Photoessay: Lisboan shadows

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There is a subliminal connection between shadows, mystery, uncertainty and something sinister; probably because we can’t necessarily be certain about what we cannot see. Of course, this can be used photographically to great effect in creating abstraction, geometry and structure – without shadows, we have no way in presenting the illusion of three dimensions in a medium that has two. What I find oddly paradoxical about these images is that the shadows don’t really have that dark and closed-in feeling; perhaps it’s the hard edges and delineation between light and dark that if anything makes the sunniness more obvious – for want of a better term, there’s a positive feeling here. There cannot be shadows without light and all that…MT

This 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.

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Ultraprints from this series are available on request here


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


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


  1. Pedro Santos says:

    My city 🙂
    I have loved to drink a coffee with you and show you the inner parts of the city.
    I hope you have like the journey 😉

  2. Andy deBruyn says:

    The one with the two men on the balcony is just great. Love all the “stuff” around them. And the shot would be totally different without the two little birds!

  3. I love how you manage it every time again to make all those high dynamic range subjects look so well behaved. The shadows are so awesome and fine. I’m still not sure how I could achive something at least close to it.
    Bravo! 🙂

    PS: From this set I like every picture. But the one in b/w with this cargo container (?) at the construction site is really weirdly interesting. ^^

    • Thanks Thomas. I blame it on the camera (and ETTR as far as possible).

      The cargo container has a strange balance – the image is level relative to the horizon, but the structure and container is not…

  4. jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    I don’t know why so many photographers shy away, when there is “harsh light” – shadows add strength to the picture, even if they rob some areas of detail. I live in a country notorious for “harsh light”, and perhaps I am conditioned to it – I sometimes find photos from my benign climates rather flat, for lack of strong contrasts of light and shade.
    The problems with “shade” can be turned on their head, to make the “subject” semi-concealed by positioning him/her/it/whatever in shadow and forcing the viewer to look more closely.
    And digital is more likely to lose detail in highlights – analogue was more likely to lose detail in shadow. So we need to rethink our ideas on this one.

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