Tag Archives: stacking

Look What You Did!

First we really appreciate the mastery of Matt Molloy who has been using the Advanced Stacker PLUS to reach creative new heights in “TimeStacks”.  This is one of his images below in which he stacks part of the image with Comet mode, and the rest with lighten mode. Click the image to read more.

Reach for the Clouds by Matt Molloy

Reach for the Clouds by Matt Molloy

We invited users of the Advanced Stacker PLUS to give us feedback on their experiences with our Photoshop Add-in. We asked folks is if they had an image that they made with the software that they’d like us to see. Wow. We are impressed! Take a look for yourself. We used the links provided so none of the images shown are on our server. In other words, if an image does not load properly, there is nothing we at StarCircleAcademy can do to fix the issue.  Where possible, clicking the image will take you to the photographer’s site.

Version 14E is available now, by the way.

If your image appears here and you’d rather it did not, let us know and we’ll remove it.

Exit Criteria

Exit Criteria by Steven Christenson (channeling Matt Molloy)

'Aurora Star Trails' - Trwyn Du, Anglesey

Aurora Star Trails by Adrian Kingsley Hughes

Rocky Mtns

Rocky Mountains by Bob Gibbon

The Chalice by John Mu

The Chalice by John Mumaw

Gulf of Mexico

Gulf of Mexico by John C. Struck

Church by Bob Edwards

Church by Bob Edwards

OG PIER 1 by Daniel P Studios

OG PIER 1 by Daniel P Studios

Lassen Campfire Pano 1

Lassen Campfire Pano 1

Red River Camping Spot Star Trails by Jeff Stephens

Red River Camping Spot Star Trails by Jeff Stephens

Milky Way Star Trails

Milky Way Star Trails by Beau Liddell

Stow Time Stall by Brian Drourr

Stow Time Stall by Brian Drourr

Starflight over Pointy Land

Starflight over Pointy Land by Steven Christenson

Chapel in Starlight by Keith Doucet

Chapel in Starlight by Keith Doucet

The Revenge of Lens Correction

There are plenty of ways to make your images look weird.  Some of the perturbations are due to sneaky little things that Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom and/or Adobe Camera RAW might be doing to the data.  We already talked about the “cooking” that is applied by default to RAW images and why letting that cooking stand unchallenged may be a bad thing. We’ve even warned you about Blur and Jaggies that may NOT in fact be in your images.

Recently Dan Barr asked us what we thought was causing a problem in his stacked star trails. If you read the title you’ve probably already figured out the culprit… Lens Correction!  You may not notice anything weird if you process only a single image, but what if Star Trails, or image stacking are what floats your boat?

Notice the strange pattern in the upper left. This image is cropped from a larger image.

Notice the strange pattern in the upper left. This image is cropped from a larger image. Image by Timbo2013

Look in the upper left of the image above. That cross hatching is one possible artifact.

Why does this happen? The lens correction is a mathematical model that moves pixels around. Not surprisingly, since the images change – even if slightly, the results vary slightly, too.

How do you fix the problem?  Don’t mess with your images before you stack them.  Save the lens correction, contrast adjustments and other tweaks for after you’ve finished stacking.

Here is a before and after comparison:

danBarr_moire_marked

Notice the odd “Moire” like pattern above and to the right of the mountain? (Image courtesy of Dan Barr)

It’s a little subtle. Here is the weird part close up – notice the vertical undulations? The oddness somewhat resembles sensor banding noise except when you look at a larger scale, the lines are concentric.

ConcentricLines

 

By redoing the stacking operation without performing lens correction, Dan was able to get an image without the waves:

Stacked first, then adjusted – no moire!

With the strangeness vanquished, Dan was able to improve the brightness and contrast as well.

Blobulous Revisited – Part 2

Last installment we covered the basic idea behind creating a star trail where a foreground element is moving. In this case the moving element is a radio telescope peering into the sky to discover planets and black holes.  A normal “lighten mode” stack produces the image at the left, below, while with just a little bit of work we can get the image on the right.

Before_After

To recap, we use a single frame from the sequence and some careful masking to remove the blurred part of the image. For effect, we also don’t use the stack in 100% mode. See the prior article for details.

In this article we’ll show you step-by-step how we achieved the total look.

Of course we start with the stack.

Illustration_A

Then we layer in a copy of the stack and a single frame (the last or nearly last frame).

Illustration_B

Here we have set the background (stack) to 36% Opacity, effectively darkening it. The single frame is 100% opacity and in Lighten blend mode. What we want to do is to remove the blurred part by replacing it with the unblurred single image. It’s easy to do. Select the STACK, create a “Reveal All” mask, and then go to town painting black on it (be sure to select the MASK, not the image). When done, the mask we create will look something like this:

Illustration_C

Notice how we used a slightly soft brush to “blend” the background and the still frame. We could stop right there, but I notice that the ground and the telescopes are a bit too bright, and I’d like to make the stars pop out. So the next course of action is to apply a curve, select the “Increase Contrast” option. Here I’ve adjusted the result just slightly.

Illustration_Ca

Next we want to tone down the bright stuff. We add another adjustment layer, and a “Hide All” mask and then paint white back on the mask to tone down what we want. You’ll notice that in the process, the colors intensify a bit.

Illustration_D

The next step we’ll want to take is to reduce the saturation – our radio telescope is moving from white to yellow. So the next step is to add a Hue and Saturation layer. As before we mask off everything, and then paint in only the radio telescope. We could cheat and use the same mask from the Brighten stack layer – and just invert it, but it’s not a complicated thing like a tree, so it’s pretty easy to change the mask to only operate on the radio dish and pedestal.  At the left, you can see how strongly we moved the saturation – and we upped the brightness a bit, too.

Illustration_F

If we didn’t mask off the telescope and instead applied the saturation adjustments globally, we’d see this – not what we want. (Shift-Click on the mask turns it on or off – in this case we see that the mask is off by the red X through it)

Illustration_G

You won’t notice in the small size, but the large image has a number of Hot Pixels (red, and blue) that stand out. To solve this problem we use “Alt-Ctl-Shift-E” (Command-Option-Shift E for you Mac-o-philes) to make a copy of the layer. I named the layer “Heal” because I then used the spot healing tool to fix up those little problems.  I recommend making the healing tool diameter just slightly larger than the area to be healed.

Illustration_I

To make the Radio dish pop just a little more, a little sharpening is in order. In fact, sharpening the ground will work, too.  Duplicate the Healed layer (Ctl-J or Command-J). Name it Sharpen then use Filter -> Sharpen -> Smart Sharpen.  However I don’t like sharpening my stars, they look harsh. As before we’ll create a Hide-All mask for our Sharpened layer and use a white brush to reveal the areas we want to have sharpened. This is called selective sharpening.  In the small image here, the effect is not as obvious as in the larger image.

Illustration_J

To get just a bit more pop, a little more contrast is in order. I created a curve and pulled up the midtones a fair amount while making minor negative adjustments to the highlights and the darks.  But, that adjustment brightened some areas a bit too much so I created a reveal-all layer mask and painted black on the areas that were then too bright.

Illustration_K

Et Voila, we’re done!

 

My Heart Aches (Updated)

UPDATE: $1229.18  was raised to aid the victims of the Oklahoma tornadoes… thank you for your investment in the lives of others. But we’re not done!  Through June 1st, StarCircleAcademy will donate $6 for every stacking action sold… and you can also get a $5 discount by using the coupon code below.

I don’t like to admit it but having lived through the Loma Prieta earthquake, and being a first hand witness to the devastation of a tornado in North Carolina I have a serious soft spot in my heart for those who suffer disaster. And I have an eager desire to help.  I hope you do too.

Brian Drourr lives in Vermont. We’ve never met though I admire his photography. But more  I admire his willingness to help out with the Moore, Oklahoma Tornado disaster.  I want to do my part, and I hope you too will find a creative way to help those in Oklahoma. I have made donations, but I’d like to do more. So here is what I am doing.

From May 20th through May 25th we donated 100% of all proceeds to aid the victims of the Oklahoma Tornadoes. But we’re not done!

From now through midnight,  June 1, 2013 we will donate $6 for each sale of the StarCircleAcademy Advanced Stacking Action to aid in the disaster relief – the proceeds will be divided between the American Red Cross Disaster Relief and direct donations to one family in Moore, OK.  Use the coupon HelpOK for a discount off of your purchase. See the comments below for the current totals raised.

I figure this way YOU can get something you can use, and the victims in Oklahoma will get something they need.

C_072941-67

PS I am about to release a new Advanced Stacker+  Everyone who purchases the stacking action now will get a free upgrade, and the Advanced Plus IS compatible with Photoshop CS3 – and probably CS2, but we haven’t finished testing it there yet!

 

Stacking Action – The Bundle

Advanced Stacker PLUS [14E] with Online Video and Notes
Includes the even EASIER to install Advanced Photoshop action set version 14E, an unlimited viewing online video on creating star trails, notes (PDF) on creating star trails and practice files. The video is 2 hours long. This action is power. You can create star trails, cloud timestacks and stack images with a minimum of effort and a maximum of control. You can create "comets", "midgets" streaks and much more. And you can create intermediate files along the way to put interesting motion effects into your timelapse. Compatible with Photoshop CS3, CS4, CS5, CS5.5, CS6 (standard or extended), CC, CC 2014-2018.
**NOTE: MAC Users with Yosemite or El Capitan, Sierra, or High Sierra and PS CC 2015 or later are reporting installation problems. We recommend you do NOT purchase this product until we have been able to resolve this issue.
NOT Compatible with Photoshop Elements, or Lightroom. Please specify your primary OS and Photoshop version when ordering. You will receive links to both Mac and Windows installers.

 

 Just the Stacking Action

Advanced Stacker PLUS Version 14E
This action is power. You can create star trails and stack images with a minimum of effort and a maximum of control. You can create "comets", "midgets" streaks and much more. And you can create intermediate files along the way to put interesting motion effects into your timelapse. Version 14e also preserves EXIF data, includes Ultra Long Streaks and more! Compatible with Adobe Photoshop CS3 through CC including CC 2015. Not compatible with any other version of Photoshop, particularly not compatible with Photoshop Elements or Photoshop Lightroom.
**NOTE: MAC Users with High Sierra, Sierra, Yosemite or El Capitan and PS CC 2015-2018 are reporting installation problems. We recommend you do NOT purchase this product until we have been able to resolve this issue.
Indicate your operating system and Photoshop version. If you have more than one, please indicate which you use the most. You will be sent links for BOTH the Mac and Windows versions.

 

You can also look HERE for a FREE stacking action to test drive. There are also some instructional videos that will help.