Producing coloured moon images

The base for all our tutorials, be it how to polar align or master astro imaging

Moderators: hawk_eye1975, budgetastro, martin_h


This section is only for the posting of actual tutorials, either single post or multiple, to ask questions or comment on a tutorial, please use the TUTORIAL DISCUSSIONS section where you will find a topic titled for each topic posted here, it just helps stop the topics becoming convoluted and lets the tutorials flow properly. If you post a tutorial, please also post a topic into TUTORIAL DISCUSSIONS with the same title.


Producing coloured moon images

Postby geppetto » Sun Apr 17, 2011 10:28 pm

I've been trying various methods for producing coloured moon shots for over 6 years now and I've settled on this method as it gives consistently good results.

Ok, first off, 95% of getting a good result is in the taking of the initial shot.
You need to take the image in RAW mode as Jpegs are too noisy for this.
Second, you need a good image scale. I take moon shots with my Nikon D40 and my 8" Newt which gives a whole moon image which just fits into the camera's field of view.

As for camera settings, use as low an ISO as possible as noise is the enemy in this process.
An image with a nice solid exposure without clipping the whites is ideal.

Onto the tweaking

I'm using Photoshop Elements 6 on my Mac but this information applies to most variants of Photoshop as long as your camera's RAW files can be recognised.

Here we have a typical RAW image opened up in the RAW plugin screen of Elements

All the sliders are at their default settings apart from (lower right) the saturation slider which you can see, I have put at maximum

This is the most important stage as you are lifting the colour information but since you are working with a RAW image, you're not introducing lots of noise to the colour

As you can see, there is already a hint of colour on the moon image..


Next step is to pass the image from the RAW plugin to Phtoshop proper for the next stages and here it is.


Ok, first stage here is to do a couple of cosmetic tweaks to "lift" the image a little.
A touch of unsharp mask using a radius of around 3 is about right.
Using a lower radius would make the image start to become a little noisy.

Also at this stage, a slight tweak of levels to make the image a little more "contrasty"


Next stage is to go into the hue/saturation tools and lift the saturation to bring out the full glory of the colours.
Don't go mad here, subtlety is everything at this stage


Almost there...
This final tweaking stage involves a tweak of colour balance as the cameras white balance has an influence on the image's tint.
In this case the image was overall, a bit browny yellow.
Here you can see the results of influencing the tint by raising the blue in the mid tones.
Also, the image has had another "lift" using the contrast and brightness controls.


So that's pretty much it, a resize to post on the forum, a slim border and your good to go.

Here is the final image and you can see quite a large range of colours which I'm told are as a result of sunlight reflecting off different minerals present on the moon's surface.

What you will find is that "seeing" is all important as atmosphere, mist etc can filter out some of the colours. A nice high moon in a clear black sky is the ideal but as we know, that's getting a rare occurrence.

Hope this is of some help and shout if some of this waffle makes no sense :)


Hi, you are viewing as a guest, You can only see this first post in this topic. if you sign up you get access to other goodies you can't even see as a guest, including video tutorials on imaging and processing, scope modifications and even member discounts on gear!

So, give us a try, what have you got to lose! Oh, and if you stay, when you reach 50 posts you get access to MORE goodies! What are you waiting for!

User avatar
Planetary Nebula
Posts: 552
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2011 2:18 pm
Location: North Derbyshire


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest