Photoessay: Slanted II

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Assorted scales, assorted perspectives, assorted structures, assorted purposes, assorted locations; the one idea to which all of these images were curated is a sense of tension against regularity and order created by light. The tension is transient and exists for only as long as the shadows stay in place; I admit I’ve become addicted to the heavy sort of shadows that create start new virtual forms that project in odd planes against the regular three dimensions. I like the way areas are thrown into ambiguity, the way the virtual momentarily outweighs the physical and the entire structure becomes something else. Sometimes they are regular, sometimes they aren’t; all the time, the camera and a photographic presentation has the ability to make them more real than real. If you are there for that moment, then the forms are yours alone – come back tomorrow for something different. MT

Shot with various hardware over the last couple of years, mostly processed with The Monochrome Masterclass workflow.

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Photoessay: Duomo

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It’s hard to believe these were shot not quite six months ago. The world today is a very different place, and some places have been hit harder than others – like Italy. Looking back, I am thankful to have visited in times of vibrance and life, even if it meant crowds, queues, noise and my wife getting pickpocketed. Hang in there, Italy. MT

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

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Photoessay: Enclosed

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It felt appropriate to follow on from the previous post of ornamental architecture with this – a sort of evolution towards function (but ultimately, still with the primary purpose of entertainment-generated revenue). Whilst the Hudson Yards structure leaves the visitor to fill it with their own imagination and selfies, Gardens by The Bay defines the contents for you: nature, sanitised and presented in a consumer-friendly manner, complete with gift shop. In a way, it’s philosophically very similar to Singapore in general: efficient, stylised, modern, clean, but somewhat, well, rigid. Maybe it just feels strange to have trees inside a dome; no matter how well presented. Surely we aren’t at the point where nature is so scarce even in the developing tropics that we need to treat it as ornamental…or perhaps this is the only way some people can be motivated to appreciate nature in the first place at all. Between the weather and the underlying sentiment…I intentionally chose a heavier, darker presentation which I think conveys the mood quite well. MT

This series was shot with a Nikon Z7, 24-70/4 S, 50/1.8 S and my custom SOOC JPEG profiles.

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Photoessay: Vessel

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Hudson Yards’ has a) been photographed to death, usually with an ultra wide and from the inside, b) appears to serve no function other than to allow surrounding buildings to have increased density and have the overall project meet plot ratio restrictions, and c) seems to be created solely for the purpose of Instagram. I didn’t feel like paying the entry fee and surrendering the rights to my images, plus it was raining and miserable (and queues were still long despite this) – so with limited time between meetings, I circumnavigated the structure a few times and made the most of it. It reminded me of nothing so much as an enormous beehive – the warm honey color probably didn’t do it any favours either – but I think the architects made a smart choice by putting the polished copper on the underside and tapering it towards the base so it stays clean; good thing seeing as I have no idea how you’d clean this effectively, either. Perhaps I was a bit harsh with my initial judgement; let’s say it’s a good thing that there are still structures made solely for the sake of art over function. That said, I would love to have been a fly on the wall of the meeting where the initial concept sketches would have been presented… MT

This series was shot with a Nikon Z7, 24-70/4 S, 50/1.8 S and my custom SOOC JPEG profiles.

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Photoessay: Bauhaus nights

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Think of this series as a proof of concept for the previous post – not only do we now have very fine tonal control with few limitations on execution, but smaller form factors are beginning to catch up (good luck trying to identify which were shot with the phone). I started with one image first, and then couldn’t help seeing more and more of these – so I grabbed what I could, and curated them down into what I think of a series of strange sentinels in the night; they feel isolated but with suggestions of internal life. Unrelated, and curiously, it seems few people use curtains or blinds even in private residences (I obviously did not shoot these) – perhaps this is a holdover from the days of socialism…? MT

This series was shot with mostly with a Nikon Z7, 24-70/4 S and 85/1.8 S lenses, using my custom SOOC JPEG picture controls. There are also a couple of images from the iPhone 11 Pro in here, too.

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Photoessay: Geometric color

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Today’s architectural mishmash is a hodgepodge of abstracted geometries and colours from a variety of locations and a variety of styles, scales and palettes; other than poor assortment jokes, the only thing they have in common is a decomposition into pure form. I admit I like the idealism, the abstraction and the inherent optimism of having a structure that appears perfect and un-messed by its occupants, even if this is completely at odds with why it was built. In another life, I was probably a magpie, a collector of shiny things…now I am merely an accumulator of abstract colours and shapes. It harms nobody. It costs nothing. Some others may derive joy from it. That’s not a bad thing, surely. MT

Shot with a variety of hardware over a period of time, some SOOC, some Workflow III.

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Photoessay: Recurring theme

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I was recently re-curating my set of work from Germany in late last year, when I found something I hadn’t previously noticed: this recurring theme of looking upwards (slightly, or a lot) at a building’s edge with a symmetrical midline and a graphically 3D left-right split formed of textures and light. I didn’t intentionally go out of my way to shoot any of these, nor did I have an intentional theme beyond whatever was already sitting in my subconscious – and being eleven out of 200 or so final images, is easily not noticed especially if not sequential – but somehow this compositional layout kept popping up. I have been having the nagging feeling of late that there are only a certain fixed number of compositional layouts for any given angle of view/focal length, and effetely all compositions shot with that can be distilled into one of these categories. I don’t have any concrete way of describing this yet, but I’ll put up a post once I do. As for this particular layout – my guess is there’s something about the converging lines that creates tension and draws your eyes into the centre of the image; the symmetry provides inherent balance which remains calm and aesthetically pleasing. Beyond that, microtextures in the subject itself leave points of interest to hold your attention and reward further viewing. Enjoy! MT

This series was shot with a Nikon Z7, the Z 24-70/4 S and my custom SOOC picture controls.

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Photoessay: A magic hour, part II

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Both this and the previous set were shot within a single very productive hour. Though diverse in style, there is some crossover in style and content (expected given the location). To be honest, this kind of productivity is extremely rare; especially given I am by no means new to photography, the subject, or the location and am not trying to ‘check boxes’. I only shoot what I see or find interesting these days; there’s more than enough of my own work and that of others that being repetitive is rather pointless. That said, when one is shooting ‘in flow’ – you lose track of time and everything but what’s in your viewfinder. You remember pretty much every single image you shot, but that total number invariably lands up more than you expect (my total count was about 750 for that hour, pared down to perhaps 40-50 final selects). Those of you who’ve seen my earlier work will see shades of quadrants, Idea of man, wimmelbild and probably some hints of the previous negative-space-heavy photojournalistic style I used prior to this site. If nothing else, you are the sum total of your path-dependent history… MT

This series was shot with a Nikon Z7, the Z 16-50 DX pancake and my custom SOOC picture controls.

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Photoessay: A magic hour, part I

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A little while back, between meetings and a lull in the protests during elections…I found a magic hour early by the Kowloon side of the harbour. Almost completely absent of people, but with a clear, intense blue sky and strongly directional light that highlighted the geometric, abstract forms of the buildings around the Space Museum, Cultural Centre and Museum of Art. It felt like wandering around a giant child’s building blocks. Compositionally, each became an exercise in pure spatial balance; I didn’t see window or roof or wall so much as shapes of a certain visual weight that needed to be offset by other spatially opposed shapes of equal prominence. I felt them best presented in the midcentury, high-contrast monochrome style that Brasilia was first photographed in; the forms had the same sort of monumental weight tempered by idealist curves. Curiously, though I’d passed this location many times on my countless visits to Hong Kong, this is actually the first time I’d had the opportunity and the light to shoot here. I have to say it exceeded my expectations – and yielded more than just geometry, as you’ll see in part II… MT

This series was shot with a Nikon Z7, the Z 16-50 DX pancake and my custom SOOC picture controls.

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Photoessay: Upwards

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Today’s set is the result of a sore neck in New York – there’s so much verticality so close to you that you’re always craning upwards to see what the light is doing at the peaks. Street level is mostly shady given the angle of the sun and the blockage of surrounding structures, but there’s inevitably a lot of interesting contrast at the tops of the buildings – not to mention such a dense urban wimmelbild of shapes and textures. Perhaps it can get a little repetitive, but I find the homogeneity quite interesting – it’s the same, and yet it isn’t. The challenge lies in giving each frame its own personality – especially when the preference tends to involve shooting at a certain time of day for the right kind of shadows. And no, I didn’t always correct the keystoning – sometimes, that’s a large part of what creates that sensation of towering into the distance. MT

This series was shot with a Nikon Z7, 24-70 Z and my custom JPEG picture controls, and a Fuji XF10 and Workflow III.

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