Happy holidays! The traditional Christmas humour post will return in a couple of days, but in the meantime I’ve got a present for you all: a special edition of How To See – Ep.5: Havana, Cuba. Unlike the other videos, it’s a free, full episode in 720P HD (a little shorter at 1h than the usual 2h+ epics, and you may need to click through to Vimeo to get 720p because of the page width). Paypal won’t let us take payment for anything that’s Cuba-related, so we’ve decided to give it away instead for all of you to enjoy – perhaps something to watch in the afternoon once the presents are done and the post-lunch food coma has set in on the rest of the family…just hit the play link in the embedded video window above. If you did enjoy it, there’s always a handy donation link in the sidebar (but please don’t use the words ‘cuba’ or ‘havana’ anywhere 🙂
The How To See series is what a lot of people have asked me for in the past – the ability to look over my shoulder as I shoot to see what I notice and and how I compose when I’m in a given situation, of course with explanations. You can get a feeling of the ambient surroundings to get a sense of context, plus what’s outside the frame to understand the compositional choices I had at the time. In addition, I talk about the structure and composition of each final image shown, what attracted me, what the the artistic, compositional and postprocessing considerations were, and what my thoughts were at the time of capture. It is a vicarious exploration through five exciting cities; a travel guide of sorts for photographers, and a personal masterclass in learning to see the unusual in the ordinary.
I’m also using this opportunity to put out a special How To See video bundle – travel vicariously for more than nine hours over the holiday season and
get all episodes 1-4 covering Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Penang and Melbourne for $92 off at just $160 (regular price: $252). This offer is valid for a limited number of customers only, and is available right here from the teaching store.(1 Feb 2015: all gone!) Trailers and testimonials for HTS 1-4 after the break.
Selected customer testimonials and quotes – there are even more on the Teaching Store page
Gerner Christensen (Monochrome Masterclass) – I have now finished viewing the video and it is again a most inspiring one. As with all Mings videos it is a showcase on how to improve yourself in the entire workflow as well as learning how to become efficient in PP.
Time ago I did not believe I would need any efficiency through-putting my pictures, but as the hit rate rises step by step it has become more important to me not to sit too long at my desk and repeat over and over again the necessary clickings for each and every image. This video is full of hints and tips for fast and serious PP. By shortcuts and action recordings the dull part of PP can be eliminated.
I found the part using non-destructive curves interesting, but will park it for later usage until I am more certain in what I want to achieve.
The prelude about seeing the world in B&W and how filters works for your images is very fruitful to watch as well.
I will see this precious video again and again, just like I did with all the other videos. Seeing a video again after some time unlayers new facets of photography.
At last this video actually came to me as a kind of saviour in order to see my local boresome surroundings in a new way. How many times I saw an interesting scene spoiled by mismatching colors, things that should not be there and made me think ‘this does not work, but the shape or texture is interesting’ … suddenly the entrance door could be capturing it in B&W. I don’t know why I didn’t really see the B&W as an option, but now I do.
Thank you Ming for adding another valuable video to the already precious collection.
Michael Letchford (Monochrome Masterclass) – I’ve just bought the long awaited Monochrome Masterclass. Excellent job. Very much worth waiting for 🙂 .Like all of the other workshops you’ve done, I’ll have to watch it 10 times before it all sinks in!! Lots to think about and experiment with. There are also some cracking images used in your examples, which are inspiring in themselves. Loved the Havana images. Well, I would, wouldn’t I?
Eric Hanson (Monochrome Masterclass) – Just finished watching The Monochrome Masterclass workshop video parts 1 & 2. Very enjoyable and highly recommended. I broke it into three evenings. I really enjoyed the lecture portion that is shot in B&W where the filters and light change to illustrate the various points and B&W conversion options and the fact that you covered colored filters in this section. I also like your set and the composition and leading lines as well as the color of various objects to illustrate your point. Every potion of the lecture was instructional and very intentional.
I also like the photos chosen for conversion as well as the sample photos. The example photos have a variety of lighting conditions and on my way to work it was cloudy and almost rainy but I could see opportunities to shoot, the potential in the scene and what the finished output would look like. These were things I would have passed by the day before. And the good thing is we have this weather often and it is nice to shoot in a wide range of conditions. I see the Monochrome treatment really extending the number of shooting days.
I also really like the low contrast photo section for foggy weather etc. These are some of my favorite scenes and I will see the potential in them the next time I see them. For the low key high contrast portion I learned that you expose to the right (ETTR) and then bring them down in post. This was very helpful. Also the concept of high contrast low key was an insight that I had not thought of much before. Many of your images are shot this way and I really like them and I now know how to shoot and process them. The photo of the three people on the sea wall with the sunset was inspirational. I hope to shoot a low key high contrast series using the ideas in this video soon. I am most excited about the section on balanced monochrome images as I have been trying to figure this out for sometime. Trying to get close to some of the photos you have taken. You clearly show how you obtain the results and I know I can get much closer now then I could before.
I also like the pace of the video and the vary intentional use of props and lighting in the first part. You have also convinced me to get a Wacom tablet finally… 🙂
Well done. I really appreciate the information and newly learned skills.
Andre Yew (Monochrome Masterclass) – Crepuscular dodging! When do we burn the ephemeris? 🙂
I was surprised to find myself inspired by the high-key, low-contrast examples, so I have to go make some of those images now. I also liked how you showed the video in the various styles — green filter is really not flattering for humans!
Finally, I hope people realize and appreciate how comprehensive an approach you’ve presented. It’s not just another filter program slapped onto a random image, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some who were expecting Mingstagram filter will be disappointed … their loss. Instead the B&W conversion takes into account artistic intention and what the image needs to present itself strongly. One of your best videos: thank you!
Karev Nikolay (Outstanding Images Ep. 4, 5): I want to thank you for making outstanding images 4&5 I bought recently – they’re brilliant! And I see you almost abandoned micro 4/3 for larger formats? I know it makes sense given the style you’re pursuing – total clarity of Ultraprints, but it’s so far from us poor amateurs still taking images with old good E-M5 🙂
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.
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.
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!
Jan Martin (Fundamentals, How To See Ep1, Making Outstanding Images, Ep. 1, 2, 3) – Ming, I truly appreciate all the effort you put into your blog and website. I ordered your videos and am blown away by the amount of information you provide and the style with which you provide. I am normally hesitant on any coursework because it is frequently too elementary or padded with redundancy. Yours are succinct and overflowing with ideas. I am actually taking notes!
Graham Ashton (How to See Ep1) – Hi Ming. Last night I finished watching episode 1 of “How to See”. I wasn’t sure if this shot…
…would make it into the group, but now that you’ve seen it, I thought you might like to know how it came to be.
Basically, I set out for lunch today with some of the scenes you discussed in your video fresh in my mind. I noticed this arrow on the building adjacent to mine and paused in a doorway opposite to shelter from the rain for a minute or so. A guy walked past with a cigarette. For some reason it didn’t work and I didn’t press the shutter. He turned around almost immediately and walked back against the flow. More of a story perhaps (going against the arrow), but he looked too small.
The cyclist came out of nowhere. I pressed the shutter instinctively, then went to get lunch.
If I hadn’t watched how to see I wouldn’t have seen the arrow on the wall, stopped to see who passed by in front of it, taken the shot, or (and I think this is the most significant bit) deemed it worthy of keeping/uploading.
It’s not one of my favourite shots, and I think it’s got its flaws, but at the same time I think I may be learning to appreciate something new here, and I wanted to say thanks. I’ve been a hobbyist photographer on and off since I was 12 (27 years!), and it’s not often I’ve been able to say that about photography recently.
I think episodes 2 and 3 of Outstanding Images may be in my immediate future…
Kumi (How To See Ep1) – Finished watching How To See Video last night. This is the first time I bought these kind of work shop video so I wasn’t sure to pay that price…I am glad I did, it was GREAT! For me it was very informative in good balanced … I means you are leaving some space for us to think, too. I also enjoyed as a documentary film. Love the scene of the cafe in KL. Look forward to see Tokyo ver.
Michael Tapes (How To See Ep1) – Excellent. I think that this is the first time someone has done this type of see through my eyes instruction, and your use of video to go along with your thinking process is an GREAT way to teach. As with my previous teacher, with you, that is specifically what i want to learn. HOW TO SEE. I had done a walking tour of my neighborhood in NJ with my teacher as he explained what he saw, and that was very valuable to me at the time. Having this and future videos will be great. The exact thing that I have to learn is to talk to myself as I am looking at life and work my way to finding and making good pictures. So congratulations on the concept and execution, and I look forward to more in the future.
Amy Wexler (How To See Ep1, Compact Camera Masterclass) – Just finished both the new videos. Wonderful stuff. The walkarounds are particularly useful – very informative to understand how you reduce the complexity of various scenes into photographic opportunities and apply the theories/practices you describe in your various videos and articles. I’d like to emphasize how helpful for my current state of development I find the settings comments you make along the way – such as, focal lengths and apertures, in the case of the KL video, and where you’re metering (in the case of spot) or where you’re using another mode, in the compact masterclass video. Great products (also appreciate the introductory discounts!). Thanks for all the work you put into them.
C Scott Pollock (How To See Ep1) – I just watched “How To See.” Excellent and fascinating work — I could watch this type of thing all day long.
Take your photography to the next level: 2015 Masterclasses now open for booking in Prague (9-14 Mar 2015) and Lucerne (17-22 Mar 2015)
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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