An open note to camera makers, marketing departments and agencies

Dear Brand,

Please give your prototypes to people who a) are photographers and b) know how to make interesting photographs. This way, all of the operational bugs and issues can be ironed out before bringing to market a flawed product that will backfire and harm your reputation later*. Your eager early adopters are your most loyal customers and are not beta testers. It will cost you more to rectify retroactively, too.

*In the last couple of years alone: D600 oil spots, D800/D800E/D4 left focus, D750 dark band/shading, E-M1 shutter vibration, A7R shutter vibration, A7/7R/7S raw compression, M9/S2 sensor cracking, M9 card corruption, M240 lugs falling off, X-trans and Merrill/Quattro workflow…the list is endless…

Furthermore, you do yourself no favours by publishing mediocre images that do not show what your products can do nor excite any strong feelings of ‘want’ in your potential customers. This will become increasingly important to taking over market share and growing sales in the face of an increasingly saturated market. I would be happy to help out.

Sincerely
Ming Thein

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Take your photography to the next level: 2015 Masterclasses now open for booking in Prague (9-14 Mar 2015) and Lucerne (17-22 Mar 2015)

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Limited edition Ultraprints of these images and others are available from mingthein.gallery

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Images and content copyright Ming Thein | mingthein.com 2012 onwards. All rights reserved

Photoessay: The Arrow River delta

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Curvature

This little gem of a location is perhaps one of the most photographically rich places I’ve ever been to. Firstly, an hour on an overcast grey day that yielded a couple of interesting images and very cold fingers, then the better part of an entire afternoon and evening in the gorge as the light fell and the mountains turned gold and the shadows a deep blue. I spent a magical few hours watching the light change, and towards the end of the day, running around like a madman trying to capture the last glowing tips of the trees before the sun went behind the ridge line for good.

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Venetian cinematics and time-lapse

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1

I’ve been making cinematic stills for a while now, and have had this niggling feeling that they felt too static – after all, cinema implies motion. Sure, it’s possible to capture a pose of dynamic imbalance in a subject where they’re clearly caught mid-step or similar, but that doesn’t always work if the subject isn’t moving much (but obviously isn’t completely still, because humans normally never are). This series is an experiment to do blend motion, mood, and above all, the idea of intransigence and just passing through – which most of the people in Venice are doing.

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Photoessay: A corrected perspective, part II

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Skyscraper evolution and streamer

Today’s photoessay is a continuation of the previous monochrome series of hand-held tilt shift work from Chicago; it is in color and I personally believe has a more immediate, present feel than the monochromes – hence the separate presentation. Enjoy! MT

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Photoessay: A corrected perspective, part I

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Hancock building parking beehive I

While my students were out completing assignments during the Chicago Outstanding Images workshop earlier this year, I was working on a personal project of my own. I wanted to see how practical it was to shoot fully perspective-corrected architectural work handheld – in decent light, of course. Up til this point, I’d always done this kind of work on a tripod because of the need to use live view. As many of you who’ve tried to use a tripod in general urban situations will know, this isn’t always possible due to property restrictions and city ordinances.

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On the democratization of art

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Marius Watz, with permission from the Absolut Art Exchange

The current state of the art world – at least what passes as fine art by conventional measures* is almost always determined by a select few – the select few, I should say. There seem to follow two types of people: those who ‘get it’, or at least are willing to submit to the opinions of the few; then there are the other type, who tend to be more open to the artist and creator putting forward their views on what should be art. I’ve always made it very clear which camp I fall in; it can’t be art to you if you don’t ‘get it’ without having to be told.

*At this point I always ask whether anybody claims to have seen or create ‘coarse art'; the answer is inevitably in the negative.

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Venice Masterclass report; Prague and Lucerne 2015 Masterclasses

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The Venice Masterclass (in late November) is now concluded, and with it the last of the workshops for 2014. As has become a tradition, here’s the report – and a selection of images and thoughts from the participants. 2015 is looking to be a busy year, and so I’d like to lock in the first sessions for the new year into my calendar. Read on for the report and for more information on the Prague and Lucerne Masterclass in early 2015.

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Long term experiences: the Pentax 645Z, six months in

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Morning paper, Chicago

Buying into any camera system is a big deal – not just because of the financial investment involved, but because you’re probably going to have to make a decision on what to buy based on conjecture rather than any actual first hand experience. Whilst some of the luckier people may be able to test drive a system, sadly most camera companies don’t really offer this. It doesn’t help either if the camera you want to try isn’t something particularly easy to get hold of our mainstream. There’s only so much you can determine from a quick fiddle at a camera store, assuming a physical one even exists near you anymore. And that brings us to the purpose of this report – there was a lot of interest in the 645Z at launch, but I’ve been made to understand that locally at least, sales haven’t quite been the runaway success one would expect for a camera that’s a quarter to a third the price of the competition. Think of this as a continuation of my initial three part review, here, here and here.

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The format matters, but not in the way you might think

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Legs.

Having shot extensively with oue 645Z over the last few months, I’ve developed a new hypothesis: the format – i.e. the physical size of the recording medium – matters to the output, but not in the way that we’d expect. Naturally, we assume that the larger the sensor or film, the higher the image quality. Since so much of that is both subjective and perceptual and thus affects the final impact of the image, perhaps it’s important to understand exactly what’s going on.

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Photoessay: The Verticality Project, part II

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XXVI, Hong Kong

Today’s photoesssay is a continuation of the Verticality Project photoessay. I see this as an ongoing study of architecture. The aim is to replicate the feeling you get when you stand at the base of one of these things and look up: a sense of overbearing monolithic massiveness. The choice of a black and white square with no building base is deliberate: the sense of size remains because off the perspective, and the mood is maintained regardless of the color of the sky.

The majority of these were shot in San Francisco and Chicago, with a Pentax 645Z. Enjoy! MT

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