One week left to order the MT x FF ultimate daybag…

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One week left to order the ultimate photographers’ daybag – designed by me, handmade in England by Frankie Falcon. The order book closes 31/10, and it won’t be sold again in this configuration (and even possibly not at all). So, this is your final chance – please get your orders in here if you’d like one.ūüôā Thanks! MT

Photoessay: Two buildings and a break

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For some odd reason, I’ve always thought these two buildings* to be amongst the most difficult to photograph in Singapore – partially because they’re such iconic landmarks that there’s almost no angle or light or weather condition that hasn’t already been exploited; you’re almost afraid to take a photograph because there’s a high chance you’ll just be doing something unoriginal. On top of that, the structures themselves are oddly shaped and the perspectives available at ground level are somewhat limited so that they look very similar from a wide range of vantage points. In the end, I landed up going back to basics: what is the essence of the form and feel of the structure? The result was a series of abstracts of each building. I’ve left what appears to be an unconnected ‘conventional’ image to divide between them, for the simple reason that under the skin: the hardware and M&E doesn’t change. MT

*If you aren’t familiar with Singapore architecture, the two buildings are of Art Science Museum and the Parkroyal on Pickering.

This series was shot with a Hasselblad H5D-50c, 35-90mm and 150mm lenses and post processed with The Monochrome Masterclass workflow.

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Psychologist, philosopher, tinker, spy

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Borrowing the title reference from the John le Carre novel and (later) movie Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – I think nicely encapsulates the multitude of hats the modern photographer must be comfortable wearing in order to be a producer of compelling images. I’ve said before that photography is both a dialog between photographer and audience and that the process of photographing is really an exercise in curating and excluding elements of the world according to one’s own personal biases, then sharing the results with an audience such that they might be interpreted in the desired way. The technical process of capture, and the creative one of composition, are no more than enablers to that translation: the capture allows recording and sharing; composition is arrangement with the intention of direction and influence over the audience. The whole photographic process – vision, composition, capture, presentation, viewing – is really simultaneously as much and as little as the sharing of an idea inspired by already extant objects.

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Photoessay: Lisboan chiaroscuro

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Given the clear skies and very strongly directional light we experienced, in conjunction with the interesting shadows projected off oddly shaped roofs and down narrow alleyways‚Ķit would be a shame not to make the most of it to add a little ambiguity into the frame. Conventionally ‘good light’, yes, but who’s complaining? I do realise some of these stretch the definition of chiaroscuro a little – especially the somewhat wimmelbild reflection – but I felt they fitted the overall mood of the subject and this collection of images, so MT

This series was shot mostly with a Hasselblad H5D-50c, 50/100mm lenses and post processed with the Cinematic Workflow from Making Outstanding Images Ep.5.

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Off topic: credibility

I’ve recently been accused by several people of ‘not being objective’ and ‘losing credibility’ since representing a brand, and I’d like to address those critics today. Firstly, I don’t get paid for doing so. I enjoy a somewhat higher level of support and some loan equipment, but I still have to buy a good proportion of my own hardware. Secondly, the whole of photography is subjective in itself – equipment is only fit for purpose or not, there is no ‘better’ or ‘worse’ since no two people shoot the same way or same subjects. Sure, we can do quantitative measurement – but as most people (correctly) point out, there’s more to it than numbers. Thirdly, if the only thing you associate me with is equipment reviews, then I breathe a sigh of relief: you might be missing out on 90% of my site, but the gear-related questions and emails I don’t have to answer leave me time to focus on making pictures and the philosophy of photography. Lastly, the philosophy of photography and image-making and human psychological response has nothing whatsoever to do with hardware beyond its necessity as a tool for achieving a certain expression – you cannot have a compressed perspective with a wide angle, but two 500mm lenses are going to give you the same perspective regardless of pedigree.

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Photoessay: dark matter

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I initially thought about renaming this one something to do with shadows, but then realized that we have an association of vagueness and indefinition to the term shadow. This doesn’t quite fit the nature of these images; I wanted to go for something a bit more solid and dense. Filmic shadows were what came to mind at the time of capture. Despite the apparent contrast level, a high degree of dynamic range was required to be able to carefully control exactly where the inflection point of white to black lay (which in turn affects compositional balance). There’s probably potential for a mini-project here; further exploration is required. Who knew a 10m stretch of garden could be so productive? MT

This series was shot with a Hasselblad 501CM, 4/50 C T*, 4/150 CF T*, CFV-50C digital back and processed with the Monochrome Masterclass workflow.

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Front bokeh

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Technically: out of focus foregrounds. Whilst much emphasis is placed on the way a lens renders out of focus areas – the oft-overused ‘bokeh‘ – it’s almost always used to describe the areas that fall behind the focal plane. I think we can generally agree on a few things – ‘good’ bokeh doesn’t distract from the subject with uneven or sharp luminance transitions, double images, harsh rendering, rings or irregular textures in the ‘highlight balls’, patterns, bright edges, coloured fringing etc.; too much bokeh might be pretty but completely negates any sort of context other than what mood can be inferred by the feel of the light and some bokeh is always preferable to none because it helps with subject isolation. However, few outside cinematographic circles talks much about the way the foregrounds render. For that matter, few outside cinematography actively seek to use out of focus foregrounds as part of the underlying structure of their compositions. I think that’s a shame, and here’s why.

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Photoessay: Lisbon monochromes I

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He who watches the watchers

Few words today, just a series of singles from Lisbon in the style of Idea of Man. It’s too late to put them into the first series because that now has a mature and complete narrative; they don’t really fit the second series because I changed the presentation style – so they stand alone. You might wonder why I still photograph in this style given the first two statements; in this case, partially because I was demonstrating for a couple of students at the Lisbon Masterclass, partially because I felt the aesthetic suited the feeling at some of the starker and heavier locations – Oriente station, for instance. Enjoy! MT

This series was shot with a Hasselblad H5D-50c, various lenses, a Leica Q 116 and post processed with the Monochrome Masterclass workflow.

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Hasselblad X1D on location – ‘Modern Heritage’ mini-movie, and status update


Back in July, I had a chance to use a couple of very early production X1D cameras both to further firmware development, and to produce the travel video and images you see here. Most of my professional work is documentary and with available light, so it made sense to test the camera under this kind of situation; a little trip to the island of Penang was in order. The types of situations I encounter vary from stealthy reportage to long-exposure tripod setups; travel photography offers the same kind of opportunities – a little landscape, a little street, a little blend of both. This video was commissioned by Hasselblad as a sort of behind the scenes look into how a the X1D fits into the mould of versatility. There’s a bit more to today, though: after the jump, downloadable 100% samples, plus a production status update…

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Available to order: The ultimate photographers’ daybag, a collaboration with Frankie Falcon

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I think we all have this problem: there is no such thing as the perfect bag. Unless, of course, you design it yourself. After receiving a lot of positive feedback (and desire) from people who’ve seen it, I’ve also decided it will be made in a limited run. In collaboration with bespoke UK bag maker Frankie Falcon, I’m pleased to offer my first hardware collaboration: The MT x FF Ultimate Photographers’ Daybag. Orders for the first (and limited) batch will run until 31 October 2016. Note: current backlog at 20/10 means orders placed now will ship in the second¬†half of November.

Click on after the jump to order and for the rest of the details…

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