Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

World city panoramas transformed into 360-degree globes

These are pretty and amazing, so pretty amazing. I have an app, as we all do, but this one I have is called Small Planet and it creates worlds from pictures taken with my phone, impressive. Then again there are these images which go far beyond my clever little app.

As see on The Guardian Website The stereographic projection technique was used to convert aerial panoramas of cities including Paris, Sydney, Shanghai and Chicago into mini-globes. 1992

Paris, FranceThe Champs-Élysées
The 360-degree aerial panoramic photos were taken for AirPano, a Russian not-for-profit project created by a team of enthusiasts

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St Petersburg, RussiaPeterhof palace

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Sao Paolo, BrazilOctvio Frias de Oliveira Bridge

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Sydney, AustraliaSydney Opera House
The original photograph was usually taken from a helicopter, although sometimes the team used a plane, hot air balloon or drone

Want to see the rest of these rather wonderful images go here

Here are some of mine using Small Planet, no helicopter, plane or drone required

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Radcliffe Square, Oxford

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Sydney Opera House

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Launceston, Tasmania

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Oriel Square, Oxford

Best camera phone: which should you buy?

I have to front up and say I just don’t like camera phones, there are so many reasons, the only thing I do like about them is you tend to have them with you all the time. As the saying goes the best camera is the one you have with you.

This long article, reviewing a whole bundle of camera phones (does that mean they are phones first or cameras?) ends up with a conclusion that is based on whether you are an Apple or Android. Anyway here is the conclusion page which is all you need but there are links to the reviews. Go here for the conslusions

Tech Radar says:  The good news is that none of the phones in the test produce particularly bad images. If other aspects of the phone appeal to you then you shouldn’t be left disappointed with any one of these handsets.

However, if photography is your main concern, there are some careful considerations to be made here. If you’re likely to be photographing a lot, then the operation of the camera is probably one of the biggest aspects to consider.

When it comes to image quality, probably the most important thing to consider here, there are some phones that stand out particularly well in one area, and others that are decent all-rounders.

Sony Xperia Z3 review (15)-210-100

6Plus-HandsOn-15-210-100If you can’t be bothered to click through the answers is iphone 6 or the Sony Xperia Z3

 

10 Ways to Change Lives Through Photography

This article by Jason D. Little on Lightstalking  is aimed at an American audience, we have them too on our blog, lots of readers in the US, however the ideas put forward can be used in any country. Not everything we do has to generate income or even be considered a beautiful picture, we have the skills to make memorable images and putting that skill to good use is a valuable asset we have. Thinking about how you can volunteer for a worthy cause or even just something you are interested in that would benefit from your skills can give you a massive boost and help others. I think the most important thing we can do on this earth is help others, you don’t need religion to be a good person, and we can do that through our photography.

I had the most fun one time shooting a calendar pro bono for a delivery company that wanted to do a “Calendar Girls” calendar using their drivers doing deliveries around Oxford

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Every photographer has his or her own reason — or reasons — for why they engage in this particular art form. For some, it may be a hobby that provides a distraction from the stresses of life; for others, perhaps photography just represents a piece to the puzzle of a diverse visual arts skill set. And because there are so many motivating factors behind why people do photography, there are sure to be nearly as many different ways of how people use photography — whether it’s to maintain a visual record of your family tree or to document a nation’s civil war or to share images of the day’s most mundane occurrences with friends online.

No matter how potentially disparate each one of us may be from another in terms of our background in and particular use of photography, I think one thing we can all agree on is that photography constitutes an opportunity to do something good for someone else, to bring needed attention to a worthy cause, to possibly change a life.

Here are a few ideas to help spark your photo-related philanthropy. READ THE ARTICLE HERE

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DSLR vs Point and Shoot Camera

I found a very good site  by for no nonsense advice on even basic things, it’s called Photographylife

here is Lola’s take on why you might buy a dslr rather than a compact camera, or in fact vice versa

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Why would you pick DSLR vs Point and Shoot Camera or vice-versa? As DSLRs are becoming more and more affordable, a lot of people are wondering if it is time for them to switch to a DSLR and toss their point and shoot cameras. Nowadays, point and shoot cameras have a long list of features and capabilities, compared to even slightly older versions. GPS, face-detection, smile detection and many other new technologies are making their way into the point and shoot market, over-saturating it with new cameras and making it more difficult for people to choose the right camera for their needs. A similar thing is also happening in the DSLR world, where manufacturers are dividing the market into multiple segments, trying to capture a range of potential customers: from entry-level to advanced professional. But one thing for sure – there are many people, who are stuck in the middle, trying to decide whether they want to stay with their point and shoots, or bite the bullet and switch to a DSLR.

Read the rest here

Photographers are sleepwalking into a ‘photographic Armageddon’, warn experts

So the problems of maintaining a photographic archive are now in the mainstream. Once it was just curators and social historians who were worried about all the digital images that we produce. The problem is simple, most people do not edit, identify and name, or back up their images, add to that the uncertainty over future storage and we have an ‘armageddon’. Not sure that is actually such an appropriate word, end of the world would be armageddon. This article in Amateur Photographer explains some of the problems

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This image by William Fox Talbot, showing Nelson’s Column under construction in 1844, brings history to life in 2015. It features in Salt and Silver: Early Photography 1840-1860, which runs at Tate Britain in London until 7 June [Photo credit: © Wilson Centre for Photography]

That’s the stark warning from the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) and Photo Marketing Association after Google vice-president Vint Cerf recently warned of a ‘digital dark age’ where data stored on computers will be lost for ever.

Turn the clock back 175 years when the emerging photographic trend of the day was more salt-print than selfie. Photography pioneer Fox Talbot was busy churning out prints from the earliest form of paper photography.

Yet, Fox Talbot’s work lives on today, bringing history to life in an exhibition at Tate Britain that documents daily activities and key moments of the mid-19th century, such as the building of Nelson’s Column.

 

These days, zillions of photos languish unsorted on computer hard drives and mobile phones in danger of being lost for ever if not properly archived.

Such concerns have been collectively voiced by the photographic industry for years. But the message carries extra resonance now that a Google big gun has fired a warning shot across the digital bows.

‘Cerf highlights a real concern for historians,’ observes RPS director general Michael Pritchard.

‘We are still looking at Talbot calotypes from the 1840s and I suspect we will still be able to enjoy these and today’s photographs, if they have been properly printed, in another 200 years.

‘I would be much less confident about anyone being able to view most amateur digital files, created today, in 200 years.

‘How we archive, preserve and make available digital images (and other digital files) for the future is a real concern for organisations such as the British Library and the National Archives and should be a matter of concern for all digital photographers.’

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Newhaven Fishermen, c. 1845 by David Hill and Robert Adamson. A salted paper print from a paper negative, from Salt and Silver: Early Photography 1840-1860, now on at Tate Britain  [Photo credit: © Wilson Centre for Photography]

I do think that there is a problem, in the long and short term. Almost everyday I have a conversation with someone who has thousands of pictures of their loved ones, their travels, their work etc on a computer without any identifiable back up system. The back up software I use on my Mac  Carbon Cloner by Bombich uses the strap line, ‘your hard drive never fails when it is convenient’ so true . If you have any sense at all you will have a back up system. I have one external 3 TB hard drive that holds my images, a second identical that I back them up to and a third that I take home with me every night. People say why not use the Cloud, well simple answer, the amount I shoot it would cost a fortune, on Friday I did a shoot and used 68GB of memory. I prefer the physical on a hard drive but I do use the Cloud but not for work only for my personal images. The essence of the Cloud is that if you are going to use cloud storage you need to edit and the edit again and then edit again your images down to the bare minimum of the very best you have. How many sunsets do you need stored?

I am not convinced by the idea of conserving images we need to go back to old technology such as traditional black and white prints, converting digital files to negatives and then making prints. This also doesn’t solve the problem of colour prints that had nothing like the stability of black and white silver gelatin prints. Unbreakable, renewable, future proofed digital storage is definitely where the future should be. So although I agree with this article about the loss of generations worth of images stored on peoples’ computers, phones and whatever comes next is a dis, aster I don’t believe making prints is the answer, just too old school.

I enjoyed the comment in the article

She explains that her son has 2,000 pictures of the child ‘but they are in the cloud’ and she is afraid that companies operating cloud storage services will not be around for ever.

‘I asked my son, “What happens if [the cloud] just blows up?” He replied, “Come on, Mum, Apple is not going away.”’

But McCabe is fearful. ‘Did you ever think we’d drive down Lake Avenue and see Kodak buildings that have been dynamited?

‘Did we ever think that the 58,000 who were employed there would be down to 3,000-5,000 people? Never.

‘No one could have ever imagined that a name and a company that led this industry would be where it is today.
Kodak, where are they now? _MG_1188

Read the rest of the article here and DO SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR ARCHIVE!

 

Anna Atkins – photographer

Anna Atkins was an English botanist and photographer. She is often considered the first person to publish a book illustrated with photographic images. Some sources claim that she was the first woman to create a photograph. No I hadn’t heard of her before today either, Google decided to use it’s doodle to tell us about her.

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The Independent picked up on this and here is what they say

Today marks the birthday of Anna Atkins, a British botanist whose use of cyanotypes – or ‘sunprints’ – of plants and algae in botanical studies paved the way for the use of photography in scientific publishing.

Now versions of her beautiful photographic images are being used as a Google doodle to celebrate the 216th anniversary of her birth, in 1799. The delicate leaves used to spell out the name of the search engine are slate blue against a darker blue background. This is due to the cyanotype process, which involves the exposure of a mix of ammonium iron citrate and potassium ferricyanide to ultraviolet light, leaving the paper so-called Prussian blue.

In fact, the word ‘blueprint’ comes from the same process, which had previously been used to reproduce architectural drawings and designs. Atkins’ claim to fame rests on her realisation that the photographic process could be used to give accurate and detailed botanical images, thus advancing the possibility of scientific illustration. She did this by placing leaves directly on the paper for the length of the exposure, which makes these, strictly speaking, photograms, rather than photographs.

Ann Atkins' use of cyanotypes in botanical books was a first for scientific publishing, and for photographyAnn Atkins’ use of cyanotypes in botanical books was a first for scientific publishing, and for photography

However, Atkins’ first book using the technique didn’t show leaves such as those we see in today’s Google Doodle. Instead this was Photographs of British Algae, in 1843, a privately published collection with handwritten captions to the individually produced cyanotypes.

It was her mentor – and the inventor of the cyanotype process – English astronomer Sir John Herschel, who produced the first commercially published book illustrated with photographs, The Pencil of Nature, in 1844.

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The Natural Light Cycle for Photographers

From  Jim Hamel at DPS were find this article that clearly explains the effect of daylight as we move through the day from sunrise to sunset, very interesting

Natural light is what landscape photography is made of. Other forms of photography rely heavily on flash, but most landscapes rely entirely on the sun’s rays as their light source. That natural light from the sun is changing every second of the day. A picture taken at 9:00 a.m. will look fundamentally different than picture taken at 7:00 a.m., even if it is a picture of the exact same subject, from the exact same angle, using the exact same camera settings and focal length. Therefore, understanding these changes that occur throughout the day is critical to improving your landscape photography. By understanding these differing lighting conditions, you will know how and when to be set up and ready to take your landscape photos.

These changes in natural light don’t just affect the overall lighting and exposure level of your photos, but also things like color and contrast. Different lighting will lend itself to different camera effects. So in this article we will take a quick walk through the times of day for the landscape photographer, focusing on the unique advantages and challenges of each.

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read the full article here

10 Ways to Improve Your Travel Photography

This  Post By: Gavin Hardcastle on Digital Photo School covers some of the basics all of which I teach on our very successful Travel Photography Course

Get the most out of your travel photography and capture the moment with these 10 simple tips. Most of these tips are pretty basic and some of them are useful for traveling in general.

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see the rest of the article here

 

Interesting Photography Trivia to Casually Drop Into a Conversation

Those nice folks over at Lightstalking have conjured up this interesting piece that will inform and engage you I am sure

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing or so the saying goes. Of course, generally in photographic circles, a little knowledge is not so much dangerous as potentially embarrassing. Misquoting a tidbit of photographic information will soon be jumped upon by the elders of our community leaving you in virtual tatters, your online credibility shredded or worse still, your real life peers looking down at you. One way to combat this is to arm yourself with some entirely useless, but undeniably interesting facts about our chosen pastime, the sort of things that can regain your street cred amongst the photographic elite. So without further ado, lets look at some conversation enhancing photography trivia.

Origins of the Name Kodak

Since the day George Eastman launched perhaps the world’s most famous photographic company, there has been speculation as to the origins of it’s name. Was it derived from some deep light related Latin or Greek? Perhaps it emanated from the mystical east, where names often have spiritual meaning. The reality is a little more down to earth, Eastman liked the letter K, he thought it was strong and incisive. After playing with many combinations of letters all starting with K, the final decision was Kodak and a legend was born.

see more interesting conversation grabbers here

 

UNESCO 2015 International Year of Light

No I didn’t know there was a year of light either, funded by UNESCO or anyone else. It was my good friend Norman McBeath that brought this to my attention. He and Robert Crawford have had a number of collaborations, this is the most recent

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LIGHT BOX

Commissioned by the University of St Andrews for the UNESCO 2015 International Year of Light and launched at the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 23 February, Light Box is an artistic collaboration between the poet Robert Crawford (whose biography of TS Eliot was Radio 4’s Book of the Week recently) and photographer Norman McBeath, who has over sixty portraits in the collections of the National Portrait Galleries in London, Edinburgh and Canberra.

Light Box celebrates light in all its aspects – solar, sacred, scientific, nourishing, and poetic – with Robert Crawford’s haiku juxtaposed with with black and white photographs by Norman McBeath. The relation between poems and pictures is often teasingly oblique: neither simply illustrates the other. Instead, they ‘resonate’ together, each enhancing the other.

Exactly 150 years ago the great Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell published his most influential paper on electromagnetism (a paper crucial to Einstein). Maxwell had a scientific instrument called a ‘light box’. Nineteenth-century scientists sometimes wrote of light ‘resonating’. This new Light Box was produced after the poet and the photographer met leading physicists who work in optoelectronics.

Designed and typeset in Warnock by Robert Dalrymple, Light Box  is published by Easel Press as a twenty-eight leaf set, in a limited edition of ten, signed on the colophon by poet and photographer. The paper measures 394 x 381mm and is presented in a black buckram archival-quality solander box with silver gilt title. A digital version of Light Box can be viewed through this link https://arts.st-andrews.ac.uk/digitalhumanities/node/195

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