Photoessay: On the verge of anonymity

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An experiment of sorts, today: more ‘stream of consciousness’ style photography, but this time shot through my left eye instead of my (usual) right. The idea is to test the hypothesis of left-brain-right-brain influence on structure, order and general perception; personally, I think using the non-dominant eye tends to result in somewhat more organic overall structure and composition. That, and significantly more skew for some reason – I didn’t seem to hold the camera straight in any of these. It’s also been a long time since I’ve had the time to go out on my own for a day or two with no objective other than to wander around and shoot the streets; Tokyo is of course a great place for this with no end of possible material. MT

This series was shot with a Canon 100D, 24STM and 55-250STM lenses, and an X1D-50c and 90mm, and post processed with The Monochrome Masterclass workflow. Travel to Tokyo vicariously with How To See Ep.2: Tokyo, learn to be stealthy with S1: Street Photography and see how to capture the essence of a location with T1: Travel Photography.

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Prints 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. so nice photos

  2. Peter Wais says:

    Following up on Jim’s suggestion above, the human visual system, when healthy, actually distributes signal transduced by each eye to each hemisphere for further processing. Whereas it is accurate that certain types of information processing are carried out principally by one cerebral hemisphere or the other in most (but not all) humans, we develop binocular and binaural perception systems. I agree with Jim that Oprah can make hay with right-brain-this and left-brain-that, but such an interpretation does not apply to photography.
    Ming, you could, however, alter the normal inhibitory framework your brain applies, which is the highest level cognitive control over your creative processes… try shooting after a strong stout, :).

  3. Applaud your switching eyes, MT. Also love the images. Suggest, however, avoiding the words left brain right brain as metaphor, it’s tired, outdated, and is thrown around by those who know little about neuroscience. Forcing your brain into analytical mode makes little sense, tying it to a single eye, that’s a confusion of two vastly distinct things.Your amateur theory is OK, but using the old saw, Gazzaniga experi,entertainment left vs right brain is a confusing and outdated semantic. Our brain is more more complex than that. So, are you reading a source in contemporary neuroscience?

    • Nope, I know very little about neuroscience. Just testing the theory if we always see the world the same way, perhaps something can be gained compositionally from forcing a slightly different point of view…

  4. liramusic says:

    Connecting the body to artistic output is quite interesting. In music we see many examples of this if we find it interesting. To the advanced musician, the instrument is an extension of and part of the body…

  5. liramusic says:

    This qualifies as conceptual actually. The only thing I feel dilutes the discourse is this idea of “good”. To fully be a fantastic experiment it must be free to do what it naturally does. The word would be to de-aesthetisize. I just mean to do this and see where it leads without the baggage of it having to be just as good as the other eye.

    • Well, why would you show crap work – since the audience wouldn’t know which eye you used if you didn’t say?

      • liramusic says:

        Well, 1) your work is always amazing not matter what but, 2) you would not have to show anyone who did not know what this was about. “”
        You described an experiment and I think it seems pretty interesting, honestly. That’s all I meant.

        • Fair point on the experiment bit – not so sure about the amazing part (that’s at least partially due to curation) 😛 But I think you’d have to curate results anyway, regardless of the method by which they were derived…

  6. Michiel953 says:

    I’m “left-eyed”, in the sense that I have trouble (after some fifty years of handling cameras the same way) even locating my right eye at the viewfinder… And I have a sizeable nose, pressing against the back of my cameras.

    So I can never achieve that suave “Leica” look when taking a shot.

    I’ll survive.

    • In your case, wouldn’t using the right eye at least let your nose clear the camera back?

      • Michiel953 says:

        Yes, but the searching for where to place that right eye is embarrassing and time consuming. Do I close my left eye or leave it open? Then, diopter needs to be changed. Never seems to work out.

        I gave up after thirty seconds of trying just now.

  7. Casey Bryant says:


    • Thanks!

      • Casey Bryant says:

        Coincidence or correlation that as a left-hand dominant person, I found this series especially compelling before realizing that you had flipped your composing eye? I’m gonna smoke that in my pipe for a little bit longer…

  8. i am definitely going to use my left eye next time i’m out snapping, such a good idea. some astonishing photos here, as usual.

  9. Interesting …
    And beautiful!
    Can you say a bit more upon your choice for black and white for this experiment? Just being curious.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks! B&W: I think it somehow has less perceived personality than color; less punch, less distinctiveness and less opportunity for differentiation of individuals from each other and from the background…

  10. taikunping says:

    many thanks, great idea, cool photos, especially liked photos 1 and 3

  11. Interesting exercise. While I am left eye dominant I use my right eye for photography. Have never given any thought on the influence this might have….until now.

    • Same, here, Anthony. My right eye is dominant, but is this is about +2 dioptres shorter sighted than my left eye, so when it comes to cameras I will use either eye depending upon whether the v/f has dioptre correction or not. Most cameras don’t give sufficient eye relief to use my spectacles! But I’ve never given it a second thought as to whether the images captured could depend upon which eye was used or, indeed, whether I have ever noticed this.

      Ming, an interesting observation, but I am now worried that you have raised a point that I will have to have a discussion with myself before each picture as to which eye I should use, and miss the shot. :D)

      • The dominant eye is automatic, but forces your brain to start going into analytical mode because it’s comfortable and familiar. Using the non-dominant eye is counterintuitive and forces you to re-asess the entire scene, because somehow the whole thing looks different even if it’s the same scene…at least that’s my amateur-philosopher theory. 🙂

    • I can’t blame you – usually my nose doesn’t cooperate 😛

  12. Richard Majchrzak says:

    wonderful stories, the place, the people, Ming under no pressure and exercising the other eye, relaxed, everything comes together for excellent results. Bravo and hurray. thanks

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