Photoessay: the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Chicago

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Chicago can be considered both a city of architects and in a way, a city for architects; despite the huge number of other famous buildings in the city, I found myself particularly taken by the form and execution of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. Perhaps it was because it was my first encounter in person with a Frank Gehry building – they’re understandably somewhat thin on the ground in Asia. It probably didn’t do any harm that I also happened to go on a day where the sky was throwing up a fantastic assortment of clouds and light; if you didn’t like the arrangement of cumulus, just wait a few minutes for a fresh one. And of course late September in Chicago means that the light is never directly overhead, because the sun sweeps over the horizon in an arc – making any time of day fair game to shoot.

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Photoessay: Nautical still life

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Captain’s table, with a view

Earlier this year, I was commissioned to shoot a documentary set for the International Lutheran Seamans’ Mission; an organisation that has stations around the world tending to the spiritual and more pedestrian needs of seafarers. I thought the brief was interesting – follow and document one of their mission leaders, on vessels of various sizes ranging from small wooden fishing boats to new 1000ft container ships – whilst interacting with the seafarers and looking for interesting vignettes. That will be the subject of a future On Assignment – the client has not yet published the annual report it was commissioned for.

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Being prolific

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The images in this article are unconventional compositions: products of long periods of experimentation, sometimes the result of a single fast grab, or several iterations of adjustment and refinement. I think they suit the theme well.

Today’s essay is a slightly odd one. Consider for a moment: is it better to be a prolific photographer, or a slow, methodical, considered one? No matter how you slice it, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. And I honestly haven’t been able to figure outs which works best, so I’m hoping the comments are going to spark an interesting discussion depending on the approach of my readers.

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Photoessay: last of the Queenstown landscapes

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Trailing moon

We leave Queenstown today with my favourite images from the trip – a few you’ve seen before, most you haven’t, and all I feel evoke some sort of emotion – for me, at any rate. I don’t always think photoessays need a lot of description, sometimes they can just be appreciated as-is. Of course, one has to bear in mind the limitations of the web and the fact that for most of these, you’re looking at 1% or less of the total image…an Ultraprint or very large conventional print is really the only way to appreciate all of the information at once. Of course, these images are available as Ultraprints (except Tree and River, which is sold out from a previous edition) – please drop me an email or comment if you’re interested. Enjoy! MT

This series was shot with a Ricoh GR, Pentax 645Z, and Nikon D810 with Zeiss 1.4/85 Otus APO-Planar. Files were processed with the techniques covered in Outstanding Images 5: processing for style and The Monochrome Masterclass

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I will shoot what I want

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Silhouette of a woman.

On the face of it, this seems like a very obvious statement of intention. For most people, this is not even something that gets called into question (see this article on why we photograph). Perhaps it’s an odd issue I’m personally facing, but the discussion of all things photographic and creative is the purpose of this site after all. Of late, I’m stuck between four places: photographing the commercial, as specified by the client; photographing what appeals to me personally, which is almost always not commercially viable at all; photographing what the audience of this site wants to see and photographing what the art world dictates I should be doing.

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The fast compact normal conundrum

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Diamonds

I’ve been receiving a lot of email lately. This in itself is not unusual, but it appears that something I quietly bought has stirred the pot somewhat. You see, I’m now a Fuji user (again; I owned the first original X100 in Malaysia, and an X20 and XF1 and XQ1 since). The Fuji fanboys have always said I was biased and paid by the other companies not to use Fuji; the other fanboys have now started emailing me saying I sold out. Sorry guys, the simple truth is nothing so exciting. I bought an X-T1 at retail from my usual dealer in KL with my own money. Two things changed: firstly, ACR in its very latest iteration appears to have changed something in the soup to make X-trans file workflow at least acceptable, if not perfect; secondly, the fast compact normal conundrum demanded a solution.

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New year’s resolutions: 2015

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2014 ending, 2015 beginning, or both, depending on your point of view?

Setting personal photographic and creative goals for the forthcoming year has become a bit of a tradition for this site – so far, I think I’ve done reasonably well in hitting my targets. Perhaps it’s a holdover from my corporate days when you had to set targets for the projects or divisions under your purview for planning, or worse, so you could later be judged against them. When it comes to running your own business and that overlaps with where you personally want to go with your own creative development, a little more careful thought is required.

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Photoessay: Havana reflections

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Imperial purple

A conceptually simple photoessay today, focusing on the difference between the real and virtual, hard and soft. Usually, the reflection of something is soft because it is indistinct and formed in a physical object that is clean, polished, crisp, and thus well-defined; however, in the case of Cuba, it’s the opposite. The physical objects are old, not always clean, have decaying or faded edges, and it’s the reflection that becomes more solid thanks to the hardness and intensity of the sun reflecting off them. The idea becomes more tangible than reality; it can be simply an interesting visual juxtaposition, or perhaps a metaphor for something politically stronger – especially in the case of Cuba. Beyond that, Havana itself becomes very visually interesting after a rain: the clouds don’t linger thanks to the sea breeze, and we land up with either a clear or Magritte sky and great texture in everything else. Enjoy! MT

This series was shot with a Nikon D800E, 70-200/4 VR, Zeiss Otus 1.4/55 and Ricoh GR.

Finally, for those who haven’t seen it: How To See Ep.5, Havana is here, free and in full. :)

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Photoessay: Vertical alpine winterscapes

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Before sunset

Today’s photoessay is a sort of conclusion or coda to yesterday’s post from the Arrow River Delta; whilst it was shot in broadly the same area, it has a little more focus to the presentation, but a similar theme and somewhat more altitude. Enjoy! MT

This series shot with a Ricoh GR, Pentax 645Z, 55/2.8 SDM and 200/4 FA lenses, Nikon D810 and Zeiss 1.4/85 Otus APO-Planar.

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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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