Photoessay: Lisbon monochromes I

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He who watches the watchers

Few words today, just a series of singles from Lisbon in the style of Idea of Man. It’s too late to put them into the first series because that now has a mature and complete narrative; they don’t really fit the second series because I changed the presentation style – so they stand alone. You might wonder why I still photograph in this style given the first two statements; in this case, partially because I was demonstrating for a couple of students at the Lisbon Masterclass, partially because I felt the aesthetic suited the feeling at some of the starker and heavier locations – Oriente station, for instance. Enjoy! MT

This series was shot with a Hasselblad H5D-50c, various lenses, a Leica Q 116 and post processed with the Monochrome Masterclass workflow.

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After class

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Hope of escape

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Memories of people visited

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Escher’s garden

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Exhortation of radiance


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My ultimate photographers’ daybag in collaboration wth Frankie Falcon is available here until the end of October, in a strictly limited production run.


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. Love b&w pictures, there’s so much depth in them. Amazing photos!

  2. This photo essay really shows off the advantages of MF gear! And B&W also adds a grerat deal to effect of the MF gear. So much info in the picture and yet none of it is distracting. I really loved #1 as it slowly unfolded on my laptop – like watching an old B&W movie of San Francisco. I wonder from a data point of view how the MF Hassy compares to 4 x5 and 8x1o view camera data. Clearly obivious upgrade from 35mm. I recall walkin g into Thomas Mangelson galleries and being able to immeditateddly detect the difference in 35mm shots and his MF stuff. And that was with wall sized prints. Your shots would probably standup pretty well to stuff from the view camera prints. At least I’m betting it would be close enough that at proper viewing distances one would be hard pressed to distinguish one from the other. I loved your undergtround on work site set of tunnel digging I think it was.

    bob in Chicago

    • From my limited experience with 4×5″, I think we’re about on par or perhaps very slightly lower. 8×10″ is closer to the 100MP cameras, I’d have thought. Of course not a like for like comparison given DOF, lens differences, aspect ratio, film grain vs noise etc…

      • Your integrity is 2nd to none as its obvious you’re not shilling for any company.

        • I thought so too, but apparently I’m paid big money (where? <en<Nobody in the photographic industry is making big money anymore doing anything) to shill…go figure.

      • This set shows a lot about your latest essay on how we see scenes and pictures very well. People asking for samples should be directed to this set. Almost looks as if you wrote the essay based on these shots. Dark and somber fits b&w I think. Contrast is there but not overdone. Nice set. Bob in Chicago

  3. Carlos Polk says:

    Very strong impact. Some of your heaviest – laden with a somber mood. Every time you post a series, I think it may be my favorite, and then another comes along that becomes my favorite. Wonder what you will do to top this one? Obviously well received. That last one, “Exhortation” absolutely blew me away. Spectacular. And you did what I enjoy so much, your captions. Thanks.
    Highest Regards,

    • Thanks Carlos – as to what next…I honestly have no idea if subsequent work will appeal more than previous; I personally think it does to the audience of me – but then again, I wouldn’t do it if it didn’t 🙂

  4. These pictures get under my skin. I’ve been in places that had similar visual elements, especially the heavy structural concrete forms. I’ve recognized that there’s something compelling visually about those places, but you have captured it. Maybe the word “captured” is too aggressive, so let’s say instead that you’ve not only intuited the potential in those scenes, but have realized it in a set of images that combine highly developed technique with an artist’s perception. There’s also some humor in the titles, like “Marriage,” that keeps things from getting too heavy.

    • Thanks – I think it’s the contrast between the massiveness/solidity of the environment and the frailty of the human creators; at least that’s what it is for me…

  5. Really superbe. I loved the color train station (with the red train), but the B&W is equally strong. The whole serie is gorgeous and inspiring, cannot wait to see more…

  6. Being in Lisbon right now, I can only congratulate you with the stunning series you have presented to us. The various series all have their own mood, which is not easy to achieve if you don’t actually live there. You really managed to make the best of your stay here.
    I love the darkness and contrast of your latest series…

    Waiting to see the results I got myself, not traveling with a laptop means I have to exercise patience. Not all that easy, but at the same distancing myself from what I shot.

  7. Brett Patching says:

    This is a really nice series Ming!

  8. massive! sort of fractal geometry on the first shot.
    supreme bw`s you´re doing!

  9. Stunning series. Chapeau!

  10. Really beautiful Ming, all of them. And the fact that they look so dramatic (I mean with the black blacks and deep shadows and all) makes them stand apart.
    Would you care to comment which ones were shot with which lens?
    Many thanks for sharing!

  11. A superb series, congrats! #1, #3 & #5 stand out for me, #5 being my very favourite as it gives an impression of “massiveness”.

  12. jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Unusually for me – speechless !!!! – with admiration !!!!

  13. N#1 is N°1. Great!

  14. An hour ago i arrived at the lisbon trainstation orientales. One my first thoughts was Ming woulda taken pictures here. Right now im sitting in a cafe, checking mails, browsin the web and your blog. Seems like i was right. The first, fourth and sixth picture were taken here, or?

    Greetings from Lisbon:)

  15. Fantastic set, Ming! The last picture…was epic!

  16. Awesome series! Thanks for sharing!

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