Ming Thein

How to be a better photographer | Ming Thein

Question, statement or suggestion and directive? Or perhaps all of the above? I believe very few people are truly 100% happy with their work. I know for a fact I’m not, and most people at the top of their game never are: that’s a big part of why they are where they are. The gulf is one of education: when you start out, you might not know what’s wrong – but you know something is missing. When you’ve got experience, you’re searching for that fifth element of serendipity to bring the magic. But what can we actually tangibly do to keep pushing the game along? I’ve come up with ten things both from the world of photography and beyond, some of which I put into practice now, and some of which I’d like to. Read on if you dare……

Source: How to be a better photographer – Ming Thein | Photographer

On vision and postprocessing | Ming Thein

Though the mainstream population has now been firmly in the digital era of photography for more than a decade, I’m sure we can all remember a recent time when we were asked ‘so how much photoshop did you do?’ when presenting an image. The misconception that a good image must have some degree of implicit trickery is problematic; to the public, ‘Photoshop’ has become synonymous with ‘digital illustration’, ‘compositing’, or worse, ‘deliberate misrepresentation’. As much as we do our best to explain that Photoshop is really no different to the darkroom and chemical processes of the film days, we are at best regarded with some skepticism. But it does beg the question: why not use all the tools at one’s disposal, and what’s wrong with it if we do? I like to use the cooking analogy: the scene is like a supermarket; composition is like selecting and preparing your ingredients; actual cooking is capture, and Photoshop is no more than control over the final presentation – plating, if you will…….

Source: On vision and postprocessing | Ming Thein

Photoessay: domestic minimalism | Ming Thein

I’m going to start by making two seemingly unrelated statements. 1. It is difficult, if not impossible, to turn ‘off’ your photographic eye once it has been turned on. 2. You will never get a better shot than a local. How are they related? Firstly, if you stay in a place long enough, you get to see it under all kinds of lighting conditions; this can make a huge difference to the presentation of the subject. The chance of your visit intersecting with the optimal (or most interesting) light is slim; a skilled photographer can close the gap somewhat through compositional ability, but you can’t add shadows afterwards. Secondly, we spend more time than anybody else in our own usual domestic circles of orbit – home, work, car, commute etc. It is easy to become immune to this and walk past a potentially interesting scene because we dismiss it offhand as ‘seen it before’. Not walking past and being compelled to stop and take a closer look is what differentiates the serious photographer from the casual one……..

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Fujinon XF Lenses

Do you love my work and want to support me? If you’re planning on buying camera gear, you can check out above-noted links. Prices remain the same for you, but a small percentage of your purchase value is valued back to me. Thank you!


 

Close, but no cigar: how to design mirrorless right | Ming Thein

And this is barely half of the mirrorless cameras I’ve used and reviewed on this site in the last couple of years. I still have not found a complete replacement for the DSLR, and I suspect there are many other photographers in the same situation. It isn’t for want of trying or stubbornness; it’s because the product simply does not exist. All of these problem beg the question: just how difficult is it to get it right? Evidently very much so, because not one of the cameras above is free from at least one massive glaring flaw – even ignoring system completeness – that forces you to look elsewhere for a complete solution. It is a shame since if these models had been seeded to photographers and that advice actually listened to, a lot of these things could have been avoided by small firmware fixes…….

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Fujinon XF Lenses

Do you love my work and want to support me? If you’re planning on buying camera gear, you can check out above-noted links. Prices remain the same for you, but a small percentage of your purchase value is valued back to me. Thank you!


 

A concise city guide for photographers | Ming Thein

Updated from the 2012 version: my concise city guide for photographers. I’ve added many cities to the list since the first edition, and things have of course changed. This guide is a shortlist of places worth visiting, places to be avoided, and places if you like a challenge… It’s organized by city, in alphabetical order. Name links lead you to any other posts tagged from that location – usually photoessays – to help you get a better idea of what to expect. Certain destinations also have a vicarious travel/photographic guide in the form of a How To See episode – links for those are included, too……..

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Fujinon XF Lenses

Do you love my work and want to support me? If you’re planning on buying camera gear, you can check out above-noted links. Prices remain the same for you, but a small percentage of your purchase value is valued back to me. Thank you!


 

Understanding AF and MF: focusing aids tested | Ming Thein

Right after the question of ‘what X should I buy?’ comes ‘how do you manually focus your lenses?’ in popularity. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to dismiss everything under the sufficiency banner; contrary to the trends in image quality, we’ve gone the opposite direction away from sufficiency. There used to be a time when viewfinders were actually very good for acquiring focus manually; there was no choice because there was simply no other way to focus, either. That required a few things: firstly, a focusing screen with adequate coarseness (sometimes also referred to as ‘snap’); the same distance between flange and focusing screen and flange and imaging plane; adequate magnification, and fast lenses – to compensate for the coarseness of the focusing screen making it somewhat dark. Looking through the viewfinder of an F2 or a Hasselblad is a revelation compared to the drinking straws of modern finders. It seems we barely have the latter these days. So what can we do? ……

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Fuji X-T1 Graphite Silver

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Premiere and review: The 2015 Leica Q (Typ 116) | Ming Thein

It is refreshing to be surprised, for a change – and refreshing to have something that comes somewhat unexpectedly but scratches an itch that you didn’t really know existed. I have owned and reviewed many Leicas in the past, from Ms, to the S system, to the T, X/1/2/113/Vario, to various ahem…rebodies. All have excited me in some way or other, but also left me with the feeling ‘if only’. If only the M had a built in EVF…if only the S had more pixels…if only the T was a bit smoother operationally…if only the Xs had viewfinders (and were 28mm). I was disappointed I couldn’t get a M246 Monochrom to test, especially against the D810. Instead, I was offered the Q. Images in this review were all shot with a final production Q Typ 116 running firmware 1.0. I wil be uploading additional images as time goes along with to this set on Flickr. As you can probably tell from the sample images, during the limited time I’ve had to shot with the camera, the weather/light quality has best been described as ‘hmmm, painterly’. And a big thank you must be given to the folks at Leica Malaysia for the loan camera. Images in this review were processed with Photoshop Workflow II…….

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Leica Q

Do you love my work and want to support me? If you’re planning on buying camera gear, you can check out above-noted links. Prices remain the same for you, but a small percentage of your purchase value is valued back to me. Thank you!


 

The abstraction of an idea | Ming Thein

In a previous post, I tackled the general concept of an abstract photograph. I think it can be refined down something of the following: an image which is balanced equally across the entire frame such at that no one area attracts your attention more than any other area; the eye wanders, takes in the details, and never really lingers. By this definition, there is no subject since no one area or element of the photograph stands out more than any other; however, you could probably also argue that the entire frame is really the subject. Semantics is a funny thing, though, and this isn’t quite the definition of the term: we must think in terms of essences and summaries instead. An ‘abstract’ of a paper or article is really the core idea distilled down to the simplest possible terms; the objective elevator pitch rather than the marketing tagline. Today’s article tackles the visual equivalent of that: how do we take an idea and translate that into something visual? …..

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Fujifilm X-T10

Do you love my work and want to support me? If you’re planning on buying camera gear, you can check out above-noted links. Prices remain the same for you, but a small percentage of your purchase value is valued back to me. Thank you!


 

Differences between eye and camera: practical implications | Ming Thein

Many photographs do not work. Subsequently, we find out they do not work because there is a difference between what you saw and what your audience sees in the image. Sometimes this comes down to lack of skill in translating an idea, but often it’s more subtle than that: the camera doesn’t see what we see, and we need to be both highly aware of that and how to compensate for it. Yesterday’s photoessay is a good example: it’s no big deal to make a monochrome image, but our eyes only perceive a lack of color under very exceptional circumstances. Yet it’s these differences that make some images stand out, and others not really ‘work’. There are a few important properties of the eye/brain combination to note: firstly, we have an incredibly wide dynamic range, but it isn’t linear. Highlights seldom clip to white or oversaturate, though blacks go black fairly quickly. Also, our vision switches to luminance-sensitive rods at lower brightness levels, meaning that the darker it gets, the more desaturated and flat things appear. A camera mostly maintains linear tonal response across the entire tonal range, and thus the final output will look different to both what we see and our idea of how a scene of that given brightness should look…….

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Fujinon XF Lenses

Do you love my work and want to support me? If you’re planning on buying camera gear, you can check out above-noted links. Prices remain the same for you, but a small percentage of your purchase value is valued back to me. Thank you!


 

It’s all about light: making mood and strong images in monochrome |
Ming Thein

A couple of days ago, we looked at the inexact science of color and emotion: I don’t think anybody is going to argue that the mood and feeling of an image is influenced heavily by the dominant color palette, both in terms of the color of incident/reflected light and the color of the subject elements themselves. But how does this translate to black and white images? Obviously, it’s very possible to do since not every monochrome image feels the same. Even within the same sort of general lighting – say low key – it’s possible to produce variations in mood. How? As usual, the answer to this question goes back to light. Specifically, quality of light: diffusion, direction, primary and secondary sources, fill or reflection from surrounding objects, and the texture of your primary subjects themselves: what are they reflecting or absorbing? As you can see, there’s a huge amount of possibility here for variation – and control. The two main things to consider are direction and diffusion. A backlit image will feel very different to a side lit or front lit one; or worse, one lit from direction along the same axis as the camera (think direct flash)……..

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