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Still quiet out here....or part 2

Digital Processing

This topic can certainly be a tutorial on its own, so I’m not going to get into specifics here. Perhaps I’ll do a tutorial on processing another time, but I will talk briefly on the subject and share my personal preferences on processing.

Before we had digital cameras, photos were processed in the dark room with chemicals and photographic paper. Now in the digital age, that processing is done on the computer. It’s certainly not exactly the same kind of processing, but you can use old darkroom processing techniques like dodging and burning in the computer. Software like Photoshop , Lightroom and Aperture can also give you a lot more freedom with your processing techniques, especially when you are using the RAW image format .

This is great for astrophotography ,as it can give you a lot of control over your image. But it can also be a double edged sword, and personally I find some of the processing of wide field astro images out there a little over the top. I like to keep my astro images as natural as possible, and process them according to my interpretation of how I saw the scene on the night. This includes making sure my white balance is relatively neutral, and not pushing the clarity too much, leaving halos on every edge, or crushing the blacks so much that there is no image information left in them. To the untrained eye, you might never see that there is an issue, but it is important when producing good quality astro photos that you keep your processing in check.

All of this boils down to good in camera techniques, so really all there should be to do when you come to process your astro photos is to get your white balance in order, correct the exposure if need be, set your white point, add some contrast and control your noise with noise reduction . Much beyond this, and you may find your image begins to fall apart with processing artifacts.

In the end, processing is very personal and the style of your processed image will vary from one person to another. I’m just giving you my personal view, and some of the things you should look out for.



Jeremy Fulk