How to Reduce Noise in Astrophotography Using Photoshop

Using a high ISO setting to capture starry skies is a pretty common practice when shooting astrophotography, though such an ISO setting can result in a fair amount of noise in your image. This tutorial takes you through several processes in Photoshop to reduce the amount of noise in your final image.

Of course, there are several different software options out there for removing noise from images and still other applications that are designed specifically for processing night sky images. But if you're like me, having the ability to use multiple tools that already exist within Photoshop to accomplish the same result is preferable. Everyone has their own methodology for handling the post-production of their images, but I have found it to be helpful to continually check out ways that other photographers go about editing their shots. 

Even though I've been processing my own Milky Way shots for years, I still learned some new things from this video by Justin Majeczky. Especially with programs like Adobe Photoshop, where there are constantly updates to the software that result in new tools and capabilities, there are always new and improved ways to go about handling your images for even better results than what was possible before. So, check it out, you might just add a new tool to your library of post-production capabilities.

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Robert Nurse's picture

I'm planning a trip to shoot the Milky Way. There's a part of the video that I didn't understand. Are the multiple images all shot at the same exposure? If so, why?

klip knap's picture

I was wondering too, but mainly because taking several long exposure photos, will inevitably cause shifts in the position of the stars, but I guess that’s why he auto aligns the stars.

Alex Kartashov's picture

This technique relies on averaging out the differences (after aligning the layers). The same shot with the same exposure would still have a different noise pattern, and the mean algorithm averages them out.

However, if you'll have different exposures, now the algorithm wants to average out something that it thinks is different, when it isn't. So the more you leave the same, the more you have to work with.

This works the same to remove people from busy places, shoot lots of stationary photos, run through median, people gone.

Rex Jones's picture

I couldn't have said it better than what Alex said. It's all about using the exact same shot (with different noise patterns) to cancel the noise out of each other, leaving you a cleaner final shot.