Photoessay: Hong Kong Urbanscapes I

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I Maze

Ranging from the shiny and complete to the decrepit and the transformation process that takes place in between, today’s photoessay is a deliberately dehumanised look at the the urban landscape. It is a series that intentionally feels both cold and evokes a little deus ex machina feeling – actually not so easy to accomplish in a place like Hong Kong where it is usually impossible to achieve an image without some humans in it! MT

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

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II Escape

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III Being passed over

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IV Last call

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V Abandonment

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VI Moving in

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VII The objective

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VIII Structure

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IX Shiny and new

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XI Dawn

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XII Complete


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. John Nicholson says:

    Is it you or the Q? Superb images, but I am left wondering whether you couldn’t have done the same with the X-Vario set to 28mm. This is not a negative comment,more a question whether full frame is a holy grail, and whether it should be pursued in the shape of a fixed lens, fixed focal length camera?

  2. Another great set, I do like Hong Kong, although I’m not sure if I’d still feel that way if I lived there. For I, II, and IX (my favourite for the shapes and feeling of space, so rare in that city!) do you gain access to the rooftops as part of an assignment or do you just happen to know where they are accessible? In most cities it’s hard to find somewhere with a rooftop view for photography that isn’t behind glass, and/or an overpriced rooftop bar.
    Also, it crossed my mind looking at this that I normally see your photoessays on a small laptop monitor, scrolling up and down to view and re-view different photos. How would you present them in an ideal world – I’m sure you’d rather make ultraprints, but how would you maintain a sequence? Present them as a series down a single wall of a long gallery?

  3. Great set. I particularly like “V Abandonment”.

  4. Andrew Franta says:

    Wonderful series. The color is terrific!

  5. I could spot only one person–a man crossing the road in “VII The objective”. Amazing images, even though the idea of an apparently deserted Hong Kong is a bit chilling. Chock full of drama. Reminds me of Nevil Shute’s apocalyptic novel’ ‘On the Beach’.
    But try doing this in Chandni Chowk bazar, in Delhi, India, at 1 PM — Photoshop or no Photoshop 🙂

  6. My favorite is Being Passed Over. Like the contrast of curve with building shapes, even with KFC sign.

  7. Hello Ming, nice shots as usual! What are your general feelings about Leica Q? Needs in your opinion a 28mm camera to be coupled with another one (maybe a reflex with more lens option) or can be carried alone, being maybe a good exercise for composition?
    And then, what about its raw files in terms of white balance and color accuracy?

    Thank you and sorry for the several questions.. 🙂

  8. This set and – even more so – its recent “Observations” sibling make me wish I could compose well with 28mm. There’s a kind of airiness to the perspective which is usually not possible with 35mm (however, when I try to use it, it mostly feels like a wide angle that isn’t wide enough to make interesting compositions with). I also think there’s something in the Q that inspires you differently than the GR, especially to make use of colours. Interesting work!

    • That’s one of the reasons I’m less fond of 35mm – it’s wide but not wide enough; wider can be tricky with geometric distortion.

      Not sure if the Q is making me shoot differently or just that I haven’t really shot the GR in this environment before…

  9. Another beautiful set, that leaves room for different interpretations. As the urban landscape does.

    I was wondering though. I think I’d much prefer the images without a caption. It feels like an interpretation is forced on me. I’d like the viewer to attach a label at his own volition.

    Feel free to discuss… 😉

  10. Gerner Christensen says:

    Coherent set Ming. ‘Last call’, ‘Structure’, ‘Dawn’ and ‘Complete’ are my favorites. yes I would say amazing you were able to avoid people in the shots. Just as weird as not getting a tree into the frame photographing in a forest 🙂

    • Thanks Gerner – yes, timing is all critical. There were quite a lot of people, but a place like Hong Kong without them is unusual (or a place like the middle of nowhere with them). 🙂

  11. Wonderful images Ming! Really nice light…


  1. […] on from the previous photoessay, I’d like to present part two as a counterpoint – both visual and metaphorical. Whereas […]

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