Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

6 classic composition techniques every photographer should know

From Digital Camera World six of the best. We teach these and more in our Composition course

01. Rule of thirds

Yes, it’s an old chestnut, and yes, all rules are there to be broken, but just as Eric Clapton had to learn his chords and scales before he could improvise, you have to have a sense of compositional conventions before you can start to creatively break them. The idea behind the rule of thirds is simple.

Mentally divide the scene in front of you into thirds, or activate a handy grid on your viewfinder. Then place your subject near the intersecting lines of one of these thirds, and you should get a nicer composition than if the subject was placed dead centre.

If all this sounds too mathematical, just keep your subject more towards the edge of the frame rather than plonked in the middle. Used well, the rule of thirds can really enhance an image, but try not to make it a religion, or all your shots will look the same.

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02. Leading lines

Leading lines is another classic composition technique, particularly in landscape photography. Basically, you make use of lines or other shapes to lead in the eye. You could use a road or path, or even shadows on a landscape.

A classic example of leading lines would be allowing a desert highway to create a sense of depth and distance, rather than just taking a flat shot of the desert and the sky.

A winding path going up a hill or cliff is another classic application. The idea is that you are drawing the viewer into the scene. Be careful, though, that the leading line doesn’t act as a distraction – it’s all very well using a road but watch out for vans parked on it, or litter bins!

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do you know the other 4? go here to see

5 Fundamental Elements of Great Photographs

Yes I agree with all of these points made by

I’m a freelance travel, culture and documentary photographer based in the Philippines. My passion lies in creating images that communicate a strong sense of place and cultural awareness in unique, challenging situations. You can see my work at www.jacobimages.com

There are five common elements that great images typically have; Good use of light, color, a captivating moment, correct composition for the given situation, and the photographers choice of distance to their subject. Many times good images will use one or two of these elements, but lack strength in the others.

I will be the first to admit that it is difficult to have all of these elements come together in one frame. Rarely do I take what would be considered a great photograph, but by aiming to capture all of these elements makes me strive to be better. Essentially, these are five tools we have as photographers to work with allowing us to create higher quality photographs. If we start to recognize and become more aware of how to best use these elements we will start to make more great images rather than good images. Bring them all together correctly under one frame and you will have something really special.

1. Light – Light is the fundamental element all photographs need because it illuminates the scene or subject. Whether it be natural or artificial light the quality and direction of light is what’s important. Light helps to create a particular mood within the photograph and can bring emphasis to key elements within a frame. Likewise, light can help create depth and textures in an image by creating a mix of highlights and shadows.

Everyone knows there have been countless books and tutorials on this subject and this article isn’t the place to go into depth with this. However, we should recognize that light is probably the most important tool we have to use as photographers to create better quality and beautiful images.

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2. Color – Like light, color helps to set the mood of an image and can play a significant role in touching the viewer on an emotional level. Color is one of the main factors responsible for making a photo feel mysterious, exciting, sad, or gloomy. Evoking emotions is important in creating strong images and color is one of our primary tools to do this. Again, this is an in-depth topic which this article will not go into, but be thoughtful that by using appropriate colors in our images we can better convey different emotions and make a stronger impact on the viewer.

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want to see what the other 3 essentials are….go here 

Brighton Biennial Photography Festival

There are only 3 days to go, here is the website

I went down to Brighton last weekend to see family and have a look around the festival of photography taking place there. Brighton is a very cool, cultural , funky place and the photography festival reflects that. There was a much wider range of photography on show than there was at our own festival of photography here in Oxford last month. That is not a criticism of Photography Oxford but it was a marked difference. In Oxford the exhibitions were all that, solid and somewhat a little boring exhibitions with a capital E whereas in Brighton there was much more fluidity to what was on show and how it was shown. I didn’t see anything there that rivalled the excellent Pentti Sammallahti but I did see much more that was challenging and inspiring.

One gallery I didn’t get in to because it was closed was One Eyed Jacks, I mention this because they have an open submission for entry in an exhibition in January

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Brighton-based gallery One Eyed Jacks is offering photographers the chance to compete to have their work shown in a month-long group show in January 2015.

The Open Call, with a top prize of £500, is open to both professional and amateur photographers working across all genres of photography. There is no theme, and all portfolios will be considered.

“Discovering new work and reaching out to new talent is the greatest buzz for a gallerist,” says gallery director Matt Henry. “We’ve decided to launch our first Open Call to unearth new gems and to create a fantastic and eclectic group show.”

Instead of inviting a jury to oversee the submission process, Henry has decided upon a single individual to curate the exhibition. “This Open Call will mark the first of many submission-based shows that allow one person to execute his or her unique vision,” says Henry. “British Journal of Photography’s Gemma Padley will curate our first show.”

The deadline for entries is 01 November 2014. For more information, and to enter, click here.

If you get the chance to visit Brighton over the next three days and have restricted time I would head to the Circus Street Market for Return To Elsewhere,Nigel-Green-DSC_7771

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and The Fourth Floor Collective and in the same building  BPF14 VANTAGE POINT: COLLECTIVES’ HUB

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KURT COBAIN: THE LAST PHOTO SESSION

On Hunger Tv 

On Friday the 23rd of July, 1993, Kurt Cobain is at the height of his fame. A phalanx of journalists and photographers is in New York for the launch of In Utero, Nirvana’s first album of new material since the global success of Nevermind. The group is scheduled to play a showcase New Music Seminar concert that night at Roseland, the famed swing-era ballroom in Midtown Manhattan. Nirvana is the biggest group in the country and expectation is at fever pitch. The glare is intense, but Cobain is hiding from the light.

Taken that day, Jesse Frohman’s portrait “Kurt Cobain: Standing with Evian Bottle” captures a young man of twenty-six with the sagging posture of middle age……MORE

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Hunger Tv

Travel Photography – A Different Point of View

Tom Dining, on Lightstalking this time, is one of our favourite contemporary writers on photography and the difference he has between most of the others is that he is a photographer too, always worth reading his wise words

Who doesn’t like to travel. Certainly none of the photographers I know. New experiences, new opportunities, new photos with which to bore the relatives on your return home.

But are they boring? Are they purely descriptive? This is where I went, this is what I saw, this is what I did. How many shots of London Bridge or the Opera House have you seen already?

So, then you go searching for the new angle and find another dozen or so photographers are also there. They must all subscribe to Light Stalking.

Here are some suggestions that might make your photographic experience just that bit more enjoyable as a photographer.

1. Create Interesting Content in Your Frame

Although there is a tendency in the excitement of the moment to get close and crop in the frame so you have no doubt what the subject is, you can always include the personal touch by including yourself or someone or something else in the foreground to add to the story and provide a viewing point for the viewer.

2. Get Some Detail

Someone famous once said: “If you’re shots aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough”. Although, I suspect, this could be the cause of his very demise, it is worth considering if the territory is safe. How close? As close as you dare.

 

Want more….go here

Wildlife Photographer of The Year 2014

 

 

That time of year again, here are the results of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 201460

Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols, USA

Nick is a photographic artist and journalist who uses his skills to tell stories about environmental issues and our relationship with wildlife. His career, much of it with National Geographic, spans more than 35 years, and his work has been published in numerous books and magazines. The mass of accolades he has received reflects the international recognition reputation he has earned.

Photograph Details

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014

Grand title winner

Winner 2014

Black and White

Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols, USA

The last great picture

Nick set out to create an archetypal image that captured the essence of lions in a time long gone, before they were under such threat. The Vumbi pride in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park are a ‘formidable and spectacularly co-operative team,’ Nick says. Here the five females lie at rest with their cubs on a kopje (a rocky outcrop). Shortly before he took the shot, they had attacked and driven off one of the pride’s two males. Now they were lying close together, calmly sleeping. They were used to Nick’s presence as he’d been following them for nearly six months, so he could position his vehicle close to the kopje. He framed the vista with the plains beyond and the dramatic late afternoon sky above. He photographed the lions in infrared, which he says ‘cuts through the dust and haze, transforms the light and turns the moment into something primal, biblical almost’. The chosen picture of lions in Africa is part flashback, part fantasy. Nick got to know and love the Vumbi pride. A few months later, he heard they had ventured outside the park and three females had been killed.

Technical specification

Canon EOS 5D Mark III + 24–70mm f2.8 lens at 32mm; 1/250 sec at f8; ISO 200.

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Carlos Perez Naval

Carlos Perez Naval, Spain

Carlos has been taking photographs seriously for the past three years (since he was five) and has already won prizes in Spanish, Italian and French competitions. He loves nature, whatever and wherever it is, and spends as much time as possible out photographing the plants and animals around that live near his home in Spain.

Photograph Details

Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014

Grand title winner

Winner 2014

10 Years and under

Carlos Perez Naval, Spain

Stinger in the sun

This common yellow scorpion is flourishing its sting as a warning. Carlos had found it basking on a flat stone in a rocky area near his home in Torralba de los Sisones, northeast Spain – a place he often visits to look for reptiles. The late afternoon Sun was casting such a lovely glow over the scene that Carlos decided to experiment with a double exposure for the first time so he could include it. He started with the background, using a fast speed so as not to overexpose the Sun, and then shot the scorpion using a low flash. But he had to change lenses, using his zoom for the Sun, which is when the scorpion noticed the movement and raised its tail. Carlos then had to wait for it to settle before taking his close-up, with the last of the light illuminating its body.

Technical specification

Nikon D300 + 105mm f2.8 lens (28–300mm lens for the background); 1/320 sec at f10; ISO 320; flash.

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Photograph Details

Winner 2014

Mammals

Alex Badyaev, Russia/USA

The mouse, the moon and the mosquito

Alexander was taking his daily hike along a trail in the Blackfoot Valley, western Montana, USA, when he noticed a giant puffball mushroom starting to inflate. Squirrels, chipmunks and mice began exploring and scent-marking the surface of the oversized fungus leaving it covered with tiny prints. Alex returned to the spot during a full Moon, when the puffball had reached its maximum size. He lay on the ground, watching and waiting, entertained by the dozens of small animals exploring the puffball. The most frequent visitors were deer mice, which scampered around, sometimes pausing to check on their surroundings. To avoid disturbing the animals, and to preserve the sense of place, Alex used the Moon as his backlighting. He relied on a long exposure and a gentle pulse of flash to show the curve of the fungus and to capture the frantic activity. When one deer mouse paused for a moment to investigate a persistent mosquito, the perfect midnight puffball scene was created.

Technical specification

Canon EOS-1D Mark IV + 105mm lens; 2.5 sec at f14; ISO 250; Canon 430EX II flash.

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Winner 2014

Birds

Bence Máté, Hungary

Herons in time and space

Bence had set up his hide to overlook Lake Csaj in Kiskunság National Park, Hungary. He had a specific image in mind and had planned to use both artificial and natural light. His subject was the shy grey heron. To overcome the various technological challenges of a night-time shot, he had built two timing devices for his camera to execute the single exposure. One device moved the focus, while the other adjusted the aperture within a single frame, so both the herons and the stars were in focus. It took 74 nights in the hide before the conditions were right and it all came together. The surface of the lake was still, reflecting the stars, and the sky was clear and motionless. Just after midnight, the seven stars of the Plough (part of the Ursa Major constellation) slid into position above the glow of a distant town. Bence took the shot, with both the stars and herons sharp, but with traces of the birds’ movement leaving ghostly impressions against the sky. Blending technology and passion in a masterful manner, Bence had finally created a picture that he had planned for many years – of herons imprinting their images in time and space.

Technical specification

Nikon D800 + Sigma 15mm f2.8 lens; 32 sec (1 sec at f10, then 31 sec at f2.8) + two custom-made gadgets; ISO 2000; four flashes; tripod; hide.

See all the winners here

 

Photography Award – Freedom to Love

“No one should be afraid to walk down the street holding hands with the person they love” (B. Obama 2013)

Photographic Award by Accademia Apulia UK

With the support of The Royal Photographic Society, and under the patronage of Amnesty International, the European Commission and the British Council,

FREEDOM TO LOVE aims to raise awareness on the difficulties many people endure every day worldwide, as they try to express the most powerful and constructive human quality – love. The judges are looking for photographs that testify that love is universal. Participants are invited to submit images of love, communion and friendship that cross established social boundaries, be they racial, religious, gender, age, or any other identifiable boundary.

II. Artwork

1. Each applicant will need to submit a photographic essay, social reportage consisting of three themed digital images.

2. Images may be digitally enhanced for colour/contrast/brightness, but cannot be manipulated.

3. Applicants must warrant that the photographs they are submitting are their own work and that they own the copyright for them.

4. Each applicant will retain full copyright of their own work.

III. Fees

There are no fees to enter the competition.

IV. Participants

The Award is open to photographers of all nationalities worldwide. Only one entry per person. Illegible or incomplete entries will not be accepted. Please note that proof of transmission will not be accepted as proof of receipt.

Full details are available here

 

CBRE Urban Photographer of the Year 2014 – winning images

The theme of this year’s competition – Cities at Work – challenged photographers from around the world to capture the beauty and day-to-day reality of working life. The overall winner of the CBRE sponsored competition was German photographer Marius Vieth with his striking image ‘Masks of Society’

I found this in the Guardian, these images are all worth your time, go and have a look here

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Overall winner – Urban Photographer of the Year
Mask of Society  Photograph: Marius Vieth

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1pm: Beijing, China
Nappers  Photograph: Aron Suveg

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Winner – Europe, Middle East and Africa region
Dancing in the Street  Photograph: Carlos da Costa Branco

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7pm: Santiago de Compostela, Spain
An Exhibition Photograph: Manuel Paz-Castanal

These are all so good you have to go and look at the others here

this is a link to the organisers website

How to improve your pictures with Photoshop

You know you make good pictures but you also know they could be better, they don’t quite look as good as those you see on the web, we all suffer from this. There is an answer, post production or Photoshop to you and me.

Many people find PS confusing and difficult to use because they have never had the basics explained to them, once you understand the fundamentals of the program learning becomes so much easier. Sure you can buy a book but having a teacher show you exactly what you need to know in small packets of information, then giving you time to try it for yourself whilst having your teacher on hand to answer your questions and show you where you are going wrong is much easier than reading a book.

Our course details the most efficient way to learn, breaking down the various sections so at the end of 6 lessons you have control over how your pictures look. Have a look at this simple picture. The camera has underexposed the subject because of the bright rays of sunlight in the centre of the image, but by using a few simple PS tools we can bring back it’s sparkle and the magic of the original scene.

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Which do you prefer? PS is not just about making a picture look better it can also be about removing or adding something to a picture to improve it. Have a look at these, can you spot the difference?

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We have been teaching students how to improve their pictures using Photoshop for years, in fact all the way back to CS1 (that is a long time ago). Now we recommend most people get the Elements version it is really versatile, easy to use and we teach it on our Introduction to Photoshop course starting on the 22nd October. Come and join us and find out how much better your pictures can be.

We have a few places left on our Photoshop course starting on the 22nd October, it is 6 sessions, 2 hours each and the cost is £97. If you don’t have PS I would recommend the Elements versions 12 is still available and is only about £75, look here for details to buy

If you would like to join our course send us an email now and we will reserve you a place

52 Colorized Historical Photos That Give Us A New Look At the Past

I’m not sure there is any real justification for turning black and white images into colour, I mean what is wrong with black and white? Here are some from the site but go here to see all 52

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People standing in line Louisville, Kentucky 1939

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Marilyn Monroe

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Winston Churchill 1941

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Claude Monet in 1923

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Samurai Training 1860

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Charles Darwin

see more? 

It would seem there is quite an industry in turning black and white into colour, if you are interested here is another set of images

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