A New Technique for Astrophotography

Balancing light areas with dark areas is always a feature of high contrast scenes like this one captured a few weeks ago. But with interesting challenges, sometimes you chance upon new discoveries.

To deal with the differences in brightness between the building and the night sky, I made 2 copies of the image in lightroom  and processed the sky and building separately. One brighter for the sky, the other darker for the building and then opened them both as layers in Photoshop and used a mask to blend them together. 

Nothing new here so far, so you might ask what was my new discovery. With the exposure looking better now more into how I wanted to look, I decided why not play around with some options and see what comes out in the wash. Playing for me is when you don't really have an idea how to get from A to B nor a really solid idea of what B really is, just a feeling. So you follow that feeling, making decisions that feel right or have a hint that they might lead somewhere, in the hope it will lead you somewhere new. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't but it's always worth a shot.

Since I was in Photoshop, I thought why not try Nik Define to help with the noise, it worked ok but not outstandingly so. Then I thought why not try some of the filters in Nik Color Efex 4 and see if I find something I like there. Well after trying a few other filters, enter the Bleach Bypass filter, all I can say is wow, it did a great job with contrast in the milky way and star filled sections of the image. I must remember this for later.

Never be afraid to play, some of my best techniques started this way... after all this is art not science.