Editing “Cosmic Cliffs” photo from the James Webb Space Telescope.
The James Web Space Telescope(JWST) is the most exciting space project for this year. It’s hard to pull off and many things could go wrong and waste $10 billion for nothing. The photos from it are holy shit and the most impressive photo from JWST to me is the “cosmic cliffs”. A giant nebula that looks like a mountain. While the photo from NASA is stunning, the detail when I zoom in is sparkling. I think I could make it better, make it more to my taste. I want it to amazing without needing to zoom in. I want it to look good on my screens from 3 meters away. I decide to edit the cosmic cliff.
I know the photo from JWST was taken from the infrared light. None of the colors in the photo is real. It was just an interpretation of colors. NASA did a great job mapping the colors and removing the artifacts. I could use the photo from NASA as a source instead of color grading and merging photo from all wavelengths by myself. I can just download the TIFF file from NASA from this link: https://webbtelescope.org/contents/media/images/2022/031/01G77PKB8NKR7S8Z6HBXMYATGJ?news=true
I imported it to Adobe Lightroom and begin the adjustment as follows:
- I want the cliff to have more volume in it, adding the global contrast would help and there are 2 ways to increase contrast in lightroom. One is using the contrast slider to the right but I will increase the color saturation in the process to the already over-saturated photo. Another way is to use the shadow and black slider and slide it to the darker side. This gives me fine control. I also lower the contrast slider to give more detail while the black and dark adjustment gives contrast.
- I want the start to bright and more sparking in the darker areas so I push the highlight a bit.
- The color from the source is a bit too yellowish. Since I don't have to conform to the scientific interpretation, I can shift the color to whatever I like. Basically, I shifted the yellow hue to the red wine color and leave the vibrance and saturation untouched.
I think I did a good job to edit the image to please myself. While it sacrifices some detail, the darker area will make it feel more mysterious. The dominant colors are red and blue more like the American theme. I name it “Red Cosmic Cliffs”(Not directed by John Woo). It would be my wallpaper for a while. My next step is to process the photo from each individual wavelength image captured by JWST.
The high-res Red Cosmic Cliffs can download from:
Update: I re-process the image from the source and came up with the new color as below. It can download from the same link above.