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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Nature & Landscapes Talk 
Thread started 02 Jul 2009 (Thursday) 13:11
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how to - landscapes with stars

 
anothernewb
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Jul 02, 2009 13:11 |  #1

The kind of picture I'm aiming for is the night pictures where you can see part of the landscape, and a good view of static stars in the sky - not star trails.

I'm going to be camping in the shadow of Devils tower, and IF I get a nice clear night, I think it wold make a great thing to attempt.

anyone got any pointers on this? I'm thinking perhaps I will have to take 2 exposures and blend them together somehow. or is there some magic window I need to wait for where there's enough ambient light to get some muted colors in without blowing out the sky?

been looking a bit around the web, but not finding much - my guess is that I'm not searching the right way.


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jrader
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Jul 03, 2009 04:50 |  #2

If you want a star field, you're going to have to crank the ISO/sensitivity up in order to shorten the exposure. Otherwise, the rotation of the earth will "draw" the stars across the image. Just be sure to have noise reduction on.

Either that, or you can do two exposures.

That's about it.

John



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competent123
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Jul 04, 2009 12:53 |  #3
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Shadowblade
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Jul 05, 2009 13:24 |  #4

You will need two exposures: one long exposure for the landscape and one short exposure for the stars. Shoot the landscape at the lowest-possible ISO and try to limit the ISO for the sky, too, while retaining acceptable background colour - this is particularly critical for night shots (somewhat counterintuitively) as noise (particularly unwanted chroma noise) is most apparent in dark, shadowy areas, such as night skies. You may even want to make a third, longer, low-ISO exposure, purely for the night sky (which often contains blues, greens and purples, rather than being black), then heal/clone out the short star trails in post-processing. Also, while you will probably be shooting stopped down to f/11, or even narrower, for the landscape, you can shoot the sky exposures wide open, as it is all at infinity - this will help increase the brightness of the star exposure and decrease the length of star trails (and the amount of PP required) for the night sky exposure.

Prior to merging the two (or three) layers, you will firstly have to boost the brightness of the stars in Photoshop, as the short exposure will most likely be quite dim. At the same time, you don't want to increase the brightness of the dark, surrounding night sky, as this would also amplify the noise and give you an unrealistically bright sky. You can do this in curves - adjust the curve so that the brighter areas (stars) are much brighter, while the dark areas (sky) remain dark). If you took a third exposure for the night sky, you will also have to combine it with the star exposure. After you have cloned/healed out the star trails in the night sky exposure, drag the layer containing the pinpoint stars above the night sky layer, then apply a layer mask to the star layer. Copy the image showing the pinpoint stars and paste it into the layer mask - this way the bright points (stars) will be visible, but the dark areas (the underexposed night sky) will be transparent, allowing the well-exposed night sky underneath to be seen. You can improve this by applying Levels to the layer mask, so that any illuminated pixel (i.e. the haloes surrounding the stars, as well as the stars themselves) is fully opaque, while all dark areas are as transparent as they can possibly be.

With that done, all that's left to do is combine it with the landscape, which I'm sure you know how to do already!




  
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jrader
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Jul 06, 2009 03:39 |  #5

And of course there's always stacking multiple short exposure shots into one. I think there's a tutorial in the Astronomy thread if you are interested.

John



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Shadowblade
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Jul 06, 2009 04:27 |  #6

jrader wrote in post #8231190 (external link)
And of course there's always stacking multiple short exposure shots into one. I think there's a tutorial in the Astronomy thread if you are interested.

John

That doesn't help if you're trying to avoid star trails...




  
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Todd ­ Lambert
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Jul 07, 2009 00:38 |  #7

Depending on how long the exposure needs to be, and how many stars "poke" through, you might just be able to clone the trails out. I've done that before. However, the skies were I was shooting had light pollution, so it wasn't like the milky way or anything.. so the clone job was not too tedious.




  
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how to - landscapes with stars
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