So you went out and got some sweet photos after reading our guide last week - awesome! Now, what about post processing them?

Imported straight into Lightroom, they’re generally a bit bland and the colours are very faded out, especially if they were shot in a high light pollution area. That’s perfect for now though - first up, go through and make sure the framing is correct and that they’re in focus - there’s nothing worse than spending ages tidying up an image, then realising something isn’t quite right. Remember that you can crop images too if they’re not framed right!

Cool, let’s apply some changes to bring out the best in your photos. David Kingham has some amazing presets available on his site that I use as a base for every shot. Go ahead and download them (you can leave a donation if you love them too!). The presets are broken down into a system that you can follow easily, generally by choosing one item under each major number.

1. Here’s how my original photo looks, not bad, but the horizon isn’t flat and the Milky Way gets a little lost.


2. Choose ‘1.1 White Balance - Dark Sky’ from the preset list on the left, assuming there was no moon.

3. Applying ‘2.1 Embrace The Colour’ next makes the Milky Way pop a bit more, although the sky has now gone an orange colour which isn’t very realistic.


The next few steps will bring out more of the Milky Way and decrease the orange in the sky.

4. Choose ‘2.1 Milky Way’.


5. If you shot your photo in a bright area, apply the ‘3.1 Reduce Light Pollution’ preset to bring out more of the stars.


6. Chances are your photos are still a little orange which, while cool, is not quite right if you’re going for realism. ‘4.1 Bring Back the Blue’ will make it look more natural. Have a play around with the white balance until you get the result that you desire.


7. Tidy up any leftover cropping and straightening issues. You can then use the ‘Enhance Milky Way’ brush tool over specific areas to bring out the densest part of the Milky Way even more. Your mileage may vary though - and be careful not to paint too much of the sky or it can start to look overdone.


Boom, your photo now looks way more epic! You can always personalise it more - I generally start with the colour temperature and the tint, adjusting them til the sky looks more natural. Changing the exposure can also help when your photo is slightly too dim or too bright. What you do, though, is completely up to you - you’re the artist after all!

Here’s the finished photo that I’ve been working on throughout this tutorial:


Need some more inspiration?

Here are three awesome photographers from Wellington who love the night sky:

Post your photos in the comments below - I’d love to see what you produce!

Until next time, stay awesome!