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M 31... Which version is best!

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This is to illustrate the importance of processing! The image is 14 X 5 min, iso 800, stacked in DSS and processed in Photoshop. 

My first effort posted a few days ago is this:-


The thread had some very helpful advice about boosting and balancing colours through Levels in Lab Colour and blending modes. The next iteration was this:-


I then found another thread on M 31 that pointed to a workflow by Martinez. http://stargazerslounge.com/topic/260290-excited-over-my-my-attempt-on-m31/    I started afresh, followed it more or less exactly and produced this:-


I don't know really which one is best! I like the second one, the colours are deep and striking but the third one has more of the blue and has a lot more detail in the lower rim, probably because of the more rigorous Curves and SMI method that unearths lots more detail.

Which is best? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder I guess. What do you think! LOL.  :help: 

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All images are great. But if I compare them, I think, image nr 2 has a clearer core. It is bright but not blown out. The dark nebulae extend quite far into the center. The center of image nr 3 seems flat. The blue nebulosity along the rim is clearer in image nr 3 than 2. Image nr 2 has a colour cast toward pink/purple. Overall, I think a combination of the rim of nr 3 and the core of nr 2 would contain the best of both.

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 you did a good job on the detail in #2 but the core is more controlled in #2. Also the color in #3 is more "realistic" than the others. So over all I'd say #3 but I think you could control the core a bit better like you did in #2. Keep it up, you're doing a good job.

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I would say 2 is the best of 3.. If you could figure a way of maybe layering it and blending the third pictures blues into the second one I think that would be the best of everything.

Thank you... Tried layering and masking to combine both. It's either a glorious combination or a naff compromise! I think it looks OK... Why didn't I think of that  :blob8:


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Late to the party but of the original 3 I like the blue of the third and the core of the second.

My own personal view and I'm no expert (well not even a rank amateur) the layered one would go on my wall.

Thanks for sharing you must be well chuffed. I know I would be.


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I'm very late to this one.  I like the 3rd image, as the central core of the galaxy pop out.  That gives more of an impression of the shape of the galaxy to me.

That said.  The combined image later is something else.  wow, just wow.

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I'd go for 4 but with the saturation dropped down a tad. It's very good, in any event.  All my images are multi layered blends of 'this effort and that effort.' I'm constantly cherry-picking this bit and that bit for a final image.

In looking through the thread there seems to be the idea that processing is not unimportant in imaging. In my world, processing IS imaging. Well, let's get this in balance. Once you get to a certain stage your capture is at a point at which it isn't going to get any better. That point can be reached fairly quickly. What cannot be reached fairly quickly, and what I doubt that anyone alive has ever encountered, is the point at which their data can give no more. Any astrophotographer with 'kit X' will reach the near-perfect capture decades before he or she reaches the perfect processing. There will be those who then throw up their arms and say, 'Well it's all Photoshop, then?' but they'd be entirely wrong. It's all about getting the best out of your data, which is not the same as inventing it.


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Olly.  Whilst on this forum and others I'll talk about image capture and processing as two separate things.  I do see them both as a single process.

Look back 100 years into history, (or 40 years for that matter) and photography was done on film.    You had three steps to the process of producing an image.

1. Preparation

2. Image capture

3. Dark room processing

Whilst the steps have changes with the advent of digital, the process remains much the same.

1. Preparation

2. Image Capture

3. Light room processing

The massive advantage with today's technology is that the image capture is digital and so making a copy is easy.  This means that you can process and reprocess the originals many many times over.  Use different techniques to bring out different results.  It's possible and easy to go back to the beginning and start over - something that you couldn't do with the old tech as you'd chemically alter the original image, or spend a fortune making copies which would be degraded compared to the original.

The final image is always the result of the entire processing, so if you spend hours capturing data and do a little work post, or spent a little time capturing data and alot of time in post, it doesn't really matter, the end result is all that really counts.   Talking about the two parts separately helps people to get their head around the entire process of producing an image.

For me the time when "it's photoshopped"  becomes an issue is when you are using the tool to distort the image in a way that is not sympathetic with the origional.  At least in Astrophotography.  A good bad practice is when the artists working on magazines remove parts of someones body to make them look thinner - I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.   From an artistic point of view, I have not problem with it.  From a technical point of view, I also have no problem with it.  From the point of view of "this is a representation of a human body" I have a huge problem with it.  I apply the same thought process to anything that I attempt.

A heavily photoshopped image is as valid as a raw image.  But it'll be interesting to see what happens with the raw image is put through post capturing (or the light room)

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