Sunrise at Dead Horse Point State Park

Sunrise From Dead Horse Point

This is a shot I've been dreaming of for at least a year now, the amazing view from Dead Horse Point State Park into the canyons of Utah with a colorful sunrise, and I was incredibly lucky to get it on my first try. Dead Horse Point is next to Canyonlands National Park, near Moab and Arches National Park. It's a very busy area so get to your spots early!

I shot this with my Nikon D810 and the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, set at 24mm, f/11, ISO 64 and 1.3 seconds. I had the lens at eye level and the camera was titled down, which meant there was some distortion in the shot, so in Lightroom I used the transform tools to rotate and vertically warp the image a little bit to get rid of some of the warp and level the horizon. After prepping the image in Lightroom I used Photoshop to make final edits.

Quick Tip: Make Your Milky Way Photos Glow

Are you ready to take your Milky Way photos to the next level? Check out a few of my favorite methods for making the Milky Way pop and glow! Here's a simple glow effect you can try in Photoshop:

1) Add a levels adjustment layer to the top of your layer stack.
2) Set the blend mode of that adjustment layer to Overlay.
3) Adjust the levels sliders to taste, shoot for a look where most of the sky is dark but the Milky Way is very bright. It should look harsh and weird at this point, but that's ok!
4) Merge all the visible layers to a new layer, keeping the rest of your layers in tact.
5) Disable or remove the levels adjustment layer created in step 2.
6) Apply a Gaussian Blur to the new merge visible layer, try a radius of somewhere between 20 - 40 pixels or higher, it should look soft and blurry but not so blurry that that you can't even recognize the Milky Way anymore.
7) Change the blend mode of the blurred layer to Soft Light and adjust the opacity of that layer to taste.
8) Your image should now have a lot more contrast and a soft glow! Mask out the foreground and stars as needed if they are being effected too much.

Are you excited to learn more? Check out the training part of my website for video tutorials, including my new video "Making the Milky Way Pop" that covers the above technique and a many others with 3 example photos. Happy editing!

New Video Tutorial! Making The Milky Way Pop!

I'm very excited to announce the release of my new video tutorial!

This new video course builds on my previous Creative Edits Volume 1 video by using advanced techniques in Photoshop to really make the Milky Way pop and glow. This video course assumes a working knowledge of Photoshop but should be useful for people of any skill level.

Here's a preview of what's included:

Topics include:
  • Creative editing examples with 3 images in Photoshop
  • An explanation of the blend modes we'll use
  • Using levels adjustments in Photoshop
  • Using levels with blend modes
  • Using orton effects to create glow
  • Using Adobe Camera Raw as a smart filter in Photoshop
  • Advanced masking techniques to control edits
  • Protecting the stars from getting lost or blown out in the edits

The runtime for this new video course is 52 minutes spread across 5 video chapters.

You can learn more about the video at the following link:

Gear Review: NiSi 150mm Filters

Nikon D810, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens, NiSi filter holder with NiSi 3-stop GND

This is the second part of my review of the NiSi Filter system.  This review focuses on the 2 filters that I was provided by NiSi.  You can see my review of the filter holder here:

To re-cap: In August of 2015 I was contacted by NiSi, a Chinese company that makes camera filters. They offered me a filter holder for the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens and a couple filters in return for sending them photos and writing reviews. They are fairly new to the market so I hadn't really heard of them, but a quick look at some product information that I was sent and a Google search made me interested because the holder appeared to be a single piece that went on easier than the Fotodiox system I have, and the filters looked to be smaller than the monstrous Fotodiox rectangular grad filters I had tried (they were so big I never even used them). So in November of 2015 NiSi sent me the holder for the Nikon 14-24mm lens, a 10-stop 150mm square filter, and a 150x170mm rectangular 3-stop soft graduated neutral density filter.

The large 150mm NiSi filters are glass instead of resin based.  This means they are easy to clean and scratch resistant, at the cost of being a little heavier.  The filters appear to be high quality and I honestly don't have many negative things to say about them.  The filter holder is great, the filters are great, the holder is easy to put on, the filters came with nice leatherette pouches, and I can wipe them without worrying about scratching them. The leatherette pouches even come with a card inserted into a plastic sleeve that displays what filter is in the pouch and the technical details of the filter.  What's not to love?

Nikon D810, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens, NiSi filter holder with NiSi 3-stop GND and 10-stop ND

The only real negative thing I can think of is that the 10-stop filter doesn't come with any documentation mentioning the gaskset.  The 10-stop has a rubber gasket stuck to the backside to prevent light leakage, and if you don't put it on or take it out of the holder the right way you will strip some of the gasket.  It would be nice to have a little pamphlet included with the 10-stop filter mentioning this just in case you aren't paying attention (like I did when I tried to remove the 10-stop and didn't realize the gasket was asymmetrical and meant the filter couldn't slide downwards to be taken out of the holder).

3-stop soft GND

NiSi 3-stop GND 150x170mm, the magenta color is from the filter glass reflecting the house lights.

This is a great filter, I have no complaints about it.  It does it's job well and without any color cast. The magenta color you see in the filter in the photo above is the glass reflecting the house lights.

10-stop ND

NiSi 10-stop ND 150x150mm.

I've enjoyed using this filter.  It's been a long time since I've done 10-stop exposures at the ocean, and it was a lot of fun to try those again.  This is a great filter that has a nice gasket on the back to help block light.  As mentioned above, make sure you insert and remove this filter properly to avoid damaging the gasket.  You also need to place this filter in the slot of the holder that is closest to the lens, and you may need to go one step further and put some masking tape around the holder to block as much light as you can.  You may or may not have to do that depending on the ambient light.

Here you can see the light leak gasket on the back of the NiSi 10-stop ND.

As with most 10-stop square filters this one vignettes a bit, that is, the density is less in the center than on the edges.  So your long exposures come out a bit brighter in the center and darker on the edges.  This is usually corrected with some vignette correction in Lightroom or Photoshop.

I haven't experienced any major color cast with this 10-stop filter, which is really nice.  I think it pushes a little cool but it's not a big deal and easily corrected in post.  I've also stacked the 3-stop with the 10-stop and didn't see any dramatic color shifting.

Nikon D810, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens, NiSi filter holder with NiSi 3-stop GND.


I really enjoy the NiSi filter system for my Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens.  It's not as big as other systems for the same lens, so they fit in my bag more easily, and the products are high quality.

Where to Buy NiSi Products in the US

You can buy NiSi products through 2filter:

Gear Review: NiSi Filter Holder for the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 Lens

NiSi Filter Holder on the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens

In August of 2015 I was contacted by NiSi, a Chinese company that makes camera filters.  They offered me a filter holder for the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens and a couple filters in return for sending them photos and writing reviews.  They are fairly new to the market so I hadn't really heard of them, but a quick look at some product information that I was sent and a Google search made me interested because the holder appeared to be a single piece that went on easier than the Fotodiox system I have, and the filters looked to be smaller than the monstrous Fotodiox rectangular grad filters I had tried (they were so big I never even used them).  So in November of 2015 NiSi sent me the holder for the Nikon 14-24mm lens, a 10-stop 150mm square filter, and a 150x170mm rectangular 3-stop soft graduated neutral density filter.

This review is primarily just about the NiSi filter holder for the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens.  I will publish another article that reviews the NiSi filters themselves.

If you aren't familiar with the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens, it has an integrated and unremovable flower petal type lens hood.  So using a standard filter system is not possible.  Many companies have produced filter holders and filters for the Nikon 14-24mm lens, including Lee, HiTech, Progrey USA, and Fotodiox, and I'm sure there are others.  The only other one I own is the Fotodiox system, so that is the only one I'm really familiar with and can compare with the NiSi system.

The products arrived in nice packaging but without any instructions at all, but it was easy to figure out how the filter holder went on the lens.  The filters come in very nice leather-like padded pouches that close with magnets, which I think is a nice touch, you won't have to worry about any velcro wearing out and they're very easy to open.

The filter holder easily slides onto the Nikon 14-24mm lens but you have to make sure you put it on the right way.  There are metal pins in the holder and they need to line up with the edges of the petals of the lens hood.  Once you get the hang of it it's easy.  The holder clamps onto the lens with two thumb screws that tighten two half-circle hard rubber pieces inside the holder onto the body of the lens just below the lens hood petals.  The filter holder is pretty snug with the thumb screws tightened down but I would certainly not trust it to stay on the lens while you're carrying your camera around.

Close up of the pins that need to be aligned with the edges of the petals of the lens hood on the Nikon 14-24mm lens.

For me the moment of truth with the NiSi holder and filters was whether or not the holder would cause vignetting at 14mm, and I was happy to see that it didn't.  Some other holders have vignetting problems at 14mm because the holder isn't wide enough so the edges show up in the corners of the frame at 14mm.  The Fotodiox holder is one such holder that has vignetting issues at 14mm.

The square filters are 150x150mm in size, about 5.9x5.9 inches, and the rectangular grads are 150x170mm, about 5.9x6.7 inches.  They are large but they have to be large to cover the angle of view at 14mm, but they are also quite a bit smaller than the enormous 6.6x8.5 inch window panes that Fotodiox uses for filters.  When I got my Fotodiox WonderPana FreeArc 66 I took out the grad filter and laughed at how huge it was, knowing that I would never be able to fit that in my bag safely, so I put it back with all the protective paper still on it and never used it.  I think I returned it but I don't remember, maybe it's hiding in my house.  But I still have and use the WonderPana threaded filter holder and the Fotodiox polarizer filter.

So lets compare the pros and cons of the NiSi filter holder for the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens.


  • Easy on/off with the thumbscrews.
  • One piece, doesn't require a separate adapter piece.
  • Has 3 filter slots, the Lee SW150 mk2 only has 2 slots (but maybe you can add more).
  • Doesn't vignette.
  • Filters aren't ridiculously huge compared to the Fotodiox filters, and are the same size as the Lee 150mm filters.


  • Large, takes up a lot of space in a camera bag, but so does every other large filter system, so if you want a large filter system you just have to deal with the large size.
  • Can only be used on the Nikon 14-24mm lens (and maybe other lenses that happen to have the same shape).  If you have multiple lenses that used the NiSi 150mm system you'd have to have multiple filter holders.  With the Lee SW150 mk2 filter holder you just have one holder and multiple adapters.
  • The NiSi holder is limited to using square filters, which means you can't use a round CPL (circular polarizer, but the term "circular" is about the type of polarization and not the shape of the filter).  Round CPLs are rotating two-piece filters that allow stronger polarization and greater variation of the polarization, whereas a square CPL doesn't have a separate piece that can rotate, and has weaker polarization.  You can rotate the filter holder with a square CPL to change the amount of polarization but if you're using grads with the CPL then you can't rotate it much at all because you need the grads to line up with the light/dark transition in the frame, usually the horizon.

I've only used the NiSi system about half a dozen or so times so far, but I'm pretty happy with it.  It is large but I have managed to fit it and the two filters in my bag, but I know it likely won't always fit in my bag.  But when it can it's nice to have an easy to use non-vignetting filter system for the 14-24mm lens.

Where to Buy NiSi Products in the US
You can buy NiSi products through 2filter:

2016 Calendars On Sale!

My 2016 Landscape Astrophotography calendar is now available! It features 12 photos from Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Newfoundland. The cost is $25 per calendar, plus shipping. From now until November 1st, you can get 20% off with coupon code ZOMBIE20. The calendars are produced and shipped by, and they are the ones that give out the discount codes.

You can buy the calendar here:

Speaking at the Nikon booth at PhotoPlus 2015! Signing prints at the Hahnemüle booth!

I'm excited to announce that I will be speaking at the Nikon booth at the 2015 PhotoPlus Expo!  On Thursday October 22nd I'll be speaking for 30 minutes at 4:15pm, and again on Friday the 23rd at 1:15pm.  Then at 3pm on Friday I'll be at the Hahnemüle booth giving out signed prints of my "Screw Auger Falls" photo.

My "Galactic Cave" photo will be printed large at the Nikon booth, and my "Screw Auger Falls" photo will be printed large at the Hahnemüle booth, on display for the entire expo.

Swing on by if you're going to be there!

New Milky Way Creative Edits Video Tutorial

I have a brand new video tutorial available!

Save $5 with offer code BLOG5 at checkout.

Milky Way Creative Edits

Enhance your Milky Way photos and draw attention to the details using creative editing techniques in Lightroom and Photoshop. Learn tips to bring out tones, adjust contrast, and fix problematic areas, such as unwanted color casts. Using three photos, we’ll work through common edits and give you the tools you need to take your images even further.

Detailed Topics

  • Start to finish RAW workflow on a single image
  • Creative editing examples with 3 images
  • Editing in Lightroom & Photoshop
  • Using levels and curves in Photoshop
  • Using Adobe Camera Raw as a smart filter in Photoshop
  • Advanced masking techniques to control edits
  • Fixing color problems
  • Preventing blown out stars when adjusting sky contrast

Please visit for more details and to purchase the video!

Nikon D810A: Review for Landscape Astrophotography

In May of 2015 Nikon provided me with their brand new D810A to give it a workout for landscape astrophotography.  Check out my article on Nikon's Image Chaser website.

The Short Answer

In my experience the D810A matches the high ISO performance of the D750.  The D750 has a 24MP sensor and until the D810A came out the D750 was the cleanest high megapixel DSLR, about a stop better than the D810.  But the D810A, like the D800/D800E/D810, has a 36MP sensor and appears to have the same high ISO performance of the 24MP D750.  With some other nice features, the D810A is an amazing landscape astrophotography camera.

The Long Answer

Read on!
Monument Cove
Nikon D810A
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens
Star stacked sky from 10 x 10s f/2.8 ISO 12800
Foreground multiple exposures at ISO 1600 f/2.8 15 minutes

ISO 12800 Comparison

For shooting landscape astrophotography when you're not using a star tracker or star stacking (see Star Stacking section below) for pinpoint stars and lower noise, you want to use the highest ISO possible with your camera that produces a useful image when taking your sky exposures.  (I take separate exposures for the sky and foreground at different ISOs and blend them to get the best depth of field and a cleaner foreground.)

Generally speaking, a more brightly exposed shot with a high ISO will be cleaner than an underexposed shot with a lower ISO, even if the difference is only 1 exposure stop (half the brightness).  Boosting the exposure in post of the lower ISO image to match the higher ISO image may show a similar result, but upon close inspection there is often a distinct difference, with the higher ISO shot having less noise.  This is a result of an increased signal in the higher ISO shots, the noise floor is closer to the exposure in the lower ISO shots and thus you end up with more visible noise after boosting the exposure in post.

This result will depend on your camera.  Test various ISOs for your use.

For my tests with the D810A, D810, and D750, I used my Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens @ 14mm and f/2.8 with a 25 second shutter time for all ISO test shots.  You need to chose a low enough shutter time to limit star trails, and when not star stacking I prefer to use 25 seconds when shooting at 14mm. I find this results in acceptable star trails while still getting a bright enough exposure.

I chose to use ISO 12800 for my primary tests because it is the highest native ISO of all 3 cameras. And since, in my experience, a 25 second ISO 12800 exposure will be cleaner than a dark 25 second ISO 3200 exposure, I have been using ISO 12800 for most of my sky shots while testing the D810A. I even used ISO 12800 for panoramas without using a lower ISO for the foreground and with enough balancing of noise reduction and sharpening the foreground can work out amazingly well.

Here are the ISO 12800 shots from each camera.

Note that the raw NEF files for all shots in this article were processed with Capture NX-D 1.2.1.  As of this writing Capture NX-D is the only raw editor capable of reading D810A files.  My usual raw editor is Adobe Lightroom.

Nikon D810A, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 12800, 25 seconds, 14mm, f/2.8
Nikon D810, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 12800, 25 seconds, 14mm, f/2.8

Nikon D750, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 12800, 25 seconds, 14mm, f/2.8

Now lets take a look at 100% crops from each camera.  Note that there has been NO noise reduction whatsoever applied to these images.  Noise reduction in Capture NX-D was not used.  Realistically, you would at least apply some color noise reduction.  If you use Lightroom, color noise reduction is always enabled by default.  For a fun experiment, go find a high ISO, say 6400 or so, raw image in Lightroom, zoom into 100%, and turn the color noise reduction slider to 0 and watch how splotchy the image becomes.

Nikon D810A, 100% crop, no noise reduction

Nikon D810, 100% crop, no noise reduction

Nikon D750, 100% crop, no noise reduction

As you can see, the D810A and D750 are pretty close in noise, although the D810A has more color in the sky.  The D810 clearly has more noise.  Although arguably the noise difference isn't that dramatic and can certainly be cleaned up in post.  And remember that if you're star stacking it doesn't matter.

Now how about the darker foreground areas?  For these examples I applied color noise reduction to TIFF files in Lightroom.  The TIFF files were exported from Capture NX-D.  Capture NX-D has color noise reduction but Lightroom's color noise reduction appeared to work much better.  I used a value of 100 in the Color noise reduction slighter in the Detail panel of Lightroom for each image.  This a realistic value that I might use for such noisy foregrounds.  There is no point in comparing the images without any color noise reduction as that is an unrealistic application.  I may not use such aggressive color noise reduction on the entire shot and only apply that to the foreground section if I'm not using separate foreground exposures.

Nikon D810A, ISO 12800, 100% crop, Lightroom color noise reduction of 100

Nikon D810, ISO 12800, 100% crop, Lightroom color noise reduction of 100

Nikon D750, ISO 12800, 100% crop, Lightroom color noise reduction of 100

For whatever reason the D750 exposure came out darker than the others.  I'm not sure why, perhaps it is an issue with the D750 itself, or Capture NX-D.  I brightened the D750 exposure by 1/2 a stop to better match the brightness of the other exposures.  Without brightening it the color noise is far less visible.

They're all pretty darn noisy, but the D810 is certainly much worse off than the D810A and D750. This difference alone is a huge boost for using the D810A or D750 for when you don't have time to take additional shots for the foreground at a lower ISO, or low enough ISO.  I like to use ISO 1600 or lower for foreground shots when I can, but in a pinch I know I can rely on the performance of the D810A or D750 to get by with a higher ISO and more clean up in post.

Star Stacking

While not specific to the D810A, I feel that it is important to show how much of a difference in noise you can get by using the star stacking technique.  This applies to any camera and can take images from a very noisy camera and still produce a clean sky.

Star stacking is a technique that involves taking multiple very high ISO short exposures to capture pinpoint stars without any visible trails, and then stack, align, and average them in software to vastly reduce the noise.  I use Starry Landscape Stacker for Mac, available in the Mac App Store for just a few dollars.  You can do it in Photoshop, but Starry Landscape Staker makes the process much easier.  Deep Sky Stacker is a Windows program that might work for this but I'm not sure how it will handle the alignment process with foreground elements.  Deep Sky Stacker and similar programs will align multiple images based on the stars but Starry Landscape Stacker is designed to handle the foreground and only align based on the stars.

Using this technique with both Starry Landscape Stacker and Photoshop is demonstrated in my video tutorial.  The Photoshop technique is also shown in this YouTube video.

Using 14mm on full frame, I generally take 10 exposures at 10 seconds each at ISO 12800 or whatever the highest native ISO is on the camera I'm using.  However on many cameras you may need to use a lower ISO to avoid excessive magenta color noise on the edges of the frame.  On the D810 you might want to use ISO 6400 instead.  On my D800E I had to use ISO 5000 or 4000.  This color noise is due to both under exposure in the corners from vignetting of the lens and sensor noise from heat and other electronics in the camera.  On the D810A I've been able to get away with ISO 12800.

Here is an example:

Nikon D810A, ISO 12800, 100% crop, 10 seconds, f/2.8

Star stacked result using 10 exposures of 10 seconds each at ISO 12800.

Now you can see why I use this technique whenever I can!

Effects of the IR Filter

The D810A is really designed with deep space astrophotography in mind due to the special IR filter that is optimized to capture the H-alpha narrowband infrared light emissions from nebulae.  This results in red nebulae that really pop in the image, but also has the side effect of causing other light sources to shift.  Daytime photos can sometimes result in a red cast.  Light pollution at night can take on a yellow glow instead of orange.

Here is an example of how the IR filter pops red nebulae:

Nikon D810A, ISO 3200, Nikon 50mm f/1.4G lens, f/2, 30 seconds, iOptron SkyTracker (camera mount for star tracking)

Nikon D810, ISO 3200, Nikon 50mm f1/4G lens, f/2, 30 seconds, iOptron SkyTracker (camera mount for star tracking)

Even without zooming in the difference should be noticeable.  The red nebulae are more noticeable and the Milky Way takes on more color with the D810A.  But lets take a closer look:

Nikon D810A, 100% crop

Nikon D810, 100% crop

Big difference!

IR and Light Pollution

Now let's look at the difference with light pollution.  This difference can also be seen in the uncropped images at the start of this article, look at the glow in the lower left of the frame and on the D810A it looks yellow vs orange on the others.

Nikon D810A, ISO 3200, Nikon 50mm f/1.4G lens, f/2.8, 30 seconds

Nikon D810, ISO 3200, Nikon 50mm f/1.4G lens, f/2.8, 30 seconds

Notice how the light pollution glow in the D810A image looks yellow instead of orange.

IR and a Lighthouse

I tried the D810A at a red lighthouse (Bass Harbor Head Light) and a white lighthouse (West Quoddy Head Light).  I didn't see any noticeable differences at Bass, not surprising given how intense the red light is already from the lighthouse.  But at West Quoddy there was a very noticeable difference, with the D810A producing a heavy red cast around the lighthouse.

Nikon D810A, ISO 12800, 10 seconds, 24mm, f/2.8
Nikon D810, ISO 12800, 10 seconds, 24mm, f/2.8

The white balance on both of these shots was set to 4000K (0 tint) in Capture NX-D.

Notice the red cast around the light tower in the D810A.  This can be largely removed in post but it is something to be aware of when shooting lighthouses.

IR and Daytime

The IR filter in the D810A really means that the camera is best suited for the dark night sky, and there will be a red cast during daytime shots, but how noticeable or problematic it is will depend on the situation.  Here is an example.

Nikon D810A, ISO 200, 24mm, 1/50s, f/11

Nikon D810, ISO 200, 24mm, 1/50s, f/11
The white balance on both of these shots was set to Direct Sunlight in Capture NX-D.

Notice in the D810A photo how there is a reddish tint to the rocks and trees in the foreground and background, the water is a warmer blue, and the hazy distant horizon also has a reddish tint.

M* Manual Mode - Exposures Longer Than 30s Built In!

One of the most welcome D810A features for long exposure photography is the ability to choose exposures longer than 30 seconds in camera without the need for a remote timer.  Put the D810A in M* manual mode and after 30s you can choose 60, 90, 120, 240, 300, 600, or 900 seconds.  I really wish there were more options but at least it's a huge step in the right direction.

If you enable Exposure Delay mode and very gently hit the shutter button on the camera you can try to get away without using any remote at all as long as you don't need other long exposure times. While testing out the D810A in Acadia I shot for almost the entire week and a half without the use of a remote.

M* Manual mode on the D810A with a 240 second exposure selected.

Capture NX-D Astro Noise Reduction

Capture NX-D, as of version 1.2.1 (released in time with the D810A) has a new Astro Noise Reduction checkbox in the Noise Reduction panel.  Enabling this will remove the majority of hot pixels from an image.  It's not 100% perfect though, but it works pretty darn well.  On the other hand Phase One's Capture One raw converter has VERY good hot pixel noise reduction.  It has some built in by default, and gets better with enabling color noise reduction, and then using the Single Pixel slider can get rid of all or almost all hot pixels.  There's also PixelFixer (Windows program) for doing the same thing with or without supplying your own dark frames.  These are all very useful tools, and if you don't have time for Long Exposure Noise Reduction in camera you can use one of these tools to fix the hot pixels in post, or at least get most of them and spot clean the rest yourself.

And let's not forget the Dust & Scratches filter in Photoshop.  That can produce excellent results with care and doesn't require a big change in your raw editing workflow.

Further Reading/Watching

If you're new to landscape astrophotography you might want to check out my various tutorials on the subject for how I blend star shots with long exposure foreground shots:

I also have a video tutorial available that goes over my entire editing workflow:

I also have outdoor workshops available:


The D810A is a landmark camera for astrophotography, with amazing high ISO performance and the convenience of (limited) exposures longer than 30s in camera.  The IR Cut filter is both a plus and a minus depending on the situation, but the nice pop and increased color that it brings out in the Milky Way is very nice.

Happy Shooting!

Written by Adam Woodworth

First Thoughts on the Nikon D810A Pre-Production Sample

Monument Cove - First Thoughts on the Nikon D810A (pre-production sample)

This year is turning into the year where I'm knocking off shots that I had been after for a couple years, including this one at Monument Cove in Acadia National Park in Maine.  And what better way to shoot it than with the Nikon D810A?  Nikon has provided me with a pre-production sample D810A unit so that I can write an article for them about using the D810A for landscape astrophotography.

Note that the greenish color in the sky is from airglow, a natural phenomenon that occurs in the upper atmosphere and is easily captured on camera you're in a dark enough area and the airglow is active that night.

I've been shooting dark skies (when available) with the Nikon D810A for over a week now and my initial impressions are that this is an amazing camera for landscape astrophotography, as you'd expect given it is designed with astrophotography features.  The biggest thing for me is the improved high ISO performance.  To me it looks like the D810A is on par with the D750 in terms of high ISO performance.  I'd say the D750 is about a stop better with noise over the D810, and the D810A seems to match that.  So you're getting very good high ISO performance with a 36MP sensor and no anti-aliasing filter.  I guess I'll be selling my D750!

Another nice feature is the new M* manual mode that lets you choose exposure times greater than 30 seconds.  You get 60, 120, 240, 300, 600, and 900 options.  If you only need those times for your long exposure foreground shots then you can get by without a remote if you enable exposure delay mode on the camera (to delay the shutter after the mirror snaps up) and gently press the shutter button on the camera.  The best way is still to use a remote trigger, mirror lock-up, and electronic front curtain shutter.

The IR cut filter definitely makes nebulae pop.  The sensor picks up more red tones for nebulae and there is a dramatic difference over regular cameras.  It's important to remember that the natural color, that is the color that our eyes would see with a telescope, is not the increased red color with the IR filter, but it's nice to make the nebulae pop in the image.

Stay tuned for my article in the coming weeks!

This is a blend of 12 exposures, 10 star stacked for the sky and 2 foreground exposures.  The sky exposures were all taken at ISO 12800 for 10 seconds each.  The foreground exposures were taken at ISO 1600 for 15 minutes each using different focus points.  All shots were taken with the Nikon D810A, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens @ 14mm and f/2.8.

Listen to My Interview on the Photography Roundtable Podcast!

I was recently interviewed by David Johnston for the Photography Roundtable Podcast!  The interview is now up and you can find it at the link below or search for the Photography Roundtable podcast in iTunes.

If you listen to the podcast you'll find a special offer for an additional discount on my Landscape Astrophotography Workflow Editing video tutorial!

Landscape Astrophotography Editing Workflow Video Tutorial Now Available

I have just released my first full length video tutorial: Landscape Astrophotography Editing Workflow

In this 130 minute tutorial I will demonstrate a start to finish workflow of the image displayed here.  These are techniques that I've come to use after years of digital photographic editing with Lightroom and Photoshop.

The Six Main Video Chapters:

Camera settings and workflow review
Raw image preparation in Lightroom
Star stacking for pinpoint stars and lower noise
Exposure blending in Photoshop
Noise reduction with Nik Dfine
Creative editing in Photoshop

For more details and to purchase the video see the video tutorial section on my website:

2015 Calendar

Calendar Sale! Lulu is having a sale and from now until October 27th you can get my calendar for 20% off plus shipping with the code OKTOBER - head over here to order! Regularly $25, with this coupon you can get it for $20 (plus shipping). You can get a preview of the calendar by clicking on the "Preview" link below the calendar image on the Lulu website.