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Photographing Meteor Showers From Planning to Post Processing Fourth and final post in the mini series

Photographing Meteor Showers  

From Planning to Post Processing

Fourth and final post in the mini series

Post Processing
Final image of the Orionids Meteor Shower
This is the portion of the series that most people have probably waited for.  In this post I will be sharing my techniques used to create the composition of the Orionid Meteor Shower.  

Hopefully you were lucky enough to capture some images of some relatively bright meteors.  I personally always find this next part quite laborious.  This is the time that you have to go through each and every image to look for meteor streaks.  The Orionid image to the right had over 300 images that I went through.  You are looking for the brighter meteor trails.  You will also want to weed out the trails from aircraft and other unwanted trails.

I usually use a rating system to rank the images.  This way I only select the better ones to work with.  This will make things a bit easier for you.

First thing I blend is the background image.  Sometimes you will use only one shot.  In this case I used two shots to give me a bit more height on the final image.  I used about an 80% overlap on the images to ensure that photoshop could align them properly.

As you can see in the image to the right, the first thing that I'll do is align and blend the background image.  One thing that I stress is to use the background image that you shot along with the meteor shower.  In my opinion, if you use an image that was shot another day, or an image from a totally different location you are creating art and not a composite image of a meteor shower.  There is nothing wrong with creating art, UNLESS YOU TRY TO PASS IT OF AS REAL!!!!  People who do, have created the "is it photoshopped" attitude.  They are being dishonest and hurt the integrity of photographers that are honest.

It is at this point in the process that I'll start bringing in the other images.  First I align them (In this image as you can see I used "Orion" to align the image.  This allows for the meteors to be aligned in the proper orientation. 
I find it easiest to open the meteor image by its self, doing an arbitrary rotation of the canvas to get the stars in the correct position and then using the marquee tool along with a cut and paste to get the image of the meteor over the background image.  To aid in alignment, set the opacity to 50% or so.  That will allow you to see both images at the same time.  Repeat this process for all of the meteor images that you wish to use.

Now that you have all of the meteor images layered over the background, it's time to start cleaning things up.

There are a couple of different techniques that you can use at this point.

The first (and the one I use) is to simply delete everything on each layer except for the meteor.  I find this to be least time consuming.  

The second is to use the tools to select and copy the meteor streak.  Then paste it onto the background as a separate layer, at which point you delete the layer that the streak originally came from.

Another thing that you may want to do is layer all of the meteor streaks by themselves, make adjustments that bring out the color, and visibility of the streaks and then blend that image on the background.  

The method that you choose is totally up to you depending on your preferences.

There you have it.  That is my "BIG" secret.......  Not so big is it?
If there is anything else that you would like more information on drop me an message here with somewhere I can reply to, or send me an email dvgzx2 at gmail dot com

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