Seeing the Milky Way Through Pollution
The journey to produce believable never-before-seen Milky Way images in light-polluted skies can be arduous but rewarding at the same time. As light pollution continues to be an ever-growing problem in major cities, images with the night sky above a bustling metropolis may help to remind the public the importance of preserving the beauty of the cosmos.
In this tutorial, veteran night sky photographer Justin Ng will show aspiring astrophotographers how he revealed the Milky Way above an extremely light-polluted area of the world: Singapore. The image was taken in Sentosa in March 2014. Astrophotographers can use equipment that they may already have and a workflow that probably works in most versions of Photoshop.
Equipment Ng uses to shoot the Milky Way in Singapore
- Unmodified full-frame DSLR camera (Canon 5D2)
- Wide angle lens (16-35mm F2.8)
- Memory cards and batteries
Revealing the Milky Way
The ETTR technique, however, has its limitations and further processing is required to bring out the best of what’s recorded in the RAW file, which I will come to very soon.
Seeing the Clouds of the Galaxy
Refining the Image
At this juncture, if you’re shooting at a location that’s at least 2 stops darker than mine, which also means you are able to expose your camera for 30 to 40 seconds using the same settings (F2.8, ISO6400 @ 16mm), then you’ll probably be able to get away with a nice image by adjusting the sliders. But unfortunately, we need to do more to make the image pop when it’s taken in Singapore and the post processing workflow will become more complex if the exposure time is reduced to 5 seconds or less at much brighter locations.
In Photoshop, click on Image -> Adjustments -> HDR Toning. Then play around with the Detail slider along with the rest to achieve to look you want and mask out the overexposed part of the image.
Unveiling the Night Sky
Make it your own!
There are definitely many ways to achieve the same or better result and this is one of the workflows that you can use without purchasing additional Photoshop plugins.
For full tutorial, please visit Justin Ng Photo