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  • Andrew JK Tan

Milkyway & Landscape experience at Cameron Highlands , Malaysia

Believe it or not , eventhough I am a Malaysian (and still one after all these years based in Singapore) , I have not visited Cameron Highlands , Genting Highlands yes but not Cameron Highlands

So when I was recently in Kuala Lumpur , I made a short 2 days 1 night trip to Cameron Highlands to do some milkyway and landscape photography with my Nikon D850 and DJI AIR drone.

I was very fortunate that the weather held up with no rain and skies clearing up after midnight. There was also the presense of mist and if it behaved itself , there was good potential of capturing unique landscapes with the milkyway which was the main goal of this trip.

Hardware used

Nikon D850

Nikkor 16mm f2.8 fisheye

JPEG FINE* (for milkyway shots)

RAW (for sunrise shot)

Tripod setup

DJI AIR portable drone

12MP resolution

DNG format

Image Highlights

Sunrise over BOH Tea plantation during Sunrise

DJI AIR , DNG format , ISO100 , 1/1000s , f2.8

This image was a photomerge of 2 sequential captures made by the drone so that I could show more of the landscape. Did this by rotating the drone slightly to get a 60% overlap with the previous capture to ensure a smoothly stitched final image.

Sunrise scene from the BOH Tea plantation lookout point

Nikon D850 , ISO200 , 1/25s to 1/250s , f9.0 , RAW , Tripod setup

Final image is digital blend from 2 bracketted captures for sky details.

Milkyway Highlights & Insights

ISO3200 , f3.5 to f4.5 , 15 seconds , JPEG FINE* , Tripod setup

ALL the milkyway landscape captures are SINGLE captures , no blending from multiple captures involved in producing the final images.

Light painting using my iPhone 6+ light for the images with lighted foreground.

In this image , you can see that I decided to include fellow photographers who were busy light painting the farmhouse to get a different perspective of the scene and also to minimise crowding upfront. So always be patient and look for opportunities to create slightly different shots.

Adding a prop like the light beam from a torch , can create unique images just like this one below.

The image below was captured from the exact same spot as the the image above. Zooming in to recompose will help add variety to images captured. I was using a 16mm f2.8 fisheye which of course can't zoom so to get the zoom effect I actually changed the sensor area mode of my Nikon D850 to DX mode to get closer to a 24mm focal length angle of view.

Using silhouettes to add interesting foreground is a good idea as there are many ocassions when light painting with a torch may bot be possible due to the distance , the silhouette profile should be interesting , have well defined shapes with the individual elements not overlapping like in the images shared here.

Another example where light painting technique was used.

Another example where the prop creating the foreground is one of our transports with the interior lighted.

Closing Remarks

One tip for Nikon D850 users is to be brave and use the JPEG FINE* with High ISO noise reduction set to Normal for Milkyway captures. The Nikon D850 JPEG FINE* with the in-camera noise reduction is so good that I do not find using RAW benefical to my workflow. The gain in details while using RAW and sharpness is so minimal for a milkyway capture.

The gain I get from the in-camera noise reduction at ISO3200 which is the ISO I normally default to for capturing milkyway far outweighs the advantages I get from RAW. The dynamic range from the D850's JPEG FINE* is more than capable to retrieve details from shadow areas.

So try using JPEG FINE* for milkyway captures with in-camera noise reduction turned on and see if you like it and suits your workflow and expectations.

So till my next blog. Take good care of yourself.



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