Removing Light Pollution

Well possibly reducing Light Pollution is more accurate.
Generally the best night sky photos are taken in “dark” locations, hundreds of miles from the closest city lights. All light pollution is not man made. A full moon does a real good job making star or Milky Way photos difficult! So it is not always possible to avoid light pollution, but by using post processing techniques in Light Room, the pollution can be reduced. Below is the out of camera photo taken from my home overlooking Silicon Valley. The exposure was 30 sec, f2.8, ISO 2000. The lens was set to 14mm. The image was taken at 9:10pm, well after dark. Silicon Valley is to the right of this shot and as you can see, anything exposed to it is well lite up, including the sky.
All of the post processing was done in Light Room 4. Here are the steps more or less in the order I used:

  • Slam the contrast to 100%
  • In the HSL panel using the Luminance adjust tool (little “target” on the top left of the Luminance panel), I placed the mouse over the most colored part of the sky and drug the curser down. In this case it pulled the Red to -84 and the Orange to -100. I then repeated this action in the Hue Panel, pushing up this time. The Hue I seemed to like was Red +23 and Orange +33.
  • Added a little Luminance Noise Reduction (48) and Color Noise Reduction (55).
  • Added a little Sharpening (54)
  • Checked Enable Profile Corrections in the Lens Corrections panel and also under the color tab checked Remove Chromatic Aberration.
  • Then back up to Presence and Slammed Clarity to 100
  • Dropped Vibrance until I liked the result. (in this case -67)
  • Upped the Saturation a bit until I liked it. (in this case +19)
  • In Tone Curve panel, I dropped the Lights until I liked it (-61) and Darks to -13.
  • Then I adjusted the Exposure up. In this case to +1.19.

That is it! In some cases I think the order is important, but you can try it yourself to see what works for you.