Photoessay: Old normal

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It’s hard to imagine this set was shot just a month before COVID threw a wrench into everything – I wonder if we’ll ever see the same kind of energy and vibrancy again, or if we do, how long it’ll take to overcome the collective paranoia that the person coughing next to you might be about to give you a fatal disease. If nothing…it hopefully marks the start of a better respect for hygiene, personal space, and a recognition that a lot of jobs don’t require everybody to be in the same place at the same time. Maybe we’ll see decentralisation, affordability of real estate, more international cooperation and some sort of balance between universal basic income and people doing their part. Or maybe we’l just have a greater divide between those who can afford healthcare and those who can’t, and more power grabs by governments instituting states of emergency over the slightest thing. We can only live in hope, and be thankful to have been fortunate enough to remember that freedom not so long ago. MT

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

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Prints from this series are available on request.


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


  1. Dieter Kief says:

    Touchy. Thanks!

  2. I was thinking about doing some street photography a la Cartier Bresson but people wearing masks just doesn’t look right to me. Yes, hopefully in the near future this will be behind us and we will look at pictures of people wearing masks as NOSTALGIA! Ha! Ha!
    Anyways, there are still some joys. Last night I had to get a letter to the post office for early morning pick up. It was around l’heure bleue so I jumped into my Ferrari 308,( which I wear, as opposed to sitting in! ) put on some Miles Davis and headed for the post office through the woods. No traffic ( very small road ) great music from the exhaust mixed in with Miles Davis and beautiful light. It doesn’t get any better than that!

    • That sounds fantastic – and often I’ve been electing to do the personally indulgent activities rather than the creative ones just because who knows how much longer we can do them?

  3. Jim Allred says:

    Hi Ming, Time of year again to wish you a Happy Birthday! Your site is a constant source of knowledge and entertainment. And, as one Motorhead to another, I suggest you give your current sports car some serious exercise today–I know you will feel better for it. Cheers! Jim

    • Thanks Jim! Would love to but all of the good driving routes have been closed off by roadblocks, so I’m going to settle for sending my daughter to school instead…

  4. Lothar Adler says:

    Since a while I realise that you seem to use the Nikon Z7 and 24-70 lens for almost “everything” and I often ask myself, why not just M4/3, let’s say Olympus (even a PEN) which you used for quite a while? Most of your published pictures here could have been taken with M4/3 without any drawback,- but lighter, less data to process and store, more casual, less risk of beeing stolen on the road and not so pricey. There’s nothing wrong with the Z7 stuff, but isn’t it an overkill?
    I own FF and M4/3 and almost always grab the M4/3, which surprises even me,- especially because I’m coming from 6×7 cm film which I used for decades.

    • M4/3 doesn’t pack any smaller, and I use the Z7 for my professional work. On top of that, the Z7 has a better stabilizer than the PEN F (comparable to the E-M1 II), a lot more dynamic range (which does show even in web JPEGs) and lower noise than M4/3, plus better camera JPEGs – after tweaking the built in curve settings. I realize this is subjective, but I also prefer the ergonomics and UI.

  5. ugo bessi says:

    You also went to the Museo della Scienza e della Tecnica; I hope you treated yourself to the submarine and the locomotive hall.

  6. In the twentieth century alone, we had WWI, a flu pandemic that killed an estimated 50,000,000 people, a market crash (and major, world-wide depression), WWII, an outrageous terrorist attack, and a global banking meltdown.
    Do you really think this pandemic, unlike all that has gone before in the last hundred years will really change anything?
    Short term, maybe, long term, I doubt it. As humans, we are what we are, and we seem to have an amazing ability to suffer through almost anything, and learn absolutely nothing from it.
    A year or so after the last person is vaccinated, Covid 19 will start to be forgotten, and the status quo will slip back into place.


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