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Astrophotography and Sketching >> Beginning and Intermediate Imaging

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Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: shawnhar]
      #5429794 - 09/19/12 07:49 PM

Shawn, what type stretch do you 'normally' try after cal/combine? L/H image looks nice! R/H image seems overcooked like doing a DDP or HDR after it's already been stretched once?

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shawnhar
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Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: CounterWeight]
      #5429958 - 09/19/12 09:27 PM

Jim, I do many, many... well let's just say never less than 20 curves. My original signal is always a needle jammed up against the left wall. I have to grow it and care for it like a prized hog for the county fair! Many subtle noise reductions along the way as well.
StarTools is a little different, it wants you to do all the stretching at once and then flatten, enhance and sharpen. (Well it seems that way to me) I am really struggling with the stretch, called "Digital Enhancement", it's a slider and you use "Dark Anomaly" to mysteriously control the black point. It just is a whole bunch of trial and error at this stage, I feel like I could end up with a better image, but just don't have my head wrapped around the right settings and in what order. I jacked the stars up in the StarTools version because I didn't use the same mask for color and repair, whoops!
Overall I really like it but I do feel like it's a steep learning curve if you need to beg and bribe the data out like I have to.
It should be noted that I use no guiding and my longest subs are like 50 seconds, and I shoot at 1575mm focal length (I know, I didn't listen) 10" SCT and 6.3 FR. So with longer subs and guiding I think someone could produce rockin images right out the door.


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shawnhar
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Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Ivo Jager]
      #5430171 - 09/20/12 12:29 AM

Quote:


What this means is that StarTools knows more about what your intents are, what sequence you processed your image in and how your image evolved from the raw data.
Having access to this 'metadata', StarTools then uses this to estimate what (hidden) parameters to use for the different algorithms (i.e. the algorithms are made context sensitive and context aware)




I would like to have a better understanding of what this means to a specific image. I don't yet understand how my steps make an impact on future processing actions. I feel like if I understood how it "thinks", I could choose to use less noise reduction or less "Dark Anomaly" or maybe more gamma, if I knew what impact it would have later.


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Ivo Jager
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Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: shawnhar]
      #5430322 - 09/20/12 03:56 AM

Quote:


I would like to have a better understanding of what this means to a specific image. I don't yet understand how my steps make an impact on future processing actions. I feel like if I understood how it "thinks", I could choose to use less noise reduction or less "Dark Anomaly" or maybe more gamma, if I knew what impact it would have later.



You're quite right in wanting to understand this. It is something that needs to be understood no matter what program you use.
There will always be a learning curve, but StarTools aims to make it as shallow as possible by reducing the amount of things to think about and get your head around.
One thing, for example, you may not realise, is that StarTools never, ever clips your signal. It is beginners sin #1 to go straight for the Brightness and Contrast controls in any typical image processing package. In astronomy this almost always means you'll be destroying faint structures in your shadows and bright structures in your highlights. StarTools simply does not allow you to do that - one thing less to worry about.
Terminology like gamma correction is rather standard fare and a generic concept that you can look up on wikipedia.
The help function next to each parameter should help you on your way to better understanding what a particular parameter does.
The 'Dark Anomaly Filter', for example, helps StarTools home in on the 'true' darkest pixel value in your image, by filtering out black things (pixels, dust) that aren't 'real'. Doing this, StarTools can then automatically set the black point and avoid clipping of your data.
Using the 'Dark Anomaly Filter' setting is pretty easy - just drag it along until you can't see the image darken much anymore. This means that the filter is increasingly not having much effect anymore and the stuff that isn't 'real' has been filtered out.
The 'Dark Anomaly Headroom' specifies what to do with the stuff that isn't 'real' and sits below the black point. The reason for setting the blackpoint in your image is to free up dynamic range for 'useful'/'real' data, so that you can get better contrast. The 'Dark Anomaly Headroom' parameter allows you to give back just a tiny bit (or a lot) of headroom to the stuff that wasn't real, just so these pixels aren't completely clipped to black.

The issue of how your actions impact future processing possibilities is another huge area where StarTools is trying to make a difference.
Getting a sequence wrong can be detrimental to your data. For example deconvolution after stretching, or applying a Gaussian filter before or after normalizing.
StarTools tries to be very user friendly about how it approaches this problem, by sticking a lot of related functionality under one roof in one module. This means that you control and preview the effect of multiple parameters and filters at once, but the sequence of them is fixed. This prevents a whole lot of suboptimal decisions. StarTools will, for example know and tell you if you have already stretched your data before trying to apply deconvolution.

The next version of StarTools will take this even a step further by allowing you to change your mind about some steps retroactively. It's like travelling back in time and changing the past to get a new present and future. This is where you can apply deconvolution whenever you like to your data, without even knowing that that is, strictly speaking, an impossible feat.


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TimN
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Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Ivo Jager]
      #5430540 - 09/20/12 09:15 AM

First, I must admit I like your "overcooked" image more Shawn. It's got more detail and jump than the LH one. Then again, I usually like images that way.

Ivo, thanks for taking time to explain StarTools and help us. Like Shawn, I've been re-doing my images in StarTools. I've been doing a stretch, crop, another stretch then often straight to develop. I then just use whatever feature I think the image needs. I'm using the latest beta version so I assume the order doesn't matter much anymore. Is this correct or is there a preferred processing order, like your examples with 1.1 and 1.2?

Thanks again Ivo for your explanations.


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Ivo Jager
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Reged: 03/19/11

Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: TimN]
      #5432099 - 09/21/12 03:14 AM

Quote:

I'm using the latest beta version so I assume the order doesn't matter much anymore. Is this correct or is there a preferred processing order, like your examples with 1.1 and 1.2?



Order still matters to a degree in 1.1, 1.2 and the 1.3 alpha, but less so in the upcoming 1.3 beta forwards.

A generic flow looks like this;
Load, Screen stretch, Crop, Bin, Wipe, Deconvolution, Develop, Contrast. Skip steps as you see fit. Then use Optimize, Sharp and Boost as you see fit. Finish off with some Denoise to taste.
This should give you a basic image. From there you can touch up your image with Life, Synth, Repair, Magic, Flux.

Cheers,


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TimN
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Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Ivo Jager]
      #5432617 - 09/21/12 12:23 PM

Thanks Ivo, that really helps. I have some other questions but as they are more detailed related, I will post them to the StarTools forums.

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Escher
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Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Ivo Jager]
      #5432639 - 09/21/12 12:34 PM

Just downloaded and I like it so far, but a question...

I have the OSX version - 1.2... I am running 10.8.1,,, I'm getting crashes on several commands - they hang for along while and I have to either force-quit, or the app crashes out. Is this an issue with 10.8.1?

Feel free to PM me if you want to take this off-forum... happy to help any way I can.

- Chris


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Mike7Mak
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Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Escher]
      #5433007 - 09/21/12 03:50 PM

I am intrigued as well but I'm using an old Gateway P4 2.6Ghz w/1gig ram and Win XPpro (likely 32bit but I don't know how to check that).

Is there any point in me trying StarTools or will it bring my computer to it's knees?

Am I correct in thinking the small size of my images (765x510) might allow the software to run on my system?


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TimN
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Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Mike7Mak]
      #5433738 - 09/22/12 12:57 AM

Yes, Mike that machine is 32 bit. I use a slightly newer machine - also 32 bit - with 2 gig memory and I'm very pleased. I know StarTools works best with a newer 64 bit machine with more memory but there is no harm in trying the free trial - especially with yor file size.

Ivo will know for sure, Mike, but I'd try it.


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Mike7Mak
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Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: TimN]
      #5433761 - 09/22/12 01:27 AM

Quote:

Yes, Mike that machine is 32 bit. I use a slightly newer machine - also 32 bit - with 2 gig memory and I'm very pleased. I know StarTools works best with a newer 64 bit machine with more memory but there is no harm in trying the free trial - especially with yor file size.

Ivo will know for sure, Mike, but I'd try it.



Hi Tim, yeah after I posted I said 'what the heck' and downloaded it.

I get 'high memory and cpu usage' flags from Norton but that's nothing new. I also made it crash a couple times, the program not the computer. The old 'encountered a problem and needs to close' error. Not sure how but I'm gonna have to play with it a while longer to decide if I'm gonna buy it.

It does look pretty cool and easier to learn than either PS or AIP4WIN. I have, but don't use AIP4WIN much cuz it also crashes on me if I do something it doesn't like. It's pretty darn frustrating to do a ton of processing on an image just to lose it all cuz of a wrong 'click'.


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Ivo Jager
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Reged: 03/19/11

Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Escher]
      #5434000 - 09/22/12 08:27 AM

Quote:

Just downloaded and I like it so far, but a question...

I have the OSX version - 1.2... I am running 10.8.1,,, I'm getting crashes on several commands - they hang for along while and I have to either force-quit, or the app crashes out. Is this an issue with 10.8.1?

Feel free to PM me if you want to take this off-forum... happy to help any way I can.

- Chris




Thanks for letting me know Chris - it is much appreciated! I've been going through the code and found a nasty bug that could have been the cause of the instabilities some of you have been experiencing on 32-bit OS's (including the MacOSX version). Could you do me a huge favor and see if the latest alpha (1.3.163) still exhibits this problem?

Edited by Ivo Jager (09/22/12 08:29 AM)


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TimN
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Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Ivo Jager]
      #5438016 - 09/24/12 12:32 PM

I loaded the latest Alpha 1.3.164 and this is what I found.

Just for information. I have an older laptop with one of the first dual core processors with 2 GB of memory upgraded to run 32 bit Windows 7.

I tried loading files direct from DSS. I could load those 90mb-95mb without a problem. I opened them and did an autodev and then cropped to about 40-50mb. I continued with files that size without a problem. I did not bin.

Ivo has added a process stream that tracks what you do to make processing easier. It uses 25% more memory. However, it is optional. I tried using it (called Track) and not using it. Using Track was slower with some commands but there were no crashes or out of memory issues.

However, when I tried to load files greater than that mentioned above, the program crashed or I got out an of memory error before I could reach bin.

So, I think the original crashes are fixed . However, some of those with older computers with less memory running XP would probably have to reduce the file sizes from DSS before loading them into StarTools.


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TimN
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Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: TimN]
      #5438498 - 09/24/12 05:28 PM

It's been raining here today so I've had more time to play with StarTools. In spite of what I just posted, the file sizes in MB don't appear to be the factor that causes "out of memory" issues etc. Some files work great and others cause issues. However, I still think if you bin you can process ok.

I have tested the same file in the 3 versions that I have. 1.2, 1.3.160 Alpha and 1.3.164 Alpha. Ivo has certainly added some neat stuff to the latest version but it definitely runs much slower and has more memory issues etc than the earlier versions. I can always process files straight from DSS with 1.2 and 1.3.160 Alpha. They are snappier and more fun to work with. I don't think I'll upgrade to later versions until I get a new more powerful laptop.


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shawnhar
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Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: TimN]
      #5444959 - 09/28/12 10:39 AM Attachment (82 downloads)

I have been running the 1.3.165 Alpha for about a week and was using the previous version before that. In all been using StarTools for less than 20 days, I probably have over 60 hours logged in the program. I wanted to give the program a more than fair chance because of the price and the abilities.
Let me be perfectly clear, in less than 20 days with this program I have been able to take my images beyond anything I could do in the previous 18 months of trying to learn processing. Granted, I have been using free software like Iris, Fitswork, Paint.net, Gimp, etc... but I have taken those pretty far.
To be honest the program is just plain weird the 1st time using it, there are no curves, no histogram, no levels...WHAT? Where is all the stuff I spent the last year and a half banging my head against the wall trying get better with? All those turorials I went through, the endless posts here about stretching the histo, clipping the black level...not gonna help me here!
Ivo said all that stuff happens in the background so you can focus more on the fun stuff...well I was a little doubtful, do I want to give up that control? Well it turns out YES, I never want to look at a curve or a histo again. The control is still there, all of the modules are endlessly tweakable and you can use most of them multiple times if you want.
Once you get your head around the workflow this program is nothing short of amazing.
Many thanks to Ivo for giving me some feedback about the workflow and module parameters!
I still have lots to learn but I have the basics down now.
Here is my Lagoon, 39 subs at 30 seconds exposure 10" SCT Unguided at F6.3, I ran into issues with the star mask, so they are not modified, still learning that aspect, but other than that I have milked this image for all it's worth.
I can't even begin to describe how much better this image is compared to my previous attempts.


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JoseBorrero
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Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: shawnhar]
      #5449352 - 09/30/12 10:48 PM

new video tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuiK7bgeQ7A

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Mike7Mak
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Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: JoseBorrero]
      #5455297 - 10/04/12 03:51 PM Attachment (91 downloads)

Well I bit the bullet and bought StarTools 1.3.168. I figgered with my spiffy new i5 64-bit computer and all, what the heck. I think I'm really gonna like it. So far I've just blundered around playing with all the modules and default settings. It easy to get carried away and do way too many operations on an image. But it's also surprisingly hard to do anything that completely destroys the image. It's my kind of software in that it lends itself to lots of easily canceled trial and error.

One weird thing, Photoshop6's 'open file' dialog doesn't 'see' the tiff files that ST makes, but if I 'drag and drop' them into PS they open fine.

Here's my NGC 206 shot that I entered in this months CN imaging and sketching contest tweaked with ST's 'Life' module. Really lifted the nebulosity and dust clouds and added depth, I think.


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Mike7Mak
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Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Mike7Mak]
      #5455299 - 10/04/12 03:54 PM Attachment (77 downloads)

Here's the original so you don't have to go surfing to find it.

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TimN
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Reged: 04/20/08

Loc: Ontario, Canada
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Mike7Mak]
      #5457617 - 10/06/12 09:03 AM

Very nice image, Mike. I also just upgraded my computer with one similar to your new one. Just getting it set up now. Looking forward to trying StarTools on it.

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Mike7Mak
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Re: Processing Software - StarTools [Re: TimN]
      #5457879 - 10/06/12 12:24 PM

Thanks Tim. So far I'm pretty impressed with StarTools. I especially like the 'track' feature and the somewhat 'guided' workflow that keeps you from doing stupid stuff. It lets you use some really powerful and complex processing routines without having to 'fully' understand what's it's doing.

I will go so far as to say it may actually be a viable 'alternative' to packages like Photoshop, Pixinsight, Maxim, etc. for final processing, at 1/10th the price. I think it has the potential to become as popular as Nebulostiy and together (Neb3+StarTools) they may be the most economical solution for a complete imaging software package, from capture to finished image.

Now if the rain and clouds would just let up...


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