Photoessay: New York City street colour

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Today’s photoessay is a set of images shot with the Nikon Coolpix A on the streets of New York City during my earlier workshop trip this year. NYC on a blue sky spring day is seriously difficult to beat. Not much to add, other than enjoy! MT


If you’d like to learn how to make images like this, you’ll be pleased to know that one last seat has opened up for the Prague workshop (2-5 Oct) due to a participant’s conflicting work commitments. Now available at the special price of $1,900 instead of $2,150!For full details and to make a booking, click here. Thanks! MT

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The Nikon Coolpix A is available here – review B&H Amazon


Enter the 2013 Maybank Photo Awards here – there’s US$35,000 worth of prizes up for grabs, it’s open to all ASEAN residents, and I’m the head judge! Entries close 31 October 2013.


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


  1. I’m new to your blog – nice balance and pretty formal (in a good way!) – did you study brush writing?

  2. Samuel Fifer says:

    Ming, I notice (in the NYC shots) you populate many of your pictures. Do you regularly use photo releases? Are there any circumstances where you (a) make darn sure you get a release or (b) don’t particularly care if you get one? I have spent some time recently in cultures where people get pretty anxious and combative if you point a camera at them (assuming you are not posing them or asking for verbal permission in which case they are a bit more malleable) and so have become reluctant to populate images (except where people are not recognizable or in a large crowd. Thanks in advance.

    • Not necessary as all of these are for editorial (ie non-commercial) use. And most of the time I’m using a very small camera anyway; I attract precisely zero attention compared to everybody else who’s toting a DSLR. Blending in like another tourist and all that…

  3. Michael Matthews says:

    I still think the guy slumped in the chair in the foreground in image #3 is somehow a product of the golden arches in the background.

  4. Hi Ming,
    Excellent photos, as always… Let’s say theoretically that you take as many black and white photos, as color (or have no preference). If that is the case, does the dollar value difference between the GR and Coolpix A, easily push you towards the GR…? Or is the Coolpix A that much better in color that it makes up for the difference in price with the GR…?

    Would you mind sharing some of your post processing tips for these particular files?

    APS-C compacts or mirror-less cameras really seem to be the future. I recently bought and EOS M, because it was dirt cheap and has a nice sized APS-C sensor. Terrible ergonomics! But if you work around the shortcomings, you can take decent images with it.

    On the other hand, APS-C sized systems do not seem to have the lens choices of M43. What do you think of Lloyd Chambers arguments? M43 is a doomed proposition? Best to stick with a GR or APS-C sized sensor?


    • Thanks. Pick either if you shoot equal B&W/ color; just go with whichever camera works better for you.

      Postprocessing is not a simple process, and even if there are few steps there’s a lot of thought and logic behind it; far too much to explain in an article. I’ve already covered this extensively in the PS workflow videos.

      Cameras are not investments, especially not digital. They will go obsolete, break, become unfixable etc. I buy what I need now to make the pictures I want now. And right now, I have a full M4/3 system. The only APS-C camera I have is the standalone GR. For posterity I have two mechanical Hasselblads and an F2 Titan.

  5. Ming, the colours you were able to reproduce here is nothing short of amazing. It really lends to your experience with post production and those colour sliders. My favourite photo of this set has to be the one of the sun-bather and the building in the background. That was quite interesting to view and ponder about.

    However, for me, the weakest part of this series has to be the content. Despite the ubiquitousness of mobile phones, I rarely find it makes for interesting content. The same can be said of sleeping people, or street performers or people walking. It can be very demanding and challenging to find a creative way to express the mundane. This is one of the challenges that many street / travel photographers have. To me, that fourth of the bottom with the sleeping woman at the base of the building is the only one that really stands out to me. I liked your reflection in the comments about the boy in the station, and how the boy separated the photo into different quadrants. Before that, I did not think of giving that photograph a second look. Your comments made me go back to the photo. Not the photo itself.
    I was wondering what are other people’s thoughts on these images?
    Ming, my intention is not to be a downer, I’m still a huge fan of your work. This set just doesn’t move me the same way that past series has.

    • Thanks! Given the last series was Workers of Heavy Metal, and I only had two free days in NYC to shoot…you know what, I shouldn’t make excuses. I was happy with the set because I thought it was representative of what I saw and experienced while there, but maybe that opinion might change with time.

      • Perhaps that speaks to the ubiquitousness and the slow uniform conformity of NYC. I notice the same thing walking down the street in most metropolitan cities. Everyone is looking down at their phones or their shoes avoiding eye contact.

  6. Mikaela Joy says:

    I enjoyed this set a lot! Street photography is something that I’ve been really getting into lately (although most people I share it with don’t really get it). It’s nice to see others doing this and doing it very well I might add. This makes me want to visit New York even more.

  7. Howard Stevens says:

    Nice set Ming, the photo opportunities in NYC are endless…
    I especially like the framing in Grand Central – was the dude there when you got to your shooting position or did you have to wait?
    So many images taken there focus on the huge windows (the edge is top left in your image) but your image has the fantastic staircase as well as the pillars/balcony/lights down the right.

    • I was shooting something else and he plonked himself there to wait, so I thought why not…I personally liked how the stairs divided the image up into zones; irregular/ regular/ chaotic/ ordered…

  8. Each image is a lesson in composition and the art of seeing!
    Can’t help but think that most would look “better” (to me) in B&W. Might be an interesting blog post where you show both (color & B&W) and discuss how that affects perception, mood or whatever of the photos. Of course in the end it’s all personal preference, but I think a lot of us value your insight.

  9. Jorge Balarin says:

    Great set !!

  10. I like to stop by your website because I can always be sure to find some very good photography where the technique is at service of good taste.

  11. Dean Forbes says:

    The smartphone is ruining street photography: Not using one as a camera but seeing almost nothing else but people using them on the street. Scenes and resulting photos of people thumbing their phones are boring.

    • Street photography is a form of reportage; we document what’s there. If people are just mobile phone robots, there’s really not a lot we can do about it. Besides, there are only two photos with a person using a phone!

      • I think that street photography is a difficult subject, its impersonal and more often than not lacks any real sincerity. A photo of a homeless guy in the name of “social commentary” is not interesting, Film does not make streetphotography interesting nor does a grainy black and white image, Sincerity is what makes any art form interesting.Smartphones are not ruining street photography, unimaginative people with dubious motivations are just giving it a bad stench at the moment.

        • Agreed. Lack of an idea and a flood of mediocre images is ruining it and giving the public at large the wrong impression. Street photography is really perhaps the most difficult form of reportage because you have no specific objective before you shoot – it’s up to the photographer to observe and decide on the fly.

          • The truth always comes out in the wash Ming ;), At least this flood of mediocre images is giving the real masters of the genre some well earned recognition.

  12. I prefer the second one, all are nice…

  13. The policeman in the rain, in the Perspex shelter = just so so perfect.

    He even has a moustsche. I can’t think of a way this could be any better or atmospheric.
    [And if anyone were ever unsure whether cinematics were possible with shorter lenses –> this one would be good for showing they are]

  14. the way you see the world is so inspirational Ming! Thanks for sharing your knowledge and vision with us on such a regular basis

  15. Wonderful talent

  16. I am still undecided over the two. For me, autofocus is very important.. Feeling any regret over buying the Ricoh GR or are those just old pictures? The price difference in my country is only $60.. Any long term usage observations? 🙂

    • I think they’re both excellent cameras. I could be happy with either if the other one didn’t exist…the choice is quite personal. I shoot more B&W these days, so the Ricoh makes more sense for me. If I favored color, I’d have gone with the A.

  17. What a great set of photographs. The processing is fantastic, they have clarity and depth. They always look razor sharp but natural and not overdone.

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