Taken a couple of months ago on an overnight hike in the Australian Alps.

For the composition, I wanted to find a rock/foreground that made the Milkyway look like it was exploding

The foreground is a single shot, for the sky I took about 20 shots & stacked it together then aligned it with the original foreground shot.

Specific Feedback Requested

  • Is there a way to make the sky pop more & how do the colours look?
  • In the foreground, because it’s a single shot there was quite a bit of noise & a slight magenta cast. Is this noticeable & if yes how can I fix it?
  • How does do the edges of the rock look? I’m not sure if they’re 100% after blending in the stacked sky - if you know something that could help it look better that would be great

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No
20x shots for the sky, stacked with Starry Landscape Stacker
1x shot for the foreground

Both brought into photoshop with adjustments in Camera raw & dodge/burn layers with luminosity masks

Not a bad photo Dale at all, well done really.

The first thing I did was created to select the Rock with the Object Tool. I did not need the rocks, so I inverted the mask to get all the sky. Then I created a curves adjustment layer. With this I selected a point on the darker part of the milky way and one on the brighter part. Then selected the point on the darker part and moved the pushed on the down arrow (holding the shift key moves 10 pixels at a time)

Next, I created a new hue and saturation adjustment layer. Then I used the same mask as the curves. Holding the Alt (option in MAC) drag the mask to the new layer. If you do not how the ALT the mask is moved. I clicked on the sky background away from the milky way and blue was selected as expected. All I did was moved the Lightness down to the left just a bit.

Next was the bright light near the rocks. I created a new Hue Saturation adjustment layer. I clicked on the light near the rock, and it picked red as I expected. I moved the lightness down about halfway to the left and the saturation just a bit. Since the entire image was affected, I inversed the Mask and used a soft large brush to apply the change only to the light near the rocks. A larger brush is needed because it has a softer edge.

Last I converted the image to a smart object and used the Camera Raw filter to reduce the highlights of the Milkyway. I always use a smart filter because I can make changes later or use the Mask to undo areas the filter changed; I did not need changed.
The Rocks seem ok but I had a JPG so hard to tell. If you are worried about softness of the edge of the rocks because of stacking the stars, you can use just the single image for the rocks. Just have the single photo of the rocks on the bottom layer and use Select and Mask on the layer with the sky and rock below. Read about Select and Mask if that is new to you.

I included what I did, a screen shot of PS so you can see the layers, and a link to my TIFF with the layers saved. I have the subscription so have the latest version of PS. I do use a Night Sky filter that works very well on my 82mm lens I have. I work at Kitt Peak Observatory Visitor Center and use it all the time. It takes out light pollution well.

Link to the TIFF file and if your PS is recent you should see my layers!AkP-onLZLeuoi9wv2sbznob7oLSdLw?e=xyagub

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This is a gorgeous and dramatic shot, so well composed with the rocks! It does evoke an explosion. It’s also a treat to see the Galactic Center upside down! I am SO jealous of the view of the Milky Way down there, with the best part high overhead. I could wish for a little higher camera angle, with a little less rock and more sky, but that’s asking for icing on the cake.

SLS did a very nice job! I’m curious to know the camera, lens and settings.

Noise in the FG can be fixed several ways but I think Topaz DeNoise is at the top of the heap.

@Dean_Salman’s darkening does look a bit more realistic but I think I’d hold the contrast of the sky down just a bit.

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Wonderful image Dale, the composition is very dynamic. I love how the Milky Way seems to a beacon of light emanating from the boulder. I prefer the processing of the original presentation, rather than the darker rework. I like seeing the added detail in the rocks.

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