Photoessay: Seaside, Penang

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Sea eagle rock

Sometimes, we have very productive days inspired by our environments. This series was effectively shot in two afternoons – perhaps six hours total; it was just one of those days when everything came together – weather, location, possible subject matter. Perhaps it was brought on by me not particularly looking for anything and being receptive to possible scenes in a sort of photographic meditation/ relaxation; I’m one of those people who will shoot if idle just to see how things look and experiment a little. Half of these images were shot from a friend’s balcony along Tanjung Bunga north of Georgetown in Penang, Malaysia*; the other half were from a little beachside cafe in Batu Ferrenghi.

*Penang is a very rich photographic location; we cover it in How To See Ep. 3.

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Photoessay: Hruba Skala at Cesky Raj

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About all that’s visible from the road

Today’s photoessay continues the previous two from Hruba Skala at Cesky Raj. I would think of today as more of a general overview and contextual positioning of these unique rock formations in the general landscape around the Cesky Raj (Bohemian Paradise) area in the northern part of the Czech Republic. What isn’t immediately apparent from this (and all other) images of the rocks is that they’re really not that easily visible from the roads surrounding the perimeter of the area, nor does the general topography suggest where you might find them. Instead, you are driving hopefully through some forest and there are little hints of entrance on the right which suggest something much larger. It isn’t til you get down into the gorges and keep walking that the sense of scale is actually apparent. It is one of the most surreal places I’ve been because of this dichotomy between our ability to comprehend the scale (unlike say the Grand Canyon) and the actual size of it – you can go up and touch elements of it, but you’ve got to do some walking. In other words, it’s bigger than you think. And a challenge to capture, too. Enjoy! MT

This series was shot with a Nikon D810, 24 and 45mm PCE lenses, a Zeiss 1.4/85 Otus, a Voigtlander 180/4 APO Lanthar and processed with Photoshop Workflow II.

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Photoessay: Details of a forest

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Perhaps this set should have been called ‘seeing the wood for the trees’ – often in a situation where there is so much going on, it’s not easy to pick out and compose for individual details. There’s a sort of cognitive deception going on – there appears to be a lot of areas of interest, but in reality you’ve got to be very careful because it’s really the juxtaposition and perceived density that makes the scene interesting – without the context, you don’t know it’s one tree of many, or that the level of detail continues on to increasingly smaller scales, or that a particular rock formation is out of place. A good rule of thumb is that the detail of interest must be markedly different from the surrounding areas in order to stand out and hold audience attention. That of course means including the surrounding areas…

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Photoessay: Abstract rocks of Hruba Skala

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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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Photoessay: just outside the city…

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…Small slices of tranquility can be had. Even within city limits, for that matter. The Japanese are quite particular about their nature; like everything else, you get a sense of ordered chaos as an outsider – within defined boundaries, the wilds are allowed to run free. Go a bit further afield, and you might find something that’s actually a little more untamed. Still, there’s a different kind of compositional challenge to be had: see if you can eliminate any signs of man from an environment that might well be entirely artificial; regardless, autumn in Japan is quite a special time of the year because of the enormous variety of colours. It’s too bad timing such a trip is tricky and highly weather-depedant; we lucked out in 2013 when filming How To See Ep.2: Tokyo, but came a bit late last year. Today’s landscape images are a continuation of the unconventional landscapes from a couple of months ago from a slightly more conventional perspective. Half of them were shot in the Tokyo Botanical Gardens; the other half, on the side of a hillside and a river near Mt. Mitake, about an hour outside of Tokyo by train. I’m going to end with one comment on the last seven matched images really need to be viewed as large Ultraprints; hung sequentially the impact is like looking out of a window onto a garden in the full throes of fall. Any image from this series is available as an Ultraprint on request – just
shoot me an email
. Enjoy! MT

This series was shot with a Nikon D810, 24/3.5 PCE, AI 45/2.8 P, Zeiss 1.4/85 Otus and Voigtlander 180/4 APO-Lanthar lenses. Some images are stitched, all were processed withs PS Workflow II. You can also travel to Japan vicariously here, with How To See Ep.2: Tokyo…

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Photoessay: Tokyo cityscapes

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We’re nearing the end of the images from the last trip to Tokyo. Today’s images are a continued evolution of the urban theme into something a bit more widespread; an attempt to capture the combined endless scale and whimsy of Tokyo. There are bits you might find surprising and challenging to your preconceptions of Japan – anything with space or trees or emptiness, for instance – but that’s the whole point, isn’t it? It is me giving in to my endless fascination for man-made light, texture and reflection in complementary colours. Enjoy! MT

This series was shot with a Nikon D810, D750, 24/3.5 PCE, 45/2.8P, Zeiss 1.4/85 Otus and Voigtlander 180/4 APO-Lanthar and processed with PS Workflow II; you can also travel vicariously to Japan with How To See Ep.2: Tokyo.

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Photoessay: a few unconventional landscapes

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I – floating tree

Today’s photoessay is a little shorter than the usual, for the simple reason that it wasn’t easy to make these images – the opportunities didn’t always present, and even then, they had to be teased out. I’m exploring what the definition of landscape really is: do we have to have near/mid/far all the time? In the same plane? In a ‘literal’ sense? I think if you’ve read the articles on what makes an interesting image from the previous two days, this set may make a little more sense. The upshot is that I’m seeking to present a series of images that are unquestionably about nature, a bit larger than just a single detail (but not necessarily expansive) and perhaps with some deliberate ambiguity of scale: after all, nature itself is recursive and fractal. Needless to say, they do all work much better as prints, which are available on request as usual. Enjoy. MT

This series was shot with a Nikon D810 and various lenses.

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Photoessay: dead tree beach

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Skeleton and ghosts. The monochromes in this set were processed to be as natural as possible using my ‘balanced’ workflow in The Monochrome Masterclass.

Today’s photoessay comes from a beach near Banting, on the west coast of Peninsula Malaysia and about an hour and a half’s drive out of Kuala Lumpur. I’ve been to this location in the past; those of you with exceptional memories might remember it from the Panasonic GM1 review and early large format landscapes. Truth is, I’d been meaning to come back to this location for a long time, earlier in the day, to have some more time to work with it before the fast-moving tide ended play*.

*It’s a mangrove beach, which means extremely shallow gradients and even quicker tides – I’ve seen it come in at about a foot every three to four seconds. Not somewhere you want to be stuck in the middle of a long exposure!

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Photoessay: In the redwood forest

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At the end of last year, I spent an enjoyable day with Lloyd Chambers in the Purisima Creek Redwood Park about two hours out of San Francisco; being from a much more tropical part of the world, it was my first experience photographing in this environment and this subject. I have to say the very pleasant company, comfortable temperature, lack of people and generally clear forest floor made for a very enjoyable afternoon – and more importantly, one that was conducive to making photographs.

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Photoessay: Lakeside

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Cue the James Bond theme song

Today’s photoessay is a mixed bag of observations from the lakes of Queenstown, New Zealand, and beyond – some landscape, some whimsy, some people. All in all, I think actually quite a representative mix of the experience. And for a change, I think the captions are probably necessary for context precisely because they’re not exactly part of a greater sequence. Enjoy! MT

This series was shot with a Nikon D810, Zeiss 1.4/85 Otus APO-Planar, Pentax 645Z, 25, 55, 90 and 200mm lenses, and post processed with the new A2 Photoshop workflow II

The Black Island is available as a limited edition Ultraprint here.

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