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On March 4th of 2013, I posted an article titled “Shooting the Moon” in which I gave away the secret to the world of how to get detailed images of moon rather than just an elongated white blob. Since then I’ve had a student ask me why there were no stars in the image. I explained that the stars are there but because the moon is so large and bright it overwhelms the stars and they do not show up in the image, unless you bring them out and you have to understand Photoshop or whatever software you are using to make them visible again.
First you have to capture a good rock steady image of the full moon as explained in the earlier post. Then put your image into Photoshop and enlarge it so that your moon is as big as you want it on your canvas. Next go to “Image” then “Adjustments” and then “Levels” to brighten the moon. Once there take the gray slider and move it all the way over to left until it the moon is as bright as you would like it, don’t overdo it or you moon will look too bright.
Next click on the elliptical tool located below the move tool on the left side tool bar (or at least I have mine set up that way). Place the cursor just outside the moon out in “Space, The Final Frontier”. Press and hold the “Shift” key while you move the cursor across the surface of the moon to the other side creating a circle of “marching ants” outside the surface of the moon. Use you move tool if you need to center the moon in the middle of the marching ants circle.
Now go up to the “Select” tab at the top of the interface and scroll down and click on “Inverse” this will add a set of marching ants around you canvas as well. With the circle of marching ants you had the moon selected with the inverse selected and the marching ants around the canvas you have now selected “Space, The Final Frontier”. Next create a layer of this selection by pressing “Control J” (Windows or however in Mac).This layer should have a hole in it where the moon is on your background layer.
To brighten the stars, click on the “Image” tab then the “Adjustments” bar and then the “Levels”. Again take the gray slider and move it to the left until you are satisfied with the brightness of the stars.
The next steps in the process are going to be dependent upon the quality of your original image, but you have to be careful not to overdo the processing, as with all post capture processing less is better. That being said turn; the background layer off by clicking on its “eye” icon. Zoom in on a star to 800% so you can see the shape of the star better. Then click on the “Filters” Tab, then the “Blur” selection and finally on the lens blur option. When the filter adjustment screen appears, click on the “Advanced” check box. Then adjust the blur on the blur until the star is probably in the shape of an octagon with a soft edge.
Double click on the hand icon to in the tool bar to the left to view the two layers to fill the interface. If you are satisfied with the results, save the file as a PSD in case you want to go back later and make adjustments. Then flatten the image and save it as a high resolution JPG for printing and a low resolution JPG for screen savers or posting to social media.
Although it took me seven paragraphs to explain the process, the actual application and adjustments only take a few minutes and you will be amazed with the results and so will your friends and family.