Photoessay: London architecture in mono

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Pillar and shadow

Summer is a good time for architectural photoigraphy. From a photographic standpoint, colors of course become more intense, but the contrast is also helpful for monochrome photography, and with the right filters (film or digital), extra punch and contrast can be given to skies. Given London’s relatively high latitude, even during the height of summer the sun doesn’t go perpendicularly overhead as it does in the tropics – which means not being quite so restricted about shooting during noon.

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I find that for architecture at higher or lower latitudes, this time of day is actually quite interesting because it highlights the textures and geometry of the construction; interesting shadows and windows of light are projected and form shady refuges or places to be avoided because of the heat and intensity of reflection off neighboring buildings. Only the masochistic photographer remains, pointing their lens into the sun and slowly inducing retinal damage in the name of a good photograph…

This series was shot with a Pentax 645Z, 25, 55 and 90mm lenses and a Ricoh GR. You might also find the Monochrome Masterclass workshop video handy for the postprocessing and tonal management techniques used for these images.

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Stretched verticality

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Old style television

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Cuvature II

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Tower 42

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Round square

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New growth


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


  1. Oh, my goodness.

    Nice shots, but zero of importance. If I were a newly-monied financier I’d probably buy them for wall-fillers. They are well composed and well taken, but who cares? A London building.

    Most people photographing photograph people. I bought better equipment when I had children. Prior to that, I thought I did a pretty good job, but only after did I strive to improve. Equipment, easy! Ability, a bit harder.

    I think you’ll become a great portrait photographer when you have children. Life truly changes then (you can be clever as anything, but then, wham).

    How to monetise… Hmm.

    Teach people how to shoot people rather than streets.

    I have too much stuff. MF, FF, APSC, multiple lenses for all, X100, RX100 v1 and 3. Then we go into hifi, cars and big boats.

    I remember coming home from MongKok with a new Metz 58. My wife, sweet and tough as she is said “really?”, and I took two side-bounce black and white portraits of our two young boys that were so special that she has never questioned my photography purchases again.

    Food for thought. In my opinion, people want to have great family photographs. There is money in specialisation, but more in volume.

    Good luck to you, and thanks for the things I have learnt from your site.

  2. Reblogged this on Eileen Lyn Wah.

  3. Reblogged this on Eileen Lyn Wah.

  4. Excellent! Amazing B/W!

  5. Beautiful images Ming. I purchased your “Monochrome Masterclass” workshop video last weekend and I am amazed at how simple you make the workflow to enable post processing and tonal management techniques similar to your work shown here. You techniques really work and has made me re-evaluate my methods and attitude to post processing. Thank you.

  6. Perhaps no need to repeat my admiration for your art Ming, but man.. how these images are rich.

  7. Nice set Ming! “Cleaners” is my favorite of the set.

  8. Great. I am wondering if you could reach the same sharpness with a sony RX II .

  9. Love architectural shots, yours in particular.

  10. Dave Rathke says:

    I really like these photos, Ming. Much of the architecture in these more recent architecture blog-posts look new(er), clean and tidy. Do you have any blog posts where older architecture is the theme?–not the “ghetto”, per se, but a featuring some of the older sections of major cities where you might see some dilapidation, graffiti, and a more unkept flavor. I would love to see those posts if you can recommend any (I’m fairly new to your website). Thank you!

  11. Great pics. I live in London and was wondering if you had any encounters with security staff and/or police when you were taking the photos. as it has become a frequent occurrence for photographers to be harassed by security staff, particularly in the City of London, when taking pics of buildings.

  12. Good stuff! Delightfully interesting.

  13. You never disappoint with every photojournery you take.. a feast for the eyes 🙂

  14. Great serie, really shows that modern buildings have just as much beauty as the earlier architecture

  15. Beautiful Set Ming! The new growth building is fascinating…

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