Image Processing in Photoshop

Bringing Your Time and Effort to Life

You’ve just spent hours, or even days or weeks collecting data for your latest object. You stack up all of your light frames with your calibration frames (darks, flats and BIAS) in DeepSkyStacker and let it do it’s thing. What comes out is a very dim view of your object, or a even what looks like a red hazy image with no object at all. If you did the first part of the job right, your data is in there, I promise. How do you pull that data out in the most effective way possible? Well, I’m sorry to say there is no magic bullet because everybody’s data is different. However, there are methodologies, workflows, and tools to help you along.

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Imaging from Late Summer Into Fall (waiting for Orion season)

So you’ve gotten through the Milky Way objects in Sagittarius and they’ve have started to fade off to the West. After that marathon, you might be wondering where to go next. Don’t worry, so many great objects are in prime spots, or are coming up!

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Why Are We Always Whining About How Hard This Is?

You’re just taking pictures of the sky, right? How hard can it be to just point the camera up and click a button? Maybe set a timer. People generally aren’t that condescending when they ask me about the difficulties of imaging deep sky objects, but they clearly don’t understand how damn hard this is. And that’s fine, why would they? Most people just click away on their phone or point and shoot camera, and off they go. A more advanced photographer trying to stabilize a 500mm lens might have a slightly better idea of the difficulties of long exposure photography of a moving object through a telescope. Maybe I can offer a bit of a primer for what I find most challenging, and why I choose to take on the challenge.

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Summer Opportunities for Everyone

June has arrived and the treasures of the Southern Milky Way are coming into a viewable window for me by about 11:30PM. Great objects like M51 and M101 are still perched high in the sky after dusk, but if I’m being honest, they don’t pique my interest as much as the brightness of the Lagoon Nebula, the colors of the Trifid or the majesty of the Eagle. Just like I wait for Andromeda and the Triangulum galaxies to rise up in August and dominate the fall, and Orion to take center stage in November to dominate the Winter. The Sagittarius arm of the Milky Way can contain a Summer full of imaging in itself.

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Milky Way Treasures

I haven’t been out under the stars much at all lately due to weather and busy schedules, but I found myself staring up last night at a clear sky. It was too windy, and too late to bring out the whole rig. I dragged out the mount and my daughter’s 70mm f10 toy scope to show her Jupiter. It was windy and seeing was terrible as a cold front had just come through in the afternoon. We had our ten minutes of fun looking at a fuzzy Jupiter and I brought in the scope, Leaving the mount out as there was no chance of rain.

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My Universe

I’m sitting in a surgery waiting room writing this. I don’t know what else to do and I can’t stare at the numerous status monitors knowing my wife’s neck is cut open while doctors probe millimeters from her spinal chord. Most people don’t know about my wife’s surgery because I didn’t post it on Facebook, or let people know who didn’t need to know. “Thoughts and prayers” are mostly bullshit people use to gain a sense of self importance and to feel relevant to a situation in which they are not involved. On the flip-side, I’ve always felt the people seeking thoughts and prayers on a social media platform just want to advertise their current situation for sympathy. I didn’t want either, so I didn’t advertise. The people who really are thinking and praying for my wife and our family don’t need to say it. Their actions are their voice. By the time this is posted, if it’s posted, the surgery will be over, and my wife be home, and I’ll be shooting the sky again. Most people still won’t even know that anything happened.

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Spectre/Meltdown Broke my Telescope!

OK – it didn’t really break the scope, but the patches did create an access violation in the driver that prevented me from connecting to my mount. The solution for me, though temporary, was easy. I have a PC that I only use to control the mount and cameras, so I uninstalled the update and was back at it in a few minutes. I have no problem leaving it this way if and until Microsoft or ASCOM releases a patch to the patch.

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This is Your Art

The other hobby I have a borderline unhealthy obsession with is cycling. Its freeing, as challenging or easy as you want it to be, therapeutic, and just plain damn fun. I’ve cycled tens of thousands of miles over the years, and commuted over ten miles each way to work in 100 degree heat, and 10 degree chill for ten years. All I did was get on and pedal. Unfortunately, to this day, I have magazines, and blogs, and people who have less than 1000 miles on their legs tell me everything I’m doing is “wrong”. I have the wrong tires, my cadence is off, I can’t seriously be cycling without Lycra and cycling specific socks, can I? Yes, socks are actually a debate in cycling. Throughout the years of cycling, my constant message has been this – get on and pedal. It’s that simple. I’ve been cycling seriously for a couple decades. I follow the laws. I know what is safe might not always be considered “right”, but I know I’m safe. I’m sitting on the seat, moving my feet and the bike is moving. That’s it. That’s cycling. I’m not doing it wrong.

I’m also not taking pictures wrong, either are you.

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