FD: From the opening party of “Engineering Art in Metal”

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It’s been a busy January. I finally found some time to develop the film from the opening night party of my current exhibition, ‘Engineering Art in Metal’ – it’s at the Center for Asian Photographers and has been extended until mid-February, so if you’re in town, please go have a look. (More details are here.)

Today’s post is a bit of a mishmash – both some images from the party itself (shot with a ‘Blad and Delta 400 at +2, what else?), and ‘the making of’ – enjoy! Finally, a big thank you to my client, the sponsors, and everybody who came, supported, sent notes of congratulations – it’s all greatly appreciated. This exhibition means a lot to me because I’d consider it the first time where I didn’t feel we made any compromises to the images or the printing; we pushed the limits of what was possible with the paper and gamut, but I think anybody who’s seen the images in person will agree with me that it was worth it! MT

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A somewhat daunting start…

…and several hours and a time lapse later:


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And we are open!

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Philip Ong, representing Hasselblad/ Zeiss/ Ilford/ Shriro opens the exhibition

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George Wong, director of The Center for Asian Photographers

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Adam Lokman of Shpice Pictures, one of my production partners

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Father and Father-in-law

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Printmaster, Wesley Wong

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H5D test drive

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Finally, never, ever rise to the challenge of a Hasselblad selfie. It just doesn’t work. Especially not on film and not with an 80mm lens that demands a 1m minimum focus distance.


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  1. I’ve been there and I have to say that if you like MTs photographs in Flickr, you’ll be speachless in front of those amazing prints!
    I hope we can catch up for cigars and drinks next time Ming!



    • Thank you – sorry the schedule didn’t work this time. But at least you now know why I say the web is useless for evaluating final output quality 🙂

      • I made my first “big-ass” print (A1 in size, is the Kapadokya Balloon pic in the reader’s pool), and not only the web is useless, the screen itself is dangerous for editing for printing. It’s two completely different things.

        • Web useless: true. Screen dangerous: only if it’s not calibrated, OR your printer’s calibration is different from yours, OR he didn’t bother to profile the printer. There are a lot of potential failure points in this chain – which is why it’s critical to understand all of it if you’re going to get serious about printing. My print master used to just match colour profiles with mine, but I now run a profile for a specific paper and processing style which I calibrated myself off that specific machine I intend to print from…there IS a noticeable difference.

          • MT, how about having a post dedicated in-depth to printing and how to get/apply colour profiles depending on paper and printer? I haven’t seen any useable information in internet about it.

            • That’s because it’s as much about practical demonstration/ feel as it is about theory. An article wouldn’t be very meaningful, to be honest.

  2. plevyadophy says:

    Lovely images.

    Impressive installation.

    Impressive size prints (it takes that kinda size to really begin to make an impression in my view).

    I thought I saw you somewhere in that time-lapse video, am I right?

    The selfie. I actually like it (you’re actually one of those annoying people …………………….. quite photogenic, even if the photog doesn’t think the piccie worked out as desired 🙂 )

    I would love to get over to Malaysia to see one of your exhibitions and meet your master printer and get a little insight into your printing process ……………… if I am not declared bankrupt after my spending in July 😉


    Warmest Regards,

    • Thank you. Yes, I’m in the time-lapse video somewhere…

      There’s a reason I stay behind the camera. It’s because I really don’t look good in front of it 🙂

  3. Fernando Vázquez says:

    Congratulations, Ming.
    I´ve read the article on Robin Wong´s site showing phots of your great exibition. Marvelous.
    Reading your articles almost on a daily basis. You are a reference to me.
    I think you are one of the world´s gratest photographers.
    Best wishes.

  4. I think the selfie is fine as it is. Blurred is new sharp.

  5. Simple tip for your next blad selfie (there will be another one, right!?):
    Use a mirror or two 😉

  6. And you really have to take a selfie with the Blad eh 🙂 Congratulations Ming!

  7. Last image is hilarious!

  8. Michael Matthews says:

    I think you’ll find that people who really want large prints, and who can afford them, also can afford the cost of safe shipping — no matter how absurd it may seem. One more tier in your marketing grid — bespoke prints: low volume, high margin.

    • You’re probably right, but it seems silly that the shipping costs half as much as the print. Surely the courier companies don’t add that much value…or am I attributing too little value to my work?

      • Michael Matthews says:

        That may be the case. A double challenge arises, though, in selecting prints to be offered in a large format at a very large price: penetrating that market while, at the same time, anticipating the taste of those who may purchase.

        The vertical “oculus” image in your Basel Messe series — or the fantastic horizontal image of deep blue sky with a bit of architectural lattice work along the bottom of the frame — easily could strike someone with unlimited funds as worth a huge sum if available as a one-off, never to be repeated work. An original. Collectors value the potential for appreciation which comes with a single work of art. They resonate with a mercenary as well aesthetic response; the two reinforce one another.

        That doesn’t mean the image has to be hidden from the rest of the world. Awareness enhances value, as long as the high-dollar item at a high price is established first. Any others must be of a different scale, “prints” as opposed to the real thing.

        Unfortunately for both of us, I don’t live in that rarified atmosphere. I’ve inhaled a whiff of it from time to time (gilt by association) but can claim only an awareness of that kind of decision making, not personal participation. Maybe it requires gallery representation or some other form of agency.

        • Oh, I completely agree. Is it better – both financially and to encourage a greater appreciation of the work – to sell only one piece at a huge sum, or many smaller pieces? Hard to say. Maybe I should try that: sell a single copy at say 10 or 20x the normal price and see what happens.

          I’m sure it definitely requires an agency and representation: the people who buy high end prints aren’t the same as the people who buy cameras…perhaps my logic is flawed, but why would you buy something you can (theoretically) make yourself?

  9. Congratulations on the exhibition. Looks great. If I make to KL in February, I will try and stop by.

  10. Top stuff mate – I noticed a few in colour, are they from the Digital Back or scanned film (or am I totally wrong and its the D800E :p ). They would be very interesting to see up close!

  11. Congratulations, Ming! It looks like a smashing success.

  12. Congratulations to you Ming and all the others who have participated to make this come true.

  13. Congratulations on the exhibition!

  14. Congratulations Ming! That looks like a great show. I just hope we don’t have to travel to Malaysia to see any future prints!

    • Thanks Andre. Well, there will still of course be print edition sales…but in a very different format.

      • Very intriguing. I’m going to guess postage-stamp sized prints on empty tubes! 🙂 Looking forward to hearing about the real solution soon, and my fingers are crossed for the safety of my print.

        • 8×12″ and 12×18″ prints; we’re going to ship via DHL express and sandwich them between sheet styrene boards.

          But the reason for going smaller is simple: you can now see the difference between 16 and 36MP – on an 8×12″ print. I suppose that’s what happens when we find a printer that can be driven at 720PPI equivalent (not DPI – several ink dots go into one pixel)…they look like large format contact prints.

          Who’d have thought we’d actually get to the point where the output medium catches up with the pixel count? 🙂

          • Wow. It’ll be cheaper to frame, and easier to hang, too! 🙂 I’ve had prints of that smaller size from Europe that use sandwich packaging, and they’ve arrived undamaged.

            • Good to know. I have no idea what the postal services are doing with the tubes (playing baseball?) but the near 50% replacement rate means there’s no point in print sales, at least from a financial standpoint.

  15. Congrats Ming! Nice exhibition of your work.
    Looks like you did not print my favorite image of yours from the assignment, #8028482.
    Any reason why you did not select that image? The light is just amazing in that one.
    Nice to see your family there enjoying it. First ‘blad selfie i have seen. 🙂

  16. Congratulations! I am sorry that I cannot readily view this exhibit in person – I would enjoy it. I too think your self portrait is a very good photograph and, in this case, the blur and grain add substantially to its success.

  17. Fabulous and congratulations–having been a curator and gallery director and executive director of an art center, I know the work behind the scenes. Now you can bask in your accomplishments.

  18. Tom Liles says:



    • One of the few known images of that man to exist. He’s even more elusive than me.

      • Tom Liles says:

        And just like you, a thorough gent, a good egg, and a threat to sushi inventories everywhere.
        [Everywhere that it’s worth taking seriously 😉 ]

        We saw how great the metal job was in the introductory FD post and this installment takes it up a notch. I’d have liked to be there to feel the PAARRR (Clarkson) of Snr. Wong’s amazing reproductions of your amazing images; I’ll just have to wait for the Tokyo showing 🙂
        [Zeiss Japan, Hasselblad Japan, come on—please make this happen!]

        So happy to see MT prints starting to waves — ripples? — in the World. It’s just nice to watch someone who’s earnt it, organically, start to get it. Plus for all the early clients and businesses that took a chance and went with the new guy… it must feel so great for them to see you shine like this. Win-win. Love it.

  19. Kath Bowers says:

    PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION, INDEED! Thanks for sharing the excitement with those of us unable to be in town! You look deliriously happy – as you should be! Well done!

  20. Thanks for the behind the scenes video and memories. People dont really realise that setting upreally is the bulk and important work in any exhibition and event.
    I enjoyed your work very much.
    A bit of trivial and rib-digging. Did you know that the span of our arms out-stretched is roughly equal to our height? That being said, if you were 6 foot 6, your hassie-selfie would be in perfect focus…

  21. I dropped by 2 weeks ago, nice and unique exhibition.

    Regarding the above set of images on this post, those fr D800E seems to be more “grainy” than the GRD, were those PS effect for your b&w images ?

  22. Belle maîtrise du format carré ! Great 🙂

  23. Thanks for the post Ming! Unfortunately this is as close as I’m going to get to your exhibit at this point in time. I have no doubt all the prints are amazing in person, but the only support I can offer presently is in spirit. Hell of a way to start off the new year. On a side note, 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. Here’s hoping more of your art makes it on to the walls of galleries!

    • Thanks Jeff!

      The other way is to buy a print 😉

      • One of these print runs I’m going to take you up on that! I forgot to mention above that the Blad selfie is great! The pic was shot on a big day, that’s a genuine smile, and hey you had the effing balls to shoot it and post it!!

        • Haha, thanks. There won’t be any more large print runs, the postal services keep damaging the tubes. About 50% replacement rate! I will be going in a new direction with this…stay tuned.

          As for that selfie…it’s going to be infamous, I fear.

          • Kristian Wannebo says:

            There might be a solution to print shipping.
            I once had to send a friend’s paintings from Sweden to the USA. After some research I bought suitable lengths of plastic sewage pipe. Cheap enough and there are several diameters to choose from.
            Postage would increase of course, but the damage rate would be close to zero.

  24. May I know the exhibition’s opening hours? Can’t seem to find it anywhere, including the CEAP site. Was hoping to drop by after work 🙂

  25. Congratulations on the exhibit Ming! Very impressive. It would be awesome to see.


  1. […] without glass and a substantial border; this has proven to be the most popular. [MT: my recent Engineering Art in Metal exhibition was mounted on Monoblocs.] We can also mount to Kapaline 5mm foamcore boards and DiLite 3mm […]

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