Photoessay: Rhythmic geometries

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I see the images in this post as a sort of musical score: the suggestion of an overall harmony (wave) interspersed with little details and textures is too strong to ignore. I don’t know any of the correct musical terminology for this kind of thing, but I do know that I feel the same way about these abstract compositions as I do when I listen to a piece of classical music: there’s a strong underlying structure linking the whole score together, but at the same time also little diversions and explorations into variations that hold your attention and get you thinking. There is a similar change of scale here – not all the instruments play at the same time in every image; you might not have the same range of scale, but you do have the same sensation of layering and interplay of shadow. When the piece shifts into the next movement, not all of the elements may make it through intact, but enough do that you can recognise continuity in style; a sort of design language. MT

These images were shot in Singapore with a Hasselblad X1D-50c and 90mm, and post processed with either PS Workflow III and the Weekly Workflow or The Monochrome Masterclass. See more on your journeys with T1: Travel Photography and the How to See series.

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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. Amazing photographs!

  2. Jorge Simoes Sereno says:

    This is Ming Thein signature work. This is to my mind really your strength: these things we can see in every serious and well developped city but we do not see these in my eyes fantastic composition of lines and light. Love them all, but I am in love with the very first one…..It is not something I would ever shoot I guess because I feel I can’t, I do not have the talent. So glad you do and would love to have something like that in one of the rooms of my house. Thx for sharing them!

  3. This was fascinating! I didn’t even notice the shift from color to B/W until my second viewing. Beethoven’s 4th piano concerto was already playing as I scrolled through these and it worked nicely. However, the third to last image didn’t quite seem to flow well. I felt like something else could have served as a better transition there.

    • Actually, there’s a huge shift in scale in the images, too – similar to how there are little detailed harmonies in the background of musical compositions or echoes in a much more delicate tone…

      Third image: it has the same elements but at a different scale, and the scale is the jarring transition – I agree, I should have put in something else (but got distracted by the common elements).

  4. I really love this set of pics. Nice work and thanks for sharing.

  5. Martin Fritter says:

    Music: specifically fugues and cannons – counterpoint in general. Anyway, just sensational work. I’ve been sputtering along about the “technological sublime” in your photography. Stadtbilder is one of your strongest suits.

  6. This is well written, and the pictures are amazing, they make me smile and feel nostalgic.

  7. Your post and excellent images threw me back (late 1970’s) to one of most formative and informative texts I read: Douglas Hofstadter’s classic ‘Gödel, Escher Bach’. Thanks!

  8. Junaid Rahim says:

    Lovely set – i think the colour ones work better in showing rhythm. Not totally sure why, but that flow along and through the images give me that vibe better.

    I am also becoming more aware as of late that your first pic of a series is certainly drawing me in as a ‘favourite’; more so than in the past. Again not totally sure why – better curation/understanding on your part?

  9. Frans Richard says:

    Wow! What a fantastic series. I really love these abstract type images, a kind of images I aspire to create myself.
    Thanks for this inspiring post! 🙂

  10. Hello Ming, when i look at this post and the one called “Beyond human scale”, like many readers i really think you shine in this kind of work, i mean you know how to make sing all this concrete and glass. I’m asking myself what would think the architect if you show him this amazing first picture ? Would he be surprised ? amazed ? and so on… Or only questionnable about the possibility you sell it and ask you if you have good lawyers ?

  11. This is such an inspiring set! Very pleasing to look at.

  12. El Ojo Inoportuno says:

    Fascinating patterns

  13. I’m not one for gushing about such things, but the color images in this sequence are just brilliant. You may have a fondness for Vivaldi.

  14. amazing pictures

  15. Very moody set Ming, absolutely beautiful. There are images in this set which I rate among your best, not that there is anything wrong with the others if you know what I mean.

  16. Gerner Christensen says:

    Hey, thumbs up here Ming. Very, very clever and pleasing photography. Congrats 🙂


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