Photoessay: Beyond human scale

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I’ve always thought of Tokyo as a city of extremes: the insanely vast urban sprawl vs minuscule personal spaces; the pursuit of the ultimate food-art vs the ubiquitous convenience stores and vending machines; incredibly opulent wealth and luxury beyond imagination, and more homeless people than you might think. The futuristic abuts horrible 1970s square-concrete; indecipherable quipu of power lines knot the tops of poles, yet streets are laid so precisely that there’s material used in the middle of intersections for better grip. At larger distances, this devolves into something both more homogeneous and at the same time, distinctive – as neighbourhoods are somewhat cohesive. Even somewhere like Omotesando, where architects compete for the most unusual structure, it seems that such very competition creates a different kind of uniformity: what would be exceptional somewhere else isn’t when taken in multiples. It’s this very dichotomy I’ve tried to capture here – and with as few visual cues to scale as possible. MT

This series was shot with a Canon 100D, 24STM and 55-250STM lenses, an X1D-50c and 90mm, and a H6D-100c and 100mm. Post processing was completed using the techniques in the weekly workflow and PS Workflow III.

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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. “ubiquitous convince stores” – A typo. Or was it? ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Ming, I’m like you, if I hadn’t become a photographer I would have “tried” to become an architect……..second choice. I had a good life doing my hobby!

  3. Such rich colours and the architecture is amazing x

  4. Junaid Rahim says:

    I think the first one captures the idea best – almost as if seeing it through bleary/dazzled eyes to further amplify that feeling!

  5. richard majchrzak says:

    Sorry 4 the to the bl…y phone…

  6. richard majchrzak says:

    Nos 4,5 s d the last su set ate high class, chrers

  7. Giovanni says:

    It’s unusual that you should not have included any example of the residential side streets that even in the dead center, as in Jungaoka and Omotesando, make this amazingly human megalopolis retain its neighborhood feel. The organic feel that Tลkyล projects is unique. You mention the electrical and phone cables, but you don’t show them… I guess you reserve them for another follow-up post revealing the flip side to the shiny towers and less glamorous high-rises in this post.

    • The title should explain why: residential streets and identifiably human-size objects are still human scale… ๐Ÿ™‚

      • But deep inside you knew that the other side of the scale is just as important. You actually end up saying you wanted to capture the dychotomy, and I kind of miss it.
        Actually, no, I see pairings of buildings which are similar but at different scale, so I guess you have what you wanted.
        But I’m an unrepentant romantinc and I miss the spaghetti knots of wires and incongrous mix of old and modern single family homes fifty meters south of Omotesando-dori…
        Bless ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. jfinite says:

    Lovely images, well shot!

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