Photoessay: Tokyo life

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Trying something a little different with the curation this time: think of today’s presentation as a sequence of places visited and a journey rather than a similar collection of images. Note the rhythm of transition between indoors/outdoors; bright/dark; intimate and detached. It is a series of interactions between observer (me) and the environment and people around me; I experienced first and shot second, rather than focusing purely on photography. Trying to put my new approach to travel and image-making into practice… MT

This series was shot with a Nikon Z7, 24-70/4 S and SOOC with my custom Z7 Picture Control profiles.

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Ultraprints from this series are available on request here


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


  1. Always love your shots and these don’t disappoint! Shot 5 is my favorite of all of these, then 11 — the dark street with the figure in motion in the foreground. Looking again, that dark figure in motion in the foreground motif seems to repeat, very nice. Wondering what/where photo 10 is from. I am thinking you made it to Blue Bottle — shot 14 looks like Aoyama! Didn’t know you were a 3rd wave coffee fan ;).

    • Thanks! The anonymous man is one of my ‘things’ – I’ve been doing it as long as I can remember, as a stand in for the interchangeable Everyman. #10 is from the Hoshinoya. And yes, #14 is from blue bottle – my wife and I were a bit fed up of the more easily found and slightly anemic or strange local options and happened to be in the area. I’m not a third wave fan specifically, I just like good beans and a simple filter…

  2. Len Capristo says:

    Ming – As always I enjoy and learn from each of your posts – much thanks. I’ve decided to apply myself a bit more to composition and learning the fine points of my camera (Z6; 24-70f/4), by reviewing all of the classes I’ve purchased from you over the years. As I began this review I realized how much I’d forgotten, or, perhaps more accurately, hadn’t fully absorbed over the first few viewings. I strongly recommend than anyone who had purchased your training videos in the past take the time to rewatch them. If you’re like me you’ll come away with refreshed skills.

    I’ve read your F7 reviews/comments, and Robin’s F6 as well, and realize that my photography progress has stopped as I’m fearful of leaving my comfort zone. Viewing these videos again also made me wonder about your WorkFlowIII learning series. I’d not bought that in the past, never overcoming the learning curve for LR and PS. I realize that there’s a lot to be gained from continuous learning, and I’ll soon order the WFIII series. I noticed that the WFIII series has recommended settings for several cameras. When I order the series will the Nikon F6/7 settings be included in the series, or do I have to order the specialized Z7/D850 settings package along with WFIII?

    Thanks again for the wonderful training opportunities, as well as the overly gracious time you dedicate to all of us for free on your site.

    • Thanks! (I think you mean my Z7 and Praneeth’s Z6 though? Robin is Olympus…)

      Workflow III predates the Z7/D850 by some time, so you’ll need the pack separately (which also includes SOOC JPEG profiles).

      • Len Capristo says:

        Thanks for the clarification. Are there any significant settings differences between the Z6/7 that will limit the SOOC JPEG profiles on the Z6? I’m looking to duplicate your “cinema look” – which I believe is the most impressive way to create and view photos, and I’m hopeful with some practice and improving skill I can work toward that goal.

        • There’s a bit less dynamic range on the Z6 (i.e. more contrast) but the settings should work; if you find contrast too hard you can dial down the contrast tab a notch or two to taste.

          • Len Capristo says:

            I’ve hesitated to try the WorkFlow series in the past, concerned about my inability to master the skills needed to work with LR and PS. I’m hopeful that the combination of WFIII and the Z7 pack will help take my skills to a higher level. I’ve scoured the Internet watching videos/reading posts about how to optimally set the Z6, all of which have produced less than ideal results. It seems that color over-saturation has become the norm, along with extreme sharpening. Those images become tiresome quickly. Having your SOOC settings and other information will be a wonderful treat. It amazes me, and likely frustrates you, that people expect to pick an expert’s brain, and have him/her provide settings for their personal camera/shooting style, and further expect that information to be provided for free. Your courses and other items are a bargain, and I very much appreciate the effort that goes into them. Thank you again.

            • I think at very least you’ll know what your own workflow is missing and how shooting RAW for processing requires a different approach to shooting for SOOC JPEG – but you can now pick either and not have to compromise much if you need to go to RAW after, or output a JPEG. It will definitely take some practice to master ACR/PS, but once you do, the flexibility is unbeatable.

              Thanks for your support, Len!

  3. these are lovely, thanks for sharing.

  4. jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    The first image made me grin – VERY japanese – I can’t imagine seeing such a thing here!
    And the last image – you’re the photographer – tell me their version wasn’t equally original – I’ve NEVER seen anyone doing something like that, in an elevator!
    My favourite is the cook, with the flaming gas jets – that blew me away.

    • It happens more often than you might think!

      Not gas jets though, it’s actually a soy-mirin mix that’s used for the final crust on the steak…

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