Chicago and Tokyo Masterclasses, Chicago Portfolio Review open for booking

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Shibuya, Tokyo:  best suited to cinematic, urban, architecture and street; (more examples of what you might capture are here) think this is probably the best season to visit Tokyo – the trees are bright orange, the light is angled, and you’ve missed the grey winters, the cherry-blossom chasing hoardes, and the typhoons of summer. Images like Lone Tree were made around this time of year. It’s a little tricky to time the autumn leaves precisely, but generally +/- a week or two is fine. Please note that Tokyo will be a little more guided  location-wise than Chicago simply for ease of logistics and because of the language.

I’m pleased to announce two more Masterclasses for 2015, and a new Portfolio Review format – these will probably be the last two for the year, and in two of my favourite and most photographically rich cities:

Chicago and Tokyo!

Read on for more details and to book.

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There are no absolutes: erosion and hope in the photographic industry

Is an image good? Bad? Ugly? Beautiful? Art? Everybody has an opinion, and those are based on the expectations formed by the biases created as a result of one’s own existence and experiences. What is considered beautiful in one culture may be hideous in another, or unremarkable. Art is in the eye of the beholder (or more importantly, the person signing the cheques). For anything that is subjective, there can be no absolutes. Take taste, or ambient temperature, for instance. There are preferences, nothing more. It is therefore perplexing that the whole industry is so hung up on both comparisons and seeking the lowest common denominator.

Advance warning: this post may be considered a rant by some.

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Photoessay: Abstract rocks of Hruba Skala

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I

Hrubá Skalá is a tiny little village around a castle, located in the Český Ráj (Bohemian Paradise) area of the Czech Republic. It’s about an hour or so north of Prague and very much in the countryside; farmhouses there change hands for EUR 20,000 or thereabouts. It also contains some of the most interesting rock formations on earth – a mixture of limestone and sandstone towers in fantastic shapes that remained whilst the surrounding soil eroded away. In places they protrude out of the forest forming a cliff line; in others they are so near to each other that canyons which never see any light are formed. Walking between them is quite otherworldly – not just because of their scale, but because you pretty much have the place to yourself.

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Exhibition announcement: “The Idea of Man”, Oct 2-31 2015 at the Rangefinder Gallery, Chicago

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I’m pleased to announce my second exhibition of 2015: The Idea of Man, which runs from October 2-31 at the Rangefinder Gallery at Tamarkin Camera, Chicago. Though the previously intended book didn’t happen (yet, we’re working on it) – a good selection of the images will make it into this exhibition as Ultraprints, which will be for sale in a limited run of 10 per image.

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Photoessay: People of Venice

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A touch of longing

Today’s photoessay is perhaps best thought of a series of vignettes of the locals living in Venice – there may be one or two tourists that got caught in the mix, but I doubt most of them would buy raw meat at the butcher’s. There was a deliberate effort on my part to exclude people who were obviously tourists and focus on individuals; that wasn’t actually too difficult since it was a) winter and b) I was in many of the neighbourhoods that pretty much only saw residents. Those who attended my Venice Masterclass in November 2014 may recognise some of these images from the final day’s curation and processing session; in fact, you might even have been there at the time of capture… Enjoy! MT

This series was shot with a Ricoh GR, 21mm converter, 645Z and 55/2.8 SDM and processed with a mixture of PS workflow II and the ‘fine art’ style in Making Outstanding Images Ep.5: Processing For Style.

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Repost: Defining cinematic

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Given we’re in the first day of the Cinematic Masterclass with Zeiss in Hanoi, it seems only appropriate that I bring back this classic post for another round – with new images, of course! 

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Photoessay: Painterly in Venice

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Lamps and gondolas

Soft, diffuse light from an overcast sky; directionality to darkness brought on by narrow alleyways; perpetual twilight indoors necessitating the use of artificial incandescent light all the time. Sounds like a photographic nightmare? Not quite; I’ve revised my initial philosophy of ‘you always need great light to make a great image’ to ‘there’s no such thing as bad light: just inappropriate light for the subject and vice versa’. November in Venice is almost nothing but this kind of light – one can either put the camera away entirely and stay indoors, or make the most of it by finding the right subjects.

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It’s my birthday, so I’m giving you all a little gift…

Ming Thein’s How To See Ep. 5: Havana from Ming Thein on Vimeo.

I’m currently finishing off some retouching from my last assignment before preparing for the Hanoi Cinematic Masterclass with Zeiss, but once again, as curiously happens the same time every year…it’s my birthday so I’d like to celebrate by giving you all a little gift – a thank you for your support over the last couple of years. For the next week, using the voucher code ‘MING2015′ gets you $30 off any video or bundle on the teaching store for purchases over $100. There’s no limit on the number of vouchers per person – use as many as you like in combination with whichever videos you wish – but the total number of vouchers is limited. First-come, first-served and valid for one week until 23.59 KL time (GMT+8) on the 25th of July 2014 – or the vouchers run out, whichever comes first. So if there are any videos you’ve been curious about, or need to complete your set, now’s the time :)

And as a gentle reminder, there are some places left for the Chicago workshops in September/October – won’t last for long though, I’m sure!

26 July: the week is now up, thank you all for your support! MT

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The evolution of street photography

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Self reflection.

My initial idea for this post was to examine where street photography is going today; on further reflection, I think it’s perhaps more a question of addressing some overdone stereotypes perpetrated by camera collectors and social media warriors – not photographers – to see if we can get a bit more understanding into a) why those stereotypes exist, and b) if we want to produce visually different and better work, what needs to change. Read on, but only if you don’t believe everything should be shot from close range and monochrome contrast is solely binary.

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Photoessay: people of Prague, II

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Do we fear what we cannot see?

Part two of the People of Prague photoessay is to me the more exciting bit: it expands the more literal ‘people in sauce’ environmental slices of the previous series of images to explore my favourite personal project, the idea of man. When photographing I’m always looking out for spontaneous ideas as they evolve around me, but I think it’s important to be open to both the literal and the conceptual even if only for practice. And you never know when the former might develop into the latter (the sequencing of this photoessay is the same: we pick up roughly where the last one left off, and take it further). This particular series explores life at two scales, both individual and group; the latter is not something I’ve done much of up to this point simply because the opportunities aren’t always there. There’s also been plenty of feedback going around in the comments on other photoessays on the use of captions; personally I think if done right they can be used to suggest alternative lines of thought and potentially different interpretations of the scene. A little ambiguity is not a bad thing. Enjoy! MT

This series was shot mostly with a Nikon D810 and the 24-120/4 VR, with additional contributions from the 24 PCE, 85 Otus and Voigtlander 180 APO and a Ricoh GR. I post processed using PS Workflow II and The Monochrome Masterclass. I also cover street photography techniques in S1: Street Photography and How To See Ep.2: Tokyo

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Photoessay: people of Prague, I

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The slight oppressiveness that is impossible to define

Let’s call this set a mix of environmental portraiture and street photography. People in their native element with minimal interference on the part of the photographer. I did stop and talk to some of them; it seems the Czechs in general are very friendly. Others didn’t notice me; I was just another tourist of many. Being a conscious observer in such an environment isn’t a bad thing; you blend in. And people don’t change what they do. This set is the first part of two reinterpretations of ‘people in sauce’ – we’ll talk about my hypotheses on what it means in a future article. We actually had precious few days of good light during the Prague Masterclass – meaning the majority of these images were actually shot on one day – but it was enough. I am continually reminded of just how rich a hunting ground this is when the light is right…enjoy! MT

This series was shot almost entirely with a Nikon D810 and the 24-120/4 VR, with the exception of one image with a Ricoh GR. I post processed using PS Workflow II and The Monochrome Masterclass. I also cover street photography techniques in S1: Street Photography and How To See Ep.2: Tokyo.

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