Return to the Cloudy Nights Telescope Reviews home pageAstronomics discounts for Cloudy Nights members
· Get a Cloudy Nights T-Shirt · Submit a Review / Article

Click here if you are having trouble logging into the forums

Privacy Policy | Please read our Terms of Service | Signup and Troubleshooting FAQ | Problems? PM a Red or a Green Gu… uh, User

Astrophotography and Sketching >> Beginning and Intermediate Imaging

Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | (show all)
TimN
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 04/20/08

Loc: Ontario, Canada
Processing Software - StarTools
      #5411437 - 09/09/12 10:36 AM

I've been reviewing different software packages for processing my Astro images. I've come across this package that seems to promise a lot at a very inexpensive price. Have any of you experience with this?
http://www.StarTools.org/


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
zerro1
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/02/09

Loc: Smokey Point , 48.12°N 122.25...
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: TimN]
      #5411577 - 09/09/12 12:24 PM

I'll give it a try. it does seem to be very clear that it is a huge resource hog. So unless you have a pretty high end 64bit machine with a lot of RAM, you'll be seeing an out of memory message a lot.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
CounterWeight
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 10/05/08

Loc: Palo alto, CA.
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: zerro1]
      #5412078 - 09/09/12 06:35 PM

Sure looks interesting! I've just finished going through the site and reading about the features. Some, not all look like a great help. Others look like they might introduce artifact - this just looking at their examples, if there are 'knobs' then might be nice too. Price very reasonable for the features, this I say just looking at the site - haven't downloaded and tried it.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
NorthBoundTrain
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 11/23/11

Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: CounterWeight]
      #5412721 - 09/10/12 02:34 AM

Looks interesting, but I prefer my trusty PS action sets from Noel & Anna. Combined they are less then that program, plus I am used to them.

I would be curious how you like that software if you do try it out though.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
TimN
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 04/20/08

Loc: Ontario, Canada
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: NorthBoundTrain]
      #5413422 - 09/10/12 02:02 PM

I finally tried StarTools. Chris, it's not a set of plug-ins like Noel and Anna's tools for PS. It actually replaces PS and provides everything to process your Astro images - At about a tenth of the price of PS.

I've also been playing with PixInsight. StarTools and PixInsight both are written for Astrophotography and both allow you to adjust the image while in linear format via a screen stretch. However, they seem to take opposite approaches after that.

Pixinsight is a very powerfull program. While Pixinsight gives you total control over everything, the downside is it has a much steeper learning curve. StarTools is much easier to use. It's not black box like Noel and Anna's plug-ins but some of the ideas behind it are similar. It prevented me from making some poor decisions.

I've only tried the one image and it was fairly easy and quick to do and the results were similar to what I was able to get in PS with Noel's actions. They were also similar to my PixInsight results. However, the PixIsight took a lot longer to do because I'm not familiar with it. On the other hand StarTools has a minimal learning curve.

I'd be very interested in any other opinions. Will post my final opinion after I try a few more images.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
CounterWeight
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 10/05/08

Loc: Palo alto, CA.
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: TimN]
      #5413640 - 09/10/12 04:04 PM

Tim,

Is the free trial version the same as the full version? I have the data on my processing box so could rune a quick test or two.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
TimN
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 04/20/08

Loc: Ontario, Canada
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: CounterWeight]
      #5413717 - 09/10/12 04:58 PM

From what I can see, all the functions work in the trial version. The only difference seems to be the disabling of the save function. Makes it harder to compare.

Let me know what you think.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
CounterWeight
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 10/05/08

Loc: Palo alto, CA.
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: TimN]
      #5413737 - 09/10/12 05:11 PM

Thanks Tim, I'll have a go at it.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
shawnhar
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 06/25/10

Loc: Knoxville, TN
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: CounterWeight]
      #5414133 - 09/10/12 09:21 PM Attachment (96 downloads)

Well I aint no master, but I have been using Fitswork and Paint.net..cause they are free. I downloaded the demo and went through the tutorial files a couple of times...so weird...no curves...no levels...odd workflow...but I was impressed! Now if I can just figure out how to use the darn thing. Seems like it was made by Mac users.
I will say this, I pulled out dust lanes in the core of Andromed I didn't even know were there... and I played with this data a BUNCH. Now if I can just get the rest of it to come out.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
shawnhar
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 06/25/10

Loc: Knoxville, TN
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: shawnhar]
      #5414230 - 09/10/12 10:03 PM Attachment (154 downloads)

Hey just for giggles I ran my Scutum 210mm lens test through Star Tools...I think I may have to have this program.
15 2:00 subs with darks in an Orange zone, 70-210mm zoom lens on Canon XS
Edit: Whoops, that M26 should be lower!

Edited by shawnhar (09/10/12 10:05 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
NorthBoundTrain
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 11/23/11

Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: TimN]
      #5414471 - 09/11/12 01:52 AM

Quote:

I finally tried StarTools. Chris, it's not a set of plug-ins like Noel and Anna's tools for PS. It actually replaces PS and provides everything to process your Astro images - At about a tenth of the price of PS.

I've also been playing with PixInsight. StarTools and PixInsight both are written for Astrophotography and both allow you to adjust the image while in linear format via a screen stretch. However, they seem to take opposite approaches after that.

Pixinsight is a very powerfull program. While Pixinsight gives you total control over everything, the downside is it has a much steeper learning curve. StarTools is much easier to use. It's not black box like Noel and Anna's plug-ins but some of the ideas behind it are similar. It prevented me from making some poor decisions.

I've only tried the one image and it was fairly easy and quick to do and the results were similar to what I was able to get in PS with Noel's actions. They were also similar to my PixInsight results. However, the PixIsight took a lot longer to do because I'm not familiar with it. On the other hand StarTools has a minimal learning curve.

I'd be very interested in any other opinions. Will post my final opinion after I try a few more images.




Oh ok, I did a quick glance so I didn't realize it was an entire processing platform. I am comfortable with the setup I have now. My wife got me CS5.1 extended with her University employee discount. As for the action sets, I use them mostly for touch ups. It is so easy for me to get set in my ways with a certain program or set thereof.

I should have read more before posting, sorry


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
TimN
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 04/20/08

Loc: Ontario, Canada
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: NorthBoundTrain]
      #5417398 - 09/12/12 02:16 PM

I've been playing with PS, PixInsight and StarTools to try and decide which one to buy. I have been able to do a lot of research on PS and PxInsight but have found very little on StarTools. That's why I posted this question.

I'm not a knowledgable user of any of these products - I own PS Elements 10 - so the following comments are from a newbie perspective.

In PS CS6 I tried levels and curves from Annie's tutorial and mostly used Noel's plugins to touch things up.

In PixInsight I used Harry's tutorials.

In StarTools I used the tutorial on the authors site.

My view is that if you already have PS and are familiar with it, I don't see a lot of benefit to change. However, if you are starting out I feel Pixinsight is a better product at a third of the cost. It's written for astrophotography and doesn't require special Astro plug-ins. However, it is difficult to learn and as a newbie I wish they had some scripts that did what Noel's plug ins did. If I buy Pixinsight, I will do the major processing with it and maybe load the result into Elements to touch up with Noel's plug ins - at least until I'm more familiar with Pixinsight.

Finally there is StarTools. It has the easiest learning curve by far. It's also the least expensive and can produce good results - at least compared to my results with the other packages.

My concern is that StarTools may be great for beginners, but it may not allow me to progress the way I would with PixInsight. I really haven't come across an experienced person that uses it. Any insight would be appreciated.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
terry59
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 07/18/11

Loc: Colorado, USA
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: TimN]
      #5417769 - 09/12/12 05:55 PM

Tim - I have no experience with StarTools and am still learning processing so take this with large grains of salt. I did reach the point where I wanted to align and scale different images and looked at several packages. I decided on PI because it was a complete AP package as opposed to others such as RegiStar. Since then, I've found the alignment and registration function to be great. I've learned more on how to use CS5 and am making connections between CS5 and PI functionality so I'm experimenting more in PI. There are things I like about both programs but I like the control over things in PI a lot when I think I understand how it works.
At this point I'd have to recommend you purchase PI and use the things in Elements that you are comfortable with. Best luck with your choice!


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
TimN
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 04/20/08

Loc: Ontario, Canada
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: terry59]
      #5418729 - 09/13/12 08:35 AM

Thanks Terry. I figure processing is about 50% of the result. I guess when you figure the time spent researching and buying all the equipment plus learning all the relevant software to control it - it's really worth doing the best you can with the processing.

Pixinsight seems to be the best available for AP. It's certainly worth spending the time to learn it - if I want to continue to progress. Will take your advice.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ranger Tim
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 03/25/08

Loc: SE Idaho, USA
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: TimN]
      #5420764 - 09/14/12 11:20 AM

I have used StarTools for about 6 months. I mostly use it for the initial stretching of an image. It has some different algorithms to try for different effects, but I like the basic workflow. I always finish with PS, doing LAB saturation and star color with Carboni's actions.

StarTools has some valuable masking techniques and has excellent control over keeping the image from losing dark data. I have found the deconvolution tool to be really good - when it works - many times it just sits and spins, forcing me to trash the file and start over.

For the money it is a good SW package for the hobbyist that wants a simple work flow and doesn't have a mission to milk every last pixel for all it's worth. I think it fits well with the rest of my SW and I use it for specific tasks, not as an all-in-one package. If you are financially challenged and can't afford the large SW (Images Plus, PS, etc.) then it might make sense for the budding mac-based imager. I found Pixinsight to be confusing and too elaborate for my taste, although I concede that it has tons of control. I am more of an autopilot kind of processing dude. I like taking the pics but hate processing. My eyes glaze over when the computer color wheel begins to spin.

To sum it up, (for the money) StarTools has a lot of features and can lead to some pleasing images, but be prepared for some tweaking in PS or Elements to finish.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ivo Jager
Vendor ( Star Tools )


Reged: 03/19/11

Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Ranger Tim]
      #5421784 - 09/15/12 12:04 AM

Hi all,

Being the author of StarTools, I thought I'd chime in as well.

StarTools takes an approach to image post-processing that is completely different to anything else out there. Whether that is a good or a bad thing, is up to your willingness to get to know ST in depth. Rest assured, the effort that the latter involves is something that has my constant attention.

No less than 50% of development time is spent on actually reducing the amount of settings and parameters while increasing predictability and automation. Don't be fooled by ST's simple appearance - it is very, very powerful, capable of giving any other (astro) image post-processing software and/or plug-ins a serious run for their money.

The difference with other software is that StarTools, in essence, tries to be provide the experience of 'one big preview'. Whereas other software is a disjointed collection of completely separate non-communicating algorithms - incredibly, one particular misguided developer touts this 90s object oriented approach as a benefit! - that have been implemented straight from text books or research papers, StarTools attempts to integrate all processing steps into a whole that is more than the sum of its parts.

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) so that the results make sense 100% of the time and are always usable to some degree, no matter how outrageous the settings chosen. From a UI point of view, this means that StarTools will not have to bother you with heaps of parameters that it can determine itself for you; things look really simple and 'just work' (the back-end that makes it all happen is a different story, but that's for me to worry about!). Importantly, from a signal quality point of view, this also means that data is used more efficiently by always recycling previous iterations of the data where possible to reduce noise propagation and rounding errors.

Further demonstrating the power of this unique approach, StarTools 1.3 will be released in the coming weeks. 1.3 will take things a few steps further, with one-of-a-kind features like mathematically correct retroactive deconvolution (i.e. deconvolution that you can apply at any time, even on post-processed and stretched non-linear data). It will be equipped with an new regularization algorithm that always behaves optimally, giving you a predictable way to balance detail and noise. Other upcoming features that stem from ST 'meta' approach include things like cross-operation per-pixel noise tracking, allowing for extremely targeted noise reduction that takes into account every single operation you performed on the data so that detail preservation is maximal and unintended noise propagation is eliminated. No other noise reduction routine can come close, because no other noise reduction routine has a priori knowledge of the full noise propagation evolution that occurred while you were processing your image.

Additionally, 1.3 will completely abstract away the notion of linear vs non-linear data from the user, removing all the hassle that this important distinction entails from the user's point of view.

Software should be written so that it is maximally empowers human beings. We astrophotographers are in the business of interpretation of data - there is no one 'right way' or look for an particular data set. Your software should merely be a tool to help you express your ideas and vision for an image. It should think with you and be a companion, rather than an obstacle you must conquer. This is the 21st century and our computers (and phones) are now powerful enough to provide this sort of experience. It is my firm belief that, in this day and age, we should settle for nothing less, and it is this belief that brought me to write StarTools.

The StarTools project's (not-for-profit) aim is to make imaging our skies as easy as possible by lowering the bar to entry through software innovation. So whether StarTools is your cup of tea or not, please send us your opinion, bug reports and feedback - you will be doing a lot of current and future fellow astrophotographers a favor!

Thanks for reading & all the best,


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
TimN
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 04/20/08

Loc: Ontario, Canada
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Ivo Jager]
      #5422530 - 09/15/12 03:42 PM

Thanks Tim for the first hand knowledge of using StarTools. A special thanks to Ivo for taking the the time to explain the rational behind his product.

Although I had decided to buy Pixinsight, I continued to keep testing StarTools and PS as well. StarTools is giving me equal - sometimes better - results than the other 2 packages.

Considering the relative low cost of the package ($60.00), I have purchased StarTools. Whether I use it as a stand alone package or use parts of it with Pixinsight or Elements remains to be seen. Regardless, for me, the value is there.

Thanks to everyone who gave me input.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
CounterWeight
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 10/05/08

Loc: Palo alto, CA.
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: TimN]
      #5424772 - 09/17/12 02:04 AM

I'd like to keep this thread alive have vowed to try it with some of my data after I figure out which calibration files go with which images. Unfortunatly I've been exhausting myself try to fix an issue or two with my imaging setup and also trying out the new mini guider that i just added to the mix. Just wanted say that from my brief playing with the package I'm quite interested and will buy it for two reasons - i like the way it works and it's approach to processing.... and also i like it's approach to procesing...

I've often wondered why folks authoring other packages did things the way they did... this one I didn't ! I think Startools deserves far more of my attention, and as soon as I get things ironed out will give the acid test 'narrowband image from the white LP zone!' If it can make my images look good I'll be quite happy.

Quote:

It is my firm belief that, in this day and age, we should settle for nothing less, and it is this belief that brought me to write StarTools.





Just wanted to say 'bravo' and congratulations! from brief encounter so far you have certainly succeeded vs. my efforts with maximDLpro+CS5 and my PI adventures. I think you are on to something and going in the right direction! Always interested me that though many programs ask for CCD info - so few actually apply it to real world imaging/processing - maybe that is a feature that could added? that and light pollution, the bane of us backyard imagers...

Congratulations, Ivo - I'm impressed so far ! Also thanks for posting in to the group here


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ivo Jager
Vendor ( Star Tools )


Reged: 03/19/11

Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: CounterWeight]
      #5428810 - 09/19/12 07:26 AM

Quote:

Just wanted to say 'bravo' and congratulations! from brief encounter so far you have certainly succeeded vs. my efforts with maximDLpro+CS5 and my PI adventures. I think you are on to something and going in the right direction! Always interested me that though many programs ask for CCD info - so few actually apply it to real world imaging/processing - maybe that is a feature that could added? that and light pollution, the bane of us backyard imagers...



Thanks so much for your praise Jim. It's feedback like this that makes it all worthwhile!
You bring up an interesting area for optimization - CCD characteristics. I'm sure something could be done to use knowledge about model-specific noise floors & electron well responses at the stacking stage.

StarTools limits itself exclusively to post-processing though, as this is where good powerful low cost alternatives seem to lack. We do have the GIMP 2.10 coming soon which will finally allow for high-bit depth processing.

It's funny you should mention light pollution. This is really where it all started! StarWipe was the first tool that later made up the StarTools toolchain. It was a command-line tool that removed light pollution very effectively from my inner city Melbourne backyard. Its great-grandson is the Wipe functionality now found in StarTools which still uses the same algorithm at its core. The preset values work very well on most images without the need for user intervention. And for the more outlandish gradients and problems it has a manual mode that works in a similar fashion to PixInsight's DBE.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
shawnhar
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 06/25/10

Loc: Knoxville, TN
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Ivo Jager]
      #5429728 - 09/19/12 07:02 PM Attachment (140 downloads)

I am loving and hating this program.
I have been using it since this thread started and I have reprocessed everything I ever shot with it, which is only like 15 things.
I love the star correction, it's awesome, love the noise suppression, the binning. I hate the lack of understanding on my part about the black level and stretching the image, there are so many options and I am unclear which direction to take them. I just barely got a grasp of processing and this is like starting all over. I read the tutorials and the manual, but I really wish there was a step by step start to final tutorial, most of my images are REALLY dark with low signal, short subs and light pollution so it's hard enough to pull out details.
I really like the detail it pulls out in the brighter portions, I always blow out the core.
I really wish you could undo more than one function.

I know it's not a fair comparision due to the fact that I am really incompetent, but here is my best M8 with Fitswork and Paint.net vs. the best I have been able to do with StarTools.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
CounterWeight
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 10/05/08

Loc: Palo alto, CA.
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?

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
shawnhar
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 06/25/10

Loc: Knoxville, TN
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.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
shawnhar
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 06/25/10

Loc: Knoxville, TN
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.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ivo Jager
Vendor ( Star Tools )


Reged: 03/19/11

Loc: Melbourne, Australia
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.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
TimN
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 04/20/08

Loc: Ontario, Canada
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.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ivo Jager
Vendor ( Star Tools )


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,


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
TimN
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 04/20/08

Loc: Ontario, Canada
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.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Escher
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 08/30/07

Loc: Fenton, MI
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


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Mike7Mak
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 12/07/11

Loc: New York
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?


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
TimN
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 04/20/08

Loc: Ontario, Canada
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.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Mike7Mak
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 12/07/11

Loc: New York
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'.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ivo Jager
Vendor ( Star Tools )


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)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
TimN
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 04/20/08

Loc: Ontario, Canada
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.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
TimN
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 04/20/08

Loc: Ontario, Canada
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.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
shawnhar
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 06/25/10

Loc: Knoxville, TN
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.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
JoseBorrero
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 09/04/09

Loc: Puerto Rico Island
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: shawnhar]
      #5449352 - 09/30/12 10:48 PM

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

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Mike7Mak
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 12/07/11

Loc: New York
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.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Mike7Mak
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 12/07/11

Loc: New York
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.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
TimN
Pooh-Bah


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.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Mike7Mak
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 12/07/11

Loc: New York
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [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...


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
CounterWeight
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 10/05/08

Loc: Palo alto, CA.
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Mike7Mak]
      #5458762 - 10/07/12 03:15 AM

Impressive difference Mike - I really like that second image a lot -very nice

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Mike7Mak
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 12/07/11

Loc: New York
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: CounterWeight]
      #5458828 - 10/07/12 05:56 AM

Thanks Jim. So far I'm having better luck tweaking 'finished' images than I am starting from scratch with stacked unstretched frames. But that may be just the 'quality' of the stuff I shot tonight. Seeing was really bad and I tried shooting full focal length binned. Too tired for another processing run now and I kinda rushed the first one, have to try again tomorrow.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Mike7Mak
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 12/07/11

Loc: New York
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Mike7Mak]
      #5459754 - 10/07/12 07:35 PM Attachment (105 downloads)

Ok here's what I got out of last nights data using Neb3 to calibrate, stack, and resize the binned subs, and then StarTools for the rest. Bear in mind I only have the slightest grasp of what I'm doing with these advanced processing routines. I have no doubt someone who actually knows how to use StarTools could do a much better job.

This is M76 shot at 2670mm focal length binned 2x2 through the CLSccd filter. 20 x 10mins. My flats failed so there's donuts visible and an artifact in the lower right corner from a nasty dust speck right on the ccd. Seeing was miserable.

Anyway this is the shot as it came out of Neb3 with just a ddp stretch so you can see what's in it.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Mike7Mak
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 12/07/11

Loc: New York
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Mike7Mak]
      #5459758 - 10/07/12 07:36 PM Attachment (88 downloads)

And this is what I managed to produce using only StarTools. I didn't record a step by step but from memory, I used 'Develop', 'Crop', 'Decon', 'Wipe', and various iterations of the 'Sharp', 'Contrast', 'Life' and 'Magic' modules. Much cancellation and do-over in the process so which processes actually ended up in the final image might be less than 'all' of those.

Oh and I used 'Heal' to remove the dust speck artifact.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
mbach72
member


Reged: 07/27/11

Loc: NW Wisconsin
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Mike7Mak]
      #5459864 - 10/07/12 09:05 PM

I have to say, I'm pretty intirgued by StarTools. I've been playing around with the demo and found similar results to Mike7Mak. I think my resulting images are at least as good as what I got from photoshop in a fraction of the time. Granted, my skills are pretty rudimentary. I do some levels and curves, some sharpening/blurring, and color balancing. I dont get anywhere near as advanced as most of you. I just havent had time to learn all the ins and outs of PS.

As someone who has limited time for imaging, I have small amounts of data per image compared to what I see from a lot of you. Usually around an hour per object in LRGB. I'm sure my lack of data precludes me from having images that I could do a whole lot with anyhow. That being said, I like the simplicity of StarTools and what it allows me to do with my simple data.

I have received decent results not even having a full understanding a lot of the modules and just using trial and error with the sliders. With more time to learn the modules, I'm sure I would really like the results. I'm especially impressed with the gradient removal tools and being able to correct out-of-round stars with one click.

I'll probably never have time to fully learn PS or Pixinsight, so this will be a few bucks well spent for me.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
shawnhar
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 06/25/10

Loc: Knoxville, TN
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Mike7Mak]
      #5459866 - 10/07/12 09:06 PM

Very nice Mike.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Mike7Mak
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 12/07/11

Loc: New York
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: shawnhar]
      #5459997 - 10/08/12 01:28 AM

Thanks Shawn.

M76 is this month's beginner challenge object so I wanted to get a preview of it while gathering some 'fresh' data to feed into StarTools. It was also a test of my recently 'repaired' camera. I discovered a crack in the ccd chamber cover glass when I went to change the dessicant. SBIG was fantastic about it and sent me a new chamber cover.

So with new dessicant and cover glass I'm now able to go below 0c without fogging the chip. The M76 shot was taken at -20c. What a difference. The one hot pixel I have that starts to bloom in under a minute at 10c only hit about 40k adu in 10 minutes at -20c. But I really have to open it up again to get that dust speck off the chip.

If I get some clear sky during this month's new moon the plan is to re-shoot M76 in LHOO with the .7 reducer for the challenge.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Mike7Mak
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 12/07/11

Loc: New York
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Mike7Mak]
      #5466109 - 10/11/12 10:52 PM

I posted this question on the StarTools forum but maybe someone here knows the answer.

When installing a newer version can I extract the new version files into the old directory and let them overwrite, or do I have to uninstall the previous version first?


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
shawnhar
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 06/25/10

Loc: Knoxville, TN
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Mike7Mak]
      #5466145 - 10/11/12 11:21 PM

Mike, I don't think you have to do anything if you let StarTools connect to the internet.
I had been using the Alpha, and someone posted that it had become Beta, sure enough when I launched it and looked at the "About", it showed the new version.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ivo Jager
Vendor ( Star Tools )


Reged: 03/19/11

Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: shawnhar]
      #5466202 - 10/12/12 12:19 AM

Hi Mike,

You should be safe just overwriting the files.
Shawn, oh how I wish StarTools had a spiffy updater like that! Alas, for now it's all manual (i.e. you have to download a new version and extract it manually).
There is a reason behind that though. Right now, StarTools has a rapid release cycle; new features and fixes are introduced in rapid succession (it's part of the reason why the documentation had been getting out of date so fast).
I don't want to force people to update if they don't want to.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
MikeCMP
super member


Reged: 07/12/11

Loc: Chardon OH
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Ivo Jager]
      #5466227 - 10/12/12 01:03 AM

I too played with the demo and found the results to be pretty good. It's pretty powerful, and seems to work well once you get all the stacking artifacts out of your image. I ended up buying it.

One question I have though issue I process a color image, should I process the three color files and the luminance all separately, all by themselves, and then combine them, or just combine and process?

Also, I am using the alpha, and the deconvolution doesn't seem to make a big difference in my images. What are the factors that go into whether more detail can be teased out in deconvolution?

Mike


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ivo Jager
Vendor ( Star Tools )


Reged: 03/19/11

Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: MikeCMP]
      #5466305 - 10/12/12 03:49 AM

Hi Mike,

Typically for separate LRGB (or just RGB) frames you'll want to combine them into one image that you can process using the LRGB function. Here you can integrate them into one.
If you're doing narrowband imaging, however, it may be worth processing them independent of each other and combining them at a later stage.

With regards to the Decon module, you can trade off noise for more detail by playing with the Regularization parameter. The Decon module tries to figure out if you stand anything to gain by applying deconvolution, or whether it would just introduce noise. You can skew its 'decisions' by modifying the Regularization parameter. Ypur mileage may vary with this - the Wavelet de-noising routine at the end (when tracking is switched off) will be able to mop up some of the noise introduced, but not all of it.
Typically, images that required pretty heavy stretching to bring out detail (e.g. your signal is faint) also exhibit more noise and therefore deconvolution becomes difficult. Do your images fall in this category? If not, I'd love to have a look at your data and see whether Decon is making the right decisions...


Cheers,

Edited by Ivo Jager (10/12/12 03:58 AM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
gustavo_sanchez
sage


Reged: 12/30/10

Loc: Puerto Rico, US
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Ivo Jager]
      #5466984 - 10/12/12 03:56 PM

I bought this software since it has improved some of my previous images beyond what I expected. However, I have noticed that the focus of all postprocessing efforts have towards DSO objects. How effective ST is for planetary imaging?

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Mike7Mak
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 12/07/11

Loc: New York
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: gustavo_sanchez]
      #5467245 - 10/12/12 06:45 PM Attachment (42 downloads)

Well I decided to just keep going with full focal length (2670mm). This is the previous L data with Ha+O3 added. 6 x 20 minutes each binned 2x2 added to 17 x 10 minutes L also binned.

I did a LHOO combine and 'auto color balance' in Nebulosity 3 and from there it's all StarTools. I think I'm gonna keep playing with this for a while and try doing the separate processing and layering of the L and HOO that Ivo mentioned.

M76 in LHOO


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
gustavo_sanchez
sage


Reged: 12/30/10

Loc: Puerto Rico, US
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Mike7Mak]
      #5467784 - 10/13/12 06:33 AM

My reprocessed M16, using StarTools:



Full resolution image here:

M16


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Eric Gage
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 12/13/05

Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: gustavo_sanchez]
      #5467852 - 10/13/12 08:26 AM

Nice Gustavo--do you still have the original process without Star Tools?

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
CounterWeight
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 10/05/08

Loc: Palo alto, CA.
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Eric Gage]
      #5468140 - 10/13/12 11:41 AM

Just wanted to pop in and thank all the folks posting in on this - I'm following along still have not purchased... but will very soon. I'm learining a lot by folks Q&A here which is great.

Ivo - does the decon tool try and figure out over/under sample for decision to invoke? Ex. would it toggle in or out based on 6.2 arcsec/pixel vs. 1.2 arcsec/pixel? Just curious... I in general do not use it.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
gustavo_sanchez
sage


Reged: 12/30/10

Loc: Puerto Rico, US
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Eric Gage]
      #5468562 - 10/13/12 04:14 PM

Quote:

Nice Gustavo--do you still have the original process without Star Tools?




Sure, here it is:



This is before StarTools, the other is is posted a few posts above.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Mike7Mak
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 12/07/11

Loc: New York
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: gustavo_sanchez]
      #5468738 - 10/13/12 06:31 PM Attachment (70 downloads)

Here's another M76 before/after StarTools pair. This was supposed to be color but I forgot to change the filter to Ha and took the whole binned Ha sequence with the CLS filter. Drat. To top it off I think the chip has developed a dead column.

Anyway this is the luminance stack, 22 x 10 minutes binned 1x1 with the CLS filter, with the .5 Antares reducer for approx 1500mm fl.

Again, I'm still kinda flailing around in StarTools pushing buttons and blindly tweaking parameters to see what happens. So far my 'workflow' is roughly 'Develop', 'Crop', 'Decon' and then various trial and error iterations of 'Magic' 'Life' 'HDR'. Photoshop gets honorable mention for converting the 16 bit tiffs to jpeg.

This 'before' is calibrated, stacked, and ddp stretched in Nebulosity 3. (edit...the Neb3 ddp stretch isn't done on the file that ST works on.)

Edited by Mike7Mak (10/13/12 06:44 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Mike7Mak
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 12/07/11

Loc: New York
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Mike7Mak]
      #5468740 - 10/13/12 06:32 PM Attachment (57 downloads)

And 'after'...

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ivo Jager
Vendor ( Star Tools )


Reged: 03/19/11

Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: CounterWeight]
      #5468854 - 10/13/12 08:15 PM

Quote:


Ivo - does the decon tool try and figure out over/under sample for decision to invoke? Ex. would it toggle in or out based on 6.2 arcsec/pixel vs. 1.2 arcsec/pixel? Just curious... I in general do not use it.




Applying deconvolution is up to the user. Basing the decision on just angular size unfortunately doesn't help much, as it is a combination of seeing, angular size, scope/lens/camera specs and signal quality that needs to be taken into account.
ST's Decon module allows for very fast previewing though, so it is easy to estimate whether Decon improves your image (if at all) and by how much.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ranger Tim
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 03/25/08

Loc: SE Idaho, USA
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Ivo Jager]
      #5469044 - 10/13/12 10:49 PM

I still can't get the Bin Tool, Deconvolution or several other tools to operate without getting hung or crashing on my MacBook Pro 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7 with 8GB of RAM. What am I doing wrong? I still use StarTools to stretch the image as it does a much better job than I do. Maybe I should try it in emulation with Parallels? And I should probably take this to the appropriate forum as well.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ivo Jager
Vendor ( Star Tools )


Reged: 03/19/11

Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Ranger Tim]
      #5469074 - 10/13/12 11:13 PM

Quote:

I still can't get the Bin Tool, Deconvolution or several other tools to operate without getting hung or crashing on my MacBook Pro 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7 with 8GB of RAM. What am I doing wrong? I still use StarTools to stretch the image as it does a much better job than I do. Maybe I should try it in emulation with Parallels?




Hi Tim,

Could you try the latest version 1.3.175 which was updated yesterday? It should solve a number of issues for MacOSX...

Quote:

And I should probably take this to the appropriate forum as well.




Bug reports and feedback on the StarTools forum is much appreciated - it helps others to easily find information and helps me find and fix bugs quicker!


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Eric Gage
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 12/13/05

Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: gustavo_sanchez]
      #5469182 - 10/14/12 12:35 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Nice Gustavo--do you still have the original process without Star Tools?




Sure, here it is:



This is before StarTools, the other is is posted a few posts above.




The results look very similar. Did you find that the processing was easier and/or faster with ST?


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Eric Gage
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 12/13/05

Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Ivo Jager]
      #5469193 - 10/14/12 12:49 AM

Quote:



Could you try the latest version 1.3.175 which was updated yesterday? It should solve a number of issues for MacOSX...




Thanks for the update. I'm finally going to get some imaging weather tomorrow, so I'm eager to try this. I assume that the update does not bring the OSX version into the 64 bit realm though, right? Will we still be limited to small files?


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ivo Jager
Vendor ( Star Tools )


Reged: 03/19/11

Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Eric Gage]
      #5469280 - 10/14/12 03:38 AM

Quote:


Thanks for the update. I'm finally going to get some imaging weather tomorrow, so I'm eager to try this. I assume that the update does not bring the OSX version into the 64 bit realm though, right? Will we still be limited to small files?



Unfortunately that is the gist of it. Work on a 64-bit MacOSX version is scheduled after 1.3 hits release version. Developing for MacOSX is infuriatingly expensive to get started with if you don't yet own an Apple machine (Apple defacto requires you purchase an Apple computer in order to compile anything) and effectively forces any multi-platform development that involves cross-compiling be done on MacOSX itself (32-bit executables excepted). As StarTools is currently a loss-leading passion project, it is hard to justify the purchase of Mac, or the effort and time it takes to change over the build and development environment.
I understand the demand is there, but Apple's business practices, licensing restrictions and proprietary development tools make this platform very inaccessible for small-time multi-platform developers. That said, I'm committed to bring the full 64-bit experience to as many people as possible, no matter the OS. It will happen, but stabilising 1.3 has got the biggest priority right now.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Mike7Mak
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 12/07/11

Loc: New York
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Ivo Jager]
      #5469284 - 10/14/12 04:10 AM Attachment (66 downloads)

This is something of a milestone for me. Combining data from 2 images shot at different scales. I used the best 16 x 10min luminance frames from the 1500mm shot and the color data from the previous 2670mm shot. 6 x 20min each of Ha + O3.

I used Neb3 to calibrate, stack, and combine L and HOO files. Then I used it to 'translate, rotate, and scale' align the two image frames. Processed each separately in StarTools and then used the 'Layer' module to combine them. After that much trial and error processing of the combined LHOO image.

This is what I ended up with. I probably should have kept a better eye on the large halos forming around the brighter stars but by the time I noticed it there was no turning back.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
TimN
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 04/20/08

Loc: Ontario, Canada
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Mike7Mak]
      #5469414 - 10/14/12 08:50 AM

That's really nice Mike! You are really making good use of yor new machine and StarTools.

I'm also on a new 64 bit machine and I find the 174 and 175 versions to be very fast and stable. Like you, I have just been playing around with the order of processing. I find that I bin first - if I'm going to - then develop, crop and wipe. After that it doesn't seem to matter. My final step is always to take tracking off and the allow the automatic denoise.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Mike7Mak
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 12/07/11

Loc: New York
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: TimN]
      #5469534 - 10/14/12 10:32 AM

Thanks Tim. I think I liked it better last night when I posted it. Now it looks a little fuzzy to me. I'm gonna give it a do-over and try to get rid of the halos and smooth it out a bit.

Yeah the new machine is nice and StarTools 173 is running on it without problems.

I'm generally starting out with binned and resized up data (long focal lengths and tiny chip) so I 'Develop' to reveal the stacking edges, 'Crop' then 'Decon'. After that I do what I can to get the overall look I want before turning off 'Track' and doing noise reduction. That frees up a couple of other modules for tweaking the stars and a final bit of adjustment.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Eric Gage
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 12/13/05

Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Ivo Jager]
      #5469669 - 10/14/12 11:52 AM

Quote:

Quote:


Thanks for the update. I'm finally going to get some imaging weather tomorrow, so I'm eager to try this. I assume that the update does not bring the OSX version into the 64 bit realm though, right? Will we still be limited to small files?



Unfortunately that is the gist of it. Work on a 64-bit MacOSX version is scheduled after 1.3 hits release version. Developing for MacOSX is infuriatingly expensive to get started with if you don't yet own an Apple machine (Apple defacto requires you purchase an Apple computer in order to compile anything) and effectively forces any multi-platform development that involves cross-compiling be done on MacOSX itself (32-bit executables excepted). As StarTools is currently a loss-leading passion project, it is hard to justify the purchase of Mac, or the effort and time it takes to change over the build and development environment.
I understand the demand is there, but Apple's business practices, licensing restrictions and proprietary development tools make this platform very inaccessible for small-time multi-platform developers. That said, I'm committed to bring the full 64-bit experience to as many people as possible, no matter the OS. It will happen, but stabilising 1.3 has got the biggest priority right now.




Ok, CN...who has a 64 bit Mac that they are not using? Let's get this done. Contact Ivo.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Mike7Mak
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 12/07/11

Loc: New York
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Eric Gage]
      #5470053 - 10/14/12 03:52 PM Attachment (54 downloads)

Ok I've had enough of this one. Here's another version not pushed so hard. I haven't figured out how to bring out the faint outer details on the nebula without blowing out those star halos.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
TimN
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 04/20/08

Loc: Ontario, Canada
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Mike7Mak]
      #5470120 - 10/14/12 04:32 PM

Mike, this one is a little sharper and has more jump. I like it.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ranger Tim
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 03/25/08

Loc: SE Idaho, USA
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: TimN]
      #5477638 - 10/18/12 07:43 PM

For those that are interested, Ivo has worked on the Mac version and it is now running correctly on my MacBook Pro very nicely. I appreciate having access to developer that cares enough to work on a fix like the world depended on it. I'm one happy camper again!

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Eric Gage
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 12/13/05

Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Ranger Tim]
      #5477669 - 10/18/12 08:17 PM

Tim,

I have a MBP. Ivo had told me that unless I bin the files, my DSLR images would be too large to be handled by ST. What is your set up and experience?

Eric


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ranger Tim
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 03/25/08

Loc: SE Idaho, USA
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Eric Gage]
      #5478762 - 10/19/12 12:36 PM

Eric,

I'm using a 450D, self modded. I was having a hang and crash road block in StarTools, but Ivo worked on it this week and fixed my issues. My machine is a MBP 2.7 GHz Core 2 Duo w/ 8 Gigs of RAM and processes the TIFFs from DSS at native resolution now without much problem. It does take a moment to let the wheel spin on a few operations, but doesn't hang anymore - at least it hasn't in the last day or two! My files are around 4000 by 2500 pixels; I don't recall the exact size. I tried binning before and the files still didn't work. Whatever Ivo did yesterday morning fixed everything. No binning required. But I may still bin for other reasons. Kinda scared to go back to that tool

Give it a go. StarTools certainly has made the stretching process remarkably efficient for me and I really like the deconvolution and noise reduction tools. This program, coupled with Anna Morris' and Carboni's tools in Photoshop are a great complement. I stack in DSS, export a TIFF to StarTools, stretch and do other voodoo then save and open the TIFF in PS. There I saturate color using the LAB color enhancement that prevents luminosity from blowing out, revert back to SRGB and run Carboni's Star Color actions a few times. See my latest version of M33 on the thread "Back in the Saddle Again."

I have so much left to learn and am continuously reading these pages for helping hints. I feel like I can finally say that I've reached a level of some success, and that's a good feeling! Good luck with your efforts. I just wish I could support those who put out the products we use in a more substantial way. Perhaps we should start a hall of fame for them, i.e. Craig Starke, Carboni, Anna Morris, Jerry Lodriguss, Ivo Jaeger, to name just a few. Kudos to them all. Without them we would be working in the dark!


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
beachchairbill
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 11/06/08

Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: shawnhar]
      #5500218 - 11/02/12 12:09 AM

Hi everyone,

I recently purchased Stae Tools and need your help with getting started with processing my pictures of Pleiades and the moon.

Right now I have been able to download my first picture into Star Tools but since I'm a beginner and can't find any manual for 1.3 what are my nent steps to enhance this picture.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

Beachchairbill


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Mike7Mak
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 12/07/11

Loc: New York
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: beachchairbill]
      #5500371 - 11/02/12 03:33 AM

Hi Bill,

There's a downloadable pdf manual and tutorials on this page...

http://startools.org/drupal/node/28

Generally speaking, if I'm starting with an unstretched fits file the first thing I do is select 'unstretched' at the first dialog. This turns on 'tracking' so the program monitors noise creation in further steps and removes it when you turn off 'tracking'. Then I do 'Develop or Autodev' to stretch the image enough to see what's going on. Then 'Crop' to remove black stacking borders. (edit...leave 'tracking' on as long as possible.)

After that it depends on the image what you do next. It's easy to just try and cancel almost every tool to see its effects without messing up the image.

Edited by Mike7Mak (11/02/12 03:40 AM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
beachchairbill
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 11/06/08

Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Mike7Mak]
      #5501054 - 11/02/12 02:27 PM

Hi Mike,

Thanks for the heads up and will give all of you suggestion a try and then give you an update.

Bill Shea


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
beachchairbill
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 11/06/08

Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: beachchairbill]
      #5502678 - 11/03/12 05:23 PM

Hi Mike,

I've read this whole thread and have picked up a lot of hints regarding the steps to follow when getting started.

I did note that their was very little said about stacking and it's process.

I have 8 pictures that I would like to stack to come up with one best picture. The question is when do I start this process. At the start, after crop, etc.

Also, does each picture have to be of perfect size and if so, howe do you get to this point?

Thanks

Bill Shea


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
TimN
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 04/20/08

Loc: Ontario, Canada
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: beachchairbill]
      #5502717 - 11/03/12 05:47 PM

Bill, StarTools doesn't stack. So first you stack with another program. I use the free program Deep Sky Stacker (DSS). When you run it save the output to to a Tiff file. That's the file you load into StarTools.

DSS is fairly easy to use - I just use the recommended defaults. If you have a problem - just ask. It's probably the most common stacking program used.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Mike7Mak
Pooh-Bah
*****

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.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
beachchairbill
Pooh-Bah


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


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Mike7Mak
Pooh-Bah
*****

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.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Mike7Mak
Pooh-Bah
*****

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.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Mike7Mak
Pooh-Bah
*****

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.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
TimN
Pooh-Bah


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.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Mike7Mak
Pooh-Bah
*****

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.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
beachchairbill
Pooh-Bah


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


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Mike7Mak
Pooh-Bah
*****

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.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
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!


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
shawnhar
Post Laureate
*****

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!


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
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)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
shawnhar
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 06/25/10

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.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
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!

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
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)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
shawnhar
Post Laureate
*****

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.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
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.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
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)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Mike7Mak
Pooh-Bah
*****

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.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
TimN
Pooh-Bah


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.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
mcbbcn
super member


Reged: 03/10/07

Loc: Portland, OR
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Mike7Mak]
      #5532486 - 11/21/12 03:26 PM

Hi Mike,

I like the color of the stars a d the background but unfortunately, the color mapping is wrong. I've asked Ivo to post his workflow, so hopefully, we will learn more from his processing approach.

Thanks for giving it a try!

Cheers,

M.

Edited by mcbbcn (11/21/12 06:10 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
mcbbcn
super member


Reged: 03/10/07

Loc: Portland, OR
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: TimN]
      #5532763 - 11/21/12 06:19 PM

Hi Tim,

I agree with you. As I shared in my previous post, I'm giving Ivo and StarTools rave reviews, you saw me bowing.

I'm very curious about how much you can push the image now. Have you given my nebulae a try? I would love to see what you can do too.

I know Ivo is very busy, but he said that he was going to share his workflow with us, and I can't wait.

I'm also curious to see if his deconvolution approach could sharpen the low SNR faint nebulae. I have the feeling that it can,...given what I saw in the video for processing the galaxy. I remember a step in the video where he was able to pull individual stars from a smudge of gradients...I was certainly quite impressed with that step.

I look forward to hear more about it.

Thank you so much for creating this post. It's been quite a nice discovery for me, and I don't exclude the possibility that I may end up using a combination of programs, as I always do to get the results I want.

Best regards,

Miquel


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Mike7Mak
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 12/07/11

Loc: New York
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: mcbbcn]
      #5532879 - 11/21/12 07:52 PM Attachment (41 downloads)

Quote:

...unfortunately, the color mapping is wrong.



Heh, wrong eh? To be honest I think I've only seen one or two 'red/blue' veil images that I thought looked good. It's a pretty difficult target to get 'right'.

The problem I'm having is most of the nebula signal is in the Ha frame. The signal is barely above the noise floor in the RGB frames. I gave it one more shot. This time with some fairly extreme stretching and other tweaks on the individual frames before combining them.

Can't say I like it any better than the first one I did.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
mcbbcn
super member


Reged: 03/10/07

Loc: Portland, OR
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Mike7Mak]
      #5532941 - 11/21/12 08:53 PM

Hi Mike,

When I said 'wrong', I may have been a bit harsh. Let's say, it's not what I was expecting, but in the realm of colors, it's like flavors, everybody is right.

It seems that on your next tried, the color mapping is more in tune with red for Ha, and blue for oxygen...It's a bit too saturated but it sounds like you're going down the right path.

It's a very tricky nebula to process, and it took several trial & errors on my side to get it right, so I'm not surprise is challenging on your side.

...that is why, I was also quite surprise with Ivo's result. He said that he used most of the default settings, so that blew my mind away. I'm sure he has an edge given that he is written Startools, and probably he knows better than anybody else how makes this tool tick in the best possible way.

Thanks again for giving my nebula a try, and seriously, if you saw some of my early processing on this object, you'll feel pretty good about the results you're getting.

Clear skies!

M.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ivo Jager
Vendor ( Star Tools )


Reged: 03/19/11

Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: mcbbcn]
      #5533070 - 11/21/12 10:42 PM

Hi All,

The trick is to process luminance separate from the colour data.
To help you on your way, here is a quick description on how I processed the luminance part of the image. I'll post the remainder of the steps later when I can find some more time.

First I created a new synthetic luminance master by creating a weighted average of all the signal that we collected across the different bands (Ha 110m, R:30m, G:30m, B:30m). By doing this, we create a new master that makes optimal use of the photons captured to bring out detail and reduce noise.

Unfortunately the way to do this is currently not very elegant in StarTools (or anywhere else as far as I know). This will change in 1.4 with a revamp of the LRGB module.

Load R, indicate that data is NOT linear ("This image has already been stretched") even though it clearly is.
Then, in the Layer module, open G, set blend to 50%, Copy, Paste->Bg, open B, set blend to 33%, Copy, Paste->Bg, open Ha, set blend to 55%.

What we're doing here is progressively creating a luminance master; first we have a 50/50 mix of R and G, then we have a 66/33 mix of (R+G) and B (so we effectively end up with 33% R, 33% G and 33% B) and finally we have a mix of 45/55 of (R+G+B) and (Ha). Why use 45% of the RGB luminance and mix it with 55% of Ha? That's because the R+G+B signal constitutes 90 minutes of exposure time and the Ha constitutes 110m exposure time. So of the 200 minutes of total exposure time for this object, 90 minutes was allocated to R+G+B (90/200=0.45) and 110 minutes was allocated to Ha (110/200=0.55).

Now that we have our new synthetic luminance signal, we can start processing it for maximum detail. We will introduce colour at a later stage.

First thing I do is let StarTools know that what we have now is 'trackable' linear data. With that knowledge it will be able to give us enhanced results. To let StarTools know, I click the Track button.

So let's see what we got! I launch the Autodev module which automatically does a global stretch, allocating dynamic range in the best possible way for the detail in your image. As long as 'tracking' is on, global stretches in StarTools are non-permanent and you can redo them whenever you like - even if you have already done other stuff to your image such as local stretching, sharpening, deconvolution, etc.

We can immediately see two things; the image needs cropping (due to stacking artefacts) and there is a faint gradient present. I 'Keep' the stretched image and launch the Crop module. I settle for some values that centre the nebula and get rid of the artefacts. I also make sure I keep track of the values as I need them later on to crop the color data in the exact same way (you can write them down, or you could just look the up in the StarTools.log processing log file).
Parameter [X1] set to [52 pixels]
Parameter [Y1] set to [173 pixels]
Parameter [X2] set to [3027 pixels (-321)]
Parameter [Y2] set to [2168 pixels (-328)]

Next, I get rid of the gradient, by using the Wipe module.
I use the default values and I bump up the dark anomaly setting a little, just in case the are some dead pixels (though I didn't see any).
Parameter [Dark Anomaly Filter] set to [2 pixels]

I do as the Wipe module suggested when I launched it and re-do the global stretch. I use the Autodev module for that (though if you wanted to, you could use the Develop module as well). Things look good. The gradient and artefacts are gone.
AutoDev's job is to find the histogram curve that gives the best possible trade-off between detail and brightness (i.e. 'dynamic range allocation'). It's exactly what you would be doing playing with curves and checking histograms in traditional software packages, only Autodev is infinitely faster and better at it than you are.
Our image has some fine background noise, which AutoDev actually tries to bring out, assuming it is real detail. To tell Autodev not to bother with the fine noise, we can actually tell it to ignore details that are finer than a specific amount of pixels. I select a value of 1.5.
Parameter [Ignore Detail <] set to [1.5 pixels]
We can immediately see the noise becomes less visible, as Autodev no longer allocates dynamic range for it.
I'm happy with this result, so I click 'Keep'.

Next I launch the Deconvolution module, to see if it thinks our signal is good enough to make any enhancements. I define a preview area and play a bit with the 'Radius' parameter. I don't bother with a star mask just yet, though it's pretty obvious I'm going to need one. After a bit of playing around, I settle for a radius of 2.0 pixels and can't see any improvement beyond 10 iterations. You'll notice that deconvolution in StarTools is not only blazingly fast, it simply refuses to introduce noise and seems to magically 'know' which detail it can enhance and where to back off because it would only introduce noise and artefacts. To make a long story short - you don't need to create detail protection masks or elaborate luminance masks for the Decon module to do its job properly and effectively.
What we do need however is a star mask. Fortunately, that's not hard to do either. I click Mask, Auto, the 'Stars' preset and the 'Do'. Out comes a mask.
I click 'Shrink', 'Grow' and 'Grow' to make sure that small detail noise is not accidentally selected and that stars are well covered by green mask pixels. I'm happy so I click 'Keep'.

Oops! StarTools has picked up a mistake I made - we need an *inverse* star mask (e.g. something that has 'gaps' where the stars are so that they *don't* get treated by the decon module). I launch Mask again, and correct my mistake by clicking 'Inverse', after which I 'Keep' the result and am returned to the Decon module.
It's a huge improvement - the ringing artefacts are gone. I can see, however, some spurious other pixels around some stars that don't seem to belong there.
They are caused by the de-ringing algorithm which, unlike those in other deconvolution algorithms, still makes an attempt to coalesce singularities and sharpen up stars with an alternative algorithm. It's a typical case of 'Your Mileage May Vary'. You can use the Mask Fuzz parameter (which makes the mask we created appear 'fuzzy'/'blurry' to StarTools algorithms) to control how much of the non-deconvolved image is blended in. I our case, I settle for 3 pixels, as opposed to the default 8 pixels.
Next I click 'All' to apply the deconvolution settings to the whole image and not just the preview I define earlier.
I'm happy with this, so I click Keep.

Next, I'm going to use some local dynamic range optimisation to bring out the nebula further by launching the HDR module.
I just use the default settings which performs an equalisation of local dynamic range, effective taming too bright regions (of which we have little) and enhancing detail in dark regions (of which we have lots). The only parameter I change is the 'Most Affected Detail Size' (to 178 pixels). This parameter specifies the rough size of 'things' in your image that should be affected most by the enhancement. It helps HDR find the right areas in your image that require enhancement and ensures the enhancements look natural. Don't be too concerned about noise being exacerbated - StarTools 'tracking' feature is keeping track of it in the background and will deal with it later. I'm happy and, once again, 'Keep' the result.

We still have that mask active we made earlier for the Decon module. We might as well put it to good use. This time I'm going to do some Wavelet sharpening with it, making sure that stars are not affected as much. I launch the 'Sharp' module and click 'Next'.
I modify the mask slightly by clicking 'Shrink' twice, so that pixels that are in the neighbourhood of stars aren't affected as much by the sharpening. I set Mask Fuzz to 4 pixels so non-sharpened and sharpened areas transition smoothly. I also 'overdrive' the sharpening a little by setting Amount to 150%. Finally I set 'Small Detail Bias' to 90%. This important and unique feature acts as an arbiter when different scales try to enhance the same pixel. In such a case, 'Small Detail Bias' looks at what both proposed modifications bring to the table and decides who gets priority based on how it will affect the image. Increasing 'small detail bias' gives a progressively bigger weight to decisions in favor of small detail enhancement. It is an important feature that makes wavelet sharpening much more useful and controllable, as opposed to other implementations.
Also notice that StarTools wavelet sharpening implementation (as is the case with nearly every other module in StarTools) never clips your data, no matter how crazy the parameters you choose.
The Added detail definitely makes a difference. I'm happy with that and I 'Keep' the result.

I'm a big fan of one particular module in StarTools, which is called the 'Life' module.
It was written as a way to manipulate super structures (such as whole nebulae and galaxies) and give the user control over their presentation. Especially in wide(r) field images, busy starfields can be terribly distracting from the object that is really the centrepiece of your image. Such objects seem 'buried' under stars. The Life module can push back the star fields and bring out the nebula, drawing the eye to what your image is really about.
Other uses for the Life module are the complete reconstruction and re-synthesis of super structures that were lost due to heavy-handed HDR processing (the infamous 'flat' PixInsight look) or lost and irrecoverable from background noise.
The choice is yours a this point to apply it or not.
Either way, we'll need a mask that is fully set instead of the partially set mask that we have now (Mask, Clear, Invert, Keep).
For this image, I chose to use it to push back the star field and 'Isolate' the nebula. For this I used the Isolate preset with default values, but used a strength of 50% to make the effect a little more subtle.

I perform one last step before final noise reduction and that is the 'Contrast' module. It helps even out contrast across large parts of the image. It's a cousin of the Wipe module, but created especially for psychovisual medium-to-large scale dynamic range optimisation. I use the default values with 'Dark Anomaly Headroom' at 100%, Dark Anomaly Filter at 2 pixels.

Now it's time to switch off tracking and let StarTools perform its unique, extremely targeted noise reduction. During the setup phase, I just use the default values and click 'Next'.
Straight away, StarTools does a great job of getting rid of all the background noise.
Really, it's up to taste on how you would like to trade-off the rest of the noise in the image against the retention of detail. I finally settled on;
Parameter [Scale 1] set to [100 %]
Parameter [Scale 2] set to [100 %]
Parameter [Scale 3] set to [85 %]
Parameter [Scale 4] set to [50 %]
Parameter [Scale 5] set to [50 %]
Parameter [Color Detail Loss] set to [50 %] (irrelevant as this is not a colour image)
Parameter [Brightness Detail Loss] set to [35 %]
Parameter [Structural Emphasis] set to [3 pixels]
Parameter [Edge Repair Strength] set to [10 %]
Parameter [Noise Tracking Influence] set to [150 %] (overdrive StarTools' decision to noise-reduce pixels, based on noise propagation levels it observed throughout our processing)

And that's our luminance frame!

To be continued...


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
mcbbcn
super member


Reged: 03/10/07

Loc: Portland, OR
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Ivo Jager]
      #5533102 - 11/21/12 11:00 PM

Ivo,

That was just amazing. You're an artist & by sharing this approach, I'm sure we (amateurs) can take processing to the next level with StarTools...& just because you took the time to do all of that sharing, I'm going to get my license of StarTools & seriously, I can't wait for version 1.4 now...

Thank you for doing that. I just became a fan of your creation too.

See you on the processing path my friend!

M.

Edited by mcbbcn (11/21/12 11:01 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ivo Jager
Vendor ( Star Tools )


Reged: 03/19/11

Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: mcbbcn]
      #5533191 - 11/22/12 12:20 AM

Thank you for your kind words and support Miquel. I believe we are all artists here on this forum - the crux is having the ability to express and articulate our creativity.
The best astrophotographers that I know are good because they give a unique personality to their images (Ken Crawford and Marc Aragnou on Photoshop), frame things in interesting and new ways (Rogelio Bernal on PixInsight), or just throw conventions out of the window to find something new (Mike Sidonio on AstroArt, Fred Vanderhaven on Photoshop).
What all these guys have in common is that they are creatives first, computer operators second.
It's a pity when creativity is held back, or enthusiasm for our wonderful hobby is tempered, just because the means to express that creativity poses a challenge in itself.
Software like StarTools is, unfortunately, a necessary evil. My contribution is trying to make things as painless as possible for those who hate processing, while making things more enjoyable for those who love teasing out that last bit of signal that they know is there, because behemoths like the HST have shown us.
The learning never stops and it doesn't matter when you jump on the train; the field is moving so fast that, as far as I am concerned, we are all perpetually 'amateurs', myself included.

Cheers,


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
mcbbcn
super member


Reged: 03/10/07

Loc: Portland, OR
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Ivo Jager]
      #5533212 - 11/22/12 12:47 AM

Well said!

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Eric Gage
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 12/13/05

Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: mcbbcn]
      #5533342 - 11/22/12 03:38 AM

I'll be a StarTools customer when it supports 64 bit Mac. Tried the 32 bit version and it wasn't worth it, frankly.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
TimN
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 04/20/08

Loc: Ontario, Canada
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Eric Gage]
      #5533583 - 11/22/12 09:23 AM

Ivo - Very well said.

Eric - Ivo recently made some changes that seem to have improved the MAC 32 bit. Have u tried it lately?

Mcbbcn - I image at my cottage in Northern Ontario where I keep my desktop that I use for processing. I'm currently in the city - Toronto area - where I only have a tablet and an old old laptop so I couldn't try your image. However, it seems you got the information that you needed. Gald it worked out.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
lawrie
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 01/31/06

Loc: Okanagan Valley
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: TimN]
      #5533815 - 11/22/12 11:47 AM

I downloaded the program to give it a try, But I can seem to load an image. The program is trying but nothing is happening ????? Just spinnung it's wheels.
The comp has an i7 with 8gb of ram, so it isn't the laptop.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Eric Gage
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 12/13/05

Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: lawrie]
      #5533966 - 11/22/12 01:25 PM

Quote:

I downloaded the program to give it a try, But I can seem to load an image. The program is trying but nothing is happening ????? Just spinnung it's wheels.
The comp has an i7 with 8gb of ram, so it isn't the laptop.




Yup.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
mcbbcn
super member


Reged: 03/10/07

Loc: Portland, OR
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: lawrie]
      #5533999 - 11/22/12 01:56 PM

Hi,

I just installed StarTools 1.3 beta in my i7 6Gb of RAM, 64 bit, Windows Ultimate and I was able to open a .fit file image just fine.

I would suggest that if you have problems, you may want to specify your OS version, the version of StarTools that you downloaded and the type of image that you are trying to open. Also, I noticed StarTools provides a support contact form in their website, so that could help speed up the resolution of your issue. If it gets resolved, please share the resolution in this post, so we can all learn.

Thank you,

M.

Edited by mcbbcn (11/22/12 02:01 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
lawrie
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 01/31/06

Loc: Okanagan Valley
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: mcbbcn]
      #5534018 - 11/22/12 02:10 PM

I don't think it can open a .tif file.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ivo Jager
Vendor ( Star Tools )


Reged: 03/19/11

Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: lawrie]
      #5534322 - 11/22/12 06:42 PM

Hi Eric and Lawrie,

Thanks for chiming in.
As Miquel suggested, could you could tell me the version of StarTools and OS version?
An example of a troublesome image would be greatly beneficial.
A very patient RangerTim has been helping me beta test on MacOSX (Lion) and things should be stable as of 1.3.180. To make sure it is still stable, I tested the latest as of this writing (1.3.186) on a Mac Mini, running OSX Lion, with i7 and 8Gb (which ran StarTools insanely fast I might add!).
For example, the data that Miquel has been so kind to share with us should process just fine on MacOSX and if you see otherwise please let me know.
StarTools should read uncompressed, IBM PC byte order, 8, 16 or 32-bit TIFF files. It should throw an error (and not hang) if anything is amiss. Again, if you see otherwise please let me know.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
mcbbcn
super member


Reged: 03/10/07

Loc: Portland, OR
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: mcbbcn]
      #5534658 - 11/23/12 12:06 AM Attachment (58 downloads)

Well, I just had my first go at StarTools, and I can't tell you how much fun it was.

Now, I get what Ivo says about allowing you to focus more on the overall composition.

The following it's an HaRGB image. I did 70% of the processing in StarTools, then Pixinsight for Calibration and a few image tweaks, and then PS.

It's a fairly show exposure from a high light polluted location, still, I'm quite satisfied with the result.

R - 15min
G - 15min
B - 15min
Ha - 45min

Enjoy it!

M.

Edited by mcbbcn (11/23/12 12:24 AM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
lawrie
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 01/31/06

Loc: Okanagan Valley
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: mcbbcn]
      #5534676 - 11/23/12 12:34 AM

Hi Ivo.
I tried v1.3.186 of startools on an i7 quad,8gb ram, 64 bit machine. It opened a fit file just fine but not a tiff file.
Also I was reading your post from earlier, and was going to try it but the layers module (along with those around it were greyed out.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ivo Jager
Vendor ( Star Tools )


Reged: 03/19/11

Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: lawrie]
      #5534743 - 11/23/12 01:50 AM

Part 2; adding colour to our image.

This is fortunately a little bit easier. If you haven't done so, save the new luminance master first.
Next, launch the LRGB module which we'll use to create an RGB composite (though without luminance!).
Click 'Red', 'Green' and 'Blue' to load the respective channel data until you end up with a (linear) color image.
Noet that I do not include Ha in the red channel - for a 'natural' color, I refrain from Ha touching the color balance. Remember though that it has, however, had a huge influence on the luminance, so any Ha detail will definitely be visible.
I keep everything at the default settings and hit 'Keep'. Normally, you would input the filter ratios here (color filter don't all have the same permeability), but since we don't knwo them for this data we'll make corrections by eye later.

First I'm going to crop the image to exactly the same area as we did for the luminance.
In this case;
Parameter [X1] set to [52 pixels]
Parameter [Y1] set to [173 pixels]
Parameter [X2] set to [3027 pixels (-321)]
Parameter [Y2] set to [2168 pixels (-328)]

Next I hit Auto Develop to see what we have. I'm greeted with some sort of green bias signal. Fortunately this should be no match for Wipe - I cancel and run Wipe with the default settings.
I run Autodev again and things look a lot better - I can see our nebula, but I can also spot some faint discolorations - some red, some green, some blue. These are the hall marks of so called 'dark anomalies' - pixels that have an anomalous dark value due to severe noise or CCD defects. The discolorations are caused by Wipe backing off upon seeing the dark anomalies and mistaking them for real background value pixels, whereas really they are much darker than the real background.

I hit cancel to exit AutoDev, click 'Undo' to undo Wipe and launch Wipe again. This time, I'm going to increase the Dark Anomaly Filter setting. This will filter out any (smallish) dark anomalies before presenting the data to Wipe for evaluation. I try 7 pixels and keep the default settings for the rest of the image.

I run AutoDev again to evaluate the results. That's better! I set Ignore Detail to 3 pixels to avoid AutoDev allocating dynamic range to noise.
Notice also that Wipe helped us here getting close to an ideal color balance. It does that by assuming that the background is neutral.

Next I save the image to its own TIFF file.

It is now time to combine Luminance and (prepped) RGB - once more I launch the LRGB module and load the luminance file for 'Luminance' and load the RGB file we just created 3 times for R, G and B.
Our nebula is now colored, but color noise was introduced. To reduce the color noise, I up RGB blur a little (1.8) - a trick that depends on the fact that the human eye is much less sensitive to color blurring than it is to luminance blurring.

Now it's time to get the color balance right. For that I launch the Color module. To start off with, I bump up the saturation by 300%. You don't have to go with a high saturation if you don't want, but it does help gauging color balance while modifying your color in the color module.
The colour balance I first do by eye - we know that the star color should vary between red, via range and yellow to blue and that their distribution is roughly equal. Therefore, I try to find values for Red, Green and Blue ratio that give me that sort of look. I think the values of R 1.0, G 1.1 and B 1.1 give me a good color balance. However, as I was processing on a non-color calibrated laptop I cannot be sure that what I am seeing is going to be what other people will be seeing. Luckily there is a tool in StarTools that provides a sanity check for those without a color calibrated screen. By Clicking the 'Max RGB' button in the top right, the view changes to show which channels are dominant. If your image is too red, pixels that are supposed to be 'neutral' (such as the background) will show mostly red. If your image is too green they will show mostly green. If, however, your image is well calibrated, these neutral pixels will alter between red, green and blue. I find that I pushed the green too much and could use a little more blue, so I back off the green to 1.03 and up the blue to 1.12.
Lastly, I set Cap Green to 'To Yellow'. We're making use here of a the fact that very little objects in space are predominatly green when imaged in RGB. If we do encounter a predominantly green pixel and we are absolutely certain we got the color balance right, then we can assume that this pixel predominantly green because of noise in our measurement. Therefore we can cap the predominantly green pixel to the max value of red or blue, so that it no longer is predominantly green. Finally, I click 'Keep'.

As a double sanity check, I let Wipe be the final arbiter of my color calibration. I keep the default settings but set Dark Anomaly Filter to 7 (as we found out before). I also set 'Cap Green' to Yellow once more for good measure. I see Wipe make barely any difference (except for some final gradient removal), so I was close!

Now I'm going to sharpen the nebula one last time.
In order not to sharpen the stars any further, I'm going to make a star mask. I set 'Exclude Color' to 'Purple (Red + Blue)' and 'Filter Sensitivity' to a less sensitive 10.
When done I click 'Shrink' and 'Grow' 4x until stars are well selected. Finally I click 'Invert'.
In the Sharpen module I set Mask Fuzz to 6 pixels, small detail bias to 96% and set scale 1 to 0 in order not to sharpen any fine noise. Finally, I let it sharpen both Luminance (brightness) *and* Color by setting Channels to 'Brightness & Color'. I 'Keep' the result.

As a final step, I run the Isolate preset in the Life module to push back the stars and 'isolate' the nebula. I will not only enhance the nebula, but also its apparent color as I increase the saturation (125%) of the super structure.

Season to taste!

The final result is not exactly like the processed version I sent Miquel, but it's close and easier to reproduce.

Cheers,


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ivo Jager
Vendor ( Star Tools )


Reged: 03/19/11

Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: lawrie]
      #5534745 - 11/23/12 01:53 AM

Quote:

Hi Ivo.
I tried v1.3.186 of startools on an i7 quad,8gb ram, 64 bit machine. It opened a fit file just fine but not a tiff file.
Also I was reading your post from earlier, and was going to try it but the layers module (along with those around it were greyed out.



Some modules are greyed out when Tracking is active (as they interfere with StarTools' ability to make sense of the information it can derive from your data).
So, when you load the data with the intent of creating a new synthetic luminance master, do as outlined in the tutorial above; "indicate that data is NOT linear ("This image has already been stretched") even though it clearly is."
Hope this helps!


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
mcbbcn
super member


Reged: 03/10/07

Loc: Portland, OR
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Ivo Jager]
      #5534807 - 11/23/12 03:06 AM

Ivo,

Thanks for sharing the rest of the processing. I'll re-process the Heart nebula with the new steps. Thank you so much!

M.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
mcbbcn
super member


Reged: 03/10/07

Loc: Portland, OR
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: lawrie]
      #5534841 - 11/23/12 03:55 AM

Quote:

I don't think it can open a .tif file.




Hi Lawrie,

I thought I would lend you a hand.

I have a very similar system than yours. If you upload the .tif file that you're having challenges with to box.net or dropbox, I'll be happy to download it into my system and see if I can open it. At least that will help us narrow down the issue.

Thank you,

M.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
mcbbcn
super member


Reged: 03/10/07

Loc: Portland, OR
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: mcbbcn]
      #5536422 - 11/23/12 11:00 PM Attachment (59 downloads)

Hi,

I went ahead and reprocess the Heart Nebula using Ivo's method for luminance and color, and this is the end result. I find his approach balances colors better & gets more contrast.

Cheers,

M.

Edited by mcbbcn (11/23/12 11:01 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
mcbbcn
super member


Reged: 03/10/07

Loc: Portland, OR
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: mcbbcn]
      #5541333 - 11/26/12 11:39 PM Attachment (52 downloads)

Hi Friends,

I wanted to share my Heart nebula processed by Ivo using StarTools. I was blown away. Keep in mind that this is a 45min. Ha exposure with 15min. for each color (RGB) taken from a Bortle 8 sky like Portland Downtown which is where observatory is located. Pretty amazing!!!

If you want to see the full image, you can get it @ http://astrogab.ning.com/photo/heart-nebula

Cheers,

M.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
CounterWeight
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 10/05/08

Loc: Palo alto, CA.
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: mcbbcn]
      #5541523 - 11/27/12 04:45 AM

Wow, that really pulled out the data, very impressive result - especially from our city! (I have renamed it Cloudyopolis, am in SE part of city 'close in') Congrat's

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
NeilMac
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 09/25/10

Loc: MedHat, AB, Canada
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: CounterWeight]
      #5541932 - 11/27/12 11:44 AM

Nice colours !!

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jeff Smith
professor emeritus


Reged: 04/06/10

Loc: Chicago
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Mike7Mak]
      #5542702 - 11/27/12 07:41 PM

Anybody running Startools on a Windows 8 computer?

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
TimN
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 04/20/08

Loc: Ontario, Canada
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Jeff Smith]
      #5542717 - 11/27/12 07:51 PM

Yup, I run StarTools on Windows 8 - no problem.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jeff Smith
professor emeritus


Reged: 04/06/10

Loc: Chicago
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: TimN]
      #5543321 - 11/28/12 06:35 AM

Great. Thanks.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
mcbbcn
super member


Reged: 03/10/07

Loc: Portland, OR
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: CounterWeight]
      #5544070 - 11/28/12 03:20 PM

Hi Jim,

It's nice to find another East-sider in the CN forum. I'm in NE close by Broadway and Fred Meyer.

I like the Cloudyopolis name, very appropriate

By the way, I see you're familiar with our crazy LP. I looked your NB shots and they're amazing...I'm slowly but surely moving in that direction. I just got my Lumicon OIII filter, so now, I have an Ha 7nm, OIII 11nm, and RGB for color stars, I should be able to take some nice shots too.

Cheers,

M.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
mcbbcn
super member


Reged: 03/10/07

Loc: Portland, OR
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Jeff Smith]
      #5544075 - 11/28/12 03:22 PM

Thank you all for the feedback. I can't take credit for the processing, just the gathering of photons, but I'm very happy with StarTools. I have a core i7 64bit system with 6Gb of ram, and it handles my raw, tiff & fit images, just fine.

Cheers,

M.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
klhanson
newbie


Reged: 03/04/12

Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: mcbbcn]
      #5574476 - 12/16/12 04:48 PM Attachment (66 downloads)

Hi all,

I thought I'd add my own experience using StarTools to this thread. First off, I want to state that I'm very new to the astrophotography (and astronomy more generally) hobby. I was drawn to this by the absolutely beautiful images of galaxies, nebula, and stars produced by some of the heavyweight experts mentioned earlier by Ivo. I grabbed some raw data and started reading whatever I could find about the processing workflow concepts, and downloaded trial versions of almost every software I could find to experiment. Each and every time, I hit what seemed like a hard knowledge barrier preventing me from coming anywhere near what I longed to be able to produce myself. That was until about 3 days ago when I stumbled upon StarTools. In minutes, I could tell that the approach Ivo took in providing software that you can learn via trial-and-error without worrying too much about ruining your precious data was the right one for me. The modules all seemed so intuitive to use, even if I only still understand a fraction of the multitude of options. About a month ago I signed up for Slooh to be able to capture targets of interest, and despite extremely small exposure times (Lum 70 sec x 2, RGB 40 sec each) provided by a single Slooh imaging session (pre-calibrated by the Slooh delivery system), I was amazed what Ivo's tool could achieve.

To give you an idea of of StarTool's capabilities in the hands of a complete novice, here is the image the composite image Slooh delivered to me the night I pointed their half-meter scope at IC405 (clipped to fit to the attachment rules):


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
klhanson
newbie


Reged: 03/04/12

Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: mcbbcn]
      #5574484 - 12/16/12 04:51 PM Attachment (65 downloads)

...and below is the image that I came up using StarTools after following Ivo's workflow above (roughly). This is my first attempt and I can't wait to learn more about this great asset Ivo has provided to the AP community. Needless to say, I became a customer.

Hat's off to you, Ivo. A truly great accomplishment.

Clear skies to you all,
Kris.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ranger Tim
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 03/25/08

Loc: SE Idaho, USA
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: mcbbcn]
      #5574838 - 12/16/12 09:42 PM

Just for your edification and information, I have not been submitting any reports back to Ivo because everything seems to have been resolved regarding my MacBook Pro. StarTools is running well. I have a huge backlog of images to reprocess and it will take some time. That's a good thing considering the Idaho winter has finally arrived and it has been mostly cloudy since mid November. Working a 5AM job is not helping either.

However, I must correct Ivo in that I am running Snow Leopard, NOT Lion as he has previously thought. I am also content to work in 32 bit for now. One day I will make the change to Lion but only after the bugs in some other unrelated software apps are fixed.

I believe StarTools has filled a niche in this market, i.e. astrophotography post processing SW that is substantially more user friendly and less technically demanding. The before/after buttons are particularly useful, along with the simplified workflow. An area I still find frustrating is the lack of my own skill with creating masks and knowing what type of masks I should employ, but this software makes this entire (other) side of the imaging coin much more enjoyable for me. I was once lost in a sea of highly subjective curves and levels iterations and was never quite sure when I was clipping data or whether I was being aggressive enough.

The noise reduction feature that has been incorporated with the tracking is another big incentive to use this SW - it really works! The relatively low cost of StarTools is also a big plus. Thanks Ivo, there can only be good things that result from having more choices in the marketplace. And yes, I do own Photoshop and Nebulosity as well. I just don't have the patience or cash to lay down for some of the other big names (Images Plus, Pixinsight, etc.)

While I understand some other folk's frustration over performance problems (I was in the same boat recently), it is important to continue to support independent developers such as Craig Starke and Ivo. These guys are making a difference for many of us, and I appreciate it.

Thanks for letting me stand on the soap box for a moment.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ivo Jager
Vendor ( Star Tools )


Reged: 03/19/11

Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Ranger Tim]
      #5578111 - 12/18/12 11:12 PM

Many thanks for the kind words and encouragement guys. As I said before, knowing that ST really makes a difference to how people progress in our wonderful hobby, makes it all worthwhile!
1.3 has, as of today, hit Release Candidate stage, with some additional tweaks and bugfixes (mainly for the 32-bit executables).
A number of new tutorials are out on the forums, while the fast growing community has also started spilling over into /r/StarTools on Reddit; do stop by for some cat pictures, memes and of course, plenty of ST & astronomy related banter!

Happy holidays everyone!


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
akulapanam
super member


Reged: 08/27/12

Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Ivo Jager]
      #5619500 - 01/12/13 05:31 PM

I had tried your program several months ago and hadn't been intrigued.

However, I came back to it today and downloaded the 1.3 release and I must say that I'm very impressed! It produces a superior image to photoshop in far less time.

The only issue I have right now is that auto develop changes my image into something with very strong red and yellow tones. However regular develop works great.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ivo Jager
Vendor ( Star Tools )


Reged: 03/19/11

Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: akulapanam]
      #5619643 - 01/12/13 06:53 PM

Quote:


The only issue I have right now is that auto develop changes my image into something with very strong red and yellow tones. However regular develop works great.




AutoDev is THE most 'honest' stretching procedure you can use. By design, it does its very best to highlight any problems in your image, whether they be noise, stacking artefacts, flat/dark frame issues or light pollution problems.
In your case, it sounds like you have light pollution problems. They should be easily taken care of by the Wipe module. As Wipe will suggest, just redo your stretch afterwards (this time without the LP bias)

In Photoshop, more often than not people leave a clear (to me) light pollution signature in the form of a brown haze. AutoDev really just shows you the unadulterated signal as your CCD captured it; no pyschovisual tomfoolery (for example it refrains from doing CIELab luminance-only stretching). The reason that AutoDev takes this approach is that it assumes that your color can not be accurately determined yet because of the presence of one or more possible signal biases, so color constancy is useless (and actually detrimental to further processing and assessing your data). Only after subtracting these biases can color accurately be determined and manipulated. Up until then AutoDev applies the exact same signal gain factors to all channels.

For that same reason the LRGB module (which is scheduled for an overhaul in 1.4 by the way) does not perform a CIELab combine, destroying saturation. Rather it chooses to retain saturation over color constancy, giving a more classic (as in film/plate era) and vibrant color rendition.

StarTools does fully respects psychovisual color constancy in the Color module which operates in sRGB color space. The rest of the modules also automatically convert between different color spaces as appropriate.

If you feel the yellow/red bias is something else than light pollution, do let me know though!

Cheers,

Edited by Ivo Jager (01/12/13 06:55 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
akulapanam
super member


Reged: 08/27/12

Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Ivo Jager]
      #5619749 - 01/12/13 08:07 PM

Thanks that was very helpful!

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
CJK
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/05/12

Loc: Northeast TN
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Ivo Jager]
      #5619781 - 01/12/13 08:34 PM

Ivo,

Why is the Mac version only 32 bit??

-- Chris


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ivo Jager
Vendor ( Star Tools )


Reged: 03/19/11

Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: CJK]
      #5619789 - 01/12/13 08:42 PM

Hi Chris,

Apple dropped support for Carbon applications on 64-bit and I still need to re-write my MacOSX multi-platform framework to use the Cocoa framework instead.
This re-write/migration is scheduled for 1.4.

Hope that helps!


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
CJK
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/05/12

Loc: Northeast TN
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Ivo Jager]
      #5619849 - 01/12/13 09:37 PM

Ah, got it. Good news that a Cocoa version is planned. Thanks!

-- Chris


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Tonk
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/19/04

Loc: Leeds, UK, 54N
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: CJK]
      #5622097 - 01/14/13 04:36 AM

This was posted earlier in this thread

Quote:

At about a tenth of the price of PS






Edited by fishonkevin (01/15/13 08:59 AM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ivo Jager
Vendor ( Star Tools )


Reged: 03/19/11

Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Tonk]
      #5623239 - 01/14/13 07:04 PM

Quote:

This was posted earlier in this thread

Quote:

At about a tenth of the price of PS









Hi,

Unfortunately, besides being really quite old, an out-of-the-box version of PS is missing a lot of functionality that have become standard tools for astrophotography (Deconvolution, HDR optimisation, Wavelet Sharpening, Gradient removal, etc.). If you really have no budget whatsoever, I'd look at the 2.9/2.10 development versions of The GIMP which does have (some) of these tools available and can now cope with higher bit-depths. 2.9 is designated 'Unstable' though but may work well enough. Also have a look a FITSWork (grab the English language pack), which is astro-specific and also free. Between FITSWork and The GIMP you may have enough processing capabilites to tide you over.

With the great selection of fantastic AP-specific software (Astro Art, PixInsight, ImagesPlus, StarTools, etc.) that is currently available to newcomers, I would strongly recommend staying away from a (paid) version of Photoshop unless you have other uses for it. The gap between what AP-specific software can do and what PS does out-of-the-box has been widening to the point where I strongly believe you are doing yourself a disservice when going with the latter if you're starting out fresh.

Edited by fishonkevin (01/15/13 09:00 AM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
hoa101
super member
*****

Reged: 02/04/12

Loc: Northern Virginia
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Ivo Jager]
      #5649341 - 01/28/13 09:57 PM

I have been trying to process an image I took with my 50mm lens on a tripod (20x8sec. and 20 darks), and happened to send the jpg to another guy in my club. Using just the jpg and PS, he was able to far surpass what I had done.

Before: https://www.dropbox.com/s/gws5t917e71wg9c/pleiades_130127.jpg
After: https://www.dropbox.com/s/cqmufqfcsfoc1ec/pleiades_130127_DN.jpg
Raw: https://www.dropbox.com/s/m0ntouhc6w3l0o0/stacked.zip

Obviously the fault is mine, not the software, but I cannot figure out how he was able to brighten up even the dimmest stars so well without ruining the entire image. They are a perhaps a little over-saturated, but with more careful processing I'm sure it would be even better. On top of that, he was able to reveal some nebulosity around Pleiades, which I did not even notice in ST.

Anybody have any thoughts as to what I should try? I'm thinking some type of layering, but I cannot get my mask to select the really dim stars. I also cannot figure out how to reveal the faint nebulosity. I guess I'm pretty much a processing noob all the way 'round!

Edit: Another strange thing - when I use AutoDev, the whole image turns noisy red. I'm not sure what is up with that.

Edited by hoa101 (01/28/13 10:22 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ivo Jager
Vendor ( Star Tools )


Reged: 03/19/11

Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: hoa101]
      #5649491 - 01/28/13 11:33 PM Attachment (91 downloads)

Hi,

It's fairly easy to demonstrate nebulosity in there, but, in all honesty, your data is really, really poor (EDIT: that is - if the goal is bringing out M45!) and making it look good requires a whole lot of trickery!
This is what I did;
I cropped the area of M45 - the data is very poor and gradients are rife and this minimizes the amount of problems I'll have to deal with.
AutoDev to see what we have - lots of light pollution, not much data. AutoDev is very good at bringing out detail as well as what's wrong with your image (defects) such as light pollution, gradients, amp glow, dust dounts, etc.
I ran Wipe, with Dark Anomaly Filter set to 5 (due to the high level of noise, so it ignores any spurious dark pixels that aren't really representative of the background)
AutoDev again (redo global stretch). The nebulosity is clearly there. I set Ignore Detail to < 4.0 pixels.
I stop tracking, do final noise reduction, set all scales to 100%, as well as Brightness and Color Detail Loss.
In the Color module in bump up saturation to about 260%
Next I use a trick that is usually reserved for planetary imaging without an IR filter - I basically declare that I don't trust the red channel anymore by going into the Development module and setting its luminance contribution to 0%
I also bump up Digital Development as needed to bring out the nebulosity a little more.
Some more saturation 200%
Layer - layer mode 'Desaturate fg (Luminance)', Brightness Mask Mode 'Where fg is light, use bg', Brightness Mask Power 0.20.
The I threw it into the repair module, and after some further tweaking (Life, Color) ended up with the attached image.

Bottom line is - the better your data, the easier it will be to pull out every last bit of detail. Bad tracking, no flats, bias and lots of noise will make it exponentially harder to process your image.

Cheers,

Edited by Ivo Jager (01/29/13 04:29 AM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
hoa101
super member
*****

Reged: 02/04/12

Loc: Northern Virginia
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Ivo Jager]
      #5649845 - 01/29/13 08:29 AM

Haha, if by "bad" tracking you mean "no tracking at all".

If you read my post, you notice that this was taken from a tripod with 8 second subs, from an area that is perhaps vLMag 4.0 on a good day. The goal was not to get good data, the goal was to test the camera I just bought for defects and learn to use startools.

Thanks for the advice. My friend was able to pull out alot of stuff in a very short amount of time, which told me I have absolutely no clue what I'm doing yet despite going through the tutorials. I suppose they are alot easier, since the data in most of those is already ideal.

Edited by hoa101 (01/29/13 08:59 AM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ivo Jager
Vendor ( Star Tools )


Reged: 03/19/11

Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: hoa101]
      #5650996 - 01/29/13 07:29 PM

Quote:

Haha, if by "bad" tracking you mean "no tracking at all".

If you read my post, you notice that this was taken from a tripod with 8 second subs, from an area that is perhaps vLMag 4.0 on a good day. The goal was not to get good data, the goal was to test the camera I just bought for defects and learn to use startools.



Mission accomplished! It's a testament to your new camera that you got this much!

Quote:


Thanks for the advice. My friend was able to pull out alot of stuff in a very short amount of time, which told me I have absolutely no clue what I'm doing yet despite going through the tutorials. I suppose they are alot easier, since the data in most of those is already ideal.




Your friend, unfortunately, committed one of the biggest sins in astrophotography though, which is clipping the black point. It's a method that won't get you very far at all in the long run. Beginners often start out with doing exactly this, which is simply hiding their problems by destroying the pixels that contain them by doing a global stretch that clips them to black (if you're lucky). Then they get into frustrating, stagnant period, where they wonder why their images aren't improving with better data, while it seems (i.e. they think) they're doing everything right! They can only see the small tip of an ever growing iceberg made of signal and noise, with lots of potential once separated properly, and they don't even know it.
StarTools refuses to clip your data and is all about tackling the problems in your image head-on the 'right' way; respecting *all* of your signal (the whole iceberg), understanding why your signal looks like it does and then fixing/modifying/enhancing it.

Improving your acquisition skills just a little will give you better data to work with, which will reward you with much increased 'real' signal. Even with the setup you have now! Take flats (probably the most important) - you're already doing darks (great!). Go a little wider if you can so you do some slightly longer exposures. Try minimizing reflections(?) (I'm seeing some small blue anomalies - not sure). Go for the larger objects (or collection of objects) or some gorgeous milkyway shots where all the usual suspects are lined up beautifully. Lastly, a light pollution filter may help. Shoot in RAW and see if your camera has a low light mode (in the higher ISO ranges) where it trades resolution for more signal in less time or use the Bin module in StarTools.

Regardless - you're well on your way!


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
hoa101
super member
*****

Reged: 02/04/12

Loc: Northern Virginia
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Ivo Jager]
      #5651103 - 01/29/13 08:28 PM

I actually have a 48mm multi-band LP filter and a manfrotto ball head on the way. Hopefully soon I can get some unguided shots on my GEM from one of our club's "dark" sites. The closest is about 20.3 mag/arc-sec^2 on a transparent night. Living on the east coast of the USA means not alot of dark skies close at hand.

If the weather cooperates I'll have some "real" data soon. Perhaps a nice shot of Orion is in order!

Edited by hoa101 (01/29/13 08:28 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ivo Jager
Vendor ( Star Tools )


Reged: 03/19/11

Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: hoa101]
      #5651130 - 01/29/13 08:41 PM

Quote:

I actually have a 48mm multi-band LP filter and a manfrotto ball head on the way. Hopefully soon I can get some unguided shots on my GEM from one of our club's "dark" sites. The closest is about 20.3 mag/arc-sec^2 on a transparent night. Living on the east coast of the USA means not alot of dark skies close at hand.
If the weather cooperates I'll have some "real" data soon. Perhaps a nice shot of Orion is in order!



Fantastic! Those things will help a lot. Just the fact that you were able to capture M45's nebulosity bodes very well!


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
hoa101
super member
*****

Reged: 02/04/12

Loc: Northern Virginia
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Ivo Jager]
      #5673635 - 02/11/13 08:45 AM

I downloaded the new version and processed an image from this past Saturday. I think I understand the software much better now. The red channel was all jumbled up with the read noise, due to my unmodded camera. But I was still able to pull out Bernard's Loop and the HH nebula pretty easily. Once I get my new mount I'll be able to take much longer exposures and stop down enough to avoid the coma.



This is probably not the most spectacular demonstration of Startools' potential. In any case, I found it a pleasure to work with so far. Thanks for the excellent work on the software.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
MikeCMP
super member


Reged: 07/12/11

Loc: Chardon OH
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: hoa101]
      #5691665 - 02/20/13 08:08 PM

I have a question,
When I do some of the modules, like wipe or contrast, they operate on the center of the image, but leave a very visible ring about 3/4 of the way out. I have yet to figure out how to get the module to operate on the entire image, because the results are great where it does in fact work.

I also wanted to post up some results I got using StarTools. I shot my first image with my DSLR Sunday, and StarTools really made it easy. Operating on such huge files really requires patience, as the wipe module takes forever on my machine, even with a 4 core i5 and 8 gigs of ram! I can honestly say it is the first time in a decade I have wanted a more powerful machine.

Here is the link




Mike


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
shawnhar
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 06/25/10

Loc: Knoxville, TN
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: MikeCMP]
      #5691714 - 02/20/13 08:33 PM

If the Wipe function does that, UNDO, go back and use the wipe but hit vignetting, then stretch again. If it's too much or not enough UNDO, then go back and redo the wipe/vignetting and adjust the agressiveness and drop off point.
Oh and Bin your file first thing, makes everything go much faster.
Repeat the undo/Wipe until you like it.

Edited by shawnhar (02/20/13 08:34 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
MikeCMP
super member


Reged: 07/12/11

Loc: Chardon OH
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: shawnhar]
      #5692909 - 02/21/13 03:03 PM

Tanks for the tips, I tried the vignette and that worked for the most part.

I didn't want to bin bc I wanted it full res, but the first time I processed the data I binned it just to get it done fast!

Mike


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
CharlesW
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 11/02/12

Loc: Chula Vista & Indio, CA
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: MikeCMP]
      #5693728 - 02/21/13 10:48 PM

I have never participated in a forum before where the creators of the products that I use give personal help, very refreshing. FYI Mr Jager, I just downloaded your OSX version and it installed and opened perfectly. But, I had to "hide" Startools before I even opened an image and when I maxed it again, all I got was a white window. Closed, reopened, hide, same result. Uninstall with Appzapper, reinstall, same result. I have a new iMac, 4 gb ram, latest OS. I'm sure I'm missing something here.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ivo Jager
Vendor ( Star Tools )


Reged: 03/19/11

Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: CharlesW]
      #5697200 - 02/23/13 07:59 PM

Quote:

I have never participated in a forum before where the creators of the products that I use give personal help, very refreshing. FYI Mr Jager, I just downloaded your OSX version and it installed and opened perfectly. But, I had to "hide" Startools before I even opened an image and when I maxed it again, all I got was a white window. Closed, reopened, hide, same result. Uninstall with Appzapper, reinstall, same result. I have a new iMac, 4 gb ram, latest OS. I'm sure I'm missing something here.



Hmmmm... That sounds odd.
Am I correct I in assuming you are running MacOSX 10.8 Mountain Lion?


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
dmdouglass
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/23/07

Loc: Tempe, AZ
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Ivo Jager]
      #5699832 - 02/25/13 01:12 PM

This has been a "most interesting thread".

I do my imaging with an SBig ST8300-M. I do not image with color, preferring the monochrome view. My images form my “imaging log”. I have been using a combination of CCDSoft, and Adobe Photoshop (CS3). All of my nebulae and galaxies get post-processing in Photoshop. Much better detail there than with CCDSoft. However, much more “work” too.

I decided to try the evaluation copy (which is the full down-load minus the save function). Very impressive. IMHO, better results, and less aggravating. It takes a little time to understand the modules, but some general “playing around” seems to solve that.

There is a post somewhere, by the author, Ivo Jager, that suggests a sequence of:
Auto-Develop, Wipe, re-Auto-Develop, HDR, Sharp and finally Decon.
That seems to work pretty well. There are, of course, other modules, for more specific needs.

I was very favorably impressed, and went ahead, and purchased a license.

A most excellent product, and as we can see, excellent customer support.
Now if all astronomy software (and hardware) worked this well, and had this level of customer support…….


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
RedLionNJ
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/29/09

Loc: Red Lion, NJ, USA
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: dmdouglass]
      #5699987 - 02/25/13 02:55 PM

After reading most of this thread, I was tempted to try StarTools. I use Win64 on what should be an amply-powered system. What I immediately noticed is an image-size threshold which seems to govern usability.

When I stack a full-resolution Canon T2i image with DSS, the resulting image is almost unusable (i.e. very, very slow) in StarTools. If I bin it first, or otherwise reduce its size down to around 50M or so, it seems to work OK in StarTools.

I'm not quite sure where the exact threshold lays, but I'd hazard a guess it's with images around 100M in size. Is this a 'known feature', or is there some kind of configuration (buffer size?) tweak I can make to shake the performance up a bit?

Cheers,

Grant


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ivo Jager
Vendor ( Star Tools )


Reged: 03/19/11

Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: RedLionNJ]
      #5700285 - 02/25/13 05:34 PM

Quote:

After reading most of this thread, I was tempted to try StarTools. I use Win64 on what should be an amply-powered system. What I immediately noticed is an image-size threshold which seems to govern usability.

When I stack a full-resolution Canon T2i image with DSS, the resulting image is almost unusable (i.e. very, very slow) in StarTools. If I bin it first, or otherwise reduce its size down to around 50M or so, it seems to work OK in StarTools.

I'm not quite sure where the exact threshold lays, but I'd hazard a guess it's with images around 100M in size. Is this a 'known feature', or is there some kind of configuration (buffer size?) tweak I can make to shake the performance up a bit?

Cheers,

Grant



Hi Grant,

StarTools is unapologetic about its system requirements. For example, 4Gb of memory for the 64-bit version is the very lower limit of usable.
Especially if you want to process an image that's 18MP in size, you'll need to make sure your system is up to scratch (preferably 8Gb or more).
18MP at 3 channels at 64-bit per pixel = 432Mb to store just a single copy in memory.
Modules in StarTools typically require multiple copies/derivatives of the master image to do their thing (it's not uncommon to have 9 or more derivatives in memory), so chewing through 4Gb of memory to process an 18MP image is not at all far fetched. If your system is not equipped with enough memory, the OS will start swapping to disk and use virtual memory instead. This can work up until a point - swapping programs that are running in the background to disk to free up more 'real' memory for StarTools can help. When StarTools' data no longer fits in 'real' memory, things will start slowing down considerably. StarTools also does its own swapping to disk in 'Tracking' mode, which, when mixed with other disk access (such as page swapping), can also slow things down considerably.

StarTools uses all this memory (and processing power) for a reason however - it allows the algorithms to achieve superior results, give near-real-time feedback and allow for 'time travel'. Nowhere else (to my knowledge) will you find near-real-time deconvolution with de-ringing that you can perform on stretched data (with mathematically correct results), no where else will you find noise tracking that builds per-pixel knowledge about the location of noise, nowhere else will you find near-real-time wavelet sharpening that is inter-scale aware, etc.

I'm not just listing random features or trying to do a sales pitch. I'm genuinely passionate about better and more clever algorithms and UIs. These are exciting times as RAM and CPU cycles are so incredibly cheap. All these features just listed are enhanced examples from what you would normally find in other programs exactly because I try to put to good use whatever amount of RAM and CPU cycles I can get. As a consequence, you will not find 'old' algorithms in any prominent spot in ST (no regular wavelet sharpening, no a trous multiscale manipulation, no unsharp mask, no morphological transforms, no histogram manipulation, etc.). I'm not interested in emulating PhotoShop (or any other software for that matter), as I solemnly believe there are new, better more user-friendly ways of achieving equal or superior results.

As for ther merits of trying to process 18MP images. Unless you're doing ultra-wide-field photography, chances are that this resolution is way too high to have captured real detail for every pixel. Most likely, detail is smeared out over multiple pixels due to seeing conditions and the resolving limits of your scope. There is a reason why the sensors of dedicated CCDs typically have a much smaller resolution than DSLRs; it is a much better use of sensor area to have fewer but bigger, more light-sensitive pixels than to have many, but less light-sensitive pixels. Software binning, such as performed in the Bin module, can help (with some limitations) convert the useless resolution into a better signal at a smaller resolution by pooling together measurements. E.g. it allows you to trade resolution for noise reduction. You also need to realize that half of the green signal, 75% of the red signal and another 75% of the blue signal is completely made up for each frame, due to the bayer matrix on the chip which distributes the 18MP over the 3 channels (with a bias towards the green channel). So, for all these reasons, you may want to rethink the merits of processing your DSLRs native resolution. Of course, if non of these reasons apply then obviously processing at native resolution is the way to go.

Cheers,


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
RedLionNJ
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/29/09

Loc: Red Lion, NJ, USA
Re: Processing Software - StarTools new [Re: Ivo Jager]
      #5700332 - 02/25/13 06:06 PM

Hi Ivo,

Not disagreeing at all with your reasoning/justification for the way ST works. If I was to disable Track, would that appreciably cut down on RAM usage? I have 8Gb, which seems to be adequate for most purposes. Maybe I'll try a fresh reboot right before firing up StarTools and see if that acts any differently.

Most of the time, I do not need the full 18Mp, you are correct. But now and again (e.g. the Rosette Nebula through an 80mm @ f6), I do like to make maximum use of the resolution. With good seeing, I truly do get stars which cover no more than three pixels across - it would be a pity to discard so much of such data.

The summary of some of the things going on inside ST makes it a bit clearer why I should learn to be a little more patient when processing. It's just stretching the definition of "real time" a little bit

Cheers,

Grant


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | (show all)


Extra information
4 registered and 16 anonymous users are browsing this forum.

Moderator:  Knuklhdastrnmr, fishonkevin, WOBentley, rflinn68 

Print Thread

Forum Permissions
      You cannot start new topics
      You cannot reply to topics
      HTML is disabled
      UBBCode is enabled


Thread views: 13726

Jump to

CN Forums Home


Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics