Shutter therapy in Phnom Penh

Life has been incredibly hectic lately, so when my friend Amir randomly asked if I was down for a short holiday to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, I immediately jumped at it. It was not planned as a photography trip and we were there simply to catch up with old friends and drink as much cheap beer as we could. However, it’s inevitable that I squeeze time for shutter therapy, especially in a city I haven’t been to before.

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Photoessay: Eastern melancholy, part II

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Continued from part I

Much further east, but still considered ‘eastern’ relative to other parts of the world – I shot these in Tokyo a month ago (at the time of writing) and very much remembered how I felt: the usual excitement of being in Tokyo, the anticipation of a reset in culture and scenery, and some slight dread for my wallet thanks to the camera havens of Shinjuku. Aside from that, certainly not what I seem to have captured: a sort of ‘quiet resignation to the task at hand no matter how bad or what it is’ – rather than the same sort of slightly uncertain edginess in Istanbul. Cultural? Perhaps. Or perhaps somebody in the audience is going to tell me there are things I have deeply repressed…MT

This series was shot in Tokyo with a Panasonic GX85, various M4/3 lenses, and post processed with The Monochrome Masterclass Workflow. Get more out of your voyages with T1: Travel Photography.

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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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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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Photoessay: travels in hard light II

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Trying the sun on for size

Monochrome, today. The variation of weather in Istanbul can be spectacular; one moment you have brilliant sunshine, and barely 30min later: hail. I suppose such are the joys of a maritime climate. Regardless of weather, Istanbul seems to be one of those places that has realities of so many different eras that it’s almost timeless; the modern overlaps with the ancient in the sort of organic way that can only happen over centuries – millennia, even – of continuity. I was there at the time of the constitutional referendum; there were fears that it might get ugly, but the reality is life would continue as normal – daily ups and downs being relatively minor blips in the grand scheme of things – short period transience and a sort of lack of definition for individuals, and a much slower erosion for the surrounding environment. What holds it together? The framework is left in the shadows, and only when you look closer (at these images, too) is it clear that things are not always as they seem.

This series was shot with a Hasselblad H6D-100c and 100mm. Post processing was completed using the techniques in the weekly workflow and Monochrome Masterclass.

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Photoessay: travels in hard light I

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Today’s images are a mix of subjects from around the world that have benefitted from one thing in common: the kind of strongly directional light that makes shadows so solid they seem real. For want of a better term, I’ve always had this feeling of ‘something more’ when encountering this kind of scene: perhaps it’s the mystery of what isn’t revealed; perhaps it’s the transient objects implied by the shadows – and their absence. It takes light at the right angle relative to the subject (some of these were shot early or late in the day, others near noon) and a particularly clear sky for the light to be intense enough to produce that hard black edge. The world somehow seems just that little bit more vivid – whichever city we may be talking about (in this case, Tokyo, Gothenburg, Doha and Lucerne). MT

This series was shot with a Canon 100D and 55-250STM, an X1D-50c and 90mm, and a H6D-100c and 100mm. Post processing was completed using the techniques in the weekly workflow and PS Workflow III.

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Photoessay: Prague monochromes, part III

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On this visit to Prague, I was struck by the feeling that a lot of the people I observed were looking for something: it wasn’t so much a definite journey or objective or quest, but just a general sense that something was missing. Perhaps it was the tour groups that outnumbered the locals, or perhaps it was the subtle shift in the proportions of businesses: set up for and transacting mainly with locals vs. visitors. Don’t get me wrong; I realise that I too am a visitor, but there’s something about the mass hoards that gets my goat. Maybe it’s because they wonder around bovine and gawking and oblivious to consideration of anybody else, or maybe it’s because once you have too many of them – the whole feel of the place changes, and then it no longer becomes the place that motivated you to visit and experience it. I don’t think this is specific to Prague in any way, though I’d always felt the Czechs managed to hold on a little bit longer than some other places. In an odd way, once the balance flips in favour of tourists vs locals, the place feels the same as any other city that caters for tourists – other than the setting. In effect, a very large theme park. What I saw, and tried to capture, was transition. Maybe this is the new normal, everywhere…MT

This series was shot with a Hasselblad H5D-50C, and H6D-50c, various lenses and post processed with The Monochrome Masterclass workflow.

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Photoessay: Scattered

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I think of this set of images is a reflection of one’s rather scattered – but oddly consistent – state of mind when you see and grab an image on the way to doing something else. Being a full time photographer, I’m used to focusing 100% of my energy on shooting alone – to the exclusion of everything else. Since going pro in 2012, this is actually the first time in years I’ve actually been capturing a good proportion of my off duty images when photography wasn’t the primary objective of my day or trip. You can’t really turn your photographic eye off, but it feels as though you’re a lot more scattered and rushing to get the shot – even though the total number of photograph opportunities is of course much lower. Conversely, being in the zone really distorts your perception of time, often in both directions – moments stretch out but whole events and sequences land up passing in the blink of an eye. In essence, that’s what I feel like I’m left with here after curation: scattered glimpses of lives that are moving in different frames of reference to your own, momentarily intersecting for just long enough for you to know that you’re not going the same way. MT

Shot with a Hasselblad H6D-100c, 100mm and X1D-50c and 90mm and post processed with the Monochrome Masterclass workflow.

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Photoessay: living Tokyo vignettes

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The choice of title is a deliberate, non static one: the suggestion of motion in each of these images contributes to the feeling that we are viewing something transient, temporal and busy. Despite the density and size of the population, Tokyo somehow can still manage to feel quiet and isolated and times – I put this down to having something to do with the very ordered nature of society and the existence of very formal structures/expectations that mean nobody is in Ginza before about 11am since nothing is open, or Maronouchi is rather dead after 9pm and on weekends as everybody has gone home. It’s possible to make images that make the place feel quite cold and inhuman even though most of the time, this couldn’t be further form the truth. This set looks for a little chaos and humanity. You’ll probably also notice it’s quite cinematic, despite being mostly shot with relatively slow lenses. MT

This series was shot with a Canon 100D, 24STM and 55-250STM lenses, an X1D-50c and 90mm, and a H6D-100c and 100mm. Post processing was completed using the techniques in the weekly workflow and PS Workflow III. Travel to Tokyo vicariously with How To See Ep.2: Tokyo, learn to be stealthy with S1: Street Photography and see how to capture the essence of a location with T1: Travel Photography.

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Street photography with the Olympus E-M10 Mark III

Traditionally, I always bring a new camera to the streets to shoot for review. For the recently launched Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III (full review here), I decided to shoot a different variety of sample shots which included sports, outdoor portrait and landscape. I am all game when it comes to doing something different to keep my reviews fresh. Still, since I had the E-M10 Mark III with me for a few more days, I had to satisfy the itch to have my shutter therapy on the streets. [Read more…]