Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

5 Simple Ways to Manage Your Photos While Traveling

From Jason at Lightstalking we get this article addressing the problems of image storage when travelling. I think all his options are good, as with everything to do with photography all options are ultimately a compromise of some sort. I have found that travelling with a card reader and a stack of data sticks is the answer. They are suitably cheap now, 7 Day Shop have 64gb USB sticks for less than £13, I usually download in an internet cafe or hotel computer and put my images on 2 sticks for back up and keep them in different places in my luggage. Anyway here are the 5 suggestions from LS

Travelling with your camera is one of the great pleasures in life. Capturing the sights and emotions of far flung cultures is a great way of learning and understanding the world around you. When you are travelling, photography seems somehow easier, you take more images and often lose the self consciousness that you may have at home. However, with this glut of new shots, how can you manage them whilst on the move? I am sure many of us have experienced the pain of a failed card or drive, a pain that would be intensified if it were to happen on a trip of a lifetime. So what are your options?

Laptop and a Spare Drive

This is perhaps the most efficient option but also the heaviest and, of course, there is the risk that your laptop could get stolen. However, with small form factor and powerful laptops available such as the Apple Air series, combined with software such as Lightroom and a spare external hard-drive to back up to, this can be a great option. Some of the advantages here are not having to worry too much about hard drive space, the ability to catalogue and keyword your shots whilst away and being able to do some image post production work, the last two being significant time savers for when you return home.

Photo printers vs online photo labs: which delivers the perfect print?

A question I am asked regularly in class is what is the best way to get prints. In my experience getting someone else to do it is always cheaper and as long as your monitor is calibrated usually reliable. So this article on Digital Camera World opens up the discussion and is well worth a read if you are thinking about printing

Is it better to print your photos at home or have them created in a pro-level lab? We weigh up the pros and cons in our photo printers vs photo labs head-to-head test…

Photo printers vs photo labs: which delivers the perfect print?

Home printers on test
Canon PIXMA MG7550/MG7520, £150, $150
Canon PIXMA Pro-10S, £600, $770
Epson Expression Photo XP-950, £240, $275
Epson SureColor P600, £570, $790

Online labs (UK)
Loxley Colour
Whitewall

Online labs (US)
AdoramaPix
WHCC (White House Custom Color)

We’re the instant generation. We want it all, and we want it now. Instant coffee, fast food, streaming movies – everything’s accessible on demand, no need to wait. Digital photography is no exception.

Press the shutter button and you can review the image a split-second later, right on the camera. There’s no indeterminate wait until you’ve finished the roll of film, then had it developed and finally picked up your proof prints.

Indeed, printing your images at home can be similarly speedy. Some desktop photo printers can output a 6×4-inch print in as little as 20 seconds, which is great for the impatient among us. But hang on just a minute.

Faster isn’t always better. Think fine dining and, chances are, you’re not thinking of a microwave dinner. And many would rather splash out on a posh coffee rather than gulp down a mug of instant.

Again, digital photography is no exception. Sure, a simple press of the shutter button is all that’s required to capture the image, but a lot of work and effort will often go into setting up the shot, matched by painstaking image enhancement at the photo editing stage.

Similarly, if you’re creating a photo print to last a lifetime, it’s worth spending a little time to make it look its best. That’s where the important choices come into play.

Read on here

Photo Recipes: Scott Kelby’s killer one-light portrait setup

From Digital Camera World

In his new series in Digital Camera magazine and Digital Camera World, the legendary Scott Kelby reveals some of the behind-the-scenes secrets of some of his favourite images. This month Scott explains how to get a pro-level look to your portraiture without resorting to complex lighting, using just a simple one-light portrait setup.

Words and images by Scott Kelby. You can follow Scott and his work on his blog or on his live photography talk show The Grid. You can also find Scott and his KelbyOne team on their Facebook page and on Twitter as @KelbyOne.

Photo Recipes: Scott Kelby's killer one-light portrait setup

Photo Recipes is inspired by the chapters in my books where I show a photo and  discuss how to take a similar shot: what lighting equipment was used, the camera gear and settings, and so on. Here I can expand on what I did in the book, share behind-the-scenes photos, and even talk about the post-processing when appropriate.

Last time we looked at a very simple technique for rigging a remote camera for sports to cover areas that are either hard to access, impractical or unsafe to have a person standing there (Of course, it can also be used for weddings or any occasion where you need a second shooter but don’t have one). This time, we’re lighting a portrait.

When it comes to lighting, I’m really one of those ‘less is more’ guys. My lighting set-ups tend to be mostly one light. In this case, we’re going to do a really simple one-light shoot – perhaps the easiest one you’ll find, because it would really be hard to position the light incorrectly using this set-up.

The idea behind this look is to create the bright shadowless look of a ring flash, without the harsh light and dark halo shadows usually associated with a ring flash – and even without actually using a ring flash.

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Read the full tutorial here

Best bridge cameras: 6 top options rated

This from Digital Camera World

A bridge camera makes a fantastic alternative to your main camera when you don’t want to take your DSLR. Here we take a look at six of the best options available.  I am not convinced I would buy a bridge camera as an alternative to my dslr, I think I would be constantly disappointed, I think I would buy a high end compact or csc camera, something that wasn’t trying to be a dslr but still offered excellent quality. I do know that people like the idea of bridge cameras so this is a useful article if you are in the market for one.

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Best bridge camera: 01 Canon PowerShot SX60

Price: £400 / $549
Web: http://www.canon.com

Best bridge camera: 01 Canon PowerShot SX60

Best bridge camera: 02 Fujifilm Finepix HS50 EXR

Price: £276 / $289
Web: http://www.fujifilm.com

Best bridge camera: 02 Fujifilm Finepix HS50 EXR

Best bridge camera: 03 Nikon Coolpix P600

Price: £300 / $345
Web: http://www.nikon.com

Best bridge camera: 03 Nikon Coolpix P600

see the rest and the reasons why here

A beginner’s guide to garden photography

The International Garden Photographer of the Year competition is now open for entries. What could make your picture a winner? In The Telegraph

Britain is seeing a surge in amateur garden photography. Over the past decade, the hobby has flourished and now has a cult-like following.

The growing talent and quality of photographs means garden photography competitions are inundated with exceptional entries. One leading competition is the International Garden Photographer of the Year (IGPOTY), which receives more than 20,000 entries.

“We’re looking for images that are absolutely special,” says Clive Nichols, one of the founders of the competition and a judge. “Not just technically, but also in terms of what they show. To win it, you really have to have a standout image.”

Philip Smith, managing director of the competition, has some practical advice (see overleaf) if you are looking to improve your garden photography. His favourite IGPOTY winners from previous years are shown here.

“The first is by Magdalena Wasiczek,” he says. “It is the rhythm of this photograph (Upside Down, below) that expresses its subject so well. The delicate soft light and the impossibly balanced butterfly – all the elements come together in a fleeting moment of fragile beauty. It is like a soft melody in a minor key.

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want more?

William Eggleston

oxfordschoolofphotography:

Thought it was time to show this again as tonight I am teaching about colour on our Composition course

Originally posted on Oxford School of Photography:

William Eggleston could be considered one of those annoying photographers who have great acclaim but seem to photograph just what is in front of him and it is then considered ‘art’. There is no doubt, that on one level the simplicity of his images and the feeling that they are only a stones throw away from being snap shots is frustrating. Frustrating because it is so difficult to pin down what makes them so absorbing. As with many artists when you show their work to people they either get it or they don’t, and this is telling; somehow those that do are more likely to become your friends. There is an outside nature to his images, domestic as many of them are you are still drawn to the edge by them. Should you be interested in Eggleston, well yes if you are interested in photography. Those photographers who provide decoration…

View original 1,708 more words

12 Steps to Becoming a better Photographer

This came winging to me from DPS in Oz

The true key to growing as a photographer is to dedicate and immerse yourself in it on a consistent basis. Passion and enjoyment are key to becoming great at your craft.

That beings said, there are many things to consider in order to progress through this journey as effectively as possible. If I were to start all over again, these are the stepping stones that I would have preferred to have taken, beginning with the technical and ending with the conceptual.

Have to say number one is top of my list too, and then number two is second on my list, I think I agree with the author James Maher

1. Look at Light

When you start out in photography, it seems obvious to say that learning to use your camera is the logical first step. However, thinking this way can actually confuse you. The camera is just a tool that has the ability to record light.

When you walk out the door to photograph, the first thing you should think about is light, and not the camera. What time of day is it? How strong is the light and what direction is it coming from? Is it sunny or cloudy? Is the light soft or contrasty? Is the sun in front of, or behind you? Where are the artificial light sources and what colors do they give off?

This is the first thing that a seasoned photographer will look for every time they begin to shoot, and constantly be aware of while they are shooting. They do this for a reason. The light will affect how they shoot and the settings that they use. Even a slight change in direction to your light source can completely change how an image will look. You can’t learn how to use your camera correctly if you do not first understand the light.

2. Learn Your Camera Settings…….read the rest here

You could also be taught this on one of our excellent courses

Here is a big fish

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Rocks in the sky: a geological mystery – in pictures

As found in The Guardian If you’ve never seen a huge boulder hovering above the Earth against a brilliant blue sky, where have you been? As David Quentin’s photographs show, rocks in the sky have been spotted everywhere from Cumbria to Québec. Quentin’s photos aren’t fakes … but the rocks might not be quite what they seem

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‘I have been photographing rocks in the sky for five years. It started off as an attempt at a simple visual pun; I was walking on the South Downs and on a whim I threw a piece of chalk up into the sky to photograph it there because it was as white as a cloud. The photograph turned out pretty badly, and I became fascinated with the technical challenge of making photographs of rocks in the sky work.’

All photographs: David Quentin. The series was first published in issue 36 of Five Dials

 

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Deutsche Börse prize 2015

As seen in The Guardian

South African photographer Mikhael Subotzky and British artist Patrick Waterhouse have won the Deustche Börse photography prize for their publication Ponte City, a study of an apartment block in Johannesburg. Here is a selection of their winning images

The book depicts a 54-floor apartment block in Johannesburg, built in 1976 for a white elite under apartheid rule. During the political transition in the 1980s and 90s, it became a refuge for black newcomers to the city and immigrants from all over Africa

All photographs: Mikhael Subotzky & Patrick Waterhouse/Goodman Gallery

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Untitled #4, Ponte City, Johannesburg, 2008
‘We met many of the remaining residents in the lifts where we asked to make portraits of those who were willing. When we brought copies back to their apartments, doors opened to all kinds of living arrangements – whole families in bachelor flats, empty carpeted rooms with nothing but a mattress and a giant television console, and penthouses divided up with sheets and appliances into four or five living spaces’

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Ponte City from Yeoville Ridge, 2008
Subotzky and Waterhouse began their project in 2007, working with the remaining residents, after a regeneration project failed

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Looking Up the Core, Ponte City, Johannesburg, 2008
Subotzky writes: ‘Developers emptied half the building and stripped the apartments, throwing their rubble into the structure’s central core. When we started our work there in 2008, the development was in full swing. The building felt like a shell, its bottom half completely empty, and the top half sparsely populated. Former residents moved out in a hurry to make way for the developers. Many of their apartments were then burgled and trashed’

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Untitled #3, Ponte City, Johannesburg, 2008
The book depicts a 54-floor apartment block in Johannesburg, built in 1976 for a white elite under apartheid rule. During the political transition in the 1980s and 90s, it became a refuge for black newcomers to the city and immigrants from all over Africa

See the rest of the gallery here

 

10 Critical Assumptions That Can Stifle Your Artistic Goals

This is an interesting article on Lightstalking by  William Petruzzo I think many of William’s points can be applied to various areas of our lives

Every single one of us holds assumptions. They are part of being human. We assume there won’t be too much traffic on the way home from work, or that there will be way too much. We assume it will be hard to find a partner, or that it will be exceedingly easy. We assume that we’ll be able to pull the details out of the sky, or we assume that the camera doesn’t have enough dynamic range.

Assumptions are cognitive shortcuts based on patterns.

Human beings are pattern-matchers. We find patterns everywhere we can, and then use them to take cognitive shortcuts. Broken windows don’t mean the neighborhood is rough. But see enough broken windows in rough neighborhoods and soon when you see one, your brain will be taking the cognitive shortcut and concluding that the neighborhood must be rough.

Assumptions aren’t necessarily a negative thing, however. For example, my dog, Mikey, always greets people who come to the door. If I am working, and Mikey eagerly jumps up and runs to the door, I’m not going to spend energy considering the many things his haste could mean. Instead, I’m going to follow the pattern and take the cognitive shortcut to conclude that someone must be at the door and I may need to go welcome them.

A critical assumption is different in that the shortcut it provides might sidestep a potentially important, or perhaps the only, path to some desired outcome.

For example, let’s say I’m loading all my camera gear in the car and I’m going out to photograph the local squirrel infestation. I’ve seen them running around for weeks, and I know all their favourite spots. When I get there, however, I find that the local pest control has ‘relocated’ the problem. Now I have all my gear in the car and nothing I have intended to photograph. The outcome I desired was artsy images of adorable squirrels. The critical assumption was that I have all the time in the world to create those squirly images, and that the infestation wasn’t a problem someone else was attempting to solve.

If I had identified that critical assumption, I would have taken different actions and I would have quite the conversation starter hanging, perfectly arranged, on the wall of my office.

Want to observe the critical assumptions in your own life? Wait for the next time you get caught in the bathroom with an empty roll of toilet paper. If you never assumed there’d be toilet paper available, you’d probably never be caught without it.

That example starts to go to an extreme though. Critical assumptions lend a hand to the everyday uncertainties of life. They’re not altogether avoidable. But, if you can identify them and dispel them, or at least prevent them from being equated to “Truth”, you’ll be opening up a lot of pathways to whatever it is you’re aiming for.

So although critical assumptions come in every size and just about every degree of consequence, and are usually invisible until it’s too late, I’d like to talk about some of the high-level critical assumptions that a lot of us might relate to. Not the ones being formed in your day to day, but the ones forming your day to day. The larger ones that take hold almost like they are personal values. Not the ones that keep you from getting to work on time, the ones that keep you from quitting your job.

Critical Assumption #1: I’ll be ready when I get there.

Critical Assumption#2: I’m not the kind of person who…

Critical Assumption #3: I can’t do anything until I get organized.

Critical Assumption #4: I’m not good enough.

Want to see more and read the commentary on the above go here

I am teaching a class on Composition tonight, starting with Henri Cartier-Bresson as a guide, here are some of his pictures

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henri_cartier-bresson-sunday

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henri-cartier-bresson-near-strasbourg-1945

 

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