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Summer Milky Way over Skyline Drive

Contains: Extremely wide field

Technical card

Imaging telescope or lens: Rokinon 16mm f2.0

Imaging camera: Canon 550D

Mount: Vixen Polarie

Software: LightroomPixInsightPhotoshop

Resolution: 3000x2739

Dates: July 9, 2016

Integration: 0.0 hours

Avg. Moon age: 4.61 days

Avg. Moon phase: 22.18% job: 1169037


Image captured at Beagle Gap overlook at Shenandoah National Park. July 9th, 2016. Three panel mosaic, 30 second exposures at ISO3200 (sky), one 180 second exposure at ISO800 (foreground), Canon 550D, Rokinon 16mm f/2.0 lens at f2.4, Vixen Polarie Sky Tracker at 1/2 sidereal rate (sky) and fixed (foreground).

Please see my blog post for the whole story!

Processing Workflow
(LR) Lightroom, (ICE) Microsoft Image Composite Editor, (PS) Photoshop CC, (PI) Pixinsight
Summer Milky Way over Skyline Drive
1. Raw conversion: correct lens distortion, exposure -0.75 (sky) -1.0 (foreground), blacks +20 (sky) +60 (foreground). Export individual panels as sRGB 16-bit .tiffs (LR)
2. Stitch panels tracked sky photos into panorama and also two upper tracked sky photos with lower stationary foreground photo into panorama (ICE, stereographic projection)
3. Open two panoramas as layers and align using warp/scale tools (PS).
4. Generate foreground selection by duplicating foreground layer, adjusting exposure offset, gamma correction and brightness to darken the foreground and brighten the sky. Use magic want to select foreground and then select/similar. Convert to mask. (PS)
5. Apply mask to foreground image such that only foreground portion of that panorama is visible. (PS).
6. Correct light pollution in sky by selecting a small area near the top-left away from the Milky Way and lowering the black point of the green and red channels until the left side of the RGB histograms lign up (PS, Curves adjustment layer with mask protecting foreground).
7. Contrast curve for the sky (PS, Curves adjustment layer with mask protecting foreground).
8. Increase overall exposure (PS, Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer).
9. Noise reduction (PI, ACDNR to lightness and chrominance, iterations reduced to 2 in lightness, lightness mask enabled, also applied a range mask permitting only 20% of noise reduction in foreground since I primarily wanted noise reduction in the sky).
10. Increase color saturation (PI, ColorSaturation, excluding green with lightness mask).
11. Increase foreground brightness (LR, Shadows +50)
12. Crop (LR)
13. Resample (PS).
14. Export as .tiff, jpeg (LR)



Jason Tackett


Summer Milky Way over Skyline Drive, Jason Tackett