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Thread: Intro to image stacking: Step-by-step

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    Default Intro to image stacking: Step-by-step



    Like a lot of astrophotographers, I get repeated questions on how to do things that although may seem simple, I have to remind myself that they were once beyond me...

    So last night, I sat up all night and stacked some images in Deep Sky Stacker, taking screenshots all the way and writing down what I did as I went.

    Hopefully this can answer a lot of questions and get the new blood in the game well on their way to adding to the richness of images proliferating amateur astronomy.

    (moderator note: see post #22 for the updated link to the OP's tutorial.)

    Have a crack, enjoy and let's see what you new folks can do!!! YEEEHHARRR!

    Baz.
    Last edited by ghswen; 05-10-2014 at 01:43 AM.
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    This is a good post in two ways. Of course, it helps people get to grips with stacking, which is really helpful. But it's also a great reminder of why I started writing my own software to do this stuff - what a horribly long-winded and over-complicated process just to stack some images It's really good motivation for me

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    er....thanks...I think...
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    I mean something along the lines of 'excellent post, very useful' combined with 'this whole process for stacking images is ridiculous'.

    The second part isn't your fault at all, that's just the way the software is. I think it's way too complicated for what it does, and too much of it is manual that should be automatic.

    As an example, take alignment methods. It's easy for the software to try each method and see which works best for the current images, but instead you're asked to tell it which is best. How many people are going to understand how these things work, and what the implications of each will be for their current set of images?

    Things like this are making what's a pretty simple process very complicated. I seriously think only one or two controls are needed for stacking (more for post-process of course). Your guide shouldn't be necessary at all. But (for now at least) it is, so good work
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    Thanks for posting your image processing methods Baz, do you mainly use DSS?
    hope your skies have been better than ours, its been horrible here in Sydney for more than one week!

    clear skies!
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    Quote Originally Posted by psonice View Post
    I mean something along the lines of 'excellent post, very useful' combined with 'this whole process for stacking images is ridiculous'.

    The second part isn't your fault at all, that's just the way the software is. I think it's way too complicated for what it does, and too much of it is manual that should be automatic.

    As an example, take alignment methods. It's easy for the software to try each method and see which works best for the current images, but instead you're asked to tell it which is best. How many people are going to understand how these things work, and what the implications of each will be for their current set of images?

    Things like this are making what's a pretty simple process very complicated. I seriously think only one or two controls are needed for stacking (more for post-process of course). Your guide shouldn't be necessary at all. But (for now at least) it is, so good work
    Ah! I see. Cool bananas. I actually like the fact that you have to do a few things manually and 'Tell" it what to do. It forces you to experiment and find out "Why". This gives one a better understanding of what programs do. If I could shorten astrophotography to 'Point and shoot" I reckon I wouldn't get much out of the challenge. Thanks for your thoughtful posts though. I appreciate it.

    Quote Originally Posted by admin View Post
    Thanks for posting your image processing methods Baz, do you mainly use DSS?
    hope your skies have been better than ours, its been horrible here in Sydney for more than one week!

    clear skies!
    Mainly only for the DSLR yes. For my CCD on the telescope I use MaxImDL Essentials.

    Waiting for clearer skies and that pesky moon to wane...
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    Quote Originally Posted by A.S.I.G.N. Observatory View Post
    Ah! I see. Cool bananas. I actually like the fact that you have to do a few things manually and 'Tell" it what to do. It forces you to experiment and find out "Why". This gives one a better understanding of what programs do. If I could shorten astrophotography to 'Point and shoot" I reckon I wouldn't get much out of the challenge. Thanks for your thoughtful posts though. I appreciate it.
    Oh, it'll never be 'point and shoot'. And I fully agree on needing a challenge too - just not on where that challenge should be perhaps To me, if the software is unfriendly and needs learning, and I'm having to do things that aren't necessary, it's taking time away from more productive areas without good reason. The challenge should be acquiring the image data and extracting the maximum from it, not learning the meaning of some obscure stuff that you don't really need.

    It's like suggesting that you build your own telescope - an interesting project, and perhaps worth learning, but you shouldn't be required to do it before you can start imaging. If you want to do that, you're welcome of course

    And looking at it another way - if all of the amazing images you've done so far were reduced to mere 'point and click', I don't believe for one minute you'd give up. You'd move on to harder targets, right?

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    Quote Originally Posted by psonice View Post

    And looking at it another way - if all of the amazing images you've done so far were reduced to mere 'point and click', I don't believe for one minute you'd give up. You'd move on to harder targets, right?
    I would certainly hope so....

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    looks good baz gona have to read it when i have time..
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    Hi Baz,
    I'm new here, just took a look at your tutorial. Very nice! I hope folks new to ap or imaging take a look at DSS for a lot of reasons - best one its free Great recommendations to get someone their first stacked image - especially the part about saving to 16 bit TIFF.

    Suggestions - I would BOLD the sentence about not flatting the images - which I think the most important first step? I know this doesn't have to be done with all images all the time from all cameras and CCD's - but is absolutely critical for some. Also yes, it's not technically a part of image stacking, maybe better put, pre-processing. For someone never done this before that big blob in the middle may seem a bit mysterious

    Would reference the "RAW / FITS" data dialog and look for chip settings/ bayer matrix settings? I think it defaults to the generic RGGB matrix - but a mismatch here can be disasterous. I use a CCD, does DSS autoselect if you have a Canon?

    Would make some reference to the "register" process paramenters and detection? ie: avoid getting the error "only one image has been chosen for stacking, do you want to proceed"? error...

    Would reference that the window will pop up with chosen vs. recommended settiings?


    OK, that's all that came to mind 'off the bat'
    ---------------

    So far, DSS has kept me from "having to buy" MaximDL which has saved enough at this point to pay for an additional flattener and reducer ! The version of Maxim that Orion ships with their cameras is 'gutted' and wont even allow automating the stacking process. (interesting as it will automate the flatting or 'calibration', convert raw to color, and color balance...) So I downloaded the DSS to automate the stack/combine process.

    Psonice - I would download and take at look at DSS before thumping it... What Baz put in his tutorial barely scratches the surface of what this free program can not only do, but do extremely well (and hey it's runs on all my platforms). The feature you talk about - letting it choose which stacking/align method based on the image - surprise! it is in there .

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