Photoessay: Painted shadows, part I

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We often talk about the painterly qualities of an image, but without the right quality of light, and to some extent, subject matter – it isn’t possible to create the same controlled contrast and muted tones that the style relies on. Fortunately, Prague in autumn has both low angle light (i.e. not that intense) but clear skied (directional, not diffused) days in abundance – and old, pastel-painted buildings. The buildings themselves appear almost graphic and illustrated a lot of the time: they’re either newly restored or rehabbed or well maintained, and so lack the sort of surface defects that often mar the graphic illusion I sought. My biggest problem was actually too much dynamic range… MT

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

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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. Thanks for showing again that deep shadows can be effective in color images.

    • Paradoxically, lower luminance actually increases apparent saturation because of both relative contrast and the way our eyes work: we are naturally used to seeing less saturation in low key/ dark images, so elevated saturation/ low key stands out as being fairly punchy (and one more reason one has to be careful of screen calibrators: they tend to result in much higher saturation than appears natural in the shadow areas…

  2. Wonderful photographs. I would be interested to see how many people are aware of your ability to see, the care, courage and taste you take to carefully compose your pictures. The last of the above series – if I may be blunt about it – it is nothing really, yet a truly beautiful photograph with a pinch of wit. It makes me smile.

    • Thanks Felix. Not sure how many; I think I have a somewhat strange view of the world sometimes…

      • This world also contains wasps, sharks, tarantulas and rattlesnakes. We just need to be aware of them.

        What would be the point of light, if there was no darkness?


  3. These photos are among the best I’ve ever seen. Love the colors, shadows, compositions. And, as a fan of architecture, I love the subject matter!

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