Software for Night Photography
There are many computer software programs that can help you plan a photo shoot at night or process your images on the computer. I describe some of my favorites below. Since there are a lot of programs listed, I've placed an asterisk next to the ones that I find the most useful for night photography.


Photoshop / Lightroom
Photoshop & Lightroom*
These software programs are essential if you want to get the most out of the images you've captured.
Tony Kuyper's Luminosity Masks for Photoshop*
These masks can be extremely useful for processing images in Photoshop. Tony tells you how to create some of them yourself, but also sells actions and panels at a very reasonable price that will automate everything for you.
David Kingham's Lightroom Presets*
If you prefer to do most of your processing in Lightroom, David's presets can be very helpful when working on night photos.


Planning Shots
Google Earth*
This free program has incredibly detailed maps created from satellite images that can help you plan your shooting locations and previsualize your images.
Stellarium*
Stellarium is a remarkable software program that shows exactly how the night sky will appear from any location around the world at any date and time you choose. .
The Photographer's Ephemeris*
TPE is another free program that shows the moon phase for any given day and also shows the times and angles of moonrise, moonset, sunrise, and sunset.


Stitching Software
Microsoft Image Composite Editor (ICE)*
This is a remarkably good program for stitching images that is avialble free of charge for non-commercial use. It is not compatible with Macs.
Hugin
This is another very good free stitching program that is compatible with both PCs and Macs. It can, however, be a lot slower than Microsoft ICE.
Auto Pano Pro
This may be the best program for stitching images, but it does cost quite a bit. If the free programs or Photoshop don't work for your image, you can use the free trial that creates watermarked images and purchase it if it works for you.
PTGui
This is another stitching program you have to purchase. Again, you can use the trial version if the free programs aren't working for you.


Star Trail Programs
Floris Van Breugel's Star Trail Stacker*
Floris's free script is the one I use to create star trails from multiple shorter exposures on a digital camera. It doesn't create very noticeable gaps in the trails and you can leave the layers intact to later shorten the trails or create special effects.
StarTrails.exe
This is a free program that creates star trails that are very similar to those from Floris's script. It may be a bit easier to use, but it doesn't allow you to keep the layers intact.
StarStaX
This is a very good free program that can create a comet-like effect for you rather than doing it manually after running Floris's script. I find the images produced to be slightly inferior in quality, but otherwise this is a really good program.
Advanced Stacker PLUS
This is a paid Photoshop actions set that allows you to do a large number of special effects with star trails, beyond just comet-like trails. However, it does leave noticeable gaps in the star trails and therefore may only for displaying small images on the web, not for images you want to print.
Sam Waguila's StarTrail Stacker
This is a free script that allows you to do a fair number of special effects with star trails. But like the Advanced Stacker, it leaves noticeable gaps in the trails.


Star Spikes
Star Spikes Pro*
This is a good program that allows you create spikes of light around stars. It can also enlarge star size if you make a large number of very short spikes. It's not compatible with Macs.
Astronomy Tools Actions Set
This is a stripped-down version of Star Spikes Pro that is compatible with Macs and is less expensive.


Sharpening & Noise Reduction
PhotoKit Sharpener*
This is the program I like to use for final sharpening of all of my images, whether it be for the web or for large prints.
Nik Collection
This collection is used to cost $150, but is now free! The programs for sharpening images and for noise reduction can be especially useful for night photography. However, I do find PhotoKit Sharpener and Topaz DeNoise a lit bit better for these tasks. Those two programs, however, cost more than all seven programs you get here. Other programs in this package help you convert images in black & white, create different color effects, and produce HDR images.
Topaz DeNoise*
This is the best program I've found for reducing noise in night photos. It does a remarkable job of reducing noise while keeping the details in the image intact.


Miscellaneous
Tiffen Deep Sky Stacker
This free program can help automate the task of combine multiple exposures taken on an equatorial mount (or tracker). You can view three trackers that work with DSLRs in the Tripods section.
Helicon Focus
This program can combine images taken with multiple focus points to create one image with everything in focus. It works very well with daytime shots, though it can be more difficult to automate this with nighttime shots due to some of the noise in the images. I personally haven't tried this with nighttime shots, as manually focus stacking the images is not too difficult for those proficient in Photoshop.
Magic Lantern
This is software you can install on your memory card that adds a lot of features to Canon EOS cameras. The most useful feature it adds for night photograph is an interval time, which you can use instead of attaching an intervalometer.


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