I recently posted an image of IC 405 on the beginning imaging forum. This was an OSC image, without any filters and with significant star reduction carried out using MT in PI. One of the comments I received was "but most of it is obscured by the stars". I found this intriguing because I had deliberately reduced the stars to the point where I felt they were no longer detracting from (obscuring?) the nebula but were still adding to the overall feel of the image.
This got me to thinking about what is an appropriate level of star reduction. And what about star removal?
I think that the bottom line is that it is totally subjective so I think it would be interesting to hear the views of CN on this question.
I'll start the discussion;
My feeling is that stars are a very important part of any AP image. Yes in areas where there is a heavy starfield they stars can detract from the view of the nebula which is the main subject of the image. And in that situation star reduction to the point where the stars are no longer a distraction is the right way to go. And I think that is a long established principle in AP.
However, I think that with narrow band imaging, and the new dual band and tri band filters used with OSC's, we are becoming conditioned to seeing images with many fewer, largely colourless stars, and and there is a resultant trend towards a level of star reduction which I feel is more than is necessary. Personally I feel that as long as the stars are not detracting from the ability to appreciate the main subject then they are a very important component of a well balanced AP image. If they are reduced to the point where they are barely noticeable I feel the image begins to look lifeless and unexciting. On narrow-band or OSC duo/tri band images I think that more reduction can be applicable because I think that the largely colourless stars need a bit more reduction for them to become less distracting.
Which brings me to star removal. Now, there are many absolutely stunning starless images being produced and I will look at those and appreciate them for what they are. But I almost always find myself feeling that I'd like to see it with some stars as it make the image complete and whole.
So, I'd really like to hear the views of the CN cognoscenti on what level of star reduction you think works best for different types of images and what are your views on completely starless images. Is there a trend, a "fashion", for reducing stars more now than say 5 years ago? If there is, then is that a good thing?