Rodney Campbell's Blog

Stacks of Stars – For Less Noise

by on May.16, 2019, under Life, Photography

Stacks of Stars

Stacks of Stars

NIKON Z 7 + 14.0 mm f/2.8 @ 14 mm, 219 sec at f/2.8, ISO 250 + 15 sec at f/2.8, ISO 3200 x 7 Frames

Something Gerry suggested whilst we were shooting some static milky way shots this evening

Stacking a number of short exposure star images together for less noise and better stars

It is something I’d heard of before, and a technique I knew was used in astro photography. However I’d never used it myself

So I dutifully took a sequence of short (15 second) static milky way frames… to later look at in post processing and ignore and move on 🙂

However in post… I was going to blend this (219 sec) light painted foreground shot with a nice static milky way shot. I’d need to do this because the stars were not pinpoints but long trails in a 219 second exposure

Since I was already going to photoshop to do the blend I figured I might as well try stacking my star stacks

The process is basically simple:

  • Open your short star images as layers in photoshop
  • Mask out the foreground (on all layers) (so they don’t affect the next step)
  • Align all the layers so the stars are all aligned (I used auto align layers for this but you may have to manually align)
  • Remove the masking on the foreground
  • Stack all of the star layers as a Smart Object
  • Set the Smart Object -> Stack Mode to Median

The end result is an image with sharp stars but with far less noise than a single image

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