Easy DSLR Astrophotography Part 3 - Processing

Easy DSLR Astrophotography Part 3 - Processing

M51 300 715 closeup.jpg

This is the final part of the guide to DSLR astrophotography of deep space objects using no telescope or tracking mount. In this part we shall look at processing the stacked image. There are so many ways to process the pictures you take that there is no set method. So, in keeping with this guide's emphasis on keeping it simple and cheap I have included two methods. The first video demonstrates the same technique I used to make the image of the Whirlpool Galaxy seen above. This uses cheap and simple techniques. I feel this is an easy way to get started.

The second method is a video link to some excellent tutorials by BudgetAstro.net that show you a step-by-step technique using Photoshop. I have used this same method in GIMP too. 

If you are looking for the rest of the guide you can find the other parts here:

Part 1 - Easy Deep Sky DLSR Astrophotography - Taking the Pictures

Part 2 - Easy Deep Sky DSLR Astrophotography - Stacking the Pictures

Method 1: Using Deep Sky Stacker and iPhoto

This is a novel method to processing astroimages. I use the curves tool in Deep Sky Stacker to bring out the deep space object from the background. This initial processing is simple to do and can give excellent results on its own. The video demonstrates how to create a curve and bring out the deep space object. I then import the image into iPhoto. This has some really good processing tools including the useful de-noise tool. The video shows you how to make adjustments using these tools to remove background noise, darken the background and highlight the deep space object.

I have found this method to be consistently easy to do and produce final images that look good. Not bad considering there is no telescope or tracking mount being used.

Method 2: Photoshop or GIMP

The method shown in these videos is excellent for processing astrophotography images using a telescope and mount. The problem with it is that Photoshop is an expensive piece of software to buy if you don't already have it and GIMP at the time of writing works in 8-bit instead of 16-bit like Photoshop. I have found that because of this GIMP struggles to process the deep space objects taken using this astrophotography dslr guide. The deep space objects are only a few pixels wide using this method and GIMP finds this difficult to produce a decent final image. However, GIMP is free to download and should become a 16-bit software in the next version soon to be released. Hopefully, this will sort out these problems.

Although these videos demonstrate processing in Photoshop you can use the method in these videos for both Photoshop and GIMP. Here is a picture of the Whirlpool Galaxy taken using a telescope and tracking mount. I processed this picture using GIMP following the method in the videos. As you can see the final image isn't too bad.

M51 Whirlpool LRGB.jpg

I hope you found this guide useful and it will encourage you to get into trying a bit of astrophotography of deep space objects. If you have any problems please leave a comment below and I'll do my best to help you solve the problem.

Oh, and if you get any good pictures please share them. I would love to see what results other people are getting with this method.

Looking for Part 1? Find it here: Easy Deep Sky Astrophotography

Looking for Part 2?: Stacking Your Images

Related Posts: Astrophotography

Liked this? Try: How to Image Jupiter Cheaply With An Iphone

Or Visit the DSLR on a Tripod Deep Sky Astrophotography Album

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