Trying to account for where I've been

A better result with simpler processing:

Original post:

In October I stepped into a black hole, getting back into astrophotography. Just now coming up for air. Three months to get a photography rig set up and learning to use it and the next two trying to re-learn processing, which has changed hugely – and for the better. Shooting and processing these distant and dim sky objects is literally another world. You track the object for many hours, over several nights in the best cases. Then you let your computer run overnight to calibrate and “integrate” all of them. Then, if you’re OCD, you start with a piece of software that makes Photoshop look like a kindergarten coloring book and has only scattershot and mostly dated documentation.

Type of Critique Requested

Specific Feedback and Self-Critique

This is the first result I’d even show anyone after spending weeks exploring every permutation of doing all the possible steps wrong. The processing needs to be seriously improved at several steps.

Technical Details

Since you asked… About 4 hours of 40-second exposures (tracked, of course). Calibrated and integrated in PixInsight WBBP, crop, image solve, remove stars, extract BG gradient, stars back, spectrophotometric color calibrate, slight sharpening and noise removal, apply a curve to go from nonlinear to linear, more contrast and saturation.


Congratulations Diane! Your hard work has produced a beautiful image. This kind of work is not “easy” from my very little experience so far. You took a big leap into the deep end with all your gear and also PixInsight…I’m still too scared to take that program on. Been thinking of trying the SIRIL software, but I know PixInsight is the Ferrari!

Hi Diane,
that looks awesome. I am not a deep-sky specialist. But as far as I can tell your hard work has really paid off. There are so many fine details and textures in the nebula. I enjoy it very much.

There are two different things that fascinate me about such images. First, of course, the technical stuff. What you can produce with stacking and the workflow you described is terrific. I mean, you can’t even see the Rosette Nebula with the naked eye.
And that brings me to the second point: It’s hard to believe that the light hitting your sensor was emitted over 5000 years ago.

I look forward to seeing your second result. :grinning:

Already got a better result, rather unaccountably, without doing the star removal for the dynamic BG extraction. And also left a little more headroom in the black point when going nonlinear, so I could do a curves with less apparent clipping in the blacks. I’m calling this my final and going on to the other two objects I need to process, and a redo of the comet with maybe better techniques.

@Mark_Muller and @Jens_Ober, thanks for the appreciation!

1 Like

Now you’ve taken it to another level. What a difference!
The stars appear to be smaller and the nebula and its textures come out much better.

Can’t wait to see the next result.

Wow, Diane, this is incredible. You have certainly applied everything you’ve learned to make an excellent photo. I can’t even imaging the learning curve involved and will be happy to let you take that on and share so I can enjoy the fruits of your labor. Just wonderful.

Thank you for sharing the process and learning curve with astrophotography. I’ve thought about dipping my toes, but for now still focused on getting better at nightscapes. I like the re-worked version that really showcases the nebula. Fascinating what the advances in technology makes possible these days. Looking forward to seeing more.

Thanks, @Jens_Ober, @_Kris and @DeanRoyer – this has been a huge distraction for several month but I think I now have things worked out so it can co-exist with having a life.

It started out as a hoped-for extension of my cameras and telephoto lenses, but that quickly proved less than satisfactory for gorgeous but very dim deep sky objects, even with good tracking.