JENS MALMGREN I create, that is my hobby.

Starry Night

A sparkling starry night is an amazing experience. Many people cannot experience these things because they live in densely populated areas with pollution and light pollution. At Sunnerås on a cloudless night the sky opens up and reveals a fantastic show of sparkling stars.

There are many painters who have been inspired by starry nights; Jean-François Millet about 1851 and Vincent van Gogh made a couple of starry night images on 1888 and 1889. This was about the same time that electric light came into use. Many painters were inspired by both electric lights and spectacular starry nights. I think that the first time electric lights were used it gave a similar wow feeling to the people of that time as it does today when people from city see the starry night of Sunnerås.

So there I am standing on the hill of Sunnerås in the middle of the dark thinking that it had been cool to sit here and paint a starry night but on the other hand a bit chilly and not so practical. It was minus 6 degrees Celsius this evening. So I settled for making a photo.

I used a tripod. I set the camera on 15 seconds shutter speed and 1600 ISO light sensitivity. The lens was an extra light sensitive f1.8 fixed 50 mm Nikkor lens. I turned on the shutter delay so that the camera waits a short moment after pulling up the mirror so that there would be absolutely no shake during exposure.

The little finishing touch would be to take the photo with remote control or timer but I did not do that and I think that maybe the ground was not so stable so that despite all precaution I caused a minute shake during the exposure anyway with my feet at the bottom of the tripod.

When I could see the result in the computer noticed the shake effect. Another thing I noticed was that the red channel of the photo was carrying most of the variations of the photo. My first feeling was “okay, this is what I got” but the more I had a look at it I was thinking of enhancing the image and transforming it. To change it to a dark blue image instead for example. Many times it is sharpness that makes the little extra boos in the image but on this image I was going to try something else. For these operations here I used Gimp 2.6:

  1. First of all, I had to rotate the image 0.8 degrees because the tree trunk was not perfectly vertical.
  2. Then I removed all the color information of the image and made it black and white with the desaturate function.
  3. Then I used colorize and I used a dark blue night blue kind of color. This effect works well this time but when I do this next time I might want to have some more variations in the color but for this image I used one color. In any case, a brown reddish sky is less convincing compared to a dark blue sky so I set for dark blue.
  4. Then I duplicated the layer to make a new stars layer. The following operations are carried out in the stars layer.
  5. I used the filter “Search Edges”. By doing this more stars where found and enhanced.
  6. I used the color function Treshold and set the threshold so that only the extra new stars would light up.
  7. I changed the layer mode to “Addition” so that the stars would be added to the previous layer.
  8. Then I removed some extra stars among the trees, by hand.
  9. Then I cropped the image to the golden cut.


As you can see, here is my image of a starry night and it is a photo as such but the operations I have done on the image they are of an artistic kind. For long time photography have received the name of being the objective modern imagery while painters they represented subjective old fashioned imagery. In the time we live in right now, March 2012, many people are not aware of the many new subjective possibilities possible the photo medium and photo editing programs. Hmm… Let’s keep it like that. :-)

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If you need to send me a link or something personal you can do that on jens at malmgren dot nl.

I was born 1967 in Stockholm, Sweden. I grew up in the small village Vågdalen in north Sweden. 1989 I moved to Umeå to study Computer Science at University of Umeå. 1995 I moved to the Netherlands where I live in Almere not far from Amsterdam.

Here on this site I let you see my creations.

I create, that is my hobby.