Photoessay: Through the looking glass

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I think of this set as Idea of Man, with inspiration by Saul Leiter. The whole thing comes together to be a little bit surreal, but more intense than you’d expect with full-fat color left in. I’ve deliberately used longer perspectives in most of these images to intensify that feeling of stacking, and having the world vying for your attention. To my eyes, it has the same level of distraction from your intended focus as a walk through a really cosmopolitan city would do in real life; especially one that’s somewhat new and unfamiliar to you. In such situations, the familiar catches your eye, as does the very unfamiliar; there’s the constant tug of war between trying to figure out and experience the new, and putting it in context with that which you already know. And before you’ve managed to place things in your own mind, something else (usually unexpected) cuts through the stage and demands your eye. MT

This series was shot with a Hasselblad H5D-50C and H6D-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. You have captured beautiful images here Ming. Obviously not easy to find but the reward is that there is a lot of feeling contained in these images which I really like.

  2. Uniformly well done, Ming! The color saturation is deeper than most reflections images and adds to the appeal. Your MF cameras are not small. Wonder what kind of shooting technique you use to avoid drawing attention to yourself and camera?

  3. Love the set, Ming – it’s quite masterful; immediately engaging, both emotionally and visually, but also rewards repeated / prolonged looking.

  4. Jorge Balarin says:

    Beautiful photos but, why you didn’t use a polarizer to eliminate reflections ? (it’s a joke) . I lke very much de first one, and also the sixth and the eighth.

  5. jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Still conquering new horizons, Ming – I love shots that make use of reflections (for me, it’s part of “studying the light”), and these shots take my breath away.

  6. Absolutely brilliant use of color, light, composition and focus to harmonize potentially distracting elements. The viewer does not have to constantly scan details to absorb the essence of each image.

  7. solid work

  8. I love this series Ming! In many of these images I find myself wondering about the relative location of people and things … are they really out in front of me or are they behind … which is real and which is merely a reflection of the truth.

  9. This sort of reflective imagery gets used occasionally in cinema, but I think one of it’s most effective uses is in The Machinist: in case you haven’t seen it.

  10. Excellent! Evocative. Off topic; Hassy CEO out … good news or not so much? Seems like the wheels are coming off the bus? Might be time to start talking to Phase One? -or- Pre-order a GFX-50 😉

    • Yeah, my thoughts regarding “Hassy CEO out”.
      I am not sure if I want to invest in the system at this stage and with what’s going on. I probably end up getting Fuji GFX instead.

    • Thanks.

      Off topic: I am actually at Hassy HQ at the moment, and was on hand for some of the transition – much more to say in a future opinion piece, but I think nothing to worry about for many reasons I’ll explain in detail later…

  11. Great pictures and very interesting thoughts… I recently discovered the images and paintings of Soul Leitner and started to like his work very much. Cheers, Rudy.

  12. Beautiful !
    These remind me of the ” trick photography” coffee table books of the 1950’s !
    Gorgeous colour !

    • I always thought those used really clever perspectives and Scheimpflug, but I may be wrong (and nothing wrong with bringing some of that back, actually!)

  13. very original !!!

  14. Simply excellent!

  15. These are fun to look at. Thanks.

  16. I like the bold use of color in some of the images at the top of the thread. Nice!



  1. […] series is a continuation (and partial overlap of) the Through the looking glass post of last week. It’s a little less human and a little more physical; a metaphor for a […]

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