Photoessay: Monochrome landscapes from Queenstown

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Lake Hawea

As you might have gathered, Queenstown turned into a very landscape-photography oriented photography trip; the colors of the landscape were magical, but the variation in light and contrast was even more so – naturally lending itself to fantastic black and white images. Since it was winter, the sun traces an arc across the sky but never shines directly downwards from above – the upshot of this is you can shoot at all times of day. Naturally, I took advantage of it. I drove, stopped where the light arrested me, shot, and moved on. And on one day, spent most of the afternoon in the Arrowtown River delta – formerly the site of the Queenstown gold rush, but now the the home of some pretty spectacular trees – and a riot of colour that will be the subject of a future photoessay. Nevertheless, I felt black and white suited the subject matter quite well, as the trees in winter have this stark beauty to them that I felt was best captured without that sense of ‘life’ that colour imbues.

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Lunar contrail

On the technical front, I was on a tripod almost all the time – except for the photos at altitude, which were handheld as there were limits to what I could ski with. I shot this series with a great mix of equipment – everything from the Ricoh GR, to D810 and Zeiss 85 Otus, and Pentax 645Z with 25, 55 and 200mm lenses.

As usual, any of these images is available as an limited Ultraprint (size depends on format). Please use this link to enquire if you’re interested. Thanks! MT

If you’d like to learn more about how to create great images in black and white, the Monochrome Masterclass workshop video might be of interest…

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Heart tree

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In death, one and many appear identical

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Bullet tree shadow

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Start of snow

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A peek

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The pass

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New Zealand in the landscape

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Cloud shadow

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After the snow falls

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Sun and gate

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Life in the valley

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Last sun in the gorge I

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Last sun in the gorge II


Limited edition Ultraprints of these images and others are available from


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


  1. Beautiful Images Ming. Just started the Monochrome Masterclass today! I can not think of any valid reasons to buy a Monochrom but as I write this I am waiting for the battery to charge for the Monochrom that arrived this morning…

    • Thank you – fortunately, the Monochrome Masterclass applies to both color conversions and B&W source, though I do have a dedicated separate workflow video for the Monochrom as there are enough differences in the native response between luminance only and bayer sensors…

  2. Wonderful pictures, wonderful places! Thanks for sharing! They are gorgeous!

  3. Reblogged this on Eileen Lyn Wah.

  4. How did you get to the summit of those mountains?

  5. Nice monochrome set. Makes me wonder how much better the tonality would have been if you had taken the same shots with your large format camera and Acros 100 film.

  6. Baby of Macon says:

    Superb series

  7. Ron Scubadiver says:

    Lovely textures Ming.

  8. Beautiful!

  9. Reblogged this on Oranje Exclusive Safaris.

  10. As usual, excellent photographs! Love the b&w, works very well, even without seeing the originals in color.

  11. Lovely set Ming.

    Definitely need to see some of these at full resolution at some point…..

  12. Awesome shots. You made our lovely city Queenstown so beautiful even in black and white.

  13. Wonderful pictures!

  14. I really like this set, especially Lunar contrail, and Swirl.

  15. Thanks MING, excellent B&W images! Why should someone make such an high investment buying an LEICA Monochrom?

  16. Stunning images Ming!

  17. Beautiful image.

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