Milky Way Shot - Advice / Recommendations for post processing?


I took this shot as a RAW file with a Nikon D850 using a Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art lens. I like the post processed image well enough but I feel like it is lacking the wow factor that we saw when we shot it. Seems like the highlights are more subtle than what the scene looked like. I’ve attached my RAW file and my darktable xmp file. Thanks in advance for any feedback

Both of these images are creative commons licensed.

DSC_6188.NEF (45.3 MB)
DSC_6188.NEF.xmp (21.7 KB)

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This is how I edited the image. I’m not into astrophotography therefore I cannot give recommendations. I liked the area around the center and played around with contrast and moved colors as I like.

DSC_6188.NEF.xmp (20.6 KB)

Nowadays a lot what Harry Durgin did, is obsolete with current darktable. And yet I recommend you to checkout his vids, I still use some (not all) of his skills.

That photo is a wow for me. Wish i had skies that clear were i am.

That’s a nice single-exposure. Is that twilight on the horizon?

Here’s my take with rawproc:

Being dark overall, I used a loggamma curve to lift it out of the left end, then a control-point curve to shape the tone. I took some liberties with the color, adding some aggressive saturation to bring out the subtle colors. Research astrophotography pulls invisible wavelengths into view as arbitrary colors, so I don’t feel too bad doing that… :laughing:

Access to a locale with truly dark skies is a treat; I’ve seen the Milky Way splayed out in the southern hemisphere sky from a vantage point in the middle of Australia, and it is simply glorious…

The light was a town about 20 miles away

Thanks for posting
darktable 4.0 (colors used for highlights and deep sky are purely “artistic” )

DSC_6188.NEF.xmp (21.0 KB)


That’s interesting you can resolve the Milky Way that well with the incursion of that much terrestrial light. Is that D850 magic? :laughing:

Partially, however even though we get a glow on the horizon from the lights, it is very very dark at this location

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This is my try… I’ve used Siril first, for some stretching and color correction. Then, ART, and finally Darktable.


Where did you capture this?

We have 46 Acres of land about 2 hours south west o Denver, CO. Near a small town called Guffey. The high point is at 9,000 feet so the views are spectacular day or night


Dang, that’s just about 20 miles south of Tarryall, where my kid and I boondock camp… Indeed, great views. Here’s from campsite, looking south toward Guffey:

Nice… Here is a shot from our high point


I have absolutely no experience editing astro photos, but really enjoyed trying it with this picture, thanks for sharing.

[EDIT]: I forgot to discuss the recommendations you have asked for. The only things I did (besides the crop) were to increase the local contrast of the milky way, increase its saturation, and try to find an overall balance for the colours. Really nothing special, but I’m sure others who do astrophotography will have better tips.

dt 4:

DSC_6188.NEF.xmp (14.0 KB)


Sorry I could not resist :slight_smile:

Congratulation to this perfect exposure!
I know I lose some of the milky way but needed to rotate a bit to what I think is right…

My take with current darktable 4.1.0+271~gb527bb63c

DSC_6188.NEF.xmp (41,4 KB)

Hope someone likes it :slight_smile:
(hmmmmm it always looks much nicer in dt than in firefox but don’t wanna overedit, sigh)

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