I actually use two separate workflows, including captures: one for the nebula and one for the stars.
I shoot the nebula at f/2.8. I use a workflow on that stack to bring out the color and detail on the nebula, and then use starnet++ to remove the stars. I shoot the stars with an aperture mask on the lens (~f/3.8; this significantly reduces the distortions in the corners of the image) and use a workflow on that stack to bring out their color.
I then add in the stars from the f/3.8 stack to the starless f/2.8 stack. Specifically, in Photoshop I paste in the f/3.8 image on top of the starless f/2.8 image and switch the f/3.8 layer mode to Lighten. I then use Curves (3 points) on the f/3.8 layer to adjust the amount of stars I let back in. For really bright stars, I can feather in more of the periphery from either image as a Luminosity layer with a layer mask.
This workflow did wonders on the Lagoon & Trifid this year:
(Click on "Full resolution" if you want to pixel peep at 100% sensor scale)
Let me know if that didn't make sense…
Edited by BQ Octantis, 20 September 2020 - 08:22 AM.