Photoessay: The textures of construction

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There are times on assignment when I find the work in progress textures to be at least as appealing as the finished product; perhaps more so because of their transient nature. The complete buildings will be visible for a long period, but the supports, underlayers, rebar, assembly jigs etc. disappear after a rather short amount of time, and not having been seen by many and appreciated by even fewer – sometimes only their architects. I’ve always thought this is a bit of a shame – without the underlying hardware, there’s no public face. So here’s a celebration of the unseen critical bits…MT

Shot over a long, long period of time with a wide variety of equipment and processed with PS Workflow III.

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Brand (dis)loyalty, mirrorless and why it’s good for everybody

Switching camps has never been easier: with the increasing number of companies going mirrorless, photographers can now have their cake and eat it – at least in theory. With the whole premise of mirrorless being smaller, mechanically simpler and cheaper, there are several key implications for every company: firstly, new mounts and optics are needed to at least attempt to keep to the brief. Secondly, the form factors are going to land up much the same: EVF in the centre position (or off to the left); thin body with large mount since the final element has to be very close to the sensor and therefore large to avoid extreme ray angles and all of the things this implies; some sort of decent handgrip both to house the substantial battery to power an always-on sensor and display; not quite enough body real estate to place the buttons for all of the features demanded by today’s buyers; and lastly – a bonus feature. Basically: make it as attractive as possible to the buyer to adopt, but remembering that as a company, you are also going to have to convince your existing brand loyalists to reinvest heavily, too. I’m opening with fighting words, but there is a point to all of this especially with the last two big holdouts joining the game.

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Robin’s stylistic experiments: monochrome squares

It is no secret that I prefer to shoot in color for my street photography but I do have a special adoration for black and white for very specific situations. With the right lighting condition and sufficient contrast in the frame I tend to favor black and white. I then decided to do a specific outing just to shoot everything in black and white. Initially I did not plan to do square crops for all images in this series, but a few images called for square composition which worked well. For consistency, I cropped everything to square.

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Snapshots from Malaysia’ independence day celebrations

To all Malaysians, Merdeka!

The National Day celebration for Malaysia takes a different tone this year following a recent and significant shift in the political landscape (as documented by MT here). I braved the insane traffic and impenetrable crowds to experience Malaysia’s 61st Independence Day celebration. Following two full days of back to back intensive wedding shoots, I was physically and mentally exhausted, but that did not deter my spirit to get up at an ungodly hour in the morning and be at Putrajaya (the celebration venue) in time to get close enough to the action. I did not have any particular story to tell or a pre-determined outcome for this series of photographs. When the celebration started I knew I was too mentally drained to command anything out of the ordinary so I decided to just go with the flow, enjoy the immense positive vibes alongside fellow Malaysians, shout the word “Merdeka” repeatedly at the top of my lungs and maybe, maybe be lucky enough to get some interesting snapshots.

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In search of clarity…

…will be the theme and title of my monthly column at Mediumformat.com, a community and e-publication focused on the larger things in photography. Mingthein.com of course continues as normal; I just didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to work with an interesting bunch of people. Registrations are open from today. MT

MT’s Scrapbook: Rainbow

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Probably not your usual kind of rainbow, but instead some colourful remnants from an intensely bright afternoon (and rather 80s building). The National Science Centre reopened to the public recently but still feels very much like a 1980s attempt at a science-themed activity centre for primary school kids; I suppose its fun if you didn’t notice the rest of the world entering the internet era twenty years ago. Still, at least the building is visually interesting…MT

The Scrapbook series is shot on an Olympus PEN F, with unedited JPEGs straight from camera bar resizing (and of course some choice settings).

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Artist’s statement, 2018 edition

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…or, ‘statement of underlying principles and philosophies as relates to the way MT sees and captures the world’ – but that doesn’t quite read as smoothly.

We all start our photographic journeys with the intent and desire to capture something specific; we may or may not succeed at this to a level with which we are happy. Inevitably, the next step is to attempt to capture everything, almost indiscriminately; if done well, this produces a curation nightmare: the gates are open and we are now seeing opportunity everywhere. We may or may not (likely not) have the executional skill required to translate that vision into an image that is read as intended by our audience; we may not even know who the audience is yet. Fast forward through the GAS, and if you make it that far – the hard road is only beginning. Rapidly diminishing returns set in and serious dedication and practice are required to make any meaningful progress; the hardest part of which is developing an objective yet fair ability to self-critique one’s own work. Previously, I’ve detailed this process in the stages of creative evolution; I’ve discussed general underlying motivations for photography here, here and here (and probably elsewhere that doesn’t immediately come to mind). What I’ve not done much of is talk about why I personally photograph what I photograph now. Sure, it’s probably possible to form an overall picture of my philosophy if you’ve read enough of my articles, and there’s a massively antiquated raison d’être of sorts on my flickr profile – but as we change, so do our motivations. Or vice versa. And that complex balance is what I’m going to attempt to explain today. The overall picture may well diverge from your own approach, but hopefully some of the individual points might be useful.

Important note: notice none of the tenets is subject or location specific (let alone hardware-dependent). A consistent and solid approach needs to be as universally applicable as possible.

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Photoessay: traditional architectural vignettes

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Today’s images are a series of with traditional architectural subjects shot in Kyoto, at varying scales. There’s a deliberate variation in perspective and size to put the various elements in context with their environment; I have deliberately tried hard to exclude the usual cliched contrasts between old and new etc. but instead show the edifices as they are in use today. Kyoto is probably one of the few places in the world where you actually have to try very hard to avoid older buildings…yet there’s almost no dilapidation, and there’s a wonderful balance between authenticity of patina and maintenance – just look at the first building; the lantern and copper gutters are clearly aged, and the wood is seasoned, the bamboo faded with time and sun, yet the walls are perfectly painted and the sign is clean and crisp – I have rarely seen this anywhere else outside Japan (except perhaps some of the restored areas of Prague and Havana). It’s the underlying tension between this precision and contrast that makes it such a photographically rewarding subject… MT

This set was shot with a Nikon D850, 24-120VR and post processed with Photoshop Workflow III.

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Design, photography and visual priorities

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The previous post out of the archives was intended to cue up your thinking for today’s discussion: taking things one step further and exploring the relationship between design, photography and composition.

Some of you probably know that beyond photography, I’m involved in design work on two fronts – as lead designer at Horologer MING, my watch brand, and as a consultant at Hasselblad. There is a popular misconception that design is mainly about a few things: style, function/ usability/ UI/ ergonomics, and differentiation. In reality, design is really about making a set of coherent choices in an environment where there are choices to be made I’d argue that beyond and above this, there’s really only one overarching principle that should be the basis of all good design: I think of it as one of composition.

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Drone diaries: slices of green (more from the Mavic 2 Pro)

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In my previous post I posted a flight report/review/extended test of the new 2018 DJI Mavic 2 Pro, with 1″ Hasselblad L1D-20c camera module. As promised, today’s post contains additional images I shot around Malaysia during the testing and calibration period – and yes, there’s a forest in there. I see a new project (or rather an extension of an old one, with previously inaccessible perspectives) emerging… Enjoy! MT

Shot with the Mavic 2 Pro and processed with PS Workflow III.

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