Photoessay: Architectural snippets, Singapore

H51-B0012378 copy

I like to think of this kind of image as little microcosms of environment – not quite a full wimmelbild, but more a degustation of the little area in which the image was captured. The images presented today are on a few different scales – everything from fairly intimate upwards. I think they’re fairly representative of the mood and feel of the immediate vicinity, at least from the perspective of an observer who’s just passing through. I honestly don’t know how to categorise images like this: not traditional architecture and not really pure abstract – they have no commercial application and appeal only to a very particular narrow aesthetic. Why do we make images like this? Because they appeal to us at some personal level; I suppose what speaks to me here is the compressed intricacy that can only be as product of evolution as opposed to planning – especially the little unexpected signs of life that suggest adaptation, humanity and real people as opposed to purely hard materials. MT

This series was shot with a Hasselblad H5D-50C and H6D-50C, various lenses and post processed with Photoshop and Lightroom Workflow III.

H51-B0011879 copy

H51-B0011248 copy

H51-B0011759 copy

H51-B0012607 copy

H51-B0012513 copy

H51-B0011877 copy

H51-B0012398 copy

H51-B0012314 copy

H51-B0011559 copy

H51-B0011496 copy

H51-B0011430 copy


Ultraprints from this series are available on request here


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


Visit the Teaching Store to up your photographic game – including workshop and Photoshop Workflow videos and the customized Email School of Photography. You can also support the site by purchasing from B&H and Amazon – thanks!

We are also on Facebook and there is a curated reader Flickr pool.

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


  1. Paul Hawkwood says:

    I love the first image particularly – the square format, the angles, the colors, the light (and the light post). I’d love to hear what you have to say about composing for squares – you really nail them.

    • Thanks – squares in a way are unnatural because they don’t really match our field of vision; however they do feel a bit more natural than a pure vertical most of the time. I think of them as a vertical with context…but have had lots of practice with the V series Hasselblads (which are of course only square).

  2. Branche says:

    this is really impressive, a pleasure for the eyes !

  3. Superb images. You’ve presented Singapore at a level of a piece of art

  4. Ricky Gui says:

    Been a local here, these body of work is very refreshing for my eyes.

  5. I’ve always loved your urban landscape/abstract photos, and I’ve tried to shoot in this style myself, mostly around Seoul. I’ve found it helps me pay more attention to my environment, even when I’m not carrying a camera. May I ask how many days (or hours) of shooting it takes you to get this many usable images? I find with one full day of shooting around the city, I may end up with 2-3 good shots (if I’m lucky). Also, how is KL for architectural/urban landscape photography? I hope to visit Malaysia at some point.

    • About two days solid for this set. KL can be good if the light is cooperative, but the street level detail isn’t there compared to other cities with the right climate and pedestrian infrastructure…

  6. Martin Fritter says:

    Just fantastic. Strongly reminiscent of Thomas Struth. Also of your own watch pics (I believe you call them “horological”).

  7. very interesting compositions and perspectives

  8. Rick L Barton says:

    inspiring and thought provoking—NICE !

  9. These are beautiful….i love their balance, the touches of colour, the perfect curves, their exploration of shape and line.

  10. Ming
    You make the point “I honestly don’t know how to categorise images like this: not traditional architecture and not really pure abstract –”. However from my view most of these images are very much abstract, in the sense that they are a summary of the environment, and are representative at some level of a whole environment. In addition your short telephoto framing has generally retained three dimensional scale and a natural feeling which is often sacrificed in compressed views, and that is where this works better that most, at least for me.
    Thanks for the post it has given me something to think about when framing.

    • The ‘cutoff point’ between subject/ context is the most blurred for architecture, in my opinion – it’s very hard to say when the construction becomes environment, especially when it was specifically designed to blend in. Or perhaps this is the mark of good work…

      Short tele: I like it personally because it matches our natural eye perspective when you are intensely focusing on something. As for 3D-ness, it’s a subtle mix of light and DOF due to sensor format, I think.

  11. Gerner Christensen says:

    Dear Ming … I wasn’t never in doubt your mind is hyper focused when you sport a frame and lift the camera to your eyes. This series in particular hit my strings and caused a harmonic feel of joy watching them.

  12. Very nice set! The tonality of the outdoor scenes, especially the first one and the orange towers, green fence, and white building, are incredible.

  13. therandomblogofirreverentthoughts says:

    Very nice pictures. Dramatic angles. I love the architectural photography.

%d bloggers like this: