Personal favourite images from 2016: or, a year in curation, part II

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Arisen from nought
Despite the implied humble origins of the structure, it manages to be dominant, powerful and solid. The architecture is stark, yet functional, and in a way – beautiful for it. It also asserts the feeling of man’s imposition of dominance and order over nature.

Continued from part I: a curation and analysis of my favourite work from 2016.

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Caught red handed
This image is the first of the more personal work; it was probably the first time I managed to successfully capture my daughter’s personality: mischievous, curious, still just a little shy.

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Over Australia I
For some odd reason, I’ve always thought of this image as a particularly intriguing and detailed carpet; the muted complimentary tones are soothing, and the bonus is that land somehow transitions to sea to the impression of sky – but there’s no sky anywhere.

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Over Australia II
The consummate reason to check your B roll: I remember the images shot on either side of this one, but not this one specifically. The shooting environment was fast paced and somewhat pressured (airplane time is expensive).

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Porto in a nutshell for me: at a macro level, attractively patinated, and with some great details and fantastic light; yet somehow on closer inspection, just a little sad.

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People at the Atlantic coast
Popular culture has always made a huge difference between the warm, inviting beaches and blue seas of the Pacific and the grey-green, cold, rough Atlantic; this being the first time I’ve shot on the Atlantic coast, I can see why. There’s some magnetism that draws people to watch, but not go too close; a bare hint of power and drama, but danger lurks.

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Lisbon melancholy
There are so many things about this scene that appeal to me: light, texture, spatial arrangement, the slightly undefined looming foreground threat, people who do not communicate or face each other, some degree of anonymity – and the bird; the personal albatross that hangs around all of our necks. It’s at odds with the cheery afternoon, and is probably an accurate representation of the mix of feelings that only increases in complexity and deepens with age.

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Depression in a nutshell
Life recedes, people around us are slightly awkward and don’t quite know how to handle it, despite being slightly out of sorts or perhaps facing the same thing on their own. There are degrees, and spirals – and the albatross again, which in this case – has been devolved by the depression into something even less.

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Strength and unity
I thought the arrangement and color in themselves were visually strong enough, but what I find remarkable is both the age of the participants and the personal touches of style: common values aren’t at odds with individuality; something my own country really needs to learn…

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The source of all things
If I’d shot this a year or two earlier, it’d have probably been the title image for the ‘Idea of Man’; something radiates from an intensely purposeful and focused individual, who on top of that is heading into the light: it’s a positive, uplifting image that oddly also has a sense of those wartime propaganda/motivation images…

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The two protagonists face off: but it seems as though it’s the inanimate, un-retireable one that doesn’t want to work. Escaping from both is a bonus (younger) individual shirking their duty in the middle of the frame.

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Selection (Thaipusam 2016)
Focus, atmosphere, color, mood, a little sheepish social media – faith and life in 2016.

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Lange 1815 Chronograph, top plate
As many of us have discovered, there’s a whole universe inside a watch. And perhaps non better representing the artistic renaissance of modern post-quartz watchmaking as the Lange chronograph movements; they look archaic, but were specifically designed that way and are really the non plus ultra of the type: a lot of features are there because they can, not because they need to. And if you’re going to basically make art: why not go all the way? Shown here is the full, uncropped frame, shot with bellows and stacking. One blue screw is ~0.5mm in diameter.

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I couldn’t think of a title for this one. There are simply too many things happening: decay, hipsterification, something being passed by – or being the observer; simple aesthetic abstraction made possible by technology (stabilisers, ND filters). I keep coming back to photography as being a metaphor of observations to life; this image is no exception.

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Storm cloud over Indonesia
A memorable experience both through viewing a storm from 36,000ft, but also because it was shot out of the cockpit. Pilots really do have the best office in the world.

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Still life with fruit
Something highly classical I’d always wanted to try; also the precursor to some evolutionary experiments I’ve (alas) yet to find the time to complete. I look at this one as hope through looking backwards…

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100% unplanned; uniting structure, geometry, anonymity, abstraction, different attitudes conveyed through body language – and even a bonus polar bear. 🙂

This caps off my 2016 – happy new year everybody!


Ultraprints from this series are available on request here


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  1. scott devitte says:

    Decay- An evocation to narrative, A hundred windows- a few of which are perhaps the “O Portos” one must pass through to tell the story of “a little sad” that you sense lies within. Ming you are the master of the beckoning frame, 24fps is calling you.

    • Thanks Scott. Yes, it does call…but it isn’t something one can do well and solo, unfortunately. I feel that you lose some spontaneity that way – but perhaps I’m wrong?

    • scott devitte says:

      Please strike “the” before “O Portos”. Redundant.

  2. Wonderful 🙂

  3. Just amazing happy new year

  4. Hi there Ming.

    Thank-you for spensing the time to curate this collection and sharing. It is an intriguiging, very wide-ranging collection of photographs. In fact, the breadth sticks out to me – a selection of my photographs from the past year would only justify 6-10 images before it would be repetitious.

    I was most taken with “Arisen from Nought” and “Storm cloud over Indonesia”. Both feature heavy grey coluds. Yet they evoke completely different feelings for me. “Arisen from Nought” is industrial, with a hint of power and malevolence. “Storm cloud over Indonesia” is warm, rain storms bringing new life. Strange how far apart these feelings are!

    I am so pleased that 2 of the aerial photographs from Western Australia made the cut. Very different to the amount of color in the remainder. Different also in the complete absence of Mankind and his imprint on the landscape.

    🙂 … MomentsForZen (Richard)

    P.S., The aerial scenes from Western Australia were amazing – so many varied subjects, and the colors of the natural environment were so well captured and communicated. I often wondered … How long were you in WA to take that many different areas over such great distances? It must have been quite a long job?

    • Thanks Richard!

      WA: believe it or not, about 3h of shooting airtime in total, made more efficient by ground and Google satellite reccie…would have loved to have had longer, but the budget wouldn’t stand it 🙂

  5. Lovely set from 2016, Happy New Year, Sifu.

  6. Great set of pictures, just like the previous set.

    As you often talk about the importance of curation, I thought this article might resonate with you. It comes from another photography-related website which I regularly visit.

    • Thanks for the tip! Though I agree in general, you have to get to the point where you are very, very comfortable with your visual language and means of expression before you can decidedly say one or two images is enough to fully explore the subject/idea: often, it isn’t, and the creative and thinking/philosophical processes are iterative. I do think the more you shoot the easier it becomes to curate pre-capture, though – and once one is past the ‘experimentation’ stage, volume probably drops even if quality does not. That, or shooting large format film is guaranteed to make you think before hitting the release 🙂

  7. I am just drawn to that first photo it is so striking.

  8. Very nice body of work. FWIW, I liked more of these than in the first set.

  9. Samuel Jessop says:

    By far my preferred selection out of the two. Superb images.

  10. Deeply appreciative of these compelling photographs and your underlying fundamentally compassionate view of life on this planet. Sincere best wishes to you and your family.

  11. An incredible series indeed 🙂

    Thank you so much for sharing this compilation 🙂

    Have a beautiful day ahead 🙂

  12. Coisas EM'adeira says:

    Wow, a few photographs from my country (Portugal) made to the selection!
    Nevertheless great photos as usual!
    All the best to you and your family for 2017!

  13. Harry DeYong says:

    Colour, black and white, people, landscape, macro and still life. This site is always interesting, informative and thought provoking, as well as a place to look at consistently excellent photos.

  14. Magnificient and great !!!

  15. Stark and beautiful. I’m looking forward to another year of your photography.

  16. Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!

  17. F U L L S P E C T R A says:

    Fabulous selection, Ming. Happy New Year!!


  1. […] and business shift I was alluding to earlier. I think from my best of 2016 curation (part I, part II) it’s clear that both my personal and professional subject matter are completely different to […]

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