Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography


From 121Clicks we found this article that has a decent spread of some of the greats of colour photography

They taught us the meaning of photography, the very smell of composition and the beautiful essence of lights and shadows. Their works teach us great insights on all aspects of photography. To say the least, We are happy to get some online presence of these stupendous works. In this post of ours, I wanted to bring you the best of the best photographs yet unseen from the ordinary.


Photo By: Vivian Maier


Photo By: Steve McCurry


Photo By: Martin Parr


Photo By: Saul Leiter


Photo By: Bruce Davidson


Photo By: Alex Webb


Photo By: Fred Herzog


Photo By: Raghubir Singh


Photo By: Helen Levitt


Photo By: Constantine Manos

See the rest here

Oddly no William Eggleston in this list so here are some




Palmyre The Venice of the Sands under threat

In 2009 I was lucky enough to visit Syria and join my friend John Wreford who then lived in Damascus. He took me on a tour of the country. One of the highlights was our visit to Palmyre. Now it is under threat as reported on the BBC website

Palmyra is in danger. As Islamic State fighters clash with Syrian government forces around the historic site, it is worth considering what the loss of this wonder, dubbed the “Venice of the Sands”, would mean for the world’s cultural heritage.

Palmyra is the last place anyone would expect to find a forest of stone columns and arches. Travellers in the 17th and 18th centuries were repeatedly astonished by what they saw: a vast field of ruins in the middle of the Syrian desert, roughly half-way between the Mediterranean coast and the valley of the River Euphrates.

For anyone visiting, however, the key reason for the site’s prosperity is immediately apparent: ancient Palmyra sits at the edge of an oasis of date palms and gardens.

It was as a watering place on a trade route from the east that Palmyra’s story begins, and the very name Palmyra refers to the date palms that still dominate the area….read more here

We have seen how ancient sites in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya,  and Syria have been destroyed during the wars in those countries, such unbelievable loss, of course overshadowed by the loss of lives.

Here are some images from my time at Palmyre

Palmyre, Syria

Palmyre, Syria

Palmyre, Syria

Palmyre, Syria

Palmyre, Syria

Palmyre, Syria

Palmyre, Syria

Palmyre, Syria

Palmyre, Syria

Palmyre, Syria

Palmyre, Syria

Palmyre, Syria

Palmyre, Syria

Palmyre, Syria

Palmyre, Syria

Palmyre, Syria

Palmyre, Syria

Palmyre, Syria


Palmyre, Syria

Palmyre, Syria

John Wreford is now based in Istanbul, here are links to his work


Here is a link to the DEC SYRIA CRISIS APPEAL

You can see more of my pictures from Syria here


Focus Stacking: how to extend depth of field in Photoshop

Focus stacking is the new lens flare, which was the new off camera flash, which was the new HDR, which was the new….. there are always trends and fads and now it is focus stacking. This does make it sound as if I think this is a pointless activity but I don’t, in the right situation it is utterly brilliant and if you like making sharp pictures front to back, whether landscapes or macro flowers this is for you.

Shooting anything up close requires incredible patience and extreme precision. If your close-up photography isn’t sharp then you’re not only wasting pictures, but you’ve wasted hours of your time. In this in-depth tutorial we’ll show you how to use one of the most amazing Photoshop effects macro and close-up photographers can use: focus stacking.

Below we’ll show you step-by-step how to focus stack and extend depth of field when shooting close-up by shifting your point of focus in multiple images, which you’ll later stitch together so you can produce images that are sharp throughout the frame.

Focus Stacking: how to extend depth of field when shooting close up

One of the best things about close-up photography is the wonderful softness that results from working with such a shallow depth of field.

Even at the smallest apertures the plane of focus will stretch to a couple of centimetres at most, and anything outside this range will fall off into beautiful bokeh.

At times, however, this can be a problem –especially if you’d like a completely sharp subject. Stopping down the aperture will increase depth of field, but sometimes this simply isn’t enough to achieve sharpness across the subject from front to back.

The solution: fix the camera to a tripod and shoot several frames, each with a small shift in focus, then use Photoshop to combine the sharp areas to create a single pin-sharp image.

Read the rest of this very useful article from Digital Camera World here

we have an advanced DSLR course where one of the things we teach is focus stacking, go here for more information



Masterful Steve, which picture do you like best?

Originally posted on Steve McCurry's Blog:


Rajasthan, India

For months there is no rain, and then there is too much.
Half the world’s people survive at the whim of the monsoon.

INDIA-10926Bihar, India

I was eleven years old when I saw a photo essay on the monsoon in India in Life Magazine by
Brian Brake, the New Zealand-born Magnum photographer.
His work established his reputation as a master color photo essayist.
Twenty years later, I proposed a story to National Geographic to photograph the monsoon.

INDIA-11984Worli, India

INDIA-10214Bombay/Mumbai, India

01873_17, Bombay, India, 09/1993, INDIA-12471NF. Two children walk through the flooded streets of Bombay after school.  retouched_Ekaterina Savtsova 10/30/2014India

INDIA-10004NFPorbandar, India


Monsoons, Australia, River, Arnumlan River, swollen by the Monsoon rains, snaking through Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia, 1984. Pg 55 Untold: The Stories Behind the Photographs Untold_bookAustralia

01614_05, northern territory, Australia, 1984, Aboriginal with umbrella Retouched by Ekaterina Savtsova 04/11 2014Australia

Monsoon History

The air is wet, soaks
into mattresses, and curls
In apparitions of smoke,
Like fat white slugs furled
Among the timber
Or silver fish tunnelling
The damp linen covers
Of schoolbooks, or walking
Quietly like centipedes,
The air walking everywhere
On its hundred feet
Is filled with the glare
Of tropical water.
Again we are taken over
By clouds and…

View original 221 more words

Vee Speers – Photographer

I came across Vee Speers in a Sunday newspaper colour magazine, no point in giving Murdoch a plug, and was immediately interested, When I found Vee’s website the artist’s statement explained why

I don’t like to follow the crowd.
I like to seduce, with images that are at once disturbing and beautiful,
but leaving a space for the viewer to enter my world.
My portraits combine elements which evoke conflicting
emotions that can surprise the viewer, telling a story that is somewhere
between fantasy and reality, the obvious and the unexpected.


Vee Speers was born in Australia and studied at Queensland College of Art. Her work has been widely exhibited and has been seen in publications including The Sunday Times, Harpers & Queen, Arena, Esquire, and Black & White Magazine.





In The Guardian she said this:

This started off as an intimate project. I thought it would be good to freeze a few childhood moments before my daughter became a teenager – that’s her in the picture. My kids used to blow bubbles using their hands in the bath, and I wanted to recreate that. But it’s impossible, of course: soap bubbles only last a few seconds. I found something the French call “balloon paste”: it’s a gluey substance you blow through a straw, and you get these sticky, transparent bubbles that last around three minutes.

The picture became part of a bigger series called The Birthday Party. I was imagining a world run by children, not adults – an anarchic world threaded together by an imaginary party.

This is the only picture in the series that I sketched before I started, and it came out exactly the way I had drawn it. I found the outfit from a dance show she’d done at school, a kind of swingy skirt thing.

Then I wanted a big Marge Simpson hairdo, something totally exaggerated to go with the circles and the balloon. A hairdresser came in and built it. He blew up a regular balloon and pasted some hair of the same colour on to it, like papier-mache. We twisted her hair around the balloon, and got it on her head. That was the hard bit. I had to get her in the right position, have her stick her neck out. It was a bit uncomfortable so I worked really fast: I wanted the photo in the can in five minutes. She’s only nine.

I had no idea this project would be interesting to anyone else. Then I started shooting her friends in similarly peculiar styles, and it all took on a life of its own. It started to look strange and interesting, without me forcing it. Then it became a book, with this as the cover image, and the pictures went around the world. It seemed to strike a chord with people.







Go to her website to see so much more

Born: 1962, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.

Studied: Fine arts at Queensland College of Art, Brisbane.

Inspirations: David Lynch, Tim Burton, Peter Greenaway.

High point: “I’m part of an inaugural exhibition at an amazing museum in Stockholm, with Annie Leibovitz.”

Top tip: “Don’t follow the crowd. Don’t be distracted. Be prepared to work like a dog.”

Museum of Natural History Photography Competition

From our source deep in the bowels of the NHM in Oxford we get details of a photography competition with not bad prizes. Of course to get your hands on a prize you do have to enter. Here is a link to the page on their website http://www.oum.ox.ac.uk/about/artfund.htm

Basically you snap and either email or post the image(s) to Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #motyphoto (and ideally the Museum handle too which is @morethanadodo).  There doesn’t seem to be a subject area but NHM has so much to photograph.

Museum of the Year Photography Competition

To celebrate our nomination, take part in the Museum of the Year Photography Competition by tagging your favourite photos of the Museum with #motyphoto on Instagram or Twitter. You can also upload your photos toartfund.org/prize/photo-competition.

Photos must be submitted by 31 May 2015.

Renowned British documentary photographer and photo-journalist, Martin Parr will be the lead judge in selecting a shortlist from all submitted photographs and the public can vote online for their favourite between 8-22 June 2015, with the winner announced 25 June.

The winning photograph will be published in the Art Fund’s Art Quarterly magazine and the winner will receive a photography holiday in Berlin for two plus a £500 photography equipment voucher.



Shoot brilliant bluebell photos

I have noticed that the blue bells in my garden are now at their best, visit some woods now. If you do go down to the woods today then this advice might help, from Digital Camera World


You have to be watchful at this time of year, because it’s almost time to go down to the woods – not for the teddy bears’ picnic, of course, but for something much more inspiring than that… it’s time for bluebells!

Their wonderful carpets of blue and green are one of the signs of spring, and make for fantastic photos.

Depending on seasonal temperatures and how far south you are, there’s a short window from about mid-April to the end of May during which you can see bluebells. With this year’s mild winter in the UK they may be early, so don’t miss them!

One of the joys of spring in Britain is walking through a woodland to enjoy the birdsong, smell the scented air, see the wildlife and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere.

An established beech wood is best for photographs, as you get tall, straight trees with little undergrowth and not many offshoots or branches protruding from trunks.

You ideally want an open aspect to the east or west side of the woods where you can shoot towards a low sun that’s not too strong.

Longer lenses to compress the image and make the display look more dense, attention to white balance or shoot in RAW and correct it later. Tripod, particularly one that goes low to the ground.

There is lots of good advice here



Early Colour Photography from 1913

From Lightsalking we find this interesting article about one of the pioneers of colour photography and the autochrome process. Thanks to the folks at The National Media Museum these amazing photographs by Mervyn O’Gorman have been getting a lot of attention lately. Taken at Dorset in 1913, these photographs of his daughter show us some wonderful versions of the Autochrome Lumière process.

Autochrome Lumière was a process  ( it is worth reading this explanation of the autochrome process used here) for colour photography invented in France in 1903, marketed in 1907 and which dominated colour photography until the mid 1930s.

O’Gorman himself was an engineer with a very prevalent photography habit which has meant that many of his photographs are often included in exhibitions of early colour photography. For anyone curious about photography’s history, these certainly are a wonderful discovery.






There are many other examples of this early colour process, the beautiful quality that the process produces is a bit of a revelation for me at least, I hope you enjoy these too. You can see many more here







Women in Photography


Image©Alixandra Fazzina   Alixandra Fazzina now completes the line-up of speakers for the Women in Photography talks at the University of Westminster – 13 June. Booking now

Monica Allende Monica Allende is the picture editor of The Sunday Times Magazine. She was part of the team that founded Spectrum, a section dedicated to photography from around the world and over the past two years has continued to develop and edit it. Monica will be giving an illustrated talk on a number of significant female photographers whose work she has published. She will also address the reasons why she would commission a female photographer for a particular story or angle and what qualities she looks for when selecting a photographer in general. Other areas of discussion will include; the risks and opportunities women face and what the future looks like for print and online photograph. –

13 June 2015 10:30 – 16:00

University of Westminster Marylebone Campus
35 Marylebone Road
United Kingdom

Details here

Travel Photographer Of The Year Exhibition

TPoY Lacock

Image: Japanese Macaque © Jasper Doest/tpoty.com

An exhibition of images from the Travel Photographer of the Year (TPOTY) awards are to go on show in an outdoor exhibition for the first time at Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire, the birthplace of photography.

These award-winning photographs, submitted by amateur and professional photographers who beat entrants from almost a one hundred countries in 2013, drew some 37,000 visitors when they were displayed in London last summer, giving visitors who may have missed the London exhibition a chance to enjoy them now.

The photographs in the exhibition offer a glimpse into our magnificent and poignant world. From sweeping landscapes to bustling city scenes, from a lion on the hunt to a ‘snow monkey’ having a relaxed bath in Japan and some fascinating moments of human life, these images will take people on a journey around the world.

Running from 5 June to 12 July, Travel Photographer of the Year at Lacock Abbey gives photography fans the chance to view these images in the unrivalled and highly appropriate setting of the National Trust property which is considered the birth place of modern photography where Henry Talbot captured the first photographic negative.

The exhibition will be on show in the abbey’s Tudor courtyard, an historic part of the building’s 800 year history. It was also a location Talbot often used to take pictures and many of his famous photographs, including ‘The Open Door’, were taken there. This year the National Trust team at Lacock closed the courtyard to vehicles, making it a more relaxing and enjoyable space for visitors. TPOTY will be the first event held here.

Travel Photographer of the Year, 5 June to 12 July, daily from 10.30am to 5.30pm, in the Tudor courtyard at Lacock Abbey. National Trust members and under 5s go free. For more information please call 01249 730459 – 

Here is a link to our previous post

Travel photographer of the year 2014 winners – in pictures

There is also a showing of the 2014 winners in London, here is the information on that

2015 exhibition at the Royal Geographical Society in London

24th July until 5th September 2015

One of the joys of doing well in TPOTY is having your images displayed at the TPOTY exhibitions and being seen by thousands, sometimes millions, of people.

The home of the Travel Photographer of the Year exhibitions is the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG). The Society’s gallery is situated close to Hyde Park on the corner of Kensington Gore and Exhibition Road, and adjacent to the Royal Albert Hall, in the heart of London’s museum area.

Exhibition dates:

The 2015 exhibition is open every day from 24th July to 5th September 2015.

Opening hours

Sunday to Thursday – 10.00 to 17.00 hrs

Friday & Saturday – 10.00 – 19.00 hrs

The main exhibition is FREE

We also run a Travel Photography Course, here are the details, next starts 25th June 



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,627 other followers