In this video tutorial I show my complete workflow for processing night photos, which contain the Milky Way. My main focus with such photos is for them to reflect the atmosphere of the night while showing enough detail to create interest in the foreground.
The complete tutorial is close to two hours in length. For a better viewing experience I have split it into 11 sections. This way it’s easy to revisit interesting parts of the workflow and to incorporate a selection of the techniques into the processing of your nighttime photos.
After a short introduction video, which you can watch below, I talk about how I planned, scouted and took the photo, which in the end consisted of 40 photos for the night sky and another four photos for the foreground.
Then I show the pre-processing in Lightroom, followed by some 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 the processing here and I had to develop some 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.
Finally I 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.
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. 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 processing nighttime images, but they are not mandatory. I use them to further reduce the noise in the sky and to tweak some stars.