incredibly sharp, however is the actual object that sharp to begin with? Have a look at these two images of Jupiter, which one do you prefer? Which one "accurately" records the planet best?
https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/7...ai-sharpening/

Andrew
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Old 23-10-2020, 01:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tulloch View Post
Here's Damian Peach's view on the matter when it come to planetary imaging
https://www.patreon.com/posts/40809286

Andrew
A good take on it that could apply to any object, given you see yourself as a photographic observer who is interested in seeing and/or sharing what might actually be there.
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Old 23-10-2020, 02:59 PM
tim.anderson (Tim Anderson)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Ward View Post
There is also a good deal of plain and simple plagiarism that goes on with images posted on the web.

Amazing how the object of interest has Hubble like details but the rest of the field is filled with low resolution blobs and the poster is too dim to realize their dodgy image is shouting out : "this is a fake"
I doubt that I know enough about astrophotography techniques to be able to recognise plagiarism of the type to which you refer.

Could you possibly provide a link to an example?
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Old 23-10-2020, 04:00 PM
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multiweb (Marc)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tulloch View Post
Here's Damian Peach's view on the matter when it come to planetary imaging
https://www.patreon.com/posts/40809286

There's not doubt that the process can produce images that look incredibly sharp, however is the actual object that sharp to begin with? Have a look at these two images of Jupiter, which one do you prefer? Which one "accurately" records the planet best?
https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/7...ai-sharpening/

Andrew
Very cool video. Also applies to deep sky. Less is more.
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Old 23-10-2020, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by tim.anderson View Post
I doubt that I know enough about astrophotography techniques to be able to recognise plagiarism of the type to which you refer.

Could you possibly provide a link to an example?
What? and do a roll-over comparison as well? I'll pass.

That might not be prudent
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