Fix a distorted meteor in a photo

New Here ,
Aug 02, 2022 Aug 02, 2022

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I took a long exposure photo on the weekend of a meteor falling almost vertically.  Unfortunately, in the photo, the meteor appears distorted/twisted.  On zooming, it appears that as the light from meteor painted onto the sensor, it did so such that over the length of the meteor object,  a few pixels were illuminated vertically and then stepped a pixel to the left, painted vertically for a few pixels, stepped a pixel to the left and so on until the meteor burned out.  I can see this in the playback on my camera which is why I know it was the camera that was at "fault" in this case.

The meteor also has a little colour bleed from surrounding pixels which I've been able to fix using a solid colour fill mask but I can't find/think of a way to smooth out the near vertical line so that it appears realistic.

So far I've tried various blur types but these don't seem to have the effect of smoothing out the straight line.

Any help/ideas would be greatly appreciated.

 

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Adobe Community Professional , Aug 02, 2022 Aug 02, 2022

I'm not sure there's a lot you can do. It's simply a consequence of the relatively low pixel resolution. At some point it needs to jump from one pixel row to the next.

The orange line I painted over your original shows the same thing. The blue line was painted with the pencil tool, with absolutely no anti-aliasing whatsoever:

anti-alias.png

 

To quote from the Photoshop help files about anti-aliasing: "Aliasing is the visual stair-stepping of edges that occurs in an image when the resolution is too low. Anti-

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 02, 2022 Aug 02, 2022

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I'm not sure there's a lot you can do. It's simply a consequence of the relatively low pixel resolution. At some point it needs to jump from one pixel row to the next.

The orange line I painted over your original shows the same thing. The blue line was painted with the pencil tool, with absolutely no anti-aliasing whatsoever:

anti-alias.png

 

To quote from the Photoshop help files about anti-aliasing: "Aliasing is the visual stair-stepping of edges that occurs in an image when the resolution is too low. Anti-aliasing is the smoothing of jagged edges in digital images by averaging the colors of the pixels at a boundary"

 

You can try the smudge tool at 2 or 3 pixel width (carefully!) and make sure you drag in exactly the direction of the meteor trail. But it will be hard to avoid affecting the stars it crosses.

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New Here ,
Aug 02, 2022 Aug 02, 2022

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Thank you for your explanation.  Appreciate the time and effort.  I now have a much better appreciation of what can/can't be done if I don't  get it right in camera.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 02, 2022 Aug 02, 2022

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There isn't much you can do. Your exposure was too long which is why the star trails are there, and you used a low-resolution camera apparently. What camera do you have?

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New Here ,
Aug 02, 2022 Aug 02, 2022

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Thanks for your reply.  Unfortunately, conditions weren't ideal. I had a very dirty skyline to work with (burnoffs in the area) and heavy dew.  For info, I was using a Fujifilm X-T4 with XF16-55mm F2.8 RM LR lens.  Shot at 16mm and F2.8, iso 3200, 15s exposure.  The point of the exercise was to capture meteors from the Delta Aquariids shower hence the long exposure time.  Other meteors I captured were all great and acceptably sharp given the conditions.  None of them were as close to the horizontal or vertical plane though so didn't suffer aliasing like this one.  Oh well, better luck next time as they say.  Thanks again for the reply.  

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