My Sky

This is last night’s sky as viewed from my house, a quick and crude attempt at night sky photography. The image is, of course, a composite. The upper part, where most stars are, is a stack of 5 exposures (20s f2.8 ISO 3200 each) combined in Photoshop, in order to increase the amount of gathered light, making it possible to see fairly faint stars (with the naked eye we sure cannot see that many stars). I made 20 exposures but ended using just 5. The tree line and the orange glow of sodium city lights (about 12km away) is a single exposure blended with the others. As I was not using a telescope mount to compensate for earth’s movement, just a plain tripod, the stars moved slightly across the various frames and in the end were a bit tricky to align properly in PS. I opted for not having a deep black sky, with just the stars, and preferred a slight warm glow. Hope you like it and give me your feedback. Thanks.

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13 thoughts on “My Sky

  1. THIS IS SO COOL.

    You can see the Milky Way and everything!

    Now that I finally (FINALLY) have a camera that can be set to slow shutter speeds (my point and shoot couldn’t go above 4″), a “starry sky” shot is one that I’ve been itching to try.

    I thought I was too close to the city, but… maybe not? You say that most of these stars aren’t visible to the naked eye? I’d never have guessed!

    When you say the horizon photo was a separate image, do you mean that no stars were visible in the horizon photo, or that it was taken from a totally different perspective and unrelated to the star photos? Or both?

    What was the point of stacking five different exposures, if they all used the same settings? What’s the difference between doing that, and stacking five layers of the same cloned image?

    The warm sky looks great with the sodium lights. Overall, your post-processing is lovely; I’d never have guessed how much Photoshopping was done here. It looks pretty natural to me!

    This was really informative— thank you so much for divulging your method, too!

    • Hi Josy,
      Thank you for your visit and comment. I really appreciate. I live in the countryside, the nearest (very) small village is 4 km away and a small town is 12 away, which helps a lot to have a fairly dark sky.
      The frames that contain most of the stars and the Milky Way were made with the camera pointing, let’s say, 75 or 80 degrees up, so no horizon was captured. In the horizon and city lights frame only the brightest stars were visible.
      Stacking several layers of the same captured frame will build up the stars brightness but also the inevitable noise on the image. Totally different frames (hopefully) will have the noise in different places so only the stars increase in brightness.
      As I wrote in the post, this is a very crude way of doing astro protography, but it was just for fun. Using a tripod instead of piggy backing the camera in a telescope makes it very difficult to align the various frames. CS6 Auto-align Layers command failed to align the frames properly and I had to do did it by hand. The image is ok on the monitor, but if pixel peeping at 100% it doen’t look good.

  2. This is so awesome. I’ve tried doing night shots before but it just never works out but this definitely gave me some pointers.
    PS. It looks like there’s a shooting star in the upper right!

    • Thanks so much! You are right there is a shooting star. It was in the very first frame of the sequence and I just discover it when I saw the photos in the computer.

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