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Thread: Horsehead with better stars

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    Default Horsehead with better stars



    My recent posts of this nebula had some dark halos around many of the brighter stars in the "red curtain" behind the Horsehead. Frant offered the challenge "can you control Alnitak without leaving dark rings around the major stars that sit in the Ha curtain?". The image below is my attempt at controlling the dark rings. It required changes as far back in the processing as Deconvolution as well as carefully constructed "star masks" for the non-linear sharpening processes. A bit tedious, but, the results are gratifying. I didn't bother to boost the dark foreground region for this exercise.



    Thanks Richard for "pushing me" to work harder on protecting the stars. I think I learned something from this.

    Flickr Link.

    Thanks for looking.

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    Default Re: Horsehead with better stars

    Well done Steve!
    Alnitak is very well controlled, you have achieved a lot and all the extra work shows in the stars.

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    Default Re: Horsehead with better stars

    In doing this you lost a lot of detail in the Ha and the horse head. I can't tell if the improvement of the halos is achieved simply by making the Ha curtain deep red from the lighter salmon shade or any "advanced processing". So I like the earlier versions much better.

    If we name your version 1a, 1b, 2 and 3 the numbers named after your threads then my favorite is 1b. It has most detail in both curtains and has the gentler salmon red color with a lot more detail also in the HH itself. The best detail is in version 1a but there is that editing snafu in the lower part and the pink colored star left below the HH.

    I think if you took version 1b and applied a star mask with a good Gaussian blur to process the halos separately with an inverse mask that selects all the good stuff from version 2 that left that unchanged, you would end up with the best result - well there is the risk that star masks create additional halo effects so it's unsure.

    Thanks for showing your processing steps, it is interesting to see how you do this. One thing to watch out for with that triad filter is that the images are predominantly red and blue especially red so after seeing a few of them I tend to like the ones best with a color balance that is not overly deep red. Fabulous images anyway.
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    Default Re: Horsehead with better stars

    Wow, beautiful!!!

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    Default Re: Horsehead with better stars

    Just when you thought you were finished, another challenge!

    If you don’t mind me asking, about how much time does it take to process an image like these?

    It takes me way too long to achieve a fairly decent process. Maybe my data quality is far lower (definitely) making it more of a time consumer. Not to mention experience too.

    I like all of you versions Steve!

    Thanks,
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    Default Re: Horsehead with better stars

    Great job Steve. If you align the two versions that you like best, you can keep the best parts of each. Erase the stars in the best version for nebulosity and layer it on top of this version in PS. Then use the lighten blend mode, which will pull the stars and highlights through to the upper image.
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    Default Re: Horsehead with better stars

    Sorry a typo in my last message, wrong version reference, I meant to say:
    Quote Originally Posted by CamelHat View Post
    I think if you took version 1b and applied a star mask with a good Gaussian blur to process the halos separately with an inverse mask that selects all the good stuff from version 1b that left that unchanged.
    ... Henk.
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    Default Re: Horsehead with better stars

    As Henk said, FABULOUS.

    Ok, he said more. And maybe improvements are possible. (Always are...).

    But fabulous.

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    Default Re: Horsehead with better stars

    Nicely done Steve, certainly more control of the stars. Less detail in some areas, as noted by others, but you explained that you didn’t do that aspect of the processing for this exercise.

    Challenge met I’d say
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    Default Re: Horsehead with better stars

    Thanks all for the interest, comments and suggestions. This is a very responsive and helpful forum.

    I agree that there appears to be less overall sharpness in this new image as pointed out in several of the comments. This image was reprocessed starting from the step where Deconvolution was performed while the image was still linear. Although I did use new masks at almost every processing step, these masks only affected the stars and not the remainder of the nebula including the Horsehead itself. So, any difference in sharpness can be attributed to the normal variations in results when images are reprocessed. I did try to follow the same workflow which is my standard DSLR workflow.

    The main goal of this exercise was to try to reduce the dark halos around brighter stars in the red curtain portion of the image. This was the area of focus during the processing. I was very happy to see a significant improvement in this area. I'm going to go back and document (for myself) how I created the star masks that reduced/prevented the dark halos for my own use in future projects.

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