Photoessay: San Francisco monochromes, part one

I can’t really say these have a common theme other than reporting on life in the city; however, subjects, light and various urban geometry cooperated at times to make some images I was rather fond of. Enjoy! MT

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Images and content copyright Ming Thein | 2012 onwards. All rights reserved


  1. wow! spectacular set of my city!!! so many good ones, but the first, third and fourth are really excellent. thanks for inspiring me!

  2. Beautiful set. Can’t add to what has already been said above, but the first image is the one that caught my eye the most. Thank you for sharing, Ming.

  3. Many of these, if I am correct, were captured around the Moscone Center. I have shot there a few times when I take a break from whatever tech convention I am attending, and the light back in there is amazing. Again, your tones are just spot on.

  4. Nice work. I like viewing this set much more than he NY set as, without captions, the photos speak for themselves and the captions don’t influence my perceptions. I know both NY and SF well, having lived for years both in and near them. You’ve seen well.

  5. Great essay. I especially like the images with the long shadows. Tanks.

  6. Hi Ming. # 1 is one of those photos that really makes you pause in order to digest and understand all that is there. Nicely done! I’m also drawn to the ghostly quality of the horse carriage, the way the reflections in the window transposes it back onto the street. Wonderful examples of your skill and artistry. Very inspiring. Thank you.

  7. Ming

    My favorites are #1 and #11. These could be strong contenders in your next print sale voting. I like #8 for its Martini Glass qualities, but have mixed emotions about it. I will need to view it on Flikr with a big monitor for a better view.


    • Thanks Paul – #1 was actually in the voting, but didn’t make it (#6, I think). I’ve got color image of #8 that would make a better print, but this one was in the theme.

  8. Hi Ming! I’ve been following your work for quite awhile and enjoy it in the abstract, wow, ‘he shoots in some amazing locations – I wish I could go there!’ kind of way.

    I live in Oakland and work, play and shoot street photography in San Francisco. Coming from a local who appreciates talent, these are excellent. Thank you for sharing them.

  9. invitango says:

    A reblogué ceci sur invitango.

  10. Your photos are inspiring. I really love the third photo of the couple. Awesome.
    I wish my camera wasn’t broken (stuck sd card carriage) 😦

  11. some very lovely photos. thank you! — tamar

  12. I know and recognize the San Francisco you depict. The reflections are intriguing and complex and the ‘buildingscapes’ true to the city. You do nothing to dislodge my current strong preference for monochrome either!

  13. david mantripp says:

    The first one is really surreal – like something out of a modern gothic novel. Wonderfuk!

  14. These are amazing!

  15. Excellent set! Love it! Cheers, Rudy.

  16. Tom Liles says:

    You offered us the words: Enjoy.

    ==> Well I enjoyed that.
    More ==> I’m now raring to go out and take some pictures!

    Supreme stuff.

    If I could humbly remind viewers: you can purchase this man’s work right now. I did. I almost broke his hand off when I saw what he was asking… I’m no art collector, but I’ve bought a few pictures in my time—I have a clue. You would be MAD to miss this quality at this price. We’re talking CHANCE! in massive neon letters with glitzy dancing girls in top hats and canes frolicking about it. Get in early and be able to say “I was following him at the beginning. That, yeah that over there’s an original print, signed by MT. His second ever print run. He never printed these pictures again.” And then your guest will say, “How much was it?” And you’ll say “Oh, something stupid like 200 USD…”


    Or it could just go like this:

    guest: [points at large fine art print on wall] “Oh what’s that?”

    you: “Yeah. Good, isn’t it” [smile]

    Ming doesn’t need a hype man. No, actually, maybe he does. But I’m not trying to do that: I’m just openly supporting someone I think it’s plainly worth following. If you doubt MT has got it, fair enough. I invite you to look at the contents of this post again.

    This level of sophistication is not casual luck.
    [and these are net jpegs!]

    • Hahaha, thanks Tom. I’m glad at least a few (judging from the print sale so far) other people appreciate my work! All I can say is that the internet, jpegs and small screens really do not do the images justice. I can confidently say the prints will be on another level.

      Sometimes, just occasionally, I have to post some photographs, you know, so people don’t think I’m just another gearhead site. 😉

    • John R. says:

      Second print run? – when was the first?!

      • The first was quite some time back, middle of last year. The current one is I suppose the first proper one…and still open for another week if you’d like to pick up a print 🙂

  17. I like them much .. Especially the ones which are “less is more” and look underexposed / pushed. There are very few here, which i find a bit too busy and HDR-ish – not quite up my alley, but still very good

    • Actually, there’s no pushing or HDR involved – the light was like that. I have a personal phobia of empty frames, so I tend to pack everything in…

  18. room1232 says:

    absolutely fantastic

  19. Beautiful Shots Ming! Really like the entire set.

  20. ship5giay says:

    hi!!! verry good

  21. Jeez, Ming! Most of the time I feel stretched and inspired by you. But at times, the gap between us creatively, technically, volumetrically, etc. is so great as to nearly deflate me! How you can manage such a prodigious output, with a compact camera no less, and just blowing them out as if it were just effortless is just incomprehensible. I guess it’d be like chucking the ball around with Peyton Manning or something like that. Anyway, brilliant work as always. (Do you ever shoot a loser????) 🙂

    Peace. Looking forward to Prague . . . ..


    • Thanks Roger. I’m sure some of those were shot with the OM-D, from memory.

      I shoot duds like everybody else, it’s just that I think I’ve got a much higher threshold resulting in a lot of deletion beforehand 🙂

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