About the Blog

This blog contains recent projects, activities, and musings about astrophotography and space, to view my main webpage with prints for sale, final images, and Annie's Astro Actions, please visit: www.eprisephoto.com


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Release Date!!!!

Annie's Astro Actions v1.0 have been released as of 19 January 2010. 
All orders taken between now and the published release date of 30 January 2010 will still receive the pre-order rate so hurry and order before regular prices go in effect!

To see the latest version of the Actions as well as to order, please visit our official webpage

Finalizing Action List

The 25 free pre-orders went fairly quickly, which is exciting and I hope that everyone who gets them will find them a valuable set for processing and will spread the word about them.

Likewise, I would appreciate any feedback about the actions or if you encounter any problems so I can get them fixed for everyone.

I am running a few more tests, and then it looks like the set will be released early!!! (The special Pre-Order price will continue to be valid until after the published release date of 30 January)

The final list of actions in Annie's Astro Actions is:
  • Channel Process: Used to do most of the initial processing for each channel file you have (or a combined RGB image)
  • Create LRGB: Takes 4 channel files to create a complete LRGB image
  • Create RGB: Takes 3 channel files to create a complete RGB image (can be used for Ha, SII, and OIII as well)
  • Enhance Galaxy Dust Lanes: Used to bring out and sharpen the dust lanes of a galaxy
  • Make DSO Stand Out: Highlights and Sharpens your DSO - for color images [first update will allow for greyscale images as well ... if you have a greyscale and want to use this, just convert to RGB first]
  • Brighten Color & Sharpen: Increases the saturation of colors in the image while also sharpening the image slightly
  • Smooth Out Image: Gives the overall appearance a "softer" look
  • Remove Stars (Large Image): Removes the Stars from your image (for large chip cameras & DSLRs)
  • Remove Stars (Small Image):  Removes the Stars from your image (for small chip cameras)
  • Create Mosaic (6 panel): Takes 6 panels and does the initial processing for a mosaic
  • Create Mosaic (4 panel): Takes 4 panels and does the initial processing for a mosaic
  • Star Layer Separate (Large Image): Separates the Stars from your DSO and places them in separate layers, ideal for large chip cameras as well as DSLR images
  • Star Layer Separate (Small Image): Separates the Stars from your DSO and places them in separate layers, ideal for small chip cameras 
Before and afters for many of the actions are in the next blog post down.
Let me know if you have any questions!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Before and After of Annie's Astro Actions

Here are some of the actions in action (no pun intended). I will soon have Before and Afters for all of the ones I am putting on the set:

Channel Processing:

Star Layer Separate:

Remove Stars:
(Note: Large stars might leave behind faint remnants, they are easily removed after the action with the "healing tool" in the tool panel

Increase Color/Saturation:
(Note: the effect of this action is subtle so as to not overdo it in a single action, feel free to run this action multiple times to get the effect you desire)

Create a Mosaic (6 panel):

The final result of the mosaic is in a thread below after some fine alignment of the panels (since I shot in alt-az and therefore had rotation throughout the night) and final levels adjustment then changing the opacity of the panels back to 100%.

More to come!!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Annie's Astro Actions - almost ready for release!

I am still developing more actions, but my Astroimaging Actions are almost ready for release!!!

The first 25 people who pre-order will get the entire action set for FREE!!! After that, any preorders will only be $8 (this is reduced from previously posted rate of $10).

So far in the action set are the following actions:
Channel Process
Creating LRGB image from 4 channel files
Create RGB image from 3 channel files
Create a 6 panel mosaic
Create a 4 panel mosaic

Enhance Galaxy dust trails
Separate Star Field & DSO into separate layers (Large image)
Separate Star Field & DSO into separate layers (Small image)

[edit] Newly added
Brighten Color & Sharpen
Make DSO Stand Out
Smooth Out Image
Remove Stars (Large Image)
Remove Stars (Small Image)

I am adding to the "Newly added" list as I add more. I want to make sure that all actions in the set are useful and will work for a variety of images (which is why there are some that are broken down for large and small images)! Spread the word and preorder before they are released to save a few $!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Making a mosaic

If you want to image a larger object with a small chip CCD it inevitably leaves to one thing: Mosaics. My first attempt turned out fairly well (I made a 6 panel mosaic of the Rosette Nebula), but did take a good bit of figuring out, aligning, and minute stretching adjustments to balance the panels once they were processed and aligned. I tried various ways to create the mosaic and found that Photoshop was the easiest way out of the programs I currently have.

I was going to specify all the steps to make a mosaic, but instead I created actions for my new action set to do this for both a 6 panel and a 4 panel mosaic (I might expand to a 9 panel as well - havent decided). From there its just a matter of rotating and continuous slight stretching with levels and curves around and around until they all merge together seamlessly.

Here is my result:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Astronomy Processing Tools for Photoshop CS2

I am in the process of creating some astronomy tools for Photoshop CS2. If you are interested in testing them with me, please let me know ...

I only have CS2 on my computers but believe they are compatible with a few other versions of Photoshop as well, so if you have different versions of Photoshop and want to let me know how they work with them let me know as well ...

For those willing to help test and provide me with your thoughts/information on how it works for you I will provide you will free updates of the actions. These actions will be free while in testing phase but I might eventually charge for them (not much, but still) so get in on the ground floor if you want!!

I currently have five actions:
Processing individual channel files
Creating LRGB image from 4 channel files
Create RGB image from 3 channel files
Create a 6 panel mosaic
Create a 4 panel mosaic

Please let me know what other processes in astro-imaging you would like to see actions for, ie things that would make your processing life easier!!

Anyone willing to donate (even $1 or more if you want!) to my development of these actions, please click the following button.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Small objects are quite difficult (at least for me!)

So I have quickly learned that for some reason I have alot more difficulties shooting small objects (relatively speaking in the sky), such as galaxies and small planetary nebulas, than objects like nebulas. I had always heard nebula photography was incredibly difficult so this flip-flop in what I expected has kinda taken me by surprise. Over Christmas I shot a few smaller galaxies, most of which I had to scrap the data on as wind caused too much movement in the scope, but here is one I got of the Bear Claw Galaxy in LRGB, 30 second subs, about 80 of each channel:

Processing this to get an even background was difficult, even with flats and darks, so I thought I would give another small object a try once I got back home. Last night I shot NGC 1501, a small planetary nebula and found I had the same problems with the background, but eventually I think I came up with an ok result. LRGB, 27 second subs, Lum channel - 180 subs, RGB channels - 85 subs each.

Neither are great and neither are up to being hung on anyone's wall, but its all about learning, and over the past few months I think I have done just that. . .

I dont know if the small object difficulty is due to me being on an alt-az mount still and limited to 30 second or less subexposures (I suspect it does play a great part of it), or some other reason, but with the ccd camera I am using (Meade DSI II Pro), and my CPC800 I have a very narrow FOV so small objects are about all I can do in there. I do have an Orion EON 80ED that I use for imaging as well and get a larger FOV, not to mention my Nikon D40 that has a significantly larger chip than the DSI II Pro does, but it's results are not ideal either thanks to chromatic aberrations and other issues.

I suppose no camera will ever be perfect, and it does indeed seem like processing is the main limiting factor in astrophotography, so as the New Year starts I will continue to collect photons and in my spare time work on processing and reprocessing objects until small objects dont cause as much processing frustrations and I continue to roam the skies for more of them to shoot.

Monitor Calibration

Monitor Calibration
The grayscale above presents 24 shades of gray from pure white to solid black. If you cannot see all 24, your monitor needs calibration to view the astrophotos correctly: I recommend the site linked in the image