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Astrophotography and Sketching >> Beginning and Intermediate Imaging

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Mike7Mak
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Reged: 12/07/11

Loc: New York
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: beachchairbill]
      #5502731 - 11/03/12 05:56 PM

Bill,

StarTools doesn't do calibration or stacking of raw files. For that you need a separate program like Nebulosity3, DeepSkyStacker, or any number of other pre-processing apps.

You first use one of those programs to calibrate the individual subexposures. At a minimum that means subtracting a dark frame to cancel hot pixels. After the subs are calibrated they are then aligned with each other. That usually involves selecting the same star in each one. You will then tell the program to stack all the subs into one image.

That is the image you take into StarTools.


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beachchairbill
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Reged: 11/06/08

Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: TimN]
      #5505516 - 11/05/12 02:17 PM

Hi Tim and Mike,

In Star Tools how do you round or sharpen stars. Which process helps you perform this function?

Thanks

Beachchairbill


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Mike7Mak
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Reged: 12/07/11

Loc: New York
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: beachchairbill]
      #5505604 - 11/05/12 03:32 PM

Quote:


In Star Tools how do you round or sharpen stars. Which process helps you perform this function?




There's a number of tools that work directly on stars, 'Magic', 'Repair', and 'Synth'. I've only actually used 'Magic' so far. It is the mildest process that can reduce the size and help with color depending on the options selected.

The 'Repair' tool is probably the one you want for fixing out of round stars, or the 'Synth' tool, which actually replaces the stars with articially created ones. 'Synth' is kinda involved and to some might be considered 'cheating'.

All require a star mask that might need to be tweaked (shrink/grow) for optimum results.


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Mike7Mak
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Reged: 12/07/11

Loc: New York
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Mike7Mak]
      #5506234 - 11/06/12 12:59 AM Attachment (76 downloads)

So talking about star repair got me thinking. Just for giggles I picked one of my more horrific renditions of M27 to see what I could do to it with StarTools.

This was shot with the original one shot color DSI through my Tak FS78 piggybacked on the Mak.


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Mike7Mak
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Reged: 12/07/11

Loc: New York
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Mike7Mak]
      #5506235 - 11/06/12 01:00 AM Attachment (73 downloads)

And here's what I got using 'Repair' and a few other tools. Mostly color tweaks, some sharpening and noise reduction.

You may notice that stars disappear and some others merge into one. That happens when the star mask overlaps more than one star. The masks over the stars must have at least one unmasked pixel separating them. So unless you're very careful with 'Repair' you can turn your starfield into fantasy.


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TimN
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Reged: 04/20/08

Loc: Ontario, Canada
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Mike7Mak]
      #5506473 - 11/06/12 08:32 AM

Neat Mike. I know reducing stars can allow you to see the DSO more clearly. However, you make a good point regarding fantasy. At what point are we into art and no longer representing the DSO as it really is?

Bill, Mike has made some good suggestions regarding sharpening or rounding stars. I would like to add something about StarTools. The ability to create a mask and work on part of your image - then change it back if you don't like it - is one of the strongest features in StarTools. It's easy to do and very easily undone. So, don't worry about making a mistake. Just start "playing around" and you will be surprised at how quickly you become very proficient.


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Mike7Mak
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Reged: 12/07/11

Loc: New York
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: TimN]
      #5506910 - 11/06/12 01:29 PM

Quote:

At what point are we into art and no longer representing the DSO as it really is?



Hi Tim,

I'm not gonna be the one to draw that line but IMO what I did to the M27 shot crossed it.

Merely tweaking oblong stars back into round is a minor infraction. We all can't afford $15k mounts and when the motivation is esthetics not science some artistic license is to be expected. I do, however, think altering the astrometric reality of an image by eliminating, merging, adding, or moving stars should be avoided.


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beachchairbill
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Reged: 11/06/08

Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Mike7Mak]
      #5507340 - 11/06/12 06:18 PM

Hi Mike,

I like the second picture much better and thanks for the suggestions on Star improvement.

However, Magic, Repair, and Synth do not light up on my software. Noted it today when I was making adjustments to several of my pictures and wanted to sharpen the stars.

Any suggestions on how to fix this??

Thanks

Bill Shea


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Mike7Mak
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Reged: 12/07/11

Loc: New York
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: beachchairbill]
      #5507442 - 11/06/12 07:30 PM

Quote:

Hi Mike,

I like the second picture much better...

However, Magic, Repair, and Synth do not light up on my software.



Hi Bill,

LOL, yeah gross modifications to the starfield notwithstanding, I was pretty surprised how it came out. If StarTools was available when I started out in this madness I might still be using that DSI. I do still have it so maybe I'll give it another try.

Some of the tools are 'grayed out' and not available until you turn off tracking. You should do as much as you can with 'tracking' on so the program can monitor noise but at some point you need to turn it off, do noise reduction, and continue with the other operations.


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Eor312
member


Reged: 01/20/12

Loc: La Vergne, TN
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: TimN]
      #5521948 - 11/15/12 09:25 PM

If I may jump in here...

Just purchased StarTools today, after evaluating the trial version for a week or so.

This is the same image, taken 1/5/2012. 14 x 120s and 7 x 180s, ISO 400

The first version is my best effort in PS and PSP9. Admittedly, I've learned quite a bit since then, but even recent attempts have not produced significantly improved results.



This is after roughly 20 minutes with ST tonight.



Still a bit of detail work on some stars, and a touch of noise to attack in the corners...but for obvious reasons, I'm awfully pleased with this purchase.

Thanks for your efforts, Ivo!


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shawnhar
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Reged: 06/25/10

Loc: Knoxville, TN
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Eor312]
      #5521960 - 11/15/12 09:29 PM

Maybe I am mistaken but are you processing Jpeg images?
You should always shoot RAW...on the other hand your pic has a very Van Gogh feel!


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Eor312
member


Reged: 01/20/12

Loc: La Vergne, TN
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: shawnhar]
      #5521974 - 11/15/12 09:40 PM

No, just uploaded JPGs for that post is all.

Merely meant to show the large difference in detail I was able to extract with ST over previous attempts is all.

I shoot raw, stack in DSS, and process 32bit TIFs out of DSS

Edited by Eor312 (11/15/12 09:42 PM)


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shawnhar
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Loc: Knoxville, TN
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Eor312]
      #5521991 - 11/15/12 09:50 PM

Cool jsut checking, have you tried the HDR - "Reveal" function? You can adjust the "Size of pixels affected" and reveal the core on M42, pretty cool function.

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Eor312
member


Reged: 01/20/12

Loc: La Vergne, TN
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: shawnhar]
      #5522017 - 11/15/12 10:05 PM

Hrmm, I'd played with it, but hadn't thought to use it in that fashion. Thanks for the tip! i'll give that a try!

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mcbbcn
super member


Reged: 03/10/07

Loc: Portland, OR
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: shawnhar]
      #5528518 - 11/19/12 06:17 PM

Hi all,

I'm a die hard fan of PI, and PS with Astronomy tools + multiple awesome plug-ins...& now, I've been intrigued by this tool.

But, I'm going to take a different spin, and I'm going to issue a good old style imaging challenge to whoever wants to give it a shot.

At the following link, you'll find 4 frames. They've already been calibrated, aligned, and integrated. You'll have to crop them though...it's an HaRGB.

https://www.dropbox.com/home/Public/Challenge

It's my usual low SNR from my Portland, Downtown location with a Bortle 8 sky. So, get ready for gradients, noise, and all kinds of little challenges associated with a faint, low SNR from a LP location.

I'm definitely not an expert in the tools that I'm using and my experience is about 18 months with these tools but I don't think I'm doing too bad.

To set a baseline, I'll share my best processing on this tricky nebula (NGC6992).

http://astrogab.ning.com/photo/ngc6992-eastern-veil-portland-downtown-bortle-...

What I would love to see is what you can do with StarTools & if you could share the workflow, that would be awesome.

Also, what I would like to share is that I saw the video of the StarTools faint nebula, and I was not very impressed, now having said that, the workflow was fast. What I'm wondering is the following? Does somebody with a bit more time can produce good results in low SNR light-polluted images?

By the way, everybody's taste on AP is slightly different, my taste is, I like gray skies (not black), they look more realistic to me, and I love to see star color which unfortunately many times gets lost as a result of over-aggressive processing...beyond that, for me, it becomes an issue of extracting detail...

I look forward to see the results!!!

Thank you,

Miquel Casas
Portland, OR

Edited by mcbbcn (11/19/12 06:22 PM)


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shawnhar
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Reged: 06/25/10

Loc: Knoxville, TN
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: mcbbcn]
      #5528976 - 11/19/12 10:24 PM

I get an error:
The folder '/Public/Challenge' does not exist.


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mcbbcn
super member


Reged: 03/10/07

Loc: Portland, OR
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: shawnhar]
      #5529256 - 11/20/12 01:08 AM

Thanks for the catch...how about this?

Blue:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/g0txnywbw1kmgpf/B_integration.fit
Green:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/rad7dejm6pt1joc/G_integration.fit
Red:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/5rt6idiqhhzpc6c/R_integration.fit
Ha:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/0eu77qd9mowu2cg/Ha_integration.fit

Look forward to see the results!

M.


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mcbbcn
super member


Reged: 03/10/07

Loc: Portland, OR
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Mike7Mak]
      #5530792 - 11/20/12 06:44 PM Attachment (74 downloads)

Friends,

I just got the processing from Ivo. This was a first try & quick, just using default automatic settings, and I have to tell you...WOW!!!

Now, the first thing I want to share is that my processing was the result of many tries and many hours...so for being a quick first try, my mind is blown.

When I get pass the first shock, and I look into the details, I'll highlight what I like about Ivo's processing vs. my processing.

What I like about Ivo's processing:
- Obviously, less processing pain which is awesome
- He pulled the blues better than me
- He pull more detail, but, not as much sharpness...see below my comments on my image
- His sky background is great
- Star colors (although a bit too saturated), they're great too
- Nebulae color is great

What I like about my processing:
- It took a long time...
- I believe the sharpness around the faint nebulae details are better

All in all, I'm impressed with Ivo's processing & StarTools!

Ivo told me that he is planning to share his workflow and I can't wait. Also, he said that he is super-busy, but I told him that if he things a bit less crazy to see if he can push the image any further.

By the way, the only change I made to his image was a counter-clock rotation and horizontal flip, so it is easier to compare it with mine. Also, I had to change the size of the image to 200K, so it could be shared here...

Also, here is the link to the full size image I got from Ivo, so you can compare both images at the same size:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/8971416/Challenge/Miquel_NGC6992v3.jpg

Cheers to all of you,

M.

Edited by mcbbcn (11/20/12 06:53 PM)


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Mike7Mak
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Reged: 12/07/11

Loc: New York
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: mcbbcn]
      #5531365 - 11/21/12 12:02 AM Attachment (37 downloads)

Well I hope yer not gonna ask me how I got to this cuz it's the result of a lot trial and error and do-overs. I had a heck of a time (and failed) trying to get a 'traditional' rendition of the color data. It is all done in StarTools except for the conversion to jpg.

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TimN
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Reged: 04/20/08

Loc: Ontario, Canada
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Mike7Mak]
      #5532331 - 11/21/12 02:01 PM

Nice job Mike. You got some nice detail out. Miquel, Ivo also did a good job to give you an idea of StarTools.

Miquel, I think you can see what StarTools can do. I don't believe it's even been out 18 months. Certainly, the latest version - a major redesign - is still in Beta. Yet, this $60 program does at least as well as programs costing many times more.

When I started this thread, I was looking at different software packages. I had decided on PI. I spent hours with it and didn't do too badly. However, I kept trying StarTools and getting equally good - sometimes better - results with much less effort. It really surprised me that so few people had heard or tried this program. Finally , I decided to stick with StarTools - the best kept secret in AP.

I really think the community owes a lot to Ivo and others like him who spend countless hours producing products that make our hobby easier. Many, like Ivo, do it for no profit, just the love of the hobby.


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