Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

Photography Courses For 2015

well we have done it again, created a new course to get you making better pictures. It has the most unwieldy title because we couldn’t think of anything better, sorry.

Basics of Landscape, Travel, Flower and Black and White Digital Photography

The course is based on our observations that these are the main subject areas along with portraiture, (which is covered in our separate Portrait Photography course), that interest our students. Each session we look at one of the four subject areas.

This course is aimed at students who already have a good understanding of how to use their cameras. There will be no instruction on camera use therefore it might be worthwhile taking our Understanding Your DSLR course first if you tend to use the fully auto mode when photographing. All areas of photography rely on technical and visual skills and although there will be references to camera use and composition there will be no in depth discussion of these areas and if you do not understand basic compositional methods our Composition In Photography course would be a great asset to you. Get full details here


We now have our course schedule sorted out for the next term, here are the dates

Understanding Your DSLR Camera Evening Class £85 Start Dates: 26.01.2015;  11.03.2015

Understanding Your DSLR Camera Saturday Morning Class £85 Start Date: 07.03.2015

1 Day Understanding Your DSLR Camera £95 Dates:  01.02.2015; 01.03.2015; 29.03.2015

Intermediate Photography £97 Start Date 26.02.2015

Flash Photography £85 Start date 05.02.2015

Understanding Lightroom £85 Start Date 03.02.2015

Introduction to Photoshop and PS Elements £97 Start Date 25.02.2015

Composition In Photography – Seeing Pictures £85 Start Date 03.02.2015

Portrait Photography £85 Start Date 10.03.2015

Basics of Landscape, Travel, Flower and B&W Photography Start Date 09.03.2015  £85


How To Upload Photos to Facebook

I don’t use Facebook to show my pictures, they are either on my website or on Flickr however I am aware lots of people do. I am always disappointed by how images look of Facebook and that has nothing to do with all those awful Instagram filters just how flat and dull pictures look. Well this article by  on Fstoppers explains why and how you can improve how your pictures look. As this is posting to the web much of what is explained applies to many web environments you may populate with your images. It makes sense to me and has some nifty graphics

Assuming Facebook doesn’t change these anytime soon, here are the full details on what I do (at least) to make my images on my Facebook Page look clear, sharp, and with minimal or no data compression, as of December 13, 2014. Let’s start with some history, because thorough knowledge is better than hasty knowledge.  READ MORE HERE  This image shows some of what is explained, if you are reading this on Facebook who knows what it will look like

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 16.16.09Thank 


Travel photographer of the year 2014 winners – in pictures

The Guardian has some of the winning entries to the TPOTY award for 2014 but the TPOTY website has them all and details of the photographers.

From the Arctic Circle to rural China, and from crystal clear sinkholes to 14,000ft mountain lakes, the winning images in this year’s TPOTY competition showcase astonishing natural beauty and incredible human diversity. To see all 150 images visit the TPOTY website

The winner Philip Lee Harvey won for his selection of images from Ethiopia.


Philip was born in Canterbury, England in 1969. After completing a Graphic Design degree at the Norwich School of Art and Design, Philip assisted some of the UK’s leading advertising photographers. Eager to develop his photographic career, Philip soon started taking on editorial and advertising commissions of his own.

Since then, he has worked in over 100 countries, ranging from Antarctica to the Sahara. His journeys have taken him to some of the world’s most inhospitable and demanding destinations.


10 pro tips you can use in any genre of photography

From Digital Camera World, words of wisdom, or it’s obvious really but still worth saying

It doesn’t matter whether you like to shoot landscapes, portraits or still life photography, these ten tips from our guest bloggers at Photoventure  will help you improve your images time and time again…..

©Jane Buekett

©Jane Buekett

1. Keep it simple

As a rule it’s best to keep things as simple as possible. In the studio this may mean using two lights (or even just one) rather than three, or including fewer props, but it’s also a useful thing to remember when composing landscapes and still life.

Avoid complex, confusing scenes and look for compositions that have clean lines and nicely spaced elements.

When large format cameras were more common, many photographers claimed the fact that they showed the scene upside down and laterally reversed helped them improve their composition because they stopped seeing the subject as a recognisable object and instead saw a collection of shapes to be photographed in an attractive arrangement.

Modern cameras show the image correctly orientated (usually even if you review a shot and turn the camera upside-down) so you have to use your imagination to see images as shapes and patterns of light rather than objects.

See the other 9 tips here

Copyright © What and where can you photograph and who owns your pictures

Perhaps once a week I have a discussion with someone about copyright. The rights that a photographer has to their images but also the rights say the owner of a property has when it is photographed, or say an individual photographed in the street. There are many untruths put about with regard to what you can photograph, people claiming rights and demanding you delete your pictures or pay them or they will call the police.

Sal Shuel has written a very informative article for the Canon Professional Network which I urge you to have a look at.

Whoever presses the button owns copyright, no ifs no buts. If a picture of yours is used without your permission you have a case to ask for payment.

What can you photograph?

“Photographic restrictions are manifold. Steer clear of (amongst many other things) schools, playgrounds, hospitals, children (particularly if naked), army camps, power stations, military personnel, London’s Trafalgar Square, Paternoster Square and Canary Wharf (all private property believe it or not), plus National Trust properties, road accidents and police arresting people. Anyone working in uniform unless they are on show are also ‘no-nos’, as are airports,………In some countries it’s necessary to seek permission before photographing the exterior of a building but not in the UK. If it’s visible from a public right of way it’s fair game although the security guards will claim otherwise.”

The rules obviously vary in different countries, France is pretty much a no go zone for everything, as is Uluru in Australia, if you are travelling check the local laws before assuming what goes in the UK goes everywhere.

As I said if you are worried about what you can photograph or that someone has used your images then read this excellent article


I definitely pressed the button! ©Keith Barnes



Abandoned America: Amazing photos of a nation’s ruins

By Fiona Macdonald on The BBC website

There is a great interest in abandoned buildings, they somehow speak to our own fragility and remind us of what happens where we don’t look after things. The finding of and photographing derelict buildings is often called Urbex, (urban explorers) their motto is take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints

“People love to use Detroit as a poster child for the abandoned urban landscape … but it’s not just Detroit that is suffering from the loss of urban infrastructure. The collapse of industries has torn holes in the identities of many major cities,” says Matthew Christopher. The photographer began exploring abandoned buildings when looking at the history of mental health care in America, but soon widened his search. A new book, Abandoned America: The Age of Consequences, brings together his images of prisons, hospitals, churches and hotels. Christopher aims “to connect the dots, to show that it is not simply one type of structure or one geographic location that is affected”. His photographs reveal both decaying industrial giants and derelict domestic spaces





you can see more of this here

more posts on Urbex here

Treasure trove of 60 barn-finds includes ‘lost’ Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider

30 abandoned structures that evoke more than just decay

‘The Ruins of Detroit’ by Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre

Urbex – Talkurbex



8 reasons your photos still look like snapshots

When people come on our courses they sometimes think all they want to know is how to make their pictures look better. We slowly coax them into understanding that there is no magic button hidden on their camera that will suddenly improve their pictures. We explain that understanding their cameras, knowing how to use the controls to suit the specific requirements of their subject, and that not all subjects are the same so it is not one size fits all. We encourage practice, we suggest that, like learning to drive, it is hours of doing the same thing that gets them skilled in camera use, and that the same goes for their eye. I am occasionally confronted by people who say they take really nice pictures, ‘they have a good eye’, but they don’t know how to use their camera. I save myself from asking how they take ‘really nice pictures’. It is the whole, your vision, your knowledge, your understanding that makes great images. Our courses are aimed first at getting people to understand their cameras, then on teaching them how important composition is and that it can be learned as long as they are prepared to look and practise and finally how to explore more. This means to look at their subjects carefully, to explore them with their eyes and their cameras and then to think about what they are trying to say with their picture. In essence why are they taking the picture, knowing why helps to inform how.

This article on Digital Camera World touches on some of these ideas and if you are finding your pictures do not do what you want read it here. If you are inspired look at our courses and find the ones that will help you become a truly better photographer. We have been teaching photography since 1982, we do know.

here is some of the article

Photography can be a frustrating business when you’re a beginner. If you spend long enough browsing online photo sharing websites like 500px or Flickr, you may be both inspired and infuriated in equal measure. How do other photographers get their pictures to look so good? Why do my photos look like snaps while everyone else’s look like works of art? What camera trickery do they know that I don’t?

The good news is that you’re not alone: no photographer started creating magic the minute they picked up a camera. It can take months or years of work until you’re completely happy with the pictures you take. But there are some steps you can take today to stop your photos looking like snapshots. In their latest guest blog post the team at Photoventure offer some suggestions…

1. You’re not paying enough attention to the light

The quality and quantity of light will make or break a photo. If you’re not shooting in light that complements the subject or the look you’re after, then you’ll end up with a so-so snap.

We’re not suggesting you should take all your photographs during the ‘golden hours’ at the start and end of the day. You can have too much of a good thing, after all. No, shooting at dawn and dusk might be the classic advice for landscape photography, but it doesn’t suit every subject.

Some subjects work better with more directional, hard-edged light, while others are better photographed under softer, more diffuse light. The harsh, burning light you get in the middle of clear, sunny day is generally the least flattering, particularly if you’re creating portraits or close-up photos.

If the light’s not working, then try enhancing it: a diffuser or reflector can help you manipulate the existing lighting, while fill-flash will allow you to reveal detail in shadows that would otherwise be lost.


©KeithBarnes Visit our course website here

See the rest of this valuable article here


Treasure trove of 60 barn-finds includes ‘lost’ Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider

we get a lot of hits for our urbex posts and here, pictures of dishevelled buildings, but these pictures of the automobile equivalents will have petrolheads salivating with these exquisite images from Rémi Dargegen for Classic Driver

From Classic Driver

“Never again, anywhere in the world, will such a treasure be unearthed,” says Pierre Novikoff, motor car specialist at Artcurial auction house. He’s describing a staggering collection of 60 barn-find cars that have been discovered after lying hidden for 50 years.

And if you think he’s exaggerating, then let me quote our photographer, Rémi Dargegen, who reported back to us right after the photo-shoot, saying, “It’s amazing, just amazing. The place is incredible… the most impressive thing is the sheer quantity of cars hidden in the barns.”




It all began with the grandfather of the family that currently owns the collection: back in the 1950s, he dreamed of conserving the heritage of pre-War cars in museum surroundings, focusing on the great French brands and famous body shops. This gentleman was an entrepreneur with a transport company in the west of France and he was a serious enthusiast: he even exhibited a roadster that he’d built himself at the Paris Motor Show in the 1950s. Sadly, during the 1970s, his dream fell apart when his business suffered a setback and he was forced to sell some 50 cars. After that, the rest of the collection stayed totally untouched, all these years, until its very recent discovery.




Photos: Rémi Dargegen for Classic Driver © 2014

See all of these wonderful old cars and read the jaw dropping histories here

Rumor: Canon Mirrorless Full Frame MILC in 2015

OK we have to flag that this is a rumour but it does come from a respected source. If it is true it will be another groundbreaking first for Canon. The idea of csc cameras, mirrorless and therefore small but still serious was a wonderful idea but honestly never really worked if you were truly serious. Composing solely on a monitor is not serious, and the sensor size was still small. This new one, if it exists has a full frame sensor and will be a rangefinder type camera, so fingers crossed. This is the Petapixel report excuse the florid language they are Americans

It’s almost too much to hope for, so we’ll tell you to start with the salt and go from there on this rumor. Apparently, sources are saying Canon is finally going to get serious about mirrorless cameras this upcoming year by releasing an all-new mirrorless camera that will sport a full-frame sensor. *insert high pitch noises here*

Okay, sorry about that, back to business. The news comes from our friends at Canon Watch, who heard nearly identical information from two separate sources saying that there is a new mirrorless cam in the works that is NOT a standard followup to the EOS-M system that Canon seems to have given up on in the US.

Not sure what these pictures are of but they might be the new camera or a mock up but probably the existing Canon CSC



One of those sources said that this camera will sport a full-frame sensor (hence the high pitch noises), the other that it would be a rangefinder. Either sounds, if nothing else, intriguing. Canon Watch also quotes a source as saying that this is a camera consumers “will really like, and that’s what we were all waiting for.”

For now, the above info is all we know. Rumors of a new mirrorless camera from Canon have been swirling for some time, so there’s a good chance more info will leak before 2014 is out. You know where we’re going with this, but we’ll say it anyway: stay tuned and we’ll keep you up to date.

In the meantime, let us know what’s on your Canon MILC wish list by dropping specs, hopes, and dreams in the comments down below.



The title is a bit misleading as the images are those selected from one collection, that of The Royal Photographic Society. The choice therefore is a bit restricted but is still an interesting mix. I would be most interested to hear what you consider the 20 most important photographs of all time from whichever source you like.

The-Hippopotamus-at-the-Zoological-Gardens-1852-Juan-Carlos-Maria-Isidro-Count-de-Montizon-de-Borbon-copyright-NMeM_1080x1080The Hippopotamus at the Zoological Gardens’ by Juan Carlos Maria Isidro Count de Montizon de Borbon, 1852 ©National Media Museum, Bradford

Soldiers-of-the-Sky-1940-Nickolas-Muray-The-RPS-Collection-National-Media-Museum-Bradford-copyright-Nickolas-Muray-Photo-Archives_592x888‘Soldiers of the Sky’ by Nickolas Muray, 1940 ©Nickolas Muray Photo Archives

In 1853, Prince Albert noticed how quickly the world of photography was developing, so urged the Royal Photographic Society to start collecting images quick smart, to be sure they recorded its rapid rise. And so they did. The result? A collection of more than 250,000 images, 8,000 items of photographic equipment and 31,000 books and documents, including some of the greatest examples of photography yet.

Now, for the first time, photography fans can witness some of the best images from the entire body of work. Drawn by Light, an exhibition running from 2 December 2014 to 1 March 2015 at the Science Museum’s Media Space, showcases shots by such high-profile names as Ansel Adams, Madame Yevonde and Lewis Carroll, right up to Don McCullin, Terry O’Neill and Martin Parr. From still lives, nudes and portraits to photo-reportage and landscapes, it spans the gamut of styles.


‘Afghan Girl’ by Steve McCurry, 1984

Science Museum has selected these 20 images from Drawn by Light,  exclusively for Condé Nast Traveller, for you to lose yourself in.  www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/drawnbylight

Aspen-New-Mexico-1958-Ansel-Adams-The-RPS-Collection-copyright-National-Media-Museum-Bradford_592x888‘Aspen’ by Ansel Adams, 1958 ©National Media Museum, Bradford

Audrey-Hepburn-1950-Angus-McBean-The-RPS-Collection-copyright-National-Media-Museum-Bradford_592x888‘Audrey Hepburn’ by Angus McBean, 1950 ©National Media Museum, Bradford

Bewengungsstudie-Movement-Study-1926-Rudolf-Koppitz-The-RPS-Collection-copyright-National-Media-Museum-Bradford_592x888‘Bewengungsstudie Movement Study’ by Rudolf Koppitz, 1926 ©National Media Museum, Bradford


‘Nude on Sand, Oceano, 1936” by Edward Weston ©Edward Weston
Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico’ by Ansel Adams, 1941 ©National Media Museum, Bradford

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