In my last article, I shared that even though the Milky Way Galactic Center is below the horizon, you can still capture great images. The Milky Way fills the sky above horizon to horizon.
Exposing to the right
When making the exposure you want to expose to the right. Also known as ETTR. Even with the dark sky covering most of the image you want to make sure your histogram doesn’t get heavy into the shadow side.
Most of the noise in a file is in the shadow areas. If you expose with the “correct” histogram, it will end up underexposed and you will introduce more noise when working to recover the detail. It’s better to bring back the shadows in post.
Editing with Adobe Camera Raw
First stop for me is Adobe Camera Raw. Adjust color, tone, density and add a little vignette to darken the corners that were being brightened by half full moon.
Fisheye lens adjustment
With the fisheye lens tilted up to increase the amount of sky in view, the horizon became curved. The bottom of the image with the red rocks was copied onto its own layer. The Warp tool within the Transform tool was used to straighten out the horizon.
The trees on the left were still tilted too much for my taste. That section was copied and rotated, and a mask was used to blend the result. A bit of cloning completed the straightening process.
Using Adobe Camera Raw as filter
I made a copy of the base layer and invoked Camera Raw as a filter. Using the Radial filter a selection was made of the Milky Way. Settings were changed in Texture, Clarity, Whites and Contrast.
Using Camera Raw as a filter gives you access to all of the controls. Using Radial or Gradient allows for selective application of the settings. You can also add a Range Mask of luminosity or color to be even more selective of where adjustments are applied.
A small meteor shower — the Northern Taurids — was in play with about five meteors per hour. I found a shooting star in another capture within a few minutes of this one and brought it over and blended it with this image.
A look at my layers
Above see the Layers panel, which helps tell the post-processing story.
Last but not least, I added a Mystical tool from LuminarAI, set to 25. The mystical filter adds just a bit of numminess* to the photo. If you have any questions about this process, be sure to put them in the comments below. I’m happy to fill in any blanks I may have left out or you don’t quite understand.
Yours in Creative Photography, Bob
* P.S. — Numminess is a technical term I use because it fits where no other word does. Feel free to use it yourself!