Combining Short and Long Exposures to Preserve Star Colors
Here's a summary of the technique:
- Blend the 90 and 30 min shots with a common black point setting and an upper light mask based on the 30min image.
- Save the blue layer for use as a mask.
- Use curves on the blue mask to eliminate any faint areas remaining from the nebula.
- Do a gaussian blur on the blue mask to eliminate the hard edges around the stars
- Using the blue mask to shield the stars, adjust curves, saturation and color to enhance the nebula.
- Remove the mask and apply grain reduction processing
- Make a light mask for the upper 5% brightness (targeting the stars with white centers) and feather to reach just beyond the outer edge of the color halos.
- Apply a gaussian blur to the masked bright areas to blend the color edges toward the center.
- Adjust saturation.
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