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Thomas Zimmer

Thomas Zimmer



Hi, I'm Thomas. I shoot landscapes, typically mountains and seascapes. Unfortunately I live in a part of Germany where none of the above is present, so I'm a frequent traveller – which is not bad at all. What you see here is mostly shot with Nikon hardware, postprocessed with Photoshop. If you have any questions or want to contact me for other reasons, email me: tz at thomas-zimmer-photography dot com.
Part One: where and how is it shot?
<br/>It was at the west coast of the island Sylt, North Sea. I was there from 4pm to 8pm. Yes, 4 hours. It was November and sunset was at 4:30pm. It was ice cold, with a heavy wind blowing from the sea. I made several great photos until it was getting dark. There was no moon at this time and later on the milky way appeared in it\'s glory. I shot until I was literally unable to use my fingers any more. Stupid me, I forgot my gloves. 
<br/>Finally, I decided to leave the place. Batteries were nearly empty, I was hungry and frozen. So I packed the camera stuff, and made my way back to the car, which was a long walk in the dark.
<br/>At that time it was pitch black. I walked over the dunes and took the wooden stairs down. I took a last look back. An amazing view showed up. The Milky Way was right above the stairs. But I was so exhausted, hungry and cold. I almost wanted to give up, but then I made a last effort, and tried a final shot. 
<br/>It looked good, but something was missing there. I first tried to light up the stairs with the flashlight. Looked better, but not what I wanted. It needed a human being in the image. Unfortunately, nobody was there for miles except me. So i set up the self timer, fired it and run up the stairs with the flashlight on. On top, I shut off the light and tried to stand still for  30 seconds, the exposure time.
<br/>I did not notice that the shutter opened while I was running with the flashlight on. So the final photo had the last stairs illuminated. Later on, in the hotel room, I noticed my fault. But it looked good. The light lead the viewers eye to the small person under the stars.  At that time I had the strong feeling that I\'ve got something very special.
<br/>Part Two: the post processing magic
<br/>Now there comes the point where many of you will be disappointed. Because there is simply no special magic. Honestly, at that time my photoshop skills were very limited. Most of the work was done in camera raw. In detail:
<br/>1. Adjusted the colour temperature. The raw file had a very brown tone.
<br/>2. Added noise reduction (remember: ISO 6400!)
<br/>3. fiddled with exposure to get the right darkness of the sky
<br/>4. Increased the colour saturation of the blue channel.
<br/>5. Removed the vignetting (result of shooting wide open)
<br/>6. Applied a curves adjustment layer in Photoshop to bring out the stars a bit more (ground and stairs masked out)
<br/>7. some dodge and burn to bring out the milky way a bit more.
<br/>8. Done.
<br/>Thats all. I\'ve often thought about showing an improved version, but uploading it would result in a loss of 1.6m views and pages full of comments, so I\'ve decided to let it in it\'s current state. 
<br/>So the answer to the initial question is: there is no special photoshop magic in it. It\'s a photo, nothing else. Maybe a good one. The raw file looks pretty much the same. You can go out and do something similar. Maybe today night is a good time for you to start? Go out, shoot.

The making of „My God, it&#39;s full of stars“

Published September 8th, 2012

Since my initial upload one year ago, this photo has got more than 1.6 million hits. It was thousands of times facebooked, twittered, tumblred, and so on. It was published in newspapers and printed on book covers.

Obviously there must be something special with it. Many times people ask me to reveal the secret behind this. Is it a real photo or a photoshop trick? I will tell you the shocking truth. Read on.

Read More →