Photoessay: Lakeside

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Cue the James Bond theme song

Today’s photoessay is a mixed bag of observations from the lakes of Queenstown, New Zealand, and beyond – some landscape, some whimsy, some people. All in all, I think actually quite a representative mix of the experience. And for a change, I think the captions are probably necessary for context precisely because they’re not exactly part of a greater sequence. Enjoy! MT

This series was shot with a Nikon D810, Zeiss 1.4/85 Otus APO-Planar, Pentax 645Z, 25, 55, 90 and 200mm lenses, and post processed with the new A2 Photoshop workflow II

The Black Island is available as a limited edition Ultraprint here.

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Fractal patterns remind me of Damascus steel

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Clumps above and below

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The black island (available as a limited edition Ultraprint here.)

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Stillness broken by a large imaginary bird

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Mt. Alta emerging from the storm

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Spot the giant clam

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Mountains need roots too

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It could almost be 1930

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Dawn mists

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Wistful departure

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Rene Magritte was here


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


  1. Beautiful set. The subject matter and your images both impressive.

  2. great!!!

  3. Awesome images….!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Th Damascus steel representation is just a beautiful vision…
    Very envious Ming…

  4. Jorge Balarin says:

    Beautiful photos.

  5. Enjoyable essay. Like Mt. Alta the the best. Its almost surealistic in its “black & white” appearence.

  6. Ron Scubadiver says:

    Beautiful, where’s Nessie?

  7. Lucy March says:

    Just stunning, Ming, especially the black island and Mt. Alta. Also love the Jack London feel of 1930 — that column of black smoke really makes the shot.
    As for that giant clam, well not giant enough for this pair of eyes 🙂

  8. Once again you deliver a wonderful collection of images to marvel at, I never tire of popping back Ming your posts are always illuminating and added to which are full of images which are striking and very well seen. I appreciate also the time and effort it must take you to produce at such a qualitative level, we all know of the usual suspects which trot out biased views, often accompanied by dross images which a chimp could take, (no offence to chimps by the way) long may you continue.

  9. Clumps Above and Below an awesome photo.

  10. The last one is wonderful (and I guess the reflection is not Photoshop but reality)

  11. Love the Black Island shot from Wanaka, its gutsy and it works. Also very much like the muted but real colours throughout. Hope you get/got the chance to get up to the nearby Rob Roy glacier near Mt Aspiring as well, I think your careful construction of various elements would work very well up there. Beautiful area, may just have to retire to do nothing but shoot there some time in my 40s.

    • Thanks – the atmosphere a lot of the time was misty and muted as a result; I was just going for transparency.

      No chance to go to Rob Roy on this trip unfortunately…I definitely got the feeling you could shoot down there for years and never feel lil you’d really comprehensively covered everything.

      • Driving around on a hot sunny day in Summer down there, I get this odd feeling that somebody has already upped the vibrance in ACR by 20 or so and mass applied it across the island, especially on the blues. It looks a little too colourful to believe sometimes. Very interesting seeing your street photo eye working on landscapes, and thinking about the changes in the proportionality of your usual criteria.

  12. Wow. These are quite tremendous, even by the high standards of work you regularly display on here.

    These also serve as a great commercial for your new workflow. I might have to take the leap and upgrade to the PS/LR subscription model if that will get the most from the new workflow. There’s something about the sharpness in these pictures which is unreal. Not over-sharpened at all, but bitingly sharp, even from the (presumably) non-full-size examples. Has anything changed from the previous PS video regarding sharpening?

    • Thanks Mark – onwards, upwards and so on 🙂

      No major changes regarding sharpening, but it’s worth noting that there’s perceptual acuity by luminance separation and color separation – they’re not the same, and sharpening can actually cause color shifts on very high frequency subjects. Even though we’re applying similar radii and amounts of smart sharpening, working in LAB mode returns noticeably superior results (which you see here). Think of it is clarity and transparency 🙂

  13. When I’m really tired of the city and crowd of Venice I go back to “my” mountains, where the roots of my family are. Sometimes a camera is just an excuse to get some peaceful walk in the silence.. But if you can also stop and take a good photo, the better. 🙂

    Beautiful and refreshing images Ming!

    • Thanks Marco. I wish I had some nice local alpine locations…actually, I’d settle for light that comes from any angle other than orthogonal – but that’s nonexistent in the tropics!

  14. lensaddiction says:

    Wonderful shots, everytime I view your work it makes me want to cry for the way you capture the sheer simplicity and essence of a place or event, and how I don’t have that eye and I want it 🙂

    Love Black Island and Mt Alta and also the Earnslaw, I was lucky to go on an evening dinner at Walter Peak Station last time I was in Queenstown and we went on that elegant lady, with all her brass and steam. You can look right into the fire room and most of the guys on the trip spent the entire time watching in fascination, and you can go down and look but in my 4″ heels that night I wasnt game 🙂

  15. Stunning colour (even more than usual)…such vibrancy without feeling amped up unnaturally…I can feel the sun and the crisp, cold air.

  16. The ‘Black Island’ and the ‘Mt. Alta emerging from the storm’ are showing us the enormous great natural energies at play. I love these two images endlessly Ming because they reminds me that we have to be grateful to life on Mother Earth and be good to her. I think the purpose of photography is to remind us on something and by that clarifying who we are and what values we stand for.

    Thanks for the great photographs.

    • Thanks Gerner. Both of these were shot from the shore of Lake Wanaka. I was here for about an hour watching the rain and the storm and it was pretty surreal being the only one sitting there under an umbrella.

  17. Very refreshing to see a series of non-urban images, Ming Thein! Those landscapes are simply breathtaking. Makes me want to just grab the camera and fly somewhere to shoot now.

  18. Beautiful images as always Ming, thanks for posting! Dawn Mists was shot from an aircraft? I’m guessing you must use a polarizer to eliminate reflections in the window? Love the Rene Magritte composition.

    Best regards,

  19. Beautiful images Ming! I love the outdoors and in particular being around water. Well done!

  20. La légende de Moby Dick par exemple …?!!! It’s a joke, i’m only a joker …!!!

  21. Absolutely amazing images. A friend of my stationed on Antarctica flew C-130s between there and New Zealand and told me it was the most beautiful place he had ever seen. Your photography proves his point. Well done!

  22. Theodore Trimmer says:

    Nicely done Ming!

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