M42 The Orion Nebula, revisited

If you have been reading since the beginning you know that my second target for AP, and really more of an afterthought at the time, was the Orion Nebula M42. I was not at all pleased with the image, too many problems to really even get started. Now, a few months later, I had some ideas on how to correct some of those issues.

M42 the Orion NebulaHere is my original image of the Orion Nebula for comparison:

Original image of Orion

  A little better image of M42 don’t you think? I started off with of course better focus, then added better tracking, and lastly applied a little of my daytime photography knowledge and tricks to it making an HDR image to deal with the really bright core vs very dim outer dust lanes.

In this one image are stacks of 5 second, 10 second, 15 seconds, 30 seconds, 45 seconds, 60 seconds, 120 seconds and finally 180 seconds images. Each stack is then combined using HDR Efex pro to create the composite and then stretched in Photoshop. That’s 90 lights, 20 darks and 20 bias all combined into this one image. Funny thing is Messier 42 is one of the brightest objects in the sky and can clearly be seen with the naked eye as a fuzzy patch in the sky at below Orion’s belt. Yet even for being this bright it is the hardest object I have shot to date with all this combining and processing.

If you want a little more comparison, check out the Messier 42 image shot by the Hubble Space Telescope. Obviously mine don’t even hold a candle to what the Hubble can do but it is very interesting to see the same details in both images and realize I gathered much of the same data with amateur gear. That is simply amazing. It also really makes me strive to see what else I can accomplish.

Thanks for looking at my Orion Nebula images!

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