How To Use Software To Enhance Your Planet Photos

Capturing the planets with a camera has become easier with the advance of technology and photography-enhancing software. But how can you use this software to enhance your planet?

How To Use Software To Enhance Your Planet Photos

Find out everything you need to know with our helpful guide to get the best results when you take your next photo. 

In this article, we’ll talk about the software you should use and if you need a specific type. We will also discuss how you can sharpen your image and ensure a great planet photo. 

1. Finding The Right Photo Editing Software

Unlike other types of photography, you will need to enhance your images for astrophotography. Taking the shot is only the first step. The real challenge comes when you need to enhance it.

That’s why you must ensure the right photo editing software is installed. One of the most common photo editing software used is Photoshop, but many more are available. 

Other post-processing photos include: 

  • Gimp
  • Affinity Photo
  • StarTools
  • Astro Pixel Processor
  • Nebulosity
  • Pixinsight

Many more are available, and not all are for generic photo processing. Some of these photo editing software are best suited for astrophotography.

However, you don’t necessarily need astrophotography-specific software, as many generic photo editing software are suitable for image processing.

2. Stack Your Photos

If you’re confused about stacking your photos, the process behind it is simple. You stack images on top of each other, with each digital image forming a set of pixels. When you stack your image, you reduce the signal-to-noise ratio, and the digital noise becomes lower. 

By stacking your image, you will notice that the noise level in a single photo will improve greatly. Your photo will become cleaner, and soften the image, making it easier to sharpen it. 

However, when image stacking, we recommend you use a non-moving photo to group your images together and average them to smooth the level of noise.

This doesn’t mean you can’t stack a moving image. When you stack a moving object, it will smooth the noise and the subject of the photo.

Stacking a photo is your first point of call when you start enhancing (see also: How To Use Filters To Enhance Your Nebula Photos) any image. If you’ve taken a photo of a planet and noticed it was blurring, stack other photos of the same subject on top of it.

3. Background Extraction

Background extraction, or histogram stretching, is another important technique when you’re enhancing your planetary images.

While image stacking combines all your light frames into a single image, it can also make your image darker. Many people who use this technique while doing astrophotography will find the image getting darker. 

You can commence background stretching manually using Photoshop, but astrophotography-specific software has automatic and semi-automatic tools.

The easiest way to describe the process is by saying that you’re pushing the details crammed in the dark toward middle tones.

The histogram stretching needs to be done slowly in small steps so you know that your image will retain the best quality.

While it is similar to the image stacking process, you should find that you will have a cleaner, brighter image that shows many details that would otherwise be invisible in single-exposure images. 

4. Star Reduction

You may wonder why you need to remove stars when you do astrophotography. Still, sometimes, it is better to remove the less visible stars.

Sometimes, when you photograph, there are too many stars in the background, which can take away from the key details you want to show. They’re a distraction, so reducing how many there are is better.

By reducing the number of large stars in your photo due to the background extraction process and removing your smaller stars, you can put more focus on your planet. However, this is essential when you are taking photos of nebulae, so you can focus on them.

5. Enhancing the Color of Your Planet

Sometimes when you sharpen the photo of your planet image, you can destroy your photo’s overall color. You want your image to be sharp but also to see the visible colors. 

To enhance the color of your image, you should use the Match Color tool and move the color intensity to the right. This will increase the color saturation better than if you used the Hue/Saturation tool. You can then adjust the color to ensure that it works.

Once you have enhanced the color, you need to sharpen the image without making it too noisy. However, it can get complicated here.

You can use the Smart Sharpen tool for this and then follow it with the Gaussian Blur filter, which becomes easier to apply by setting up a function key.

You then convert the image into Grayscale and convert the image to an RGB format. You then copy and paste the color image onto the monochrome image and set the blending mode to Color. 

6. Wavelet Sharpening

Wavelet sharpening is a technique and tool that you will find in astrophotography-specific software.

Using this tool, you can sharpen your planet image at different scales, allowing you to sharpen the details of different sizes on their own. It’s a great way to bring out the details in your planet photo, with each band corresponding to the detail size. 

If you don’t want to sharpen the whole image or you want to go into more detail, wavelet sharpening can be a great way to do so.

When you sharpen each individual detail, you can recombine them. This is great for when you want high-quality planet photos with great results.

7. Deconvolution Sharpening

If you want to use another astrophotography-specific sharpening tool, we recommend using Deconvolution Sharpening.

This technique was designed to improve images that were collected from the Hubble Space Telescope before they added corrective optics. This technique is even used to enhance images from spy satellites if that rumor is to be believed.

This is a complicated technique, and it’s best to use the free program, RawTherapee if you want to try it out. The photo you take is the one that needs to be convolved with a diffraction effect.

It is easier if the deconvolution software knows what the shape of your object is. Then it can deduce what the original image would look like.

Normally, you would use a Gaussian point spread function, which works well with telescopes, but it takes a while to get the best results.

If you don’t have RawTherapee, you can also use GIMP and Astra Image. If you’re using this process, we recommend using a combination of these three programs. 

Why Enhance Your Planet Photos?

There are many reasons why enhancing your planetary photos is essential. It can be a challenge to get a great image of a planet without using filters.

However, we do recommend using filters when taking a photo of another planet. If you want a high-quality image, you need to take time to put it through post-processing.

Sharpening your image will allow you a clearer image of your photo, and color enhancement tools will show the image as it is intended to appear.

Post-processing is an essential part of any astrophotographer’s journey, regardless of the type of photo you take. Even nebula images can benefit from having stars removed from the photo.

Thankfully, post-processing your images is easier than ever with the advent of free photo-editing software.

Many of these programs are similar to Photoshop or have similar learning curves. There is also astrophotography-specific photo editing software that you can use to ensure the best results. 

While we don’t recommend specific software, we do recommend you play with the different photo editing software that is available online. It is all up to you to find the software that you find the most comfortable to use. 

Final Thoughts

We hope that this guide has helped you to find out how you can use software to enhance your planet photos.

While this is not an in-depth guide, it offers an introductory insight into understanding how important post-processing is in astrophotography. Thankfully, there are many different photo editing programs available for free and as a paid service. 

Using post-processing tools, you can ensure the best results regardless of the type of astrophotography you’re taking part in.

If you have any questions about astrophotography or photography in general, feel free to check out our other articles to find out more. We have a wide range of posts that cover a wide range of topics at your fingertips.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Software Is Best For Preparing Stacked Images?

PIPP is a Windows application that was designed for pre-processing planetary images before stacking them with an image-stacking program like Registax.

PIPP lets you crop each image frame and select the best-quality ones to reduce the memory and processing requirements for your software.

How Do You Take Good Photos Of Llanets?

You should create simple planet-scapes and use a wide-angle lens. Ideally, you should have a shutter release cable or a remote trigger to take any long-exposure images. It’s also good to use filters and remember to use post-processing software. 

Laura McNeill
Scroll to Top