Photoessay: Paradise Lost, part I: the daydream

_7R2_DSC0929 copy

What if inanimate objects had a soul? Hopes, dreams, lives, consciousness, a feeling of purpose? Do they have salad days? What happens when they retire, descend into old age and start to feel their mortality? How does a retirement community for Air Force aircraft feel?

Paradise Lost is a project I’ve been working on for the last few months that attempts to answer some of these questions in a photographic interpretation. At some point, I’ll expand this to include other machinery – mining equipment would be fantastic (but tricky to access) and cars are probably the next logical steep (and easier to execute). The first part of the series is supposed to evoke feelings of daydreaming, wistfulness and a nostalgia for golden days past. I’m once again experimenting with the metaphor of clouds as insubstantial fleeting thoughts (first encountered in The Dreamscape Project). Enjoy! MT

This series was shot with a Sony A7RII and Zeiss 1.8/55 FE and 1.8/85 Batis lenses.

[Read more…]

Photoessay: Details of Aalen

_7R2_DSC1196 copy

For a relatively small town in Germany, Aalen has quite a few little interesting architectural details – certainly enough to make for a morning’s worth of abstracts in the right light. For the curious, though I mostly shoot in this ‘abstracted form’ style* for myself as eye training for still life or structuring product shots, the architectural details are also frequently commissioned by clients – so there is some commercial applicability…

*All elements decompose to just color, shape and light

This series was shot with a Sony A7RII, Zeiss Batis 1.8/85, and Contax Zeiss 2.8/35 PC Distagon.

[Read more…]

Photoessay: Gold and Silver Forum, Schwäbisch Gmünd

_7R2_DSC1277 copy

During my previous trip to Zeiss HQ in Oberkochen, the group was taken to the nearby town of Schwäbish Gmünd for a demo session with the new lenses; I passed on the models and wandered around the town with Lloyd Chambers instead. Needless to say, this rather unique building caught my eye I and landed up producing a series of studies of it. It is the Gold and Silver Forum located on the banks of the Josefsbach stream in the centre of town; I was made to understand that the reason behind it was the area being historically a centre for fine metalsmithing several hundred years ago. Today, it serves as a public space to take in the sunshine and a meal. Personally, I think the most interesting part is the way the faceted facade reflects light and simultaneously creates the illusion of having many layers and great complexity thanks to the play of projected shadows on the underlying building’s core. This was accentuated by the hard light of that particular day. The facade itself is quite a challenging subject simply because it’s difficult to fully abstract without focusing overly on a single set of apertures, and pulling out loses the shadow gradation on the structure beneath. Enjoy! MT

This series was shot with a Sony A7RII, Zeiss Batis 1.8/85, Contax Zeiss 2.8/35 PC Distagon and a Leica Q. Postprocessing was with the ‘commercial’ technique in Making Outstanding Images Ep.5: processing for style.

[Read more…]

Photoessay-challenge: A single location, revisited

_8B14657 copy
Only the clouds are truly free, II

During the last ten years, it’s quite possible that I’ve photographed in just about every accessible (and some inaccessible) location in downtown Kuala Lumpur. Many times, I’ve revisited the same location multiple times at different times of day and in different weather conditions to try and get something unusual; the more often you go, the more likely it is to be a bust – that’s just the law of probabilities at work. One location I don’t go to very often – mainly because of weather and its one-trick-pony nature – is the KL Tower; 421m to the top of the spire, about 335m to the outdoor observation deck, and a little bit more altitude (50m? 70m?) by virtue of being on top of another hill in roughly the highest part of the city. There are two challenges: one, good weather at the times of day when the sun is still casting interesting shadows; two, there’s always some degree of atmospheric haze or pollution, visible especially with distant subjects even if you’re on the roof deck with no glass in the way. My challenge for this visit – on the spur of the moment to make the most of a break in the schedule and a clear morning – was to try and make something different… MT

This set was shot with a Nikon D810, AFS 80-400/4.5-5.6 VR G and PCE 45/2.8 and processed with PS Workflow II.

[Read more…]

Photoessay: life in Hanoi, part II

_5R03750 copy
One at a time, please

The series of images presented today is the conclusion of the cinematic Life in Hanoi set from a couple of days ago. During the curation, two visually very distinct groups of images emerged: the first, which felt a bit more structured and ‘formal’, and the second, which – to my mind – is a bit more freeform and organic, with higher visual density. These hold closer to the ‘story in a frame’ of traditional photography. Personally, when I looked at the scene – and the subsequent images – a caption came immediately to mind – perhaps not the same one as you might have read, but it would be nevertheless interesting to hear the differences of perspective. Enjoy. MT

Images shot mostly with a Olympus E-M5 II, Zeiss Otus 1.4/85, Zeiss ZM 1.4/35, and Canon 5DSR.

[Read more…]

Photoessay: life in Hanoi, part I

_5R04817 copy

Today’s photoessay is a little out of sequence – it is the first set of little snippets of life captured during the Hanoi Cinematic Masterclass earlier in the year, but which until now have somewhat defied curation into a finished set (I blame that more on my schedule than anything). They are perhaps not cinematic in the traditional dramatic sense, but I do think they do make for interesting standalone viewing. I suppose that’s what unifies them: being a small window into another place. Enjoy. MT

Images shot mostly with a Olympus E-M5 II, Zeiss Otus 1.4/85, Zeiss ZM 1.4/35, and Canon 5DSR. [Read more…]

Photoessay: domestic minimalism

IMG_7842b copyPalette

I’m going to start by making two seemingly unrelated statements. 1. It is difficult, if not impossible, to turn ‘off’ your photographic eye once it has been turned on. 2. You will never get a better shot than a local. How are they related? Firstly, if you stay in a place long enough, you get to see it under all kinds of lighting conditions; this can make a huge difference to the presentation of the subject. The chance of your visit intersecting with the optimal (or most interesting) light is slim; a skilled photographer can close the gap somewhat through compositional ability, but you can’t add shadows afterwards. Secondly, we spend more time than anybody else in our own usual domestic circles of orbit – home, work, car, commute etc. It is easy to become immune to this and walk past a potentially interesting scene because we dismiss it offhand as ‘seen it before’. Not walking past and being compelled to stop and take a closer look is what differentiates the serious photographer from the casual one: I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve randomly taken a shot of something inside my own home because the light on that particular day of the year happens to be coming from the right direction and it isn’t overcast. And it’s almost always a fast opportunistic grab, which means whatever is to hand – since even I don’t walk around the apartment with a camera, that means my iPhone. It’s a good practice exercise I can heartily recommend to anybody. Enjoy!

MT Images shot with an iPhone 6 Plus and processed with PS Workflow II – you can open JPEGs in ACR too, if you right click and select the appropriate option in Bridge. [Read more…]

Photoessay: Squeezing blood from a stone

_8B24927 copy
Arches and blue

There are cities and places that never run out of inspiration or material to photograph because of weather, seasons, light, change, or sheer scale – no matter how many times you go back. Then there are cities and places that you exhaust in a day or two. And others that have hidden depths to plumb. And still others where you have to methodically work through all of the not so nice stuff in the hope that you may eventually luck out with good light and stumble upon some little interesting unknown vignette on the day you happen to be out. Perhaps I’m jaded, but Kuala Lumpur falls into the latter category. Despite being tropical, our weather is mostly overcast and hazy; bright, directional light is rare and lasts only a few hours at most – usually when you’re not in a position to make the most of it.

[Read more…]

Photoessay: natural vignettes

_8B25697 copy

Even though humans have become increasingly urbanised and there seems to be an overwhelming desire to ‘move to the city’, we still need the occasional natural interlude to remind us we aren’t robots of capitalism*. If anything, I find that natural elements stand out more by their relative absence; the curious thing is everything you see in this set was shot either in town or within a short distance of civilisation. They are the results of several expeditions with no more solid objective than wander out with a camera and see what falls out of it. Photography with and objective helps one to focus and curate pre-capture; though I find this still has to be balanced out with occasional photography with no objective to both relax and open up opportunities for creative experimentation. MT *Though the constant hunt for the camera unicorn is quite another matter entirely. This set was shot with various hardware that might perhaps have seemed appropriate at the time, but was later proven otherwise… [Read more…]

Photoessay: Observer and observed

IMG_8722b copyHunter and spotter – from the Hanoi Cinematic Masterclass

What I’ve always found amazing is how completely inconspicuous and transparent mobile phones are. They’ve become such an ubiquitous part of daily life that they’re not noticed; like hats in the 20s and 30s. Not having one is the exception. Surprisingly, I’ve also found that aiming your phone at something to take a picture – complete with awkward stance, delicate ‘I’m-going-to-drop-this-thing-becuase-the-ergonomics-are-bad’ finger poses and device held at arms’ length – is completely ignored even though it’s a lot more obvious than using a camera discretely. Have we learned to filter it out during the few short years of mobile photography? Evidently so. I’ve gone from seeing a cameraphone as completely useless to a curiosity and masochistic challenge to an interestingly stealthy way of observing the world: it has properties that cannot be replicated by other cameras, which in turn result in fairly unique images. First of course is ubiquity and stealth; second is silence; third are generally fast/intuitive interfaces (tap to focus, expose AND shoot!). You can get in close and not be seen. Or be seen and nobody feels intimidated, at least in my experience. I find this odd since you’re far more likely to post on FB with your iPhone than your 4×5… In any case, I present today a series of what I’d think of as observations – both as observer, and observed, and an observer observing the observers. Enjoy. MT

This series was shot with an iPhone 6 Plus and processed using the Monochrome Masterclass workflow. [Read more…]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 36,365 other followers