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How to Enhance a Meteor Streak or Satellite Trail

With so many people now going out to capture the heavens above a good number of you will find yourself lucky once in a while, or.....  Maybe you read other posts of mine and actually planned on, and were successful in capturing a meteor streak, or satellite trail.

You clicked your shutter button and let the exposure happen, you saw what you were looking for, that rare streak of cosmic dust burning up in our atmosphere, you get the image home, load it up in Photoshop and then the disappointment happens.  The meteor streak is dull and not very bright!

Instead of shedding tears and vowing never to go out and waste your time trying to capture a meteor, read on.

I will show you a very simple technique that will help make that streak "pop" from the image, make it stand out or make it compliment your image.

You can take this enhancement as far as you like.  It was my choice to not make it overpowering.

Before Enhancement
After Enhancement

First order of business is to open the image in Photoshop.

After opening the image in photoshop, select the "polygonal lasso tool" and carefully select the trail, which in this case is a streak from an Orionid Meteor.

Once you have selected the area you wish to enhance you can select the enhancement of your choice.  In this case I choose to both brighten, and bump up the vibrancy a bit.
*Note*  If you don't know, the adjustments are selected by clicking on the area shown in the below image (circle with a dark and light half).  That will bring up the adjustment popup as pictured below.  From there choose what you want to adjust.

Because you selected just the meteor trail that is the only part of the image that is affected by the adjustments.

That is it!  Simple eh?

Now you can put away your tissue and stop thinking your whole night was a waste


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