Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

Monthly Archives: January 2012

One Day Photographic Treks only £35

I’m not the sort of photographer who is ever likely to offer you a walking trek in the landscapes of the Peak District so when I saw this I thought it would be good to bring it to your attention. The cost is an amazingly cheap £35, so if you are a landscape photographer who is prepared to go more than about 200m from your car this could well be a treat for you.


One day, fully guided photographic trek in The Peak District taking in the wilder edges and moors to access views most photographers never get to see.

Using his in-depth mountain knowledge, experienced leader, Paul Allen, can guide you to a range of viewpoints, with optional sunset shoots depending on the conditions. As we will be in small groups of 5 or less we can respond to any changes in light and desires of the group to capture the images you want to get.”....MORE info here

Urbex (urban explorers with cameras)

My friend Andy showed me a book of his at the weekend about Urbex. This is a…..movement, loose grouping, bunch of passionate individuals who like to explore abandoned buildings and photograph them. The ‘movement’ is international and there are forums from many countries where people post about buildings they have found and sometimes they post their pictures too.

Here are links to some of those forums

Talkingurbex this link opens in their gallery

28 Days Later

Urbex UK

American Urbex

urbex : salve mater 3 by ~cbdphotography


The book in questions that piqued my interest was called Beauty in Decay, it is a photography book featuring 14 different photographers from all over the place. The pictures are predominately HDR representations which give all the images a sort of Giger look, (the guy who designed the sets for Ridley Scott’s Alien movie)You know how it is, you find out about something and suddenly you see it everywhere, so my surprise was not elevated beyond a mild jolt when a new follower of this blog also had an interest and had done some urban exploring of his own. Chris Maskell has some really nice images on his blog site here this is one from a girls school

Chris Maskell

How to be a better photographer

This article talks about how to be a better fine art photographer but I think many of the points made refer to being any type of photographer, it is worth reading all of this article.
“How do you proceed to grow and develop as a fine art photographer? Basically, regular use of your camera with deliberate intent, while paying attention to the following, is what brings it about.”
fine art photo

Photo captured by alihankamis (click image to see more from alihankamis)

How do you proceed to grow and develop as a fine art photographer? Basically, regular use of your camera with deliberate intent, while paying attention to the following, is what brings it about.

1. Pursue the Goal:

To make images that stir the viewer’s thinking and emotions.

2. Develop Your ‘Seeing’ Skills:

Its the first and most important skill that you need to learn.

‘Seeing’ exercises: Set aside 45 minutes from time to time around your home, with your camera and a subject that has your sustained interest. Relax for a few minutes then start taking pictures. Study part of your subject for a moment or two, then re-focus on another part of your subject and study it for a while. Become aware of colors and shapes. See how many details you can find. Then note the following:

  • Personal responses: You’re ‘tuning in’ to your feelings/thoughts to locate the subject matter, or portion of it, with most personal interest for you.
  • Impression: look at your chosen subject matter, or any part of it, and see it simply as a geometric shape or an arrangement of geometric shapes. Note the position where things look most graphically appealing.
  • Expression: What does the subject matter seem to express in the way of: Sensation; rough/smooth? hot/cold? sharp/dull? hard/soft? moving/still? Etc. And Emotion & Mood: love/hate? joy/sadness? anger/delight? peace/turmoil? Tranquility/disturbance? Respond with your perceptions of sensation and emotion.
  • Meaning: What ideas does the subject matter seem to suggest? Respond with your intellect.
  • Subject Theme: In view of your personal responses, the graphic impression, what is expressed and seems to be said, decide upon a subject theme, the main idea/feeling you wish to convey to the picture-viewer.

 MORE of this excellent article on Picture Correct by JohnMaxymuik

Images with Atmosphere from Finland

On the ever interesting Photography Served gallery site I found these, more here

Does That Little Flip Up Diffuser Actually Help?

From The Digital Photo School over in Australia comes the answer to an often asked question in class.

“Not all flashes have these two items that cover the flash head and pull straight out, but if yours does and you’ve always wondered, here is your answer.”

Photography Links of the week

Here is the weekly round up brought to us all by Toad Hollow via Lighstalking. Enjoy the ride.

Another wonderful week in the wide world of photography passes us by, and Toad Hollow Photography is there collecting a list of links of tutorials, great photography and interesting blogs to share with everyone.  This comprehensive list contains links to truly incredible works by some truly gifted artists and photographers.  We hope you enjoy viewing the images and blogs here as much as the Toad did in bringing them to you.

Check out the Toad’s latest acclaimed photoblog series “The Toad And The Lodge”, showcasing a series of images captured of a long term care facility that lies abandoned for over 17 years now.  This 5 part series discusses the history of the location as well as drawing on metaphors for the meaning of life.  Pt 1: Tillicum Lodge: A Lost Facility | Pt 2: The Silence Is DeafeningPt 3: The Overgrown CourtyardPt 4: Field Of WhispersPt 5: Echoes Of Our Elders.  The Toad also maintains a large gallery of images on their Architecture and Landscape Photography website.

Here is a sample of this week’s links for the full set go HERE


Project in development: Inexpensive way to shoot expensive jewelry – Alex Koloskov is one of my favorite photographers, not only is he one of the leading photographers of our generation, he also selflessly continues to give back to the photography community through his blog posts.  This post is a great example of this; here Alex shows us how to achieve GREAT results in the genre of product photography using relatively inexpensive and easy to use photographic components.  If you’re interested in emulating fabulous lighting for your imagery then you just simply must see this article.

Quick Tip: Duplicating a Project
– sometimes a brief article with tips and tricks can be just as helpful as a full on 1,000 page tutorial.  This blog post is a great example of this.

Dunure waves by overgraeme, on Flickr

Quick Photo Tip: Turn Your Photo Upside Down – another fabulous article by Joe Baraban gets the photographer thinking differently about the photography they produce.  This is a great exercise, guaranteed to get everyone looking at their compositions with a different perspective.

Portrait Editing In Photoshop-part 2 of a series – a great piece that shares some awesome insights, tips and tricks into performing portrait editing in Photoshop.  Complete with a sample image, this tutorial will definitely get the creative juices flowing in terms of using this tool for your post-processing needs.

Composing Better Backgrounds in Photography – a great tutorial that gives the reader some great tips on how to compose a shot with a great background.  This short and easy-to-read article delivers some great ideas on how to come home with the perfect shot, well worth the time to visit and read.

Red White and Blue Shoe – this post and image belongs in two categories for this weeks list, here in the Tutorials section and in the Great Photography section below.  Ultimately, the great tips and tricks on studio lighting won over, and we placed it here.  Erik and Kathleen Kerstenbeck capture a truly unique shot and discuss the intricacies of the lighting employed to achieve this look, producing a post that is guaranteed to delight in terms of great photography, but also shares some great tips and tricks on this particular style of photography.

Photo Composition Technique – The Feinberg Rule – I have a voracious appetite for learning about compositional and lighting techniques and this article delivered something absolutely new to me.  This brief tutorial discusses The Feinberg Rule and supplies an example image to use to visualize how to apply it.  This is an exciting technique that I have never heard of myself, and am very much looking forward to trying it out in our practice.  Check it out yourself!


Girls School L – Into the Light | Abandoned Girls School L | Corridor | The Conservatory | The Grand Staircase | Staircase Detail | The Upper Rooms | The Pool Party – what a completely fabulous series posted here by one of our generations leading UrBex photographers, Chris Maskell.  This fabulous bit of heritage architecture that once was a girls school now lies in near ruin.  Chris carefully and purposely composes a stunning series and provides some background history on the location to provide extra depth.  No matter what your taste in art, this series is guaranteed to delight and amaze everyone who pops by for a visit.

Learning to See (Part 8) – profound, touching, emotional and accented with some of the best photography the world has ever seen, this post from Tom Dinning takes us deep into ourselves and answers some questions about why we pursue this craft.  Guaranteed to inspire you to push further and harder, this wonderful post will leave you with as many questions remaining as answered.  This is a must-see post for this weeks list!

Buying a tripod

This useful article from Digital Picture Zone gives good advice about what to think about when buying a tripod.

“A tripod seems to be one of the most basic types of photography accessories since it’s basically a stand that’s used to keep your camera steady. However, there are a few details you should be looking at before buying one as they are all different.”…..MORE

If you are local to Oxford my recommendation is get over to Morris Photographic, now in Chipping Norton and see their extensive range

Portrait Photography Basic Tips

We run a Portrait Photography course the next one starts on March 1st. Our course covers all you need to understand about natural light portraits, we cover finding the right light, modifying it to suit your purposes, camera settings, subject preparation and posing, environmental portraits, candid portraits and all the other bits you need. If you can’t wait until the 1st March for our course to start this on line tutorial will give you some basics to consider

Are you looking for portrait photography tips so that you can improve your picture taking skills?

At first thought, portrait photography would seem easy, yet the results are often disappointing.

Many of our pictures often include people, and whether you are photographing a model, taking a family photo, or capturing some candid shots while on vacation, you have probably discovered that great photography is a little more than just pointing a camera and pushing a button.

In fact, a really good photo should convey the subject’s character and personality, and communicate something distinct or identifiable about who they are as a person. Following a few key tips will help you learn how to take great portraits so you will never be disappointed again.”….MORE

©Keith Barnes

Nick Drake and the Strange Face Project

My two loves throughout my life have been music and photography. One of my earliest teenage memories is sitting on the floor in my friend Lynne’s house listening to Nick Drake. Her brother was the first person I had met whose life was dominated by his record collection and through him I found Nick Drake and many others.

Michael Burdett has such an interesting story and it is revealed in The Guardian by .

A lost recording by the late singer has been turned into a UK-wide photography project.

“One summer evening in the late 1970s, Michael Burdett was scavenging through a skip behind Island Records HQ in London. He was a teenager, employed as a postboy at the label, and had been given permission to hunt through all the discarded demos for tapes he could record over in the studio he was setting up at home.

An object caught his eye. “A scruffy little tape,” he recalls. “On the front, in felt tip, it said ‘Nick Drake‘ and on the back ‘Cello Song’. And at the bottom were the words ‘With Love’ and two kisses. I knew Nick’s material; he’d been dead five years. I couldn’t let it go to the dump. So I took it and kept it.”………”and suddenly after 30 years he knew what he wanted to do: photograph people listening to it.

“For the next year and a half,” he says, “I kept the camera and the recording with me wherever I went. I approached people at random and ended up photographing tattooists, homeless people, florists, mountaineers, City workers, people aged two to 96.” Of the 200 people he asked, 167 agreed. “I think that is the beautiful thing about all this,” he smiles. “It’s not just about Nick Drake – half the people had never heard of him.”

He calls his collection of photographs the Strange Face Project, a nod to the song’s opening line: “Strange face/ With your eyes/ So pale and sincere.” It was also a reference to the peculiar intensity that played across subjects’ faces as they listened. “With four minutes 22 seconds to photograph someone,” says Burdett, “I invariably found that the images were telling.” READ MORE of the Guardian story here

There is a website for more details about this photography project and a documentary being made about it here

There is an exhibition of the photographs from 27/1/12 – 12/02/12 at Idea Generation, here is a link to their site

This is what they say about they exhibition and Nick Drake

Adventures with a Lost Nick Drake Recording

27/01/12 – 12/02/12

Since his tragic death in the mid seventies, Nick Drake’s haunting music has influenced countless artists – from Kate Bush to Radiohead. we are very excited to share a brand new exhibition, telling the story of how the discovery of a previously unheard recording has touched the lives of a very special group of people; the lucky few, who were chosen to hear it.

Nick Drake is hailed as one of the most influential singer-songwriters of the last 50 years yet his is one of the most mysterious and intriguing stories of 20th century pop. Before his suicide in 1974 aged just 26 he was a relatively unknown artist but in his short recording career he had generated a legacy that would go on to influence some of pop’s most high profile artists.

©Keith Morris

©Michael Burdett

Hear Nick Drake HERE


Studio Flash Repairs

All professional photographers have flash units, studio based or portables that are the means by which they can take photographs, when like today, it is grey and wet outside. I have used a range of different flash types in the past but the make I always had in my studio cabinets and in my travel bags were Bowens. These were not the most expensive but were the best value of all the makes out there and the most robust, and now since 1982 they have been my choice. The problem is that when things go wrong where do you turn. I was fortunate to discover a repair service and a very nice and helpful man called Brian Chapman. He recently joined us in the 21st century and now has a website where you can contact him.

“Repairers of Bowens – Monolights, Quad systems, Quadmatic, Esprit, Estime etc, Courtenay, Multiblitz, Prolinca and Elinchrom photoflash lights for over 40 years.

I have worked for companies such as Bowens and Courtenay so I can look at any type and age of Bowens Flash Lighting and Courtenay Lights.

All repairs are guranteed and equipment is repaired by a highly experienced ex Bowens technician with over 40 experience.

All equipment considered for repair and refurbishment, plus servicing of any lighting system whether at our workshop or at your studio. We also offer loan equipment as a temporary replacement while your equipment is being repaired.

A 24hr repair service is available on request subject parts availability.

Plus supplies of replacement parts and secondhand flash lights for many brands including older and rare bowens and other manufacturers. We hold stock of a huge range of parts to keep your systems operational.”

If only I had found Brian before I had skipped all my old Bowens Quad boxes and heads, as you can see he repairs all sorts of flash heads not just Bowens. Here is a link to his site and contact details