Michael Breitung Photography


Tutorials - Selection - Photo Editing for Star Trail Photos


In-depth photo editing tutorial in which I show the techniques I use for editing Star Trail Photos.

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In this photo editing tutorial, I show my complete workflow for processing star trail photos. My main focus when editing such images is, similar to my tutorial for processing night photos, to reflect the atmosphere of the night while showing enough detail to create interest in the foreground.

Because during a pitch black night, it’s hard to find a light source that could justify detail to be visible in the foreground, I often use a technique called time-blending to include glow from twilight. If introduced subtly, this glow can serve as the light source and help to create a better result.

As usual, the workflow I show in the tutorial ensures the highest possible quality for the resulting photos, a requirement for printing.

Photo Editing Startrail Photos

Tutorial Content

The complete tutorial is a bit above 100 minutes in length. For a better viewing experience, I have split it into 11 sections. You can revisit parts of the workflow and incorporate a selection of techniques into your editing workflow.

After a short introduction video, I show how I planned and photographed the star trail photo, which consisted of 12 images for the star trails, one dark frame, and six photos for focus stacking and exposure blending.

Then I show the pre-processing in Lightroom, followed by the star trails stacking in Star Stax and Startrails.

I continue with noise reduction techniques in Photoshop before I share how I blended the photo. Blending is the most crucial part of the process and lays the foundation for further creative processing.

After some finishing touches in Luminar, I show you my multi-pass sharpening, which I use to enhance the details in the photo.

The preparation of the photo for the web concludes the tutorial. The print preparation is not included. I have very detailed tutorials about this topic available here for free.


This video tutorial is for the intermediate Photoshop user. I assume you are familiar with layers, masks, filters, and adjustment layers. If not, I recommend watching my free tutorials first. If you have watched my other tutorials, this is perfect and will make it easier to follow along, but it’s not mandatory.

I use Adobe Lightroom 6 and Photoshop CS6 in the tutorial. Photoshop CS5 or later is generally sufficient to apply the shown techniques.

During multi-pass sharpening, I make use of filters from the Nik Collection, which is available for free. I also show an alternative, which uses just Photoshop filters.

Another Plugin I use is Luminar 3. Using the provided link, you can download the free version.

I already mentioned Startrails, which is also free. I use it for blending the star trail photos.