Astrophotography, Featured, Photography

The Orion Constellation & Barnard’s Loop taken with a DSLR

January 8, 2019
Orion Constellation including the Orion Nebula and Bernard’s Loop

Photographer: Hunter Trahan

Image Details


Date Taken: 1/5/2019
Location: Pecan Island, Louisiana
ISO: 3200
Exposure: 1 Minute 20 Seconds (8 Composite Images)
Lens: 50mm 1.8
Camera: Nikon D750
Additional Details: Standard tripod with a 2 second interval shutter delay.

Post Editing

In Lightroom I made adjustments to the white balance and removed vignetting on all 8 images. Then I moved them into Photoshop and followed a guide by Lonely Speck for LRGB processing, and made adjustments for taste. I copied the composite image three times to make three different layers: A high contrast black and white Detail layer, a low contrast black and white luminance layer where you capture the Nebulocity, and finally a layer that contains all of the Color. I made adjustments to each of them separately to find the right balance between low noise, lush color, and nebulocity.

Finally I made some minor color corrections and vastly increased the vibrance and saturation.

Here are my three layers in the final image.

Detail Layer
Nebulocity Layer
Color Layer

This whole process took longer than a week tweaking it every night. It was a learning experience for me. Here is my first draft.

Orion Constellation including the Orion Nebula and Bernard’s Loop
Version 1 (first draft)

As you can see my first draft was pretty noisy compared to the current image.

Another part of the challenge was when I noticed my histogram was almost off the chart. I was too excited during the shoot and forgot to check it. I also only had 8 exposures instead of the 32 exposures I had hoped to stack. So I didn’t have nearly as much detail as I’d hoped to work with in this image but all considering I’m still really blown away by how it turned out. After struggling with clearing up the noise for a few hours, I think it’s pretty okay for one of my first astrophotography shots.

Taken 1/5/2019 with a 50mm 1.8 at 3200 ISO. 8 composite images for a total exposure time of 1 minute 20 seconds.

Here’s a low quality version of what the nebula would look like with a good pair of binoculars, more or less.

Orion Nebula
Orion Nebula

Music: Dusk To Dawn (Josh Leake)

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