MT’s scrapbook: still life interludes, part I

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Two questions to address today – firstly, what differentiates the scrapbook series from photoessays, and secondly, why do they tend to be monochrome? What I post here in the form of photoessays are much more tightly curated series around a certain subject or theme, shot with the sole purpose and intention of photography, and sequenced into a storyline from a much larger set. The images are individually post processed and made consistent. The scrapbook series is more spontaneous – there is never a narrative because they’re single snippets grabbed here and there and then sorted into something visually coherent (which isn’t the same as a storyline). They’re opportunistic as opposed to planned or sought; sometimes single, sometimes in a mini-sequence. And there’s no post processing; what you see is a resized SOOC JPEG. They also tend to be monochrome, both as a concession to prioritise the light and also because there’s no need to correct for accurate color. It’s my compromise to keep my hand in practice, but for times when I don’t have the time to commit to something more focused. Today: more long shadow play, with a candid guest appearance from some Mapplethorpian bananas… MT

The Scrapbook series is shot on an Olympus PEN F, with unedited JPEGs straight from camera bar resizing (and of course some choice settings).

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


  1. Sivert Sørumgård says:

    Great looking images, Ming!

    I see you are using the compact Panasonic zooms on the Pen-F. Do they work equally well on the Olympus body as on the GX-85? As far as I have seen, there is some in-camera processing that removes CA on Panasonic bodies, but shooting monochrome, this is not an issue anyway, I suppose.

    Were there limitied possibilities of tweaking the JPG processing on the Panasonic body compared to what Olympus offers?

    I always found the Pen-F attractive, but pricing here in Norway leaves something to be desired for sure (Pen-F body only is EUR 1000, while the GX85 kit with 12-32 is exactly half of that, i.e. EUR 500).

    • Works pretty much the same; you lose dual IS but IBIS alone on the Olympus seems to be more effective than dual IS on the GX85 anyway. As for corrections – there’s also distortion compensation beyond CA reduction, but you don’t get that when shooting raw and processing with ACR anyway even on the GX85.

      Nothing has as wide a latitude for JPEG in-camera adjustments as the PEN F; on top of that all of the Panasonic built in profiles seem to have a strange cast/cyan-shift that looks very digital.

  2. First I imagine that you must drive your spouse crazy with photographing in-home objects. Given your style, no dust and everything must be in its place.
    If you will allow me an observation (and this is true of myself as well, so readily confirmable), the smaller format untethered brings out the child-like curiosity and desire to explore. Outcomes suggest this outlet as much more constructive than playing in the sandbox or building castles at the beach
    when we were young.

    Perhaps you are a closet architect?

    Without in any way downgrading your commercial work (you have my utmost respect there), i find your work with this camera and the Leica Q as equally experimental and shall we say more expressive of the range of your vision and scope of competence.
    Enjoyable to witness such diversity. Of course your meticulous workflow enhances the result for the viewer.
    I dont know if you had any say regarding the design of the forthcoming zeiss FF point and shoot, but I certainly would not hesitate to consider it for some if your personal work. Other than the fact that it is my least favorite FL, I for one would be first in line to purchase. Of course if Leica could improve on reliability, and improve on the lens design to reduce distortion (maybe not possible in such a small package) a Q would be in my bag.

    • Actually, she doesn’t bother too much since I do the cleaning and rearranging of said objects.

      I agree that the smaller ‘less serious’ formats tend to encourage experimentation; perhaps because it’s also less effort to try. Commercial – note that there are often client expectations/ constraints in play too, which limits the ‘looseness’ of an image; often most things are highly coordinated and every aspect considered vis a vis intended brand image.

      No question about being a closet architect. I designed the interior of my current home and would love to do a whole building someday (preferably with somebody who has some structural expertise to convert the ideas to something executable and safe!)

      Zeiss: my least favorite FL too, and I admit to not having much desire to carry around the processing hardware too – even if it means no computer. I’m aiming for less processing these days, not more…

  3. Really enjoying these and I can appreciate the desire to shoot in black and white to avoid the color correction part of the equation. I particularly enjoy the photo of the bedside, file _PF04302. Great textures really make this one shine.

    • Thanks! In this case the use of monochrome was not so much to avoid color correction as to avoid distracting individual elements that would disrupt the overall intended balance; also, like it or not color has ann influence over the perceived mood of the scene…

  4. Kristian Wannebo says:

    I tried to find favourites…
    …but I think I like them all.
    Some are still growing on me!

    And shadows *are* fun…

  5. Kristian Wannebo says:

    – Hi, care to dance?
    – Naw, my knee hurts, have a beer with me?
    – Yeah, … , you’ve a nice hairdo…
    – So’ve you…

  6. Genius small abstracts Ming !!!

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