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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Photoessay: Diagonal non-sequitur

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Trying something a little different today: a series of images that are linked thematically by type of light and overall presentation, but have little to nothing to do with each other subject-wise. It is thus a logical non-sequitur but not a visual one; the intention is for the audience to get almost lulled into a sense of rhythmic monotony until you realise the subjects, their sizes/scales and even physical layouts are wildly different. I realise this is completely at odds with any traditional curator logic, but this particular group of images had been sitting in my posting folder for so long challenging me to find a way to use them that I somehow overlooked their core similarities in visual style. MT

This series was shot mostly with a Nikon Z7 with custom SOOC JPEG profiles, or Nikon D3500.

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Photoessay: Dresden cinematic

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In keeping with the seasonal theme, and one of my favourite parts about travelling to Europe during the winter season – the Christmas markets are interesting hives of human activity. People are relaxed and happy; they’re doing interesting things or having interesting interactions and the light gets cinematic fast since ambient is pretty much nonexistent by the time things really get going. It felt like the right time and subject for which to reprise the cinematic style a little, too – and an excuse to see what this new 85/1.8 Z can do (in short: I like it, very, very much). Unfortunately, I didn’t have as much time as I’d have liked – but there’s always next year, and I’d much rather the feeling of potential left to explore than a subject being completely tapped out…

This series was shot with a Nikon Z7, the Z 85/1.8 S and my custom SOOC picture controls.

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Photoessay: PAM, part II

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Continued from part I

The way bright sunshine projects through the space through its various apertures and orifices is the kind of thing that is practically begging for a high contrast monochrome series – in person, the actual interior is much more similar to the first set of images in brightness as the concrete reflects and diffuses a lot of those hard beams. I imagine it’d be a very different space on an overcast day, with none of the drama and detail seen at the time I shot it. The horological side of me couldn’t help but think some of those floors would be great with calibrated scales to allow the light to be used as a sundial of sorts… MT

This set was shot with a Nikon Z7, 24-70 and my custom SOOC JPEG profile pack.

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Photoessay: PAM, part I

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What happens if you have a group of architects design a building entirely for themselves? The PAM (Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia – Malaysian Institute of Architects) building in Kuala Lumpur is precisely that. I got a tour from one of the people involved in its creation, which proved both insightful and the kind of thing you hope never to face yourself as a creative – i.e. when your client  is also an expert in your field, has a vested interest and there are many of them! It’s full of the kinds of features architects love like exposed concrete and structural finishes; open spaces, voids and plenty of natural light and air circulation. Unfortunately, it’s also the kind of thing that tends to get heavily diluted by commercial considerations because it’s financially unviable – the actual usable floor area yield of this building is far below what would be needed to make it a profitable exercise for any developer. Still, I’m glad such proofs of concept exist, if only to showcase some ideas that might make it into more public use. But by far the most impressive thing about the building is the way light plays inside the structure as the sun progresses; though it appears externally solid, it’s internally very porous and light – just not the kind of place for tricophobics, as you’ll see in the second part of the presentation. MT

This set was shot with a Nikon Z7, 24-70 and my custom SOOC JPEG profile pack.

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Photoessay: Neighbourhood

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On the basis of the adage that we tend to avoid or overlook the things closest to us…I undertook a rather narrow challenge: images visible from my building only, without leaving. I realise of late I’m falling into the trap of taking things for granted – you see them without really noticing, because you see them every day. (Creative use of teleconverters notwithstanding.) On one hand, the restriction to familiar subjects would be immensely constraining, but on the other – being able to see the same subjects under a very wide variety of light conditions, plus access to all of your hardware (no “I wish I brought X” syndrome) should balance things out. All in all – an interesting exercise, which I think I’d repeat in future if based in a single place for any length of time… MT

Shot with a variety of hardware, but mostly either a D3500 or Nikon Z7 and my custom JPEG profiles.

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Photoessay: Slanted

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A series of rises and falls today; topology and mountaineering in urban shadow. An energetic, driving baseline as opposed to something more melodic; think EDM over Mozart (not that I listen to either, to be honest). The beat links the frames together across subject and scale, with occasional visual riffs and explorations of a motif but sticking with this same theme. I’ve probably said this somewhere before, but photography (and any visual art) have always been like music to me; a landscape of texture focused one of our senses. Crucially, both have limitations – music is temporal and one-way only; photography has only two dimensions. But both also have the ability to effect a presentation that transcends the limitations of reality by encouraging us to suspend disbelief and just appreciate what’s put in front of us; we can only see what we are shown. MT

This set was mostly shot with a Nikon D3500, 18-55 kit and SOOC JPEG, with a guest appearance from the Z7 and Pen-F.

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