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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Self portrait, 1976 (printed 2005)

David Malin

type C photograph on paper (sheet: 60.7 cm x 50.6 cm, image: 50.1 cm x 40.6 cm)

David Malin (b. 1941) is the world's pre-eminent astronomical photographer. After graduating from technical college in Bury, Lancashire, Malin began his career as an assistant in a pesticide laboratory. Within a decade he was head of the electron microscopy laboratory of the research department of Ciba-Geigy. He moved to Australia in 1975 and joined the Anglo-Australian Observatory in NSW; he was to retire from the AAO as a principal research scientist in 2001. As he explains it, his achievement has been to 'devise novel ways of extracting more information from photographs', leading to some interesting astronomical discoveries as well as 'useful advances in photographic science.' Malin won his first astronomical awards in 1985, when he took out the Henri Chretien Award of the American Astronomical Society and the Jackson-Gwilt Medal and Prize of the Royal Astronomical Society. He has since received many photographic awards including the Rodman Medal of the Royal Photographic Society and the Progress Medal of the Photographic Society of America. The Malin Award is the premier Australian astrophotography competition. Author of a host of scientific papers and essays and recipient of honorary doctorates from the University of Sydney and RMIT University, he has two patents to his name. He has held many solo photographic exhibitions internationally, and his books include Catalogue of the Universe (1979, 1980), Colours of the Stars (1984), Explorers of the Southern Sky: A History of Astronomy in Australia (1996) and Deep Sky Objects (2000). A documentary about Malin's work, The Man Who Colours Stars, was released in 1997. Amongst his projects is Starchant, a visual production to accompany performances of Ross Edwards's 4th Symphony in Adelaide (2005). Since 1996 Malin has been Adjunct Professor of Scientific Photography at RMIT University. Malin is pictured in the prime focus cage of the Anglo-Australian Observatory telescope. There, he has spent many hours taking astronomical photographs, some of which require exposure times of 60 to 90 minutes to reveal the faintest objects in the sky.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the artist 2005

Accession number: 2005.118

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

David Malin (age 35 in 1976)

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.