Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

14 Practical Reasons Your Photos Are Not Quite As Good As You Want Them To Be

When I teach I spend a lot of time trying to help people make better pictures. That might seem obvious, that is what I am paid to do, but that doesn’t just mean teaching what apertures or ISO or focal length mean or how to shoot a portrait or the best way to capture a landscape. It means I try to change the way my students think about photography, their photography. I use many techniques to do this but the bottom line with all of them is the student has to practice. I explain that without paying attention to what they are doing it is unlikely they will be satisfied with their results, or at least not often enough. Many of the ways I encourage students to get better are contained in this article on Lightstalking, a very good blog that I would recommend you follow.

Laos

Composition in Photography

1. You Don’t Pay Attention to the Composition

2. You Don’t Know the Basics of Exposure

3. You Don’t Experiment With the Perspective

4. You Don’t Understand How Lighting Affects a Photograph

5. You Don’t Post-Process Your Photos

6. You Haven’t Taken Up a Photography Project

7. You Don’t Have a Well-Defined Subject in Your Photo

read what  has to say about these and the rest of the reasons here

If what you really need is help with these all our courses will get you going. If you just don’t understand your camera well enough try our

Understanding Your DSLR Camera Course

Composition In Photography – Seeing Pictures this will help you with so many of the visual aspects of your photography

Introduction To Photoshop will help you with post production and Understanding Lightroom will get you processing RAW files properly

Intermediate Photography is for those who have mastered their cameras and composition and want to go that extra step, it is a fascinating course

We have many other courses that will help you to become much better photographers, go here now for the full list

Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016

At Royal Museums Greenwich there is an exhibition of images from the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016.

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View the spectacular images by the 2016 Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year winners for each category, the Young Competition, as well as our Robotic Scope prize and Sir Patrick Moore for Best Newcomer prize winners. These pictures capture all manner of celestial spectacles: moons, stars, planets, galaxies, nebulae and some of the great astronomical events of the last year.

Address: Blackheath Avenue
London
SE10 8XJ
Opening hours: Daily 10am-5pm (last admission 4.30pm)
Transport: Rail: Cutty Sark/Greenwich DLR
Price: Free
Event website: http://www.rmg.co.uk/astrophoto

Abandoned places: the worlds we’ve left behind – in pictures

There is a great interest in what is known as Urbex Photography. This is the discovery  and photography of abandoned buildings, usually in an urban setting, we have featured these images often as they are so popular. New photographers are entering this arena and coming with their own take on the meme.

Kieron Connolly’s new book of photographs of more than 100 once-busy and often elegant buildings gives an eerie idea of how the world might look if humankind disappeared. Here are 10 evocative, stylised images of nature reclaiming the manmade world as seen in The Guardian

Rubjerg Knude lighthouse, northern Jutland, Denmark This lighthouse was built on the top of a cliff in 1900 and ceased operating in 1968. With coastal erosion and continually shifting sands a major problem in the area, it is anticipated that by 2023 the cliff will have been eroded so far that the lighthouse will fall into the sea. Photograph: Elisabeth Coelfen/Dreamstime

Rubjerg Knude lighthouse, northern Jutland, Denmark
This lighthouse was built on the top of a cliff in 1900 and ceased operating in 1968. With coastal erosion and continually shifting sands a major problem in the area, it is anticipated that by 2023 the cliff will have been eroded so far that the lighthouse will fall into the sea.
Photograph: Elisabeth Coelfen/Dreamstime

Rotunda, Wola Gasworks, Warsaw Opened in 1888, destroyed during the second world war, then rebuilt, the Wola gasworks finally closed in the early 1970s when the city switched to using natural gas. Today, part of the gasworks is a museum, but other areas, such as the rotunda, remain dilapidated. Photograph: Fotorince/Dreamstime.com

Rotunda, Wola Gasworks, Warsaw
Opened in 1888, destroyed during the second world war, then rebuilt, the Wola gasworks finally closed in the early 1970s when the city switched to using natural gas. Today, part of the gasworks is a museum, but other areas, such as the rotunda, remain dilapidated.
Photograph: Fotorince/Dreamstime.com

City Hall station, New York City Designed as a showpiece for New York’s new subway system, City Hall station (towards the southern tip of Manhattan) opened in 1904. It’s an elegant structure in Romanesque revival style with skylights, coloured glass and brass chandeliers, but because of its tightly curved platform longer subway carriages were unable to stop there. It was always a quiet station, and passenger services were discontinued in 1945. Photograph: Michael Freeman/Alamy

City Hall station, New York City
Designed as a showpiece for New York’s new subway system, City Hall station (towards the southern tip of Manhattan) opened in 1904. It’s an elegant structure in Romanesque revival style with skylights, coloured glass and brass chandeliers, but because of its tightly curved platform longer subway carriages were unable to stop there. It was always a quiet station, and passenger services were discontinued in 1945.
Photograph: Michael Freeman/Alamy

Uyuni Train Cemetery, Bolivia In the late 19th century, the Andean town of Uyuni served as a distribution hub for trains carrying minerals to Pacific ports. After the mining industry collapsed in the 1940s, the railways fell into ruin, leaving the trains to the harsh winds blowing off the Uyuni flats, the world’s largest salt plain. Today, though, the rusting, graffiti-covered hulks have become one of Uyuni’s attractions. Photograph: Javarman/Dreamstime

Uyuni Train Cemetery, Bolivia
In the late 19th century, the Andean town of Uyuni served as a distribution hub for trains carrying minerals to Pacific ports. After the mining industry collapsed in the 1940s, the railways fell into ruin, leaving the trains to the harsh winds blowing off the Uyuni flats, the world’s largest salt plain. Today, though, the rusting, graffiti-covered hulks have become one of Uyuni’s attractions.
Photograph: Javarman/Dreamstime

see more here

More Urbex here

 

William Eggleston Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery

Time Out reviews the William Eggleston Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery until 23rd October 2016

©William Eggleston

©William Eggleston

Legendary Memphis photographer William Eggleston has created a whole genre of psychologically ambiguous Americana, much of it centred on apparently mundane bits of his home town. I expected that isolating his portraits from the rest of his work wouldn’t work. How would they fare, without all those existential landscapes and unanswered questions to problematise them? In fact, this show really makes you realise all over again this man’s extraordinary genius and oddness.

Two photos in this show, both from the early 1970s, really nail the whole Eggleston thing. The first is a tiny photobooth black-and-white self-portrait. In it, Eggleston seems remote: a fine-boned, bespectacled, Mahleresque face, a foppish college scarf, one of those monied, long-all-over haircuts. The second is a photo of his friend, weirdo Memphis dentist TC Boring. Boring is in the house in which he would later be murdered and incinerated. He is standing naked in a moment of reflection. The bedroom is blood red, with ‘God’ and ‘Tally Ho!’ sprayed on the wall. The colour hums, as though the print itself were struggling to keep Boring alive: it’s terrible, hilarious, disturbing and uncontrived, all at the same time. How did that man take this photo?

It’s one thing to imply alienation and dread with a grim motel room or a deserted parking lot. It’s quite another to manage to do so – as Eggleston does here – in a picture of your nephew sitting at home in an armchair. A portrait of the dead blues musician Fred McDowell in his casket is way less troubling than a shot of Eggleston’s wife taking a nap on a bed in front of a buzzing untuned TV and a sinister open closet. Time and again, Eggleston shows us that a picture of a person is never a simple thing.

This is not a big show, for a man who is supposed to have taken more than a million photographs, but I could spend a week in it, happily. Or a year. You have to see Eggleston’s work edited in this way. And you have to see his photos in the flesh (including Mr Boring’s knob). If I could give it six stars, I would.

©William Eggleston

©William Eggleston

©William Eggleston

©William Eggleston

National Portrait Gallery

St Martin’s Place
London
WC2H 0HE
020 7306 0055
Contact us

Opening hours

Daily 10.00 – 18.00
Thursdays and Fridays until 21.00.
Last admission to the exhibition is one hour before the Gallery closes.
Exiting commences ten minutes before the closing time.

Celebrating ​James Barnor – the first photographer to shoot Ghana in colour ​

As seen in The Guardian

James Barnor helped put black women on the covers of British magazines and documented fashion in a country marching towards independence. Now, aged 87, he has taken to Instagram and a London gallery is exhibiting his work

His early works recorded Ghana as it headed towards independence and came to terms with modernity through new inventions, music and fashion. In the 1960s, Barnor moved to the UK to continue his work with South African magazine Drum, for which he shot numerous cover images throughout the decade, as well as developing his own brand of street reportage and documentary photography

His early works recorded Ghana as it headed towards independence and came to terms with modernity through new inventions, music and fashion. In the 1960s, Barnor moved to the UK to continue his work with South African magazine Drum, for which he shot numerous cover images throughout the decade, as well as developing his own brand of street reportage and documentary photography

Barnor returned to Ghana in the early 1970s to open the first colour processing studio in the country. During this period, he was the first person to shoot outdoors and process images in full colour

Barnor returned to Ghana in the early 1970s to open the first colour processing studio in the country. During this period, he was the first person to shoot outdoors and process images in full colour

Embracing contemporary photography, Barnor recently set up an Instagram account aged 87. A collaborative exhibition between Barnor and the award-winning Italian photographer Daniele Tamagni is on show at the October Gallery in central London until 30 September

Embracing contemporary photography, Barnor recently set up an Instagram account aged 87. A collaborative exhibition between Barnor and the award-winning Italian photographer Daniele Tamagni is on show at the October Gallery in central London until 30 September

see more here

 

Shortlist announced for Taylor Wessing portrait prize

The Taylor Wessing portrait prize is one of this country’s premier photography awards. It is always controversial with those outside the art firmament. If your idea of a portrait is something that flatters the subject then the annual winners of this award will disappoint you. Long ago I gave up trying to understand or justify the shortlist and winners and so now like just to alert you to what is coming in Taylor Wessing world.

Three photographers have been shortlisted for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize. The prize winners and the winner of the John Kobal New Work Award will be announced at an award ceremony at the National Portrait Gallery on Tuesday 15 November 2016.

The Guardian is one of the outlets that regularly features TW and so this article and images come from there

Sternbach’s #1 Thea+Maxwell was created using early photographic processes. Photograph: Joni Sternbach/PA

Sternbach’s #1 Thea+Maxwell was created using early photographic processes.
Photograph: Joni Sternbach/PA

Tilly and Itty, Beitar Illit, one of two images shortlisted from Kovi Konowiecki’s series Bei Mir Bistu Shein. Photograph: Kovi Konowiecki/PA

Tilly and Itty, Beitar Illit, one of two images shortlisted from Kovi Konowiecki’s series Bei Mir Bistu Shein.
Photograph: Kovi Konowiecki/PA

Matsenen 2016 by Claudio Rasano, from a series focused on uniforms. Photograph: Claudio Rasano/PA

Matsenen 2016 by Claudio Rasano, from a series focused on uniforms.
Photograph: Claudio Rasano/PA

The shortlisted photographs were chosen from 4,303 submissions entered by 1,842 photographers from 61 countries.

The annual prize, which began in 1993, is considered one of the most prestigious photography awards in the world and is judged anonymously. It is open to professional and amateur photographers.

After the winner of the £15,000 prize is announced on 15 November, the shortlisted works will form part of a wider prize show at the National Portrait Gallery between 17 November and 26 February.

Nicholas Cullinan, the director of the gallery, said: “In an exhibition remarkable for its range of subjects and styles, the quality of this year’s shortlisted works reflects the outstanding level at which photographers across the world are working today.”

You can read the Guardian article herehere is a link to the NPG and exhibition details

here are some links to previous Taylor Wessing Awards

https://oxfordschoolofphotography.wordpress.com/2015/11/11/taylor-wessing-photographic-portrait-prize-2015-david-stewart-wins/

https://oxfordschoolofphotography.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/taylor-wessing-photographic-portrait-prize-2014/

https://oxfordschoolofphotography.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/taylor-wessing-photographic-portrait-prize-2013-shortlist-announced/

 

Weather Photographer of the Year 2016 – in pictures

The Guardian has a good tradition of showing photography, it comes in many guises and not all of it is good in the traditional terms, these pictures of weather are that, pictures of weather. I know the British are endlessly interested in the weather but it is just rain and clouds and colours, anyway here are some pictures and links

Clash of the storms, New Mexico, US: Camelia Czuchnicki A clash between two storm cells in New Mexico, US, each with its own rotating updraft. The curved striations of the oldest noticeable against the new bubbling convection of the newer. It was a fantastic sight to watch and it’s the rarity of such scenes that keep drawing me back to the US Plains each year.

Clash of the storms, New Mexico, US: Camelia Czuchnicki
A clash between two storm cells in New Mexico, US, each with its own rotating updraft. The curved striations of the oldest noticeable against the new bubbling convection of the newer. It was a fantastic sight to watch and it’s the rarity of such scenes that keep drawing me back to the US Plains each year.

Polar stratospheric clouds: Alan Tough In late January, early February 2016, unusually cold Arctic stratospheric air reached down as far as the UK. This triggered sightings of rare and beautiful Polar Stratospheric (Nacreous) Clouds (PSCs). I had to go down to Alloa for a course and took an old compact digital camera with me, just in case any displays were visible from that part of the country. PSCs have a sinister side, though: chemical reactions on the surface of the clouds destroy ozone.

Polar stratospheric clouds: Alan Tough
In late January, early February 2016, unusually cold Arctic stratospheric air reached down as far as the UK. This triggered sightings of rare and beautiful Polar Stratospheric (Nacreous) Clouds (PSCs). I had to go down to Alloa for a course and took an old compact digital camera with me, just in case any displays were visible from that part of the country. PSCs have a sinister side, though: chemical reactions on the surface of the clouds destroy ozone.

Overall winner: Tornado on show, Colorado: Tim Moxon A classic severe weather setup in the high plains of Colorado near the town of Wray yielded one of the most photogenic tornadoes of the year. We were just ahead of the storm as the tornado started and tracked with it as it grew from a fine funnel to a sizeable cone tornado. At this moment, the twister was at its most photogenic. We were among a number of people, including those you see in the shot, nervously enjoying the epic display nature put on for us.

Overall winner: Tornado on show, Colorado: Tim Moxon
A classic severe weather setup in the high plains of Colorado near the town of Wray yielded one of the most photogenic tornadoes of the year. We were just ahead of the storm as the tornado started and tracked with it as it grew from a fine funnel to a sizeable cone tornado. At this moment, the twister was at its most photogenic. We were among a number of people, including those you see in the shot, nervously enjoying the epic display nature put on for us.

Hail shower over Jodrell Bank: Mark Boardman This picture was taken in April from the edge of Macclesfield Forest looking west across Macclesfield towards the radio telescope at Jodrell Bank and beyond. The weather was cold and a north-westerly wind blew this shower of hail to engulf the telescope. The setting sun gives a warm glow to the end of a cold day.

Hail shower over Jodrell Bank: Mark Boardman
This picture was taken in April from the edge of Macclesfield Forest looking west across Macclesfield towards the radio telescope at Jodrell Bank and beyond. The weather was cold and a north-westerly wind blew this shower of hail to engulf the telescope. The setting sun gives a warm glow to the end of a cold day.

see more here

New Canon Mirrorless Camera M5

There is a general move towards mirrorless cameras, these usually offer similar quality to full DSLR cameras but because they do not have optical viewfinders are much smaller and lighter. Sometimes they are referred to as CSC or compact system cameras although these often are more like compact cameras but with interchangeable lenses. The new Canon EOS M5 looks like a small DSLR, has interchangeable lenses and an EVF (electronic viewfinder). I have to say that the early EVFs left me cold, well worse I hated them. They looked like poor quality tv screens but the newer versions are so much better. This new camera will be competition for the Sony A7 range of which there are many different models, confusingly so.  The Sony is well established now and consider a serious camera so the new Canon M5 will have to offer more in some way.

Canon EOS M5

Techradar has a review of this new camera and says good things, but as yet there is no direct comparison review with the Sony

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Here is a chart that lists the specs

  • APS-C CMOS sensor, 24.2MP
  • ISO100-25,600
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF
  • 7fps burst shooting
  • 1080p video
  • 3.2-inch touchscreen, 1,620,000 dots
  • £1049 / $979 (body only) – AUS$ price to be confirmed

In conclusion

Those issues aside, the EOS M5 looks like Canon might have finally come good with a mirrorless camera. With the arrival of Dual Pixel CMOS AF, autofocus appears to be a huge improvement over previous models. Factor in the inclusion of a built-in EVF and touchscreen interface, along with a well thought out set of controls, and the EOS M5 looks like it could be a good option for experienced users. Whether that’s enough now that other brands have established themselves in the mirrorless camera sector remains to be seen.

Go here for the Techradar review

and here for the DPReview on the Canon EOSM5

Morning Glory

Here is another set of images by Steve McCurry on the theme of Morning Glory

Steve McCurry

There’s a sunrise and a sunset every single day, and they’re absolutely free. Don’t miss so many of them. –  Jo Walton Kashmir

Source: Morning Glory

Undaunted Humankind Kabul, Afghanistan, March, 2016

Steve McCurry is always worth 5 minutes of your time….

Steve McCurry's Blog

“A landscape might be denuded, a human settlement abandoned or lost,
but always, just beneath the ground lies
history of preposterous grandeur. .
They are everywhere, these individuals of undaunted humankind,
irrepressibly optimistic and proud.

– The Carpet Wars, Christopher Kremmer

Life in a war zone means that death is always present in the lives of children and their families.All the elements of life and death are in this picture. Boys and girls, graves, playground equipment, and the mosque, all in the shadow of the neighborhood on a hill in Kabul, Afghanistan.

This is Abdul Hadi. He is a teacher in the woodworking school of the Institute of Turquoise Mountain (@turquoisemountain), in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he teaches jali woodwork (latticework). He was a woodworker at the court of the last king of Afghanistan, and then for some 35 years did not have a chance to practice his skills, due to the…

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