Photoessay: Window seat III

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Continued from the previous series of Window Seat photoessays…

I’ve attempted to sequence these in some semblance of causal plausibility, but honestly – there’s no way one could do that unless the images were from the same flight (which these weren’t, but they were from the same continuous trip). As always, with these things – sometimes you get lucky, and sometimes you don’t; I had one flight recently that ended my blank streak (seat with no window or awkwardly positioned one; seat with dirty scratched glass but great light; seat with great window but clouds and rain; night flights; etc.) and it seemed that got things flowing again. I’ll say one thing though – repeated experiences with aircraft that have electronic/ LCD-dimming shades have left me with a preference for plain windows; you just can’t shoot through those things because somehow everything lands up as though smeared with vaseline. Oh how I wish for a chance to shoot through one of those 30×20″ Gulfstream windows… 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: California light

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I’m pretty sure I’ve remarked previously on the particular quality of light that places of moderate latitudes by a sea seem to have – the other two that come to mind are Lisbon and Tokyo. I think it’s characterised by a few things: a clear and directionality of shadow (but not quite the same harshness one gets from direct overhead light in the tropics); coloration at either end of the day from the evaporated moisture in the air filtering light from low angles creating the kind of skies people pay a lot of money to emulate with filters; and lastly, a sort of almost overintensity of color. Everything feels saturated and hyper-real, but at the same time not garish. A tricky thing to reproduce digitally, especially in colours which reside almost entirely in one channel – the reds of cars parked in bright sunshine, the intense blue of a late afternoon sky – yet these are the little subliminal visual cues that tell us where we are, and make us long for the sea. 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: inside waves

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Despite the appearances of curation, these images weren’t shot as a sequence or two; they’re the result of probably the lowest yield photographic exercise I’ve ever done. The fifteen images here required nearly 3,500 frames to realise – there were so many physical limitations in play I simply didn’t realise would be an issue when conceptualising the project. Ever since my first time snorkelling, I’ve always wanted to create images like this with views of a wave from underneath and inside. On top of that, close observations of stills of breaking foam really reinforced how much of a genius Hokusai was in his (accurate) representations – but how would they look from underneath, backlit? However, investing in a full underwater housing would be prohibitively expensive and have zero returns afterwards. On top of that, such housings are lens-specific and without trying it out first – I would have no idea what kind of angles of view would work; as it turns out there’s a reason underwater photographers prefer wide angles: there’s less crud between you and the subject, and even the seemingly clear water (as this was) still has a lot of suspended particles that rob contrast within short order. However, the kind of perspectives I was looking for were not really suited to a wide angle, so some careful alignment and positioning would be required. Bigger challenge: this is simply not possible when you are being knocked around by the waves and have no means to maintain either absolute or relative positioning. A lot of the time, I found it easier to shoot almost blind and focus on anchoring myself rather than operating the camera (and this showed in the number of mis-aimed or out of focus images I had). Lastly – this is nitpicking, but feeling the rather shallow and stiff half press position of the RX0 II was nearly impossible underwater (fail, Sony). On the plus side, the camera performed flawlessly otherwise, with no ill effects from the submersion or dynamic pressure, and with the battery lasting surprisingly long in burst mode – easily an hour or thousand frames at a go, with some in reserve (obviously using tethered power or changing batteries out there was not an option). Enjoy! MT

This post was shot with a Sony RX0 Mark II and post processed with Photoshop Workflow III.

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Photoessay: NYC mornings

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Today’s set is a very stream of consciousness series grabbed on the way to another meeting; I had a briefcase and meeting materials in one hand and just a compact in the other, so things were about as fast and loose as it got. I still think the mood is captured rather accurately: a bright, crisp autumn morning with both deep shadows and intense patches of light in places. It was also one of the few times New York felt relatively empty and calm to me; there was a sense of space instead of the usual crowd and hustle. The city was quiet and taking in a few moments to breathe in the sunshine before the rush – dare I say I even felt shades of Tokyo in places. Must have been something in the light. MT

This series was shot with a Fuji XF10 and processed with Photoshop Workflow III.

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Photoessay: Urban graphic

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I didn’t have long in NYC on my last trip, much less free time to shoot (we were there for the watch company) – but the weather turned out to be binary. Either raining, cold and miserable (a set from that will follow soon, too) – or glorious intense sunshine and the kind of impossibly deep blue skies we never seem to get in the tropics because of the angle of the sun and ambient atmospheric moisture. Even the small interstitial spaces en-route to meetings proved photographically rich; probably a combination of the diversity of visuals, the newness of the environment or perhaps just having hard shadows to work with. Either way, I’m not complaining… MT

This series was shot with a Nikon Z7 (with my custom SOOC JPEG picture controls) and a Fuji XF10 (processed with Workflow III).

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Photoessay: NYC cinematics, part II

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Continued from the daytime series

In a way, I actually found it more fluid to shoot the first set, even if the varying color palette here carries a bit more emotional weight. In some ways I also felt this set was a bit more stereotypical ‘New York’, given there’s not much control the photograph has over timing affecting light and mood – daylight is a lot more transient than neon. That said, I’m still quite happy with the individual frames capturing the mood of their particular corner of the city – sometimes a couple of blocks really does feel that different… 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: NYC cinematics, part I

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Whilst of course there should be no reason to limit cinematic-style photography to just low light work with shallow DOF, there is definitely a tendency towards this as it’s much easier to create a controlled atmosphere with very directional light than during daytime. However, the conditions during my trip to New York late last year made for something similar while the sun was up: long shadows and strong sunlight, with intense contrast and pools of both mystery and stark exposure. It’s probably the first time I’ve been motivated to try cityscape cinematics with bright light. Even though I’ve been given similar light in dense urban environments before, I think NYC is unique in the layout of the streets and the way they cut light up into patches – this doesn’t happen with the more organic layouts of say, Tokyo or Lisbon. Admittedly, it wasn’t a photographically-focused trip – being customer events for the watch company – but I still got a couple of hours in. Naturally, this continued after dark… 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: Architecture, digested

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I’ve always found Architectural Digest to be a slightly odd publication title; I realise it’s in the same condensed vein as Reader’s Digest in the sense of being a distilled essence of the things you probably want to know. To me, the word has always carried implications of something chewed up, softened and mushed into waste products. Certainly dimensionally collapsed, or in the process of being. Hence today’s long-period curation around the theme unearths and presents perspective-flattened, distilled architectural details; the kind of images that the PR department hates because they’re ‘too abstract’ and ‘not whole building’ but architects themselves love because the details they fought the client to keep actually get appreciated. I’m with the architects on this one – if they can distill the character of the building into one or two interesting vignettes, it ought to be worth highlight. MT

Shot over a long period of time with a wide variety of hardware; mostly processed with Photoshop Workflow III.

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Photoessay: Quotidian objects, in monochrome

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There is nothing special about any of the subjects in today’s images. This is deliberate. Moreover, one recurring theme – my dining table and chairs – I see every day. On the back of the last post, the challenge comes in noticing something new in the quotidian; to that end, every single one of these subjects I’ve seen at least once, more likely dozens of times – or more. The images were shot at different times, in different moods, with different light, and different hardware; what remains consistent are my stylistic choices. I have many images of these subjects with different presentations; but the dominant style tends to be the one shown in this post: contrasty, monochrome, and graphic – but with a little delicacy in texture. They were curated after the fact to both an overarching concept, and a style – not shot specifically with an idea in mind. Though I can and have worked both to a brief and curated to a brief – I prefer the latter because I feel it gives me more room the explore and find the best presentation for the subject, even if I tend towards a single presentation style anyway. MT

This series was shot with mostly a D3500 and kit lens, SOOC JPEG with some Pen F, RX0M2 and iPhone thrown in for variety.

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Photoessay: Submerged I

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I’m not a diver, much less an underwater photographer. But when the hardware capabilities are present already (as a consequence of other things) – then why not try them out? My daughter was glad to oblige as model, happily jumping in repeatedly and holding poses underwater. Unfortunately things proved more difficult for yours truly as it turns out I couldn’t find the goggles with corrective diopters, making viewing the screen difficult. In the end I landed up composing blind and guessing the FOV; most of the time I was too close, and I a) see why superwides are preferred for underwater work and b) have a new respect for people who can compose when both you and your subject are moving. Next milestone, increase my hit rate…  MT

Shot with a Sony RX0 II and processed with Photoshop Workflow III.

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