James Webb space telescope: art & science

Quantum Elements FC No 4472 copyright 2020 Douglas Stockdale

ArtNews today provided an interesting update on the James Webb space-telescope and informed me about some scientific/artistic insights that are applicable to my Quantum Elements series. While working on the earthly aspects of Quantum Mechanics, I am taking artistic liberties as to what might visually be occurring at the sub-atomic level, a landscape that is beyond our current capabilities to comprehend. An attempt to make the invisible visible, such as my Fresnel Coefficient enhanced artwork above.

What I found interesting is that the specular and vibrant space photographs from the current Hubble space-telescope have been ‘colorized’. Not sure why I did not realize this earlier. The digital images from the Hubble space-telescope as well as what we will obtain from the Webb telescope are captured digitally in black and white, not color. Similar to my black and white rendering below of my image above. From a scientific standpoint, this is practical since they want to capture not only the visible, but also what we would consider the invisible; infrared and x-rays.

“…the images with the most vibrantly otherworldly colors—the shocking greens, oranges, and purples—have not been created with an eye toward realism. During image processing, scientists will add color to enhance details or highlight notable elements such as oxygen or hydrogen, or to illustrate observations of wavelengths beyond the visible spectrum, such as infrared and ultraviolet light, gamma rays, and X-rays. Colorizing the black-and-white exposures is a process the NASA scientist has called “equal parts art and science”—which means these ultra-saturated, color-enhanced views of the universe aren’t just gorgeous, they are educational.”


The coloring of the NASA universe images is part scientific deduction, analyzing the wavelength and the corresponding colors for that wavelength, but pretty cool that these NASA scientist take artistic freedom in their renderings. Gotta love those fellow science-nerds. Thus, my artistic Quantum Mechanics series has essentially NASA approval. Who would have thought, but now I know. Because I am also part science-nerd, I now feel more comfortable with how I am developing this series. Rocket-on!

Best regards,


Btw, I am finding both the colorized and black-n-white versions of my Quantum Elements series equally fascinating. Let’s see where my curiosity takes me…


Workshops and Portfolio Reviews

Southeast Center for Photography (SEC4P): Creative PhotoBook workshop (Sold Out), a virtual event on Zoom; January 22 & 23 and 29 & 30, 2022, 10am – 1pm, EST (3 hour session each day, with a week between the weekend sessions to work your book-dummy).

Los Angeles Center of Photography (LACP): Exposure Weekend, virtual portfolio reviews, which I am one of the many portfolio reviewers available, January 27 – 30th, 2022, details here.

Medium Photo: Developing a Creative Photo Book, a virtual (Zoom) workshop I will be leading again in conjunction with Medium Photo on: March 5th & 6th and then March 12th & 13th, 2022, from 9am to noon, PST. More details and sign-up available now at Medium Photo.

Colorado Photographic Arts Center (CPAC): Developing a Creative Photo Book, a virtual (Zoom) workshop I will be leading on Saturday & Sunday, May 14th & 15th and then Saturday & Sunday 21st and 22nd, 2022, from 1pm to 4pm Mountain Time (MT). Registration is open with discounts for members.


Quantum Elements FC No 4472 v2 copyright 2020 Douglas Stockdale

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