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This Is Not Your Ordinary Family Photo

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This is the Duke family. The father, Charles Moss Duke, Jr. born October 3, 1935. The mom, Dorothy Meade Claiborne. The two sons, Charles and Thomas. They are probably in their garden, sitting on a bench. They look so happy.

And they should be, because Charles Moss Duke was the lunar module pilot of Apollo 16 in 1972. He landed with mission commander John W. Young at the Descartes Highlands, which is what makes this photo so special: It's still there, untouched, unperturbed, exactly in the same position as he left it before taking this snapshot with his Hasselblad 70mm film camera.

I didn't know about this fantastic photo until a couple of days ago, ignorant that I am. Following the advice of my friend Adán—who is a space exploration fanboy like me—I bought an amazing book called Full Moon. It shows the trip to the moon through 128 brunch-bacon-crispy photographs, many of them giant four-page spreads containing fascinating panoramas. All clean, pitch black background, no text. Like the silence of space.


Full Moon is not a new book: It was curated and published in 1999 by Michael Light. It contains the first and only digital scans of the Apollo missions' original camera film. See, when these images returned from space, NASA copied each of the photos, then stored the original film right away for future scanning. Every lunar photo you have seen out there are copies made from copies of the originals.


The vaults were opened for Light and this book for the first time. He went through all of the original transparencies, selected what he thought were the best, scanned them using the best digital equipment available, created the spread panoramas when needed, and printed this book. The quality is so perfect, and the selection so good, that I can't recommend it highly enough.


So there I was, sitting in amazement, slowly flipping through the amazing views, and then I found this. It instantly caught my attention. The idea of leaving such a happy photo in the surface of such a inhospitable place filled me with a mix of happiness, sadness, and much, much nostalgia. I instantly remembered another image like that. Surely, that image must have been inspired by Duke's original shot:


Click to viewYou can buy Full Moon here. Actually, you must.