Processing: Cleanup

Stray Pixels

No matter how well you control all the factors going into your data you'll probably still have some odd pixels scattered across the image. While some software packages have features that try to eliminate these defects, you'll still probably need to manually scan your images and obliterate any that remain. The tool of choice for this is the Spot Healing Brush, adjusted for size to match the defect and hardness = 100%. Use Normal mode for spot defects, and Content-Aware for defects like satellite tracks.

For spot defects, just click on the defect. For extended defects you can drag the brush, but you'll want to practice your technique for this.

Star Size

Everyone likes to reduce the size of stars in their images, particularly when the target object is a nebula or galaxy. Star size reduction methods should be applied sparingly because they have a tendency to introduce artifacts when overused. I've never found any of the Photoshop based methods to work as well as the ImagesPlus Star Size and Halo Reduction tool at its default setting of 0.5 or weaker.

If you want to be Photoshop-only, I suggest using Shah's action or Ireland's method.

Star Halo and Background Noise

Now that you're almost done, take a look at the haloes around stars. Do they look grainy or speckled? If so, try running the Astronomy Tools Less Crunchy More Fuzzy action one more time.

Likewise, one last inspection of the bacground is a good idea. Background noise can be caused by many operations, so if you see the need, make another run of Astronomy Tool's Deep Space Noise Reduction.

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