Photoessay: Waking Coonoor

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Half an hour before we were to meet our contact from the wildlife preservation department, we arrived in Coonoor, the Nilgris range, India, to find the town sleepy and barely stirring. Sunlight was just hitting the very tops of the highest buildings upslope, and the few residents stirring were dragging their feet – a massive contrast to the scene a couple of hours later, which was so different you could not imagine the place empty. As we did a quick walk through, I felt like I was observing the aftermath of the night before…a sort of crime scene worker, if you will. What follows is from the body of evidence, filed under ‘environmental context’. MT

This series was shot with a Leica Q, and post processed with PS Workflow II.

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The Singapore Architectural Masterclass from 1-7 July 2016 is now open for booking. Click here for more details and to book.


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. mangospice says:

    Really enjoyed. Brought back memories.
    Did you make it to Ooty as well? I’ve not been back there since finishing school in 1995. Your photos made me want to go back.

  2. Beautiful photographs, as always. Feels like I was there with you.

  3. I grew up in South India in Kerala. Is this your first time in India? Would love to see more of your pics from South India

  4. Lucy march says:

    Marvelous! I love the way the color of the girl’s skirt matches the flowers on the ground (her youthful beauty will have the same fate) and how the blocks of primary colors telescope in on the man opening the blue gate.

  5. Nice pictures capturing the shades of the early morning mood of the Indian city.

  6. Wow. Great light. Great set.

  7. Werner Walther says:

    Certain photos of different places show melancholy. But this, this is not melancholy, this is more towards sadness. Places had been built, but nobody cares really – plastic bags all over the place, garbage, no maintenance, no painting, no cleaning, There is a spirit of sadness, not of melancholy.

    • I think it wasn’t quite melancholy because of the time of day – you know it’s early in the morning, and the city hasn’t quite come to life yet…

    • “Places had been built, but nobody cares really – plastic bags all over the place, garbage, no maintenance, no painting, no cleaning”
      All that is for someone from outside looking at the place for the first time. Those who live there don’t care about paint on the buildings or garbage, those are mostly invisible to the people that live there. Maybe these photos capture some sadness, but visiting a typical town in India (economically poor by Western standards), the feeling you get will not be of sad people.

  8. Ah, Nilgiri Tea! Bande Mataram Dudh Chai Garam

  9. Totally, a different Coonoor…

    When we went there some 5 years back, we explored all the beautiful places around coonoor and we had a great time.

    Beautiful images, with great use of light 🙂

    Thanks a lot for sharing and have a beautiful day ahead 🙂

  10. Wow! I’m glad to see you’ve returned to architecture with people. The colors, perspectives, and the sense of life in order and disorder gives this collection a fine sense of the human element. In my opinion, one of your best collections in quite some time.

  11. NeutraL-GreY says:

    Very nice. Photographing this place at all times of day seems like it could be a rewarding long term project.

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