Photoessay: Studies of an old Jaguar

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Imagine this situation: you’ve been invited to photograph in an interesting private residence/art center/ architectural location* and after doing the obvious stuff, you come across something that is neither so obvious nor so well maintained, but very captivating nevertheless. Of course, you photograph it anyway. The ‘something’ in this case is what I believe to be a Mk IX Jaguar; in very proper British racing green and tucked away in the corner of a smallish garage whose other half is also filed with study models of about half of the landmarks of Kuala Lumpur, which its owner also designed. I initially struggled to find a vantage point for this because I wanted to put the whole car in context, until realising that it wasn’t necessary: the reductionist in me reminded me to look just at what was necessary to establish both, and disregard the rest. What follows I suppose are a series of interpretations of entropy – in which an object moves into its environment and over time becomes absorbed into the environment. Enjoy! MT

*The residence of noted local architect Hijjas Kasturi, Rimbun Dahun

This series with shot with a Nikon D810, various lenses and processed with Photoshop Workflow II and The Monochrome Masterclass.

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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,
    This one was really special to me. I had an XK-120 Drophead when I was in college, and then a Mark IX a few years later. Both elegant cars. The Mark IX with all the matching burled walnut inside (and the 120, for that matter had quite a bit too, one of the differentiators from the roadster), including the little picnic trays that folded out from the seat backs for the back seat passengers were from a more genteel time. The sound of the double overhead cam straight 6 was a purr. Yes, I am older than dirt…. Thanks for the series.

  2. Impressive Idea. I like it.

  3. Kristian Wannebo says:

    Coming back to cars…
    An example of a beautiful shape of a car.
    As rare as for watches, and even rarer today.

  4. Mike Stewart says:

    Very cool series! I love how you merge subjects with reflected surroundings, and with such imagination.

  5. I remember spending a lot of time studying and appreciating these images and the car when they first appeared on Flickr. Couple months later, they still have the same effect on me. 🙂 The last one is my favourite.!

  6. Kristian Wannebo says:

    Traditionally in Sweden a too old small wooden boat – being a rather personal thing – was left on the beach to slowly desintegrate, eventually with the grass growing through it, to die.

    For some reason, a slowly dying car looks sadder, less alive and more forgotten.

    Ming, you have delicately captured that, especially the forgottenness.

    • Thank you. Perhaps it is because one is wood – and thus organic and biodegradable and the other is not, but merely rusting decay?

      • Kristian Wannebo says:

        That also! Certainly!
        But a boat, especially when sailing, feels alive in a way a car or even a motorccle never does
        And that feeling is still there when you look at a nice dying boat.
        And as you say, wood does look even more alive!

        • Perhaps it’s because you have to work with your environment instead of beating it into submission from a position of isolation?

          • Kristian Wannebo says:

            I feel both a car and especially a motorcycle can feel as an extension of your body.
            In a car I feel it more in winter (on snow and ice) when the feedback from the car through your buttocks directs your driving.
            ( On summer roads too, but not at legal speeds except on curvy roads with good sight. 😉 )

            So I don’t recognize the beating into submission. 🙂

            Buy yes!
            Working with the environment is definitely greater when sailing, but it’s there also on a motorcycle.
            And that is certainly part of the feeling of life in a boat, but there is more to it that I can’t define.

            • It just occurred to me that Google’s indexing is going to have a field day with this post. We’ve got beating into submission, body, buttocks, curvy and legal….:P

            • Kristian Wannebo says:

              EDIT: I ment, of course, feeling the boat being alive. Sorry about being unclear.

            • Kristian Wannebo says:

              A part is also the shape of the hull, *how* it handles the sea.
              Slight differences in that shape, visible only to the professional, can make the boat feel very different.
              ( I suppose when racing, small adjustments also make big differences, but I wonder if it makes the machine feel alive?)

            • I think of sailing — say, on a sloop with a keen hull shape and tall rig, tacking close to the wind — as flying in two media simultaneously. The main and jib, vast in area, fly through the air; the hull and keel, smaller and heavier, fly through the more dense water. If you’re lucky enough to be at the helm with a tiller rather than a wheel you become that sentient fiber holding them in balance, making the entire dynamic work.

              • Kristian Wannebo says:

                A tiller, yes!
                And the smaller the boat, the stronger that feeling.
                ( But when you approach the size of smaller dinghies the necessary gymnastics take over,
                at least in fresher winds.)
                And, on that close reach it is rather meditative, downwind it is more active.

  7. These are fascinating and thought provoking … It seems that you turned the constraints of this shooting situation to an advantage!

  8. We’ve got to get you in touch with the owner of an XK140 roadster or drophead coupe. Every split-windshield model from the XK120 through the XK140 has the lines, but the XK140 (to my taste) managed to put it all together in the most tasty package. I fell deeply in love with the XK120 in the early 1950s at Max Hoffman’s New York showroom. They’ve remained out of reach ever since.

  9. Another generous lesson in “how to see”. Thanks Ming. Perhaps the car followed him from Australia? Peace

  10. rajgedhu says:

    I wonder if that is a telephone number someone has written in the dust on the roof?

  11. Cracking series Ming, especially given the constraints.

  12. OMG .. these images took me away for a while which is what good photography is all about. Thanks for the ride Ming 🙂

  13. Michael Gent says:

    Ming your work is so addictively captivating, I just can’t put it down.
    Do you happen to know the significance of the car registration plate?

  14. Very nice work Ming, ..

  15. Alex Carnes says:

    Very distinctively Ming Thein, are they! 🙂 Thanks for sharing. What’s with the tripod, though? Is that your tripod I can see in a couple of the shots?!

  16. Yes, that would be a Mark IX. The similar Mark VII and Mark VIII did not have rear turn indicators in the tail-light nacelles.

  17. Wonderful Images Ming! Beautiful find.

  18. Such an interesting approach and so well done. I love the textures, the feeling and the historical narrative that’s in there. Great set, Ming!

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