Friday, January 8, 2010

Moon, Before and After Nik Tools

I purchased the Nik Software Complete Collection for Lightroom last night, so I'm revisiting some photos I've already posted here to see if they can be improved with the Nik tools set.  This is picture of the moon from my back yard with an inexpensive Celestron mirror telescope.  While the Newtonian design is free of chromatic aberration, the sharpness, resolution and contrast are very low.  There isn't much that can be done about the resolution, but there are digital tools available to improve contrast and apparent sharpness.

This first image is was processed in Lightroom 2 and improved as much as possible by adjusting contrast and clarity, but still looks muddy due to lack of sharpness.    

Technical: Nikon D700, Celestron Newtonian telescope (1000 mm equivalent), ISO 200,  f/11 @ 1/400s, Zone VI wood tripod with a Gitzo pan/tilt head.  RAW file cropped to 1x1 and adjusted in Lightroom 2.

This version is the result of additional editing in the Nik Software collection, using Nik's suggested workflow.  First, I applied a mild noise reduction with Dfine 2.0, which helped remove some of the "fuzz" characteristic of capture from cheap telescopes.  Next, ran the picture through the Sharpener Pro RAW Pre-Sharpener to improve general sharpness, followed by the "Contrast Only" tool in Color Efex Pro give a slight boost to contrast, brightness and structure.  Finally, I used Sharpener Pro's Output sharpening for "Display".

The Nik tools are no substitute for a good lens, but based on the degree of improvement here, I'll be running more pictures through a similar workflow.

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