Tips and Tricks

When it comes to photography there is an enormous wealth of information on the internet. One of the hardest things is working out where to start.

This page is a sort of open bookmark where I keep the best tutorials that I've come across. These are techniques that I use daily in my work as a commercial portrait photographer, and in my landscape and astro photography.


Shooting Multi-Row Panoramas

The vast majority of great Milky Way photos I see are panoramas. Shooting them so that you can stitch them easily takes a little planning. This wonderful article by Stephen Tyler takes you through the process in great detail. He also walks you through the ptGUI software which is a favourite of mine. 
Shooting Multi-Row Panoramas


Find the Best ISO for Astrophotography

This is a complex and oft misunderstood topic! Ian Norman goes into great detail on how ISO affects astrophotography (hint: higher ISO doesn't mean more noise...). 
How to Find the Best ISO for Astrophotography


Should I Even Bother Going Outside?

There are a number of great websites that could save you an hour long car ride to cloudy skies...
Clearoutside will help you determine if the skies will be clear, dark and dry enough to take photos. It even takes the position of the moon into account.

Tide Table is useful for planning shots where you want a reflection, or rushing water. I use this a lot in places like Hunua where you get a wonderful smoky water effect with long exposures at high tide, or access to the cave at low tide.

Dark Site Finder does what it says on the label, finds you dark spots to do your astrophotography!


OK I've taken my photos.... Now What?

Michael Shainblum has a great overview on editing the milkyway in Lightroom

Editing the Sky and Land Separately

I like to edit the land and the sky individually. Usually the land needs heavy noise reduction that would 'eat stars' if you applied it to the complete image. 

I also try to shoot images that have interesting objects on the horizon, usually trees. This makes selecting the sky difficult. Fortunately there's an easy technique using 'alpha channels' in photoshop, beautifully explained here by PixImperfect.

Frequency Separation

This is an interesting one. The technique is usually used for high end skin retouching in fashion. But for astrophotography it has the power to separate the stars from the background colour of the sky. You can then edit them independently, great for cleaning up those blotchy backgrounds.
 

I've not found a video specifically for frequency separation in astrophotography. But if you're confused about how you might apply this to astro you're welcome to join a workshop for a demonstration!

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