Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

Daily Archives: March 9, 2012

Elliott Erwitt on the art of photographic sequencing

Last week a friend gave me the Elliot Erwitt book Snaps for my birthday, it is a great tome just stuffed with insightful, witty images. Now today I find that on the BBC website there is a little film about his book Sequentially Yours.

The book Sequentially Yours collects a series of vignettes by legendary photographer Elliott Erwitt.

Each photo is taken just moments apart with the sequence telling a story that is surprising, moving or simply funny.

The Paris-born photographer, whose Russian-Jewish family emigrated to the US in the late 1930s, got the idea when he was looking through the contact sheets of all his work.

He realised that “sometimes a story is better told by more pictures rather than one”.

The short stories about life and lovers, pets and children were shot all over the world during the past 60 years.

In his studio and apartment facing New York’s Central Park Erwitt told the BBC how patience is the key to getting a good sequence of photographs.” This link takes you to the BBC website where you can watch the short video.

There is a much fuller article with slide show of about 20 images on the Time LIghtbox site

Elliott Erwitt generally likes to let his pictures do the talking. “I’m very bad about talking about things,” he tells me with a smile, during a recent sit-down to look through his latest book, Sequentially Yours, published this month by teNeues.

The book playfully presents a series of unscripted vignettes that bear the personal hallmark and humor of his classic images and movies, but with an original twist— rather than single shots, the photos are shown as sequences. The result is somewhere between single exposures and films, and the stories play out like silent movies—touching, funny, sad, irreverent and full of surprise.

Erwitt uses his film sparingly; he’s the first to acknowledge that he does not take as many frames as most photographers when he shoots. “The process is sometimes more interesting than the finished picture,” he says. And it’s that thought that served as the impetus for Sequentially Yours. Looking through his archive, Erwitt decided it made more sense to show sequenced images— as opposed to a single shot a la Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “Decisive Moment.”....MORE

9 Tips for a Perfect Portrait Background

This article by Valerie Robinson repeats a chunk of what is taught on our Portrait Photography course

Flatter your portrait subject with the perfect background, even if you don’t have professional backdrops or lighting. A little exposure and composition know-how can get you a long way toward a beautiful portrait background.

 This tutorial is a grab-bag of helpful ideas for photographers of any level. I’ve written them with the idea that once you master them all, you will have a bag of tricks at your disposal. Pull out one or combine several, and you’ll be able to quickly adapt to all kinds of lighting and subject situations and walk away with a wonderful portrait. Many of the techniques, however, work best with just one or two subjects. As a group becomes larger, you’ll find your available options becoming fewer. Such is the life of a portrait photographer!”..…..MORE

Step 1: Crop Out Distractions

Have you ever looked around you and been disappointed about your subject’s location? Maybe it’s a messy home interior or an unremarkable backyard. A location might appear boring at first, but you can improve it by thinking about what your camera “sees”. Look through your viewfinder and pay attention to what’s visible in the background. Get down low or up high. Get in close and to the side. Notice the effect of your movement on what you see in the viewfinder.

One of the most important things you can do to get rid of background distractions is to get in closer to your subject. This is thought of as “in-camera cropping”.

In the two images below, check out how the image was transformed when I got in close and cropped out the parent. All possible disractions were removed and the complete focus of the image was on the baby. One other important thing that happened is that the parent’s solid dark purple sweater looks almost like a professional backdrop.

portrait background photography

Lighting: Indirect window light. It is a north-facing window, but that’s not as important as the fact that it was just not the direction the sun was shining directly in.

Lens: 85mm fixed lens at aperture 1.8. Shutter speed doesn’t really matter. Just has to be fast enough to avoid camera shake.

Step 2: Look Down or Up

In almost every situation, if you get above your subject and look down, you’ll likely find a decent – or even great – background. At the very least you’ll avoid power lines, street signs, or any other distractions. I’m not very tall, so sometimes this means that I need to have my subject get on the ground, kneel, crouch, or otherwise. Or, I’ve been known to climb trees or stand on walls, chairs, park benches, etc. Taking pictures of a child or baby? You’re all set! One other approach is to look up and use tree leaves or the sky for your background.

This isn’t a background tip, but If you’re trying to slim someone, looking down at them and having them extend their chin slightly can be quite effective.

portrait background photography

40+ Amazing Mac Apps for Photographers

“If you are running on mac, you can find a lot of apps all over the web. There are many Mac apps for photography available for download now but finding the good ones is not easy. You have to sort them from the rest which are not good based on your requirements.

Thus, we come up with a list of amazing mac apps that you can use to enhance your digital images. This is to narrow down the list from which you choose the best apps you need for your photography. For those who are looking for nice mac apps without spending a buck, you can get the free items here. If you are a more serious photographer on the other hand, and you don’t mind taking a cheaper option, you can get premium mac apps here for as low as $0.99. Others of course, cost more than that, but that depends on their features and capabilities. You just have to visit their websites to learn more about them. Either way we believe that these apps have cool and great features ready to meet your photo editing, sharing and photo organizational needs. Enjoy!”…..MORE from Tripwire Magazine

1. Snapheal

It’s a snap to fix bad pictures with Snapheal. You will be able to erase unwanted objects, fix skin imperfections and more in a matter of clicks and seconds. This app does magic.

2. Pixelmator

Pixelmator is an inspiring, easy-to-use, beautifully designed image editor built to help you create stunning new images and edit your existing photos. Pixelmator takes full advantage of the latest Mac technologies, giving you speedy, powerful tools that let you touch up and enhance photos, draw or paint, apply dazzling effects and just have fun with your pictures.

All the amazing apps here

€10,000 prize in international photographic award

Olivier Laurent writes in the BJP

“The City of Levallois Photography Award is back for its 2012 edition, offering one photographer a chance to win a €10,000 cash prize…….

Now in its fifth edition, the City of Levallois Photography Award is open to all photographers aged 35 and under (as of 05 October 2012) regardless of nationality.

The award was launched to support young international contemporary creation, and discover and promote new talents. “Photographers must present their own new work, which has not been previously published or exhibited,” say the organisers. “The selection panel will pay particular attention to the consistency of the artistic approach in its form and content. “....MORE

Full details from Photo Levallois here

Last year, the award went to Alexander 
Gronsky for his work Mountains & Water.

To enter the competition, photographers must send a selection of at least 15 photographs with a supporting letter of 1000 words and a resume.

For more information on how to enter, visit www.photo-levallois.org.





Read more: http://www.bjp-online.com/british-journal-of-photography/news/2158155/eur10-grabs-international-photographic-award#ixzz1ocRYmasX

Subscribe to BJP and save money. Click here to save 29% today.

Sony World Photography Awards shortlist unveiled

“The 2012 edition of the Sony World Photography Awards is just around the corner – coming to London in April. But, the World Photography Organisation has today announced its shortlisted photographers………

The World Photography Organisation has today unveiled its shortlist for the 2012 Sony World Photography Awards, which includes dozen of professional and amateur photographers selected from more than 112,000 entries.

In the Professional competition, photographers could enter images in more than 12 categories in three sections – Photojournalism & Documentary, Fine Art and Commercial.

The selected photographers, and finalists, will see their work exhibited in April at Somerset House in London, with the winners announced in a high-profile ceremony at the Hilton Hotel on London’s Park Lane.” writes Olivier Laurent in the BJP…MORE

This series depicts Death row prisoner’s last meals. The project was a collaboration with graphic designer, Matt Prosser, who used the images to illustrate a mock-up book on the subject. The crime committed by each prisoner was printed on one side of the book, the image on the other, juxtaposing text with image. © Helen Thompson, UK, Professional Shortlist, Still Life, Sony World Photography Awards 2012.

Kodak discontinues colour reversal films, puts an end to a 77-year heritage

Olivier Laurentwrites in The BJP……“.Kodak has discontinued three colour reversal films, BJP can reveal, as the company continues to review its operations. However, says a spokeswoman, Kodak will continue to support its other lines of films………The discontinuation means that Kodak will no longer produce any colour reversal films – commonly used to create slides. However, it will continue to manufacture E-6 Chemicals.”..…MORE

This weeks photography tutorials and links

“The Toad has been busy hopping all over the internet this week finding the best links to tutorials, great photography and interesting blogs to share with everyone.  This weeks list showcases a series of really great images and blog posts sure to be enjoyed by the photography fan in all of us!  We hope you enjoy viewing this comprehensive series as much as the Toad did in bringing it to you.” Via Lightstalking from Toad Hollow Photography

The Toad is busy compiling his first eBook, feel free to head over to sign up for exclusive Free HDR Guides, Tips and News as they become published!

Stairway to heaven 63/366 by Skley, on Flickr

Here is a taste of the full list of links and tutorials


Aquarium photography: hook great fish photos with five simple tips – Indoor home aquariums offer great photographic opportunities.  Photographer Chris Wray offers up detailed guidelines for taking beautiful reflection-free, tack-sharp aquarium photos in this comprehensive guide.

The Power of Curves – Blake Rudis delivers a 9:37 video tutorial on the power of curves for post processing.  Blake goes into great detail showing the viewer how best to employ this technique, delivering a great interactive tutorial.

Capturing Wildlife Photography from a Distance – a brief and straight-forward tutorial that discusses some basic tips and tricks for photographing wildlife.  This genre can be challenging due to physical constraints and technical details, and this article touches on these points.

Great Links

Menomonee and Underwood at Night – CJ Schmit produces some of the very best black-and-white pieces I’ve ever seen, and in this shot he really delivers.  Incredible crisp details are all vividly captured in this night shot that uses long exposure techniques to bring a sense of life and motion to the scene.

Mist Through the Trees – an almost surreal and perhaps even a little otherworldly scene awaits the viewer in this awesome image from Barbara Youngleson.  This game reserve in Africa finds itself enveloped in a mist, which in turn is wonderfully captured and shared here by Barbara, producing a really compelling and dramatic image.

Loch Leven Reflections. Scotland. – what an utterly mesmerizing photograph, straight from the studio of Barbara Jones.  This beautiful landscape photograph showcases the inherent beauty in the Scottish landscape, and is accented by one of the most incredible natural reflections in any image posted in this weeks list.  A true must-see shot!

London Wall At Night – Mark Blundell delivers another one of his jaw-droppingly awesome 360* panorama’s, this time taken at night in the bustling city of London.  The presentation delivers an incredible amount of detail and wonder in the format he uses, producing a piece that is absolutely breathtaking.