Photoessay: The beginning of the end

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I suppose it depends much on your own personal perspective: it could also be the beginning of your new life, should you be one of those people who bought into the starter (or not so starter) home. But I find something rather sad in this series – which is ironic as we were staying at a neighbouring high-rise that undoubtedly was cleared out of the very same jungle not so many years before. I accept of course that change, progress is necessary, and there’s an ever-increasing number of people for a finite amount of land: yet there’s also a rather strong melancholic feeling that sometimes we are chasing our own tails in the pursuit of an ever-receding and increasingly nebulous goal of happiness, but only in the form that social media deems is correct. That said: exactly then same thing could be said about the very first people to carve a space out of the jungle for themselves, and the same thing again about the wildlife and jungle that came from the ooze: who’s right? The one thing I take away from this, and especially again in a photographic sense: change is constant, and relativity is subjective. MT

This series was shot with a Hasselblad 501CM, CFV-50c, 80 and 150mm lenses and post processed with Photoshop Workflow III.

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Long term review: the Hasselblad X1D

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It’s been a long time coming – over a year since I first used the camera – and I will apologize for two things in advance: both the length of time it’s taken to complete, and the absence of any kind of objectivity since somebody will point out I work for Hasselblad. But I’ll remain a photographer first and foremost, and I have the luxury of a little distance as the X1D as a product predates my tenure, but the harder task to assess what the real impact of the X1D as a new product category has been some time after release. The two main reasons for the delay are because I also have a H6D-100c in the stable, which serves as my primary camera (and whose files are understandably seductive to both photographers and clients – and yes, I probably need to do a mid term on that one, too) – and, at the risk of getting fired – until recently, I haven’t felt like the X1D is fully complete. Let me explain…

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Photoessay: Watercourse

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Being an island, water is of course unavoidable pretty much everywhere you go in Iceland – it shapes the country and often emerges in spectacular form from the least expected of places. Volcanic rock is of course extremely hard and resilient, but eventually the water wins; what I found most mind-boggling about the landscape wasn’t the scale, spectacle or extremes – but the fact that it will continue to change dramatically. What we see is but an instantaneous snapshot of a work in progress that will only get more spectacular with time, assuming a) we as the human race are still around to see it, and b) we haven’t somehow messed it up ourselves. I do realise the irony in that thought – and I’m sure many people will point out that I’m directly contributing to b) by merely visiting. Yet without more of us going and exploring to know what ought to be preserved, we can’t preserve it – or more importantly, give the landscape enough visibility in the wider social context so that people are aware that it needs to be preserved. Curiously, quantum mechanics is correct again even at this scale: we influence the outcome by measuring (recording) it…MT

Shot with the Hasselblad X1D Field Kit and processed with PS Workflow III.

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Photoessay: Icelandic seascapes

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Today’s series of images are some of the ones that stuck from my trip to Iceland a few months back – specifically, the seascapes. I was only there for a week, so seasonal weather variations were minimal. Nevertheless, we did get some drama in the skies (though no truly bad storms, thankfully). That said, I’m still one of those people who believes there’s no such thing as light that’s impossible to work with; better/worse, yes, but even the crummiest weather conditions can yield something visually interesting. Oddly, I have to admit that one of the scenes that spoke the most to me was the stones on the beach: constantly moist from spray and waves, they glistened, jewel-like. At a macro level, they look pretty perfect; at the micro level, despite being polished for years by the waves – none of them are quite. The closer you look, the harder it is to find perfection. I’m sure there’s probably a photographic moral in there somewhere. MT

Shot with the Hasselblad X1D Field Kit and processed with PS Workflow III.

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Major firmware update (1.20) for X1D and H6D

Given the large number of Hasselblad users here, I thought a general public service update would be appreciated. There is a new firmware 1.20 for both the H6D-100c and X1D-50c that adds a lot of requested features in addition to operational improvements, with the major highlights being:

  1. Contrast detect autofocus lenses for certain H lenses on the X1D and XH adaptor. Not all lenses are compatible as some have old control chips, or are in the process of being coded for. Note that lenses will also require an update.
  2. Viewfinder-based operation for the X1D, allowing for zooming, scrolling, playback etc. without using the rear LCD
  3. Selectable aspect ratios (yes, including XPAN). Note that these are only recognised when Phocus is used to open the image, and the whole sensor area is still recorded. Even if you use other postprocesisng software, it’s still useful as a compositional guide since the crop area is always centred and can be easily replicated afterwards.

A full list of changes is here for the X1D and here for the H6D.

Lastly – we’ll be putting out an XPan – X adaptor soon, along with a V-X adaptor a little later. The new firmware may be downloaded here for the X1D and here for the H6D (both versions). Enjoy! MT

Photoessay: An hour at the Blue Mosque

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Disclaimer: I spent a cumulative hour in total shooting it, hence the different times of day. It’s one of those buildings that – much like Hagia Sophia – dominates and encroaches into every frame and vista in the Sultanahmet district. You can’t avoid it, but like all large buildings – there’s a curious effect of perspective that occurs as you get closer; the upper tiers appear to recede (probably because the upper tiers are stepped in pyramid form to better transfer the roof’s weight through the half domes). Construction started in 1609 and reflects the predominant architectural styles of the time: nested domes and half domes to create a largely free-standing internal volume, but still a rather stocky rectangular/square base profile. I’ve always thought of this ‘hemisphere on a square’ type of architecture of being a very distinctive characteristic of medieval Turkey. Unusually, the mosque has six minarets instead of the usual four – folklore puts this down to the architect mishearing the Sultan’s request for gold minarets. Internally, a rather low chandelier provides illumination but diminishes the perception of lofting space because of the weight of the ironwork; the very warm incandescent lights largely negate the effect of the blue tiles cladding the entire internal space – you have to look hard to see them, and the impression is a ceramic rather than blue one. As with most of these (relatively) ancient buildings – I’m left amazed that something with such delicacy and intricacy could have been constructed that long ago, whilst my five year old apartment has a habit of springing random leaks. I’m left humbled and wondering if it’s cost, care/pride in work, or something else. MT

This series was shot in Istanbul with a Hasselblad H6D-100c, 50, 100 and 150mm lenses, and post processed with Photoshop and LR Workflow III (and the Weekly Workflow). Get more out of your voyages with T1: Travel Photography.

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Announcing the Hasselblad Online Store

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Today, the Hasselblad Online Store goes live for the USA, UK, Germany, France and China, with a 5% discount on the X1D, 45 and 90mm lenses for the first week. This initiative is something we’ve been working on for some time now – it isn’t as easy as you might think to have multiple distribution and warehousing points, logistics, invoicing etc. across multiple territories, but now that things have started we plan to roll out to more countries in the near future. Why? The aim is simply to allow more photographers access to the cameras – something in conjunction with the rental program. A Hasselblad isn’t exactly mainstream, and even within our largest markets there aren’t that many dealers, which in turn limits purchasing options somewhat. We want to remove these barriers and increase accessibility and consistency of customer experience in the long run.

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Photoessay: Eastern melancholy, part I

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Every image is a reflection of the photographer’s state of mind at the time of capture; we see and interpret the world through a lens of personal bias. We either notice things that are extremely in sync with us – or extremely opposite. It is difficult to say whether the collective feeling exists or we are simply applying tunnel vision to only notice what we want to see. Going back to curate through one’s archives tends to yield very telling glimpses into your psyche at the time, and something much easier to see objectively in hindsight. These images were shot more than six months ago, but reviewing the entire set yields an almost manic split between the bright, cheerful and happy, and the downright depressing. I honestly don’t remember what I was feeling at the time – probably not strongly positive or negative – but mainly that the environment was so different that it was rather difficult to ‘be a mirror’ and let the images come rather than looking for them. What’ll be interesting is the counterpoint part II post… MT

This series was shot in Istanbul with a Hasselblad H6D-100c, 50, 100 and 150mm lenses, and post processed with The Monochrome Masterclass Workflow. Get more out of your voyages with T1: Travel Photography.

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Video: Dispatches from land’s end, and FW 1.19

 

I recently got a chance to shoot for a week in Iceland with the Hasselblad X1D Field Kit. I was a bit torn in not bringing the H6D-100c, but the uncertain weather, walking distances etc. landed up tipping things in favour over the small weather-sealed box, and I’m quite glad they did – conditions weren’t exactly pleasant, but the gear survived just fine. If you look closely you may also spot one of my favourite lenses, adapted…Interestingly, the e-shutter behaviour (0.3s rolling sensor readout time) is such that you get a free motion blur effect even at high shutter speeds, negating the need for neutral density filters on things like waterfalls; you’ll see this as I post the stills in due course. There will also be a full set of stills with raw files (probably the first time ever for me) available as image samples via the Hasselblad website.

In the meantime, enjoy the video – and be sure to watch it full screen at full resolution; we shot it in 4K… MT

Lastly: there’s also new firmware (v1.19) available for the H6D and X1D today; you can download that here. For the H6D, it adds CF adaptor support, folder management, more custom button options and a few other tweaks. For the X1D, it’s a pretty major update including using the rear screen as an AF point selection touchpad while using the EVF; extensive button customisation options; EVF-only LV, and a ‘bokeh fix’. The latter allows the lens aperture to open beyond the physical stop of the lens, which means that circular opening is the only limit allowing smooth circles at maximum aperture. This works on all lenses and also gains a (tiny) bit of speed. 🙂

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More info on Hasselblad cameras and lenses can be found here.

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

Photoessay: Evening in Manchester

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For reasons I can’t explain, the weather on this particular evening kept making me expect Sherlock Holmes (or his modern equivalent) to pop out from behind a corner, especially as the sun set. Not a bit of fog in sight, and I wasn’t in London, but perhaps it was the combination of the architecture and a slight drizzle. Unfortunately, the only afternoon/evening I had free to shoot wasn’t exactly the best for light, but we learn to make do (and curate ruthlessly, knowing that the locals will always be playing with a light advantage). This was the first time in some time I was travelling light – just one X1D and a couple of lenses. I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t have my photography brain switched on since that wasn’t the point of this trip, but this is the specific reason I’m posting this set: almost everything you see here in photoessay form is the curated result of a conscious effort at taking pictures; very rarely do I not do this. However, I recognise that this is probably closer to the way most readers’ photographic opportunities arise – a spare hour here and there – and I thought it might be useful to see what can be done even with limited time. MT

These images were shot in Manchester with a Hasselblad X1D-50c and 90mm, and post processed with PS Workflow III and the Weekly Workflow. See more on your journeys with T1: Travel Photography and the How to See series.

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