We are two: second anniversary!

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Pick your analogy: organic growth in a semi-structured, harmonious way, or deeper down the rabbit hole we go…

Mingthein.com celebrates its second birthday today. There’s not a lot to say other than a huge thank you; without the support of my readers, students, clients and customers, I’d probably have packed it in way back when. In the last two years, we’ve had:

  • 780 articles
  • 1.9 million words of content
  • 36,000 comments
  • 3,800 published images
  • 9.5 million visitors to the main site, and 17.5 million to my flickr page
  • 13,700+ accepted images in the reader pool, filtered down from >100,000 with >1,400 active members
  • Somewhere around 6,500 Facebook followers
  • 165 email school students
  • 21 workshops, with another 3 planned (one space each for Melbourne and Havana)
  • I’ve lost count of the number of emails; my guess would be somewhere around 120,000?
  • Two dead keyboards

Suffice to say it’s a much, much larger community than I ever expected; sometimes I’m overwhelmed by it all. I’ve come to realise that my opinion is taken very seriously by a lot of people; perhaps too seriously by some. That’s a good thing and a bad thing, and I never take that responsibility lightly – especially if any of the findings are thoughts run contrary to expectation or common sense. I have always been and will always continue to be independent; even in the highly unlikely event that some camera company throws large sums of money my way. There’s no point doing otherwise: I, and this site, have always been about the images first and foremost, with everything else taking a secondary – but still important – back set. In any case, there’s plenty more to come as long as I can keep up with feeding the bear. Cheers to you all! MT

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Places left for 2014 Making Outstanding Images Workshops: Havana and London – click here for more information and to book!

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Visit the Teaching Store to up your photographic game – including workshop and Photoshop Workflow videos and the customized Email School of Photography; or go mobile with the Photography Compendium for iPad. You can also get your gear from B&H and Amazon. Prices are the same as normal, however a small portion of your purchase value is referred back to me. Thanks!

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

The attraction of clouds, water, fireworks, trees…

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Over the last couple of years, I’ve noticed that there are a few subjects that tend to be universally attractive to a wide audience – and I’m not referring to cats, bikinis or brick walls (or strange combinations of all three). They tend to be of the type clouds, water, trees, fireworks etc. I’d like to explore that a bit more in today’s article.

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The science of teaching

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I don’t have any photographs of me teaching, for obvious reasons: it’s just not physically possible without having a doppleganger, identical twin or astral projection capabilities.

I take the teaching portion of my job seriously. Very seriously, as any of my previous students will tell you. What isn’t always so obvious is the amount of thought and preparation that happens before a workshop or video. There are a lot more factors to consider than are immediately apparent – and I suspect many attempting to teach workshops don’t quite realize this until it’s too late. Unfortunately, most of the time price is not at all reflective of quality.

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Christmas humour: You know if you’re a real photographer if…

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Following on from the popularity of the last stereotype post that left no single photographer un-insulted, and in an attempt to bring some comedic relief to what is otherwise a very, very serious site: enjoy today’s post. Laugh if you recognize yourself or your friends. And feel free to suggest any additions in the comments.

And last but not least, Merry Christmas, everybody – I hope Santa brought you something photographic! MT

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Judging the 2013 Maybank Photo Awards

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One of the winning images from photographer of the year, Yaman Ibrahim.

Sometimes, choice can make life difficult. A couple of weeks ago, five judges and I sat down (virtually, since everybody was in different parts of the world) to decide on the category and overall winners for the 2013 Maybank Photo Awards. I had the privilege of working with Raghu Rai from Magnum; Mike Yamashita from National Geographic; Jim Liaw and Manny Librodo. Submissions closed on 31 October after three months, with a grand total of nearly 70,000 entries from 9 ASEAN countries. Shortlisting these down to approximately 1,500 final contenders was a panel of secondary judges, with myself overseeing.

Winning images and detailed results may be viewed here at the Maybank Photo Awards website.

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A very OT review: the 2013 BMW Z4 28i

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In a break from regular programming, I’m going to take up one of my readers’ suggestions from a flickr comment and review something different for a change: a car. There are a few automotive journalists I admire and whose work I enjoy for various reasons; the Top Gear trio, Chris Harris, etc. But I’m going to approach this in the same style I approach my camera reviews: from an unashamedly practical standpoint and with some nice images. I’m an enthusiast and nothing more. Read on if you dare.

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OT: Thoughts on blogging in an increasingly crowded space

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Content consumption and creation is a 24/7 business.

The internet is no longer the tool of knowledge sharing it originally started out being: it’s a commercial and marketing platform, pure and simple. Money goes to he who shouts the loudest, whether they might have anything worth listening to or not. Like everything, there’s good and bad to this. The good is easy: it’s made doing business ever easier than before (even if Paypal takes a huge cut as financial gatekeeper); especially for small businesses and individual proprietors who’d otherwise never have had access to those customers or audiences. Information is easily available; almost everything is there if you look hard enough. And on top of that, there are new and exciting streams of income that simply didn’t exist 15 years ago – sponsorship, paid blogging, pay-per-click, email harvesting…but is any of it really sustainable?

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Garage sale time again!

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Following on from the last couple of days’ musings, it’s about time for a clearout. This is your opportunity to get equipment that has been tested, QC’d and used by me – so you know it’s good. The overwhelming reasons for me disposing of gear are consolidation and upgrades. So, without further ado, on to the items. Please send me an email if you would like to buy something; from historical experience, don’t wait too long as everything is usually gone within a day or two. Those who’ve bought from me before know that I tend to rate my gear very, very conservatively. Feel free to make me an offer if you’d like multiple items, or you think my prices are out of whack.

Please note: items are first-come first served; Paypal fees are included but shipping is not (it will of course depend on your geographic location, impatience level and risk appetite :) Any white dots in the images are dust; they have not been retouched in the interests of authenticity. Lastly, I’m happy to do a face to face transaction if you happen to be in Kuala Lumpur.

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Interviewed on the official Zeiss blog…

I was interviewed recently by some of the folks at Zeiss about food photography – you can find the excellent (and very comprehensive) feature article here. Enjoy! MT

How my photographic journey began – a short autobiography, part two

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The hunchback of Kuala Lumpur has a Hasselblad.

Continued from part one.

My return to London immediately after that trip saw me a) dispose of the D70 and purchase a supposedly more robust D2H – in reality, I just liked the way it felt in my hands – and also begin to seriously explore Photoshop and Wacom tablets; by the time my D2H arrived in the mail, I’d decided I’d only shoot raw and focus on extracting as much detail as possible out of those relatively small files. That camera was not a forgiving one: get everything right, and it rewarded you with images beyond what you’d expect for the pixel count; get it wrong and you can pretty much junk the file. It taught me shot discipline and the importance of getting as much right in-camera as possible; these traits have continued to serve me well today. Unfortunately, the camera met a watery end after shooting in a tropical downpour in Kuala Lumpur two years later in 2006; I opened the battery compartment indoors and failed to consider condensation. A zapping sound and puff of smoke later, and I’d pretty much toasted the internals. By that point though, I’d shot enough frames – heading towards a quarter million on its second shutter – and jobs with that camera that it’d a) paid for itself several times over, and b) made me learn more about photography than anything else since.

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