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Sometimes, when you're at it processing an image with certain goals in mind, in order to solve a particular problem, you make the wrong decision or take the wrong step. Often, the smart thing to do is to back off and try again. Some other times, you move forward and "hammer" the image again and again, as if one bad processing decision could be fixed by another one. This may work sometimes, but if you're not careful, you end up overcooking your image.
This is one of such images :-)
Captured last October at Lake San Antonio (California) during the first couple of darkness hours over 4 the nights I spent camping there during Calstar, it's a 2x2 mosaic of the area around the Iris nebula in Cepheus.
The biggest challenge here wasn't so much to reveal the molecular clouds, not nearly as evasive as high galactic cirrus, but to do so with a "foreground" swarm of stars. Although I think I managed to successfully keep the stars from overwhelming the scene, I feel the dusty structures are a bit too much "in your face". You can see them, but can you "feel" them? Frame adaptation was also challenging, despite all frames were captured under similar, fairly dark skies (only the 1st night wasn't as good, but I retook that data on the 4th night, so that doesn't count).
In any case, it otherwise is a gorgeous field.
The nice touch was perhaps the red arch on the right area of the image, identified as SH2 133, which certainly adds a nice touch to the scene, otherwise dominated by dusty molecular clouds. The Ha also seems to extend further from the clearly visible arch, as if it was cradling 6 Cephei, the bright blue star on the left of the arch that also seems to illuminate some reflective dust around it.
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DATEOctober 7th, 2010
PHOTOExposure: 2x2 mosaic. Each frame is L: 6 x 10', RGB: 6x5' each,
Total: 10 hours
Focal: 385mm, f/3.6
Imaging Scope: FSQ 106 EDX w/Reducer
Guide Camera: StarShoot Autoguider
SITE & CONDITIONSLake San Antonio, California
SOFTWARE Processing: PixInsight & Photoshop