Sunday, September 6, 2015

My DSLR Moon Photo Workflow with Screenshots

iphoto moon photos
Let's pick up assuming we already took the photos. Here I have 22 raw files loaded into iPhoto. I highlight the clear photos that look the best, and try to pick a clump that are right next to each other (less time between photos makes it easier to stack them later on).

raw images in finder
Go to iPhoto > File > Reveal in Finder > Original File. We want to use the RAW files not the JPG files that iPhoto automatically makes to preview.

raw images in finder
Select the RAW files in Finder and drag them to Photoshop CC.

adobe camera raw
Photoshop CC recognizes the RAW files and opens them in Camera RAW rather than the regular Photoshop window.

adobe camera raw
Select all of the images in the left hand column. We want to apply any changes we make to all of them not just the first one.

crop in adobe camera raw
We are going to apply a crop just to cut down on the file size and make it easier to work with in Registax. We're just cutting out a lot of black background. Remember the moon is moving, so it's going to be in a different position in each image. Make sure you leave enough room in the crop for all of the different positions not just the first frame.

crop in adobe camera raw
Apply the crop to all and save your images...

save in adobe camera raw
We're saving as TIFF files in a new folder on the flash drive (remember, I'm taking it back and forth between computers). Camera RAW will give the files sequential numbered file names.

save in adobe camera raw
It's applying the crop and saving each cropped file as a TIFF.

moon tif files
Our new batch of cropped TIFF files are visible in Finder. I'll take these on a flash drive to my PC laptop to stack in Registax.
 
moon tif files
I open Registax and select all my moon TIFF files.

registax
I like to apply my own alignpoints rather than having the software guess. I don't use very many, and I hand pick spots with high contrast, such as craters, bright spots, or areas on the line between dark and light regions. I also stay away from the edges.

registax
When you align, you are looking for the software to track parallel lines for each of your align points. If the green paths cross, it means something is wrong and it thinks one of your points is going a different direction from frame to frame compared to the others.

registax
After I stack I go to the Wavelet tab to further refine the image. It's looking pretty good right? Just wait, the Wavelet tab is going to make a huge difference.

registax wavelet
I play with the sliders on the left and watch my image sharpen and also add noise. This is a constant battle between increasing sharpness and increasing noise. You can't just crank it all the way up. Adjust to suit your personal taste. I personally don't like to go overboard, but just enhance the edges a bit.

registax wavelet
click 'Do All' to apply the Wavelets to the entire image and then save your file. Again, I am saving as a TIFF so I don't lose any clarify to compression.

At this point I switch back to my Mac, taking my final stacked photo on a flash drive from my laptop.

photoshop duplicate layer
I open my final stacked TIFF in Photoshop and duplicate the background layer into a new layer.

photoshop high pass layer
This becomes my High Pass layer. Even if you don't want to spend a lot of time processing each moon image, a High Pass layer is often worth while and doesn't take too long. To make it High Pass just go to Filter > Other > High Pass.

photoshop high pass layer
I usually go between 5 and 7 pixel radius for this High Pass filter, but you can play with different amounts.

photoshop high pass layer
Change the layer to an Overlay layer

photoshop high pass layer
And make the High Pass layer a mask, and select 'Hide All'

photoshop high pass layer
Now using a brush, coloring on the moon will reveal the High Pass layer. I use a wide blurry brush, and turn the flow rate down. See on the layer preview the white part is being cut through the mask.

photoshop high pass layer
If you didn't blur your brush, go ahead and add a blur filter to your layer. This will help blend the border between where you are using the High Pass layer and where you aren't. I usually stay away from the very edge, and focus on bringing out crater ridges.

photoshop crop
Crop your final image down to however you want it.

moon single frame canon t5i
Was it all worth it? Here is a frame straight out of the camera... and then...

waning crescent moon t5i
Here is my final version, stacked, and edited with a High Pass layer. 22 frames stacked, each at 300mm, f/7.1, ISO 100, 1/250 sec. I also turned the saturation down because I wanted this one to be black and white. Sometimes a little color on the moon is nice, but again it's a personal preference each time.

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