For those interested in imaging and image processing with DSLR, CCD, webcam or film.
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Post by tbrandwood » Sun Apr 10, 2011 7:53 pm

As i've used IRIS myself and found it diffucult to use, I tried DeepSkyStacker for a more easy to use alternitive.(Note: as the name suggests this isn't for planets, moon or sun :) ) So, suggested by Ross, this is the basics to using DSS:
1. This is the link to the program (it's all free):

2. This is the link to their main website were you can find a User manual, FAQ and tutorials:

3. They do have some sort of companion program which can do much more, that can be used afterwards, called DeepSkyImaging. But this is a paid for program with a 30 day trial: -link to the trial download, but I haven't needed to use this program for decent pictures.

Now here's the basics:
1. First go on 'Open picture files...' and select all the pictures you wish to stack. They will be opened at th bottom of the window and you can click on them to see which of them you like and want to stack by ticking the box. The program does give a 'score' of how good or well matched the pictures are and can select the best by it's self when you register pictures.

2. Once you've got all the pictures you need to click 'Register checked pictures...' then leave all the settings as they are but you can check 'Stack after registering' and choose the % you wish it to stack. Here it decides the best (by default) 80% of your pictures and stacks them after registering. On your first use it's best to leave the 'recomended settings as they are but once you know what you want. e.g. if your pictures are to grey 'use per channel background callibration' but you don't have to understand this as it tells you what settings are use to do what in the program.

3. When you have registered and stacked your pictures (the part where you can have a rest while it works :mrgreen:) it will take you to the Processing section. This is very basic compared to IRIS but for begginers like me it's much easier to use :-) In the Prosessing section you will most likely get a white or very bright picture. To get an actual picture you need to go on luminance and alter the darkness, midtone and highlight settings. This part depends on the picture and basicly needs you to alter and apply the settings untill the brightness is how you want it.
Next if the picture looks gray or unsaturated you can go into the saturation settings and alter it. e.g. when i first tried M42 it was grey, but shifting saturation to 10% brought out colour. (this isn't needed and it's best to use the RGB/K Levels to bring out colour)
Once on RGB/K Levels you can alter the red, green and blue levels. This also seems to depend on the object, but for an example when I did the M42 i altered the middle arrow untill it brought out alot of blue in the image. This can be used with Luminance to get the best brightness and colout in the image. once you've used these settings you can save the image by clicking 'Save picture to file...' and choose where you want to save it.

4. Once you've got your stacked and processed image there is still lots of room for improvement and you can use other programs to bring ou the other colours. I first used a trial of photoshop but Gimp is a free alternative (DeepSkyImaging will be able to do this but free is always best :mrgreen: ) Link:

5. Once on Gimp or any other photo editing program with similar tools you can use the Curves option under the Colours drop down to alter and bring out more colour in your DSS image :D

I hope this helps any Begginer like me because I found this a good alternative to IRIS after trying and failing to get good images :? I've attached three pictures to show, original image, then after using DSS, then the final image using Gimp/Alternatives to brimg out colours, crop and flip the pic round.

The user manual on DSS website gives much more information, this was just an easy guide to start with.
Original Picture
IMG_3321-2.JPG (106.15 KiB) Viewed 5777 times
M42 nebula-3.jpg
Picture after using DSS
M42 nebula-3.jpg (143.33 KiB) Viewed 5777 times
M42 nebula.jpg
Final picture
M42 nebula.jpg (224.77 KiB) Viewed 5777 times

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Re: DeepSkyStacker

Post by rwilkinson » Sun Apr 10, 2011 8:07 pm

Many thanks for that Tom, and you've certainly got some good results with that program in a short time.

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