A few nights ago, during a visit to the Madikwe Game Reserve, we headed out after dinner to point our lenses skywards to do some star photography.
On any photo safari in Africa, this is always a great option and apart from being a really cool experience, the potential for great images is very real. Our conditions on this particular evening were not quite ideal as the moon was pretty and pretty bright, but we really just went out to work through the basic setup and what to look for when shooting the stars and painting with light. A great, relaxed session and awesome to be out in the wild with hyenas calling in the background.
The next morning Charlene, one of our guests, and I worked briefly through the processing process and how to take your star images to the next level and get the most from the RAW files. Based on the conversation we had, I thought I’d share the Lightroom steps we worked through and which Charlene is now going to play with.
This is one of the original images from the evening.
Untouched, straight from camera.
Nikon D800, 14mm, 15 sec, f/2.8, ISO 1250
So, without getting too technical – we will leave that for another time – here are the steps we quickly ran through to process the image.
Step 1: Lens Correction
Easy one and always the first step.
Step 2: Exposure and Contrast
Keeping an eye on the image, as your vision and what you want from the image will ultimately guide your processing steps, the Exposure was pushed by 0.55 and the Contrast by 10.
Step 3: Clarity and Vibrance
To get some edge contrast, Clarity is pushed to +19 and to punch the colours a bit, Vibrance to +15.
Step 4: White Balance
Tweaking WB will bring out the blue colour in the sky. The Temperature slider slowly pulled to the left until desired result is achieved.
Step 5: Special Adjustment Brush
Some additional Clarity and warming up the Temperature applied to a brush with low Flow and Density. Painting over the Milky Way brings out some of the colour and texture.
Step 6: Sharpen
Some basic Sharpening and Luminance Noise Reduction applied to get a balance of sharpness and smooth areas.
And that’s about it.
Quick and easy.
As mentioned, this was a very quick discussion around processing these types of images, and as with anything to do with Lightroom or post processing, there are many ways to skin this photographic cat. Photographing the night skies is pretty awesome, so next time you are in the bush give it a try, even if just for the experience!
Let me know if you have any questions and we will then look at a more detailed tutorial on how to bring the most our of your star images using Lightroom and Nik Filters.
Until next time.