Photoessay: Florentine nights

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Even in the off season (and what now seems like another lifetime ago) – Florence felt like it could easily challenge New York for the title of ‘city that never sleeps’. Thanks to jet lag, we’d go out for a late bite or an early walk and still find crowds; you had to go quite far off the regular thoroughfares and find small residential alleyways before approaching anything deserted. And even then, somebody would come along soon enough. Being a pedestrian scale city following a layout from the time before cars, it’s hard to imagine the city without people – just like Venice. I for one never thought I’d say this, but sometimes, you actually miss the crowds. MT

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

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Photoessay: Wrinkles (or, window seat VII)

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The scale of terrestrial features from the air never fails to remind us that no matter what we do, humankind is nothing more than a minor surface blemish on the skin of the earth – we might change it, but on the scale of geological time nature always wins and carries on without us. I suppose in that vein this series of images are some very macro closeups of pores, wrinkles, hairs, cuticles and the like – along with one rather isolated and dodgy looking facility next to a rocky outcrop in Iran… MT

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

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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: Design objects

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At the Trienniale in Milan, there is a collection of everyday use design objects from the 20th century that represent perhaps the best and worst of their eras: things that were wildly over designed and over made and overoptimistic for what they would be used for; elaborate celebrations of new technology (like digital calculators) that clearly took a lot of effort and would eventually prove to be quite transient. There are objects that appear to have transcended time because they are still sold and used today; undoubtedly in use because of both form and function, and a testament to how good the original design was. Both sides are very interesting: not just as objects, but as social commentary of the era and what people thought the future might be like. Some were uncannily accurate and foresightful, and some perhaps didn’t even consider the actual use cases or human ergonomics…but all were at least interesting in form and color. MT

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

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Photoessay: Driver’s seat

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As a person who can spend hours shooting a single interesting car – having an entire museum full of dozens (possibly over a hundred, I didn’t count) of them made me both more excited than the proverbial kid in a candy store, but also highly anxious about potentially missing something or not really doing a particular line or detail justice. There was just so much to take in – nobody does car design quite like the Italians, and outside of Ferrari there’s probably no better representation of the diversity of vintage to modern style than Alfa Romeo. Clearly, something has been lost in the modern production process – it is understandably impossible to beat aluminium panels by hand over formwork at an industrial scale – but whatever automated process has replaced this, the lines of modern cars just can’t seem to replicate the understand elegance that continued up to about the late 60s. The 8C came very close, but clearly had compromises engineered in for safety, limitations of metal pressing etc. Don’t get me wrong, there are huge advantages to the modern production methods – such as symmetry (most of these cars were clearly NOT symmetric left to right, visible when standing at the front or rear centrelines) and interchangeability of parts – but there really was something special about the metal on show here. I initially went as a petrolhead and spent most of my time looking at the lines and proportions as a designer; to figure out exactly what it was in the ratios, angles and curves that make an object visually appealing – and moreover, if I could somehow apply that to watch design. For sure, it’s a much smaller object with much less external detailing and complex curves are significantly more difficult to model in CAD than regular shapes, but I’m pretty sure there’s something fermenting at a subconscious level. Time will tell…MT

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

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Photoessay: Navigli

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The Navigli is a series of canals around Milan originally dug and used to transport marble for the Duomo; it’s now a bohemian area full of restaurants, bars, and boutiques that only seem to open at 6pm. Sheltered from any actual tidal effects and even most of the ambient wind by buildings and banks, the canal’s waters have an interestingly slow, inky mirror quality to them.  I went relatively early to try and balance the ambient sunset (overcast) with the lights of the buildings, but landed up making a critical miscalculation as it turns out nobody eats til much later, and consequently it’s either light or people/activity (and of course food) – but not both. MT

This series was shot with a Nikon Z7, 85/1.8 S and my custom SOOC JPEG profiles.

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Photoessay: Blue gulf

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Flying in and out of Doha is pretty spectacular – not just because of the flight path around Doha itself, but the route taken up the Arab Gulf thanks to Qatar’s…’issues’ with its neighbours. The  intense blue and cyan colors of the sea contrast spectacularly with the desert sand; made even more intense by sunshine unblocked by clouds. The amount of terraforming and reclamation that’s happened in the whole area is an impressive testament to the money flowing out of the ground – and modern engineering. Oddly enough, it reminded me of the set I shot over the Sunset Coast of Western Australia. I always try to fly this route simply because the view is spectacular and occupies at least an hour of the flight; fortunately this time I lucked out with a plane with windows that were both new/clean and didn’t have that annoying dimmable LED shade that looks clear, but actually is completely impossible to shoot through. 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: Patchwork abstract

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Today’s set was a tricky one to curate, and honestly tested the limits of my archival system. I’ve always been attracted to textural groupings like the ones you see here; the problem is they seem to come so rarely and are visually distinct enough that I never shoot enough of them within a single period to make up a coherent set. Then, you either land up losing them or not knowing where to file them because they’re so different from everything else, and by the time you’ve found the next image in the sequence – it’s been so long the way you see might have actually changed. Then you have to go back and curate again, looking for the order and evolution of texture and color, and being careful not to cast the net so wide as to lose the original intention. The idea of design and visual evolution as a texture feels…delicate, almost like the pastel tones in some of the elements; too much saturation/ reinforcement and the intent is lost. yet with others, the saturation is required for punch, but just shy of full to still be able to describe nuance. It is control, tension and pure punch all at the same time. MT

This series was shot with a variety of hardware over a period of time, and mostly processed with Workflow III; some images SOOC.

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