Boosting the Milky Way Colour

Are you having difficulty in boosting up the colour of the Milky Way? Enhance the colour of the Milky Way can be tricky, especially if you are shooting at the location with a certain amount of Light Pollution.

Here’re some of the methods to enhance the orangish colour of the Milky Way core.

The first method is simply using the Brush tool to paint out the colour.

You add a Colour Balance Adjustment Layer and add more Yellow and Red to the photo.

However, this adjustment applies to the whole photo and causing the photo looked a bit purplish. We want to restrict it to only the core of the Milky Way using the Layer Mask. Click on the Layer Mask, with the Brush tool Foreground Colour is Black, press Alt + Del (Win) / Opt + Del (Mac) to fill the Layer Mask with Black Colour. With the Layer Mask selected, you pick the Brush tool, using White Colour as the Foreground Colour, Opacity at 15%, and paint on the areas as shown on the below photo.

Here’s the result after the masking. The colour of the Milky Way’s core is more orangish now.

This method is more common, but personally, I found out it is hard to achieve a natural result unless you are a very experienced Photoshop’s user. It required a good “painting” skill to achieve a smooth and natural result. People can often overdo it and cause “orangish colour spots” on the Milky Way, like the below photo.

Tip #1 You can play around with the Opacity of the Brush tool when painting on the Milky Way to achieve a smoother transition from edges to the centre.


The second method is what I would prefer. It has an additional step to use the RGB Channel to create a selection that restricts the colour to only the core of the Milky Way.

Go to the Channel window, go through the Red, Green and Blue channels to pick one that has the best selection in selecting only the Milky Way. Usually, the Red channel would be the one.

Ctrl + Click on the Red Channel to create a Selection. You will see the marching ants on the photo like the below example.

Now, create a Color Balance Adjustment Layer, the Selection will automatically apply to the Layer Mask. Then you apply the same colour adjustment by adding more Orange and Red to the photo.

If you want to restrict the adjustment further, you can move this Colour Balance layer into a Group folder. At the Group folder layer, add a Black Layer Mask and use the Brush Tool to paint the Milky Way.

Here’s the final result. 🙂

Tip #2 Even with the Selection that restricts the adjustment, adding too much colour can still produce an unnatural result. Don’t overdo it. 😉

That’s all for this article. if you are interested to learn more from me, you could check out my upcoming ONLINE ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP in below. 🙂

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Happy shooting!

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#enhance #star #galaxy #postprocessing #colour #editing #howto #milkyway #photoshop

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