Tips, Tricks and Tutorials


Process the Milky Way - a step by step guide

One of many ways to process a Milky Way image by Darryl W. Van Gaal I've had many, many photographers come to me with questions on how I'm able to capture my images of the milky way.  My response is that "it's really not a huge secret".  Capturing the image is probably the easiest part, while yes there is a learning curve, once you figure out that part it comes to be almost second nature.  
Just like in film photography, no matter what you've captured on your camera it will come out looking a bit drab without the proper processing.  This post is designed to help you find your way around the digital darkroom and turning those night images into works of art that you may even be proud enough to hang on your living-room wall above the fireplace.

The image that we'll use today is one that I took this past summer.  It is a great example to use to show my post processing techniques.

This image was photographed in Long Point Ontario, it was shot with a Canon 6d…

Make Stellarium More Realistic when planning for a night shot

**Article by Darryl Van Gaal
As both a landscape, and deep space astrophotographer I find myself using Stellarium ( on a weekly basis.  It's a great (free) program and in my opinion is one of the best out there competing with programs that cost hundreds of dollars.

I like it for the ease of use along with the reality of the night sky.  If you use the right settings, the sky you see in Stellarium is strikingly similar to the sky you'll see when you look out your door.

Like I said, I do believe that it is an easy program to learn the ins and outs of,  BUT, like anything, there is still a learning curve.

I've posted about Stellarium in the past ( ) teaching you how to simulate your cameras field of view with a particular lens on it.  Which is aid in planning photography outings.

This post is similar as it will teach you how you can use it to help you get a feeling as to what you&…

How to Make the Stars POP!

If there is one thing I've learned about processing night shots.

There are as many opinions and as many ways to do things as there have been sunrises! With that being said, I thought I'd share another technique that I've employed a couple of times

This technique is very simple and very effective.  The nice thing about my tutorial is that I show you how to do it yourself.  I’m not a fan of “presets” that take the adjustment factor out of your hands.  I’d rather show someone how to do it for themselves.  That way you can actually expand your knowledge and learn to help yourself and others around you.

In this particular “How to” we will be increasing the size and brightness of the larger stars.  This technique can also be used to bring out the natural colour of the stars or any other adjustments you may want to use.

Like most of my tutorials, I take the approach that you have a basic knowledge of photoshop.  If you don’t and need some further assistance with this tutorial, please…

Landscape Astrophotography - Before the Big Night Out (2nd post in the series) by Darryl Van Gaal

So you've decided to try your hand at capturing the night sky.  You have hopes of capturing that "keeper" that you can proudly display on your living room wall.

Here is where I can save you a bit of disappointment.  Disappointment in what you envision as the "perfect" image, and disappointment in your technique.

The first thing I'd like to point out is what your finished product is going to look like.
Many, MANY of the landscape astrophotographs that you see online are composites.  By composites I mean that they are composed of two separate images that are photographed at totally different locations, or that are photographed at the same location, several hours, or even several days or months apart.  The photograph below is an excellent example of this.  The image of the landscape is from a friend of mine, the night sky was taken from one of my photographs.  Although I don't mind, and will occasionally employ this technique, I will take to task any "…