Photoessay: Urban plants of Istanbul

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Today’s photoessay is a little whimsical: on a previous trip to Istanbul, I noticed myself photographing a lot of urban-texture type vignettes, drawn to the juxtaposition of textures and colors. But the common theme I failed to consciously register at the time was that almost all of these images had some elements of nature hiding in the frame – as though a second level of metaphysical contrast also somehow made its way into the frame. Ironically, in most of these cases – the plants have survived time much better than their environment and seem to be thriving in a way that contrasts quite dramatically with the patina in the rest of the city. I think maybe I was just pleased to see signs of nature still extant amongst the concrete. The set itself is a sort of ‘second pressing’ curation – a lot of singles that didn’t obviously fit any of the other sets previously published, at least until I noted the plant theme. There are of course a few surprises in the images if one is to look closely… MT

This series was shot in Istanbul with a Hasselblad H6D-100c, 50, 100 and 150mm lenses, and post processed with Photoshop and LR Workflow III (and the Weekly Workflow). Get more out of your voyages with T1: Travel Photography.

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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 unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved


  1. tariq Tnosugar says:

    You should be banned along with skilled cooks, plasterers, builders, teachers, leaders, communicators, artists, sports players, experienced parents, and some medics! All of the aforementioned take simple ingredients and make some wondrous and compelling. This is not fair on the rest of us! I have been taking photos for more than 40 years but none come anywhere near your standard. The same goes for trying hit a ball (e.g golf, squash, football, cricket) sweetly. Other (food) examples include making a perfect custard, roast chicken, gravy, sorbet, ice cream, pizza. paratha, dahl, rice and mash potatoes. Okay I apologise but i will keep trying to get a decent interesting photo.

  2. Kristian Wannebo says:

    I agree, the life in the plants and the age of the buildings enhance each other!

    I especially like #:s 3, 6, 9, 10 & 13!

    ( #2 has a small surprise for me.
    That small tower behind the corner in the wall, for once it works best to have it precisely there! Perhaps because wall corners often have a tower?
    And I like the door (not(!) precisely) behind the tree in #1.)

  3. Frederick Saunders says:

    I am in Istanbul at the moment, and this series has inspired me to look more closely at the urban environment! It is an amazing city, one of the few I immediately know I need to return to after a single visit. Thanks for the post.

  4. John Andersson says:

    Like the 7th picture from above.. Its busy lots with of things going on despite beeing stationary objects.. only thing I am missing is the sign with the name of the store thats covered by the branches 😄
    Anyway, doing street shooting with a H6D and not one but three lenses is a task for athletes. Do you never think back with a nostalgic feel on the m43 days?

    • My back does, until I look at the files…shooting MF spoils you creatively, but punished you physically. Still, this is why the X1D exists…I just didn’t have one available during that trip.

  5. As always, Ming, youshow a nice sensitivity to interplay of form and of use of the visual frame. I actually feel that the plant forms greatly enhance the arcitectural ones. Forgive the aside but i hope the new xcd lenses appear sooner than later. Thanks for your thoughtful articles.

  6. İstanbul…

  7. jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Overwhelming – and I’m totally jealous of how sharp they are! I can’t say I like the terracotta coloured paint all over the place, but each to their own, and if it amuses the locals, it’s their choice (not mine). But ignoring that, I love the second last photo Ming – the irises under the pink magnolia.

  8. Particularly like the first five – very nicely observed.

  9. richard majchrzak says:

    the variety, the ideas, the intention, the connections, the vision, the stories, the surprises , i love your photos, Ming always good for a wow! factor moment

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