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Book Reviews


Photoshop Astronomy (Second Edition)

Author: R Scott Ireland

Publisher: Willmann-Bell

ISBN: 978-0-94339-6859

Price: £47.75 (Pb) 270pp (with DVD)



Ask any modern astro-imager which program they use to process their images and there’s a very good chance that the answer will be Adobe Photoshop. It’s been the mainstay of professional photographers for over twenty years and has gone through several major transformations in that time. I remember my first version of the program, obtained way back in about 1992 (and supplied on several floppy disks!). Even then, it had quickly become the tool of choice for applying the final image processing stages for the new field of CCD imaging. Although not designed for astronomy it proved to be a capable tool for combining and processing colour images as well as offering several powerful filters such as ‘Unsharp Mask’ and a very-welcome ‘Clone Tool’ for removing those annoying artefacts that can blight our best images.

However, as popular as the program was with amateur astro-imagers there was a notable lack of books available to guide the novice through the minefield of image processing techniques. In 2007 the first edition of R Scott Ireland’s Photoshop Astronomy was published and it offered a comprehensive guide to applying Photoshop to astronomical data. Since then Photoshop has evolved, as have the techniques used by imagers, so recently the book has been updated and enlarged. As with the first edition, the author has included a DVD with many TIFF and PSD images that can be used to practice the tutorials. It’s extremely comprehensive and includes many monochrome pictures and screen-shots to help with the explanations. There’s detailed information on the ‘Levels and Curves’ tools, histogram manipulation, RGB and LRGB combination and processing, layers, creating composites and mosaics, star repair and noise reduction, and repairing images blighted by light pollution.

The book will require a lot of effort from the reader as there’s a huge amount of information and some of the procedures are quite lengthy and complicated, requiring many steps, but the end result will be very worthwhile. The author is to be congratulated on providing a very useful and well-written guide to modern image processing techniques with Photoshop and this book should be on the shelf of every serious astro-imager.

The review copy of Photoshop Astronomy was supplied by and is available from SCS Astro.

Nik Szymanek

 

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This 132-page special edition features the ultimate observing guide for 2009, a review of all the biggest news stories of 2008, in depth articles covering all aspects of astronomy and space missions for 2009, previews of International Year of Astronomy events and much, much more.
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This new poster features some of the best pictures from NASA's amazing Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity.
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