/Apollo 11 shocker: Buzz Aldrins face discovered in iconic photo

Apollo 11 shocker: Buzz Aldrins face discovered in iconic photo


That’s one small step for a man, one giant edit for mankind.

The iconic image of Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin looking at the flag on the surface of the Moon has been given a new lease on life after an amateur photographer restored the image to reveal Aldrin’s smiling face.

Andy Saunders, a property developer from England, said that he used photo enhancing technology used by astronomers and hours of hard work to clean up the image. Aldrin is seen smiling at the camera being held by Neil Armstrong on the lunar surface.

The only clear picture showing of Buzz Aldrin while walking on the Moon has been uncovered by an amateur photographer. Applying photo-enhancing technology used by astronomers to improve the resolution of far-away planets, Andy Saunders was able to alter the photo's clarity. (Credit: SWNS)

The only clear picture showing of Buzz Aldrin while walking on the Moon has been uncovered by an amateur photographer. Applying photo-enhancing technology used by astronomers to improve the resolution of far-away planets, Andy Saunders was able to alter the photo’s clarity. (Credit: SWNS)

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“I wonder how many people would realize based on the original image that Buzz is visible,” Saunders said in comments obtained by SWNS. “It must have been viewed billions of times. What’s interesting is it’s one of the most iconic images of all time and it has been holding this detail which I’ve managed to reveal.”

At the start of MTV’s heyday, the photo was used by the television station to market itself, replacing the flag with its logo.

Saunders, from Cheshire, England, said that he spent hours working on the photo, brightening and darkening it, sometimes just a few pixels at a time, eventually revealing Aldrin’s smiling face behind the helmet glass.

“Although I’m the first to do it, it’s really not that technical,” Saunders added. “I just use photo-processing equipment and dedication. I alter the contrast, reduce the sound and edit the highlights on the countless amount of layers.”

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Once the outline of Aldrin's facial features became slightly clearer, Saunders spent hours tweaking the saturation and contrast of tiny areas at a time, to reveal his full expression. It reveals for the first time a clear shot of the astronaut giving a cheeky grin as he turns his head to face the camera - previously obscured by his reflective visor. (Credit: SWNS)

Once the outline of Aldrin’s facial features became slightly clearer, Saunders spent hours tweaking the saturation and contrast of tiny areas at a time, to reveal his full expression. It reveals for the first time a clear shot of the astronaut giving a cheeky grin as he turns his head to face the camera – previously obscured by his reflective visor. (Credit: SWNS)

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The 45-year-old Saunders said that once he was able to see Aldrin’s facial features, he worked tirelessly to tweak the saturation and contrast, using a process he called “dodging and burning” before Aldrin’s grin was revealed in full. He was quick to add that “nothing is copied into the photo” and that he simply enhanced it.

Saunders, who released the image to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the most famous space exploration mission in history, has also used his editing skills on Apollo 11 visuals before. Earlier this year, he touched up a photo of Armstrong stepping off Apollo 11 that he said took him several days.

“They’re such famous photographs and to be able to see both their faces on the 50th anniversary is really quite something,” Saunders said.

July 20, 2019 was the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. Since then, only 10 other astronauts, all Americans, have stepped foot on the Moon.

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