Oxford School of Photography

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Daily Archives: November 11, 2011

Magnum – Contact Sheets

Yesterday I was in Blackwells Art Book Shop and saw the new book from Magnum, the picture agency. Called Contact Sheets it shows images from Magnum photographers and the contact sheets from which the images were chosen. Many of the images are very famous and you will know them even if you do not know the photographer. This is a fascinating book because as well as the pictures there is extensive text and explanations of the editing process that determined the chosen image out of so many.

I was interested to note at first that looking though the pages of contact sheets and recognsing the one image I knew so well that it was obvious why it was the first choice but then I wondered if this was just my familiarity with the image.

Anyway I haven’t bought the book yet but will, the £95 was more than I was ready for however with Christmas coming if any of my family read this make a note.

There is an extended article on the BBC website discussing and reviewing this book by Phil Coomes, here is some of what Phil has to say

The contact sheet is often described as the photographer’s sketch book. It is the result of those moments of exploration, moments spent waiting for a scene to develop before the final moment when, ‘click’, you know you’ve got the shot in the can.

The godfather of photojournalism, Henri Cartier-Bresson is famously known for analysing other photographers’ contact sheets as a means to judging their work.

You can learn so much from what is left out from a final edit as well as seeing how the photographer explored their chosen subject. Although Cartier-Bresson used to cut up his own contact sheets, preserving only those that worked well as sequences or the best individual frames.

The out-takes also remove a little of the mythology around the final image as it begins to show what else was happening around the moment of capture. And that’s no bad thing. They also offer the photographer a chance to discover something new when revisiting those sheets many years later.

A new book from the archives of the Magnum Photo Agency brings together 139 contact sheets by 69 photographers, each one accompanied by the thoughts of the photographer.” 

There is so much more here, do go and have a look at the images and read the text

Peter Marlow: Margaret Thatcher, 1981

Philippe Halsman: Dali Atomicus, 1948

Magnum Contact Sheets edited by Kristen Lubben is published by Thames & Hudson.

I am sure this available from all good book shops or you can get it here

A weekend full of photography tutorials and links

Isn’t the web and blogging a very cool thing. Here, we in Oxford England, bring you a variety of links and tutorials gathered together By of Canada via Lightstalking from Australia

“It has been a very active week in the world of photography, and Toad Hollow Photography has been busy finding the best tutorials, photography and interesting blogs to share with everyone.  This comprehensive list contains some of the most compelling pieces in this realm, and are all a true joy and inspiration to take in for the viewer.  We certainly hope you enjoy going through this list as much as the Toad did in bringing it to you.” from those ever so clever people at Toad Hollow photography via Lightstalking, see more of the links and tutorials here


Two Easy Ways to Add Texture to Your Photos – a great and brief tutorial that describes and shows you how to easily add a texture overlay to your images.  The results can be quite dramatic and worth the effort.

How to Use Diagonal Lines in Photography – this brief tutorial guides the photographer through the process of composing a shot with great lines in it, to add an element of interest.  Wonderfully written, this piece is sure to teach everyone a little something about this technique.

Flash + Ambient Light – a wonderful photograph punctuates a short blog post that discusses the use of flash in conjunction with ambient lighting.  Definitely well worth the time to visit.

How to Use Curved Lines in Photography – we have another tutorial here today on the employment of lines in photography, this time we’re looking at curves.  This is a great piece that is well written, sure to leave all photographers with a little deeper understanding and vantage of using these specific techniques.

Improve Your Flash Photography – a great post discussing off camera lighting and how to use it, and how it applies to photography.  Doug Pruden shares some great tips and tricks on how to move beyond the pop-up flash that comes with almost all DSLR cameras these days.

Buachaille Etive Mor by Alan Weir, on Flickr