Photoessay: traditional architectural vignettes

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Today’s images are a series of with traditional architectural subjects shot in Kyoto, at varying scales. There’s a deliberate variation in perspective and size to put the various elements in context with their environment; I have deliberately tried hard to exclude the usual cliched contrasts between old and new etc. but instead show the edifices as they are in use today. Kyoto is probably one of the few places in the world where you actually have to try very hard to avoid older buildings…yet there’s almost no dilapidation, and there’s a wonderful balance between authenticity of patina and maintenance – just look at the first building; the lantern and copper gutters are clearly aged, and the wood is seasoned, the bamboo faded with time and sun, yet the walls are perfectly painted and the sign is clean and crisp – I have rarely seen this anywhere else outside Japan (except perhaps some of the restored areas of Prague and Havana). It’s the underlying tension between this precision and contrast that makes it such a photographically rewarding subject… MT

This set was shot with a Nikon D850, 24-120VR and post processed with Photoshop Workflow III.

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


  1. Can’t judge Kyoto, but I think they turned Prague into a sort of Disneyland. When I visited the city in the sixties and seventies the bad state of historical buildings was terrible, but the restoration is way over the top. Not as bad though as some ‘historical’ places in China, where they sometimes tear an old building down and build a new replica.

    • Kyoto feels a bit more traditional, but there are some parts that perhaps are a bit more perfect than they originally were in their prime. Venice and Prague are both a little too shiny now; they’re also not feeling very authentic or local anymore – the catch 22 of survival in the modern social media world: be known and invaded, or anonymous and not survive…

  2. jenniferparker268 says:

    Absolutely gorgeous!!

  3. Well, I believe one of the beauties of photography is perspective and you know how to choose one. Nice work

  4. Helen Fennell says:

    These are beautiful shots. I have to be honest I am generally not a fan of colour, I find a lot of colour photography so saturated as to almost hurt my eyes. These are beautifully subtle. I am so glad to have found your blog. I will enjoy reading previous posts.

  5. Wow, those reds in the beginning of the set.

    Off-topic but may I recommend a book? It’s something I picked up at a museum on a whim, and merely reading the intro changed my view of the world (of art). It turns out that the greatest of history (from 1500 or so onwards) where in fact photographers – in a very literal sense, using optics to record images on screen. A must read for any art or portrait photographer.

  6. I love the architecture of Kyoto. These photos bring back memories of my last visit. I especially like the juxtaposition of old and new in photos 12 and 13.

    Thanks for sharing.

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