Photoessay: Melbourne architecture

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For a fan of abstract geometry, form and texture, Melbourne is an absolute paradise. Being a relatively new country, Australians seem to be far more open to experimentation with modern architecture, progressive design and integration with the unique landscape; the result is an interesting mix of 1940-s feel Chicago in places, Blade Runner and Utopia in others. The result is a place of extreme contrasts; you can see the evolution of postmodern architecture from simple geometric solids – cuboids, trapezoids, cones – to more complex shapes that appear to be formed of recursive application of those shapes. Any decorative elements are simply a further scaling and evolution again of that; there doesn’t appear to be much ornamentation in a classical sense. Perhaps that in itself is a definition of the current architectural gestalt.

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I have to admit, as a photographer, it’s hugely attractive – especially when the sun comes out and the variety of surface textures come to life. I was particularly taken by Federation Square – firstly, as a public space, it simply works – people actually use it for its intended design purpose. Secondly, the construction of it must have been a nightmare – all of the triangles are irregular, which means each pane of glass is a different shape and size, and the supporting structure forms a three dimensional irregular grid of triangles and trapezoids underneath. Hats off to the architects and builders…

This photoessay is an exploration of building styles in Melbourne – I believe there’s a little bit of something for everybody here. Enjoy! MT Shot with a Nikon D800E, D4, Zeiss 1.4/55 Otus, Voigtlander 90/3.5 APO-Lanthar and a Ricoh GR.

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


  1. great compositions – which pics are with the ricoh?

    • Honestly can’t remember, but if you click through the EXIF is intact and visible on Flickr. Camera doesn’t change composition of course…

  2. Lovely essay but if I had to go for one and only one, I would go for number 3, it’s so exquisite!

  3. Carlos El Sabio says:

    Marvelous stuff. Your technique is something to aspire to, but your imagination astounds and confounds me. Envy….

  4. Awesome shots! My favs are the first and seventh….

    The Voigtländer APO 90 3.5 SLII is oen of the most underrated lens…..i use also the little brother the 58 1.4 SLII (much better price/performance ratio than the new, overhyped and -priced Nikkor 58 1.4). You should try the 58 too…its a liitle gem…both are so small and lightweight due to MF only…

  5. Great shots, Ming. I liked especially the contrast between old and new architecture in Melbourne. There are passages with shops and cafés, where you feel as if you were in Paris or Milano. You leave the passage and find yourself in a 21st century cityscape with scyscrapers. The highest one of those has a bar on the top with a great perspective upon the architectural mixture, the coastline and the elegant curve of the Yarra river.

  6. blotzphoto says:

    Wonderful shots. Although I shudder at the thought of going all the way to Australia and finding myself in a TGI Fridays.

  7. John bresnen says:

    Enjoy your photos Ming and your writings…..I’m new to photography and will buy a Sony A6000 based on really great reviews. If I
    Get the body only, What lens would you recommend..if you have no time for this..No problem….You are busy as hell and I understand.
    Best to you. J

    • Honestly…I don’t use the Sony E system, so I’m probably the wrong person to ask. But the limited experience I’ve had with the Zeiss 55 and 35mms has been highly encouraging.

    • I know this is not a “gear forum” but just my two cents:
      Budget – the Sigma DN series are great, I used the 19mm on MFT and got super sharp results. I’m planning on getting both that and maybe the 30 for my a5000.
      Mid – the Sony 50/1.8 seems very good, I’ve tried one and it’s on my birthday wishlist, as is the 30, (unless I buy the Sigma first!)
      No limits – of course, the Zeiss lenses are the cream. But at a disproportionate cost to the camera, IMHO.
      Back to the post: Great shots of a photogenic city, which I need to spend more time in next time I visit Australia. So far my city collection is 80% Brisbane, 10% Perth, and odds and ends of Sydney. But the best shots are all from out further afield , like Mount Gambier; a beautiful place to visit.

      • The Zeisses do hold their secondary value well, though. Perhaps one of the few things in photography that do…and diminishing returns will always cost disproportionately more.

        • Very good point. Maybe I’d better save up some more..but also the question of sufficiency applies, especially in my case 😉
          Those Zeisses are really, really nice though, and my 50th birthday is just around the corner…best excuse I’ll ever get for an extravagance 🙂

  8. Dustin Gilbert says:

    Awesome! I really love all of them.
    You do have a repeat shot in there. One of the reflection ones is up twice in a row,

  9. So you used the Zeiss…hmmm… lucky B, have you tryed the Sigma yet

  10. Loredana Isabella Crupi says:

    Love seeing pics of my hometown from an outsider’s perspective! great shots, Ming!

    cheers Lori 🙂

  11. Sid - The Wanderer says:

    Lovely shots Ming…especially the first one! The lines with lights add to the abstract beauty of the image…

  12. I have to agree as soon as you point a telephoto into Melbourne’s building scape, something interesting will come up.

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