I have reviewed and used many astrophotography processing books on the subjects of various techniques from planetary imaging to deep sky imaging. One of notes include the excellent ‘Learn from the Masters’ and the excellent Photoshop book ‘Photoshop Astronomy’. But you do have to be careful with this type of book that you don’t start it and then never actually work through the whole book. This book and many other processing books can’t be picked up one day and left for a month and then started again. It’s repetition that will get the processing skills and workflow lodged into your brain. Plus you need to be processing images regularly otherwise like me you may find you forget all those brilliant Photoshop skills you once learnt.
I am not a user of the full version of PixInsight (which does cost around £200) but I have tried the LE version which is free. I do my processing in MaximDL and then in Photoshop for deep sky images that is. Planetary, Lunar or Solar imaging is done in AutoStakkert and Registax then maybe Photoshop.
Inside PixInsight is split into 4 parts, each part contains on average 6 chapters. There are 25 chapters in total in the book which is spread over 350+ pages. This book is jam packed there are no appendices fillers in this book!
The five parts are: Preprocessing, Linear Post Processing, Nonlinear Post Processing and Special Processing.
Pre-Processing is all about calibrating and aligning your individual image frames. This section takes you through doing this and telling PixInsight where to locate your light frames, dark frames and flat frames etc. There is information on using Master Darks in PixInsight as well as Dithering, star alignment and more. There are details on using reference images and how to perform batch pre-processing within PixInsight.
Linear Post-Processing is where we get into background models and dealing with uneven field illumination. There is also a chapter on using Masks and a chapter on Deconvolution. To finish off this section there is a chapter on color processing and noise reduction if you use a colour camera.
Non-linear Post Processing
In Non-linear Post Processing we look at stretching, combining our LRGB frames. We also take a look back at the various toolbars and menus and then work on nonlinear noise reduction, HDR (High Dynamic Range) compression together with working on the images contrast and sharpness. There are then a couple of chapters about finishing up such as looking at color saturation, some transformations and painting. Finally there is a chapter on archiving, saving your work in different formats and how to print.
Chapter 21 is a workflow chapter that takes you through processing an image with a mono or colour camera.
The Special Processing section specialises in comet techniques, HDR, drizzle, multi-scale images, narrowband processing and workflows. There is then a chapter on mosaic processing.
Overall Thoughts on Inside PixInsight
At the end of the book are some really nice deep sky images that have been processed in PixInsight.
Inside PixInsight contains a mixture of colour and black and white images. The screenshot are mainly in B&W which is fine as they really don’t matter too much. There are enough images to stop you getting lost.
From what I have read and followed through the book it seems a good book to stick at and work through if you really want to conquer PixInsight. Plus it’s nice to read a paperback as opposed to staring at a screen all the time, but more often than not I imagine you will have the book open in one hand and the other hand will be on the mouse whilst using PixInsight.
I think you need to read this book, follow online tutorials and watch some YouTube videos and practice, practice, practice in order to be become a seasoned user. I can recommend using ‘Inside Pixsight’ as one part of your arsenal.
Where can I buy the Inside PixInsight book?
You can buy Inside PixInsight from Amazon UK