Photoessay: Repetition in high key

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Perhaps repetition is the wrong word; riffs on a theme might be more apt. Pay close attention to the sequencing of the images and you’ll notice the key lines flow up down along diagonals that provide continuity between frames; in this way the repetition and structure extends beyond the individual image to the entire set. The tonal bias is mostly high key and cool, but even then there are slight variations to hint at different moods*. I think of it almost as a rising and falling of music that smoothly transitions between passages. Still, the outer covering merely disguises the fact that the underlying structures themselves are the usual rectangular blocks; it’s simply not economical to make something that isn’t regular (not to mention producing spaces that are highly inefficient). These are after all public buildings in the administrative centre of the country; a little decorative facade cladding is fine, but let’s not go too far overboard. MT

*I’m very pleased with the tonality from this series; there’s something about the light openness of the mid and highlight tones that I’ve only been able to achieve with medium format up to this point – but it might also be because I’ve had a strong preference for darker, richer tones. Think oil painting vs watercolour.

This series was shot with a Nikon D3500 and AF-P 70-300 DX VR, and is a mix of SOOC JPEG and edited raw using Photoshop Workflow III.

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Prints 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. Kristian Wannebo says:

    although these obviously are high key,
    they look very natural,
    and at the same time –
    they feel like an idea.

    Some of them make me think of

    and some of garden houses
    and palaces from fairy tales.

    A feeling of a mega-city
    slowly covering the whole world
    (perhaps because of the continuity among the images…)
    grows in me – till I shake it off.

    • They’re very bright buildings in the tropical sun – anything with that much light paint tends to be almost blinding. If anything, they feel a bit more pastel than reality here…

  2. Once again my finger twitches to pull the trigger on buying a D3500/D5600. Then sobriety returns as I realize it’s the photographer, not the camera. Sigh.

  3. Noice work there pancho!

  4. Beautiful series Ming! I suspect your eye and curation for light along with subject selection determined most of the look of the photos than the camera itself.

  5. Thank you for once again illustrating a concept so well. There is such an elegance achieved with this series.

  6. jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Soft tonal variations – sharp contrasts – overall light toning, giving very modern/industrial images an almost ethereal look.
    Creative exploration of an architectural theme.
    Most impressive!
    I shan’t be buying the D3500 though – despite the extra handful of pixels, my D500 has loads more of the features that mean something to me – and at least half of them are “deal makers” (or breakers, for me, with the D3500).

  7. Artistiquement intéressant, techniquement aussi.
    Bravo !!!

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