Rebuttal of Bohn's Explanation for the "Featureless Backgrounds" Anomaly

Some NASA apologists contend that the "featureless background" anomaly is a simple case of the background of the photo being out of focus as a result of it supposedly being much farther in the distance.  One such apologist (Thomas Bohn) attempts to illustrate this by presenting visitors to his website with a digital photo he took from the crest of a hill in which the ground near the camera--covered with grass, leaves (and pine cones purportedly)--is seen to be more in-focus than that seen in the background beyond the drop-off.  Here is a local copy of Bohn's image.  

After introducing the photo, Bohn proceeds to argue how his photo demonstrates the very same anomaly that "Apollo deniers" have found with so many lunar surface photos, thus proving that all is well and there is no conspiracy...  He states:

Look at how the background of this grassy knoll suddenly changes. The surface is all rough and filled with leaves and pine cones, and then in a straight line it just becomes all smooth and no cones appear anymore. Does anyone think I took the picture and then superimposed another picture with a smoother background? Or is the foreground nothing more than grass and clover grown on the floor of a large sound studio?

Anybody who has ever spent time around hills would recognize this effect for the simple and obvious illusion that it is: a distant background photographed from a high place. Yet some deniers still fall for it, a classic case of failing to see the mountain for the rocks.

After witnessing Bohn's little demonstration, you and I are supposed to be all impressed that indeed, we cannot see any pine cones beyond the "grassy knoll" (and aren't we embarrassed for ever having expected to see them)!

Well... perhaps Mr. Bohn was just a bit hasty in holding up his photo as the supreme illustration to end all controversy surrounding Apollo photos with fuzzy backgrounds.  First off, he apparently fails to recognize that even at the far end of the field pictured in his photo, one can easily discern features such as small tree limbs, dark areas on the trunk of a tree, small shrubbery, individual weed stalks, etc.  What's more, in stark contrast to AS16-107-17446 and other NASA photos, in the blurred background of Bohn's photo, you can even see... shadows! 1 

Secondly, our inability to discern pine cones in the background of Bohn's photo doesn't really illustrate anything.  We see everything in the background of Bohn's photo that we reasonably expect to see.  Perhaps we don't see large rocks in the middle of the pictured field but then, we have no real expectation that we ought to see any.  Likewise, we shouldn't expect to see any pine cones there either if only because... there doesn't appear to be any pine trees growing in the field, or any other trees for that matter!  I must admit that my eyesight isn't 20/20 but quite frankly, I can't discern any pine cones even in the foreground of Bohn's photo!  Can you?   Just how valid of an illustration is Bohn's photo if you and I can't even clearly identify the objects in question... in the foreground?

Were that not enough, there's plenty more that's wrong with Bohn's illustration.  When the background of a photo is out of focus (as in Bohn's photo) it's generally because the camera's aperture (or f-stop) has been set so that an object much closer to the camera (in this case, the "grassy knoll") will be in focus.  In some Apollo lunar surface photos where the featureless background anomaly is represented, there is no reason at all why the camera's aperture would be set to anything other than infinity in which case everything in the photo beyond about 20 or 30 feet ought to be in focus, including the far distant background, and yet the distant background is still seen to be featureless.  Even if the aperture were set such that a subject at 10 or 15 feet away were in focus, it's still doubtful that the distant background would be so out of focus as to obliterate all detail.  

Perhaps the biggest problem for promoters of the "background is out of focus" argument is that not all of the suspect photos have a transition line between a sharp foreground and a featureless background that can be interpreted as lying along a sudden drop-off.  In such cases, any two points in a photo that are seen to lie on either side of the transition line from one another must be considered to be physically adjacent to one another on the lunar surface as well, which brings into question how one point could be in focus while the other is so abruptly out of focus.  Clearly, the "background is out of focus" argument being promoted by Bohn and others doesn't hold H2O.


1. This despite the fact that, here on Earth, we are forced to view distant objects through air which not only blocks some of the light but also scatters it as well, thus causing the lighting to be more diffuse.

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