Photoessay: Aerial scale, part I

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I’ve shot in very few places that have this kind of yield or density of interesting subject matter and images you feel compelled to have to make – I guess that either makes them rare, or I don’t travel enough. If at this point you’re wondering why there’s such a focus on this little corner of Western Australia – the simple reason is that it had a huge variety of subject matter, and whether through difference to my normal environment or otherwise – simply forced me to keep shooting. Visual coherence might perhaps only come through in the quality of light and some continuity of subject matter between frames, and I find that quite amazing given the relatively small area covered. Colours may appear surreal, but I assure you that I’ve tried my best to get them as close to reality as possible; I’m sure part of what attracted me to those subjects was the very unusual color (for natural subjects) in the first place. Enjoy! MT

This series was shot over Francois Peron National Park in Western Australia, with a Hasselblad H5D-50c and processed with Photoshop and Lightroom Workflow III.

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Ultraprints from this series are available on request here

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

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

Comments

  1. Dennis MIller says:

    Highly, highly recommend that you take an open door flight between Soussusvlei and Walvis Bay, Namibia, easy the most productive time you will ever spend in the air. This is an area heavily photographed by Paul Schalkwyk, http://paulvans.com/galleries , tragically killed in 2013 (a few weeks before I was to go up with him).

  2. As always, truly beautiful pictures – I do envy you being able to photograph such an amazing corner of the world from an aircraft with no doors. to block the experience.
    I think you might have posted the same photo twice? The one of the pier and the water.

    • Thanks – and whoops, you’re right: I did post the same one twice by accident.

      If you do happen to go up in one of those planes, remember to keep everything inside the slipstream or risk losing it…

  3. Dirk De Paepe says:

    IMO, these pictures prove that already with just composition (and a masterly executed performance), one can often create fabulous images.
    Of course the scene offers plenty of possible subjects with great variety, the more since, for the most of us, the setting is absolutely exceptional. But in fact it’s just documentary photography – lifted to a great artistic level, due to composition (and execution), but still documentary. Oh, yeah, in one of the shots there clearly is kind of a decisive moment (#9). Besides that, all of them are pretty perfect as they are (again IMO). What I dó believe is, that they reinforce one another, or in other words, we’ll value each of them more when we see the whole series, instead of just on. Because it underlines the variety within the area, and a documentary typically needs several (or many) pictures.

    • The subject matter helps – no questions. But yes, on my continuum of ‘create or document’ – this is 100% document, with nothing done (and nothing that can be done) other than a straight capture.

      There’s actually a sort of decisive moment in all of these – there’s no repeat of physical position and light, not helped by the fact that I’m shooting from an aircraft, not a helicopter.

      As for repetition: I think one could be an accident, two could be lucky, three images removes all doubt about deliberateness 😉

      • Dirk De Paepe says:

        “Nothing other than a straight capture”… yes, but there’s so much going on on the composition level, that it’s not “just a straight capture” IMO – technically yes, artisticly no.
        Well, there’s “sort of” a decisive moment in all, but it’s very obvious in just one.

  4. simply amazing!

  5. Brett Patching says:

    Great photographs Ming. The last one is amazing.

  6. Tiffin Johnson says:

    I haven’t posted here before but I just wanted to say that the last photo in this essay absolutely does it for me. Thank you for this site.

    Tiff Johnson

  7. Outstandingly beautiful series (as always)!!! But when it comes to structures, I really advice you to go to Madagascar: https://docugraphy.wordpress.com/2016/02/27/ankarafantsika/ (the pictures at the bottom) & https://docugraphy.wordpress.com/2015/11/14/tsingy-de-bemaraha-ii-tsingy-tsingy-on-tiptoes-auf-zehenspitzen/ & https://docugraphy.wordpress.com/2015/09/26/cirque-rouge/ 😉

  8. jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Having spent three quarters of a century on this continent, Ming, I know the colours are authentic.

    Part of the reason is the clarity of the atmosphere – it’s generally such a hot dry continent, and so sparsely inhabited, that moisture levels or pollution rarely interfere with the scenes you have been shooting, and there’s a resulting clarity that is hard to find in some other parts of the world. (No, that’s not put forward as some kind of “universal truth” – just a partial explanation).

    But it also takes “the eye” – and that’s something you excel at, Ming. Great shots!

    • Hadn’t considered atmospherics: that said, heat tends to create issues at distance because of convection…

      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        I am not sure if this is true everywhere, Ming, but I’ve been noticing over the past few years that the atmosphere has a significant effect on what we see. It triggered a study I’ve been conducting on lighting, around sunset – not just “sunsets”, but pointing the camera in all sorts of other directions at that time of day. And observing closely what I see at other times of the day, as the sun moves, and the weather changes. Living where I do, what happens off the coast (in the Indian Ocean) frequently creates subtle atmospheric changes affecting light, colours, shade & so on. We also get occasional bursts of industrial smog (not as much as 40 years ago, thankfully) and haze from bushfires, as well as mists (thin, thick or – occasionally, if only rarely – real pea soupers). And all these changes affect what the camera can record. Even if the change is only subtle, it’s important to be aware of it – it can make some photos & break others.

        • Of course it does – any light from the sun, even though the emission source is ostensibly the same, has to travel through a different filter depending on location and time of day – clouds/moisture, density, heat shimmer, dust/pollution, angle of sun (and therefore amount of atmosphere) – these all play a huge difference in the final quality of light that reaches the earth’s surface.

  9. high top photos.
    Very good !!!

  10. Astounding. Usually I hold to the idea that 12 or 16MP is enough, but here….even reduced to web size…I seem to feel the value of every pixel. And then there’s the fact that most people just fly over scenes like these, thinking only of getting to their destination.

    • Thanks – still better larger, though. As for resolution: it also affects tonality, because the more resolving power we have, the greater tonal differentiation, too…

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