Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

EMPTY DAYS PADDY SUMMERFIELD

Paddy was the first person to walk through the doors of the original Photographers Workshop in June 1982. He has been my friend and teacher ever since. I learned from Paddy that a photograph doesn’t have to be about a thing, it can be just about a feeling.

His latest book ‘Empty Days’ is a testament to the idea that art is about feeling and not necessarily decorative. Like Nan Golding or Richard Billingham Paddy does not shy away from showing “the tragic lives he encountered, lives that touched him because they reflected his own struggles, he made images that would tell their stories, his own story.”

Paddy Summerfield Empty Days

Paddy Summerfield Empty Days

From his publisher:

… a sustained enquiry and search for understanding and meaning in a sometimes-bleak interior landscape … the great success of ‘Empty Days’ is in drawing the viewer fully into Paddy’s world… and as in life, it is both rewarding and on occasions disturbing.
– John Goto 
in Photomonitor, March 2018

…………….

“I would say Empty Days is my road trip, through the places I know – on foot.”

In run-down streets and shabby cafés Paddy Summerfield found his pictures for Empty Days. Among the tragic lives he encountered, lives that touched him because they reflected his own struggles, he made images that would tell their stories, his own story.

“This is the world I know, it could be anywhere, a place we have all seen before. I am sad, the world is sad. I don’t know if I take photographs to embrace sadness or or push it away.”

Paddy Summerfield Empty Days

Paddy Summerfield Empty Days

For Empty Days Summerfield has found emblems of the great themes: religion, sex, and death. Yet among the bleakness of various addictions, the ravages of drinking, of pills, he shows no spiritual comfort, no sexual joy, only the search for love in an unloving world, an unsatisfied spiritual longing. Along pavements and pathways, in claustrophobic rooms or open spaces, he finds the isolated figures, lost in thought or caught in a flash of emotion, to express the yearnings and pain that so many of us share. And where no people are shown, the human traces – an abandoned bicycle, a fallen doll, a tangle of nettles and barbed wire – continue themes of loss and melancholy. Yet however powerless or worn down the people and places shown, these pictures offer compassion, not judgement. A handful of troubling portraits, suggesting powerful and complex emotions, punctuate Empty Days, and intensify our sense of a narrative, albeit elusive and incomplete, as the photographs lead us through a fragile and fragmented world to an ending that suggests the possibility of hope.

Paddy Summerfield Empty Days

Paddy Summerfield Empty Days

Oxford-based, Paddy Summerfield, trained at Guildford School of Art in the Photography and the Film departments. His work has been shown in many galleries, including the ICA, The Barbican, The Serpentine Gallery, and The Photographers’ Gallery. His work is in the collections of the Arts Council and of the V&A, as well as in numerous private collections. Empty Days is his third book published by Dewi Lewis. His earlier book Mother and Father(2014) was widely acclaimed, and featured in several lists of the ‘Best Photobooks of The Year’.

You can buy this exquisite book here

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The Playful Street Photography of Pau Buscató

Petapixel is a site worth following, there are often interesting articles and great finds, like this photographer Pau Buscató

My last post was by another photographer who had the ability to see those things others miss and this post has more images that are clever and witty.

Pau Buscató is a street photographer who has a knack for capturing playful moments in which subjects and scenes come together in curious ways for brief moments of time. Many of his pictures are illusions that may cause you to stare a little longer to understand what it is you’re actually seeing.

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You can find more of Buscató’s photos on his website, Instagram, and Flickr.

You can find more of Buscató’s photos on his websiteInstagram, and Flickr.

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Pau Buscató

“My approach to street photography is very intuitive and I’ve always liked to let my work grow freely, without me forcing any direction or themes,” Buscató writes. “It’s a very open process that demands full awareness and fresh eyes, to see the ordinary things of our everyday not just for what they are, but also for what they can become, when photographed.

“There is a strong sense of play in my street photography. It’s a game for me, and the city is my playground.”

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Pau Buscató

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Pau Buscató

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Pau Buscató

https://www.buscato.net/colour/

You can find more of Buscató’s photos on his websiteInstagram, and Flickr.

 

 

Casablanca Not the Movie – in pictures

I saw this in the Guardian and had to share it with you. A few weeks ago I was taken to see Casablanca, the movie, by some friends. I am not sure I had ever seen it in it’s entirety before but it was enjoyable in a noirish sort of way. These pictures have nothing in common with the movie and all the better for it

There’s no sign of Humphrey Bogart or the stereotyped images found in travel guides in Yoriyas Yassine Alaoui Ismaili’s photographs of Casablanca. His images are full of energy and surprise, and show what the city is really like. Casablanca Not the Movie is at Riad Yima, Marrakech until 30 June 2018

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Moulay Rachid, Casablanca, 2015

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Sidi Othmane, Casablanca, 2017

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Old Medina, Casablanca, 2017

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Hay Hassani, Casablanca, 2015

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Ain Diab beach, Casablanca, 2016

see more of Yoriyas Yassine Alaoui Ismaili’s photographs of Casablanca here

or better visit his website here

Lewis Hine, photographer who changed lives

Twenty-four photographs from the Lewis Hine archive have been auctioned in New York. The rare prints were from the collection of the late New York photographer Isador Sy Seidman.

American sociologist Hine was one of the most important documentary photographers of the 20th Century. Because the notion of photojournalism and documentary did not exist at the time, Hine called his projects “photo stories”, using images and words to fight for the causes he believed in.

The prints span Hine’s career and many are from his most well-known projects, centring on the poor and disadvantaged from the Carolinas, New York and Pittsburgh. from the BBC

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Mechanic at Steam Pump in Electric Power House, circa 1921. The rare print of this photograph sold for just over $80,000 (£57,000).

Hine spent years dedicated to his many projects, creating photographs that depicted his subjects with dignity and compassion. In 1904, he began to document the immigrants arriving at Ellis Island.

His aim was to give a human face to the newly arrived families, who were often feared by New Yorkers.

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Mother and child, Ellis Island, 1907.

After asking his subjects’ permission, Hine would set up his shot and ignite the flash powder, which would go off with a loud bang, producing lots of dramatic black smoke.

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Hot day on East Side, New York, 1908.

See more of these fascinating images on the BBC website here

Garden Photographer of The Year

When I am teaching I always recommend those students who are interested in garden and plant photography to check out this site. It has such a wide array of different photographic subjects and styles and is really inspiring. The 2018 prize has been awarded so you can go and visit the site here

Gardens and landscape scenes from all around the world have also been commended in the competition, showing nature in all seasons. From rolling hills of golden rice in China to a flower-smelling hamster in Austria, take a look at a selection of winning images.

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Marcio Cabral of Brasilia, Brazil, scooped the award with his winning image entitled Cerrado Sunrise.

Tyrone McGlinchey, managing director of IGPOTY said: “Marcio has captured a spectacular vision of plant life in the Cerrado, displaying the beautiful flowers of Paepalanthus chiquitensis, stretching out on countless filaments towards the first light of the rising sun.”

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Mark Bauer spotted a carpet of purple heather in Stoborough Heath National Nature Reserve, Dorset.

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Yi Fan shot this endangered medicinal plant growing wild in the mountains of Yunnan in China.

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A wild European hamster smells a flower in Vienna, Austria, photographed by Henrik Spranz.

You can see many more on the BBC website here

An exhibition of the winning photos can be seen at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, from 10th February to 11th March 2018.

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Alison Staite shot these sunlit Pulsatilla flowers at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London.

go here for the IGOPTY site

 

10 Best Photography Courses In Oxford

This might be a bit of shameless self promotion but I do believe we offer the very best courses in photography in the Oxford area. We go from the basics of understanding your camera, DSLR or compact/bridge camera for beginners through the vital areas of composition, Photoshop, Lightroom and more subject-based courses such as portrait and travel photography  If you are interested in photography and want to get more from your camera then our courses will help you achieve your aim.

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If someone asks you what you want as a present and you don’t know get a voucher and choose from our courses when you have worked out what you need

Here are some recent comments:

I attended Keith’s one day introduction to using an SLR. I thought the course was excellent. We went through all the basics at a good pace and had an opportunity to put some of the lessons into practice. Keith also covered some basic principles of photography that i hope to put into practice. I am confident that Keith has provided the break through that I needed. Keith also provided a very clear summary of the sessions and follow up links to relevant blogs etc. The session exceeded my expectations From Andrew

I took Keith’s basic course, Understanding Your DSLR, and was very impressed in every respect. Keith is a terrific instructor–very knowledgeable, articulate, organized, and attentive to student questions and issues.The course brought together students who were generally at a basic level, but the few who had had far more experience with the camera/photography appeared to get a lot out of the course as well. The atmosphere was relaxed, respectful, enjoyable, and amiable right at the outset, and students were comfortable asking questions at all levels. His many examples were carefully thought out and greatly helped students understand what he was describing. After each class, he emailed students many references and additional information to both underscore/reinforce what had been discussed in class and to expand on that information for future use. I know that I will greatly benefit from reviewing those references as I continue to use my camera in the future. I highly recommend Keith as an instructor, as well as the class, to anyone –novice or veteran user–who is interested in learning about the DSLR camera. I would definitely take his other courses but am now no longer living in the Oxford area. Anyone in the area interested in obtaining a solid background in the DSLR camera will be very pleased with his class. From Ann

If you want to see more reviews you can do so here

Here is a list of our courses

The 10 best bridge cameras in 2017

A bridge camera is usually shaped a bit like a DSLR, so bigger than a compact but has a fixed lens. These are often super zooms, so from wide angle to extreme telephoto, and this is their appeal. The often suffer from the compromise of having smaller sensors to allow for the extended zoom.

Tech Radar has a review of the best bridge cameras from 2017 here

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Canon PowerShot SX60 HS

Bridge cameras are a versatile and affordable alternative to DSLRs, offering the same kind of manual controls plus a huge zoom lens that covers everything from wide-angle to super-telephoto photography.

There are two important differences to be aware of, though. The first is that bridge cameras have much smaller sensors than DSLRs or mirrorless cameras, so most can’t match those models for picture quality

The second is that the lens is non-removable, so although it can handle a wide range of subjects you can’t swap to a macro lens for close-ups, for example, or a super-wide-angle lens, or a fast prime lens for low-light photography.

If you’re not quite sure what kind of camera you need, read our essential guide: What camera should I buy?

Bridge cameras do, however, give you a lot of camera for your money, and they’re a great stepping stone for photographers who want to move on from simple point-and-shoot cameras. There are also now a few models that have larger sensors and deliver better picture quality, and which come a lot closer to the performance of a DSLR.

The best travel compact cameras in 2017

So travel photography has a number of challenges and the first is the size of your gear. I tried to compromise and use smaller compact style cameras but never felt I could get the same as using my DSLR kit. So my compromise is to carry weighty cameras and lenses however not everybody is that stupid.

There are a range of compact cameras aimed at the travel market, for me Lumix and the TZ range has it in the bag but strangely not everyone agrees with me.

A travel compact should produce decent images, have good pixel count and probably most importantly a tremendous zoom range, sometimes called a super-zoom.

Tech Radar has done a sterling job reviewing what is the best travel camera in 2017

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TZ100 Travel Compact

When you’re going on vacation you’re going to naturally want to take a camera along with you too, and the one in your smartphone probably won’t cut. Why? While it might be fine for snapshots, the fixed wide-angle lens on most smartphones won’t allow you to zoom into your subject.

In fact zooming is the key, because you won’t know what you want to shoot until you get there and quite often the things you want to photograph will be off in the distance. Now is not the time to find out your zoom isn’t powerful enough. And don’t think that you can simply digitally zoom in on your smartphone’s screen – quality will drop off rapidly.

This is why the ‘travel camera’ genre is so popular. These are compact cameras barely larger than a regular point-and-shoot model, but with massive 20x or 30x zoom lenses. You get the portability of a regular camera, but with much more scope for shooting different kinds of subjects.

Some models now sport larger sensors for improved image quality, the TZ100 has a 1″ sensor and is great in low light

You’re not going to get the same kind of quality you’d get from a DSLR or a mirrorless camera because the only way to make cameras with big zooms small enough to go in a pocket is to use a smaller sensor. But the picture quality is still pretty good, and perfect for sharing with friends and family, while some models now sport larger sensorsfor improved image quality. 

If you’re not sure this is the kind of camera you need, check our step by step guide: What camera should I buy?

Alternatively, if you’re going to be by the pool or on the beach, you might want something a bit more rugged, so take a look at our best waterproof cameraguide.

The 10 best compact cameras in 2017

A compact camera is by definition small, and by design has the lens built into the body. There are a number of different types of compact cameras some specialised to specific photographic tasks such as travel compact cameras. Most compact cameras offer good quality and the better ones a wide range of functions that would seem to be similar to those on DSLR or CSC type cameras but in their first instances they should work well as simple to use cameras.

I recently bought a Lumix TZ100 to take on my motorbike and I am really impressed with the quality, I still don’t like using a compact as much as I do my DSLR but when it was a choice between wet weather gear and my DSLR camera the wet weather gear won so a compromise on the camera front was needed.

Tech Radar has a review of some of the compact cameras that have excelled in 2017

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Compact cameras and the compact camera market have changed a lot over the last few years. Smartphones have decimated the entry-level range of point-and-shoot models that used to be popular and as a result manufacturers have concentrated on putting more advanced features into cameras to make them more attractive.

In addition to a move towards having physically larger sensors to boost image quality that can rival DSLRs in some cases, some compact cameras sport lenses long zoom ranges or wide maximum apertures. Wi-Fi connectivity is also now de rigueur on most compacts, so you can transfer shots quickly to a phone for sharing on Facebook etc

Many enthusiast photographers used to be very sniffy about compact digital cameras, but there are now many that make a great alternative to a DSLR or mirrorless system camera. And those who are new to photography and thinking about stepping up from a smartphone have some pretty sophisticated choices as well. 

There are small cameras that can slip in a pocket yet have huge zoom ranges, and large bridge cameras that look like DSLRs, but have a fixed lens and lots of automated easy-to-use options.

These cameras prove that you don’t have to buy a camera that takes interchangeable lenses to get great shots.

If you need a bit more help figuring out what kind of camera you need, then read this article: What camera should I buy?

LensCulture street photography awards

I wrote about the awards season and missed this one. Thanks to The Guardian I was alerted to these rather excellent images. I don’t know anything about the organisers LensCulture except this street photography award. I think you only have to look at these images to wonder why you don’t pick up your camera and head to the streets.