Capturing the image is only the beginning.

Editing your photos can bring out details and colors you might not see straight out of the camera. For some time travelers, this can be a chore. For others, it’s a way to show off your artistic skills and create something truly unique.

First, import your photo into software like Darktable or GIMP. If your camera takes RAW format images, you’ll definitely want to use Darktable. Whatever your tool, start with basic adjustments like exposure, contrast, and white balance.

For more advanced work, you might want to consider Siril. This software can remove a some of the light pollution, reduce color banding gradients, and adjust the exposure more accurately to make stars really stand out. Play with the color balance and saturation to get the right color tone. Go cooler for a more natural look or warmer for artistic flair.

Next, reduce noise. High ISO settings can introduce noise, but tools in Darktable, GIMP, or Siril can help smooth it out without losing detail.

Use curves to enhance the midtones and bring out more detail in the Milky Way or star trails. Don’t overdo it—subtle adjustments can make a big difference.

Finally, add some finishing touches like sharpening and vignetting to draw the viewer’s eye to the center of your image. Don’t be afraid to crop a bit to get rid of things at the edge of your picture, and to make it more visually appealing.

And there you have it! Post-processing can transform your astrophotos from good to stunning. In our next episode, we’ll share some advanced techniques and tips. Until then, clear skies, happy shooting, and I’ll see you…in the dark!