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Trouble with Heart and Soul


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Hello everyone,

Over the last new moon I was gathering data on the heart and soul, just love this object when people get it right, wanted to capture them cirrus areas of the heart that drift away from the main object. I have, and can see it in there, but the whole image has been absolutely obliterated by stars! Not even nice looking stars, just looks like the image is covered in sand.

One thing I think is wrong - possibly over exposed, I think I was letting the histogram drift too close to the middle, although from reading I assume this won't help with the amount of stars. From what I can find to help with the stars, a good star reduction tool, which I have done multiple star reductions in StarTools, however doing too many ruins the image.

But also I've read a multipass narrowband filter such as an L-Extreme would help images like this, I am looking to get one of them as I love seeing the images produced using these. Just deciding on which, L-Extreme, L-Enhance, or a clip in one such as the SkyTech Triband, what do people think here, how do these compare to each other?

Heres the image anyhow, will also post the TIF to see what everyone else can do with it.

Its taken on the Modified 600D, Skyguider Pro, 135mm Lens@F3.2, Caliberated with Bias and Flats. 4 hours worth of data.


Grant :)



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The main thing is to give the lower brightnesses a much harder stretch than the higher, so the nebulosity is stretched harder than the stars.  One way to do this is to stretch in Curves rather than levels. Levels does stretch the faint stuff harder than the bright but you can do so more forcefully in Curves.


Firstly I got rid of the LP gradient in Pixinsight using ABE for speed. DBE is better. I then went into Photoshop.

You can just use a regular log stretch in Levels at first, bringing the background sky up to about 22 in Photoshop values.

Once the background is at about 22 don't stretch it again. Pin it at 22 and stretch above it using a curve like the one below, which will avoid stretching the bright stars too much.



Only do repeat iterations of small stretches like this.

I also ran several iterations of Pro Digital Astronomy Tools 'Make Stars Smaller.'  These were formerly known as Noel's Actions and are worth having. 

A good way to get more out of your Ha data in one shot colour or RGB images is to go to Ps Adjustments-Selective Colour and lower the cyans in red. (Top slider goes left.) This is spectacular.

The methods I'm suggesting will always work better with more data because you are stretching the hell out of the faint stuff!


Edit:  As Bruno says, you could make a starless version with Starnet++ but then put the linear original on top in Ps layers, change the blend mode to Lighten and stretch the linear image gently. Only the stars will appear on the starless one. I'd have done that but my copy of Starnet has vanished from this PC!

Edited by ollypenrice
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5 hours ago, Grant93 said:

the whole image has been absolutely obliterated by stars


But it's the Milky Way. It should have stars. Thousands of them!

Lovely shot. Another 4 hours would make it even better.



Edited by alacant
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Thank you for that detailed explanation @ollypenrice And the beautiful process, love the colors. I'll probably download the free trial of Pixinsight and give it a go over the weekend. 

@alacant haha I know that but I want them out my photos so they don't take anything away from the nebula itself, did you try that NBAccent yet? I can't seem to get it to work.

How would you guys say that was to proccess? Did my flats look like they were doing their job?

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