Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Where does the "Vision" Come From?

Astrophotography
  • Please log in to reply
16 replies to this topic

#1 Old Photons

Old Photons

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 82
  • Joined: 07 Apr 2022
  • Loc: Ontario, Canada

Posted 26 September 2022 - 01:29 PM

A friend recently sent me a quote from another Astro photographer that said, "astrophotography is 10% data capture and 90% processing".  As I have travelled along this learning journey, I have found this to be generally true.  Recently, I have been realizing that there are two different aspects to the processing part of this.  I would call them the technical part and the artistic part.  The technical part is knowing how to do image calibration and integration, how to do a stretch and so on.  Basically, it is how to use the software.  While I would in no way claim that I fully understand PI, I think I am finding that at the moment I am more limited by the artistic aspect.

 

I believe it was Stephen Covey who said that highly successful people "Begin with the end in mind".  My terrestrial image processing got a lot better once I was able to visualize the final image, and then process the pixels to look like that vision.  It got better yet, when I started to visualize the final image while composing through the viewfinder, then married the capture process and the post-processing to achieve that vision.  With terrestrial photography, we have the considerable advantage that we can see the subject while we are imaging it.

 

With astrophotography, we don't have the benefit of seeing the object that we are capturing.  (Except perhaps through a glass dimly).  Without knowing what my final image "should" look like, I find myself struggling with decisions such as how much colour saturation to apply, how dark to make the sky, how much contrast to apply and so on.  I also find it difficult deciding when it is time to call an image finished and stop tweaking it - I have a few images where my subfolder contains 4 or 5 "final" versions.  I've attached 2 examples.

 

Surely, I am not alone in this.  When I look at the same object in Astrobin and elsewhere, I see hundreds of different versions of any given target.  How does one establish a "vision" for the final image?  Is it a matter of doing this long enough that you develop your own style?

Attached Thumbnails

  • IC1805_Final.jpg
  • Heart_Recombined_II_Final.jpg

  • Skysmacker likes this

#2 Skysmacker

Skysmacker

    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • Posts: 336
  • Joined: 17 Sep 2020
  • Loc: Bay Area CA

Posted 26 September 2022 - 02:58 PM

I have learned to love this maxim as I get older and it really fits in this hobby!

 

 

De gustibus non est disputandum

 

Latin Maxim for...

 

"In matters of taste, there can be no disputes"

 

 

You are absolutely not alone in your dilemma. It is always tough to decide when I am done with an image. I think when people develop their preferred work flow over time and use it regularly, it does somewhat create a unique style for that individuals work.

 

Most of the time, I just convince myself that I will come back to it later with better processing skills.....so far I have not gone back to a project yet, lol!


Edited by Skysmacker, 26 September 2022 - 03:01 PM.

  • dswtan and Old Photons like this

#3 starrycanuck

starrycanuck

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 106
  • Joined: 22 Aug 2021
  • Loc: Toronto, Canada

Posted 26 September 2022 - 03:14 PM

Nope, you’re not alone. I’m still a neophyte and struggle with the same question unsure.png … first time I imaged M31, I went to Astrobin and CN looked for consensus … silly me blush.gif … at least everyone seems to agree the background should be something near black.

 

I think of star colour calibration as similar to setting the white balance in PS or LR so, for broadband and other rich starfield targets, this helps set a somewhat objective colour baseline for further editing. But then, I think we are left with, as the late Michael Reichmann said, “seasoning to taste”, especially for nebula and other gas targets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Astro or terrestrial, when I capture an image that makes me smile or say “gotcha!”, then it has been a good day (or night).


  • Skysmacker and Old Photons like this

#4 Michael Covington

Michael Covington

    Author

  • *****
  • Posts: 8,282
  • Joined: 13 May 2014
  • Loc: Athens, Georgia, USA

Posted 26 September 2022 - 03:21 PM

I'm planning to write a blog entry about this.  Most people process pictures more heavily than I do.  But then, my photographic inspiration is Ansel Adams.


  • Skysmacker likes this

#5 freestar8n

freestar8n

    Vendor - MetaGuide

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 11,897
  • Joined: 12 Oct 2007
  • Loc: Melbourne, Australia

Posted 26 September 2022 - 04:24 PM


A friend recently sent me a quote from another Astro photographer that said, "astrophotography is 10% data capture and 90% processing".  As I have travelled along this learning journey, I have found this to be generally true.

It is certainly true that's how most people view astro-imaging, but it's not what I do.  I want it to be as close to 0% aesthetically guided processing as possible - and the rest is all data and data-driven calibration and stacking based on noise models and statistics.

 

Your point about not being able to "see" the objects is important - because it means people don't have a good reference for what they should look like - and that gives them artistic license to create their own interpretation of the scene.  That's fine if people want to do it - but I don't find that interesting.  I want the object to speak for itself as much as possible, and for the colors, if present, to be interpretable.

 

This image:

 

get.jpg?insecure

 

Just has a linear stretch and no cropping - and I think it's a compelling result that is enhanced by the lack of processing.

 

This image:

 

get.jpg?insecure

 

is Ha/Oiii where each channel was mapped to the corresponding perceived RGB values of the emission lines.  In this case the Ha and Oiii emission was comparable so no additional scaling or manipulation of each channel was needed.  After a linear combine a global stretch was applied to bring out faint details.  So - it's all data-driven except for cropping and the global stretch to compress the dynamic range so faint details can be seen along with bright ones.

 

Again - it's what I like to do and I find having these constraints on what is done during processing makes it all more interesting.  But people can do whatever they like - including said "90% processing."

 

Frank


  • Mike7Mak and Michael Covington like this

#6 Kevin Ross

Kevin Ross

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,623
  • Joined: 28 Mar 2018
  • Loc: Traverse City, MI, USA

Posted 26 September 2022 - 04:32 PM

Most people process pictures more heavily than I do.  But then, my photographic inspiration is Ansel Adams.

Are you implying Ansel Adams had a light touch with processing his images? He actually manipulated them in the darkroom to within an inch of their lives! smile.gif

 

beforeafterMoonOverHernandez.jpeg


  • dswtan, 17.5Dob, idclimber and 2 others like this

#7 17.5Dob

17.5Dob

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 9,163
  • Joined: 21 Mar 2013
  • Loc: Colorado,USA

Posted 26 September 2022 - 04:42 PM

I'm planning to write a blog entry about this. Most people process pictures more heavily than I do. But then, my photographic inspiration is Ansel Adams.


Who heavily processed all of images using "Photoshop" techniques but in film printing form.....
  • galacticinsomnia likes this

#8 kathyastro

kathyastro

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5,147
  • Joined: 23 Dec 2016
  • Loc: Nova Scotia

Posted 26 September 2022 - 04:51 PM

Surely, I am not alone in this.  When I look at the same object in Astrobin and elsewhere, I see hundreds of different versions of any given target.  How does one establish a "vision" for the final image?  Is it a matter of doing this long enough that you develop your own style?

When you look at other people's images, pay attention to what makes the image good or bad.  Not so much the technical stuff, though that is important too, but mostly identify what it is that you like or dislike about the image. 

 

Do you like high contrast or low contrast?  Have they taken the contrast too far in either direction.  Same for saturation: too much, not enough?  Palette: do you like or dislike the colour scheme?  Stars: do you like 'em big, small, nonexistent?  Are they over-sharpened or not sharpened enough?

 

In other words, don't just look at an image and think "It's nice" or "It's not very good".  Ask yourself why.  Then try to replicate the characteristics you like.  That is your style.


  • pedxing, Kevin Ross, SnowWolf and 5 others like this

#9 freestar8n

freestar8n

    Vendor - MetaGuide

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 11,897
  • Joined: 12 Oct 2007
  • Loc: Melbourne, Australia

Posted 26 September 2022 - 04:53 PM

Who heavily processed all of images using "Photoshop" techniques but in film printing form.....

He did local dodging and burning - but nowadays that can be done with a global stretch or application of levels - without locally and selectively altering things.  For things like the moon and a dark scene - it's another case where you have to do some kind of dynamic range compression or you can't see both at the same time.  It would be interesting to compare a global stretch applied to one of his raw images and see how it compares to his version that was manually dodged and burned.

 

Frank


  • Michael Covington likes this

#10 Old Photons

Old Photons

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 82
  • Joined: 07 Apr 2022
  • Loc: Ontario, Canada

Posted 26 September 2022 - 05:19 PM

When you look at other people's images, pay attention to what makes the image good or bad.  Not so much the technical stuff, though that is important too, but mostly identify what it is that you like or dislike about the image. 

 

Do you like high contrast or low contrast?  Have they taken the contrast too far in either direction.  Same for saturation: too much, not enough?  Palette: do you like or dislike the colour scheme?  Stars: do you like 'em big, small, nonexistent?  Are they over-sharpened or not sharpened enough?

 

In other words, don't just look at an image and think "It's nice" or "It's not very good".  Ask yourself why.  Then try to replicate the characteristics you like.  That is your style.

Good advice!  Thank you.



#11 FrostByte

FrostByte

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 2,999
  • Joined: 14 Sep 2018
  • Loc: Upper Peninsula of Michigan

Posted 26 September 2022 - 05:27 PM

For the last couple of years, I had a “vision” for how I wanted an image to turn out before even doing a screen stretch. It inspired me to bludgeon the data into something that the data wasn’t able to support.

I’ve been taking a step back for the last few months and try to see what the data has to offer first, and been much happier with the end result. Highlight what is good, try to improve what is bad, and let the data steer which way the image should go.

That being said, this is the Beginning Imaging forum, and I’ll probably change my mind in another year or two when I get a better idea of what I’m doing. But when you have good data with lots of integration time, it takes very little in post processing to have a nice result.
  • 72Nova likes this

#12 RogeZ

RogeZ

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,539
  • Joined: 21 Nov 2004
  • Loc: Palm Beach Gardens, FL

Posted 26 September 2022 - 06:48 PM

Im basically 90% capture and 10% processing and thats the way I like it, so its definitely not a rule.
  • freestar8n and Mike7Mak like this

#13 Michael Covington

Michael Covington

    Author

  • *****
  • Posts: 8,282
  • Joined: 13 May 2014
  • Loc: Athens, Georgia, USA

Posted 26 September 2022 - 07:08 PM

freestar8n, thanks for popping up.  I hear what you're saying!   Answering a few things:

(1) Ansel Adams *controlled* his photographs.  The challenge was that the dynamic range of his subjects almost always exceeded that of the film and paper.   Yes, I know about "Moonrise, Hernandez" and how the sky wasn't really that dark.  But the key point is, he made decisions that every photographer *must* make, to produce a picture, using the available dynamic range of the paper, that renders the object in front of the camera. 

(2) My approach is similar to freestar8n's in that I am interested in bringing out what is in the picture -- not turning it into something different.  There is no such thing as an unprocessed image.  But there are different approaches to processing.


  • freestar8n likes this

#14 Michael Covington

Michael Covington

    Author

  • *****
  • Posts: 8,282
  • Joined: 13 May 2014
  • Loc: Athens, Georgia, USA

Posted 26 September 2022 - 07:23 PM

Another way to describe my approach:  I don't start out with the desire to produce a dramatic piece of space art.  I start out photographing an area of the sky and wanting to see what is in it.  The subsequent process depends on the brightness, spectrum, and dynamic range of the objects of interest.  But the goal is to produce a completely representational picture, not an emotional impact.

Not everybody has to do it this way, of course.  But people like my pictures.


  • Old Photons likes this

#15 sbharrat

sbharrat

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,684
  • Joined: 28 Nov 2020
  • Loc: NJ, USA

Posted 26 September 2022 - 07:40 PM

When you look at other people's images, pay attention to what makes the image good or bad.  Not so much the technical stuff, though that is important too, but mostly identify what it is that you like or dislike about the image. 

 

Do you like high contrast or low contrast?  Have they taken the contrast too far in either direction.  Same for saturation: too much, not enough?  Palette: do you like or dislike the colour scheme?  Stars: do you like 'em big, small, nonexistent?  Are they over-sharpened or not sharpened enough?

 

In other words, don't just look at an image and think "It's nice" or "It's not very good".  Ask yourself why.  Then try to replicate the characteristics you like.  That is your style.

Now that's a useful suggestion. I suppose I do some of this unconsciously but I should think about this explicitly. Thanks. 


  • Michael Covington and Old Photons like this

#16 galacticinsomnia

galacticinsomnia

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3,188
  • Joined: 14 Aug 2020
  • Loc: Pacific Northwest - Oregon

Posted 27 September 2022 - 02:18 AM

I'm planning to write a blog entry about this.  Most people process pictures more heavily than I do.  But then, my photographic inspiration is Ansel Adams.

I'm a huge fan of Adams, and a lifetime photographer of landscapes, people and agricultural history.  Knowing very much the process that Adams used, was very heavily edited, and heavily manipulated, both in the field and in the darkroom.  He had a vision, and created a body of work that has been reverse engineered many many times by many many people, all of which who emulate that style and approach, note, the amount of editing it takes for the visual representation of the scene, and the tonality of it.

With all that out of the way, people who stick with photography or any craft, end up with their own style, it just evolves, there is no right or wrong.
There is only acceptance of the result or the rejection of it.  It is culinary, music, poetry, dance, a fine art of sorts, but that doesn't negate the idea it can be an art of numbers charts and graphs, in an Olympic style challenge to get the most photons in some kind of imaging classification.

There is a huge diversity in imagers, and imaging, but many a loud voice proclamation a few seemingly oppressive directions that allow for little deviance from their norm. 

You of course find this in most interests, pursuits, but there is a change that I have noticed the past decade where the new breed brings inexperience, but with a reviving vision and desire to achieve, and they have absolutely no problem working outside the prescribed norms with absolutely amazing results.

Its a great time to evolve with astrophotography.

Sorry for being all preachy, just struck a cord a midnight while at the helm of my capture session this evening.

Clear Skies !!



#17 galacticinsomnia

galacticinsomnia

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3,188
  • Joined: 14 Aug 2020
  • Loc: Pacific Northwest - Oregon

Posted 27 September 2022 - 02:27 AM

When you look at other people's images, pay attention to what makes the image good or bad.  Not so much the technical stuff, though that is important too, but mostly identify what it is that you like or dislike about the image. 

 

Do you like high contrast or low contrast?  Have they taken the contrast too far in either direction.  Same for saturation: too much, not enough?  Palette: do you like or dislike the colour scheme?  Stars: do you like 'em big, small, nonexistent?  Are they over-sharpened or not sharpened enough?

 

In other words, don't just look at an image and think "It's nice" or "It's not very good".  Ask yourself why.  Then try to replicate the characteristics you like.  That is your style.

Exactly !  Know what you like, and do your best to replicate it.

You an art teacher by chance ?

Clear Skies !!

 




CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Astrophotography



Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics