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Last week I went about 40 minutes north of St. Louis to Pere Marquette state park with my family. We went out to watch the meteor shower, and I tried to set up to take some Milky Way shots.

I ran into two problems:

  1. At the time we were out, the best part of the Milky Way was in the same direction as St. Louis, so its light pollution can be seen as a band at the bottom of the image.

  2. There was a lit parking lot on the other side of the highway from where we were. The lights weren't close to us, but they still illuminated the building in the foreground of my image, giving it an orange cast.

Here are the camera settings I used on this image: f/2, 20 sec, ISO 400, Lumix G 20mm lens.

Here is the RAW image I captured (converted to JPG without any adjustments):

Unedited RAW version

Here is the best I could come up with making adjustments in Photoshop's Camera RAW plugin:

After adjustments

I am new to RAW and to astrophotography. I think I could have improved the image by using higher ISO, and going to a different location to escape the parking lot lights.

But can anyone suggest further enhancements I could make in Photoshop or Camera RAW to bring out the Milky Way better?

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Even though the light pollution is much worse near the horizon, being only a few miles from a major population center the size of St. Louis means there is still a significant amount of light pollution much higher in the sky. You really need a much darker sky to pull a lot of the dimmer elements of the Milky Way out of the background light level.

As far as the post processing end of it goes, the answers to How to have colors in Milky-way? cover that very well.

There are also quite a few online articles and video tutorials regarding post processing Milky Way photos. Some of my favorites include:

http://petapixel.com/2015/08/13/how-to-post-process-a-milky-way-photo-in-lightroom/
http://christophmalin.com/2013/01/the-color-of-the-milky-way/
http://www.vibrantshot.com/how-to-edit-the-milky-way-in-photoshop/
http://www.clarkvision.com/articles/night.photography.image.processing/
http://www.photopills.com/articles/how-shoot-truly-contagious-milky-way-pictures

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