Photoessay: Tokyo cityscapes

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We’re nearing the end of the images from the last trip to Tokyo. Today’s images are a continued evolution of the urban theme into something a bit more widespread; an attempt to capture the combined endless scale and whimsy of Tokyo. There are bits you might find surprising and challenging to your preconceptions of Japan – anything with space or trees or emptiness, for instance – but that’s the whole point, isn’t it? It is me giving in to my endless fascination for man-made light, texture and reflection in complementary colours. Enjoy! MT

This series was shot with a Nikon D810, D750, 24/3.5 PCE, 45/2.8P, Zeiss 1.4/85 Otus and Voigtlander 180/4 APO-Lanthar and processed with PS Workflow II; you can also travel vicariously to Japan with How To See Ep.2: Tokyo.

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Supporting the way in

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Urban camouflage

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Elevated eye

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What came before

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Dusk falls I

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Dusk falls II

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Shinjuku from Shibuya

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Metropolitan Government Building Plaza

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Peaceful crossing

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Separated solitude

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Nightlife begins


Turn the mood and style up to 11: the Hanoi Cinematic Masterclass in association with Zeiss (21-26 July and 28 July-2 August inclusive) is now open for registration – click here to book and for more information.


Ultraprints from this series are available on request here


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


  1. Ming, wonderful images. For these I hesitate to ask a technical question because the feeling is so strong, but here I go:
    Are all single exposures? If so the dynamic range of the D810 (and of your careful execution) is phenomenal, even compared to my 750!

  2. A beautiful sequence! My favorite shots are Elevated eye and Dusk falls I. Both really draw me in the urban scenery, the latter has an almost vertiginous feel since the greenery layer resembles an agitated sea, barely confined by the surrounding buildings.

  3. Ben Earl says:

    Ming, I really enjoyed this essay. It is my favourite so far. Preservation is an image that really speaks to me having lived in Tokyo for a couple of years. It sounds silly but I missed trees and especially grass when I was there.
    You scored with the weather on Arrival! I have only ever seen it like that once from a plane. The city looks magical on days like that!

  4. Lucy March says:

    I’m curious, the shots you took from an elevation, e.g. “Metropolitan Government, ddid you go to the viewpoint to capture the image you wanted or do you seek out high points to look for possible shots? And were the all shots taken in the open or were some shot through a window?

    • For an assignment I’d seek the right vantage and then get permission. For these images, they were opportunistic and through a window with a CPOL to cut the reflections.

  5. Ah I remember dusk falls II from the ultraprints! The web pic doesn’t do it justice! Lovely shots regardless 🙂

  6. Absolutely love Supporting the way in! Wow!!

  7. Nice..

  8. Daniel Boyd says:

    All marvelous images Ming. What came before and Separated Solitude just get me. Something about these two scream separated but together at the same time. Love them, thanks for sharing.

  9. “What came before”: nice idea that of mirroring the image so you can read the writing. Beautiful images, I can’t choose one over the other. 🙂

  10. John Weeks says:

    Ming…awesome images. If I have your permission, I would now like to make my signature tag saying on a few forums say this: “When I grow up I want to be like Ming!” Ok with you?

  11. pammyv02 says:

    Beautiful images but the Underpass image is y personal favourite.

  12. snappycow says:

    Jaw dropping images! This has become my 2nd favorite set of all time 🙂

    (first all time favorite is still the Cinematic photoessay in Tokyo)

    If I had the finances, I’d request an Ultraprint for Metropolitan Government Building Plaza!

  13. Great pictures! “Metropolitan Government Building Plaza” is fantastic!

  14. pramol Wangpholdee says:

    Dear Mingtien         Super Nice of Photograhy !!

  15. randomesquephoto says:

    Wow. You make Tokyo look big. And small (manageable) at the same time.

    • Not me at all – it *is* big. Huge. The Kanto plain is one of the largest urban areas on earth…it is as though they grow concrete there.

  16. Wonderful Cityscapes Ming! Really like arrival.

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