Starblobs

Northern Lights on Diamond Beach
Northern Lights on Diamond Beach

Blobby stars

This photoshop tutorial shows how to correct out of focus stars.

northern lights
iceland aurora

Night photography often involves a compromise, often the compromise is depth of field because large apertures (such as f/2.8) are commonly used to capture stars before they begin to trail. This means that the focus can be on the foreground, or the stars and the DOF is unlikely to include both, even with a large focal length. The two subjects are too different in their distance from the camera, so having reasonable sharpness on this foreground ice meant that the stars were blobs.

If you have a shot where the stars are just out of focus blobs of light, don’t despair! This easy fix will suffice for a web image and with some extra work, might work for a large print.

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Photoshop Technique

I duplicate the layer and set the blend mode to darken. I then use the move tool to nudge the top layer. The smallest increments can be applied with the cursor keys and the amount of movement is determined by how much you are zoomed into the image. The smallest increment is 1 pixel. It might be necessary to repeat the process with different nudge directions for different parts of the sky.

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By Tony Prower

Tony Prower spent over 15 years photographing the landscapes of Iceland. Tony Prower is a pioneer of the Magic Cloth Technique and ran thousands of photo tours in Iceland over 10 years.

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