Photoessay: studies in blue

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On an incredibly blue day in central Hong Kong, I could not help but do some modern Magritte-inspired elements involving the urban environment, layered reflections and the occasional cooperative cloud – there is a sort of sameness to the series, but at the same time a little closer attention will reveal that these images are really quite distinct. I think they are really focused variations on a theme. Enjoy! MT

This series was shot with a Leica Q 116 and processed with Photoshop Workflow II.

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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. Kenny Younger says:

    Beautiful. Is it just me, or do these have a different feel to them than your typical style? These are almost surreal in a fantastical sense.

  2. Awesome as always, but I noticed that your perfect verticals are gone? What made you leave that out in post? (I think it was one of your key Mingthein “signatures”)

    • Deliberately excluded here because the convergence makes the geometry/balance work 🙂

      There’s no way I can claim straight verticals as an exclusive signature – that’s been the mainstay of architectural photographers forever.

  3. Sameness? Yes, but the consistent factor is brilliance.

  4. John Nicholson says:

    Briiliant. Some of them give me vertigo!! I’m so fascinated and impressed by the way you use 28mm. Lots to learn for me. Thank you.

  5. Kiekjeskieker says:

    Whenever I think that a “look upward” shot might work, I like to think I’m lucky in having a camera with a tiltable screen, only to find it difficult to get the lines straight. This may be due to, how shall I call it, hand-eye coordination problems, as sometimes you have to move the camera in a different direction then intuition tells you. Does anyone else have this problem as well?

    Or maybe this is just because when using the screen my eyes are close focusing and distortion gets into play (I need reading glasses for close distances). So perhaps I better stick to the EVF so my eyes can focus ‘at infinity’, and just take the stiff neck from constantly looking up as the price to be paid for a nice picture.

    Anyway, wonderful photos as usual. I especially like no. III

  6. Praneeth Rajsingh says:

    A great set Ming! I and XII are my favourites. This set is a great study in balancing compositions using clouds.

  7. (III) is my favorite, very well done! Great timing and composition to get the opening in the clouds between all the buildings. As someone who lives in a big city with skyscrapers, it’s refreshing to see “look up” shots that area actually different. I never take them anymore here in Chicago probably because I am inundated with them.

  8. Gerner Christensen says:

    Amazing photography again Ming. A benefit living in bigger cities is there’s almost always something going on above your head. It isn’t quite as fruitful here in the countryside to look up why bowing seems more appropriate 🙂

  9. Lovely shots. Were you able to compose with the Q’s EVF even with the powerful shine of the poll in XII? Or was that guess-and-check shooting into the reflection when you were blinded? Or maybe the limited intensity of the EVF helped you when a conventional OVF would have let all the overwhelming light blind you.

    Were these all handheld? I assume so. High ISO NOT needed on a bright lovely day.

    I always enjoy your ability to find compositions in something mundane, for example a bunch of buildings. I need to work on my ability to find compositions!

  10. My Company designed the Bank of China Tower! Great shots

  11. Kristian Wannebo says:

    These are fantastic!
    (- no sameness, no )
    Like soaring up into the sky.
    Whereas your Verticality images more often make me feel the buildings (heavily) rooted in the ground.
    When strict and playful geometry are allowed to intermix – with some help by reflections on not quite even surfaces…
    ( You must have enjoyed shooting these ? )

    • Thanks Kristian – it’s a case of a) where the ‘fat part’ or perceptual ‘base’ starts, as well as the intention for Verticality of solidity and inaccessibility of the top…

      I always enjoy shooting stuff like this 🙂

  12. They are very serene and powerful…you only concentrated on the ants view…do you have any other picture from different angle, i would love to see them.
    Thank you☺

  13. What a beautiful day! ‘The flow’ made visible. Inspriation at play.

  14. Are these Beethoven or Paganini? No, they are “Variations of a Theme by Ming Thein.” The visual equivalent of music. Simply lovely to look at! :D)

    • Thanks Terry! I am tone deaf, so I stay away from music…

      • Ah, so you may not have latched on to the. somewhat oblique, allusion. The reference was to Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations and Rachmaninov’s Variations on a theme of Paganini.

        • I think it might have gotten lost in the way WP presents comments to me – they’re ordered by newness rather than threaded. I actually have the second album (or is there another name for classical compositions?)…

  15. A really unique set Ming, beautifully balanced, well done.

  16. These are quite beautiful. The unifying shot to shot consistency of the blue tone is fantastic. Did that just happen or did you look at the collection as a whole and adjust outliers? It is an interesting thought I’ve not previously considered. I tend to post processing images individually with little regard to the collections as a whole. I now see the value of deliberately maintaining a consistent “energy” among group members. Thank you for posting these.

  17. Looking up, literally, at the straight verticals is mind-blowing 🙂 Just wow! Kind of reverse vertigo.
    I need to train myself better to look for these elements, only time that I got close was in Shanghai. And you have a narrow shooting window before the smog occludes the reflections.

  18. Really enjoy the images Ming. Looks like it was an amazing day.


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