Photoessay: Urban detail, Lisbon

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Today’s photoessay is a series of detail images from Lisbon – small vignettes and scenes which I feel give a reasonably representative flavour of the older parts of the city. Yes, there’s a modern surprise in there about halfway in, but in many ways, this is also typical: there’ll often be an unexpected bit of architecture or facade tucked away in amongst the antiques, too. I’m sure more than a week here would have yielded a tighter distillation, and there are almost certainly interesting local pockets I’ve missed out on, but I also felt I had the benefit some pretty exceptional light; interesting how those light coloured buildings tend to bounce, reflect and fill each other so there are actually very few really deep shadows – even in narrow alleyways. Lots of textures, too, ranging from what I think of as ‘cheery Mediterranean tile’ to ‘Eastern European patina’. Enjoy! MT

This series was shot with a Hasselblad H5D-50C, HC 24, 50 and 100mm lenses and post processed with Photoshop and Lightroom Workflow III.

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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. Samuel Jessop says:

    Wonderful images, and my favourite set of yours from Lisbon so far.

  2. Aha! The sun still shines in Lisbon. The earlier photo essays had me worried.

  3. I can smell the fragrance of Lisbon from your photos.

  4. jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    You can put up all the photos of Portugal you like – I fell in love with the country, the first time I went there.

    Do you ever feel the need of a tilt-shit for photos of this nature, Ming?

    • Sometimes, but not in Lisbon actually – there was so much change in altitude possible with the hills that you could just walk up or down the street a bit to get the right height. Elsewhere, yes. I had the HTS with me but didn’t land up using it.

      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        The underlying reason for my question is that I am a bit nervous about the available tilt-shifts for my cam. I use a Nikon D810, and I think the tilt-shifts Canon produces might be slightly more useful in some respects, which has put me off pursuing it. Looking at the HTS, I am now jealous – it gives you the best of all worlds – you can have tilt-shift (at a small cost – it produces a 1.5x tele conversion effect) and keep using your existing lenses. I use mostly Optus lenses now, and have my doubts as to how the Nikon tilt-shifts would stack up, in optical quality, against the Zeiss lenses. But I am envious of the Hasselblad equivalent!

        • The Nikons are actually pretty good, with the caveat that you have to make sure the tilt setting is actually really zero – a small deviation or bump off-axis on the 24, for instance, can be disastrous. I honestly have never needed tilt at 24mm – shame there’s no way one can lock this out permanently. They’re not Otuses, but I feel they are amongst the best in the Nikon lineup. The HTS has calibrated position sensors that report shift, tilt and rotation to the nearest 0.1deg or 0.1mm – this helps both with repeating a shot as well as being sure zero really is zero. I do wish we had something slightly wider, though I suspect that problem will go away when using the larger 100MP sensor.

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