It’s my birthday, so I’m giving you all a little gift…

Excerpt from Making Outstanding Images Ep.4 & 5: Exploring and Processing for style. More trailers are available here

Greetings from London – I’m currently in the middle of the Making Outstanding Images London workshop, but it’s my birthday so I’d like to celebrate by giving you all a little gift – a thank you for your support over the last couple of years. For the next week, using the voucher code MINGBIRTHDAY for $20 off any video or bundle on the teaching store. There’s no limit on the number of vouchers per person – use as many as you like in combination with whichever videos you wish – but the total number of vouchers is limited. First-come, first-served and valid for one week until 23.59 KL time (GMT+8) on the 25th of July 2014 – or the vouchers run out, whichever comes first. So if there are any videos you’ve been curious about, or need to complete your set, now’s the time 🙂

And as a gentle reminder, I’ve currently got one spot left for the popular San Francisco Masterclass in September due to one participant’s work schedule – won’t last for long though, I’m sure!

Thank you all for your support! MT

An overview of the video workshops

Postprocessing (A, B, C, E5)
Learn how to enhance the presentation of your image through curves, tonal management, dodging and burning and sharpening; rebalance the composition towards the subject through the use of managed contrast; familiarize yourself with advanced photoshop techniques for compositing, retouching and final output. More importantly, learn to develop a fast and powerful workflow to consistently produce great results from any camera. Based on Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Camera Raw.

Making Outstanding Images (D, E1-5)
This video series covers the core content from the workshops of the same name. Learn the fundamental underlying principles of both technical imaging and composition through a structured and methodical series of exercises. Understand why some images ‘work’ despite breaking conventional rules, and others don’t even though they tick all the boxes. Build a toolkit that lets you not just consistently translate your ideas into an image, but go beyond to take that and put an individual and consistently recognizable style on the output.

How To See (H1-3)
Travel vicariously with me through foreign cities and look over my shoulder as I shoot; you see both the surrounding context and the specific individual elements I find interesting enough to compose and shoot. I explain what attracts my attention, how I compose and my thought process at the time of capture, as well as a more formal explanation of the finished image and some discussion on the postprocessing choices made to get there.

We reserve the right to change the conditions of this promotion without prior notice; service is provided on a best effort basis. There are a limited number of vouchers available and they will be applied on a priority basis. Valid on new purchases only

Selected recent testimonials from previous customers:

Todd Lawton (How To See Ep.3): I look forward to these as much as buying new gear – seriously. They’re like travel documentaries, on steroids, for photographers!
Gerner Christensen (How To See Ep.3, Compact Camera Masterclass): How I loved the take around the lake. No chance your enthusiasm about the unique light there doesn’t reach the viewer of the video 🙂  I was taken away during the time it took and forgot time and place. Again a very inspiring video. I also enjoyed the the compact camera Masterclass video I downloaded. Even I don’t have exactly a compact camera by definition, a lot of things applies for bigger cameras too. It is always good to receive say a refreshment reminder about the basics. Tights up the awareness while shooting. Finally it is beneficial to see where and how the images used in episode 4-5 were taken. 

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.

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.
Highly Recommended.

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!


Masterclass Venice (November 2014) now open for booking – click here to book or for more info


Visit the Teaching Store to up your photographic game – including workshop and Photoshop Workflow videos and the customized Email School of Photography; or go mobile with the Photography Compendium for iPad. You can also get your gear from B&H and Amazon. Prices are the same as normal, however a small portion of your purchase value is referred back to me. Thanks!

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


  1. Happy Birthday! Ordered your Making Outstanding Images Ep.4 & 5

  2. Many happy returns! I had to stifle a smile when I read what you wrote in response to an earlier post: ” I do try to give something back”. My heavens, you give so much to the photographic community, it is astounding.

    Anyway. I just ordered How to see: Tokyo, am downloading it as I type this, and intend to devour it over the coming week. I’m off on holiday to Europe at the end of the month, and if there’s anything that’s going to get me juiced to shoot well, it’s watching someone do it better than I do.

    Your hard work and generosity is (and I imagine that I speak for more than just myself) hugely appreciated.

  3. Happy Birthday Ming!

  4. Just thought of this: I recall you’d mentioned in a couple prior blog posts the subject of color profiling for consistency among your gear. Is this process covered by any of your teaching videos ~ perhaps one of your processing videos?

    Many thanks for the teaching content and — since I suppose by this hour that your birthday’s over — hope you enjoyed a pleasant celebration.

    • No, it isn’t, because it’s both hardware-specific and requires some consistency of eyeball so it doesn’t make much sense, unfortunately.

      Spent most of it working as usual – better to do something you enjoy than not, I suppose! 🙂

      • Fan Yang says:

        I just bought the video (intermediate photoshop) to find out the color profiling is not included. :-(.
        This is a highly desirable feature that I would love to learn.
        Nonetheless, the video is good.
        Happy birthday!

        • I never said it was. Color profiling is hardware specific and I avoid that wherever possible in the videos because it limits applicability. The intro to ps video does talk about color adjustment but not profiling.

          • Right, cramming an otherwise well-generalized video with hardware-specific instructions would make a mess of the video.

            But supposing this were a subject you’d care to address but haven’t so far because of the hardware dependency: are there not some general notions that can be abstracted away from the hardware and taught — while leaving an exercise to the user to work out the applications to other gear?

            If a student was motivated and positively nothing else [better] was available, I might suppose four examples of how profiling was done with differing hardware might give that motivated person a general notion of how the problem can be approached and get them started thinking how to reapply to their own hardware. Of course, if I had to wager my personal bets would be that you have the skills and approach needed to find form in the problem and deduce how to teach it in a much better way than that.

            • I shall have a think about it…the part I don’t like is saying ‘you still need a good eye’ – which is true – because it seems somewhat unhelpful…

  5. May be you could also refund your MT’S IPAD COMPENDIUM app because it sucks big time. Blog posts are not searchable and limited to 6 month. Pictures section is blank… Big deception considering your level of professionalism in all areas.

    • Actually, the app is a dictionary. The rest is a bonus. I spent four times more developing it than I made back, and it’s become financially impossible to continue supporting. Thanks for your feedback.

      • Frans Moquette says:

        Well, that is strange, I added an extended comment on this, two actually, saw them posted, and now they are completely gone!?
        Did you remove my comments Ming or has there been some glitch on the blog?

        • WordPress has been eating comments recently and allowing a lot of spam through. I’m trying some new filter settings to fix it, but it’s not perfect. Sorry!

          • OK, too bad that happened. I can’t exactly reproduce what I wrote, but here goes…
            I too am disappointed in the app and did not know it was meant as just a dictionary when I bought it. I guess I bought it for what you call the “bonus features”. Adding search and extending the period as Talia mentioned would be an improvement. The way the app displays the blog is also different from the website and disappointing and could be improved. I would like to suggest that if you improved the things you consider the “bonus features” the app might become more popular. In addition to the things already mentioned a dedicated “photos” section (accessible from the menu bar at the bottom) would be nice. Another thought to consider is making your teaching videos rentable via the app. For example, for $ 5 one could watch a video for a week. When someone wants to keep it forever they could buy it like now, perhaps with a $ 5 discount if they did within a week from the rental period expiring. I personally would not hesitate to rent some of your teaching videos in such a scenario. Worries about disappointment, considering the price of the videos and my disappointment in the app, is preventing me from buying your teaching videos.

            • Hmm, thanks for the feedback. You use the word ‘disappointment’ a lot – I’m frankly pretty disappointed by the amount of money spent developing it, supporting it, the poor reception it received, and I’m disappointed by the ungrateful and rude people who continually make unreasonable demands for things on my site, despite all I do for free. Did I also mention I’m seriously disappointed by people who don’t bother to read the product description, expect the impossible for a couple of dollars, then have the rudeness to deliberately and publicly cast doubt on the quality of the rest of my videos without having read any of the hundreds of very positive comments or actually viewing them? Not to mention going out of their way to ensure that the comment was published. Hmmm, disappointing indeed.

              • Frans Moquette says:

                I’m sorry if I offended you. I did not mean to be rude or cast doubt on the quality of your videos. I’m sure the quality is great, it’s just that I worry the *content* might not be what I expect or want it to be. In other words, that I will learn what I expect to learn from them. I do read product descriptions and comments (perhaps too much), but I can’t view the videos without buying them. And just buying them just to see if they contain what I want, well, that would be rather expensive. So there we have a chicken and egg situation. Perhaps this applies to more people, in which case a rental option, I thought, could be a solution that might make you get more income from your work.
                Again, my apologies if I offended you. I really appreciate your blog and I did not intend to, nor do I, demand anything from you.

                • I don’t suggest you buy anything you don’t want, and I agree that the app could be better – it just isn’t practical to do it. If we had infinite resources, we could do anything…

                  But again: the reason we have sample clips (NOT the trailers) and testimonials and descriptions is precisely to give buyers confidence over what they’re buying. Beyond this, there’s not much we can do.

                  • Frans Moquette says:

                    Agreed, but perhaps there is something you could do (and I’m NOT saying you should or must).
                    None of us have unlimited resources, so we have to balance our wants with the resources we do have available. When I do that balancing act with your videos, the outcome is negative for buying. Like for example CD’s and DVD’s, I’m not into buying anymore because I can get more value for money with streaming (which is similar to renting). I don’t expect to watch a video (any video) more than once, maybe twice, so why would I want to own one? In addition to that, unlike a physical product, I cannot sell a digital product to someone else if I don’t want it anymore. So, for me, all these considerations, amongst others, tip the balance to not buying. Now if I could rent your videos, like I suggested before, it would be a different story.
                    So, what I’m trying to say is, assuming that there are probably more people like me, adding a rental model to to your teaching videos could be a way for you to generate additional income from them. All this is just a suggestion for you to think about. And if you already did, rejected it and posted about it, then my apologies for bothering you with these thoughts. I read a lot of your posts, but, regrettably, don’t have the time to read all of them (your productivity is amazing).

                    • Because streaming is saying that there is no value to you in the content. That the amount of time, effort and expertise isn’t worth anything. Why produce it if you cannot make a living off it? Why make a product at a loss? I am glad that not everybody thinks this way, because otherwise the entire creative industry is dead.

        • By the way, happy birthday (again), that comment disappeared too.

          • Thanks!

            • Frans Moquette says:

              Dear Mr. Thein,
              There is no “reply” link after your post of july 19, 2014 at 7:10 PM, but I feel compelled to respond so I’m doing that here.
              First, that streaming is saying that there is no value to content are your words, not mine. Second, and certainly not least, you wrote “I am glad that not everybody thinks this way, because otherwise the entire creative industry is dead.”. Now you may not agree with me, and that’s fine by me, but this passage is disrespectful, not only towards my opinion but towards my very existence. You accused me of a lot of things in an earlier post, including being rude, but you, sir, are being über rude towards me.
              Goodbye Mr. Thein.

              • Perhaps in that case you should think carefully before you are invited into somebody’s house for a meal, look at their food, tell everybody publicly and noisily it’s lousy without trying it and then leave. THAT is rude. Goodbye.

                • Frans Moquette says:

                  To extend that analogy, YOU invite people to your house and encourage them to comment on the food. I make some suggestions you misinterpret and you become hostile towards me. I notice you misunderstood me and apologize. I tell you I did not mean to say your food is lousy and actually think it is good. I suggest your food could perhaps be improved by adding some sauce and an additional dish. You then say to me that people like me do not value food and add that you are glad not all people are like me. I then tell you I think you are disrespectful and very rude towards me and say goodbye. You then publicly spread lies about me and, again, call me rude.
                  There was only one person (as far as I know) that, to continue your analogy, said one of your dishes “sucks big time”, and that wasn’t me. I only expressed my disappointment in that dish. I never said any of your other dishes were lousy, so please don’t make others believe I did.

  6. Happy Birthday.

    Oh yes, I hope you’ve stocked plenty of coupons because I’m going for it, ha ha ha 🙂

  7. Dwaine Dibbly says:

    Happy Birthday!

    Same birthday as Cory Doctorow over at!

  8. Welcome to London. Plenty to make outstanding here! 🙂

  9. Happy Birthday and as the say in the Netherlands “Hartelijk Gefeliciteerd” 🙂

  10. Happy B-day Ming! I was thinking about yesterday’s post, and the comment you made regarding negative replies to your less saturated processing. Frankly, your processing is top notch. And by way of comparison, it reminds me of the movie North by Northwest, where they introduced VistaVision, which made use of 2-3 times the frame size on the same movie film, resulting in stunning clarity and sophisticated color rendering. I’m wondering if your ABC processing series reveals an approach to processing in the same way you frequently pursue and recommend “shooting discipline” ?

    • Thank you. I think my output is a cumulative effect of both careful photoshop use – just the bare minimum of what’s required – and my personal aesthetic/ compositional preferences, which tend to run to the minimalist now. That said, I think the public these days is too used to all images being more saturated than reality…

  11. Ming, happy Birthday, lots of fun. Thanks for the voucher, allready used. ;). Continue with your “Photo powerhouse”, All the best for the future.

  12. Happy birthday Ming, all the best and I look forward to what the future holds for you in terms of video productions and of course stills.

  13. Happy Birthday Ming! I’m looking forward to your next videos might pick up Fundamentals but I think Ep 1-5 probably covers those. Anyway hope it’s a good one.

  14. Tony Holt says:

    Happy Birthday, Ming. Hope you’re having fun.

  15. Happy Birthday and many happy returns. Thanks for the gift which I used it on episode3 How to see Penang. I return every year to visit my relatives and I’m sure your teaching will inspire me to photograph Penang in a more artistic manner. I read all your photo essay and you are inspirational to photography. Thanks for all your effort.

  16. Happy Birthday! I made you a cheesecake. *hands Ming a cheesecake* I hope you like it 😛

  17. Happy Birthday and all the best wishes to you!

  18. Ming, first, Happy Birthday! Second, did you mention in an earlier post you were working on some new post processing videos?

  19. Happy, Happy Birthday, Ming!! Hugs, Henrietta

  20. Happy birthday Ming! You finally hit the big 3-0?

  21. Happy birthday, Ming, and thank you for the little gift !

  22. Happy birthday Ming! Just about time to get my E4&E5!

  23. wishing you a happy birthday, ming.

  24. Paul Levy-Adophy says:

    Hi Ming, I can’t get enough of you!!! :o) I just bought some more vids from your Store. I got EP-4 and EP-5 so as to complete the set. And after being impressed by the little insight into Ps workflow you gave me on Monday, I also bought Video C (Intermediate Photoshop). But you have two vids listed there that are just teasing me!!! :o)And that’s because they are not yet ready.The two vids I am talking about are Video M (Photoshop Monochrome Masterclass) and Video H6 (How To See, Episode 6: LONDON). When are those two vids gonna be ready? I am taking a guess that the latter video is a recording from your time in London this month, no?

  25. Patrick Chan says:

    Happy Birthday Ming !

  26. Happy birthday Ming. I’m not sure what video is left to get …

    • Thanks Andre! According to my records, you don’t have HTS3: Penang, A: Intro to PS, or C: Intermediate PS 😉

      • I definitely have the Penang video, and the Intro to PS on the old iPad app. But I forgot about Intermediate PS … maybe I can find a reason to focus stack or something. 🙂

        BTW, have a safe trip home. I just saw the scary news about MH17.

  27. Richard P. says:

    Happy Birthday Ming! All the best to you! Thank you for all the hard work you put into keeping this great site continuously updated with stimulating content. You give throughout the year and then even on you birthday … 😀

  28. Happy Birthday Ming! Best Wises to you! – Eric

  29. Reblogged this on aqibjaved714 and commented:

  30. Edward Pentney says:

    Happy Birthday Ming ! Love your work. I think its about time I treat myself to another video masterclass……

  31. Gery Revandra says:

    Happy Birthday, Ming …

  32. Enjoy your special day birthday boy 🙂 Thank you for your generosity, I have bought 4 videos just now :p

  33. Happy birthday!
    Not a stalker, but I need to write down the date until next year. Still enjoy the videos I bough last week. 😉

  34. Happy birthday Ming.


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