This is my latest image showing the core of the heart nebula which is designated IC1805. To the right you can see this patch of nebulous clouds that have always caught my attention because of it’s unique structure. Do they not look like these gnarly little creatures in space? The many stars surrounding them is the star cluster called Melotte 15. This cluster is 7500 light years away and helps to create much of the interesting shapes that you see. To get some perspective of this heart, here is an old image that I took back in 2007 that encompasses this region (within the box). You can clearly see why it is called the heart nebula. I think this part of the sky is really beautiful and totally worth revisiting again as a mosaic with my newer gear.
Anyways, back to the first image with some more techy details. I approached processing this a little differently for a couple of reasons. One out of necessity and the other out of desire to come up with an image that looks a little less ordinary. I was having some trouble preprocessing (stacking, stretching and combining) the many luminance, Red, Green, Blue (L, R, G, and B) frames in my usual software so I decided to give a different one a try. Hello Pixinsight trial version.
gets kind of a bad rap from many astrophotographers as the interface is a little cumbersome to work with if you are not use to it. The terminology used can also throw you off if you are not coming from a science or engineering background but the processes are really powerful and can give you some nice results. I was not going to let my trial version go by without giving it a solid effort.
Since I'm a visual learner, I searched through youtube for video tutorials and was really happy to find what I needed to guide me through the preprocessing part. After some messing around I was very impressed with the auto stretch process and a few other features. Oh - I can’t forget to mention the dynamic background extraction DBE tool to help get rid of annoying background gradients. After running through those processes, I brought the resulting RGB tiff and Luminance tiff into Photoshop and away I went with my usual post processing. Finally what I was left with was a colour image of a part of deep space that looked similar to many others. A mauvey nebula with very little colour range. So to add a little bit of flair, mind you still a subtle flair, I decided to work with Nik plugin software
I found out about Nik through these google plus hangouts. This seems to be a favourite plugin for many daytime photographers. At first I was a little skeptical with how it would work with astro images but was pleasantly surprised at the results. In the package you get noise reduction, sharpening, colour refining, and colour effects filters. Nik did exceptionally well with noise reduction in it’s Dfine 2 plugin. I also ran a little bit of Sharpener Pro 3 and Color Efex Pro 4. With the help of Nik’s unique control points system and a little bit of masking in photoshop I was able to layer in the desired effects. One plugin that stood out to me was Color Efex Pro 4 with it’s 50 + different filters. With the help of the Photo Stylizer filter I was able to get more colour range or separation in the red tones from deeper reds to mauve and blues. I was also able to add a very subtle glow to parts that I thought could use a little boost.
By not sticking to my usual routine I had some fun and explored new tools that made for a better workflow with more personalized results.
Imaging Details: Camera: SBIG ST8300M, Telescope: AT8RC Exposure: 90min (9x10min) each RGB, 3 hr ( 18x10min) Luminance.