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Astrophotography | 14 Must-Know Starting Tips

|Telescopes|4 Comments

If you’re getting started in astrophotography, I am here to save you some time and frustration by learning from the mistakes of myself and others.

Whether you’re looking into a full-blown deep-sky camera and telescope setup, or just getting started with a DSLR and tripod, I think this article will come in handy.

The following advice and tips were compiled by myself and the hundreds of responses I received when I asked the AstroBackyard community: “What’s the most important piece of advice you’d like to give to beginners?”

So get ready, because the advice I have may surprise you.

1) Astrophotography is more than deep-sky imaging

You need to choose an area of interest. I know you want to do it all. Planets, meteor shower time-lapses, galaxies, nightscapes, but you should narrow down your interests to focus on the equipment and techniques that are most important for your goals. 

To me, astrophotography usually means deep-sky images of galaxies and nebulae. To others, it’s a nightscape of the winter constellations rising above a snow-covered mountain.

Astrophotography is a close-up of the surface of Mars, a wide-angle photo of the Milky Way, and everything in between. This is why it is difficult to provide broad astrophotography tips that cover all aspects of the hobby. 

Types of astrophotography

You need to decide which area of the hobby interests you most because the necessary equipment varies wildly depending on the one you choose. I generally stick to tracked, long-exposure images through a telescope, but for others, it’s a wide-angle lens and a hike through the mountains.

A pet peeve of mine is when people generalize “astrophotography” into one aspect, and make ‘rules’ that confuse beginners. Taking a photo of the moon with your phone through a manual Dobsonian telescope is still astrophotography, just in its simplest form. 

So pick an area of interest early on and don’t try to do it all. For me, that’s deep-sky imaging through a telescope in the backyard because it’s the most practical way for me to enjoy the hobby. For you, a lighter travel-friendly system may make more sense. 

astrophotography equipment

2) Become obsessed with your progress

If you’re like me, all it takes to stay motivated is to make progress toward your goal. It’s a simple concept, but it’s difficult to sustain at times. They can be very small steps, but always forward, not back.

The reason I say this is that you need to appreciate your own personal progress (not someone else’s) to stay excited about astrophotography. The game of astrophotography is best enjoyed on the court, not the sidelines. Only you will truly know the meaning and pride behind each photo.

Orion Nebula comparison

My progress on the Orion Nebula from 2010 to 2021

Will the average Joe see your image and say “that’s unbelievable”? Lots will, but others may say “I’ve seen better”, or “you could have just found a better picture online”. The difference is, this image was captured by you, the person who didn’t even know how to use a telescope just a few months ago.

You spent the time perfecting your craft to capture and share an image of an object you chose. You watched the image get better and better over time as you patiently gathered light on it.

Comparing your latest version of a deep-sky target with your previous attempt is a real eye-opener, and you should be very proud of the progress you’ve made. Astrophotography is not for the dabblers. It takes grit to get to the finish line.

3) If it were easy, everyone would do it

Astrophotography, in all aspects, is hard. Expect to fail several times and to get frustrated and discouraged. This is not a hobby you walk into and get immediate results. If that’s the game you’re playing, you will need to adjust your expectations accordingly.

Celebrate any amount of progress, because it truly is an amazing feat. You balanced your rig, you focused your camera. Maybe you set everything up and didn’t get a single picture but you will next time because you learned a pivotal step of the process through the experience that you now know forever.

Setting up my telescope on a cold winter night.

The steep learning curve of astrophotography is the barrier to entry, and why I respect anyone that has chosen to take the challenge on. We are a different breed, and that’s why what we do is extraordinary. At some point, you may even run into people that claim your images are fake, but I believe it is because they just don’t understand the process. 

4) Take online advice with a grain of salt

There are some amazing resources out there to learn astrophotography on your own. YouTube, Facebook Groups, Reddit, and Forums. The problem is, there is a lot of conflicting advice, and the people that like to hang out there can be a little opinionated.

My wife Ashley recently got started in astrophotography, and I cringe at the idea of her posting a question in a forum about her Sky-Watcher mount and someone saying “you got the belt mod done right? You re-greased the worm gear? Don’t even bother using it before you do that or your guiding will be terrible. Throw out all of your subs that aren’t 0.3 arc seconds per pixel or less.”

That’s the kind of information that scares people away from our hobby for good. The scary part is, many people read the hive-mind expert advice, and start telling others about it as if it were true. I’ve even read outrageous stories about me written by a stranger. The internet can be a strange place. 

So like I said, take everything with a grain of salt and understand that the advice or opinions there aren’t always true. Instead, reach out to an individual astrophotographer who’s around your skill level (or better yet, just ahead of you) and kick ideas off of them.

Unlike the faceless keyboard warriors, they do not have the incentive of manufacturing drama for attention or boast about their extensive knowledge. There’s a good chance you will make some lifetime friends through these authentic connections, too. 

If you can’t find a mentor yet, try replicating the exact process you have watched on YouTube. Look at the results they are achieving, so you have a realistic expectation of what you could potentially accomplish.

5) Your mount is really important, get a good one

Beginners like to focus on the camera and telescope used for an astrophoto they see shared online. “What telescope did you use” is the most common question I get when newcomers see my photos on Twitter and Instagram.

The telescope is essential, yes, but it’s the equatorial tracking mount that makes it all possible. Whether it’s a star tracker or a full-blown goto system, you can make your life easier by choosing one that’s been proven to be reliable.

William Optics FLT 132

Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro

The basics like polar alignment and balance may seem obvious, but I still see beginners getting this wrong early on and blaming their equipment. Take the time to understand how your tracking mount works and its limitations. 

This will be your platform for almost every type of astrophotography you do. Once you are comfortable with consistently setting it up properly and polar aligning it, you are free to experiment with new camera settings, filters, and techniques.

Aim for a motorized equatorial mount (not an alt-az), that has a listed maximum payload capacity that is well over the weight of your imaging gear. If that’s only 11 pounds, no problem, there are still plenty of configuration possibilities on there. 

compact telescope

Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer GTi Mount

I really like the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer GTi, the EQ6-R Pro, and most recently, the super portable ZWO AM5. Look at what others are using, and the imaging system they have riding on top. If they consistently pump out great images with it, that’s a pretty good sign.

6) Don’t start with a long focal length telescope!

A long focal length (anything over 1000mm) means a higher native magnification. So, when you attach a camera, this is the field of view you will get.

If you are used to a camera lens, 300mm is considered a long telephoto lens, but in the telescope world, this is taken to the extreme. A popular telescope package choice for astrophotographers starting out is a Celestron CGEM II 800 at over 2000mm.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a great telescope package, but I believe it will make that first tracked, long-exposure image of a nebula or galaxy harder to achieve. 

Celestron telescope

A high-magnification SCT is less forgiving than a wide-field refractor. 

But high magnification is good, right? We want to see and photograph small galaxies and the planets right up close, don’t we? Well, we do, but the learning curve goes way up when you are pointing at a tiny area of the sky.

It makes alignment, finding objects, and accurate tracking more difficult simply because it literarily magnifies any tiny error you’ve made along the way. Instead, start wide, to give yourself a break.

A compact refractor in the 400mm range is ideal, it will make everything easier. No matter which camera you use, you should now be able to find and focus on the brightest stars, and begin your first tracked, long exposure image.

The William Optics RedCat 51 is a solid choice for beginners and shoots at a beginner-friendly focal length of 250mm. This telescope is also compact and lightweight enough to be used with a star tracker mount. 

William Optics RedCat 51

The William Optics RedCat 51. 250mm at F/4.9.

Once you have mastered the process with your wide-field setup, increasing focal length is a lot more approachable.

7) Get ready for image processing

If you are already a daytime photographer and know your way around Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom, great. But even then, you will have to make a massive shift in the way you edit photos.

The process of creating an astro-image is more than just creative edits to enhance color and clarity. It’s image stacking, it’s hours of integration, calibration frames, and learning the art of pre-processing.

Curves Photoshop

Performing a curve stretch in Adobe Photoshop

I know that a lot of beginners have very little experience with image editing going in, and it’s going to require a lot of time and energy to get up to speed. Just like the image acquisition portion, this experience will be a lot more enjoyable with realistic expectations.

I personally love the image processing side of things, and I think eventually beginners will too. There is something about spending a few hours really digging into your data and bringing it out the hidden beauty that is both satisfying and rewarding.

There are many great tutorials here on YouTube, no matter which software you are using. I’ve created a beginner-friendly Image Processing Guide that aims to help you save a lot of time and frustration.

Just remember that you will need to make a choice in terms of the software you use, and stick with it. I recommend starting with Adobe Photoshop, and gradually applying a few techniques from PixInsight over time. That’s what I did.

8) Weather is cruel, and you will obsess over it

I check 3-4 weather apps multiple times per day. I’ve been doing this for 10 years, and it is not healthy.

Clear Outside, the Clear Sky Chart, Astrospheric: they’re all pretty good. But unless you live in the desert, and/or shoot remotely, you are going to experience lots of cloudy nights. They often are timed out exactly when a new piece of gear arrives, or when you are particularly excited to start or continue a new project.

It is probably the most devastatingly helpless part of astrophotography, and it will hurt. Even worse, is when a clear night is coming up, and you have ‘real life’ plans you can’t get out of. Work nights, birthday parties, sporting events, etc. These will all be clear nights.

Out of all the abuse we take as an astrophotographer, I think the weather is probably the worst. However, it gets a little easier to stomach when you commit to astrophotography as a lifelong journey.

So you missed Orion this winter, he will be back next year, I can promise you that. And you’ll be ready.

Stars in Orion

9) It’s expensive – there is no way around it

Photography in general is expensive but astrophotography takes it one step further. Telescopes can be expensive, even if you have a budget in mind, you will go over it. And over, and over again.

As a full-time astrophotographer, it’s a little easier to justify expenses now. But when I started, I purchased my telescope mount on the old credit card and said “If I don’t get this to work, I’m out almost a grand.” It’s a nice incentive to get it to work.

Now, I don’t want to scare you away if your budget is limited, and you want to get in the game. Used gear, smaller setups, older cameras – you can do so much with this type of equipment. And I bet it will be a lot more rewarding than someone who buys their way to the top.

If you’re looking for a number, I am going to say that it will be tough to build a deep-sky astrophotography rig for under $2000. And this will be a smaller-scale system for wide-field targets. But, if you are thrifty and hungry, I bet you could get in for even less.

nebula photography

Astrophotography with a camera lens and star tracker

10) Social media sharing joys and letdowns…

Now, I don’t know what your plans are for your images when they are done, but chances are you want someone to see them. You can print them out to hang on your wall, you can post them on your website, or you can share them on social media and watch the likes come rolling in, right? Well, sometimes.

The social media landscape has changed over the last few years and astrophotographers are using “feed the algorithm’ tactics to get more eyeballs on their work. This is all cool with me, but just remember that hitting an arbitrary number of likes on your image has nothing to do with how good it is. Yeah, it feels good when others appreciate your work, but if that’s what you need to enjoy the hobby, it’s not going to work.

Follow astrophotographers that have a particular style you enjoy for inspiration, and don’t get too hung up on likes and views. It sounds obvious, but it can really get in your head, and it’s not why you got started.

I have recently gotten into printing large, high-resolution astrophotos to display in my home, and eventually offer for sale. The process has been refreshingly different than how I dress up an image to share on a phone screen.

11) Get out there and shoot

I can’t believe I have to say this one, but Alan Dyer is right – spend less time watching YouTube videos (wait a minute), and just get outside and practice.

Don’t try to over-prepare yourself with too much information, and try to nail your first attempt – it just won’t happen. When you’re out there in the moment, you’d be surprised at how different things become and what sticks and what doesn’t.

civil twilight

If your expectations are set to just have a night of experimentation and learning, you will enjoy every minute of it. This is exactly the way I got hooked on astrophotography, through trial and error and having fun experimenting with camera settings in my backyard.

I have found that a lot of the ‘experts’ in the astrophotography Facebook groups and forums take very few (if any) actual photos.

You can have all the answers but until you are executing what you’ve learned, you really haven’t even started.

12) Dark skies make a big difference

If you’ve only ever shot from a light-polluted city, you may be surprised at just how much of a difference dark skies make. It’s not just that the quality and detail of your images will be better, but the entire process seems to become easier and more enjoyable.

You are no longer fighting against the light dome of a washed-out sky, and you can actually focus on collecting quality data (and as much of it as possible).

Milky Way under Bortle 2 skies at the Cherry Springs Star Party

You can see more stars and even deep-sky objects in the sky. The images you capture there will be easier to process, and you will need less overall integration time to create an amazing image.

Any chance you get to set up your camera and telescope under dark skies, take it!

I like to go on an astro-adventure on new moon weekends. I look for Airbnb’s in dark sky locations using a light pollution map, and book a last-minute trip once I am certain it will be clear.

Make those dark-sky trips count, and go after the fainter targets while you’re there.

light pollution map

Use a light pollution map to decide where your next dark-sky astrophotography trip will take place. lightpollutionmap.info

13) Don’t be afraid of the dark…

This one sounds like a joke, but it’s seriously something to consider if you’re new to the hobby.

If you aren’t used to spending a night outside alone in the dark (most of us aren’t, right?), it can be a little freaky out there. Seriously, if you’ve set up at the dark-sky spot away from home and it’s truly dark (which is exactly what you want), you will hear every stick break, every rustle in the bushes, and question why every car that drives by is out so late.

You need to be in the right mindset to stick it out, or you’ll completely freak out and pack up. A word to the wise here, a small stereo playing some classic rock can really help ease the tension. That’s my routine, anyway. And if I’m at home, my pal Rudy helps keep me company. 

14) Join your local astronomy club

I know, I know, you’re a lone wolf who likes to figure things out on your own. You’re resourceful and you can learn anything online. That’s me too, I hear you.

But you will save a year’s worth of struggle by hanging around the astrophotographers at your local astronomy club. Trust me, there will be a die-hard pack of them in the club.

I’m talking in-person hangouts with a group of people that geek out just as hard about space as you do. One-on-one advice based on the gear you currently own, from people that have been there.

This is precisely how I managed to escape the complete the incredible, rare accomplishment of taking my first tracked, guided long exposure image through a telescope.

Sometimes you need a responsive guide or mentor to help you through the key steps, and this is something that I, through the screen on YouTube or this website, cannot do for you.

Example photos Radian 75

Final Thoughts

Astrophotography is a hobby you can enjoy for a lifetime. Don’t rush the early stages because you are impatient for a result. Some of my favorite memories involving this hobby are from the summer I got started, and the early victories I achieved.

Photographing the night sky in any form is a challenge, and it’s something most people will never get to experience. Enjoy the process – the crushing lows, the short-lived highs, the pictures that leave you speechless, and the ones that make you want to sell your ‘scope.

It’s the journey to the image that makes it fun. Life is too short to spend on the sidelines, watching and critiquing others. Get out there. Capture. Create. Inspire. This is where the true joy of astrophotography lies, trust me.  

astrophotographers

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Astrophotography by Trevor Jones

|Blog Updates|3 Comments

What is Astrobackyard.com?

This astrophotography blog creates an outlet for me to share images, information and tips about my favourite hobby. I received lots of help when I began this hobby in 2011, and it’s my turn to pay-it-forward to the next wave of astrophotographers. I have watched the hobby grow in the short years that I have been involved. There are more options and information out there now than ever before. The one aspect that does not change is a love for the night sky. The story behind the sites name is that the backyard is where I began my journey, and where I still spend the most time under the stars. Travelling to new locations around the continent with much darker skies is great, but happens only once or twice a year at max. My backyards is my personal window to the heavens, and it’s where I connect with the universe.

 

Lagoon Nebula by Trevor Jones

The Lagoon and Cat’s Paw Nebula by Trevor Jones

Why should I come back?

If you’re anything like me, you enjoy reading about a fellow astrophotographers experiences.  You enjoy hearing stories from someone who shares the same love for astronomy that you do.  If you use similar camera and astrophotography equipment, you might even learn a thing or two from my mistakes.  Maybe you just like to sit back and enjoy the hours of hard work I have put into each and every one of my photos.  Whichever reason you choose, I sincerely appreciate your company.

What to expect

I have recently overhauled my site to it’s current design. Astrobackyard.com is now set to become an authority in the astrophotography community.  You can expect more astronomy related news and events, more astrophotography tutorials and equipment reviews, and of course, all of my astrophotography adventures from the backyard, and beyond.  I plan to share astrophotography processing techniques that have helped me pull the absolute most detail out of my images.  Later this year I will be creating a video tutorial series on youtube that should cover the basics of my current workflow.  I am not an professional photographer, image-processor or scientist, but I am dedicated to improving my skills.  I am an active member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, as the current webmaster and newsletter editor for the Niagara Centre. Please follow me on Twitter for the absolute latest news.

@astrobackyard on Instagram

I post new and old astronomy photos in Instagram quite regularly.  Feel free to connect with me over there!

 

Astrobackyard on Instagram

 

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Essential Image Processing Video Tutorial

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This video may change the way your shoot and process astro-images forever. It covers the few simple steps needed to create an ultra high-resolution master frame with a high signal-to-noise ratio.  This tutorial covers the capturing, processing and production of gorgeous wide-field astrophotography images using a camera lens or small telescope. If you are a DSLR imager like me, many of the techniques you’ll see demonstrated in this video will make their way into your capturing and processing workflow.  Even if you focus more on deep-sky imaging with a large telescope, there is still much to take away from Tony’s practices. You might even learn a little bit more about the way DSLR’s work, its limitations, and how to get around them to produce stunning images.

Self-proclaimed “Lazy” Astrophotographer Tony Hallas discusses the basics of DSLR imaging and provides intermediate pointers for capturing and processing amazing images. In this video, Tony explains how he has learned to harness the powerful and sophisticated capabilities of Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) to handle the majority of his astrophotography image editing and processing. I will be implementing Tony’s techniques into my own workflow, and I will share my new images using his techniques as I capture them. Here is a Milky Way image processing tutorial that includes some of the methods Tony uses in Adobe Camera Raw. 

Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR)

The measure used in science and engineering that compares the level of the desired signal to the level of background noise.

DSLR Camera vs. CCD – Which is Better?

A DSLR and a CCD camera may seem similar, both essentially use a sensor to gather light photons.  However, there are several key differences that make these tools worlds apart. Each has their own benefits and downfalls. Some of the major advantages of a CCD camera over a DSLR are the specialized astrophotography features, such as a cooled and regulated chip temperature, and better handling of noise during long exposures.  The mono chip, combined with calibrated narrowband filters, provides extremely accurate color control.

ATIK Mono CCD Camera for narrowband astrophotography with filters

In Tony’s opinion, narrowband imaging is the realm of CCD cameras, and not worth the time and effort of tackling with your DSLR.  It is not possible to produce an astronomical image as deep and detailed with a DSLR as you would with a CCD. The major downside on CCD cameras is their steep learning curve, and high price tag.  An entry-level CCD Camera will cost you upwards of $2,000.

What is the Best DSLR Camera for Astrophotography?

If you ask Tony, he’ll tell you it’s the full-frame, Canon EOS 6D. His was astro-modified by Hutech for astrophotography. My friend and fellow astrophotographer Phil owns this camera and produces amazing results when combined with his ultra-portable iOptron Skytracker mount. You can view a photo he captured of the Milky Way at the bottom of this page.  I currently use my old modified Canon Rebel Xsi, but my next DSLR will definitely be full-frame. Whether I spring for a used Canon EOS 5D Mark II, or the newer 6D, is yet to be decided.

Benefits of using a DSLR

The advantages of using a DSLR for astrophotography are many. The first is that it is easy to focus the camera using live-view. You can simply find a bright star, zoom-in by 10X and fine-tune your focus whether it is through a telescope or on the camera lens. DSLR cameras do not use very much power.

I use an aftermarket battery grip that I purchased on eBay. These 2 small batteries will last an entire night’s worth of imaging. You have the option of taking shorter exposures to adjust your frame and enjoy a quick preview of your subject. Instant gratification. The most important factor of them all is the fast setup, and minimal equipment.

If you plan on doing any travel astrophotography, chances are you will be using a DSLR and a lightweight tracking-mount. I believe that this is the reason DSLR astrophotography has become so popular around the world.

Image of the Andromeda Galaxy with a DSLR by Trevor Jones

Some of the drawbacks of using a DSLR for astrophotography are the lack of temperature regulation, the handling of color using a Bayer mask (RGB) and the primary noise source of “color mottle”. 

Color mottle by Tony’s definition is horrible globs of red, green and blue artifacts that appear in a long-exposure DSLR frame.  In the video above he explains the steps, he takes to remove the large amount of grain and noise in his long-exposure astrophotos. The process is known as dithering, which subtracts the noise data by taking frames slightly apart from each other, and then registering and stacking the data afterward.

Best Camera Lens for Astrophotography?

The 4 camera lenses mentioned in this video that would make excellent choices for astrophotography purposes are the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 G, Canon 15mm f/2.8 Fish-eye (not pictured) and the surprisingly high-performing Rokinon 35mm f/1.4

Tony noted that the Nikon 14-24mm was the best wide-angle lens, that he uses an adapter to connect to the Canon body.  You can browse insightful performance statistics about each lens including the amount of vignetting and resolution on the Photozone website.

The Rokinon Lens is 1/3 of the price of the big-name brands and scores top marks in the categories of vignetting and resolution. As Tony says, this lens is a total sleeper.

Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 Lens for Canon Cameras 
 

Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 lens for astrophotography
The Resolution of the Rokinon 35mm Lens scored top marks from Photozone

 

Different examples of camera lens choices for astronomy photography

I personally enjoy the Rokinon 14mm F/2.8 lens for wide-angle astrophotography. This lens is very affordable and can capture extremely wide swaths of the night sky with either a crop sensor or full-frame DSLR camera.

So What Equipment do I Need for this Process?

As Tony describes in the video, there are some essential pieces of equipment and software to produce the high-quality images he is taking. Remember, you don’t have to jump straight to top-of-line equipment right away.  I certainly didn’t! This is merely a guideline for those wondering the exact equipment used in the video.

1.  Astro-Modified DSLR Camera such as the Hutech Modified Canon 6D
2.  High-Quality Camera Lens such as the Rokinon 35mm f/1.4
3.  Recent Version of Adobe Photoshop with Adobe Camera Raw
4.  Latest Version of the Registar Software

Adobe Camera Raw software and a Canon 6D DSLR
 

The Tony Hallas DSLR Processing Workflow

Tony uses Adobe Camera Raw for the bulk of his processing. He then combines the corrected images together using Registar, and back into Photoshop for final editing. His DSLR processing workflow is shown below:

1. Initial ACR batch processing and save as 16 bit TIFF to folder
2. Register frames in Registar and combine with median/mean function
3. High Signal-to-Noise ratio 16 bit TIFF imported into Photoshop for final processing

Chromatic Aberration and Vignetting

He begins his process by opening the first frame in a series of images and removing the chromatic aberration with the tool designated for this in Adobe Camera Raw. This is a powerful technique that can remove even severe chromatic aberration produced by inexpensive lenses. Next up is vignetting. The traditional way of dealing with vignetting was to shoot “flat” frames using an old white t-shirt to cover your camera lens or telescope, and shining a bright, evenly lit light into it. Try explaining THAT to your nosy neighbor watching you in your backyard. Tony simply uses the anti-vignetting tool in the Lens Correction tab of in ACR.

Noise Reduction and Colour Adjustment

The noise-reduction tool in ACR is comparable with powerful third-party plugins dedicated to this task. A liberal amount of luminance noise-reduction is applied in the example. He then opens the curves tab, selects the red colour channel, and reduces the amount of red (caused by light pollution) in his image. A small contrast adjustment is made next. Our instructor seems a tad rushed through this part of the tutorial, but if you are following along with the video it all makes sense.

A general rule of thumb when processing astro-images in ACR is to start from the right tab, and work your way left. Resist the temptation to start moving sliders in the far left tab right away.

Now that we have this one “perfect” frame with all of our adjustments, we can apply these settings to all of the frames at once using the “synchronize” command. This is the stage of the game Tony calls “halfway home”, where we have all of our images in the series with the exact same adjustments made.

Registar

I’ll start by saying that I have never used Registar. I use free software called DeepSkyStacker for registering my images, and Registar is listed at $150 US!  I will see if I can supplement this step with DSS before forking out 150 big ones for Registar.

In a nutshell, he tells Registar where to look for the image set, uses the default program settings, and goes for a coffee. (I like your style Tony!) Registar then goes through each image and accurately aligns each image star by star. This takes about 5 minutes. The next step is to click on “Combine Control” and select “Median/Mean” to average all of the frames together and create a neutral image. You can also take this process a step further by using the outlier rejection capabilities of Registar to remove unwanted objects such as a satellite trail.

The final combined image is created by Registar is impressive. The stacked image is smooth and free of grain, colour noise and spurious colors. This averaged image is now the Master Frame. A 16-bit TIFF with all of the adjustments made and a high signal to noise ratio.

An astronomical image with an improved signal to noise ratio

Final Processing in Adobe Photoshop

This is where your artistic freedom comes in to play. There are limitless ways to process your final astrophotography image, and this is definitely my favorite step in the entire process. The big difference this time is that you now have a very smooth, clean image to play around with. An image free of vignetting, chromatic aberration, noise, and properly color corrected. I hope you got as much out of this tutorial as I did the first time I watched this amazing video from Tony Hallas.

You can visit Tony’s Website Here.

Wide-Field Astrophotography Image using Canon EOS 6D and Tony Hallas Processing:

 

Milky way galaxy photo taken with a Canon 6D and iOptron Skytracker.
The Milky Way – Photo by Philip Downey using Tony Hallas Processing Techniques

Phil is a member of my astronomy club and takes incredible astrophotography images using a Canon 6D and iOptron SkyTracker.  You can visit his blog here.

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