Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

The best new compact cameras 2014

The market is so saturated with cameras it is almost impossible to decide which is right for you. There is almost as deep a pile of review sites giving you their version of what to buy. This article in The Telegraph at least tries to cover the full gamut in camera type and price

The best point-and-shoot cameras on the market, for everything from cheeky selfies to heavy-duty travel photography

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Sony Cyber Shot RX 100 II, available in black, RRP £649.00 

For a camera with so many intricate settings, the Cyber shot RX100 is surprisingly easy to understand. As you scroll between the major modes (Auto, Aperture Priority, Macro and so on), a sentence on the screen will appear to tell you what that program does and when you might use it. There’s also a handy spirit level to show you when you’ve got the camera completely straight.

Once you are in and shooting, there is even a “help” button which brings up practical advice on capturing difficult subjects: dusk, for instance, or the greenest leaves.

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5, available in black, blue, orange or silver, RRP £249.99

It’s sacrilegious to compare anything to a Leica; but it’s also an open secret that Leica’s digital lenses are made by Panasonic. If you dream of owning a digital Leica, complete with famous red-spot logo, then you’ll have to set aside at least £500. But if the quality of the photograph is what matters to you, you can get your Leica lens for less with a Lumix. It’s what quite a few professional photographers carry around with them

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Sony TF1 -available in red, black and blue, RRP £140.00

This relatively cheap camera is slim and light and sits easily in the hand, with rubberised edges to keep your grip secure. I was initially befuddled by the placement of the lens in the top-left hand corner of the camera – which is where I suppose you would expect to find it on a cameraphone. But with a largeish screen, when your finger strays into shot, which it inevitably will, you can see it and readjust accordingly. The zoom button on the top of the camera is ridged, which makes it easy to get hold of; the zoom is internal, not telescopic, which makes it more robust – if you dropped it, there probably wouldn’t be dire consequences.

See the rest of the reviews of these cameras and the others recommended here

BRIGHTON PHOTO BIENNIAL 2014

My previous experience of the Brighton Photo Biennial, the UK’s leading curated photography festival, promoting new thinking around photography through a commissioned programme of events and exhibitions, has always been very positive. Great exhibitions in appropriate spaces, the excellent Fringe exhibitions, accessible talks and workshops. Here is an early heads up from Photography Monthly  4 October – 2 November 2014

This year will mark the sixth occurrence of the Brighton Photo Biennial, with some incredibly curious events having taken our eye…

The BPB is the UK’s largest international photography festival and will take place across various venues in Brighton and Hove from 4 October- 2 November. Unlike other photo events, the BPB has no single curator and instead relies on the collaboration of 45 photographers, artists, collectives and partners.

In an official press release, the BPB describe the festival best: “From collusion and intrusion in paparazzi photography, to the sinking of a boat to create an artificial reef; diverse explorations of national and local photographic archives to questions of custodianship; ambitious public participatory projects, to photographers collaborating with environmentalists, scientists, young people, online communities and each other, the 2014 edition will see a focus on photo-collectives, as well as showcasing the results of practitioners invited to work collaboratively for the first time.”

Here are some things which caught our eye in the program:

• Real Britain 1974: Co-Optic and Documentary Photography will celebrate forty years since the launch of Co-Optic group’s Real Britain postcard launch, comprising of emerging photographers of the time, the likes of Martin Parr and Paul Hill.
• The Mass Observation Archive consists of thousands of anonymous submissions from the general public since 1937, documenting their every day lives with “autobiographical accounts, diaries, photographs and flip books.” For the first time, this will be open to the public in The Mass Education Project.
• Some Like You: Erica Scourti uses the non-human algorithms of ‘similar image’ searches to find and collaborate with work and artists online to explore the possibilities of shared authorship.

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How to Build the Confidence to Photograph People

This article starts in a way that makes it sound like a self help book but then goes on with very sound advice. If you are interested in photographing people on the street then reading this would be most instructive. The main points I agree with are: engage with your subject; know your equipment; practise with people who trust you; shoot with groups.

This is from the pages of Lightstalking, a site I would recommend to you. This article is by

Karlo de Leon is a travel and lifestyle photographer. He has a knack for understanding how and why things work, taking particular interest in lighting, composition, and visual storytelling. Follow him on The 4AM Chronicles where he shares his insights, ideas, and concepts on photography, travel, and life in general.

Portraiture, lifestyle, street, and travel photography – these are some of the genres that feature people as main subject. For some, these are enjoyable activities, being able to interact and communicate with people. Including a human element in photographs can bring a bit more life into their art. For others, it can be a disastrous nightmare, perhaps. The idea of talking with someone they don’t know very well, or being confronted by strangers they’re trying to photograph can be a bit too daunting.….READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

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all images ©Keith Barnes

back to the article here

 

Henri Cartier-Bresson Just Plain Love (Documentary)

Gordon Parks’ 1950s Photo Essay On Civil Rights-Era

From The Huffington Post

Going to church. Playing around the house. Window shopping. These are the types of everyday, seemingly innocuous activities that wound up before the lens of iconic civil rights photographer Gordon Parks. Parks, a self-taught artist, believed in the photographic medium as a weapon of change, capable of awakening people’s hearts and undoing prejudice.

An exhibition of Parks’ rare color photographs, entitled “Gordon Parks: Segregation Story,” will go on view this fall at The High Museum of Art in Atlanta. The photos capture a particularly disturbing moment in American history, captured via the lives of an African American family, the Thorntons, living under Jim Crow segregation in 1950s Alabama.

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The images, originally titled “The Restraints: Open and Hidden,” were first taken for a photo essay for Life Magazine in 1956. The essay chronicles the lesser-seen daily effects of racial discrimination, revealing how prejudice pervades even the most banal and personal of daily occurrences. Parks doesn’t photograph protests, rallies, acts of violence or momentous milestones in civil rights history. No, he prefers the quieter moments in and around the home.

Some photos focus on inequality — a “colored” line at an ice cream stand or black children window shopping amongst all white mannequins. Others hint ominously at violence, as one child plays with a gun and another examines it solemnly. Such images are especially haunting in retrospect, considering the recent death toll of American black men in this country, over half a century after these photographs were taken.

Yet the majority of Parks’ photos focus on the positive over the negative, showing a different breed of civil rights documentation. In the image below, for example, Mr. and Mrs. Albert Thornton sit firmly, proud and composed, affirming their existence. Instead of highlighting discrimination here, Parks emphasizes the similarities that bind all Americans: spending time in the home, being with family, exploring nature. Parks’ images revealed what so many Americans struggled to understand: the human link that connects us all.

See the full set of images here

 

A Record Of Real Life: Nan Goldin

What a great resource Faded + Blurred is, you really should bookmark the site and go there often. This time we get one of their spotlights on an important photographer. The ever divisive Nan Goldin. Divisive? Well most people don’t get her work, don’t like it, find it difficult but she remains a major figure in contemporary photography. It is easy to see the line between her work and say that of Richard Billingham and his series on his parents “Ray’s a laugh”

“I knew from a very early age, that what I saw on TV had nothing to do with real life. So I wanted to make a record of real life. That included having a camera with me at all times.” – Nan Goldin

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Do you ever look at someone’s work and think “I just don’t get it. Why is this important? Why is it in a gallery?” I have thought that of Nan Goldin’s work for years. To be honest, her work just dumbfounded me. How could this be considered art? I always thought they were just poorly lit, grainy snapshots. I wouldn’t take more than a fleeting glance without immediately passing judgment that I didn’t like it and therefore it wasn’t worth my time to examine or understand. As I was looking for a subject for the Spotlight, Nan Goldin’s name was suggested and my gut reaction was no. I realized, however, that if I don’t like something the least I can do is ask myself why not. I have come to the conclusion that all art is worthy of examination and questioning. If you don’t know anything about the work, you should find out as much as you can and you may come to appreciate it. Understanding the why behind what someone does can influence and sometimes even change your opinion of the work itself.

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Even if you’re not familiar with many photographers by name, you may have heard the name Nan Goldin. Since the 1970s, she has been known for her shockingly raw images of desire, addiction, sexuality, and abuse. Her style is a part of the “snapshot aesthetic” which became popular in the early 60s and contains everyday subjects that don’t seem to be framed in any particular way. Goldin’s work, however, can’t be defined by just one particular style. When you find out what it was she was trying to do with her pictures, you learn that there are layers of meaning that go far beyond the first cursory glance. READ MORE HERE

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Goldin was born in 1953 in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. Living behind a facade of perfection and respectability, her parents taught her that there were certain things you just didn’t talk about – the biggest being her older sister’s suicide at the age of 19. Goldin was only 11 at the time and withdrew into herself. She says she didn’t speak for a very long time, but she still managed to cause trouble. She ran away at 14 and ended up in several different foster homes, but it was during this period that she was enrolled in an alternative education program. This was a place for kids that had been kicked out of “normal” schools – she says they all did drugs, had sex, and partied – but it was a place where she found people she connected with. It was here where she was given her first camera, a Polaroid, by a teacher. After that, the camera rarely left her hand.

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See the full article on Faded + Blurred here

 

Open for Business – Magnum Photos Exhibition

Open for Business is the story of British manufacturing and industry told through the lens of 9 Magnum photographers.

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Princess Yachts, Plymouth. 72 foot motor yachts. L/R, Tony Bruce, Darrell Bratcher, Craig Wickes, Mark Lavis
Credits : © Chris Steele-Perkins / Magnum Photos
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Pelamis wave machines, the Sound of Hoy, Orkney Islands
Credits : © Stuart Franklin / Magnum Photos

In 2013, Multistory and Magnum Photos commissioned nine of the world’s leading photographers to document contemporary British manufacturing.  During a period of great economic instability, and where questions are being raised about the strength of western economies within the worldwide market, there has never been a more relevant time to explore the condition of Britain’s manufacturing future.

22 August 2014 – 2 November 2014 Science Museum London

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Conor. Tate & Lyle sugar refinery, London
Credits : © Bruce Gilden/MAGNUM PHOTOS
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Renishaw, Bristol. Worker on the assembly line at the precision engineering plant
Credits : © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos

In 2013, Jonas Bendiksen, Stuart Franklin, Bruce Gilden, David Hurn, Peter Marlow, Martin Parr, Mark Power, Chris Steele-Perkins and Alessandra Sanguinetti photographed over 100 workplaces across the UK, from one-man businesses to FTSE 100 companies.

Through eye-opening photography and film footage, Open for Business celebrates the resilience of British industry. From traditional, handmade crafts, foundries and assembly lines to modern, intelligent automation, laboratories and high-tech cleanrooms, this economic sector demonstrates an extraordinary adaptability and diversity.

Discover a different side of London in the work of award-winning American street photographer, Bruce Gilden, who focuses on the varied manufacturing taking place in the city. Creating unflinching portraits of workers at the Tate & Lyle and Vauxhall factories, Gilden demonstrates the physical impact of work, and raises questions about the social responsibilities of companies to their employees.

As British industry faces several challenges, Open for Business reveals the daily struggle at a human level as businesses attempt to cut costs, streamline processes and level up to international competition. The project captures British manufacturing’s effect on regional culture and community life, and celebrates the work, activities and lives of its employees.

For more information about the project, visit the Open for Business website.

See behind the scenes images of the photographers’ shoots on the Open for Business Tumblr.

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Inspection and service hatch on a section bending machine
Credits : The Angle Ring Ltd, Tipton, Black Country. Large scale metal bending. © Peter Marlow / Magnum Photos
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Bombardier, Derby. Train production
Credits : © Mark Power / Magnum Photos

Canon vs Nikon: the DSLR comparison you’ve been waiting for

From Digital Camera World

Canon vs Nikon: which DSLR system is best? A question that has frustrated many of the world’s greatest philosophers and may even have troubled the UN… Our in-depth comparison examines each system’s cameras, lenses, key features and much more.

Canon vs Nikon: the DSLR comparison you've been waiting for

Who makes the best DSLRs, Canon or Nikon? It’s the impossible question. If it wasn’t, one of these giants of the camera industry would be out of business by now.

The fact is, Canon and Nikon offer some of the best cameras, lenses, flash systems and accessories – and they have done for years.

Whichever line you choose, you’re investing in an extensive, well-supported system that caters for everyone, from beginners to experts, from wedding photographers to wildlife pros.

Has that stopped forums descending into flame wars over whether Canon or Nikon is best? Has it nuts.

In fact, it’s quite common to find photographers swapping systems, moving from Canon to Nikon or from Nikon to Canon.

This is largely dependant on which manufacturer has just leapfrogged the other in technology, whether that’s a new lens the other lacks or a camera body that set the new benchmark in autofocus or high ISO performance.

Nikon user and Photoshop guru Scott Kelby’s switch to Canon has been widely publicised, but there have been plenty of others – British landscape pro, Adam Burton (Canon to Nikon) andwildlife photographer Andy Rouse (Canon to Nikon and back to Canon) to name but two.

Back in the real world, the majority of us can’t afford to dance between systems. We generally stay locked in for years. But that doesn’t mean we can’t look over the fence slightly enviously every now and then.

With that in mind, here’s our appraisal of how Canon and Nikon DSLR systems currently compare.

See the full comparison here

 

The 10 Best German Photographers You Should Know

Large-format prints, technical perfection and impersonal vision: these are the characteristics of the German photographers commonly known as the Düsseldorf School of Photography, a group of artists that studied with two masters of 20th century photography, Bernd and Hilla Becher – several of them went on to become some of the most successful contemporary artists in the world. Find out more in our curated list of ten German photographers you should know. See the full article here

The Rhine II 1999 by Andreas Gursky born 1955

The Rhine II’, Andreas Gursky | Tate

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Esther Teichmann, from the series ‘Fractal Scars, Salt Water and Tears’ | Courtesy the artist

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Axel Hütte, Raucheck, Austria from the series New Mountains, 2011 © Axel Hütte | Courtesy Fondazione Fotografia

Here for more

Pictures of the Week: August 15, 2014 –

Pictures of the Week: August 15, 2014 – Plog.

"APTOPIX Police Shooting Alabama Vigil"

Willie James Franklin looks into the Civil Rights Memorial fountain during a moment of silence to remember Michael Brown on Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014 in Montgomery, Ala. On Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, a white police officer fatally shot Brown, an unarmed black teenager, in a St. Louis suburb. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson) #

"APTOPIX Portugal Daily Life"

People take photographs in the main tank of the Oceanarium of Lisbon, Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. The oceanarium opened in 1998 during the World Fair, displays different aquatic fauna species from the five oceans in the world. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco) #

"APTOPIX Police Shooting Missouri"

A protester takes shelter from smoke billowing around him Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014, in Freguson, Mo. Protests in the St. Louis suburb rocked by racial unrest since a white police officer shot an unarmed black teenager to death turned violent Wednesday night, with some people lobbing Molotov cocktails and other objects at police who responded with smoke bombs and tear gas to disperse the crowd. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, David Carson) #

See the full gallery here

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