For those of you who’ve wondered how I create my images – both the compositional and in-camera portion, as well as the postprocessing afterwards – I’ve created a number of distance learning options if you can’t make it to one of my workshops. All videos are digital-delivery – we created a server network specifically for nearly unlimited-speed downloads – and in 720p HD. Just click on the appropriate links below to go to the new store and checkout directly via Paypal SSL – credit cards are fine, too.
Important note: there is no point in having thousands of dollars’ worth of great equipment but not the knowledge to get the most out of it – and certainly no point in upgrading if YOU are the limiting factor!
Video A: Introduction to Photoshop Workflow for Photographers (US$63, 1h13m)
This video covers the core elements of my postprocessing workflow via Photoshop CS5.5; the core theory is applicable to earlier and later versions (though some labelling of tools might have changed). It includes a runthrough of the important features in Bridge, Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop itself; this is the process I follow for the vast majority of my images to achieve the look you see here. With practice, it’s efficient, fast – I spend no more than a minute on each image – and delivers consistent results with a degree of control impossible through any other method. Each image and situation is different – why settle for filters, plugins or batch processing? No actions or plugins required, my workflow uses only the standard tools available in Photoshop and ACR.
NEW: Video A2: Photoshop Workflow II (US$80, 4h10m in two parts with downloadable raw files)
A2 builds on the workflow from the original Intro to Photoshop Workflow for Photographers, using the new tools in ACR 8,x (PS CS6, CC, CC 2014) to streamline and speed up postprocessing whilst simultaneously improving tonal quality and flexibility. Although the fundamental logic remains the same – convert from RAW to make a flat file, make global then local tonal adjustments in PS, sharpen for output and save – I have further improved and refined the workflow over the last couple of years. It represents the current state of my workflow and has personally reduced my own postprocessing time by about 20% compared to the methodology in the original Intro to Photoshop Workflow, leaving more time to shoot. It is of course back-compatible with both the Monochrome Masterclass and Outstanding Images Ep. 4 & 5: Exploring and Processing for Style. This video now includes: color management of cameras (including creating custom profiles) and monitors; curation and sorting/ prioritisation; new features in ACR 8.x and how best to use them in practice; achieving natural highlight rolloff; use of LAB mode to eliminate the most difficult step of color adjustment before output; using the ACR filter for very large files; Fuji X-Trans/ACR workflow.
Special offer: Add the original video A: Intro to PS Workflow for $30 instead of $63 to any order containing A2 – there are some things covered in more detail in the original video A: Intro to Photoshop Workflow (such as the functions all buttons and sliders in ACR and PS, which are consistent across versions) but not A2 in order to keep the video (relatively) short. Just add it to your cart and the discount is automatically applied.
Video B: Photoshop Workflow for the Leica M-Monochrom (US$63. 2h10m)
The Leica M Monochrom is a camera with a unique tonal signature and a huge amount of potential – but it requires some care in processing to maximize this. Learn how with my workflow specifically customized for the camera. As with the other Photoshop videos, it’s based around CS5.5 but the tools are available in all versions going back to CS3 and up to the latest (CC).
Video C: Intermediate Photoshop (US$63, 2h20m)
Here’s the natural progression for those of you who’ve mastered the Introduction video and are looking to take things a bit further. Chances are you’ve probably encountered a few situations in which you’ve wanted a little bit more processing horsepower; this video covers methods, use and application of masks; use of layers; retouching with the healing brush, clone stamp and airbrush – including re-rendering of simple surfaces; compositing images; liquefy; stitching; actions and batches. I use multiple commercial image examples. It’s impossible to demonstrate these techniques solo, as they’re often paired together in real applications to achieve a particular outcome or effect. Together with the Introduction video, it covers effectively 99% of all postprocessing situations a working pro is likely to encounter. As with the other Photoshop videos, it’s based around CS5.5 but the tools are available in all versions going back to CS3 and up to the latest (CC).
Video D: Ming Thein on Photography: The Fundamentals (US$63, 2h5m, trailer here)
The Fundamentals begins with a journey through the history of photography, detours through the fundamentals of what every photographer should know and why, and ends up discussing my personal philosophy on photography. We talk through multiple examples of images and explain why they work (or don’t); technology; how to extract the most from your cameras; aesthetics; and of course what makes an outstanding image, and why. It is, essentially, the core knowledge you need as a photographer (beyond how to operate your camera). This video also includes a PDF download with live links referenced to appropriate articles on this site.
Video E1: Making Outstanding Images: Ep1 (US$63, 1h20m, trailer here)
Episode One covers the first session of the workshops; learn about the importance of good light, how to identify it, the importance of metering and understanding exposure from both a compositional and technical standpoint, and more importantly, how to use good light in your compositions. We then go on to deal with the five methods of subject isolation, the importance of perspectives and when to use what to strengthen an image, and finish off with identifying and using natural frames.
We look at the use of visual and compositional devices such as frames, lines and quadrants to help you both influence the way your audience views an image. In the second half of the video, we focus on the overarching theme of compositional balance: what is it? How do we achieve it? How do we create a photograph that’s not just balanced, but also dynamic and strong?
Video E3: Making Outstanding Images Ep.3: Telling a Story (US$63, 1h42m)
This video focuses on putting all of the basic toolkit together: we covered light, subject and composition in the previous two videos. Now, how do we use those elements to tell a story, and convey the intentions to our audience? It also includes a couple of handy exercises for regenerating your creative impulses when you need a little jolt to get you started.
Video E4: Making Outstanding Images Episode 4: Exploring Style Parts I & II (US$80, 1h42m and 1h24m)
We begin by questioning and explaining what style is, and the quantitative hallmarks/ tools that can be used to define, control and create a particular impression, and more importantly, why. I then take four popular, easily defined styles – commercial/travel, high contrast photojournalist black and white, fine art black and white and cinematic – and deconstruct them to their constituent elements, looking at examples and precisely defining what gives them their unique visual look. I then take these elements on a live demo shoot for each style on location in Penang, and discuss the finished images to explain why they work.
Video E5: Making Outstanding Images Episode 5: Processing for Style Parts I & II (US$80, 1h42m and 1h27m)
The final video in this series brings everything together to the point of output: we take the sample images shot in Exploring style, and examine the postprocessing techniques required to complete the intended style. Starting with the raw files, we put 50+ examples step-by-step through Photoshop and demonstrate exactly what you need to do out-of-camera to put a distinctive flavour onto an image. We use PS CS 5.5, but the core principles apply from CS3 to CC.
Video M: The Monochrome Masterclass, Parts I & II (US$80, 1h39m and 1h36m)
The Monochrome Masterclass is a comprehensive 3-hour epic in two parts that examines every aspect of creating strong digital black and white images in several different styles, from the portions of the capture workflow that must be done in-camera to detailed postprocessing steps with both completed and fully worked-through examples from a color starting file. We cover use of the channel mixer and gradient filters to replicate color filters used with film. If you’ve ever had trouble with achieving the tonal quality or style you want in your black and white images, this is the video for you. It’s so comprehensive we’ve had to split it into two parts again to keep the download manageable.
Note: it is NOT the same as the Leica M Monochrom workflow video; that’s camera specific and the techniques used in this video are good for every camera.
Video H1: How To See, Ep1: Kuala Lumpur (US$63, 1h56m)
This will be a new series of videos that merges travel and photography: simply put, you spend some time with me whilst I shoot in various cities around the world; you see over my shoulder, inside my viewfinder, and of course get the benefit of discussion of the ensuing images. In essence, you get to experience vicariously how I view the world. Needless to say, we start with my home city: Kuala Lumpur. I explain what’s catching my attention in a particular location, how and why I chose that particular framing and processing. On top of that, we talk about why a particular image works – or doesn’t.
Travel vicariously into the photographic wonderland that is Tokyo. Building on Episode 1 filmed in Kuala Lumpur, we travel to Tokyo with a completely different equipment loadout with the intention of making unique images of a place that is no stranger to being photographed. Once again, I explain what’s catching my attention in a particular location, and why I chose that particular framing and processing. I explain afterwards why a particular image works – or doesn’t. This video is unique in that all of the segments are filmed in one take: we can’t reset the scene and try again. What you’re seeing is really and exactly what I was seeing at the time of shooting.
Video H3: How To See, Ep3: Penang (US$63, 2h15min)
Following on from Episode 1 (Kuala Lumpur) and Episode 2 (Tokyo), Episode 3 takes us to the island locale of Penang, Malaysia: sun, sea, culture and a little bit of street photography. Look over my shoulder as I photograph and explain how I’m seeing the world, what I’m consciously thinking about when I work, and the post processing and curation choices I make to reach the final output.
Video H4: How To See, Ep4: Melbourne (US$63, 2h50min)
Following on from Episode 1 (Kuala Lumpur), Episode 2 (Tokyo), and Episode 3 (Penang), we travel to Melbourne, Australia. I grew up here, but after being away for 18 years – I honestly recognise very little of it, and the city feels completely different to the Melbourne of my childhood. Looking harder, some familiarity remains, though for the most part, cultural development has added a layer of depth and sophistication to Melbourne which made it very enjoyable from both a travellers’ perspective and a photographic standpoint. I visit various iconic locations including St. Kilda, Federation Square, Luna Park, Southbank, the graffiti lane, and various other areas around the city. Rapidly changing light and weather mean adapting quickly to the different conditions both technically and compositionally; light affects visibility which of course affects prominence of subjects and composition. Look over my shoulder as I photograph and explain how I’m seeing the world, what I’m consciously thinking about when I work, and the post processing and curation choices I make to reach the final output.
Video H5: How To See, Ep5: Havana, Cuba (US$: FREE! 1h6min)
Unlike the other videos, it’s a free, full episode in 720P HD (a little shorter at 1h+ than the usual 2h+ epics, and you may need to click through to Vimeo to get 720p because of the page width). Paypal won’t let us take payment for anything that’s Cuba-related, so we’ve decided to give it away instead for all of you to enjoy – perhaps something to watch in the afternoon once the presents are done and the post-lunch food coma has set in on the rest of the family…just hit the play link in the embedded video window above. If you did enjoy it, there’s always a handy donation link in the sidebar (but please don’t use the words ‘cuba’ or ‘havana’ anywhere :) If you’ve ever been curious about the How To See series, here’s a chance to shoot with me and explore Havana vicariously – all for free.
Video F: The Compact Camera Masterclass – (US$50, 2h20m)
CCM is a standalone video for those of you looking to get a bit more out of your compact without getting too serious: the principles apply to all cameras, however buttons and menus of course differ, so you might need to delve into the manual to check how to access certain settings. We cover both technical and compositional aspects, with plenty of examples under a mix of commonly encountered photographic situations. It’s really a little bit of everything – think of it as a very high level degustation into the way I shoot and produce the images I do with compact cameras – this article on using compacts for professional work will give you an idea on what’s possible.
This video explains and demonstrates the fundamental techniques and tricks required to create a strong street photograph: one that highlights something that might otherwise have been missed, tells a story, and above all, captures a very human moment. I’ll show you how to approach and photograph people without having to be confrontational or have the courage of a lion. We use the rich hunting ground of Tokyo as our stage, and a variety of equipment from compacts to medium format.
How to order the videos:
Click on the title link for your desired video. Please remember to include the email address you’d like your download link sent to. If you don’t receive a link within a day, please check your spam filter – sometimes things get lost. Please note that it may take a few hours for you to get the download link as the process is manual; I get a lot of mismatched Paypal/ email addresses, so I double check every order to ensure accuracy. Thanks!
2. Ming Thein’s Email School of Photography
A personally tailored, one-on-one photographic correspondence course that takes the form of one portfolio review, nine lessons and two videos (The Fundamentals and Outstanding Images Ep.1, or if you already have these, a more suitable pair) for just US$900. Determine your photographic objectives, and I’ll figure out how to get you there through a series of exercises designed to improve both your eye and your technical skills. Take as long as you need and learn exactly what you want – no other course offers this level of personalised, individual tuition. As at November 2013, there are over 130 students currently enrolled!
If you’d like to sign up for any of the above, or would like more information, please please send me an email
Customer testimonials and quotes
Caleb (Intro to PS, Intermediate PS, PS Workflow II, Monochrome Masterclass, Outstanding Images Ep. 1-5): After many classes/workshops with excellent teachers, including Sue Ann Hodges at NESOP, George Dewolf at Maine Media Workshops, Steven Johnson at Mono Lake, Paul Caponigro in Camden Maine, several at Santa Fe, I find your depth of knowledge, clarity and guidance to be the guiding light (greatly complemented by the wisdom from those above). I’ve invested ( intentional use of word) in all your PS and Outsatnding Images series 1-5 videos. While combined not inexpensive (and for many users not all required to learn deeply) I find the cost vs benefit ratio to be unmatched (again not taking away from the great learning above).
Great job Ming!! I look forward to more and hope you stay with us for years to come ( but appreciate the sacrifices you make for that…I’m VERY happy to give a little bit back and truly encourage others to view his videos for the modest price vs gain received!!)
Mikko Ritala (Photoshop Workflow II): Just wanted to chime in shortly on this. I downloaded WF2 recently and it has made a big difference. The most important lesson for me was calibrating my cameras properly. I shoot mainly landscapes and nature, and nailing accurate color was always difficult for me, requiring extensive HSL adjustments. Now I simply set the WB correctly and get accurate, pleasing color straight off the bat – it just works. Overall contrast is also improved, I don’t have to recover shadows or highlights nearly as much as before.
I’ve re-edited some pictures from the past year with this workflow, pictures that I wasn’t confident in publishing before. I’m extremely pleased with the results and I’m proud to say three of them have made it into this group. It gives me confidence that I’m moving in the right direction.
I want to thank Ming for all the hard work he has put into his site, education videos and this Flickr community. It has made all the difference for me.
John Moran (Making Outstanding Images Ep. 1-5): I also wanted to thank you again for your excellent videos. I have bought and studied the entire Outstanding Images series. They are the most insightful and practical photography educational resource I have found.
Tom Morgan (Monochrome Masterclass): A few months ago I purchased your Monochrome Masterclass videos and thank you so much for them as I found them to be the most useful purchase changing the way I now edit my photos. I do read all your posts and check on your latest Flickr images. It has now become part of my daily ritual and a very pleasant one at that.
Jessica Winograd (PS Workflow II): I recently purchased Photoshop Workflow II and have enjoyed working my way through the course. Not only have I learned valuable techniques but I have also been learning what it is about your photos that I find so magical and appealing. I hope this will help me as I develop my own style.
Mikko Ritala (PS Workflow II): I highly recommend this video, I’ve only spent about 10 hours practicing with this workflow and my images are already starting to turn out much better than before. I took a small catalog of old pictures that I edited with this workflow and then compared to previous exported versions. The difference has been an eye-opener. I still need to get my cameras profiled correctly to get the most out of it.
David Fisher (Email School of Photography): I really enjoyed the class Ming, and appreciate the honest and timely feedback. It was a real pleasure and I definitely learned a lot. I can really tell how I’ve raised the level of my photography and am not satisfied with images that last year I would have thought were good. Thank you again.
John Weeks (Compact Camera Masterclass): But after going over Mings Compact Masterclass I learned its all about the eye, and some knowledge. He kicked my fanny in that video. All the gearheads should have to view it. I am happy with my tools…eye…sometimes.
Mark (PS Workflow II): After trading in a BHC (Big Heavy Camera) for a NLC (nice light camera), I had some money left over, so I figured that as education is better than gear I should give this (and the Monochrome masterclass) a shot. The Monochrome video is useful and interesting, but the PS Workflow is even better. I’m highly impressed. The nice thing about these videos is that they are immediately applicable, but also have enough depth of ideas and details to bear repeated viewings. I just signed up for the trial run of CC2014 (PS and Bridge) and having seen what they can do, I will be subscribing to the monthly model, if for no other reason than to be able to put into practice everything mentioned on the Workflow 2 video. I haven’t run any files through this workflow yet, but I’m very much looking forward to the results. Seeing the examples on the video going from rather “meh” looking files to highly striking finished products was quite enlightening. The improvements to ACR are nice too. As the “nice light camera” I picked up was a used X100, the section on X-Trans was appreciated too. Thanks for two excellent products!
Emil Varadi (Prague March 2015 Masterclass): I’ve stumbled upon Ming’s website a few years ago coming from the DPReview lens forum. I was at that time interested in the Zeiss ZF 21∕2.8 lens and someone pointed at his review of this lens. His site was new to me, so being a gearhead myself , I also read his Camerapedia pages and skimmed through his whole site then concentrating mainly on his gear reviews. It did not take long to notice that he had plenty of perfectly composed images, pictures of real artistic merit, which was actually a welcome surprise. A lot of guys talk about gear and photography on the web, but their artistic output is well, even mildly spoken: dubious. I have been and I am still am subscriber to manuals∕gear review pages and have spent many many hours on the web beachcombing for worthwhile content on photography. Months and months passed, Ming started his Master Classes and I’ve seen from him a steady flow of perfectly composed photographs, which had a slightly unnatural, darkish, but very pleasing coloration. I immersed more and more into his writings and his photography already then
started have an impact on my shooting. In the meantime I saw Ming’s free Havana tuition video and also bought his three discounted tuition videos. When he announced his Prague Master Class, I knew the time
has come. True, I got some nudging from my wife, who is also an eager photographer. Prague had a special significance for us: our photographic fever started exactly there 12 years earlier.
Prague started and ended in a „classroom”, by Ming analyzing and commenting first the 10 best images we bought with us, and at the end, the 10 best images we made during the course. In the meantime, every morning and noon we had the opportunity to seek his opinion on the images we made that day or the previous afternoon. Also all of us had a half day with him personally, when we would go out shooting side by side.
It is also important to mention, that on the very first day, Ming also asked everyone, what was our aim with the course. I happened to mention that my photography usually has a human focus, humans are part of my compositions. This at the time seemed to me just a casual sentence I said then to explain what I was generally shooting, but by the end of the course I had to realize that this sentence does have a much deeper philosophical meaning. I have come back to this thought ever since.
Let me try to explain. Ming is photographing compositions: buildings, objects, street scenes, where – occasionally – humans are also included but mostly as requisites for a perfection seeking composition. I think that Ming is the best out here with his compositional skills and capabilities, I’ve seen practically numberless compositions from numberless authors, but he is tops in this genre, if not the best, then
certainly one of the very best. (And more importantly from your aspect, he is able to pass on to you much of this. It’s only up to you how much you utilize). So yes, composition is the alpha and omega of photography. So if you can develop good∕better∕perfect composition into your everyday language in photography, then you can get very very far. By the end of the course I have seen quite a few excellent images from other participants that I would happily hang on my wall or call my own. (Primarily Patrick’s
image of a statue of a man hanging outside a window.)
Regarding photography I have come from a different school. Having been a journalist for 35 years I knew many great photo journalists and have seen even more great news photographs. This genre is primarily about human drama, the word drama used in a very broad context here. (By drama I do not only mean strong human emotions, but a smile, a grin, a facial expression, a human gesture that communicates outside the image). To humans humans are the most important subjects. We would look with interest at
another human being rather than on a composition of objects. We resonate better to other humans. Having been practically immersed into such photographs more than half my life, no wonder they had great influence on me and no wonder I tend to put humans in the focus of my photography. Humans that are not just esthetic compositional elements in a picture but humans that do somehow communicate outside the plain of the image.
I have mentioned some of this to Ming, definitely not with such clarity as I myself have not put these things into their proper place at the time. Then I felt that human „drama” portrayed on an image easily overwrites compositional principles and it is the „drama” that talks to us, that really hooks us to the image. (Ming said something like we cannot expect much drama on the streets of Prague anyway and human drama – well composed – will have greater photographical value. In this he is definitely right. (Still, that very day the two of us have stumbled upon a drug addict, a woman, sitting in the staircase of the parking lot to Prague’s Wilson Railway Station. She was sitting silently on the filthy stairs stinking of urine, and held an injection needle that Ming later said she would use to inject heroin into her arm. The woman looked at me as we bypassed her on the way up. I still cannot forget her hopeless dark brown eyes. So there’s human drama for you even on the streets of Prague, something we did not photograph for ethical reasons.)
So what did Prague bring for me? The most important part is something seemingly very simple: the understanding that one needs to compose carefully. Very carefully. An amateur beginner would say sure, what’s the big deal? One needs to be at a high level to grasp the real difficulty of this simple sentence. Because in Ming’s terms this means practically pixel level perfection. Coming home from Prague I skimmed through several years of my images only to realize how sloppy I was before, how many good
chances have I missed, by not taking better care. I just did not know before. The other lesson was how to balance a composition, what to watch for in an image.
I think I have gone home from Prague with a highly useful set of tools, but I will need much more practice to become fluent in their use. I know I will never achieve Ming’s levels of perfection, as neither I have the patience nor his abilities, but for my purposes I will be very satisfied. Also it is important that we know, what we do and what we do not want. No, I will not be chasing the ideal of perfect compositions of objects, but I will definitely use the skills learned for the human aspects of my photography.
Ian Carroll (Prague March 2015 Masterclass): Prague was fantastic, and I will be back again. Great MC, with a great bunch of guys, and some stunning images on display in everyone’s final 10. It has taken me 2 whole days to curate down to about 400 images, which considering half the time the weather was very familiar feeling (grey, flat, boring, damp and unpleasant) is something. Most of the guys only had 1 good shooting day, weather-wise, and despite this produced great images…I think if the weather had held out we would have had all 3.5>4+ s. And I know, there is no such thing as “bad light” but still, it is alot easier to find inspiration and worthy subjects when the sun is shining! Thanks again for your time and mentorship, and for going the extra mile in trying to make it a more personal experience….I know this doesn’t come easy for you, nor for me, but I think it adds a lot to the mentor/mentee relationship. it was very rewarding shooting (or at least seeing) alongside you as a fellow photographer rather than as just a paying student. Although I am not overly enthused by my own output, I know why I am not (different gear, weather, being too distracted with Gerner and Junaid…in a good way!), and I came away with a feeling of validation, which was important to me.
Michael Letchford (Prague March 2015 Masterclass): All good things must come to an end as they say, so it is with much regret that Ming’s Prague Masterclass came to a close yesterday with a very positive final review day. It was my last chance this morning to steal an hour in the rain, trying out new kit with the sole challenge of subject isolation. Not so easy when it’s pouring down! Never mind, got some good shots of wet pavements and people under brollies taking their Sunday morning strolls in empty streets. Very evocative! The Masterclass was once again very challenging, but great work and much progress came out of it. Final Day Review was very inspiring ……. Thanks go to Ming for his unending patience and encouragement and skillfull criticisms – always focussed on pushing you forward. It was a great group, comprised of many talented people. You couldn’t help but be inspired. Must try harder!
Junaid Rahim (Prague March 2015 Masterclass): Curating and processing finally completed and time to share my thoughts on the Prague Masterclass! This was my second Ming workshop, the first being in Amsterdam some 18 odd months ago. That set the foundations and ‘principles’ for what makes an image and the Masterclass took this to another level. I actually came into the workshop in a bit of a ‘photographic rut’ and needing some inspiration and motivation to pick up the camera and shoot. The workshop started with us all sharing out 10 images and it was a sobering experience getting the feedback on what worked and what didn’t. Armed with this feedback we began shooting with some incredible light on the first day. The workshop challenged us to be more critical and more importantly the participants challenged each other to be better. We each also had a session with Ming to work on a certain aspect. Needing some help with experimenting my session involved us working with a tripod in the evening experimenting with the ‘Dancing House’. We spent 3 hours freezing to the bone on a bridge (with Ming you don’t get very far as he points out various things that could work…) experimenting with different angles and that was invaluable for what I wanted to achieve. Though the weather sadly didn’t hold up for the rest of the week, we were getting stronger images as we started to ‘see’ more effectively. At the final review session, the progress in the final 10 images the participants showed was outstanding – as a group we even worried Ming slightly before he started his curation ;). But in the end Ming showed his experience and presented an incredible selection – we didn’t expect anything less from our teacher :) . On top of that the group we had was fantastic and we had some good nights together. Thanks again Ming, it was great fun and onto the next workshop when and wherever that may be! And if anyone wants a look, my photographs from the workshop: https://www.flickr.com/…/125049303@…/sets/72157649274730284/
Kevin Foisy (Prague March 2015 Masterclass): The Prague Masterclass was my first workshop with Ming and won’t be my last. Ming has a direct and very intentional style of instruction that is straight to the point. His workshop is demanding and free of fluff that one might find in other venues. On our first day, during image review, Ming identified areas that we could work on to achieve our workshop objectives; mine was compositional balance and aspect ratios. Shooting with Ming in beautiful Prague helped me to see what I was missing and in the end achieve better, more balanced compositions. My fellow photographers were both an inspiration to me and a joy to socialize with. I’ve learned, improved and made new friends; exactly what I had hoped for! A great week with Ming in Prague and highly recommended.
Gerner Christensen (Prague March 2015 Masterclass): Having participated in the Masterclass (MC) workshop in Venice end of November last year, I had my doubts should I be able to adapt and benefit from new endeavours already so soon after? I was still under impression and working on the outcome of the first MC while the chance occurred to participate in a new Masterclass in Prague. Feeling a bit odd to attend so soon again, I felt even more odd letting such a chance pass. After all it was astonishing beautiful and charming Prague that should host us and the city has been high on my priority list for quite some time. It was also a unique chance to work with Ming again and there were participants I so utterly wanted to see and to be together with. Now soon 3 weeks since the the Masterclass took place, I must say I do not regret at all. As we all did, I too bought my 10 images for a review and I must say it is quite rewarding having such qualified feedback from such outstanding photographers as I truly admit the whole group were. But just as rewarding it is to have a chance to give one’s opinion back to 70 outstanding images. It is on such rare occasions one’s fantasy starts boiling, our attention and senses are fully alerted, and we are getting new ideas and broadened and perspectives to one’s own work. I brought of course my objectives for the workshop, but they were already altered during the first days review session. There you go, the teaching starts immediately after the first imaged has been shown. OK, I brought my ideas about transcending the stocked way I have been shooting up to the MC by trying to add a twist to my work to make it more interesting to look at. Crossing the borders of my comfort zone and what have we, I learned my objectives changed a bit already during the course. I was encouraged by Ming to curate before I even took the shot and that makes a lot of sense in my case because how often haven’t I wasted data and time just to fire on some object and then hope for the best. I can’t say I fully succeeded, but I certainly went a big step in the right direction. By giving a possible shot a second thought you will also start distilling the idea about what it is you want to say with the shot. *Is it me to shoot this?* *Is the right light for the scene?* *Does it bring anything new to the table or is it just another cliche to the many already taken?* … These are questions I will ask myself in the future while running and gunning out there! Hah .. and then all my troubles bringing an inadequate tripod for my new D810 and its heavy glass was certainly a lesson I brought home too. Saying to myself and others *Oh .. I am not a tripod guy anyhow, so never mind* , well that isn’t actually the case to be honest, and Ming really was helpful to advise me what to buy while he saw me struggling and suffering with my dry spaghetti Gitzo I had brought. While I rushed to the local gear shop who advertised they had more adult stuff on stock, I was disappointed to learn that they had not! Well since not all our workshop days had strong light etc. I also faced many of my shots were shaken or robbed DR because of early auto ISO kick in. Nevertheless I got enough quality shots in order to curate for our last classroom day. I had my 10 images and I liked them. Even more did I like many of the 10’s my dear fellow participants brought! It was an amazing day with so many master shots I would have wished to have taken myself, and the good question could be *Why didn’t I*? The critique and feedback from Ming and the group were priceless and there were such a common energy present while we all took and gave, all while being taught and induced new ideas upon our efforts … it is hard to say otherwise than the harvest actually felt bigger than the seeds you sowed yourself. So also this time I am overwhelmed by the progressive process it is to pass a Masterclass. It is so rewarding and I would do it again and again so long there are Masterclasses to attend. I want to thank each one in the group for all we had together and in particular thank you Ming for being such an inspiration and source of photographic wisdom. It was unforgettable and enormously enriching. Thank you all!
Patrick Hautle (Prague March 2015 Masterclass) – Even though I read all the enthusiastic comments that previous masterclass participants left on your website, I came to Prague unbiased and open to any outcome. In retrospect I can say that they were not at all exaggerating. I experienced a very dense week which has left some strong marks in my approach to photography.
The early discussion we had on distraction and the minimum number of elements needed for a story helped me very much to review my previous practice of framing. Your straight, clear cut and always well thought critique brought me on the track to compose much denser images. Looking back it’s amazing to see how much progress is possible in a few days with proper and instructive guidance.
John Moran (Intro to PS, Intermediate PS, PS Workflow II): I bought and am studying Intro and Intermediate PS. All 3 PS videos are concise and very well done. I simply cannot sit through most video tutorials because their baud rate is so excruciatingly slow. So thank you for making those.
Arpit Srivastava (PS Workflow II): The workflow video is very good – I’m already seeing improved results in my images and a lot more consistency. I think I will be buying your B&W video eventually as well.
Andrew Murray (Fundamentals, Outstanding Images Ep.1-3, How To See Ep. 1-5) – I completed the purchase of the Fundamentals +Outstanding Images Packages 1-3… so I am very happy thank you ! Funny having time to reflect on How to See 1 through 5. Not sure what you hear from people I am surprised how much I Enjoyed H1 KL and H3 Penang. H2 – TOK was equally inspirational. H4 MELB is my goto city in Oz my wife and I go there to take photos and have any down time a few times a year and always love it simply for the change. H5 Havana. What a special joint ! So rich in colour. But If I was forced I am going to choose and say something unexpected. I think I enjoyed H1 KL the most and I never expected that. H2 and H3 equal in second place for me. Tokyo is obviously so special photographically,the light seems wonderful in that video. But Penang was great, much better than I was expecting. Melbourne is Melbourne I loved it too. But there you go push comes to shove. thats my little bit of feedback I loved them all, I didn’t not like anything thing. and importantly you have helped me on my journey with this passion / hobby.
Graeme Allan (PS Workflow II) – After purchasing ‘Photoshop Workflow II’ I suffered an identical epiphany following application of the principles in ‘Monochrome Masterclass': I undertook a major ‘delete’ of most of what I thought I knew and returned to ‘Square One’. Significantly, for me and my output, this is entirely ‘pleasurable pain’. Thanks Ming for quality instruction, quality methodology and helping to increase my potential to find possibilities, and alternatives in my editing.
Klifton (PS Workflow II) – Just a quick note of gratitude for all your hard work. You’ve enlightened me in more ways than any other photographer. Your style, your tools, and your methods. They’re all right! I’m making my first trip to Asia in a week. I can’t guarantee I’ll come back with anything earth shattering, but my chances are greatly improved thanks to you. I purchased a GR (using your Amazon link), and I couldn’t be happier. Complimenting it will be an FX Nikon body with 60 2.8G and 85 1.8G. I also purchased and studied your Photoshop A2 video (along with the Intermediate and Monochrome). Your usage of the dodge/burn tools have been hugely useful, as well as the lab mode in Photoshop. I’ve used PS for well over a decade, and always avoided the dodge/burn tools for some reason or another, but thanks to you… I’m now using them to great success. Thank you for all you do! You have single-handedly made me a better photographer, more so than any one else. Keep up the great work!
Mikko Ritala (Making Outstanding Images Ep. 1-5) – Outstanding Images is the best money I’ve spent on photography.
Andrew Hiscock (PS Workflow II, Intro to PS Workflow) – I am working my way through your photoshop workflow videos at the moment. I purchased the first set (I & II), and they are wonderful. I have gone back through my catalog and edited some photos in which previously I was not able to bring out what I saw when I took the picture, and now I have finally a result I am happy with. Also, while I already knew before that education is more important than simply buying more gear, after watching these videos I now 100% believe it. For example, where I used to run into situations where I would think “maybe I’m just running into sensor limitations” I now think “I can fix this with curves”.
Andre Yew (PS Workflow II) – The rest of the workflow is pretty marvelous. Editing in Lab mode is really satisfying. Thanks for showing us all of this, Ming! I also found I could almost everything in LR that Ming does in ACR, so LR users, don’t let that stop you from adopting this great way of editing. The only exception is the really useful-looking area-selection for the WB eyedropper tool, but you can always do this manually by averaging measurements at many points. In fact, many of the things Ming discusses in ACR (negative value sliders, many different settings applicable to the gradient tool) have been available to LR users for quite a while now.
Jonathan Usher (PS Workflow II) – What a wonderful Photoshop workflow resource – thanks Ming; I’m getting a lot out of the materials and the many samples that you work through. Thanks again for a wonderful video course.
Eric Hanson (PS Workflow II) – Just finished watching Photoshop Workflow II video parts 1 and 2. Highly recommended. The new process is simpler, takes less time and results in cleaner output of files and more accurate color. I use to love the old curve adjustment in the previous videos however the new curve adjustment is two part and preserves both color and saturation. Part one occurs in ACR and handles the proper roll off of highlights and part two occurs in PS and handles the shadows. Also the color profiling of the camera is a step I have never done before and this technique is included in the video. This will make my configuration much closer to Ming’s. Essentially closing the gap further. Ming explains what shortcuts to configure in PS to speed up the flow. He also explains a few of the tools he uses in PS. It is very nice to see the video in the latest version of PS as now everything matches very closely. The new process is very easy to adapt to the previous processing videos. The inclusion of several RAW files and finished JPEGs is a game changer. I am going to copy the RAWS to a separate directory, process them and then compare to Ming’s processed files to see the differences. It is fun having Ming’s RAW files loaded up in Adobe Bridge. Gradients take a more important and more precise role than before. The ACR filter is a great addition to PS and Ming explains its use in the workflow well using a mossy fallen tree image and a very large image from his trees series. From time to time Ming will pause and explain a point or two at a beginners level without taking away much time or distraction from the flow. It’s almost as if someone is reminding him from time to time to explain a point at a more basic level. :-) I am quite sure it is Ming catching himself. If you own a Fuji X-trans camera and /or are considering the purchase of one this video is perfect. This is covered as the final topic and Ming explains that almost everything still applies except for some steps which are either different or reversed. The samples are well chosen to demonstrate the uniqueness of the sensor and really show how processing them in adobe in the same manner as RAW files from a Bayer filter camera results in poor image quality and how to turn that around to get proper output. The changes needed are clearly explained. I Really like the section on curation. The intro and section on curation are the first 46 minutes of the first video. It is very helpful hearing Ming discuss strengths and weaknesses of various images. I wanted him to keep a few of the images he discarded. He also explains why he picks one over another and I learned a lot from that as well. This is something he does as part of his Master Classes and it was fun to see it in action. The examples section is key to understanding the new process. The two images from San Francisco are nicely captured and processed and will allow me to see those type of images in the future. There are several edge cases in the selected images and Ming does a great job to explain these points. A very well done video.
Gerner Christensen (PS Workflow II) – Beside the very useful repetition of the curation part of the workflow, the color management and camera profiling comes as a gift from heaven. Furthermore I have seen new tips and very useful stuff in the ACR filtering part. Great Ming! Next, the Lab Mode post processing flow is a huge improvement on how to preserve your colors. The files comes out cleaner and to me with far more appealing colors. This is a huge advancement to the former set of working steps. It is faster that way and the file quality has been vastly improved. What is there not to love about these new videos! Thanks again Ming.
Eric Hanson (PS Workflow II) – Really like the section on curation. The intro and section on curation are the first 46 minutes of the first video. It is very helpful hearing you discuss strengths and weaknesses of various images. I Also like the included RAW files for some of the images. I have them loaded up in adobe bridge and look forward to experimenting with them. The section on color profiling is very nice. Also the ACR updates. I like that you are using the latest versions of ACR and CS as the sliders are different. I also like the updated and simplified workflow. It is easier to do and follow. Looking forward to the examples section and working along on the included RAW files.
Ross Waugh (How To See, Ep.5: Havana): Hi Ming, Thank you so much for sharing the Havana video for free. I really enjoyed watching it, and picking up the tips on composition, framing etc. I found your style relaxed, and your communication clear. What an interesting place Havana is. On a secondary level, I was quite interested in how Havana looks and feels – which came through the video.
Mike Chen (Outstanding Images Ep. 4, 5; Monochrome Masterclass): Being a long time fan of your blog, I finally made the decision and purchased your “Making Outstanding Images Ep.4 + Ep. 5 + Monochrome Masterclass” bundle. Gotta say I’m quite impressed with your insights. Thank you for making them and all the incredibly informative articles on your blog.
Michael Letchford (How To See, Ep.5: Havana): Ming this is a masterpiece! For anyone interested in travel, in social history, in art, and of course, photography, this is a world class documentary. The BBC would have been proud to broadcast this video. Entertaining, insightful, educational and uplifting. Loved it!!
Kai O’Yang (How To See, Ep.4: Melbourne): I’ve finally finished watching this video. Living in Melbourne, I’ve shot Fed Square and Southbank multiple times and I didn’t see those frames you saw. Really refreshing and enlightening on helping me to improve my seeing.
Gerner C (Masterclass Venice): Dear friends, back from the WS in Venice. In short it was by far the summit of my photographic experience ever. Beside enjoying endlessly the beautiful and romantic city of Venice, the whole WS, the come together in the spirit of learning and sharing, was an almost spiritual experience for me. Almost, wrong word?.. why do I doubt .. better to say it certainly was a spiritual experince in the sence of trancending oneself and becoming filled with joy and solid trust in my ability to become a better photographer. The weather was like it was. Not too much sunshine and strong shadows actually, some rain too. But I certainly learned that any weather and any light during the day and night 24 is good weather and light. What held me back shooting only in sunlight? Belive me the light during first meeting day and end of the last was of indiscribable quality. The sea around Venice breaks the light into such wonderful colors that I hardly knew existed. It was overwhelming and a pity we were’nt blessed with that quality light during the week. just shooting the light would be able to stand alone. The food was of course excellent… and pretty expensive = Sea Food! Anytime I have a chance to eat fresh seafood, I’ll take it. Probably because I am basically built up from seafood molecules the 48 years I lived in Denmark ;-) I miss it here on the continental Balkans. The group was certainly a fantastic group as I am convinced all Mings WS groups are. The devotion to photography was very very intense and strong from the biginning and much stronger at the end. I think all participants would agree on that. All of us went through a dramatical conversion from start to end. An impressive personal transformation and output showed at the end of the WS for all of us. From tense anxiety in the beginning to fun and vivid fluency at the end. Being together around photography in Mings atmosphere and the following growing awareness of being a member of a team left us all in an immence state of dedication and love for photography. Ming has to be hold a great deal reasponsible for making that happen :) I came to Venice with the wish of basically improving balance in my images. Simultaniously make them more interesting to look at. Ming told me to concentrate on visual balance around the subject and keep out non essential stuff. Yeah man .. precicely what I needed being able to do! The shootout with Ming was an unforgettable experince. How can I express it? It was like having borrowed Ming’s eyes for light and composition for some hours and being left with a permanent footprint, some seeds in the photographic soil in ones head. It is about furtilizing those seeds now and let them grow. We did not ahve much of any shadows, so we decided to do painterly photography. For sure Ming was painting super realistic with his camera and he simply sees what is the obvious where I do not even sense there is an inherent immage to bring back home. Amazing! Thanks Ming showing me how you work and interprete Mother Earth and the human creations. Thank you for being such a share willing soul. Thank you being the way you are, an outstanding person of which there are far too few of on this planet. I was told to slow down and dwell more with what I see and for God’s sake taking my tripod with me forcing me to do so. It showed to be a very good suggestion and haven’t I been that lost in the process of making The Image of my life, I would probably not have left the tripod on that garbage bin I put it on doing the only handheld shot I made Wednesday afternoon. Back to early auto ISO kick in to leave out my handshake !!! Weuww.. noise and loss of tonal quality was a concequence. I have to admit I did have problems making the 750 working 100% for me during the week and Ming had to grab my camera to improve settings for me the way I want to use it. Oh… yeah, Ming also adjusted the AF fine tuning of my 3 lenses … in silly 20 seconds !!!! However, things peaked of course at the last day showing each other our curated 10’s. I have never ever seen that concentration of excellent photography in so short time. Period. The group had grown the level of quality at least a star and a half up compared to what I saw at the first day. Incredible but true. I can’t remember if there were any of the 70 image deliveries that was voted under 3 stars out of four. Or were there? I can’t remember.. there were so many four star images. Believe me, for the first time I really understood what the four things means. Need I to say following Ming curating his images and do his 10 live on stage is a previledge beyond the four dimensions!!! Needless to say that I (we) am/are certainly not the only one/s carrying the gear interest decease! Holy Moly…! I am not left alone with that syndrom I can asure you… :) Now all these impressions and learnings of course have to sink in and hopefully it translates into my photography being less imballanced and boring. I think it will. I really do hope I would have another chance to participate in a Masterclass WS in the future. Excuse me if I bored you guys with this longer post. I couldn’t make it shorter and had my English been better it would have been much longer ;-)
Holger F. (Masterclass Venice) : Home again and having done my backups to save our precious work I gratefully want to join the praises you all made in the foregoing mails. This fantastic mixture of hard work ;-) within a wonderful group of inspiring and hearty people will be kept in my mind forever. Thanks to all of you adding this outstanding days to my experiences of life.
A special thank to Ming for his never ending patience and discipline leading this workshop to a great success for all of us. Ming, I greatly admire your educational skills which enables you to transfer – at least a part of – your knowledge to us.
Rudolf F. (Masterclass Venice): Everything said already I could subscribe to as well. I enjoyed the learning experience and the inspiration gained from Ming and all participants. One sad note: It is getting more and more difficult to come home with a picture that is to my satisfaction, the expectations have been raised to a new level. But after all, that’s what we paid for – and it’s good so.
With best wishes to all of you and always good light. Watch the edges!
Michael S. (Masterclass Venice): I only can double what Phil said. I enjoyed every minute and it was great to meet you all. For me it was relaxing and demanding – i learned a lot and hopefully will be able to reproduce that in the future. Thanks again to Ming for his professional and always friendly manner! This and our evenings made it an outstanding week for me.
Phil L. (Masterclass Venice): Thank you all for a highly rewarding week bringing excellent insight and enjoyable company. I feel refreshed as a photographer with new ideas and new ways of seeing. And of course a special thank you to Ming for his expert guidance, workshop preparation and approachable, friendly manner. Spending 6 days purely on photography has been a wonderful indulgence that I will benefit from every time I lift a camera to my eye. Thank you Ming.
Todd Lawton (How To See Ep.4, Melbourne) – The How To See series just gets better and better.
Episode 4’s gorgeous cinematography makes it feel almost like a travel documentary, while the mixed lighting conditions make for the most educational instalment yet – a good 50% of this video is dedicated to
making the most of overcast and failing light. At nearly three hours long it’s bloody good value, too.
Gerner Christensen (How To See Ep.4, Melbourne) – Again a fantastic opportunity to have a seat on your shoulders Ming. It is inspiring to learn how you see and how the 4 things always are baked in in each and every image you take. Your simultaneous elaborations during the take and following interpretation while reviewing the images I find very useful while curating my own work. During the whole video there’s a theme going through: Deliberate composition which is what makes the difference between you and the casual ‘hit by luck’ shooter. There’s always the excitement to see what you actually are framing from the scene the video camera shows. I often think ‘What are you seeing here that’s so interesting?’ When I see the take there’s no doubt left :) It is also very interesting to see how you place yourself and the camera to get exactly what you are after, which underlines you always have a clear idea and story with your images. This and the former videos goes behind the mystery why your photography is so interesting, inspiring and wonderful. It shows how often you are waiting for the right moment and how often that moment doesn’t come. Many of us would have taken the image anyhow. At last I got encouraged to go out and shoot even we do not have well defined shadows and strong light. There are certainly still possibilities to make outstanding images in flat light, we just have to go along with what works best in the given light. Just to recall ‘Fog In Vienna’ among a lot of your flat light takes portfolio. Thanks for making another great video on How To See … looking forward to the next.
Graeme Allan (Monochrome Masterclass) – Again, thanks for the directions in your monochrome videos. As I said, my workflow has changed, significantly. I suppose the key elements I have learned revolve around exposure to the right and, when in PS, refining the use of curves and dodging/burning.
Initially, I could not believe that 5% was going to do anything when dodging and burning. I was wrong.
Gerner Christensen (Monochrome Masterclass) – I have now finished viewing the video and it is again a most inspiring one. As with all Mings videos it is a showcase on how to improve yourself in the entire workflow as well as learning how to become efficient in PP.
Time ago I did not believe I would need any efficiency through-putting my pictures, but as the hit rate rises step by step it has become more important to me not to sit too long at my desk and repeat over and over again the necessary clickings for each and every image. This video is full of hints and tips for fast and serious PP. By shortcuts and action recordings the dull part of PP can be eliminated.
I found the part using non-destructive curves interesting, but will park it for later usage until I am more certain in what I want to achieve.
The prelude about seeing the world in B&W and how filters works for your images is very fruitful to watch as well.
I will see this precious video again and again, just like I did with all the other videos. Seeing a video again after some time unlayers new facets of photography.
At last this video actually came to me as a kind of saviour in order to see my local boresome surroundings in a new way. How many times I saw an interesting scene spoiled by mismatching colors, things that should not be there and made me think ‘this does not work, but the shape or texture is interesting’ … suddenly the entrance door could be capturing it in B&W. I don’t know why I didn’t really see the B&W as an option, but now I do.
Thank you Ming for adding another valuable video to the already precious collection.
Michael Letchford (Monochrome Masterclass) – I’ve just bought the long awaited Monochrome Masterclass. Excellent job. Very much worth waiting for :-) .Like all of the other workshops you’ve done, I’ll have to watch it 10 times before it all sinks in!! Lots to think about and experiment with. There are also some cracking images used in your examples, which are inspiring in themselves. Loved the Havana images. Well, I would, wouldn’t I?
Eric Hanson (Monochrome Masterclass) – Just finished watching The Monochrome Masterclass workshop video parts 1 & 2. Very enjoyable and highly recommended. I broke it into three evenings. I really enjoyed the lecture portion that is shot in B&W where the filters and light change to illustrate the various points and B&W conversion options and the fact that you covered colored filters in this section. I also like your set and the composition and leading lines as well as the color of various objects to illustrate your point. Every potion of the lecture was instructional and very intentional.
I also like the photos chosen for conversion as well as the sample photos. The example photos have a variety of lighting conditions and on my way to work it was cloudy and almost rainy but I could see opportunities to shoot, the potential in the scene and what the finished output would look like. These were things I would have passed by the day before. And the good thing is we have this weather often and it is nice to shoot in a wide range of conditions. I see the Monochrome treatment really extending the number of shooting days.
I also really like the low contrast photo section for foggy weather etc. These are some of my favorite scenes and I will see the potential in them the next time I see them. For the low key high contrast portion I learned that you expose to the right (ETTR) and then bring them down in post. This was very helpful. Also the concept of high contrast low key was an insight that I had not thought of much before. Many of your images are shot this way and I really like them and I now know how to shoot and process them. The photo of the three people on the sea wall with the sunset was inspirational. I hope to shoot a low key high contrast series using the ideas in this video soon. I am most excited about the section on balanced monochrome images as I have been trying to figure this out for sometime. Trying to get close to some of the photos you have taken. You clearly show how you obtain the results and I know I can get much closer now then I could before.
I also like the pace of the video and the vary intentional use of props and lighting in the first part. You have also convinced me to get a Wacom tablet finally… :-)
Well done. I really appreciate the information and newly learned skills.
Andre Yew (Monochrome Masterclass) – Crepuscular dodging! When do we burn the ephemeris? :)
I was surprised to find myself inspired by the high-key, low-contrast examples, so I have to go make some of those images now. I also liked how you showed the video in the various styles — green filter is really not flattering for humans!
Finally, I hope people realize and appreciate how comprehensive an approach you’ve presented. It’s not just another filter program slapped onto a random image, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some who were expecting Mingstagram filter will be disappointed … their loss. Instead the B&W conversion takes into account artistic intention and what the image needs to present itself strongly. One of your best videos: thank you!
Joe Atkinson (San Francisco Masterclass) – Your breadth of experience and skill, combined with your personality, teaching style, and flexibility created an unforgettable week of photographic immersion. I was unprepared (“Know your equipment!”), but it didn’t matter. You created a flexible structure for each of us to define and then pursue our goals; I learned not only from you, but from each of the other participants. I especially appreciated how you taught to both our strengths and weaknesses, and how you let us (literally, in my case) drive our own agenda for our session with you. I can still hear the echo of your advice every time I look through the viewfinder: “Take your time!” Thanks for the many words of straight-forward advice and thank you for a great experience at the SF Masterclass!
Andre Yew (San Francisco Masterclass) – 5 Great Reasons To Attend A Ming Thein Masterclass
1. The pre-workshop portfolio selection. Picking ten images to show who you are as a photographer makes you think really hard about the kind of photographer you want to be, and that in turn will help you make a plan for what you want to learn and how you can improve. When do we really
get to think introspectively about what we’re doing? It’s also really tough!
2. Individual, extensive coaching from Ming. Ming wants to help you be the best photographer you can be, whatever your photographic vision or goal may be. He isn’t interested in making clones of himself. You may already have a distinctive photographic style, but that artistic vision could be held back by technical issues. He’s going to be blunt about telling you what you need to fix, but he’s also going to help you fix those problems. In my case, working on a couple of compositional issues is going to make my work and what I want to say stronger, clearer, and more consistent than ever before.
3. Your fellow students. The positive atmosphere, enthusiasm, and great energy of your fellow students are infectious! Each day, I looked forward to seeing what everyone else had done, and it was really great to see how everyone had improved and changed over the course of only 5
days at the ending portfolio review.
4. Seeing how Ming works. Lots of people have written about seeing Ming edit, and that is truly a wonder. But when you’re out in the field with the man, and see him bound down a hill with a large tripod in one hand, and a large roll-aboard camera case in the other chasing a fading sunset, or standing in the cold fog freezing various body parts off just to get one more shot, you can’t help but be inspired by his energy and enthusiasm. He truly loves photography, and that rubs off very easily.
5. Having a whole week just to shoot with no other concerns. When else will you have permission to have a whole week just for yourself, working on your photography? In my normal life, I get to shoot only on the weekends, but this concentrated week has helped me improve considerably.
Gary Getz (San Francisco Masterclass) – The Masterclass was a fantastic learning experience for me! My goal for the week was to inject mood and feeling into my images, which I viewed as an aesthetic aspiration; but what I quickly learned was that I needed to put several technical building blocks in place first. After two days of practice on technique, I received the all-clear (and some great guidance) to work on my initial goal — and the improvement in my results was clear. The half-day that I spent with Ming one-on-one, working on a very specific set of skills, was absolute gold — Ming watched me try things my way, and then rapidly diagnosed my opportunities for improvement and taught me some fantastic principles and tricks of the trade that I know will serve me well for years to come. And the interactions with my fellow students were fantastic, both during the formal portfolio reviews and the daily lunchtime get-togethers where we compared notes and received input from Ming. I’d certainly sign up again, with an eye toward other parts of the photographic universe — who knows, maybe next time it will be architecture or landscape!
Margaret Cheng (San Francisco Masterclass) – Aside from yearbook photography in high school, I consider myself a casual photographer who started photography back up about 5 years ago when my husband (David) and I went on safari in Kenya and Tanzania at which time David introduced me to digital photography and Lightroom. Since then, we have usually reserved our photographic efforts for vacations, resulting in mostly landscape photography.
Previously, we participated in a couple of workshops led by pro photographers. I was interested in learning more about composition (other than the rule of thirds!), what made a photograph good or bad, and how it could be improved in-camera and with post processing.
Those workshops were great for showing us where and when to go to a particular location at the right time of day for good light, but unfortunately, they always seemed short on meaningful instruction. I always went away feeling disappointed that I didn’t learn as much as I would have liked, especially considering the potential of how much the instructor could have taught us. I think that it’s just easier to comment on technical things like exposure, etc. rather than perform critiques or teach someone how to develop an eye for what will be a good photograph.
Judging from his website, we felt that if anyone would be a good teacher, it would be Ming. We felt that the Outstanding Images course would be the most appropriate level for us, however, Ming assured us that we would be up to speed after watching the videos, and we signed up for the Masterclass.
Being in San Francisco, we assumed that the class would be mostly urban photography, which we had never really done. So our pre-work came in the form of watching the videos, and going in to the city to practice taking photos of buildings and people. I found that having to develop objectives for the class and then culling down to 10 images for the pre-class critique really crystallized the learning process, and made the critiques more valuable.
The critique of the student images on the first and last days of the masterclass was incredibly interesting and eye opening. Not only for the breadth of images, but also for discovering what others liked and didn’t like about images and also more importantly, Ming’s opinions on why an image works or doesn’t work, and why.
Critiques on compositional elements in the context of your own (and other student) images that are more subtle than the “rule of thirds” were incredibly instructive. Ming’s teaching style helped to guide us on how to make a strong image once the photographer decides what the primary subject is.
It turns out that San Francisco has so much available, that we really could have concentrated on landscape (micro-landscape), night photography, urban architecture, and/or street photography.
David and I teamed up to do one session of street and one session of landscape photography with Ming, and it was incredibly instructive to see how he works, and what he sees as potential subjects. And also what potential subjects just wouldn’t work for a technically good photograph and why.
We also had the opportunity to get together with Ming everyday at noon to get feedback on some curated images, and then he would give us general themes to work on, such as subject isolation, trying more vertical images, etc. The daily feedback was incredibly valuable, in that we knew what we wanted to do, but it was valuable to get feedback on whether we were successful meeting the objectives. This provided significant value added over his blog essays about composition, etc.
When Ming talks about the 4 things, the first item is light. For him, if the light isn’t good for the subject, he doesn’t even bother with the shot. From spending the week with Ming, I am now much more critical of the available light, and if I am taking photos in poor light, I know that it is just for practice. I now also have subject isolation engraved into my brain, with a much better idea of what I want to do to create a better composition. This understanding of what makes a good image has also helped me to delete photos.
I encourage anyone who has a chance to enroll in a class with Ming to go ahead and do so. It will be a great experience, and Ming really likes to teach!
David Pope (San Francisco Masterclass) – With a background in wildlife and landscape photography, I was a little intimidated at the prospect of attending a “master class” in San Francisco that would presumably force me out of my comfort zone in order to learn how to do street and people photography. Furthermore, having watched (and been highly impressed) by Ming’s Outstanding Images video series, I was wondering how much further the instructional material could be developed, given the nature of the workshop format and having 8 students with highly divergent goals…
On the first count, it turns out that in as diverse a location as San Francisco, one can (and we did) do all kinds of photography — street, architectural, landscape (including water, trees, and SF fog!), in addition to abstract and night photography. And Ming, fabulous teacher that he is, made it easy to learn how to do things I had never done in my photography before.
And on the second count (and quite obvious in hindsight), the Outstanding Images videos are just a foundational piece so one can benefit from the personalized syllabus of a Masterclass.
Beyond that, the workshop transforms Professorial Ming (on video) to Caffeinated Ming (in person), ablaze with so much enthusiasm for the craft of photography that you can’t help but be caught up in his energy. To be sure, this is a high intensity 6-day workshop, and you need to be willing to put in 10+ hour days in order to reap maximum benefit from Ming’s approach to photography.
Entering the workshop, my photographic goals were fuzzy — to “improve the rhythm and balance in my photos” — but we quickly zeroed in on improving my toolkit, so I worked on subject isolation, filling the entire frame so as to use the perspective of the lens properly (no cropping, groans Ming!), and using portrait orientation to create layers of depth within my photos.
Among the unanticipated benefits of the workshop: camaraderie with fellow students — seeing the images they created each day and learning from their honest critiques; the daily lunchtime review sessions with Ming to get instant feedback on scenes you just finished working; watching post-processing live, and realizing how little is necessary when an image is conceived of (and executed) properly; and shooting with Ming in the field — how he sizes up a scene that is either worth shooting (or not), what perspective and vantage point is chosen, how quickly he works, and the ruthlessness with which he discards an image that isn’t a 10 out of 10 in his mind’s eye. (The group even developed a new DxOMark standard — “mingsharp” — to denote an image reflecting enough Shot Discipline to be considered Ultraprint-worthy.)
Highly satisfied with the whole experience and looking forward to participating in another workshop in the future!
Scott Loftesness (San Francisco Masterclass) – Spending a week with Ming in my hometown of San Francisco was a unique learning experience. His focus on shooting precise, great images is intense – almost overbearing at times. But that’s what provides the stretch – the pull to do better, to get up to the next level. He’s a tough coach – pointing out flaws and compromises while urging a stronger commitment to shooting at a higher level. By the end of the week, I was exhausted – from the physical experience on the streets but also that feeling of good exhaustion that follows exploring the limits and pushing for better. My initial goal was to refine my personal style. Turns out Ming said I already had one. Instead he urged me to move beyond – to leave “stages” behind and to see more in three dimensions. This proved to be a big challenge – where I made some small progress but feel him looking over my shoulder urging me to see differently, to reduce my tendency to zoom, and, above all, to stop cropping in post!
Doug Kaye (San Francisco Masterclass) – I’ve been inspired by Ming Thein’s street photography for some time. I’ve learned quite a bit from his blog and videos, but I wanted to get a more personalized perspective on how I might integrate aspects of his approach to street photography with my own style. I got exactly what I wanted from the San Francisco Master Class.
Ming doesn’t hold back. He has strong opinions and let’s you know what you’re doing that works for him and what doesn’t. His criticism is always constructive, albeit within the scope of his own style. (Hey, that’s why you’re there, right?)
Having studied with a few other masters, I’ve learned important lessons from each of them. If you appreciate Ming’s images, if they inspire you as they do me, I highly recommend spending a week in this class.
Eric Hoppe (Making Outstanding Images Chicago) – A follow up to our MC follow up: There is no stronger photgraphic teaching tool than to see well executed images of subjects which one himself attempted to shoot but fell short.
I have really enjoyed several of your Chicago pics.
Alex Ohta (Making Outstanding Images Chicago) – It’s been a couple days since we wrapped up the Making Outstanding Images workshop, and I’ve been reflecting on my experiences. I’ve wanted to attend one of these workshops for a while. Scheduling didn’t work for 2013, so I resigned myself to wait until a 2014 US workshop opened up. In the interim I read everything. And then I started downloading videos. I recommend watching and even practicing the concepts (including post processing) prior to attending the workshop, doing so makes the in person experience hugely rewarding.
The syllabus is well thought out. Despite starting with the basics, things ramp up very quickly. Each lesson layers over the previous, and by the end of day one all the core concepts were covered. Day two was a stretch for me – not only were we trying to abide by the lessons from day one, but we were also trying to apply stylistic choices. I personally found the group critique and post processing sessions on the final day to be invaluable.
The most liberating part of the whole experience is that I no longer feel frustrated with my output. I find myself just wanting to shoot – subject doesn’t matter, the more diverse and challenging the better. I’ve also got a road map for growth for the next six to twelve months.
Thanks Ming & fellow classmates for a great couple days. I’m eagerly awaiting a 2015 masterclass schedule.
Dan Tamarkin (Making Outstanding Images Chicago) – An exceptional workshop in the qualities that make an image outstanding and the process of creating them. Personalized and immediate, this workshop is invaluable instruction, and Ming Thien’s direct instruction and constructive feedback are as useful as the atmosphere is positive and nurturing. Highly recommended – a joy to participate in.
Steve Child (Making Outstanding Images Chicago) – Ming’s teaching style is methodical and easy to understand. After the first day I began to see in an entirely new way and it was reflected in my photographs. An amazing experience!
David Kimmel (Making Outstanding Images Chicago) – The recent ‘Making Outstanding Images’ class in Chicago was a truly amazing experience made so entirely by Ming’s outstanding skills as an instructor. The course quickly identifies the elements lacking from your images but it also raises your awareness of the things that you are doing on pure intuititon. Only when we are fully conscious of the elements that make strong images, can our photography improve. This is accomplished primarily through Ming’s ability to quantify the many elements found in strong images and describe them in an approachable way that only a truly experienced photographer with the gift of exposition could. The course is extremely challenging forcing you to face your shortcomings while enhancing your strengths. Ming shares openly from his vast experience in virtually all areas of photography without a sense that anything is held back. His energy seems boundless and his enthusiam is infectious inspiring you to shake off the despair you might feel from seeing dozens of duds on your memory cards and forge ahead to create the images you have always wanted to make. The course does indeed teach you How To See, a skill that will last a lifetime of shooting.
Jack Siegel (Making Outstanding Images Chicago) – Enjoyed the class, particularly the last day. I always get a lot out of group review and editing. Not using the stamp anymore should keep file size smaller, as is the new improved dodging and burning tool (rather than the overlay layer). Very helpful. Will try out when I get back from Paris.
John Anderson (Making Outstanding Images Chicago) – Thanks for a great workshop!
Stephan Ralescu (Making Outstanding Images Chicago) – Thank you for such a great experience. I will definitely attend a master class workshop.
Gilles Tourpe (Email School of Photography): Alama! I was back in school … I’ve enjoyed my e-school with Ming. He is an incredibly experienced, demanding and seasoned teacher – sharing his passion for getting the right result through a structured process. It has been a strange experience – with lot of high and lot of low to get to the next high. It has hopefully made me a better “hobbyist” and my results have improved. From white belt to yellow belt … the path is still long!
Sohail Karmani (Email School of Photography): Having just completed Ming Thein’s photography course, I’m happy to say it was worth every penny. I began just over 9 months ago as an almost complete novice. With perseverance, I was able with Ming’s guidance to achieve goals way beyond my expectations. Ming is a consummate professional that brings a rare combination of photographic talent, formidable communication skills, and highly effective teaching ability. As a professional educator myself with 25 years’ experience of teaching, I highly recommend Ming’s course if you’re serious about taking your photography ability up several notches. True to his words, he doesn’t pull any punches or sugar-coat his feedback; but he will help you bring out the best photographer in you.
Gerner Christensen (Making Outstanding Images Workshop London, July 2014): Big thank you in return. This WS was really a ride in a carousel I never tried before. I am consolidating as from this very moment and for sure time ahead. Such a concentrated injection ‘LIVE’ does a quite different job than the videos. By them you dwell in your own comfort zone and that’s for what it is extremely good as such. You may re-do as many times as wished or needed. The live photo concert is not editable. You deliver what you can at the instant moment. And that’s’ it. The WS is a different medicine and at a moment I felt lost in my own ignorance. The self confidence evaporated and assignments the blitz way were to me a solid proof that I do not perform by command. I thought I did a lot better before…. This is not quite right of course and just browsing my shots again makes me of course think differently. I made stronger images in these couple of day than I would make i.e. in a month’s daily shooting. My curation for today’s session were weird in a way since I have much stronger images from the days. I think it all comes from choosing images that worked for one in the past and deselected the new stronger touch from the intensive training. I had selected several shots that others told being interesting and not those I found best. Bweeeh… that was foolish, but I learned from that. Fuck the vanity and trust yourself. I am not disappointed .. no .. I am very happy from what I have learned. I have learned much more, I think, than I can comprehend by this very moment. I just know I did. I give the credit to you. You showed me the keystone to a turning point being a better photographer much more than you might think based on the thin feedback from the group. Guess you are just used to that in the beginners WS’s. Thank you Ming.Thinking again and again about our days in London. It is a big moment in my life. Even so much more coming back home and replay the whole thing. I was thinking today: This is going to be BIG for me. I am so glad having met you, having learned so much and just being in your photographic world is a joy and honor. I suddenly started understanding why your images are so impressive at the end of the day. This is surely not all about PP and plane technique, but timing and deliberate control from cradle to grave each image. If I may be personal, you create the scene rather than shooting it. That’s makes you stand out as a photographer. To be frank I started worrying about what photographic environment should feed me to practice in the little society I’m living in. It’s a little place and has nothing whatsoever in common with London i.e., but light is light and where’s light is shadows except on open sea at wind speed zero. Let me take the opportunity to thank you all for the inspirational and indeed cozy days we had together. We had many good chats about the incredible value the WS is too all of us. We also had some very fine gear-head talks :) Seeing Ming’s Ultraprints gave me such an appetite for stepping up a notch and invest in a high-end printer. Thanks for bringing those prints Ming.
Todd Alexander Lawton (Making Outstanding Images Workshop London, July 2014): I’m a big fan of Ming’s blog and video tutorial series, but there comes a point where only practise and feedback will help you improve; that’s where the workshops come in. Spending time with the man himself (and 11 other like-minded photographers) was fun, challenging but above all inspiring; I left with a fresh outlook and a number of big questions answered. Can’t recommend the experience enough to anyone stuck in a photographic rut – those who’ve mastered the basics but aren’t sure where to go next. The difference between taking a nice picture and developing a creative vision that you can consistently execute (regardless of what gear you own) is tuition from the right person, and Ming has a remarkable ability to deconstruct what makes an outstanding image and explain how to get there in a disciplined, repeatable way. To anyone reading this and considering one of his workshops: for the price of a middle-of-the-road camera, you can start to learn how to use the stuff you’ve got effectively. Hugely rewarding and empowering.
It was also interesting to see the Ultraprints. Next time you are having a sale, I will be looking for one with subject matter that appeals (street scenes for example).
Birgit Rabanus (Making Outstanding Images Workshop London, July 2014): For me the three days in London were indeed very pleasing and inspirational and I came home with a lot of new ideas what to do different in future and how to improve further. Thanks Leon for sending the pictures – a very nice souvenir of the workshop!
I definitely will consider a future masterclass or perhaps email school.
Thomas Hermann (Making Outstanding Images Workshop London, July 2014): It was a great experience to be on the workshop with all of you. I’m also thinking about a masterclass next year. Krakow sounds good to me!
Robert Bakker (Making Outstanding Images Workshop London, July 2014): Just chiming in here… I want to thank you all and Ming specifically for making the workshop such a wonderful experience! Thoroughly enjoyed being challenged like this, and feeling there’s so much more to learn in seeing the world around us! Hope to meet up in the future again, whether its in Amsterdam or some other inspiring place on this world and spend some more time with the personalities behind the pretty cameras. I wish I would have taken a bit more time for that!
Richard Ang (Making Outstanding Images Workshop London, July 2014): Just finished the second day of Ming’s Making outstanding images workshop and wanted to put down my thoughts whilst they are still fresh in mind. Having been a long time admirer of Ming’s work, I jumped at the chance to attend his workshop when he announced that he was coming to town. Many have previously written about his workshop and indeed it has been finely iterated to its current state. The basic theoretical knowledge and required skills are ‘pre-loaded’ upfront with the excellent videos. Ming has distilled the essence of what makes a good image down to its key components and this is repeatedly drummed into us through the first day of ‘drills’, which layers on these key components successively. The second day then builds on the core skills acquired by expanding on story-telling and different photographic styles. For me, the most valuable part during the first 2 days is the ability to get instant feedback from Ming, which then feeds on to the next exercise and the learning process is thus greatly accelerated. Also, being with like-minded individuals and seeing the images they make and learning from their feedback, a cross-germination of styles and ideas. Finally, being able to see first hand how Ming ‘sees’ and the way he shoots, there is just no substitute (although the how to see video does come very close). I have been lucky to have met like-minded individuals to have a drink and dinner with at the end of a hard day’s shooting, and to carry on the discussions from the day (and we had dinner with Ming as well on his birthday!).
I am looking forward (and also dreading it as the workshop is coming to an end) to the last day where we shall be reviewing and post-processing our 10 best images. I cannot wait to see what the other students will bring to the table and the erudite discussions we will no doubt have.
Anything I would change for the workshop? The current format works well for the targeted audience at the beginner to intermediate level. I would say that with the instructional videos and diligent self-application most of us should be able to acquire the skill sets required to produce great images. What sets the workshop apart is the intensity and the instant feedback loop. Personally, I feel that the basic drills could have perhaps been combined and reduced as a refresher for half a day and then we can begin to explore styles and story-telling earlier, perhaps with smaller groups and even more individualised tuition. Indeed, I believe Ming is moving towards this model with his Master classes with videos and on-line instructions taking over from the current Making Outstanding Images workshops. I think this is a good move.
Personal reflections? I have been following Ming through his blog for a while now and I think subconsciously must have been suffused with his principles of photography for I found the instructions from his videos and workshops very intuitive. It just fits with the way I see things too. The workshop has been a great catalyst for me to kickstart my further development as a photographer. The single most important thing I have taken away is the need for constant practice and experimentation and the best way to do this is to build a workflow into my daily life. This starts from being observant (seeing and not just looking) of my surroundings, being ready to capture it (the GR is going to be my constant companion now) and to review the images in a timely manner. Rinse and repeat.
In some ways, the third day is the crown jewel of the workshop. Each student uploads 5 to 10 of their best images and the group then objectively critique and score each image presented based on Ming’s 4 point criteria of what makes an outstanding image. The images are anonymised after being uploaded but the students can defend their images if they wish. Ming pulls no punches and appraises each image with his professional eye, giving the brutally honest comments that one needs to improve. The resulting discussion and debate was most educational. This process whittled the image pool from around 120 images down to around 18 of the best images and Ming then showed us how he would post process them, including black and white and cinematic treatments. It was striking how some judicious use of dodging, burning and curves can transform an image. Ming then curated his own images and post processed them in real time. This is perhaps the most eye-opening aspect for me. To see Ming working from end to end and thereby observe how he pre-visualised the end image right from the initial moment of capture.
To sum up, I feel completely invigorated to put all I have learnt into practice. If you need a shot in the arm for your photography, don’t hesitate and take the plunge with one of Ming’s workshops!
Now, to save up for the Master classes…
Dan Stenvall (Making Outstanding Images Workshop London, July 2014): I wanted to thank you once more for the London Outstanding Images workshop. It was my first paid workshop and going in I did not know exactly what to expect.
All in all it was a great experience to have an intense course together with you and so many passionate photographers. I think it worked really well having the video instructions as “pre-reads”, so that we could focus on taking pictures without to much theory. It has been said before, but now I really see that getting feedback from someone experienced is a great help to get on the right path. But in end it’s the learnings and tools that you have provided which we need to take home and apply. No one can expect the become a world class photographers in the short timespan of the course.
I really hope you are able to keep doing what you are passionate about – you are a great inspiration to me and many others. I particular admire the ultra prints which you showed us – it really is that has pushed printing to a new level and shown that when technique, technology and a perfectionist come together some unique can be produced. I would definitely like to have one or more hanging on my wall to remind me what I should be working towards. Personally I prefer pictures with more focus on nature, similar to the first print run.
I would also be very interested to join the email school when spots open as it allows to get feedback over a longer time period.
I hope we meet again at some point in the future. It’s been an enlightening and fun three days, and thats is something I value in my free time.
Ray Hartman (Email School of Photography): Probably the best way to put it is like I wrote earlier: what you do and how you do it (your email teaching) works for me! I feel proud to see my improvements and feel confident that I am more consistent in my results. Therefore my hopes and expectations of this course were very much fulfilled.
The assignments seemed somehow just what I needed to improve in general: the separate parts really came together as the course progressed. You really seem to know what you’r doing when reviewing the initial portfolio.
What I find most striking is that something so seemingly obvious and simple like checking your frame through the finder for intrusions/exclusions is such a powerful tool.
And your remarks about the importance of careful metering suit my believe that photography is not just ‘art’ but also ‘craft’.
All in all I am ‘afraid’ that I can’t give you input for improvement. Just keep up your high standards of quality, integrity and respect. I really appreciated your way of communicating with me, in your feedback on the assignments or otherwise in our mailcontact: quick, to the point, no sugarcoating, but always honest and respectful.
I feel lucky to have met you as a teacher and inspiring person.
Karev Nikolay (Outstanding Images Ep. 4, 5): I want to thank you for making outstanding images 4&5 I bought recently – they’re brilliant! And I see you almost abandoned micro 4/3 for larger formats? I know it makes sense given the style you’re pursuing – total clarity of Ultraprints, but it’s so far from us poor amateurs still taking images with old good E-M5 :)
Solas Beag (Making Outstanding Images Ep.1): Following reading the review by Eric Hanson I downloaded EP-1 two days ago and found it a great learning resource. I can now critique my images concerning good light, framing, isolation of subject etc and understand why some of the photos in this pool get rejected. The practical techniques Ming displays while out shooting cannot be found in photography books. I am not a beginner to Photography but having completed viewing this first video I realise my approach to certain aspects of photography was haphazard and I had not mastered all of the fundamentals. His style of delivery, presenting assignments and practical approach to completing the assignments is superb. I intend purchasing the rest of the series.
John Weeks (How To See Ep.1, Kuala Lumpur): I just finished watching the first how to See video…what a help! I have been to seminars, etc., where final shots are shown and someone says why they did this or that…but to hear and watch the process as it takes place is so much more revealing. Your comments at the end I think were most helpful too about starting to see because of becoming so familiar with a particular focal length. Love the shot of the taxi driver by the way. I am not a big street shooter. I tend to go for landscapes or long exposures or see a small portion of something whereby you seem to take the whole world in because of so much happening in your area and condense it. I must work on this. Anyway, again, watching a pro go through the process is very telling and I think you for actually being open to do this…at the same time it indirectly opens you up as a person and who you are my friend…rather than some private person one could not connect with. All the best…was very helpful indeed. I continue to believe you are something very special in this industry.
Adriaan Goossens (Making Outstanding Images Ep.1): Just to let you know, I’ve finally worked through your Outstanding Images Ep 1, taking my time, assignment by assignment. And I thought I’d let you know I really enjoyed watching it and you did a great job making it. It’s thorough, well structured and your assignment based approach works. And most importantly, I’ve learnt and am still learning a great deal trying to put it all to practice.
Eric Hanson (Making Outstanding Images, Ep. 1-5; comment from flickr reader pool): Here is my review of Making Outstanding Images Ep1-5 after re-watching them from beginning to end recently.
I am posting it here because the series is a great way to improve your photography and I have found it very helpful in understanding and working with the Reader pool.
There are seven videos that make up the Making outstanding images video series EP1-5. Episodes 1-3 teach you the tools you need to make outstanding images and should get you well on your way to understanding Ming’s Reader pool criteria. Episode 4 & 5 are the crown jewels of the series and make up the final 4 videos. Episodes 4 & 5 cover four styles and encourage you to find/develop your own styles. In addition the Ep. 4 and 5 really show you how to fine tune specific details of your images.
Here are some of the things I learned:
1) How to better critique photos for both my own photos and for others. How to see that a photo is outstanding or not as well as how to explain why it is or not. Understand how to do it better next time, also appreciate and understand what went in to making the strong image.
2) How to appreciate art. I understand the compositional techniques used to create balanced images. As well as using negative space to tell a story. I really get the idea behind the art. Watching EP 1-5 for me was if I studied art in college. Painting and art work have an entirely new meaning to me. Whenever I watch a movie I understand the work that went into each scene of the move. They are one huge balanced scene from beginning to end. Ming’s advice is also consistent with Disney animated movies.
3) I understand what good light is and how it makes a photo strong or weak. That even with good light you need to position yourself and the camera properly to take advantage of it.
4) I understand how to make a balanced image. How exposure impacts composition. Many instructors say exposure does not matter, just fix it in post. This could not be further from the truth. Also the Quadrant Geometry information here is a key piece.
5) I understand how to use additional subjects to tell a story. Many folks say to exclude as much as possible. However Ming shows that this is ok in the commercial style but not optimal for some other styles.
6) In EP-4 & 5 I learned four different styles and how to create my own style. I learned the ability to visualize the finished photo before lifting the camera to my eye
7) How to use style to create a series. Project or exhibit
8) EP5 has many tweaks and ideas to take your photos from great to outstanding. It is also very good to see the little house keeping things you need to do to make an image. Also when to straighten verticals (When is it expected).
After re-watching EP-4 and 5 it is clear that Ming has shown how to tweak the tools in EP1-3 to make them very finely controlled and repeatable. Also there are some hidden gems and moments where it just all makes sense.
Ming is able to teach art in that he leads you out of traps that a camera presents you with. (For example poor matrix metering and a fixed aspect ratio of the sensor). After watching the videos there are facts that apply to every single shot that are no longer necessary to wonder if you are or are not doing it correctly. He guides you into balanced shots and how to isolate and light a subject. I feel that most people will never learn the contents of video one unless they watch the video. Very few people will ever advance beyond EP1 either without watching the series. The videos apply to photography in general and not a specialized aspect (such as landscape or portrait work). Teaching you how to get proper shots in a wide range of settings and subject matters.
Henry Beckmeyer: I am working my way through this video series and I am quite enjoying it. Each video gives me something (really, many things!) to think about when I am out shooting. Not technical, camera things, but rather using my eyes and brain to discover possible photos in the world around me.
I do agree that much art is intuitive, but without a good grounding in the fundamentals of your chosen art form, your results will tend to be haphazard at best. You need a foundation and experience using that foundation in order to reach a point where you can begin to discard certain things and begin to experiment. To find your own voice. These videos help me in that way.
I don’t think the goal of Ming’s teaching videos is to have everyone shoot “Ming Thein Photos”. Rather, by learning what makes photographs “work”, it frees you creatively to explore breaking those rules, trying new things, but still having a framework in which to evaluate your experiments (your intuition, your voice) honestly.
Matthew Stark (Intro to PS Workflow, Making Outstanding Images Ep. 4 & 5): I recently purchased the “Intro to photoshop workflow” and “Making Outstanding Images 4 & 5″ combo. As I went into these lessons with a large amount of experience in Photoshop, I found the more practical stylistic examples in the “Making Outstanding Images” videos more useful than the “Intro to Photoshop Workflow” video. The quality of all the videos was fantastic – very well filmed and edited. The thing I enjoyed the most about the “Making Outstanding Images” series was getting to see Ming’s shot discipline in practice. In his own words, “you have the choice to take the shot, or not…” It was amazing to see the clarity with which he approached each scene, spending a large amount of time observing and considering what he was looking to get out of each frame, and how that needed to be accounted for, before ever firing the shutter. The “Editing for style” segments were where all that shot discipline clearly paid off. Ming’s processing techniques gave me a new appreciation for the power of RAW images, and how to get the most out of them. His black and white conversion techniques were eye opening and have given me a great feeling of control over what, in the past, felt like a fairly abstract process. For beginners, these videos are a must have – insightful, inspirational and informative. For seasoned professionals, they are a fantastic source of knowledge to add to or refresh your current workflow. Thank you to Ming and “KH” for their continued hard work. I am glad I finally got the chance to provide you with some small token of financial support for the months of great reading and insightful reviews I have enjoyed through your site.
Gerner Christensen (Making Outstanding Images Ep. 4 & 5): Your episodes and teaching are really unique. This is some of the best bucks I ever spent on photography in general. You are really an ‘institution’ of knowledge and skills rather than a person who ‘just’ knows his skills and how to make them work for him and only him. You are much more than that. You can teach in a way that I believe most could benefit and become much much better photographers. Beside that you a a fantastic writer as per your blog. I have to practice your teachings for a period of time and maybe later on I’ll consider to attend an email course. It was my hope buying your lessons that I was able to use parts of your ACR/PS techniques to improve my PP in general. But I see now how difficult it really is and how crippled LR is compared. That’s why I will purchase ACR/PS now and adopt your PP teachings more efficient. It does not make much sense to practice your learning’s and not having the PP toolbox required. I mean I can’t think of any photo connoisseur who can’t get a hint or two from your inspirational videos. It was really the moment to jump on your train Ming. You can’t imagine how much this has blown life into my photography. Even this early stage of my remaining photolife it is awesome. Thank you Ming.
Eric Hanson (Intro to PS Workflow, Intermediate PS, Making Outstanding Images Ep. 4 & 5): The processing videos are amazing. I would also recommend the Making Outstanding Images Series Episodes 1-5. I learned a lot form the videos and have really improved in my photography and also art appreciation.
Jorge Ledesma (Making Outstanding Images Ep. 4 & 5): Purchased last night your 4&5 and I’m blown away with the level of detail. Very well done!
Ralf Rehberger (S1 Street Photography Ep.1): I am following your blog since a couple of weeks and I’m deeply impressed by your pictures! I appreciate your essays a lot, too. They are not only interesting in terms of photography but also because they show your deeper understanding of so many different things as much as your very sharp analytical mind. And last but not least they are a pleasure to read. Because you know how to transfer your knowledge and experience! Finally, I’ve bought your Street Photography video and find it much more helpful than any book. So all in all: Bravo!!! And: Thank you!
HC Mak (Melbourne Workshop, Mar 2014): I was one of the participants in Melbourne and I really did enjoy myself. Ming provided so much information in the 3 days that even after a week I’m still digesting and processing the info. Highly recommended, and the ultraprints needs to be seen to be believed, they are really that awesome.
Pete Sullivan (Melbourne workshop, Mar 2014): I’m so glad I attended your workshop. I think I was close to giving up on photography but I can tell already that I’m feeling in a very different and positive place toward my photography and the journey ahead. It starts today – I’ll put time aside each day to practice all that I’ve learned over the three days. Best of all – I’m looking forward to it. I did have trouble keeping up with you yesterday as I’ve only just taken out a Photoshop subscription. That said, you’ve inspired me to learn to use Photoshop. The minimal changes you worked through with us made for stunning images. Looking ahead, I’ll be buying your advanced Photoshop tutorial and I’ll be sure to check out what else will help me to improve. Thanks again, Ming.
Malcolm Trebilco (Melbourne workshop, Mar 2014): It was inspiring course, a lot of fun and I have felt as though I have learned alot (my head is still swimming a bit). I can already see my photographs changing alot this year not only in composition but in the change of mindset ( I am not longer viewing scenes in terms of doing hours of Photoshop work but in terms of framing, story, light, balance etc). The Ultraprints were a great treat to see as well. I could have spent many hours looking at them from both a technical sense and a pure enjoyment sense. The textures and colour depth were stunning. On a more personal note – you are one of the most genuine and inspirational people I have had the pleasure of meeting.
Chris Stephens (Melbourne workshop, Mar 2014): My thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience with us all. A very informative and enjoyable few days. I shall never quite look through the view finder in the same way again. I have just reviewed multiple images from an overseas trip that we did about six months ago. My (delayed) task is to produce a (photo) book, through apple/aperture resources, which is something we always do to record our occasional travels. 95% of the images, and here I’m being self-indulgent, would not pass the Ming the Merciless test. So, lots of lessons learnt. I have no doubt that on the next OS trip more compelling images will result. And I was convinced, by watching you and being agreeably harangued by my fellow participants, that I need Photoshop. The current CC deal, $9.90 a month, expires tomorrow. So here I sit, at an appallingly slow download speed (I’m sure your third world does it quicker) dropping it onto my Mac. You have much to answer for :)
Kai O’Yang (Melbourne workshop, Mar 2014): Thanks also for the workshop. I learnt a lot. Now it’s time to shoot :)
Eric Hanson (Making Outstanding Images Ep. 4): Finished watching Making Outstanding Images Ep. 4: Exploring Style Parts I & II. Highly recommended. The four shooting styles are carefully selected. Concepts from Ep 1-3 are applied to make the various styles. I really enjoyed the first section covering the commercial/travel style. The Temple in Penang is an incredible site to photograph. I learned a lot from watching over your shoulder as you shoot as well as your comments. In addition I learned alot about critiquing photos of my own and others. You clearly take this style up a notch. I made a very careful note to use this where it applies but to also use the others styles. The high contrast photojournalist black and white style section is very informative. I can now see in B&W and identify scenes that would be well adapted to this style. I learned a lot about composition watching you shoot in this section. The fine art black and white section was my favorite part. I had my camera in hand in the parking lot at work today and I immediately saw a Fine Art scene and snaped the shot. On a photo walk today I saw two more frames and captured them. The cinematic style was helpful in that it all makes sense now. In particular the part about composing when all the frames are portrait. Today I saw many strong compositions on my commute that I had never seen before. And for the first time I knew exactly which style I would process for before raising the camera to my eye. I took a cinematic, several fine art B&W and a commercial. I also now know which styles work with which subjects and lighting. This is a huge step forward. I cant wait to see Episode 5.
Eric Hanson (Making Outstanding Images Ep. 5): Just finished watching Making Outstanding Images Ep. 5 Parts I & II. The videos are extremely helpful. Below are some impressions from watching the videos:
Commercial – Lots of fresh examples (all new) including an outdoor scene with a tree and other green things (handling greens) . Builds upon the intro to PS Video with what seems (to me) to be several bonus steps/tweaks to fine tune the image. Sharpening is a bit easier to follow. Plus an example of sharpening files from cameras without AA filters also a file shot past the limit of diffraction. Also a better idea of when to balance an image warm or cool based on dominant colors in the image (white balance).
High Contrast Photo Journalist – I really like the processing here. More examples with a more comprehensive view than in the intro video. I really gained a much better understanding of the process. I also really like this style as shown that it can be used for still life and more artistic style of photos. You really get the flow for the amount of dodge and burn to apply. Also a really nice explanation of high key -vs- low key when using the curve adjustment. Two examples that show clearly the correlation to histogram to which portion of the picture will be impacted. A better explanation of the curve is learned watching the examples. I really like the palm tree and the door in this set as I learned a lot form each. They also fit some shots i have been attempting recently.
Fine Art B&W – I really like the sailboat example. Also the forest example from the ultraprint run and the photo of the highlight in the forest pictures where you burned the highlights. The focus stacking example was also very nice to see. A nice explanation of dodging and burning. I also enjoyed learning about the Fine Art B&W style and how to process for it. We have a lot of sailboats and trees. I am looking forward to shooting more of these.
Cinematic – This really showed how to adjust colors to get them correct after dramatic white balance shifts. Nice to see the many examples of gradients. Also the dark gradient from the bottom, light from top. I learned a lot of refinements in the process. Also a deeper focus on saturation and desaturation.
Jeff C (Intermediate Photoshop): I just was able to set some time aside and sit down and watch the second installment of the photoshop tutorials (damn kids make life so complicated and busy) and just wanted to say the intermediate vid was great. It’ll take some time for all the information to sink into this thick skull of mine, but over the long haul I will benefit greatly! Thanks Ming.
Larry House (The Fundamentals, Making Outstanding Images Ep.1): I’ve watched both videos once, and will need to watch them at least once more. They are very good, by the way. No-one should be deceived by the “fundamentals” title – it is on another level than what might be expected, and should be required viewing for every photographer.
Jerome Walsh (Fundamentals, Making Outstanding Images Ep.1-3, How To See Ep.1, Compact Camera Masterclass): I have found all the lessons I have previously ordered; D:The Fundamentals, E1: Outstanding Images, H1: How To See, & F:Compact Cameras, to be excellent, inspiring, and above all useful. I am choosing to further develop my creative photographic skills, along with a greater understanding of digital techniques. Your video lessons are providing a rich and solid foundation to build on. I look forward to these two new lessons I have just ordered… E2 & E3.
Ming…I find you to be a great teacher and I highly recommend your video lessons. Thank-You.
Dan Friedman (The Email School of Photography): Wow! What a great review of my work. I really appreciate the candid comments and they’ll certainly have an effect on how I look at things through the viewfinder. I’ve printed the “Observations” bullets that you provided and will keep in my pocket when I go out shooting. Clearly, I’ve developed some bad habits that I need to correct. Now, it’s a bright sunny day with lots of shadows and I’m going to grab a camera and go out shooting. Thanks again – your review alone was worth the price of the course.
Jeffrey Littell (The Email School of Photography): You in very short order have identified my single biggest problem and the key one in my frustrations to date in attempting produce better images: My images are flat! Oh golly, are they ever flat!
Looking at the images you sent to me, I SEE very clearly why your images are great and why mine are not particularly interesting. Even your most simple image is interesting.
I now see much more clearly that the world of photography is about contrast, for without it you have my images. Bland and flat. Seeking contrast to make the key image “pop” involves the sky, time of day or night, and as you so clearly state several other factors.
I must get busy studying these fundamentals so they become my primary criteria for shot selection. I see that I have a lot of work to do but I am not intimidated by what you say because although at times it might be frustrating it will still be great fun.
I like your rules. Tell me anything, make it a teaching tool for me to work on, and we will see a nice progression in my work.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Mark McDonald (Intro to PS Workflow): I just got your introductory Photoshop workflow video – it’s excellent. Makes a very complex program seem logical and simple, and I now have a much clearer view of it. I will likely get the advanced one at a later date.
Stephan Ralescu (Fundamentals, Making Outstanding Images Ep.1-3, Intro to PS Workflow): I look at Ming’s sample photos and my jaw drops: “can the camera really be that good.” So I decided to take Ming Thein at his word and invest more in my education rather than the gear. I’ve got Ming’s fundamentals, his outstanding images, and intro to PS videos, and I can now see how Ming is able to achieve such high quality output. And also how much more I have to learn before I start going for the gear once again.
Eric Hanson (How To See Ep.2: Tokyo): Just finished watching – How to See EP2: Tokyo. The information is enjoyable and extremely helpful. The episode covers a large number and variety of scenes. I really enjoyed the locations selected. In particular the visits to gardens and landscapes was very illustrative and the photos wonderful. Also the street and building photography. Can’t wait to get out and shoot and apply these things locally. If I get to Tokyo I will have a huge list of sites to visit.
Ansgar Trimborn (How To See Ep.2 Tokyo, Street Photography Ep.1): Got myself H2/S1 videos as a Christmas present and find both well worth the $$$. Really like the look over the shoulder learning perspective.
Andre Yew (How To See Ep.2: Tokyo, Street Photography Ep.1): If you get a chance to see the two latest videos from Japan, you’ll be impressed! Carrying a Hasselblad with a giant eyelevel finder, big digital back, big lens and big grip, and a tripod all over Tokyo, fueled mostly by Calpis soda, shooting street photography, there is no doubt when Ming’s taking a picture of you. Those commentators who think Ming’s allergic to camera weight have no idea at all … nor those that think certain cameras are too loud.
Gary Greenberg: (How To See Ep.2: Tokyo) – Watching “How To See, Ep2, Tokyo” now… perfect as I get ready for my upcoming photo-shoot in Paris. Very highly recommended!
Todd Alexander Lawton (How To See Ep.2: Tokyo) – Ep2: Fantastic. Not only hugely educational, but a joy to watch. A final note: I’ve bought various other tutorial videos this year (combination of several photographers I admire releasing videos at the same time, and reaching the point with the hobby where I’m more interested in learning how to do it properly than getting more gear–four and a half years in!), and yours absolutely dump all over the others.
Alex Lemon (How To See Ep.2: Tokyo) – Ep2 Tokyo is great, really enjoying it. Look forward to checking out Street next.
Andrew Yew (Making Outsanding Images Ep. 2, 3) – Quadrant geometry just blew my mind. What a simple way to describe balance, and with a learning curve that’s not too steep, so beginners can look for the easy quadrants, while more advanced photographers can start looking for more interesting, complex compositions. I also realized that many of my images that work have quadrant balance, and now I can understand why many of those that don’t work, don’t work. For me, that little section is worth the price of the whole video!
Todd Alexander Lawton (Making Outsanding Images Ep. 2, 3) – Episodes 2 and 3 purchased; Star Wars fans will be happy to learn that they have nothing in common with their prequel trilogy namesakes. I have an insatiable apetite for these videos now! Stayed up till silly-o-clock watching them. If you decide to start selling apparel in the store, my vote’s for a “Quadrant Geometry Changed My Life” t-shirt ;)
Eric Hanson (Making Outsanding Images Ep. 2, 3) – Just finished viewing Outstanding Images Episodes 2 and 3. Episode 2 will change how I take photos from here on out. My keeper rate will greatly increase. The compositional information is invaluable and the quadrant information is simply amazing. In particular it is hugely liberating in that it allows better subject placement and a more comprehensive definition of balanced than I had previously understood. I have anticipated Episode 2 since you announced it and it has exceeded my expectations. Episode 3 helps greatly with what to include in each frame and how to tell a story. This greatly simplifies taking the correct picture in the first place and identifying which images are keepers. It is wonderful that you know these things and even more wonderful that you are able to explain them in a clear and usable fashion and share them with us. My objectivity and experience in evaluating images has increased from watching the first three videos in the series and the fundamentals video. The example of the man on the beach with the leading lines and frame is very helpful as well… I was always able to enjoy that photo but I now can explain why it is a strong image and look forward to creating my own images using the same techniques.
Jan Martin (Fundamentals, How To See Ep1, Making Outstanding Images, Ep. 1, 2, 3) – Ming, I truly appreciate all the effort you put into your blog and website. I ordered your videos and am blown away by the amount of information you provide and the style with which you provide. I am normally hesitant on any coursework because it is frequently too elementary or padded with redundancy. Yours are succinct and overflowing with ideas. I am actually taking notes!
Andrew Yew (How To See Ep1, Compact Camera Masterclass) – I just watched the KL episode, and it was really good and well worth the price. All street photographers should watch it to see how one should work a scene. I don’t feel so bad anymore loitering in one place for 15 minutes taking dozens of shots when I see much better photographers than me do it as a matter of course! That is also a very clever use of the video recording feature of the E-M5 as a teaching tool, especially with that amazing 5-axis stabilizer. BTW, CC masterclass is amazing, especially the 2nd half in the field. It was really nice to see how fluidly you used that little Sony (TX30?), and the really nice results you got out of it. It was nice to see that in contrast to all of the pixel-peeping techno angst on the rest of the Internet. I wonder if a real-world field presentation like that of a camera would result in more sales for it … The way you presented it too was quite a contrast to Sony’s fairly insulting anti-DSLR ads, and it makes people (well, me at least) want to go out and take pictures, because it feels like I have the tools now to make good-looking images.
Ironically, the CC masterclass will do more for most people’s photography than a sensor of any size…In it, Ming uses a cheap, discontinued Sony point-and-shoot to photograph various subjects, including portraiture, with the typical Ming-like results. And he explains what he’s doing and why, too. It’s about as pure a distillation of what photography is about as I’ve seen, and everything in that video applies to all cameras. I go between that video, the KL walk around, and the outstanding images episode to remind myself of certain concepts before doing assignments for Ming’s email school.
Graham Ashton (How to See Ep1) – Hi Ming. Last night I finished watching episode 1 of “How to See”. I wasn’t sure if this shot…
…would make it into the group, but now that you’ve seen it, I thought you might like to know how it came to be.
Basically, I set out for lunch today with some of the scenes you discussed in your video fresh in my mind. I noticed this arrow on the building adjacent to mine and paused in a doorway opposite to shelter from the rain for a minute or so. A guy walked past with a cigarette. For some reason it didn’t work and I didn’t press the shutter. He turned around almost immediately and walked back against the flow. More of a story perhaps (going against the arrow), but he looked too small.
The cyclist came out of nowhere. I pressed the shutter instinctively, then went to get lunch.
If I hadn’t watched how to see I wouldn’t have seen the arrow on the wall, stopped to see who passed by in front of it, taken the shot, or (and I think this is the most significant bit) deemed it worthy of keeping/uploading.
It’s not one of my favourite shots, and I think it’s got its flaws, but at the same time I think I may be learning to appreciate something new here, and I wanted to say thanks. I’ve been a hobbyist photographer on and off since I was 12 (27 years!), and it’s not often I’ve been able to say that about photography recently.
I think episodes 2 and 3 of Outstanding Images may be in my immediate future…
Mark Chai (How To See Ep1) – Hi Ming Thein, your ‘ How To See Ep1 ‘ is awesome! Does this mean there will be an Ep2 ? Could hardly wait if there is Ep2. Your video is worth every penny and beyond!
Kumi (How To See Ep1) – Finished watching How To See Video last night. This is the first time I bought these kind of work shop video so I wasn’t sure to pay that price…I am glad I did, it was GREAT! For me it was very informative in good balanced … I means you are leaving some space for us to think, too. I also enjoyed as a documentary film. Love the scene of the cafe in KL. Look forward to see Tokyo ver.
Eric Hanson (How To See Ep1, Compact Camera Masterclass) – Just finished watching both videos: How To See Ep1, and The Compact Camera Masterclass. WoW!!! They are incredible, I really like the use of technology in both. The Compact Camera Master Class is proof that most people don’t know how to use a camera. Your images and ideas taken with that little blue point and shoot are stunning and very doable. Well done in both!
Corey Vickery (Compact Camera Masterclass) – Ming, I am thoroughly enjoying your Compact Camera Masterclass video and I will be purchasing the rest of your videos very soon. I hope someday you will do a review of the Sony RX1R (my camera) as well as a workshop in Los Angeles. Take care!
Michael Tapes (How To See Ep1) – Excellent. I think that this is the first time someone has done this type of see through my eyes instruction, and your use of video to go along with your thinking process is an GREAT way to teach. As with my previous teacher, with you, that is specifically what i want to learn. HOW TO SEE. I had done a walking tour of my neighborhood in NJ with my teacher as he explained what he saw, and that was very valuable to me at the time. Having this and future videos will be great. The exact thing that I have to learn is to talk to myself as I am looking at life and work my way to finding and making good pictures. So congratulations on the concept and execution, and I look forward to more in the future.
Amy Wexler (How To See Ep1, Compact Camera Masterclass) – Just finished both the new videos. Wonderful stuff. The walkarounds are particularly useful – very informative to understand how you reduce the complexity of various scenes into photographic opportunities and apply the theories/practices you describe in your various videos and articles. I’d like to emphasize how helpful for my current state of development I find the settings comments you make along the way – such as, focal lengths and apertures, in the case of the KL video, and where you’re metering (in the case of spot) or where you’re using another mode, in the compact masterclass video. Great products (also appreciate the introductory discounts!). Thanks for all the work you put into them.
C Scott Pollock (How To See Ep1) – I just watched “How To See.” Excellent and fascinating work — I could watch this type of thing all day long.
Sergey Landesman (How To See Ep1, Compact Camera Masterclass) – Thank you for very good video lesson!
Sirmo (How To See Ep1, Compact Camera Masterclass) – Just purchased the new videos. I watched the Compact Camera Masterclass and I love it! Keep up the good work!
Todd Lawton (Fundamentals, Outstanding Images Ep. 1, How To See Ep. 1, Compact Camera Masterclass) – Awesome, will probably get that bundle [Outstanding Images Ep. 2+3] later today. A quick watch of the first four over the past week (I will surely be studying them intently for months to get the most out of them) left me gagging for more. Addicted to knowledge! They are exactly what I wanted; so happy. Thanks Ming.
Jeffrey Littell (Making Outstanding Images Ep. 1, The Fundamentals) – I came across your website and decided to purchase your video lesson entitled “Photography; The Fundamentals”. I enjoyed that video so much that I subsequently purchased the video entitled Making Outstanding Images”.
I’m an amateur photographer who has studied with several professional photographers. What I find in comparing your videos with my sessions with the pros is that you bring the many components and aspects of photography together in an easy to understand format. You answer the “why” factor in the philosophy and psychology of photography, which is something that none of the pros I have studied with have been able to do for me. Additionally, reading several books on photography didn’t provide me with the clarity of thought that you do in your video presentations. This of course only lead to more and more frustration! Knowing the “why” factor provides me with the foundation to work from in creativity with my work.
I will admit to two things up to now with my hobby: first, I became entrapped in the marketing by the manufacturers in having to have the most expensive gear (and lots of it!), and second knowing most of the various aspects of creating a great photograph but not being able to put them together to actually produce a great photo.
Of the thousands and thousands of frames that I have shot, I never quite knew why say 10 or 20 of those images were great when I shot them. It was more luck than anything else. And, some of the better images were ones I thought were mistakes when I shot them!
So, there you have it. I’ll study the two videos that I purchased and absorb all I can before moving forward in purchasing additional videos in your series.
Thank you for saving me in bringing the components together for me that have eluded me to date and lead to massive frustration.
Michelle Wolschlager (Making Oustanding Images Ep. 1, The Fundamentals) – I stayed up entirely too late last night watching (and rewatching) both videos. Then I fell asleep on my laptop (out of sheer exhaustion–nothing more!) whilst reading your articles, and in many cases, rereading articles I’d already read in the past but that suddenly made so much more sense after watching the videos. I learned a LOT. I’m so happy you’re doing this! It is exactly what I was I was looking for to learn how to capture better images! I’ve been frustrated by the fact most courses/videos/books either assume you know absolutely nothing at all and merely regurgitate the exposure triangle and rule of thirds, or they assume you’ve got a PhD in math and physics. Anxiously awaiting the next videos… I’m not willing to wait for the bundle deal pricing and will be ordering them as you release them–they are absolutely worth the cost.
Per Hildebrant (Making Outstanding Images Ep. 1, The Fundamentals) – Thks for your fine introduction today of the new videos, I am still repeatedly now and then looking at the first 2 launched by you, and I am also enjoying the extreme fine technical quality of the videos…thanks!
Mark/ JTL Photography (Making Outstanding Images Ep.1, The Fundamentals) – I just finished my first viewing of the two above videos (Fundamentals and Outstanding Images 1), and initial impressions are as follows:
1) The first video (Fundamentals) is like a mini-encyclopedia. I thought I knew a bit about photography, but the first video has put into words things that I’ve only up until now grasped in an intuitive manner, as well as things I just didn’t know at all (DOF scales generally not updated for digital cameras? Interesting in its own right, and something of a commentary on how digital manufacturers see the average photographer as not interested in manual shooting…or maybe it’s just laziness!). Some of it can be applied practically, some of it is “just for knowledge”, but the whole thing is a fascinating look at what photography is and where it came from. I can see myself going back to this one time and time again.
2) It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who reads the site, but Ming is a highly articulate and enthusiastic guide. It’s clear that he lives and breathes photography, and this comes over in his presentation style. He paces the material well: not too fast, not too slow.
3) The second video (Outstanding Images 1) is also very good. Possibly because I’m basically self-taught, I shoot in a very instinctive manner – I see something and say “yes, that!” – and it’s served me quite well. However, I can’t always tell WHY I like a picture that I’ve taken, or HOW I can take more like it. This video’s breakdown of a photo into light, subject, idea, frame, etc, has already given me the impetus to look at things in a more analytical way. It might be difficult at first because I’m not a very analytical person, but I have no doubt that it will add a new dimension to how I approach photography.
Watching Ming himself shoot and explain why and how he does what he does is a very valuable experience, and the resulting pictures strengthen his already good verbal explanations of the concepts. The analyses of his pictures are also useful. I was especially pleased to see an analysis of the “Yin Yang light” picture (with the woman’s shadow), because I’ve always really liked that one.
Like Ming says on the video, it’s a little overwhelming at first, but slowly and surely you’ll start seeing things in a different way. Again, this video will require multiple viewings to get everything from it.
Overall, no regrets whatsoever about paying the (very reasonable) asking price for these videos. I will be giving very strong consideration to the upcoming volumes as well…once I’ve absorbed everything on the first two!
Amanda Koh (Making Oustanding Images Ep. 1, The Fundamentals) – My mind is a little bit blown by @mingthein‘s observation that changing exposure affects composition (by changing the visual weight of things). It’s making me question my whole shooting technique. Thank you for your videos. :)
Francois Arbour (Making Oustanding Images Ep. 1, The Fundamentals) – I bought your package «The fundamentals» and «Outstanding images» recently. I am very satisfied with the content of the material, very interesting.
John Kelly (Making Oustanding Images Ep. 1, The Fundamentals, Intro to PS, How To See Ep.1, Intermediate PS) – I’ve purchased all your videos and they’re equally fantastic.
Alan Morris (Making Oustanding Images Ep. 1, The Fundamentals) – Very unique approach. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Albert Setiawan (Making Oustanding Images Ep. 1, The Fundamentals) – Just purchased and watched both videos yesterday, I have to say I’m very satisfied with the contents.
Guillaume Pont (Making Outstanding Images Ep. 1) – I’ve bought Episode 1 and just watched it. For one of your first videos it is great ! Well done Ming ! I’ve found your explanations very clear. I am not a total beginner so I knew already most of fundamentals (by observing and practicing myself, with experience) but you made these concepts clearer and more precise in my mind so I guess I am now willing to use these concepts on a more regular and thought basis when I shoot :) Can’t wait for other episodes !
Alan Morris (Making Outstanding Images Ep. 1, The Fundamentals) – Just ordered the workflow video. I am working my way through your new video series. It is excellent. I look forward to future videos in this series.
Todd Alexander Lawton (Making Outstanding Images Ep. 1, The Fundamentals) – I’ve been offered these wedding gigs through word of mouth, and that’s very much thanks to the amazing tuition and advice that I’ve got from this site and your iPad app. So thank you very, very much. I’ll be thanking you further by buying your latest series of videos (and hopefully some one-on-one tuition) as soon as I have the spare cash.
Uktu Oguz (Making Outstanding Images Ep. 1, The Fundamentals) – I also bought your new video series, and I really congratulate you for your dexterity.You are a great master of this craft and your knife-sharp analytical mind is something to envy for every human being.
Your presentation skills are excellent too. I normally have a very short span of attanetion but I could watch your videos in one breath. Kudos. Waiting for the next ones.
Louis Woolf (Making Outstanding Images Ep. 1, The Fundamentals) – Hi Ming, I just downloaded your videos of your workshops. I previewed them briefly and they look amazing. You are truly awesome and I so look forward to watching and learning. I am a big fan and I love your passion for what you do. I will continue to follow and support you and I hope that some day we can meet and shoot in person. Thanks for all that you do for the photo community.
Robert Mars (Making Outstanding Images Ep. 1, The Fundamentals) – Bought the package today and received the download link seconds after PayPal confirmation, smooth ! Yeah and those very first videos are great btw, keep them coming ! Rob
Derek Daniels (Making Outstanding Images Ep. 1, The Fundamentals) – I recently purchased the 2 videos you have released so far. Just wanted to say they are great and no regrets what so ever.
Kathleen Bowers (The Fundamentals, Intro to PS, How To See Ep.1, Making Outstanding Images Ep. 1-3) – I have watched the videos – leaving PS till last. What a revelation! I can’t wait to become familiar with your workflow! My post processing skills are so very limited by comparison!
Dr. Elliot Puritz (PS Workflow for the Leica M Monochrom) – I am enjoying your video on PS and the LMM! Learning quite a bit; obvious that PS has some advantages over LR. The use of the gradient tool and the ability to use more than one curve might make the cost of PS worth it!
Sven Wisgard (Intro, Intermediate PS) – Personally, I’ve bought a couple of your videos and down the track I’ll be a candidate for the email school. Why? Because the quality of your content is absolutely first class! Many thanks for being a major source of information for a hobby photographer, like me.
Jeff C (Intro to PS) – Ming if you are reading this….. the tutorial is great, I’ll be hitting you up for the next part here in the near future. Just need some time to work through what I’ve learned already.
Toby Smith (Intro to PS) – Just finished Ming Thein’s Photoshop workflow video – awesome stuff! Great workflow tips, and I especially like the sharpening process he uses – will put that into practice immediately.
Todd Lawton (Intro to PS DVD) – I’m currently trialling Photoshop CC (I use Lightroom at home, but have been using its big bro for much longer, primarily at work these days), so had cause to bust out your iPad videos again (I got a load of them as a Christmas present to myself, but had to use my parents’ iPad, so I don’t have access to them most of the time!); really excellent. There’s something visceral and satisfying about the hands-on nature of your Photoshop workflow (particularly multiple curves and the much more precise dodge and burn tools) that Lightroom/ACR alone can’t match; the greater degree of control afforded makes processing a more right-brained and fun experience, IMO. Hearty endoresement from me to anyone reading this that hasn’t tried Ming’s videos.
Graham Wood (Intro to PS DVD): Someone wrote above “precisely what I was looking for…”. Having just absorbed Video A, I fully second that. There was no waffle and no fluff. Just very very useful stuff, with all the right context to make it meaningful. Thank you Ming.
Tamas Varosi (Intro to PS DVD): I loved it, especially the B&W part.
Tom Liles (Intro, Intermediate PS DVDs): I had a go on a couple of Ming’s PS videos recently and find them useful. There’s an important difference between saying that and “found them useful.” Happy customer :) I would frame them as cast-off points rather than top-down “do this, do this, do this, do this…” cookie cutter type instructions. They make you want to play with PS, but honestly my over-riding desire after watching was to go out and take some pictures; to have some fresh meat, as it were, to try the new approach — a better phrase than ‘new tools’ — on. Give them a go.
Valerji Tomarenko (Intro to PS DVD): Just received the DVD (it took it less than a fortnight to reach Germany). Very happy about it. Exactly what I was looking for, against the backdrop of all these books, tutorials etc. on PH. Thank you so much!
Yee Suan Poo (Intro to PS DVD): I love your first PS video. It helps me a lot especially the sharpening part.
Luis Meirinhos (Intro to PS DVD):
(What I like)
1. I really like the simplicity of the workflow to change a set of photos.
2. Workflow based on 1 application with 2 modules . (Bridge + Photoshop)
2.1 I use 3 applications and wast so many time changing between them (ViewNX, CaptureNX, Photoshop).
3. Photo ranking process with good use of method (FBLW – First BEST Last WORST)
3.1 I use numbers instead of stars on ViewNX, but my method is FIFO – First In First Out. It’s good because it’s one method but, for this propose, i don’t think i have good results. I have many medium quality pictures processed that I’ll not see them again. I’ll try your method to have better use of time.
4. Many sharpening filters have better results.
4.1 I never realise this. The results are much better compared to one sharpening filter more aggressive.
(What I improve…)
1. Use photoshop non destructively for everything!
1.1 Is there any difference if we use one layer with 50% of grey (Overlay) for dodge and burn?
1.2 this way if I wish to revisit one photo latter I don’t lose the original.
2. Workflow of one picture that you have to fix or remove something. Ex: dust, cable,…
I really enjoy the DVD because I learn new ways to improve my photos and have more time to do other things instead of post processing.
R. V. Abbott (Intro to PS DVD): I found that all the principles you discussed in your basic photoshop and color correction videos (e.g., regarding the relationship between the saturation and lightness sliders) applied equally well in LR. I used to struggle with skin tone color corrections, but thanks to your video, I’m finally able to do it easily!
Kim Davidson (Intro to PS DVD): After receiving your DVD I installed Adobe Photoshop CS6, never having seen it, camera raw or bridge before. I would not have believed it possible, but thanks to your great instruction on your DVD, I worked my way through bridge, camera raw and successfully processed photos in Photoshop CS6 in just one day and i keep going back to your DVD to learn more. I can’t thank you enough.
James (Intro to PS DVD): I just wanted to say thanks for the very informative DVD. I know photoshop pretty well, but you have taken the way I’ll use it from now to another level. I was always scared of that Curves line as it seemed to be really sensitive and easily ruin my shots. Now from your DVD I know how to use it and have already transformed a few of my photos and they look so much better. Also your dodge, burn, sponge and sharpening tips were a revelation for me. I won’t list all the things you went into, but suffice to say I’m looking forward to going through my photos now and seeing the results.
Djoko Susanto (Intro to PS DVD): I had watched your your photoshop workflow dvd, it was shock me, much.
I never thought, it was so easy techniques, but it’s awesome.
I learned so many techniques in photoshop but never realized yours is the best and simple, great job Ming.
Dimitris Glynos (Intro to PS DVD): Hi Ming! I just saw your “Photoshop workflow DVD” and it was really amazing! The resolution of the mov file (1440x900px) is very very good and your workflow both on color & b&w images is pretty impressive! Thanks a lot!
JP Kornberg (Intro to PS DVD): I am happy to support the use of your PS DVD. Your workflow really is easy even for PSphobes.
Joey (Intro to PS DVD): I received your PS workflow dvd a few days ago and have enjoyed it very much. Though not familiar with Photoshop I look forward to trying out the many techniques you discussed and feel confident it will start me on the right path as I step into the often confusing world of post-processing.
Lucia Prosperi (M Monochrom DVD): I just finished your video, and I wanted you to know how much I enjoyed watching it, and I think I’ve learned quite a bit.
Vishal Bondwal (iPad app): Got the sharpening video first for a test run, and was amazed at how much I didn’t know about this ‘simple’ tool. Since then I’ve been buying them one-by-one and now almost all are done. Came here to find out how to resolve the deleted-after-watching issue, and found the solution. You manage to compress a lot of helpful stuff in 8 minutes. The Camerapedia and gear list runs smoothly and is very interesting as well. Thanks.
Keith Nisbet (iPad app, general): I read all the major review sites and drive myself crazy pouring over reviews trying to figure out how to make the best purchase decision as a nikon F3 owner with some nice old Manual focus lenses that really needs to move into the digital era, but, works on a limited budget.
When I came across your blog it was arresting. Your photos… composition, humanity, beauty, perspective, such a quality that is so difficult to put into words. There’s just something special abut your work that engages one for far longer than a quick peek. Your reviews…read like seeing with a translucent film removed from ones eyes for the first time. The detail, clarity and sheer intelligence is so refreshing. Thanks so much. I can only imagine the time and energy you put into your site and its content.
I did purchase your brilliant Compendium iPad app. It’s the least I could do. Best wishes for your continued health and contribution to Photography.
Jo B Grasmo (Image critique): Wow! Precisely what I was looking for! Thank you very much! I guess I’m “too afraid” of breaking rule of thirds and having anything in the middle of the image. Balance is indeed something I need to think more about when composing my images, which fits with another goal of less cluttered images – making them simpler and more peaceful. Again, thanks!
Eugene Palomado (Email School) – I find Ming’s Email School a great way of learning and improving your photography skills. What I love the most about it is that you get to do it on your own time. I guess the disadvantage is that feedback is not instant because everything is done through email but Ming’s response time is awesome! I have no complaint whatsoever in our communication all through out the course of the program and he is very professional. He answers all questions and he even sends you a note if he is going to be delayed in providing feedback. I struggled a bit with email communication at first but it’s something you have to be patient with and understand that there’s no facial queues. Everything is in words so if there’s something that is unclear regardless of what it is, simply clarify or ask. I think the keys to making it successful are to be honest and to communicate well. I highly recommend this program. You’re awesome Ming!
Gary Greenberg (Email school, Intro to PS): As a current student of Ming’s, and owner of one of these videos, and of many from his MT Compendium iPad app, I can’t more highly recommend his training products. I have grown so much from both his products, and freely available blog. I can say that if personal satisfaction is an acceptable metric, I am more satisfied in my own work. His approach is systematic, his ability to communicate top notch, and end product- images- so pure. To many professionals depend upon heavy post-processing (IMHO) these days. I follow and recommend Ming because he pushes me (us) to create amazing images that do not look like they’ve been digitally altered. Thanks Ming for your guidance, expertise, and honesty!
Stefan Decker (Email school): Hi Ming, I just completed your E-Mail school and want to thank you very much for mentoring. Before starting the program, I was in doubt: Either your E-Mail school or a new lens/camera. It was definitely the right decision. It took 8 months full of individual mentoring. For this, the price is a real bargain and the learning effect is much higher than any other “weekend workshop” at a photo studio. The school improved not only my photographic skills, but also the understanding of what makes a good picture. You answered also all of my additional questions. (always super fast and competent). In conclusion: – Highly recommended – 9.5/10
John Chang (Email school): Thank you for a great course, perhaps the best money I’ve spent on photography, i’ve picked up more in the past 10 assignments than the last 10 years. Confident of your career trajectory, I’m going to keep all those images and advice and make money off your fame in the near future! : )
Pete Saunders (Email School): I certainly have benefited greatly from Ming’s mentorship. Don’t expect his critques to be sugar-coated. He will be honest (brutally so at times) but fair. If you want to be on the path to developing useful and creative photographic skills, this is the person to go to. I have been fortunate enough to have had the ear (and eyes) of Ming these past few years in guiding me to the satisfying levels I’m at today. Ocassionally, he even likes one or two of my photographs.
Roger Wojahn (Portfolio review): Thank you so much for your patient, thoughtful, encouraging and brutally frank comments on my portfolio as well as my strengths and weaknesses. I have taken them all to heart and feel like the goals are tangible and understandable. Edges, exploring the vertical, eliminating random extra space and many of the finer (and larger subject) points all taken. A few of the comments about, for example, a boat on one side and needing a bit more of the mountain line descent on the other were merely a shortcoming of having one lens on the camera and little room to move closer or further from the scene. Still those points are instructive. (Follow up:) I first wanted to say that you have completely changed my perspective having been so forthright in your review of my portfolio. It may not seem like much has changed from your end, but I am practicing every day. Instead of making one casual shot and moving on, I am trying to improve, strengthen my subjects, watch the edges, shoot in vertical format, and a host of other things you mentioned. Part of the reason that I shot landscapes was my love for individual travel and discomfort with shooting in a crowd. It’s still quite a transition toward street photography but I am trying. For example, both shots that you chose of mine today were shot without looking through the viewfinder. The Mimosa, shot from well overhead (very clunky) with an M9 and the other, hanging around my neck, sitting on a subway. I’m trying to learn zone focusing, etc. Anyway, too much info I’m sure, but I’m doing my best to improve and practice is helping given your commentary.
Roger Wojahn (Oct 2013 Prague Workshop): When the discussion started up earlier this year about a workshop in Europe, I knew this would include me. It represented just the sort of life disruptor that could bounce me out of my well-worn path and into a new season of growth, exploration and creativity. I knew there would be a diverse group and I was fearful that I would become so consumed with my own negative internal dialogue that it would effect my ability to just let go and truly learn. In one way, I was grateful for those fears because they got me into practicing on a daily basis so I could at least bring my best self to the table.
But those fears were much ado about nothing. The workshop, the learning, the process and the experience of each of you transformed what could have been a series of technical lectures over several days into something that was valuable beyond measure. I was able to show up as I am, not trying to be any better or worse, and just surrender to the process of being with all of you under Ming’s tutelage. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate every one of you and your ability to live out of your own uniqueness. What an incredible group and experience.
Ming started out the initial session talking about how he was going to help us see differently and teach us about awareness. “Start by finding interesting light”, he said. I was so excited in those first few moments when Ming, marching out in front of us, began showing us the extensive reflections in the cars and on the buildings. This was something that I’d somehow missed in my life and I was truly amazed. But, the more I think about it, the more I understand that there is a reflection of life and of us too, in every shot we make. Photography is multi-dimensional.
Life is a co-creation between each of us and the unfolding moment. As we engage that present moment, consciously see it, accept it, and engage it in creative participation, we are learning something about ourselves too. The same holds true for our personal interactions and relationships with each other. We see in one another, some aspect of ourselves. And if these reflections we see are a mirror of us too, then we are all becoming more aware of our oneness and being elevated to our highest and best selves.
The practice of photography is not so different than the practice of yoga. Each practice uses consciousness of the present moment to bring us to a relationship with life and with ourselves. As our awareness increases, so does our consciousness. If our focus is on the camera and simply a scene in front of us, perhaps our awareness is mostly limited and we live out of our unconscious. But if we zoom out a few clicks, and actually start to become conscious observers of ourselves as we are choosing, shaping and making our photos, then we are increasing our consciousness and making what is unconscious, conscious. Being not only the photographer but also the observer of ourselves in the very act of our creative process, seems to be very much in keeping with the “context” that Ming keeps explaining to us. We start out isolating subjects within a narrow field of view because are beginners and it make the learning easier. But I suppose as we develop our ability to see, we go ever wider and there is an ever greater context for our world view and ourselves in it. This may be more difficult but must ultimately makes life richer. And so it seems to be less about the photos and more about the practice itself!
I’ve been trying to absorb the whole experience but it’s going to take awhile. After those last several nights in Prague with little sleep, I slept like a rock here in Nerja, Spain last night. All night I dreamt of framing things I’d never seen before. But there wasn’t really much a “me” there at all. I was just floating and seeing things and most of the principles we learned were just there and obvious and it was as if I had the unlimited ability to simply play with light, seeing reflections in reflections and balance wherever I looked. It was as though my view-finder could look through portals into other worlds. Everything just made sense, was known and was accessible to me at any time. That dream makes me trust that some seeds have been planted deeply within me. My intention is to water them so they can become real and I can become lucid in my waking dream!
I can’t wait to see you all in Havana. I guess in the meantime, we’ll see you on FB and / or on Flickr as part of Ming’s reader’s portfolio. Thank you for the incredible experience! I hope this finds you safely home, happy and in the flow of life. May your practice be everything you hope it to be.
Eric Hoppe (Oct 2013 Prague Workshop): I strain to add anything substantive to that which has already been said [by Roger, above] about our brief but impact-laden Prague trip. Nonetheless, the trip had everything a photographer needs, light (Ming), subject (we, the participants), composition (the creation of the individual and group experiences) which led to the story, the memory we created and have taken with home with us. I must say however, I do feel a bit over-exposed from Saturday night’s nocturnal activities … nothing that a bit of post-processing can’t fix! I can not recall an experience with a group of people whom I’ve never met which has had such an immediate, positive and profound influence upon me. Back in the real world today, as I took a break from the world’s casino which is the stock market, I enjoyed yet another wonderful autumn day but immediately sensed something was missing, my camera! Not only was I missing my camera but the same street I’ve walked down countless times the past 15 years struck me differently today; I saw things for the first time, things which I’ve never noticed before but were most certainly always there. So Ming, job well done. One of the most difficult tasks in life is to influence how one perceives his surroundings but in a matter of just a few days, you accomplished just that. Now, to bring that on to a photographic moment … And once again, a big thanks to everyone for sharing your photographic experiences with me and simply enhancing and enriching the entire experience!!
Erling Martmann-Moe (Oct 2013 Prague Workshop, in reply to Eric and Roger above): I am unable to add anything meaningful to these poetic summaries of a great experience, both as a learning event (thank you both Ming and each and everyone in the group), and a social event. Hope to se you all soon again!
Ian Carroll (Oct 2013 Prague Workshop) – …really appreciated your approach to wrangling a group of grown men in a foreign city and force feeding us education! Very impressive (not that I am surprised…as in everything you show to the world, you are a well-oiled machine – and I don’t mean that to infer “soulless” – such precision requires an appreciation of the whole in all of its potential chaos to extract the core essence). It was a fantastic experience, and I am thankful for the catalytic nidus it will hopefully provide.
Great place, great group, great teacher, great weather. Cannot wait for Cuba – my bank manager can go to hell (along with my bank manager!). First day out post workshop, and without the conscious intrusion of shooting for assignment, it already feels as though my photography has kicked up a gear. Cannot wait to go through the images at home (although that means I won’t be in Prague anymore…what a dilemma! :S). Thanks Ming and all for a fantastic experience, I look forward to seeing your cameras’-eyes’-views in the Flickr pool!
Update: Well, its nearly 3 weeks since we got back from Prague. I have 64 images in my Flickr Prague set, and another 25 ready to upload. I have had 5 of these explored, including a run of 4 days in a row, 1 commented on favorably, and favourited by, Ming Thein, 3 selected by Getty and one approach to use 1 commercially. All, in all, so far, so good, I would say! I still have…errr…another 375 earmarked for working up and possible use! Oh, and that doesn’t even include the dozens of detail/texture shots! If I were to value the trip based on image hours per £ alone, I would have to say it was excellent value!!! To be fair, it was excellent value any way I might evaluate it! Can’t wait to go again! Thanks again to all the gang for the first 3 days, bring on Havana (I don’t even want to think about what that is going to do to my mouse hand and eyesight)!
Jeffrey Egee (Oct 2013 Prague Workshop) – I wanted to reply earlier, but came back to an extremely busy week at work. It was not easy to ease back into my corporate life after last week’s experience – but I think that is a good thing. I just wanted to say thanks to all of you, and especially to Ming. Ming – you were a great teacher and I took away a lot of tools that are helping me to think differently about my photography. I’ve been looking at some of my older photos, and besides now liking them less, I actually understand now what I need to do to make them better. To everyone else, I have never had such an interesting and dynamic experience with such a diverse group of individuals. The entire experience was really the most interesting thing I’ve ever done on my own. It gave me new perspective, not only on photography, and I can only thank everyone here for being a part of it. I really hope we can do something like this next year again.
Valerij Tomarenko (Oct 2013 Prague Workshop): I had a very busy week after coming back from Prague, so it took me a while to join the others and say a HUGE THANKS to Ming and everyone in Ming’s Prague “classroom”. For me, it was a terrific experience and I am so happy that I made up my mind to take part in the workshop. I have read quite a few books on photography (probably as everyone else) and lurked a lot on various forums and websites, but for me, nothing compares to this hands-on experience in learning (and enjoying) things about photography and beyond. Ming is such a talented, sharp-minded and – what I am especially thankful about – articulate and methodical person (and artist, of course). I for one, learned such a lot about seeing things, framing/visualizing shots, composing and de-composing (light, subject, inclusion/exclusion)… Let alone acquiring more confidence and getting more insights/inspiration from Ming and everyone in our group.
Matthias Gaiser (Oct 2013 Prague Workshop): I can only thank you in return for making this the most intense and at the same time in all probability most inspiring learning experience I’ve ever had. Indeed, if the weather wasn’t overcast, I’d be out shooting already; as it is, it’ll have to wait. And I’ll delve into post-processing very soon in order to make some headway there as well. It *is* worth it. And of course, I have to concur with everything you said about the group – I’d never expected such a diverse bunch of personalities to turn out to be such a worthwhile company. Apart from lots of enjoyable moments, I was able to revise some narrow-minded thinking on my part, making this whole trip personally enriching to an extend I’d never have expected. Furthermore, I’m really happy to report that if the scheduled time frame for Cuba really holds, I should be able to make it. Of course, I’ll have to consider other factors as well, but time-wise, it’d be ideal. Great! Thank you, Ming, and thanks everybody for everything.
Diego Defilippi (Oct 2013 Prague Workshop): I’m really honoured to have met you and all the other cool guys. Can’t wait for the masterclass together with all you. Thanks Ming for being so special in your way of teaching Thank you guys for the pleasant time!
Felix Leyer (Sep 2013 Amsterdam Workshoo): After our course in Amsterdam I have gone to Oman for a fortnight’s holiday. I had planned to write back to you once I was back home. In the meantime I have sent some of my Omani photographs to my 24 year old daughter in Switzerland. This is what she wrote back: “Your pictures are great, you must make an exhibition. Ming’s course is worth every penny!” I just wanted to let you know this :) ! Putting it in a nutshell: I got much more back than what I had paid for. My expectations were high, yet you managed to exceed them. Not only did I learn a lot, but I was also given an enormous amount of food to think about and to work on for the years to come. The course has also given me strenght on my photographic work and to deal with its results. My daughter spontaneously said last night: “Your style has changed completely, your pictures are far more interesting and versatile. And they have a message”.
Arthur van Reijn (Sep 2013 Amsterdam Workshop): Thanks for giving us the opportunity to directly pick your brain. I really liked the build up of the course in clear topics, though the weather mixed up the order for us in Amsterdam. All the topics were building up to this final application of lessons learned. The in-depth talk you gave about the topics and the challenging exercises really have build my confident as a photographer. I really like your honest, direct and to the point feedback on the results of exercises. Though I didn’t plan it I did decided to join in on the Photoshop workflow day, I didn’t regret it one bit! It was eye opening to see that editing doesn’t have to be that time consuming (My mileage may vary in the time bit ;) ). I really enjoyed the editing process for styles. Your workshop has taught me a complete workflow from idea to final image ready for print. I thank you for that!
Heiner Pflug (Sep 2013 Amsterdam Workshop): I had wonderful days with you and the rest of the group. You were a great teacher and I am shure that my forthcoming photographs will be becoming better and better. Thank you for assisting and helping. I will be returning back to your special offer on Email School.
Mark Jackson (Sep 2013 Amsterdam Workshop): Thanks so much for a really instructive and enjoyable four days. My brain is still at total overload from all the ideas and tips you provided and it is going to take some time to process these and include them in my workflow. At the moment I am concentrating on framing so I don’t crop later, avoiding empty spaces, light and subject isolation. I can see an improvement already and when I can get my head around layering in all the other things there is no doubt that the course will have greatly exceeded my expectations (sorry, couldn’t resist chucking in some corporate mumbo jumbo). At a personal level I very much enjoyed your company as well as that of the other students, it was an eclectic bunch and I think the dynamic worked well (there I go again, soooo ingrained). In addition to being a great photographer you are also a great teacher and I suspect there aren’t that many other people in the market where the same is true. Your blunt assessments, whilst being mildly disappointing at the time, were appreciated later and are actually the only way to learn and move forward.
Maarten van Leeuwen (Sep 2013 Amsterdam Workshop): Thanks for the positive round-up mail, and even more so for your inspiring, open, and very informative tutoring. You can already sign me up as an workshop E-student in the near future, hopefully beginning somewhere in the first half of next year.
Angsar Trimborn (Sep 2013 Amsterdam Workshop): I just started my tablet wanting to write you a big thank you for four very inspirational days. You definitely kept us on our toes … and it wasn’t the only challenged body part :-) Looking forward to go through the ~100 pictures that passed my initial selection process and develop them in 3 different styles. Just kidding … (still might try that with a few) Thanks again for the well structured and executed workshop and for lots of new ideas.
Yusuf Haffejee (Sep 2013 Amsterdam Workshop): Ming, thank you, you were a great tutor. It was fun and I certainly learned a lot and I admired your skill and also your patience with us.
Rudy Mareel (Sep 2013 Amsterdam Workshop): Hi Ming – I truly enjoyed the two days we spent together in Amsterdam and I’m looking forward to staying in touch.
Daryll Ng (Jul 2013 Singapore Workshop): I thoroughly enjoyed it and found everything you taught invaluable. Photography is very much a relaxing pastime for me but I was frustrated with not having any real idea of what I was doing. I have followed your site for quite some time and like your work, so the chance to attend your workshop wasn’t one I wanted to miss. Your teaching style is extremely clear, methodical, easy to grasp and makes sense. Using each part of what you taught brings very clear results. For example, when you asked us to just use lighting or colour or texture to isolate the subject, doing so made an obvious difference to how the photo looked. I think what I found the most valuable was that your teaching style was very much in line with how I absorb information. I also appreciated the fact that, despite the rather large group size, I did not feel neglected! I’d also mention that what you taught also demonstrated that I didn’t need to go out and buy another camera…Thank you very much again for the workshop and for an enjoyable weekend.
Andy Cruse (Jul 2013 Singapore Workshop): In the nineties I had a couple of film cameras and a heap of lenses, developed and printed black and white, and even won a few local camera club events. I read all the photo mags and had quite a collection of books. However, my interest waned as I got a new job and worked harder and longer, and so my gear deteriorated due to the humidity and lack of use until eventually it either got thrown out or donated to the local college (the darkroom stuff). Digital was on the way in but the prices were high and the output relatively poor so I pursued other interests. As the resolution/price equation improved I picked up an LX3 for a trip to China in 2009 and then late last year, with a trip to Japan on the horizon, an Olympus OM-D and a few prime lenses. While I was checking out the reviews I came across Ming’s web site and was taken with the quality of the images and his articulate and lucid analysis of all things photographic – not just cameras. I was hooked – I got the “Intro to Ming Thien’s Photoshop Workflow” DVD and then downloaded the Compendium, the Intermediate course and a few of the shorter tutorials. I purchased Photoshop, a Wacom tablet and started processing my images. In June I started a Flickr account and uploaded about 100 images. In the lead up to the workshop I decided to test the water and submitted 7 of those images over a couple of days to the mingthein.com reader group. Two were accepted – Ming, you are too kind. I looked again at the 5 that were rejected and figured out why. I looked at my Flickr Photostream again, re-read a few of Ming’s articles and then culled about 30 or so images. I could see that most of them were not very good, whatever my emotional attachment to them. Sorry for the preamble, but we are about to cut to the chase. I thought I knew something – I had all the tools I needed and my camera was sent to A, not P, so I must know what I am doing, right? Wrong! My wife sent me message on Saturday night – What did you learn? I replied – That I knew nothing about photography. I must admit I had read many articles where leading photographers all said the same thing – it is all about the light. To my mind that had always meant waiting for kind light – in the tropics that means early morning or late afternoon, but that is not it. I put the OM-D into Manual mode with spot metering on Saturday morning with Ming explaining why and how, and everything changed. I have a LOT of work to do on the composition aspects of the workshop, and I felt quite devastated by Sunday night that I was not getting the results I was wanting. I compounded it by going out again on Monday with only a new LX7 that I had barely shot with previously – that camera is seriously hard to use in Manual mode! After 20 or so frames over a few hours I returned to the hotel room to get out of the heat and prepare for my trip home. With a couple of hours to kill I reluctantly got the Mac and tablet out and started going through my output of the weekend. Yes, compositionally and interest wise they were pretty woeful, but I was amazed by the shots that we took from the rooftop on Sunday afternoon – in the brightest and most intense sunlight that I always avoided there were real details and tonal range in my shots that I had never realised you could get in those conditions. Then I clicked on a link from Bellamy’s Japanese Camera Hunter site to some street photographer, and the images that had previously seemed completely random ALL complied with the things that Ming ran through with us – the use of light and framing/composition were all deliberate. For the first time I could really understand why they worked. And of course why most of mine didn’t. Things were falling into place. I had put the cart before the horse – you can’t polish a turd as they say, so no matter what the post processing skills and the resolution of the camera/lenses, unless the fundamentals are right those things are are irrelevant. So a new beginning – a line in the sand. My Flickr Photostream is now down below 50 and should probably be closer to 5. All GAS interest has been put on indefinite hold. The dial on the OM-D is set to M until it dies. And I will work on the composition aspects until they are second nature. So thanks for the workshop Ming. You can read all the texts you like but the practical implementation of the fundamentals is the best way to learn.
Justin Tan (Jul 2013 Singapore Workshop): Thanks very much Ming, really enjoyed it. Since moving here to Singapore, this is the 3rd workshop I’ve been on and perhaps the most unique one. I actually walked away feeling like I learnt something concrete, something I could write down (and thanks to Philips for sharing his notes as well!). I know photography is not supposed to be completely rigid or structured, but I always felt I was lacking a logical framework to use as a foundation, and I got that from your workshop. Look forward to your next workshop in the region.
SL Yoong (Jul 2013 Singapore Workshop): Thanks very much for holding the workshop. I enjoyed it very much, though it was really hard work! Currently suffering a strange side effect of looking for lines/ light/ shadows/ quadrants/ frames everywhere… Can’t seem to switch my eyes off! Thanks for helping me “see” things differently.
Andy Sim (Jul 2013 Singapore Workshop): Thanks! I’ve learned much.
Mark Ortega (Jul 2013 Singapore Workshop): It was certainly a lot to internalise in 2 days but it has definitely sunk in! Most of it anyway. Many thanks for offering the Singapore workshop and I am likely to take the next step by signing up for your e-mail school of photography or portfolio review once I am able to put theory into practice and make it second nature.
Christine Cheng (Jul 2013 Singapore Workshop): Thank you for your generous sharing over the weekend. I shall endeavour to incorporate your nuggets of wisdom into my future shots.
Syed Shibli (Jul 2013 Singapore Workshop): Thanks for the great course, I really learned a lot!
BC Chua (Jul 2013 Singapore Workshop): Hi Ming, I just wanted to say thanks! I shot more and better pics this past 2 days than I have shot all year round. I have been taking the same picture looking out my apartment window for years. After the course, things look different. Now everytime the light changes, I see something new.
Chris Suan (Apr 2013 NYC Workshop): I have recently been reflecting on the workshop and my picture taking. I seem naturally to be gravitating toward the principles of your class. Because I never had any real instruction prior to your class, your principles filled the vacuum nicely so that I naturally reach for the structure of your instruction. In other words, in the absence of other competing instruction, my mind seems naturally to gravitate toward what you taught. Thanks!
Peppo Aragon (Apr 2013 NYC Workshop): Fantastic workshop. Tks Ming. Hopefully you can come to Panama some day.
Peter Boender (Apr 2013 NYC Workshop): The workshop is highly instructional and valuable. The learning curve is steep, but (and someone already mentioned this) if you have an open mind and approach you will learn a tremendous lot. I really liked the deconstructive approach: it’s a bit like starting all over again and built from there with basic elements from an artistic and compositional standpoint (you should know your technical stuff and camera specifics). Finding good light and using (natural) compositional elements (leading lines, framing, mirroring for a second story) really forces you to look with your eyes again, and not so much with the camera. After the course I did notice a change in my photography and my approach to shooting: I now look much more consciously and with more predetermination about my desired results. Quite a feat for such a relatively short course, which for me made it invaluable! Great job Ming, I really did enjoy my time in NYC with you and the other participants. Seriously and highly recommended!
Andrew Marrero (Apr 2013 NYC Workshop): I had a great time getting to learn from you was well as getting to meet both you and your wife. I’d love to be able to join you again in the future with camera in hand. I had a blast, would love to get with you again soon Ming!
Jim Lozier (Apr 2013 NYC Workshop): Thank you again for an excellent workshop. In looking over the images I took over the course of the two days I can definitely see a progression which is pretty amazing for such a short period of time. I hope that you enjoyed your time in the states and have a smooth trip back home.
Dr. Paul Lewis (Apr 2013 NYC Workshop): Thank you for sharing your vast knowledge of photography with our group of nice people. I enjoyed meeting everyone and the amount of instruction that was presented during the three days. I would need at least two or three more workshops to get all the information that was given…Your workshop exposed me to a lot of things that I knew nothing about before attending…If I live long enough, I would certainly attend your workshop again. Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge with us. I had a good time.
Chris Suan (Apr 2013 NYC Workshop) : Thanks for a great workshop. I really feel much better about knowing how to take some great pictures.
Jed Best (Apr 2013 NYC Workshop): I just wanted to thank you for a very interesting and informative three days. While I may not have showed it, it was great and I learned a lot. Hopefully, if ever I am in Asia or you are NYC again, I can take another workshop with you. In the meantime, I look forward to reading your blog and site assiduously.
Jill Maguire (Apr 2013 San Francisco Workshop): Ming, I had a great time at your workshop and learned so much. Safe travels home for you both.
Jesse Hall (Apr 2013 San Francisco Workshop): Thank you, Ming! I did learn a lot — although I’d read what you’ve written about these topics, spending real time practicing specific things and getting feedback helps much more than reading. Plus, it was a lot of fun!
Gian Dionisio (Mar 2013 San Francisco workshop and Apr 2013 NYC workshop): I can confidently say that attending this workshop has been the best investment I’ve made for my photography; the knowledge and techniques that he taught us apply not only to street photography, but all photography in general. From the fundamentals of finding good light and basic compositional balance, to more advanced concepts such a layering and storytelling, all of these ideas can be applied to any style of photography. Ming’s teachings have completely restructured the way I see the world photographically, and I would definitely attend his workshops again in the future. PS: One of the most important point of this workshop is being near the master himself. Watching him in action as listening to his commentary as he shoots is in itself incredibly insightful. Additionally, having instant and personalised feedback during the shooting process is…. I’ll let you assess the value of that. :)
Ciao Pui (Mar 2013 San Francisco Workshop and Apr 2013 NYC Workshop): Sitting next to Ming in San Francisco while he was processing these photos, I can attest that his “judicious application” [of Photoshop] is faster than using any presets, not to mention consistency. His workshops will demystify and challenge your views on photography… if you’re open.
Richard Sandor (Mar 2013 San Francisco Workshop): A short note of thanks for having provided such an informative workshop. I’ve been to a number of workshops, but none have had the structure that yours did.
Leslie Gleim (Mar 2013 San Francisco Workshop): First let me say thank you very much for truly pushing my work and thinking around how to use the language of photography! I did want you to know that you made Photoshop more understandable than any person whose tried to explain/teach it me. It seemed FAR more intuitive — today was mainly me figuring it out and playing!! Thank you so much for your insight and help! Safe travels and thank you for making the journey over! Your workshop was invaluable and I learned to look through “new” eyes. Awesome!
Azhari (Nov 2012 Melaka Workshop): Truly a work of a master! Love them all. Glad i attended this workshop and had the opportunity to see how the master did it. Thank you very much Ming.
Doyle Shafer (Oct 2012 Tokyo Workshop): It was a challenging and interesting workshop. I would have never forced myself to see Tokyo in different ways. To be honest I was happy with my photography for the most part and had little interest in branching out. But as I mentioned earlier, after the workshop it’s like seeing The Matrix for what it really is: some basic “code” and infinite possibility. Now when I walk through Ginza it’s going to take me much longer than before the workshop. It’s funny because I used to think that place was kind of dry and boring! It’s all still sinking in, but my photography has already tightened up quite a bit. And I won’t even get into post processing…that rocked my world like when we did layering in Ginza @. @
Erwin Kindangen (Oct 2012 Tokyo Workshop): I had a great time there and my photography definitely improved after the workshop. It taught me how to “see” scenes and what scene would actually make a good photo and not just randomly shooting at people. Plus the basic wizardry of Photoshop at the end of the workshop definitely ties it all up. In the meantime, I’ll keep perfecting what I’ve learnt before I jump to the next workshop (I hope there will be a follow up).
Andrew Yaw (Sep 2012 Finding Light workshop, Kuala Lumpur): It was an awesome day out. Second round of beating from the master after the ‘Making light workshop’ . This workshop changed my perspectives on street photography. Looking at not only the life around you but also the architecture, reflections, natural frames and much more. I have never walked around KL that much before. I plan to do it again alone this weekend. Who says you need to travel far to take pictures? The challenges were all interesting and some tough to train us into seeing things in ways never before. It really sort of reminded me of the “Wax on, Wax off” training technique in ‘Karate kid’. Lol. Really, for me it was. Especially the part where we had to shoot with our 2 second timer on and stage the subjects on a particular part of the frame. Epic fail at 1st. After a while though you slowly learn how to anticipate the subject’s movement and then.. ‘click’. Success! and then again and again. It was a full on day with tons of learning and perceiving. Ended the day at 8 PM after a slight debriefing and chattering in a cafe. Thanks Ming for a great day out. Can’t wait for the next one. Have a great time in Japan.
Andrew Yaw, (Sep 2012 Making Light workshop, Kuala Lumpur): Excellent workshop! Great teachings from honing the basics of photography to managing light in a controlled environment followed by hands on guidance while shooting the model for the day. The day ended with a bonus. The shared knowledge of the art of printing which is a totally different ball game. Went home feeling overwhelmed with awesome knowledge and information. Thank you Ming for sharing so much of your knowledge to all of us! Can’t wait for the next workshop!
Ciao Pui (Sep 2012 Making Light workshop, Kuala Lumpur): What a great day! Between the inspiring morning session studying Ming’s jaw-dropping photos and an amazing afternoon shoot with the gorgeous (and funny) Aliza, what Ming didn’t mention was the mouth-watering Malaysian Beef noodles lunch he took us to across the street at the road-side stall! I’ve been reading this blog for months, but I didn’t realized how much more I could learn in person until I took his recent workshops. For example, I’d have missed out on the important training where he raised both arms (see pic #13) waving them vigorously while shouting “Light on, light off” to perfect my shooting methods. Ok, just kidding about the above. On a serious note, the man is a machine! He got in way before everyone else (I know because I arrived an hour early). Then he spent the whole day teaching, instructing, demoing, shooting, working with model, showing his equipment, while tirelessly and patiently answering every questions the workshop participants had, not to mention the 2-hour impromptu print demo/admiration session after the workshop. Great value, great company, great images. I would take his workshops again. Highly recommended.