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I see that there are some great actions for PS out there but they come at a price. Have you come across any free and good actions, that you can recommend?
Hey guys I know we all have our own favourite way of doing star reduction (i have used Noel Carboni's action, and i also like using the Minimum filter in PS too) but i think i may have stumbled across another new way, and i actually quite like it! The NC action tends to darken the image a bit, and it also doesn't seem to work well on extremely large stars, and the minimum filter does tend to soften the stars a bit (which can look quite nice, depending on the image) but this technique, if anything, actually seems to tighten up the stars, and you also get an Opacity slider to play with as well, so you can set as little or as much of it as you like. Also, the minimum filter tends to obliterate really small stars, whereas this method doesn't seem to at all, so depending on what you are trying to achieve this hopefully might prove useful to some. So here goes: 1. Create a 'Starless' version of your image. For this i use one of Annie's Actions and finish it off by using the Spot Healing Brush on any remaining star remnants. 2. Put this Starless layer at the bottom and set the blend mode to Colour (the blend mode isn't critical here, especially if you've done the starless image carefully, but using Colour will always ensure you don’t lose any hard-earned detail). 3. Add your Master Luminance (or what you had as your pre-star-reduction image before) on top of the Starless layer. Then duplicate it so that you have 2 of them on top of the Starless layer. So 3 layers in total. 4. Now change the Blend Mode of the Top layer to ‘Pin Light’. 5. Finally, bring down the Opacity of the Middle layer. 70% - 80% seems to work well, and can have quite a big impact, especially so on really big stars, but i wouldn't go any lower than this. I've shown a Before and After example below so you can see the effect. (apologies for the lack of resolution, it's from a very severe crop!) But i'd be really interested to see what others think of this, and whether or not the technique can be improved , or even if it's just to find out if it's actually no good at all! (i have no way of analysing images statistically, i simply rely on my own 2 eyes! lol). I know my way around PS pretty well these days (all thanks to AP) but it's basically all down to trial and error, so i don't consider myself an expert by any means. Just wanted to let people know that in advance!
Hey-ho So then, just as i thought the DSO season was well and truly over for me until late August/early September, as it turned out last Saturday night (May 5th) was mostly clear, so i set about trying to finish the NAN image i had captured in Ha a while back (see thread below): So all i needed was some OIII. It's obviously not the ideal time of year to capture this i know, as it's so low on the horizon, but beggar's can't be choosers so i tried my best to make the most of the small amount of astro dark time available and just make the best of it. In the end i managed 9 subs, two of which were sub-standard due to passing clouds, but as is my want these days i still asked APP to stack them (using the Quality setting) and it didn't seem to affect things. So in total this is: Ha: 7 x 480s, 6 x 1200, 13 x 1200 (a little over 7 Hrs) OIII: 9 x 1200s (3 Hrs) RGB (with IDAS-D1 filter): 20 x 60s The usual Flats & Bias, stacked in APP and processed in PS. Gear used: Nikon D5300 (modded); SW 80ED (510mm FL); HEQ5-Pro; SGPro and PHD2. The RGB subs were used solely for the stars. I still need to get better at merging them with the NB channels, i'm not as good as i'd like to be at controlling them. Although in this instance, i did mask the stretching of them, and it definitely helped, but i need to practice this to get better at it. I think the fact that the RGB stack (even at just 20 mins) contained some nebulosity didn't help things. When it's just stars and nothing else, it's so much simpler to combine them. So this is just a Version 1 for now (i'll try an sSHO next). I used Ha for Red, OIII for Blue, and used one of Carboni's Actions to synthesize the Green channel. Then went round and round in circles trying to find a colour balance to my liking (on my rubbish monitor!) so i'd love to hear what you guys think. Too dark? Too much saturation? (i tend to do that, lol). I also couldn't decide on orientation, so have included two different ones. Which do you guys prefer? All C&C welcome. Don't hold back! I'm always looking for ways to improve. Clear skies!