Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

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

Salt and Silver: Early Photography 1840 – 1860 Exhibition Tate Britain

This is the first exhibition in Britain devoted to salted paper prints, one of the earliest forms of photography. A uniquely British invention, unveiled by William Henry Fox Talbot in 1839, salt prints spread across the globe, creating a new visual language of the modern moment.

This revolutionary technique transformed subjects from still lifes, portraits, landscapes and scenes of daily life into images with their own specific aesthetic: a soft, luxurious effect particular to this photographic process.

The few salt prints that survive are seldom seen due to their fragility, and so this exhibition, a collaboration with the Wilson Centre for Photography, is a singular opportunity to see the rarest and best early photographs of this type in the world.

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Tate Britain: Exhibition
25 February 7 June 2015  Adult £12.00 (without donation £10.90) Concession £10.50 (without donation £9.50)

Talks and lectures

Friday 20 March 2015, 19.0020.00
Friday 17 April 2015, 18.3020.30

Photoshop Awards 2015

We start our next Photoshop and Elements course on Wednesday and still have places in case you are interested in entering next years awards.

It is 25 years since Photoshop first appeared and it has morphed into a verb, an idea and has it’s very own awards (no not really, well yes really but not this kind. I once saw a very unkind T-Shirt with the legend, “Photoshop, helping the ugly since 1990″

So from The Guardian we have this article about the PS Awards as seen over the last 25 years, and they are so much more interesting than the Oscars

The John Terry award for perfect attendance

John Terry joins Hollywood celebrities in one of the many Photoshop pastiches of his infamous Champions League final moment. Photograph: Massimo Marioni

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If we were to hand it to anybody else, Terry would no doubt appear in the triumphant photograph anyway. Ever since the Chelsea captain gatecrashed hisclub’s Champions League victory celebrations, decked out in full kit and shinpads, as if trying to convince the world (and himself) that he had played in the final (rather than watching from the sidelines due to being banned), wags with rudimentary Photoshop ability have been inserting him into all kinds of jubilant scenes.

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The least successful use of Photoshop for political ends Winner: the Conservative ‘road to recovery’ poster

Road to recovery? Check. Freshly tarmacked? Check. Green and pleasant vista? Golly, yes! Verges that look freshly trimmed by industrious eastern Europeans while we were still in our pyjamas? You’d better believe it. No wonder the Tories selected this photo for their first election poster, and that George Osborne claimed that it was “a British picture, a British road”. Only it isn’t: it’s a German road.

Winner and runner up in the  The most successful use of Photoshop for political ends

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Photo Op by Phillips and Kennard. Photograph: Phillips & Kennard

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So if you want to see the rest of the winners and runners up go here and if you want to find out how you can do such spectacular things and would like to join our course go here

 

Best photography competitions to enter in 2015

What a useful site DCW can be, here is a list of some of the most prestigious competitions for you to enter this year

Landscape Photographer of the Year 2015

The brainchild of renowned landscape photographer Charlie Waite, Take a View Landscape Photographer of the Year celebrates British landscapes. Although only landscapes taken in the UK are accepted, photographers from any country are welcome to enter, and with the grand title winner taking home a total prize worth £20,000, you might find entering is worth your while!

A Beginning and an End, Glencoe, Scotland

Image: A Beginning and an End, Glencoe, Scotland, by Mark Littlejohn

Travel Photographer of the Year 2015

Founded in 2003, Travel Photographer of the Year has grown to become one of the most prestigious photography awards in the world, receiving entries from around 100 countries each year.

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Image: By Philip Lee Harvey

International Garden Photographer of the Year

Run in association with the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, the IGPOTY’s Ninth annual competition will take place this year, with an award of £5000 for the grand title winner, and an award of £2000 for the Portfolio winner.

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Image: My Prairie Garden by Rosanna Castrini

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015

The long-running and well-respected Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, now in its 50th year, is co-owned by the prestigious Natural History Museum and BBC Worldwide. It now receives entries from around 100 countries across the globe. The top award for best single image is £10,000, along with a trophy and personalised certificate. There are other generous prizes for awards in other categories.

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Image: The last great picture by Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols

Sony World Photography Awards 2016

Priding itself on being the largest photography competition around, the Sony World Photography Awards attracts a large number of submissions from entrants – of all ages and skill levels – across the world.

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Image: by John Stanmeyer, winner of Contemporary Issues category

 

 

Shoot for the Light – Improve Your Composition

When I started reading this Post By: Etienne Bossot on Digital Photography School I thought he must have been on one of my courses and heard me say, as I do all the time, “look for the light and wait for a subject”. It seems so obvious to me, photography is about light, so concentrating on that is truly doing photography. I am sure you will find this article interesting and worth your time. Last night I was teaching our new Travel Photography course and I spent as much time talking about this as I did explaining how not to get ripped off by local scams which itself is very important too! I very much agree with his line “No, believe me, as someone living in Vietnam: one old lady with a pointy hat looks the same as another old lady with a pointy hat.” I was lucky enough to have a brilliant time in Vietnam in 2013 and he is right, what seems so exotic at first becomes commonplace very quickly

Here is one of my most valuable tips. The one I will offer to someone who comes to me, complaining that after 20 years of taking photos they can’t get out of their usual compositions, and want to get into a new level of creativity.

It may sound like something you have heard before. Yes, photography is all about light, and if there is a good light then there is a good photo…….Instead of that, try and focus your entire attention on the light around you. Not the beautiful sunset light in the whole sky, but the little spots of golden light right there, on the floor next to you. Yes, can you see them? Well, there is your next photo my friend.

Etienne Bossot has some excellent images to populate this article and I would recommend you spend a little time looking at them as you read his sage words. Read the full post here

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Canon EOS 760D vs 750D vs 700D: 9 things you need to know

You wait around for new cameras and then they all come at once. Canon has introduced 2 new mid range cameras, the 750D looks like an update of the 700D although the latter has not been ditched from the line up and the 760D has a number of other improvements that pitch it higher.

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This report from Digital Camera World covers the basic differences and explains why you will choose one rather than the other to suit your photography.

EOS Rebel T6s / T6i (760D / 750D) key features

  • 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor
  • 19-point autofocus system
  • Hybrid CMOS AF III focus system (live view)
  • 7560 pixel RGB + IR metering sensor with skin tone detection
  • 3″ fully articulating touchscreen LCD
  • Eye sensor for use with optical viewfinder [T6s only]
  • LCD information display on top plate [T6s only]
  • Quick control dial on rear [T6s only]
  • 5 fps continuous shooting
  • 1080/30p video
  • Servo AF in live view [T6s only]
  • Wi-Fi with NFC

DP Review has more detail as you would expect, if you want that here is a link

Digital Camera World come up with these as conclusions

Canon EOS 760D vs 750D vs 700D: Conclusions

With the launch of these two new APS-C DSLRs, alongside the announcements of the Canon 5DS and Canon 5DS R and the new EOS M3, Canon has made a bold start to 2015.

Will the 760D and 750D cannibalise existing EOS DSLRs? Although the 700D remains in the range, we anticipate it being gradually phased out and the 750D becoming the flagship entry-level EOS.

The 760D is certainly going to be tempting to those photographers looking to step up the range and who would otherwise be considering the 70D. If you don’t need the 70D’s faster frame rate and weather sealing, then the 760D is the smarter buy.

In our opinion, the additional convenience offered by the EOS 760D’s top LCD display and Quick Control Dial alone are worth the £50 premium over the 750D.

Canon 5DS 50-megapixel

At last Canon have responded to Nikon and produced a camera with significantly more pixels, a 50 megapixel camera will produce approximately a 150mb file! It is not one new camera but 2, the 5Ds and the 5DS R The planned release is June so start saving.

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Canon’s new full-frame sensor offers a resolution of 50.6 million pixels (megapixels). That’s 40% more than the Nikon D800/D810, a camera which caused jaws to drop on its own launch Comparisons with Canon’s own cameras are even more stark. The EOS 5D Mark III was previously Canon’s highest resolution DSLR, with 22 million pixels – but the 5DS more than doubles this at a stroke writes Techradar

This kind of resolution might be overkill for the average amateur photographer, but for professionals it could be crucial. It could even take away the need to move up to the much more expensive world of medium format digital photography, and will be particularly well-suited to landscapes, architecture, fashion and portrait photography. It provides the kind of resolution needed for large-scale displays like advertising billboards or posters.

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Professionals are the main target, but Canon also talks about ‘personal’ photography. The EOS 5DS isn’t cheap, but it’s not unattainable either. It goes on sale from June 2015 at a price of £3,000/US$3700 (about AU$4726), which is not a whole lot more than the EOS 5D Mark III

The 5DS R is sharper still

When Nikon launched the D800 in 2012, it also announced a variant the D800E. Until that point, all DSLRs had an optical ‘low-pass’ filter in front of the sensor to prevent moiré (interference) effects with fine patterns and textures. This slightly softens fine detail as a side-effect, and the D800E variant had the low pass filter effect removed (reduced actually – it was removed entirely for the D810).

Canon has done the same. The 5DS is the ‘regular’ version with a low pass filter, while the 5D R has the low pass effect removed.

In fact, apart from the resolution and a some external details, the 5DS is practically the same as the 5D Mark III. The 5D Mark III will continue alongside the new models too, and not just as a cheaper but outdated predecessor – it’s better in low light, for a start. The 5DS has a maximum non-expanded ISO of 6400, but the 5D Mark III goes up to ISO 12800

Canon EOS 5DS / SR key features

  • 50MP CMOS sensor
  • 5fps continuous shooting
  • ISO 100-6400 (Extends to 12,800)
  • 61-point AF module with input from 150k pixel metering sensor
  • Dual Digic 6 processors
  • 3.0″ 1.04m dot LCD
  • CF & SD slots (UHS-I compatible)
  • 1080/30p video
  • M-Raw and S-Raw down-sampled formats
  • 30MP APS-H crop and 19.6MP APS-C crop modes
  • USB 3.0 interface

 

It is interesting that as DP Review mention having such resolution means that focus and stability becomes more of an issue, this implies these cameras are better suited to tripod based photography

Most of the big new features on the high-res 5Ds are about ensuring you’re able to get the best of the cameras’ extra resolution. Our experiences with the Nikon D8X0 series cameras has shown us that simply having a high resolution sensor isn’t enough: to take full advantage of it you need to really obsess about stability.

To this end, Canon has reinforced the tripod socket and surrounding area to allow stable engagement with a tripod. It has also used a more controllable, motorized mirror mechanism, like the one in the EOS 7D II, that allows a deceleration step before the mirror hits its upper position – reducing mirror slap.

The third change a revised mirror lock-up mode that allows you to specify an automatic delay between the mirror being raised and the shutter opening to start the exposure. It allows the user to choose the shortest possible delay that has allowed mirror vibration to subside: maximizing sharpness while minimizing the loss of responsiveness.

How funky is this picture, looks like the T20 Terminator

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A series of features in the EOS 5DS and S R are ones we first saw in the EOS 7D Mark II. This includes the flicker detection function that warns you of lighting flicker and can synchronize the camera’s continuous shooting so that it only fires at the brightest moments to ensure consistent exposure (rather than the constant variation you can otherwise get in such situations).

Two other 7D II features to make an appearance in 5D camera for the first time are the built-in intervalometer function that can be used to shoot time lapse sequences. And, as a first for Canon, these can then be combined in-camera to create a 1080/24p time-lapse movie.

You can get further information from DP Review and Techradar or even Canon 

 

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II: new camera with surprising ability

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 II – price tag £899.99 body only; release date late Feb 2015 – has been announced today, offering photographers the opportunity to create 40-megapixel images using its 16MP sensor.

I don’t quite know how they have done this, it seems like smoke and mirrors, maybe that is it.

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This new Olympus camera is able to offer this new functionality thanks to an enhanced 5-Axis Image Stabilisation system first introduced in its predecessor, the Olympus OM-D E-M5.

The OM-D E-M5 Mark II is able to capture 40-megapixel still images by moving its 16-megapixel LIVE MOS sensor between each shot and merging eight single exposures into one final image with detail and resolution far beyond the sensor’s normal capacity.

Normally used by manufacturers to counteract the effects of camera shake, Olympus has used this sensor shifting technology to create high-resolution composites that Olympus says rivals the quality of many full-frame cameras.

But it also eliminates camera shake, too. Olympus says the enhanced 5-axis Image Stabilisation system can eliminate shake in all five planes of movement, achieving the equivalent of 5 EV steps faster than shutter speed. And because the system is built into the body of the OM-D E-M5 II it will work with any lens, is what we learn from Digital Camera World

More information is available at DP Review

Olympus’s OM-D E-M5 II is, like its predecessor, a small, attractive and usable 16MP camera. In fact, at first glance it looks relatively unchanged. The most obvious additions are its more advanced movie capabilities and a clever multi-shot 40MP mode, but you have to look a bit more closely to see how much work Olympus has put into this new model.

How do you follow up a classic? A little more time is going to have to pass before the E-M5 can truly wear that mantle but I have little doubt that that’s the question Olympus’s engineers and product planners have been asking themselves. And, it must be said, it’s quite a challenge. Technology has moved forward since the first OM-D was launched but simply bringing the camera up-to-date risks feeling like a let down.

Sure enough, the E-M5 II doesn’t feel like as big a step forward as its predecessor was. But how could it be? Cameras such as the Sony’s a6000 and a7, and Samsung’s NX1 have raised the expected level of capability so far that it would be hard for any new model to represent as much of a breakthrough. Nonetheless, Olympus has probably done as much as it can to move things forward.

Close examination of the camera shows that almost every aspect of its design has been tweaked, refined and polished. Without access to a higher pixel-count sensor, it’s not obvious what else Olympus could have added to the Mark II.

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Olympus E-M5 II key features

  • 16MP Four Thirds CMOS sensor
  • 40 MP multi-exposure mode
  • 1080/60p shooting and 1080/30p at up to 77Mbps (All-I)
  • 5-axis image stabilization in both stills and movie modes
  • 10fps continuous shooting, 5fps with AF
  • 1/8000th sec maximum shutter speed (1/16000th with electronic shutter)
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Clip-on rotating, bounceable flash
  • The standout change for stills shooters is likely to be the 40MP multi-shot mode. This uses the camera’s sensor-shift system to move the sensor to eight fractionally different positions and create a high-resolution composite image from these eight exposures.

As digital photography and cameras continue to develop new and innovative ways of improving results step into the light every so often. These new innovations make us think wow I would like one of those but rarely do we actually stray from our preferred camera manufacturer. I still see classes on our excellent Understanding Your DSLR Camera where everyone has either a Canon or a Nikon. There is an very occasional Pentax, sometimes a Sony and less often still an Olympus but by a huge margin it is Nikon or Canon. We try to keep you up to date with new developments in cameras, do you remember last year we reported on the revolutionary Lytro. A camera so advanced that it allows you to refocus your image on the computer after you have taken the picture. Choose anything you want in focus in your image and it can be! If you don’t believe me here is a link to our post. Well I have never seen one, have never met anyone who has one or who has seen one. Will this be the case with this new Olympus, who knows? If the idea works and is a useful addition to the process of making images I guess Canon and Nikon will make their own version once they have figured out how to get around the patents.

So should you be considering changing all your gear for one of these? Personally I would wait to see how good it is, what problems with the moving sensor and then whether you actually need a 40mp camera. That will make a 120mb file! The Nokia Lumia 1020 phone has a 41mp camera, honestly who cares.

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