It is with pleasure that I’m announcing a new collaboration today with master printer Wesley Wong of Giclee Art, whom you’ll remember as the gentleman who takes care of all my art and exhibition printing – and has done for the best part of five years now. I think it’s safe to say that there’s no way to view a lot of the information captured at a single glance other than in print – there are no monitors that can display 50MP, for instance – and there’s also no better way to make an absolute reference image. I think this is very important as a photographer to take your own vision further; if you cannot visualise the finished product, how can you show it to others – or expect them to be able to appreciate your vision too? Beyond this, there is also the tangible satisfaction of producing a print and having a physical object as fruit of your labor. However, there has always been a gap between learning the art of printing in such a way as to be accessible to all – because of the physical element – and the economics of experimentation and running your own printer. As much as I print personally, it still doesn’t make sense for me to own my own hardware – there are periods where I don’t print at all, and keeping the printer in working order would require dumping very expensive ink through the heads to keep things flowing. Of course, if you utilise external print services, this is moot.
Following demand for printing workshops from a widely spread audience, Wesley and I have been working on these challenges for a while now, and we believe we have a solid teaching structure that addresses all of the issues. Beyond that, it also allows for one on one and personalised tuition around the needs of the individual in much the same way as the email school. Continue after the jump for the explanation, and to sign up. We will limit this to just five students for the first intake.
The Printing School
Structurally, it’s similar to the tried and tested formula of the Email School, and forms a complimentary package to it that addresses the physical output portion of the photographic equation.
- Determine your objectives – e.g. ‘make better monochrome prints’, ‘achieve accurate color’; ‘print large’
- Send over a portfolio ten images for assessment, in full size: this is so we can assess image quality and postprocessing technique to determine whether the capture side or the postprocessing side needs work, and where. Intro to Photoshop Workflow and Photoshop Workflow II are required viewing as these produce print-ready files, and both videos are included with the price of the course. If you already have them, we will substitute with The Monochrome Masterclass and Outstanding Images Ep. 5: Processing for Style.
- Wesley will send over your image review via screen capture video and advise on any necessary changes
- You will then make those changes to the first batch of files, and select three images to print, at 16×12″
- The prints will be made by Wesley and shipped to you via DHL.
- A discussion then happens: did it look the way you expected? What could change? How? Are there systemic issues (e.g. monitor calibration) that need to be addressed?
- The process is iterative: we repeat it four more times focusing on a single file for subsequent rounds, with you receiving a total of seven prints by the end of the course. We will do one round of post-assessment corrections for each printed file, and during the feedback process, Wesley will explain the science of color, proofing, hardware envelope, and understanding and working within the gamut limitations of paper and printer – all to achieve the intended visual impact from the final print.
The final intention is for you to be able to make a print that matches how you imagine the scene should appear at the time of capture: to bridge the workflow between capture and final output.
The course is priced at US$900 per person, inclusive of two videos and seven 16×12″ (~A3) prints on fine art paper (type appropriate to your objective) plus shipping via DHL anywhere in the world. We will take five students for the first intake.
Testimonials from previous print and Email School customers can be found below.
Kai (Email school of photography): It has been a rewarding 12 months of photography. I enrolled into Ming’s email school one year ago, first hoping to get some real C&C from a working professional of my portfolio. What I got was a really “up to the point” assessment of my work to date, where my work was working and where it did not look right. This was a humbling exercise which one doesn’t get when posting photos on social media. After knowing where I wanted my photography to go, Ming gave me exercise exploring compositions, balance, what’s in/out of the frame, working on a story, etc. Each of the assignment was difficult, and the feedback was constructive and consistent (maybe I have repeatedly made similar mistakes such as over blowing highlights across different assignments).
Overall, after 1 year of assignments, I believe I have achieved the following:
- Starting to be able to critically assess my photos. Next step is to curate them so that only the really good ones remains.
- Considered a lot more before pressing the trigger – the edges, histograms, colours, balance, “what I want to show”.
- Make a lighter touch on pp. A lot of my old photos were full blast post processed and now they are an eye sore. Progression I suppose.
- Able to use different aspect ratios to show the pictures.
- Definitely my photography has improved and that’s “a good thing ™”
Gerrit Volck (Email school of photography): As an amateur my one and only goal was to take stronger images. Thanks to your experience and guidance the images I’m taking now have improved a lot in several ways. From distracting elements through composition and postprocessing, the resulting images really are stronger. The route to reach that aim has been tougher than I first thought when booking the course. Partly due to my inability to see certain things and partly due to plain misunderstandings. In the end however I had lots of fun with the assignments and the impression that no other photography investment would have taken me where I am now. I know I have lots of room for improvements though. The only real difficulty I see now is to keep practicing preferably on a daily basis…
Conclusion: Highly recommended.
Dan Friedman (Email school of photography): I’ve been photographing for over 50 years, and I’m a professional photographer today. I thought I was pretty good, but had become dissatisfied with my work, although I couldn’t put my finger on why. Worse – I was more satisfied with the work I did many years ago than my current images. I signed up for Ming’s email school of photography hoping I would learn what I was now doing wrong. It was magic. Ming bluntly pointed out the errors I was making and each lesson gave me new “tools” to use. Basically, I found out that I had become lazy – something easy to do with today’s automated cameras and the reason I preferred my older work was that, with no automation I was forced to take my time and consider each shot and not just “point and shoot”. Now, I’m looking through the viewfinder in an entirely different way. I’m taking my time and considering: What’s the subject of the image; is the frame balanced; do natural lines take my eye to the subject; would it be better cropped tighter, or should I go wider; should I use a different lens; should I move and shoot from a different vantage point; should I wait for the light to improve; will this image look best in color or b/w; and more? I now scan the viewfinder with Ming’s pointers in mind and the results are much more pleasing. The lessons have forced me to slow down and study what I’m shooting. Certainly, I’m shooting fewer images, but many more are “keepers”. I consider the program to be money very well spent. Thanks Ming!
Francois Arbour (Email School of Photography): I just recently completed Ming’s email course and I would like to offer my appreciation for Ming’s guidance. I had done previous email classes before but this the first one that left me with a strong set of tools to work on my photography. The way I look at photography has completely changed, and I did not expect that. By building only my strengths and pointing on my weaknesses, I have now a clearer sense of what I am doing when I am looking through my viewfinder and what I need to work on. I can honestly say that I make better pictures now and my appreciation of photography has unfolded.
In front on my desk I have a print of one of Ming’s comments that I have kept as a reminder. I would like to share it with you:
“ Honestly – photography, like any other discipline, does have a huge diminishing returns curve. And that curve gets exponentially steeper once you start chasing the peak of that pyramid – that base of skills and tools has to get increasingly larger to support it. Though there is good news because a lot of the basics can become intuitive and second nature with practice – awareness of light and subject, checking edges, for instance. Translation of the idea is always going to be something all of us have to work on.” – (Ming Thein) Not only is his mentoring very supportive (technically and aesthetically), but he also provides some philosophical insights.
I highly recommend Ming’s email course, it’s the best use of money I did in photography so far. This a a real course in the art of photography.
David Fisher (Email School of Photography): I really enjoyed the class Ming, and appreciate the honest and timely feedback. It was a real pleasure and I definitely learned a lot. I can really tell how I’ve raised the level of my photography and am not satisfied with images that last year I would have thought were good. Thank you again.
Gilles Tourpe (Email School of Photography): Alama! I was back in school … I’ve enjoyed my e-school with Ming. He is an incredibly experienced, demanding and seasoned teacher – sharing his passion for getting the right result through a structured process. It has been a strange experience – with lot of high and lot of low to get to the next high. It has hopefully made me a better “hobbyist” and my results have improved. From white belt to yellow belt … the path is still long!
Sohail Karmani (Email School of Photography): Having just completed Ming Thein’s photography course, I’m happy to say it was worth every penny. I began just over 9 months ago as an almost complete novice. With perseverance, I was able with Ming’s guidance to achieve goals way beyond my expectations. Ming is a consummate professional that brings a rare combination of photographic talent, formidable communication skills, and highly effective teaching ability. As a professional educator myself with 25 years’ experience of teaching, I highly recommend Ming’s course if you’re serious about taking your photography ability up several notches. True to his words, he doesn’t pull any punches or sugar-coat his feedback; but he will help you bring out the best photographer in you.
Ray Hartman (Email School of Photography): Probably the best way to put it is like I wrote earlier: what you do and how you do it (your email teaching) works for me! I feel proud to see my improvements and feel confident that I am more consistent in my results. Therefore my hopes and expectations of this course were very much fulfilled.
The assignments seemed somehow just what I needed to improve in general: the separate parts really came together as the course progressed. You really seem to know what you’r doing when reviewing the initial portfolio.
What I find most striking is that something so seemingly obvious and simple like checking your frame through the finder for intrusions/exclusions is such a powerful tool.
And your remarks about the importance of careful metering suit my believe that photography is not just ‘art’ but also ‘craft’.
All in all I am ‘afraid’ that I can’t give you input for improvement. Just keep up your high standards of quality, integrity and respect. I really appreciated your way of communicating with me, in your feedback on the assignments or otherwise in our mailcontact: quick, to the point, no sugarcoating, but always honest and respectful.
I feel lucky to have met you as a teacher and inspiring person.
Dan Friedman (The Email School of Photography): Wow! What a great review of my work. I really appreciate the candid comments and they’ll certainly have an effect on how I look at things through the viewfinder. I’ve printed the “Observations” bullets that you provided and will keep in my pocket when I go out shooting. Clearly, I’ve developed some bad habits that I need to correct. Now, it’s a bright sunny day with lots of shadows and I’m going to grab a camera and go out shooting. Thanks again – your review alone was worth the price of the course.
Jeffrey Littell (The Email School of Photography): You in very short order have identified my single biggest problem and the key one in my frustrations to date in attempting produce better images: My images are flat! Oh golly, are they ever flat!
Looking at the images you sent to me, I SEE very clearly why your images are great and why mine are not particularly interesting. Even your most simple image is interesting.
I now see much more clearly that the world of photography is about contrast, for without it you have my images. Bland and flat. Seeking contrast to make the key image “pop” involves the sky, time of day or night, and as you so clearly state several other factors.
I must get busy studying these fundamentals so they become my primary criteria for shot selection. I see that I have a lot of work to do but I am not intimidated by what you say because although at times it might be frustrating it will still be great fun.
I like your rules. Tell me anything, make it a teaching tool for me to work on, and we will see a nice progression in my work.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Eugene Palomado (Email School) – I find Ming’s Email School a great way of learning and improving your photography skills. What I love the most about it is that you get to do it on your own time. I guess the disadvantage is that feedback is not instant because everything is done through email but Ming’s response time is awesome! I have no complaint whatsoever in our communication all through out the course of the program and he is very professional. He answers all questions and he even sends you a note if he is going to be delayed in providing feedback. I struggled a bit with email communication at first but it’s something you have to be patient with and understand that there’s no facial queues. Everything is in words so if there’s something that is unclear regardless of what it is, simply clarify or ask. I think the keys to making it successful are to be honest and to communicate well. I highly recommend this program. You’re awesome Ming!
Gary Greenberg (Email school, Intro to PS): As a current student of Ming’s, and owner of one of these videos, and of many from his MT Compendium iPad app, I can’t more highly recommend his training products. I have grown so much from both his products, and freely available blog. I can say that if personal satisfaction is an acceptable metric, I am more satisfied in my own work. His approach is systematic, his ability to communicate top notch, and end product- images- so pure. To many professionals depend upon heavy post-processing (IMHO) these days. I follow and recommend Ming because he pushes me (us) to create amazing images that do not look like they’ve been digitally altered. Thanks Ming for your guidance, expertise, and honesty!
Stefan Decker (Email school): Hi Ming, I just completed your E-Mail school and want to thank you very much for mentoring. Before starting the program, I was in doubt: Either your E-Mail school or a new lens/camera. It was definitely the right decision. It took 8 months full of individual mentoring. For this, the price is a real bargain and the learning effect is much higher than any other “weekend workshop” at a photo studio. The school improved not only my photographic skills, but also the understanding of what makes a good picture. You answered also all of my additional questions. (always super fast and competent). In conclusion: – Highly recommended – 9.5/10
John Chang (Email school): Thank you for a great course, perhaps the best money I’ve spent on photography, i’ve picked up more in the past 10 assignments than the last 10 years. Confident of your career trajectory, I’m going to keep all those images and advice and make money off your fame in the near future! : )
Pete Saunders (Email School): I certainly have benefited greatly from Ming’s mentorship. Don’t expect his critques to be sugar-coated. He will be honest (brutally so at times) but fair. If you want to be on the path to developing useful and creative photographic skills, this is the person to go to. I have been fortunate enough to have had the ear (and eyes) of Ming these past few years in guiding me to the satisfying levels I’m at today. Ocassionally, he even likes one or two of my photographs.
Roger Wojahn: I just received Black Island, my first Ultraprint! Ming, it’s just sensational in real life! Thanks so much for going to this much trouble to raise the bar for print making. It’s just incredible!
Ben Eloy: I wanted to thank you again — the print is just wonderful — the color, detail and dynamic range are fantastic. I had it framed and it’s sitting on my mantle now as a source of photographic inspiration!
Nicolas Widmer: Looking forward to Forest IV. Lorenz Flückiger and me are big fans of your work. We both framed your prints and show them in our working place.
Linden Wilkie: My copy of this Ultraprint [Occluded Observation] just arrived. I love the image as it appears on my iMac screen, but it is nothing like as good as it appears on print in the hands. The tone and mood are exceptional. Thank you.
Gerner Christensen: With suitable presence of anxiety I opened the [Forest III] roll this morning. What a moment !!! To see this fantastic photo, to see this fantastic print art, this paper quality, to enter into the fantastic detailed and still silky soft universe of pure eye-bliss, yes it all took me away to dreamland. It is an exquisite pleasure all through to dwell with this photo presented in this ultimate way, I couldn’t get my eyes of it. Showing my wife having fetched a loupe to dive in further, we both got lost in time and space. It took 1/2 hour just to think about anything else. Amazing Ming. Now I am not sure, or am I, if anybody else, except of course those I know are taken by the experience themselves, would get such an ecstatic feel looking at this photo in Ultraprinted, but I am obsessed by the perfection this printed image really is. To view such a photo/print makes standard hi-rez prints look poor and uninteresting. Yes I even think I prefer the Ultraprint over a projected diapositive when it’s best. Thank you Ming making these type of prints available and please do not tempt me over the line to fill up all walls with your art 🙂
Praneeth Rajsingh: I received my copy of the Fog, Vienna today. I am really happy with the print. I placed the Ultraprint and another print of mine from Wesley side by side and the differences were as clear as night and day. Though this particular picture is different from the New Zealand series, the tree to the left of the frame really stood out for me and the detail was impeccable. Planning to get a loupe like you suggested on your certificate of authenticity and see what I can find then.
David Kimmel: I’ve followed all of the posts documenting the development of the ultra prints from the beginning but you truly cannot appreciate what they are and their importance until they are experienced in person. In that way, you have an uphill battle marketing them. I am very interested in purchasing a print. I think it will do 3 things: provide me with a reminder of what I learned in MOI, it will also provide me with an example of what to strive for technically and artistically, but most importantly it will be a beautiful piece of art to add to my home. The hard part is selecting an image. I absolutely loved ‘Matcha’ not only for the beautiful colours but the way it transports the viewer to a Japanese cafe (is that indeed where it was taken?). The other image that stands on in my mind is one of the landscapes from New Zealand of a lake whose name escapes me. I remember the beautiful subtle earth tones and the small isolated lake in the foreground on the right.
Christian Tekath: Just wanted to drop you a quick thank you for the excellent print/photo, which arrived in perfect condition on Monday. If you ever consider a workshop in Germany, let me know! 😉
Jan Martin: What a nice surprise. It is beautiful! It is perfect. It is my inspiration! This and the Swan are my two favorite photos of yours. It is going on the wall directly in front of my desk. I can’t wait to figure out how to frame it — any suggestions of what might be best? Do I need special archival mat boards, etc? The packaging was perfect — nary a dent — so I hope this worked for all your customers. I took the print to the best local framer I could find and I must say, he was very impressed with the image and the printing. He took out his magnifying glass to examine, and spent a lot of time thinking about framing options. We opted for matting (otherwise it’s against the glass and that didn’t seem right!) and a thin black frame. I didn’t do a dry mount because that also seemed damaging, so we are doing photo corners and I hope that will work well enough. If not, I can always have it dry mounted later. You guys rock!
Andre Yew: I got the Ultraprints today, and they are amazing! Anyway, the detail and tonality look great. I especially like the highlights off the tree trunks in the color picture. I feel like the paper’s texture almost detracts from the detail because it can get in the way of the actual detail. I also have to be careful with my light source so the specular reflection of the light doesn’t obscure detail. Looking at it through a 4x loupe, I feel like I could zoom in forever and still see more detail. It’s certainly a unique and special offering that no one else is even attempting, so it’s very valuable for that alone, despite the many other considerable qualities of the prints. Thanks for offering it again, and I for one hope you don’t get the Pentax, because I wouldn’t know what to do with bigger Ultraprints!
Marcos Hatada – Just received the ultraprints. They are incredible! So unbelievably beautiful!!
Harsh Agrawal: Forest II is the finest print I have ever laid my eyes on in my entire life. My vocabulary doesn’t have enough superlatives to qualify or quantify the magnificence of this art piece. It is beyond stunning.
Matthias Gaiser: The Ultraprint has arrived – and it’s everything I expected it to be. In fact, I’ll have to rearrange the pictures on my walls to make room for it in order to appreciate it fully, i.e. it’ll get the best spot available! Wonderful work – in all respects! Thank you both very, very much!
Bob Prangnell: Received the Ultraprint – very nice thank you. Beautiful colors and amazing detail and 3-d effect. I said to my wife that I could lock you in a bathroom and you’d come out with a dozen great shots – and you proved that today with “Towel”
Junaid Rahim: Very nice prints Ming, really enjoying them. Looking at forest II I kind of rue not getting the bigger prints for the tokyo set. But the colours are lovely and definitely some lovely detail in them. I think Forest II will have to be framed. Forest II is one of those shots that really grows on you with time as you start seeing more and more detail in it. So happy at least that one is the more ‘native’ size!
Junaid Rahim (second print): Finally got the print in my hand! A few things to let you know – the packaging was much better this time with the harder back to prevent bending, so please continue with this! Also has something changed with the printing process from last time? From my own eye, I perceive the print quality to be a bit better or is it simply down to the tonality of the colours being different from the Cuba pics vs the autumn in tokyo ones? Very happy again and look forward to getting one from the 645Z – hope you put a run out Ming after your New Zealand trip!
Masterclass Singapore (July 2016) is open for booking. Please click the link for details.
Ultraprints from this series are available on request here
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