A common method for taking Moon photos is to use video. This guide will walk you through the steps for processing a Moon photo using video from a DSLR. This guide assumes you already have video of the Moon, but if you don’t, you can practice with the file located here.
When you are done with this guide, please
When learning how to process a Moon photo from video taken with DSLR, you need to convert it from the default .mp4 to an uncompressed .avi. Think of this like the difference in processing JPG’s vs RAW files. All of the data is able to be manipulated in the uncompressed .avi file.
Open up Virtualdub, then:
File then Open video file… Select your file or the practice one provided above.
After it is open, just go to File, then Save video…
Make sure save as type is .avi, and compression is uncompressed
Warning! This file will be HUGE. For example, one minute averages around 12 GB. So be sure to save it on a hard drive that has plenty of room. After we’re done, let’s open it up in PIPP
In PIPP, click on Add Image Files and select the uncompressed .avi created with VirtualDub
At the bottom make sure that Solar/Lunar Full Disc is checked. If you use a close up video showing Moon features, you’ll want to check Solar/Lunar Close Up instead. Now let’s cycle through a couple tabs.
No changes need to be made here, it can stay default.
Processing Options Tab
Uncheck Convert to Monochrome if you are going to try to pull out mineral colors. If you want to rotate it to use it as a phone wallpaper, you can do that under the Flip And Rotate section. Other than that the rest can stay default.
Make sure Enable Quality Estimation is checked. I recommend checking Quality Limiting to keep a certain number of frames. Even if you use half, you’ll have plenty, I just use the default that shows up. Either way, the more you save, the more storage space you’ll use.
We can skip over the animation tab.
Output Options Tab
Select folder if you want to save the files in, and make sure the file type is TIFF. This is to ensure you get the most data with each frame for the next step.
I like leaving Create Subdirectory checked, and leaving the pipp_ added, it helps know which step of the process these came from.
Do Processing Tab
Just hit the “Start Processing” button! Then wait for it to finish. Afterwards, you can check the folder PIPP created, and you’ll see the top quality frames all the way down to the lowest. Let’s take these into Autostakkert.
Click Open and change file type to Image files. Go to the folder PIPP saved to and select all of the files and open them.
I leave all of the settings default for moon shots, then click Analyze. Be aware, this takes a few minutes based on computer speed.
Once it’s done you will see this screen with a graph. From here, you can pick the best quality frames using the graph.
To explain the graph, the vertical lines are percentages in 25% increments, and the horizontal line is the quality. Look for where the green graph line intersects the middle vertical, and pick frames to the left of that.
A Few Other Options
You can check RGB align if you want. It isn’t perfect but will help, and you can change the name if you want.
If your image is small, you can check Drizzle. When doing this, it will help sharpen the image some:
- This helps with larger DSLR chips zoomed in like this because of under sampling it does
- If the image moves a tad using the slider, this mimics dithering, which drizzle benefits from. However, if the image is already still, this won’t work.
As long as the above two conditions are met and you have over 800 frames to work with, drizzle should work fairly well. The choice between 1.5, 2.0, and 3.0x drizzle is yours, but I recommend playing around with each to find the one that works best.
Over in the preview window, we need to set the align point. Thousands aren’t needed, going with an option of 24 on an image like this will make your computer scream. The smaller the number, the more points that will be placed.
I use 104 for this, but base this on how small your image is and go ahead and click Place AP Grid.
After the points are set, go ahead and click 3) Stack. This might take a few minutes based on the number of frames and how large the image is. It will be saved in a new folder in the same folder as the pipp_ folder, titled with AS and the percentage of frames you chose to stack. Because I used 50% for this tutorial, the folder name is AS_50.
Now that the image is stacked, it more than likely still can appear blurry, but now we need to do a few tweaks. Let’s move into Registax.
Open your image, and select NO to the stretch pop up. When it first loads up, I check “show full image” to keep an eye on the whole thing.
Next we need a processing area preview. Check the box to show the processing area. Next click on a bright Moon feature based on the image you are working on. In my example, I use the Stevinus Crater.
You should see a box or a couple of white points.
RGB Balance and Stretching
On the right side menu, click on RGB Balance and then Auto balance. Then go ahead and close RGB Balance. Next, click on Histogram on the right.
Pull in the white a little bit then stretch. The processing area should get brighter. Repeat as necessary.
Watch the crater, we are looking to bring it in just before it blows out. If it does, reset and try again.
After you are fine with it, close the histogram window and click around the terminator to get some craters and shadows. On this step I also uncheck “show full image” to more clearly see what changes the sharpening step will produce.
Adjust the sliders on the left and watch the preview area sharpen up.
Don’t go overboard, and you can denoise to smooth it out a bit. Play around until it looks sharp but not over processed. Throughout the process, be sure to check and uncheck “Show Full Image” so you can see what the preview area looks like as a full image.
Once you are fine with that, click Do All and wait
If you are fine with the image, Click “Save Image” and save it in the main folder under a different name. If you’re not satisfied, you can always go back and try again. Once satisfied, on to the last program, Photoshop!
So in Photoshop, we’re only making minor tweaks. The first option we will do is open up Camera Raw Filter. You can open it by clicking Filter then Camera Raw Filter
In camera RAW filter, we’ll tweak all of the settings in the below picture.
Small tweaks. Large ones make it look over processed. Feel free to go down into color mixer and play with the colors, by again, only make small adjustments.
If you like mineral colors, you’ll want to just crank the Saturation, and slightly bump up the Vibrance.
Afterwards, hit OK to save those changes.
Last step is to smart sharpen. That is found under Filter then Sharpen then Smart Sharpen. This sharpening is personal preference, play with the sliders a little bit until features on the Moon look naturally sharp and not discolored from over sharpening.
From here, I am happy with it, but you can feel free to play around with it. If you are skilled with photoshop you can play around a little more and process more if you like, but this is the basics of processing a moon photo from video. Save it and we’re done!
Congratulations! You have completed an image of the Moon from a video file! If you used my practice file and post it anywhere, please do credit it back to me.
There are many objects in the night sky to take images of, and there’s a lot you can do to prepare to take those images. If you have not already, please check out my How to Add Your Gear to Stellarium guide.