Noise-Free Astrophotography with Starry Landscape Stacker

Accessible astrophotography tools keep getting better and better. Here, I review and walkthrough of my new favorite piece of software for processing astrophotography: Starry Landscape Stacker.

In the video below, I walk through my entire process for combining multiple exposures into a single noise-free photograph of the night sky using Starry Landscape Stacker. Download Starry Landscape Stacker at the Mac App Store.

This video was shot on:
Sony a7S (B&H)
Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 (B&H)
Sony Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 (B&H)
Sirui T-025X Tripod (B&H)
Rode Video Micro (B&H)


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17 Replies to “Noise-Free Astrophotography with Starry Landscape Stacker”

  1. Great tutorial as always Ian.

    I really appreciate the effort you make in sharing your knowledge with amateurs like myself.

    I have now reached the stage where I would like to include people or a self-portrait in the foreground when doing a landscape stack.

    I have seen examples using Photoshop where the foreground and background are stacked separately (using different ISO/Exp/Focus) then blended together. I have tried repeatedly to do this but have failed to blend the images together.

    From what little detail I have gathered I would need to first take multiple frames of the background and stack/process them just like in your tutorials. Emphasis on bringing out the full detail of the milky way.

    Then I would take a single frame of the foreground at a lower ISO/Exposure, refocus the lens on the foreground (not the milky way background). If necessary I would use a light source to bring out more detail of the foreground and the people within frame (light painting?).

    Then blend the foreground and background together for the final image.

    Have you had any experience using this method?

    Any chance you can make a short tutorial on this method or do you suggest another method that can include human subjects in the foreground?

    Many thanks


    1. I messaged with the develop and he has no plans to develop for windows. Some other Lonely Speck readers have mentioned Sequator as being another viable option for landscape astrophotography.

  2. So if you are doing a time lapse to photograph your sequence, do you turn in camera noise reduction off to shorten the time between exposures? Excellent tutorial and I recently purchased SLS as well but only used it on 4 frames. I purchased your PureNight filter and looking forward to using here in FL in a couple of weeks if the weather cooperates.

    1. Yes, I rarely, if ever, use the in-camera long exposure noise reduction. If I’m concerned about fixed pattern noise, I may turn it on or record some dark frames. For a time-lapse I always turn it off so that I can record as many frames as possible with minimal time between exposures. I hope you enjoy the PureNight!

  3. Ian,

    Great video, will definitely check out Starry Landscape Stacker. I think the best part of the program is the auto-detect of the sky vs. foreground which I find a bit cumbersome and time-consuming when editing in photoshop.

    On a slightly related note, do you find the infinity mark on the OLED display on the Batis to have critical focus on stars, or do you have to back off a bit? I moved from the Rokinon 12 f/2 to the Sony 28 f/2 and I’m finding it frustrating to monkey with the focus. I’d love the convenience of a hard stop on a manual lens, and the OLED display on the Batis seems like it could help to do that, while retaining AF.

    Also, now that y’all are in Chi-town, consider taking a weekend to Minnesota’s North Shore for some astrophotography. The skies get real dark starting about a half hour north of Duluth. Also, if the KP levels get high enough you can see the aurora as well. Just something to consider.

    Thanks again for the videos!


    1. My Batis 18mm is accurate with the OLED focus. I usually set it right as it transitions from 15m>infinity and that seems to coincide well with my SharpStar2, too. That said, my lens is only one copy. I don’t know if Zeiss makes sure all the lenses are well calibrated for manual focus markings but for the price I would expect them to be so. Thanks for the tips! I’m definitely down for exploring some spots close to Chicago.

  4. As always, your tutorials are the bomb! You planning on some solar/eclipse tips for Aug 21st?

    A small question: Why 19 frames? How would you determine where the noise reduction returns are diminishing? To put it another way, to halve your noise do you double your frames? Quadruple?


    1. I have no hard plans for the solar eclipse but I’d like to shoot some landscapes when it occurs.

      19 frames was a little arbitrary. I just let a timelapse run for roughly 16 frames (my usual minimum for a stack) but I guess I let it overrun. I did a few more shots during the timelapse where I removed my PureNight filter but I did not like the unfiltered exposures as much. It’s proportional to the inverse square root of the number of frames so in order to halve the noise, you need to quadruple the frames. so 4 frames gets you 1/2 the noise 16 frames = 1/4 the noise, 64 frames = 1/8 the noise. Obviously 64 frames is a lot so about 16-32 frames tends to be a good happy medium.

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