Photoessay: Painterly in Porto

H51-B0005152 copy

Today’s photoessay is a study in color and texture. I’ve always been fascinated by the deep richness of oil painting on canvas, and tried to replicate at least some of that feeling and tonal palette in photography. Admittedly, this is tough given that the medium itself is adding considerably to the impression of texture due to the semi-reflective and three dimensional nature of the surface; we can however at least partially simulate this with our choice of subject and light. It’s already tricky enough to do consistently with static/abstract subjects, let alone scenes and people since we are really not in control of the macro light over the whole area and the subjects themselves (some may not have suitable surface texture) – so we must start small…MT

This series was shot with a Hasselblad H5D-50c and various lenses, and post processed with Photoshop and Lightroom Workflow III and techniques in the Weekly Workflow.

H51-B0005246 copy

H51-B0005122 copy

H51-B0005801 copy

H51-B0005198 copy

H51-B0004693 copy

H51-B0005161 copy

H51-B0004657 copy

H51-B0005203 copy

H51-B0005884 copy


Masterclass Prague (September 2016) is open for booking.


Ultraprints from this series are available on request here


More info on Hasselblad cameras and lenses can be found here.


Visit the Teaching Store to up your photographic game – including workshop and Photoshop Workflow videos and the customized Email School of Photography. You can also support the site by purchasing from B&H and Amazon – thanks!

We are also on Facebook and there is a curated reader Flickr pool.

Images and content copyright Ming Thein | 2012 onwards. All rights reserved


  1. I’ve seen many great photo essays from you but this Is one of the finest.

    The images really mirror your words about the new style you were trying.

    Hope to see more of this style in the future.

  2. Neil Brander says:


    Great stuff. This is the type of photography I like to do – maybe even a little more so than the images you showed. So I’m mostly interpreting colors and light to form an image that I saw in my mind – not necessarily in reality – when I pressed the shutter release.

    With that in mind, would your workflow 3 be helpful to me?



  3. My impressions, upon reaching the end of the photos’, is that I find that these photos appear to have a “cell-phone” quality. Very sharp (as is the style of cell-phone manufacturers these days), and the appearance (not the technical measurement – just the appearance) of a similar dynamic-range and colour gamut . This is just an observation – nothing dismissive of the Hasselblad.

    • I suspect it’s got a lot to do with flickr’s downsizing algorithm and my choice not to use shallow DOF…I doubt you’re going to find a phone which gives you that kind of dynamic range or tonal transitions. Though if you do, please tell me so I can buy one and not have to carry the Hasselblad…

  4. Your most lyrical posting to date .

  5. Greatly admire the gray-on-gray street scene and the late night shot.

  6. Coisas EM'adeira says:

    Mr Ming Thein.
    I made some comments about your Portugal photographs in the past.
    The more I see your work, the more I understand it! (I saw some videos too so that helped). Your work made me think hard about what I was seeing. It provoked me!!
    It’s still a very ‘weird’ thing/feeling a “foreigner look” of my own birth city but also very interesting. It’s almost like if you’re taking several “portraits” of a city.
    I’m forced to admit… Well done sir!

    • Thanks – I think it’s nigh on impossible to get a fair feeling for a place you’ve only visited for a few days and represent that essence in an image or two, but at the same time – spend too long and that ‘freshness of impression’ also disappears…

  7. “color and texture” …and great lighting too..:)

  8. richard majchrzak says:

    the grey and the green, how you choose your motiv-ation is inspiring , cheers

%d bloggers like this: