Photoessay: Tropical skies

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Dreamlike is probably the best description for this series: evocative of palm trees, sea breezes, long drinks and days of doing not very much. (I wish!) I find more than ever I need a break to disconnect and plan the next move, but there’s less and less time available in which to do so. So the only solution is to at least try to create the same feeling through reviewing images with those subjects – after all, if I’ve done a decent job at the time of capture, I should have managed to freeze and translate the way I felt at the time. And if it doesn’t work for me, then it’s doubtful it’d work for anybody else: but I feel myself relaxing already… MT

This series was shot with a Nikon Z7 and 24-70/4 S. No post processing, just the custom color picture control from the Z7/D850 profile pack…

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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. Michael Hanson says:

    Beautiful images! I like seeing a photoessay shot with one camera and one lens. It really shows off the full capabilities of the kit. On a random note, how is the air quality down in Malaysia? Up here in Korea, we only get <50 days a year of beautiful skies due to yellow dust and air pollution.

    • Heavily variable here, too. Most of the time the skies aren’t clear because of convection clouds – humidity and heat, not pollution – but there are increasing numbers of months in the year we suffer from haze from Indonesia’s burning forests…

  2. Very nice images. Off topic gear question please; On 1/19/15 you posted a review of the A7 II … “Nearly There” appeared in the title. My question therefor is; aside from your own personal pet peeves with regard to the Alpha 7’s; would you consider the A7R III (or IV if delivered as advertised) as being “there”?

  3. Kristian Wannebo says:

    the never ending sky and sea…
    I tried to pick favorites and found more then half… , so I tried again.

    > “Dreamlike”
    So which make me feel most dreamy?
    I think #s 1, 4 ,6, 9, 10, 15.

    And humorous?
    I think #s 1, 2, 5, 8.

    Magritteish? ( 😉 )
    #4, and perhaps #10
    ( I think because of that one cloud beling pushed into the foreground by the others.)

    They are all lovely, though!

    • Thanks Kristian! I didn’t think any of the clouds fell into the ‘Magrittesque’ category though; they weren’t defined enough

      • Kristian Wannebo says:

        > “.. they weren’t defined enough”
        No, perhaps not.
        But I think Magritte’s way of making clouds “defined” makes them almost pop out of the surface, and in your #4 (and perhaps #10) the other clouds make the single one pop out similarly.

        • Actually I think it’s a combination of light direction and really clean background (ie high altitude) skies – something we rarely see these days, especially in the tropics between convection haze and third world burning haze…

          • Kristian Wannebo says:

            Aah, I didn’t think of those things, thanks!

            But the farther clouds don’t (for me) pop out like the single foreground one, and I don’t think that’s only because of relative size or the foreground-background relation – I still have the impression that the many-against-isolated-one relation helps the one pop out more?

  4. Len Capristo says:

    I’ll say up front that I’m a big fan of Ming and his work, and that I’ve purchased and enjoyed several of his Learning Store products and have enjoyed all of them. I recently purchased the Nikon Z6, partly due to Ming and Praneenth’s reviews, and just installed the Nikon Profile pack Ming created. It was a revelation. I had used several “recommended settings” that I found on the ‘net describing how to setup the camera, and thought that I would be fine using them. What I realized after trying Ming’s settings was that the settings suggested by many different sites don’t address picture quality or settings, they only address configuration files, not picture controls. That’s a very big difference. Ming’s Profile Pack actually addresses camera picture controls – the subtle settings needed to produce the pictures you see in this essay. After loading his settings I realize that not only is the profile he created exceptional, it also makes me realize that ALL of my prior camera settings failed to address the problems I had with picture controls. Since I began using his settings I’m better able to work on composition, knowing that the camera settings are optimally set. I haven’t yet tried the ACR settings (I’m not a skilled PS/LR user), but I’m confident that I’ll save myself lots of time and have better results with Ming’s suggested adjustments. For less than the price of an inexpensive lens filter, Ming’s profile package is a bargain.

    • Thanks Len! The ACR settings are a starting point to give you maximum PP flexibility, as opposed to an end point (which are the JPEG profiles). 🙂

  5. I’m particularly impressed with the penultimate shot. It’s that tree on the right which makes it happen.

    You should approach the people who make that “Calm” app for the iPhone and license some of these shots!

    • Thanks – yes, the solo standout on the ridge is the visual anchor…at the right time of the year, the sun sets right behind it. It’s actually on the hill opposite the watch company office… 🙂

  6. Alex Carnes says:

    Very nice! I like your low horizon style. What’s going on with image three though (_Z717167 copy)? Not like you to allow a photo into the wild with a slopey horizon!! 😉

    • An example of conscious slight tilt to compensate for the heavier objects on the hard left – if I’d leveled it (which I tried) it actually felt like the horizon was running off to the bottom right instead…

  7. I grew up in The Bahamas and was never able to resist taking a photo of clouds on the way home from work. Your selection here reminds of those times. Great colours you’ve captured here.
    Your images often stand out quite a bit in how well they are exposed. Take, for example, the image that seems to be on a balcony. On a day that bright I’d expect the wall to be as white as the clouds but you’ve captured the colour difference. Is that through careful technique at capture time or in processing afterwards?

    • Thanks – I watch both the actual scene carefully to mark relative zones, and the histogram at capture to maximize information captured…

  8. The 11th image, with the darker clouds, is a real stunner. I could just stare at it for ages.

  9. I doubt it was a monochrome picture profile … 😉
    Would you say photos taken with a good mirrorless camera require less post processing than pictures from a DSLR because the camera (and the photographer) can get exposure, white balance and DR/histogram/shadows right more easily? (It “sees” the image before taking, in contrast to a DSLR, which “sees”/shows the image only afterwards.)

    • Sorry, good spot – I meant color but copied the html from a previous photoessay!

      PP requirements are about the same, assuming you get exposure right. But yes, with live histogram and accurate exposure simulation – especially with picture profiles applied in live view – yes, it’s definitely easier to get it right.

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