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PixInsight: Automatic Background Extraction

We all end up with gradients in our images. Sure, flat-fielding (if you do it well) will take out the optical issues like vignetting, but skyglow gradients will still make it such that you’ll often really want an artificial flat. PixInsight has both an automatic tool and a manual tool for doing this. Here, I go over using the automatic one.

PixInsight: Preview Windows

The intensive processing done by PixInsight can take up a lot of CPU time and it’s really nice to be able to quickly see how things will look on a representative portion of the image. PixInsight lets you define any number of Preview images -- portions of your main image -- that you can use for this. This video shows how to make them.

PixInsight: Screen Transfer Functions

Your screen has only 8 bits of intensity resolution and your astro-images probably have 16. That’s 256 shades of intensity vs. 65536. Before actually stretching the data, it’s nice to see what’s inside there. PixInsight’s version of the “B” and “W” sliders in programs like Nebulosity is the Screen Transfer Function. It’s a lot more powerful that simple black and white points and it’s at least as nice as having a temporary adjustment layer in Photoshop. Here’s an introduction to them.

PixInsight Tutorials

PixInsight has recently been released for the Mac. While it’s not very Mac-ian in its look and feel (OK, it’s about as non-Mac as you can get), it’s an incredibly powerful program with a lot of high-end routines. It’s also got a built in programming language to let developers build their own tools, leveraging off of what it has built in. Who knows ... perhaps some day the UI will be more refined (keep in mind that OS X is really BSD Unix with a great UI riding on top). Until then, I’ve decided to put up some video tutorials to help others get over the initial hump in using PixInsight. As new tutorials get done, they’ll go up here with this blog entry serving as the master.

1) The Screen Transfer Function: 12/14/08 (click here).
2) Preview windows: 12/14/08 (click here)
3) Removing background gradients (vignetting) with the Automatic Background Extraction tool: 12/14/08 (click here).