Annie’s Astro Actions
I have purchased and installed Annie’s Astro Actions on my PC thanks to a helpful recommendation from the AstroBackyard community. I love using Adobe Photoshop for astrophotography image processing, and Annie’s Astro Actions are a powerful set of actions that make the process easier, and more efficient.
In combination with the other action sets and plugins I use in Photoshop, Annie’s Astro Actions offer a unique set of tools that has helped me process even better deep sky images. At just $15 US at the time of writing, I believe that the Photoshop actions are a massive value, especially for beginners.
You can download Annie’s Astro Actions on her website.
Annie’s Astro Actions
Currently, I process all of my astrophotography images in Adobe Photoshop. Some users prefer to use PixInsight for this task, or a combination of the two. PixInsight has some incredibly powerful image processing tools based on math and science, where as I believe Photoshop is a little more creative and organic.
An action set is a pre-built set of steps that you can run in a sequence with the press of a button. The author has “recorded” the steps she uses to process deep sky astrophotography images, so that you can apply “play” the same steps to your image. Deep sky image processing is a challenging and time-consuming process, but action sets can make the experience easier and more enjoyable.
Related Article: How to Save an Action Set in Photoshop
For a complete overview of this Photoshop action set from the author herself, watch the following video hosted by Anna Morris on the Astro Imaging Channel. She discusses how the actions were developed over time, and how she still uses this action set for her own astrophotography work to this day.
When you download Annie’s Astro Actions, it includes a helpful PDF document to get you up to speed. It includes information about how to properly install the action set file in Photoshop (.ATN file), and how to use each one of the actions. It also lists the latest updates and release notes to the set. I am currently using version 7.0, which was released in 2015.
I like to follow along with the instructions in the PDF while running the actions to better understand what is taking place when the action is played. The detailed descriptions in this document provide helpful notes and tips to better guide you through the image processing steps that you apply to your photo.
My Favorite Actions in the Set
My favorite actions to run in Photoshop from Annie’s collection are “Ha-OIII bi-color process“, and “Reduce Star Size – Full Photo“. The first action solves a time consuming dilema I faced, where I could not successfully create an acceptable Bi-color image using narrowband Ha and OIII data sets.
The second, is an important part of any deep sky images processing routine, reducing star size. This task can be completed without using Annie’s Astro Actions (Using the filter-minimum) method, but her playing her action is a very subtle way to reduce stars without destroying the details of your deep sky nebula or galaxy.
Thor’s Helmet – Processed using Annie’s Astro Actions.
Using Annie’s Action Set will not only save you time, but tap into the authors experience of deep sky image processing. Many of the actions involve several steps, and include helpful prompts to allow you to customize the particulars of the action.
For example, the Bi-Color action I like to use is very helpful when creating a color image using my images that were captured in with the STC Duo-Narrowband filter.
What does Annie’s Astro Actions Include?
Used to do most of the initial processing for each channel file you have (or a combined RGB image)
Takes 4 aligned channel files to create a complete LRGB image. (using Lab color for better results)
Takes 3 aligned channel files to create a complete RGB image (can be used for Ha, SII, and OIII as well)
Hubble Palette Creation
Takes 3 aligned narrowband channel files to create a completed Hubble palette image
Ha-OIII BiColor Process
Takes processed Ha and OIII files and combines to a complete BiColor image
Takes Ha image and incorporates it into your RGB image
Walks you through simple curves and levels stretching
Enhance Dust Lanes
Used to bring out and sharpen the dust lanes of a galaxy
Used to quickly dynamically stretch and increase contrast in your image
Reduce Star Bloating
Reduces star bloating that can occur when stretching your image
Reduce Star Size – full photo
Reduces the size of your stars for your entire image rather than just selected large stars
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
Reduces the noise in your overall image
Boost Star Colors
Enhances and boosts the colors in the stars in your image
Creates a watermark across your image to protect your images against copyright infringement
Remove “Panda Eyes”
Removes dark rings that can appear around stars when over-sharpened
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)
Star Layer Separate (user assist)
Separates the Stars from your DSO and places them in separate layers, has prompts for user assist to make more accurate
Reduce Vignetting Method #1
1 of 2 methods hat will help reduce vignetting in your image … try both to determine which will work best for your image
Reduce Vignetting Method #2
Second method for reducing vignetting. This one requires less user interaction
Reduces color gradients in your image
Compatibility and Restrictions
You can install Annie’s Astro Actions on multiple computers (that are your own) using the download link you receive after ordering the product. This helpful if you want to install the actions on my primary processing computer and a travel laptop.
Be respectful of the authors work by not sharing the download with others. At $15, there is no excuse for pirating the hard work of an amateur astronomer! Anna does offer bulk licensing for her actions, and you simply need to contact her for pricing.
The action sets are compatible with full versions of Photshop 32 and 64 bit modes. They will work on both a Mac and PC operating system, and are available in English only.
The action sets have been tested to work on the following versions of Adobe Photoshop:
- Adobe Photoshop CS2
- Adobe Photoshop CS3
- Adobe Photoshop CS4
- Adobe Photoshop CS5
- Adobe Photoshop CS6
- Adobe Photoshop CC (Creative Cloud)
To load the actions into Photoshop, you simply need “load” them into the actions window by pressing the “load actions” button within Photoshop. Then, just locate the action set file (.ATN file) you downloaded, and it will appear in your action menu.