Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Troy's Astro Actions

NGC6334 Cat's Paw Nebula starless

I find Photoshop Actions extremely useful while processing astro-images. Noel Carboni's Astronomy Tools are a wonderful set. Rather than rewriting actions that do the same thing, my idea is to supplement them.

Shamelessly titled "Troy's Astro Actions", here is a list of each action and what it does. Each is non-destructive, ie will not alter the starting image. Just highlight the layer you want to apply the action on. It can't be an adjustment layer. Oh yeah, they're free as in beer.

Threshold Crop: After stacking there is inevitably some mess around the edges from where each frame didn't quite line up with the others. I found using threshold a convenient way to highlight where these misalignments are for cropping. When running the action it will pause to allow you to adjust the threshold. Use the slider to find a point where the misalignments are clear, then click OK.


Next a crop window will appear for you to adjust, then click Enter.


BIG S T R E T C H: I use this curves adjustment when the histogram needs a lot of stretching from the dark end. The action merges as a layer on top. If it's too much of a stretch, just manually adjust the curves or delete the adjustment layer.


Small Stretch: Similar to the big stretch, but smaller. More subtle.

Separate Stars and Sky: Removes the stars in one layer called "starless", and puts the stars into another layer called "stars". I'm very proud of the clever layer naming system adopted. The stars layer will be mostly black and the stars, and the layer blending mode will be linear dodge (add). I've found that to give the best results. I have written a more detailed post on this action and will be posting it soon.

Just Remove the Stars: Similar to the above, but doesn't add the stars layer.

Median Noise Filter: This is a very quick and simple, not perfect, noise reduction action. It doesn't treat chromatic noise, just lightens dark pixels.

Grain Reduction: This is a modified version of the technique explained in R. Scott Ireland's excellent book "Photoshop Astronomy". After using this action, might be best to adjust the opacity down a little.

Download Troy's Astro Actions v0.9.2 last updated 4/12/10


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Hi Troy,

    Are your actions still available for download? The link above doesn't seem to be working for me...


  3. G'day Graham,

    Sorry. The server that the file was on has gone down. I'll update this page and send you the file.

  4. Hello Troy,

    this seems a nice set of actions. However, download does not work - the piggo site ist not reachable.


  5. Hi everyone. Apologies about the link not working. I have just uploaded the actions to Google Docs to host the file. Link above updated, or you can click here.

  6. Thanks for these

  7. I downloaded your action's Trot but I can't figure out how to install them into CS5. Could you enlight me please?

    1. Hi there. Rather than retyping out a procedure, check out this link. Let me know if you still can't get it installed, and whether you're on Windows or Mac.

  8. Hi Troy.
    I can't get this installed on either of my Photoshop CS2, or CS6 extended. Does your plug in work for Windows x32, or x64 bit versions or both?

    1. I would have been using it on 32bit CS4 from memory. Haven't used it for ages - since 2012 I've been using PixInsight exclusively, don't even have PS installed. Sorry can't be more helpful, but I just can't test it at this end. Have you successfully installed other actions before? Just trying to narrow down if the issue is all actions, or just these?

    2. Is there any tutorials on how to use the actions?

    3. G'day mate. No tutorials other than the post above. As I've said, I no longer use Photoshop, these actions are no longer being updated. I've just kept them here because I know some people have found them useful. I was hoping the above and the actions themselves are pretty self-explanatory. To be honest, I'm finding PixInsight much better for astro-image processing.

  9. I have installed a few other plug-ins, both 32 and 64 bit. But, there are a lot of astro imaging plug-ins that are not working for me. I have CS6 Extended which don't have its own plug-ins folder, and CS2 that just don't seem to use any many newer plug-ins. Thank you for what help you can offer. I'm new to astrophotography, and taking a college course for it.