editing tips for newbie with comet pics

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Montanawildlives Senior Member • Posts: 1,308
editing tips for newbie with comet pics

I've been playing around with this for hours and can't seem to make it better in one way without ruining it in another way.  I want to retain some detail/light in the rock cliff on the left, the silhouette of the tree line along the bottom, and then of course make the comet pop as much as humanly possible, keeping noise low, etc.

Using lightroom, photoshop also possible if advised.

These are unedited Nikon flat picture profiles (I have the raw of course) just so you can get some idea of what is there.

I have these same shots at ISOs from 400 to 6400.  These are 6400.

The first is at dusk, the second a bit later.

Any advice would be appreciated.

(I actually used the interval timer to get 30 shots in each case as well--maybe I need to try stacking?  I think I'd like to see what I can do with a single image first; the sets I did were at ISO 400).

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Somnambulist Squirrel Regular Member • Posts: 151
Re: editing tips for newbie with comet pics

Maybe lighten the foreground elements carefully with the brush tool to bring out the detail there (might need to play with temp, clarity, shadows, highlights, saturation, etc. in the brush tool to get the look you want). Then, for the comet, you could zoom in, and use the brush tool carefully to bring up the whites. I might also bring down blacks across the whole image a little. Fiddle a touch with clarity also.

I'm a newb with this, too, so just spitballing here based on what I have been doing. If someone who knows what they're about says don't listen to me, then don't listen to me!

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OP Montanawildlives Senior Member • Posts: 1,308
Re: editing tips for newbie with comet pics
1

This is about the best I could do.

I think the best editing advice might be....get a z6....get a faster lens....etc.

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OP Montanawildlives Senior Member • Posts: 1,308
Re: editing tips for newbie with comet pics

Somnambulist Squirrel wrote:

Maybe lighten the foreground elements carefully with the brush tool to bring out the detail there (might need to play with temp, clarity, shadows, highlights, saturation, etc. in the brush tool to get the look you want). Then, for the comet, you could zoom in, and use the brush tool carefully to bring up the whites. I might also bring down blacks across the whole image a little. Fiddle a touch with clarity also.

I'm a newb with this, too, so just spitballing here based on what I have been doing. If someone who knows what they're about says don't listen to me, then don't listen to me!

Thanks!  I think I really needed to get a clean foreground shot at ISO 100 and a long shutter speed and combine it with the sky shot with a shorter shutter speed, because the foreground is incredibly noisy when I try to work with it.

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Kazmarov Contributing Member • Posts: 897
Re: editing tips for newbie with comet pics

May I play with one of the pics & post back if I can do anything based on your description?

A caveat though - I don't use the Adobe suite but use macOS equivalents (Affinity & Topaz Denoise AI). The principles would be the same though.

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OP Montanawildlives Senior Member • Posts: 1,308
Re: editing tips for newbie with comet pics

Kazmarov wrote:

May I play with one of the pics & post back if I can do anything based on your description?

A caveat though - I don't use the Adobe suite but use macOS equivalents (Affinity & Topaz Denoise AI). The principles would be the same though.

Absolutely!  Have at it.

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Kazmarov Contributing Member • Posts: 897
Re: editing tips for newbie with comet pics
1

Thank you. Here is a "quick & hopefully not too dirty". If this is any closer to your requirements then this is what I did:

1. Used an intelligent brush tool with feathering (6 pixels)  to select & mask off below the tree line to protect the sky through the gaps in the branches

2. Used the curves tool to adjust the darker areas to proportionally lighter

3. Reversed the selection (so that the rest of the frame was selected & masked) and increased the contrast to darken the sky and highlights to make the comet & stars pop (at least I think that is the term so I thought I'd use it to make me seem as though I know what I am talking about.

4. Merged all the masks to get a single layer and then demonised using Topaz Denoise Ai.

The result is below and I really can't say whether it is any closer to what you were looking for. If it is then I'll p.m. you my address to mail the Z6 you were going to get to me, if it isn't cest la vie - I enjoyed the experience of playing with editing.

Comet Neowise II

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Bob in Baltimore
Bob in Baltimore Senior Member • Posts: 1,080
Re: editing tips for newbie with comet pics
1

Nicely composed shot!

Here is a quick and dirty treatment with LR.

Overall Image:

1) Clarity +60. Makes the stars and the comet pop.

2) Shadows +80. Brings up the foreground. Costs you some of the gain in the star field.

3) Gradient tool w +100 contrast & + 90 Clarity. (Gradient sloped to match hillside slope. Max to min on gradient is roughly as wide as the hillside is from the lower left corner.)

Makes the stars and the really comet pop.

Took me longer to explain what I did than it did to do it.

If I were to spend more time on it, I'd do the adjustment to the foreground using the brush or the multiple instances of the radial filter (small circles). Same basic correction  shadows and structure. (Would begin with the overall clarity adjustment , then do the foreground. No shadow brightening of the sky.)

I'd play with small overlapping circle filters (Mostly more Clarity) to make the comet tail pop more, but have to really work to keep it from brightening the whole patch of sky.

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Bob in Baltimore
Bob in Baltimore Senior Member • Posts: 1,080
Re: editing tips for newbie with comet pics

Really like how you handled the sky in your reponse. What is the " intelligent brush tool" of which you speak.

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Bob in Baltimore

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jch2103B Contributing Member • Posts: 674
Re: editing tips for newbie with comet pics

Montanawildlives wrote:

(I actually used the interval timer to get 30 shots in each case as well--maybe I need to try stacking? I think I'd like to see what I can do with a single image first; the sets I did were at ISO 400).

As another newbie, I'd recommend trying a stacker program with your images. I've been using Sequator with some comet images taken with a lot of light pollution; results are better than I would have expected for the conditions and for my lack of experience. Sequator has options for dealing with a foreground, although I haven't tried them yet. The program's pretty easy to use and it's free so the only risk is your time.

Nikon Z6 w/ 85mm f1.8 AF-S, stack of 50 @ 1.6 sec, F2.2, ISO 200

Sorry, no foreground on this. Light pollution was bad enough that I couldn't see comet w/ my naked eye. Some light pollution still visible in above image despite processing efforts. But wouldn't have been possible at all w/o stacking.

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Kazmarov Contributing Member • Posts: 897
Re: editing tips for newbie with comet pics

Hi Bob. Thank you.

The intelligent brush tool in Affinity Photo on macOS is a brush for selection that finds & sticks to contrast edges and can be adjusted for sensitivity and also feathered. I am sorry but I do not know the equivalent in Adobe products.

More detail on the tool is here.

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