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Making my skies dark: PixInsight and Whirlpool


PortableAstronomer
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During these days of cloudy weather and fireworks going off all over town, I thought I would re-process some images from earlier in the year in PixInsight, after reading more tutorials and gaining more tips.

What I find very rare on SGL is imagers who post threads that show their environment and the ´before and after processing´ so we can get an insight into the skills and techniques they are using to produce amazing results.

Well my results are more modest, but I´d like to give urban astronomers (i.e. "the rest of us") some hope while their back yard is blinded with orange glow.

Below you´ll see the effect of some industrial greenhouses a few kms South of where I live. Obviously that´s on a cloudy night so the effect is made worse by that, and we do get some nights after a cold front when we can actually see some stars, but you get the point. The orange image is a stack of M51, then stretched. Finally the processed M51 done in PixInsight, which gets me blown away by just how effective it can be for light pollution.

I used

- dynamic background extraction

- histogram stretch with gamma about 0.03

- HDRWavelet transformation

- Morpholigical transformation to tighten the stars

- further DBE and curves.

- Colour saturation stretch, and a masked noise reduction.

Most of these techniques you can find in Harry Page´s videos.

Happy New Year, hope 2011 has a few more clear nights than 2010.

Chris

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Superb rewsult Chris :(

Sara, There are a few "shortcut" plugins required for CS to make life easier... if you add up the cost of them all it's a fair chunk towards the cost of Pixinsight...

GradientXTerminator

Astronomy Tools Action Set by ProDigital Software

Hasta La Vista, Green! | Deep Sky Colors - Astrophotography by Rogelio Bernal Andreo

Billy...

Edited by Psychobilly
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I'd like to see anyone show us extreme transformations and light-pollution removal using Photoshop alone. If any "die-hard" Photoshop user shows examples of removing gradients and background LP to the extent that I need it, then I might go "wow" and take a serious look.

But whatever tools you use, I am sure I am not the only one that would love to see more "before and after" images, and more info on how they processed them, and some 30-second exposures of the view of the sky from their imaging site is a really good reference point to judge how well they've really done.

The only thing that really gets on my nerves are the occasional [but unfortunately very influential] few who bang on about PS being the 'de-facto standard' as if to suggest that anyting else is a silly amateur toy / not to be taken seriously etc... I had an argument with one very aristocratic astro club chairman on this; he thought it was acceptable to tell anyone interested in imaging to fork out €1500 on Maxim & full-version Photoshop as a minimum, to all his members, and not waste time on anything else. He had a point, but I didn't like his other motives, so I left.

Edited by PortableAstronomer
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Hi Chris - well said

I think you've started something worthwhile here with the before and after images.

Great job on M51 too!

I've had a trial version of PixInsight just recently and it's a definate "Buy!" for me (once it's been approved by the boss). I think it's superb.

I'm also with you entirely on Photoshop. It's a great piece of software which I've used a lot but you're talking about $70 for the Gradient Exterminator and Astro Tools plugins - PS CS4 is on Amazon at the moment for £99 - so if you're starting from scratch you're up to £150...which IMHO makes Pixinsight real value if you want a dedicated tool for our hobby.

Happy New Year

Steve

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Great image and fantastic result from some quite polluted skies. I've observed the same sentiments regarding PS and it's been interesting watching the slow acceptance of PI. I guess people get used too using something and if it works for them then there's little need or willingness to change.:(

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Hi

I try and avoid the war of the words :p regarding photoshop as it does get a bit hot sometimes :)

So I try and show what pixinsight can do and then its up to them :(

Congrates on a nice image and hopefully we will see plenty in the new year from you

Kind regards

Harry

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Yep 99 pounds does sound good for PS CS4, particularly if you do a lot of terrestrial photography and want to work with landscape or portrait photos. I might have been tempted if I had a DSLR, but I can't really take my QHY8 CCD out on walks in the woods with me. Wish I could though.

Edited by PortableAstronomer
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Excellent work and I find PI better than Grad X for the slight gradients I sometimes get. However, I have no intention in being drawn into tribalism over this and will remain bisexual on the matter for many years to come, assuming I am not murdered by a PI fundamentalist for saying...

That the PI interface is gratuitously geeky! I mean the terminology!! Screen Transfer Function. Pardon? This is the preview stretch, right? The phrase is written for the software writer, not the user.

Or the path that goes Script-Utilites-Preview Aggregator Oh, right, well yes, that's nice and clear...

It is so unnecessary and will cost them thousands of sales, which is a shame because once a lot of people use it a community grows up around it and ideas flow. At the moment it is like joining a secret society of alchemists! I've joined but am still confused.

Olly

Edited by ollypenrice
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I got my PS plugins back in the days when PI was even less friendly.. its come on a long way...

I prefer to tackle LP with a decent LP filter to allow for longer exposures...

These days if Astro is your thing and you dont have access to "Photoshop" then PI is pretty much a no brainer...

Billy...

Edited by Psychobilly
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Hi

bubble bubble toil and trouble :p

I know some of the names are long , but from the outside some of the photoshop talk is alien :) i mean why is levels any clearer than histogram transformation :D its only because you know what it means .

We live in a multicultural world and there is room for us all :D , but I will turn you to the darkside padwan :(

Regards Harry

Excellent work and I find PI better than Grad X for the slight gradients I sometimes get. However, I have no intention in being drawn into tribalism over this and will remain bisexual on the matter for many years to come, assuming I am not murdered by a PI fundamentalist for saying...

That the PI interface is gratuitously geeky! I mean the terminology!! Screen Transfer Function. Pardon? This is the preview stretch, right? The phrase is written for the software writer, not the user.

Or the path that goes Script-Utilites-Preview Aggregator Oh, right, well yes, that's nice and clear...

It is so unnecessary and will cost them thousands of sales, which is a shame because once a lot of people use it a community grows up around it and ideas flow. At the moment it is like joining a secret society of alchemists! I've joined but am still confused.

Olly

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Hi

as you say get the trial and see :(

don't forget to have a look at my video tuts :)

Regards Harry

I am looking at getting the PI trial before I make a decision what to do. I am just learning anout PS processing for astro, not sure if my brain can cope with anything else new!
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Olly summed it up nicely with some examples of seemingly unintuitive features of the PixInsight user interface. I think PixInsight would have sold a lot better if it had a sort of Photoshop-compatibillty style of presentation in a sort of "beginners mode" front-end, which is limited but at least gives PS users some feeling of familiarity; or if that isn't possible they could have done some videos to say "this is how you would do it in PS... Now this is how you do a similar process in PI". Only then have an advanced mode that gives you PixInsight as it really is ; a set of menus and hundreds of parameters to drive mathematical processes, but very powerful.

SAP doesn't have a nice interface either, but companies still spend millions on both licences and consulting for it.

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The fact is PI does things that PS plainly can't. As I've said before it's hard to believe PS is as good as it is now if you'd ever used the early versions (2.5 in my case). Adobe have poured many $millions into it since then and it shows. I'm sure PI will mature and become easier for the average user to pick up. I remember buying a book 3" thick about getting good images for press out of PS5. It didn't include any dialogue on any filters apart from unsharp masking. I read it 3 times. When you spend the same amount of time on PI you'll very soon 'get it'. I suspect that when it becomes good enough to squirt rubbish in and get an Hubble quality image out the average user will say it's good!

David

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The fact is PI does things that PS plainly can't. As I've said before it's hard to believe PS is as good as it is now if you'd ever used the early versions (2.5 in my case). Adobe have poured many $millions into it since then and it shows. I'm sure PI will mature and become easier for the average user to pick up. I remember buying a book 3" thick about getting good images for press out of PS5. It didn't include any dialogue on any filters apart from unsharp masking. I read it 3 times. When you spend the same amount of time on PI you'll very soon 'get it'. I suspect that when it becomes good enough to squirt rubbish in and get an Hubble quality image out the average user will say it's good!

David

I hope that the old saying,' Rubbish in, rubbish out' will always apply though!

Olly

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