Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Review and a Lesson, Perhaps

Here we have some work from Ming Thein, and I gotta say, he's got a wonderfully clearly articulated idea, which he is pursuing. Huzzah. I don't kid myself that he's gleaning ideas from my little blog, but to my eye he's growing, and he's getting these ideas from someplace. They're out there all over, I don't presume to know his sources. Anyways, owards. He's got a clear idea, a concept. And he has some notions for how to execute it. I quite like the anthropomorphized cockpits with the clouds-as-thought-bubbles.

Where he's still struggling is worth thinking about. Basically, he can't stop shooting like Ming. He seems to be going for a dreamlike, memoryscape sort of deal, but his approach to the technique of shooting is roughly the worst possible for this goal. Dreams and memories are fragmentary, and he's got the isolations down, so, good work there. Dreams and memories are also disjointed, fuzzy, surrealist. They are not razor sharp studies in form, they are if anything the opposite. Furthermore, we have a bunch of tropes ready-made for this: heavy vignettes, dark frames, radically dodge up the point of interest while burying all else in murk. Motion blur, soft focus. There's a whole ready-made vocabulary from film and art to indicate a dream state, a state of memory.

If these were mine, I'd be black and white, tilted horizons, soft focus, vignettes, radical burning and dodging and collage. I'd shoot or appropriate what is to be remembered, what is to be dreamed and layer it in translucent. Or at any rate, those are the things I'd try.

One of the nice things about indicating a dream state is that it's virtually impossible to go too far.

Ming seems to be trying to make his personal toolbox of techniques work, and is trying to solve all the problems with pure composition, with placement of elements in the frame.

So what can we take away from this?

Your technique needs to match your concept. If you can't bear to shoot in a suitable technique, dump the concept, because it's just not going to work. If you love the concept, then learn and deploy appropriate technique.


  1. For Ming, a photo montage combining his earlier dreamscape clouds with the more recent airplane abstractions. But I'd be very hesitant in entering this dream concept since its ripe for over-used cliches as with the Pictorialists.

  2. I dream in 4K, so it works for me.

  3. OMG...I read your blog entry, and only afterwards clicked on the link to Ming's assorted regurgitation of snapshots of old aircraft. Wow...utter rubbish, with nice, thick black borders. Just. Utter. Crap. Let's hope he shot those with an Otus lens.

  4. Nice analysis, however, sometimes dreams are razor sharp lucid.