Tutorials - Editing Milky Way Photos
Photographing the Milky Way has lately become a passion of mine when I am in really dark places and in this video tutorial I share my complete workflow for editing Milky Way photos. My main focus with such night photos is for them to reflect the atmosphere of the night while showing enough detail to create interest in the foreground. To achieve this I developed some special photo editing techniques, which I show in the tutorial.
Especially because, aside from getting the atmosphere right, I want to create night photos of the highest possible quality that can later be printed large, special care has to be taken during the editing process. So a big focus of the tutorial, apart from the creative editing, will be on dealing with noise and ensuring sharpness from close foreground to far background in Milky Way photos.
And to show you my workflow in all its detail, I take you from start to finish through the editing process of my Milky Way photo Desert Nights, which you see below. Waking up in the desert to such a spectacular sky was an unforgettable experience and I wanted this photo to capture and invoke the sense of awe I felt when standing on one of the dunes near our camp that morning.
The complete tutorial is close to two hours in length. For a better viewing experience I split it into 11 sections. This way it's easy to revisit interesting parts of the photo editing workflow and to incorporate a selection of the techniques into the editing of your Milky Way photos.
After a short introduction video, which you can watch below, I talk about how I planned, scouted and took the Milky Way photo, which in the end consisted of 40 photos for the night sky and another four photos for the foreground.
Then I show the basic photo editing in Lightroom, followed by image averaging in Sequator, as well as sky enhancements in Photoshop.
I then continue in Photoshop with focus stacking before I show how I blended the photo. The blending is the most crucial part of my photo editing for Milky Way photos. I had to develop new techniques to achieve the result I was after.
After some finishing touches I show you my multi-pass sharpening, which I use to enhance the details in the photo.
Same as with all my photos, the final step in my editing for Milky Way photos is to prepare the photo for web and print. In those last two sections I give tips on how to ensure the photo looks good on Instagram and I also explain how I created different versions of the photo for proofing.
Prerequisites and Editing Software
This video tutorial is for the advanced Photoshop user. I assume that you are familiar with layers, masks, filters and adjustment layers. If not, I recommend watching my free tutorials first. On this site you will also find links to the plugins I use. 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 techniques I use here. If you are using Photoshop CC you'll also be fine. I also use some filters of the Nik Collection, which is available for free using the provided link.
I already mentioned Sequator, which is also free. I use it for the image averaging.
I also use a set of actions called Astronomy Tools. Those are great for editing Milky Way photos, but they are not mandatory. I use them to further reduce the noise in the sky and to tweak some stars.
Buying the Tutorial
The complete tutorial is nearly 2 hours long and can be purchased for 50 USD. This is a link to an automatic delivery system I've set up to make the purchase more comfortable for you. After you pay, you'll get a temporary download link to the tutorial.
You can contact me through the contact sheet on my homepage, if anything goes wrong with payment or download. If you don't have Paypal, that's also no problem. The shop supports credit cards. If nothing works for you, just contact me and we'll find another way.