Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

Monthly Archives: April 2012

The highs and lows of life as a documentary photographer

In the Guardian…..

On the road for six months of the year, covering everything from the Iraq war to Agent Orange, Ed Kashi writes home to his wife

aleppo, syria

Taken 13.04.09

Aleppo, Syria (above)

“Today in Aleppo, it’s a brilliant, crisp sunny day, after a night of thunder and rain. I’m always coming and going from home. This constant state of flux creates the sense of being suspended between worlds and always feeling isolated on some level, since I can’t ever get grounded or fully connected either at home or on the road. One of the issues at home is how distracted everyone is, whether from your work or the digital gadgets and friends of the kids. And, of course, you all must live your own lives, so you are not in sync with my rhythms and moods.”

Zululand, Africa

zululand, africaTaken 21.09.97“I am once again facing the demons of a tough fixer, the loneliness of the road and less than perfect conditions. But my problems pale when I think about our new baby on the way. It was a shock when I first got the news but now I’m jumping out of my skin with excitement. Who knows what we’ll have? I know you want a girl this time. I just want a healthy baby.

Today we went out at dusk to photograph the cane fields being burned. It was exciting, and I had a near miss. Hot embers were flying everywhere and they had these Zulu workers armed with big sticks to bat the embers down as they tried to fly to an adjacent field not ready for burning. That would be devastating for the farmers. I was on the fire break road that separates the fields, trying to photograph the worker swinging at the embers, when a bunch of them fell on me. They burned holes in my clothes, caught my forearm and left a small mark.

Every night I go to sleep thinking of your swollen belly and all the magic that’s inside. I can’t wait to meet our new child. Only a few months left.

I love you so dearly and deeply”.…..MORE at the Guardian



GDT Nature Photographer of the Year 2012

The Guardian newspaper features images from the German Nature Photographers annual awards.

“The Society of German Nature Photographers (GDT) has announced its Nature Photographer of the Year 2012 – and the winner was Klaus Tamm. Dozens of images made it through to the final round for consideration, in the categories: birds, mammals, other animals, plants and fungi, landscapes, nature’s studio, and this year’s special category, marine habitats in Germany.”....MORE

This photo of a capercaillie by Klaus Echle was sixth place in birds Photograph: Klaus Echle/GDT

Photographer the Jack of All Trades SASHA GiTiN

This is an interesting article by a professional photographer who has made every effort to become successful as a photographer by emersing themselves in many the aspects of what it takes to be a professional photographer with all the experience necessary.

“There are numerous photographic niches and styles. Here at Learn My Shot we always aim at sharing tips on how to photograph anything. But one day when your wings get strong you will pick one area of expertize and fly away to develop your own style. Having a distinctive style or a strong focus on a particular niche of photography has proven to be a successful path for commercial and fine art photographers. Being really good at one thing one is considered as a master. While being good at everything is often compared to not being good at anything. But is it really true?

Early in my photographic career I focused on learning how to shoot anything. I spent about 5 years assisting photographers from diverse industries, portrait, lifestyle, fashion, wedding, event, paparazzi, product, architecture, real estate and still life (That’s how I met Robert Grant – assisting him on a product shoot some years back). When I learned to fly on my own, I chose Food and Beverage as my specialty and took another 5 years to master that particular skill. Often, especially at times when cash was really tight, I asked myself did it ever make sense to spend years experiencing other niches in depth, prior to focusing on one specialty? The answer came in clear recently when I landed a Grey Goose account.

The job required photographing mixed drinks and bartenders in action making those drinks. There are a lot of beverage photographers out there and there are 100 times as many portrait photographers. But being able to shoot both environmental portrait and beverage equally well was something unique to my style and it got me the job.However, the skill required to shoot this job went far beyond the standard norms. The job had to be performed during the filming of Beyond the Bar series on Sundance Chanel. While the job of the film crew involved filming interviews with top national bartenders, my job required to create photographic images of drinks and bartenders in action in between filming sessions. The images where intended to be used for Sundance Chanel website, advertising and point of sale.”…MORE

How to Avoid Common Scams to Steal Your Camera Gear and Rip You Off

In the last 30 years I have had my camera gear stolen 4 times, once from my car when parked, twice from my studio at night and once from my car when I was sitting in it! Does that make me sound stupid, well actually it probably does. I had driven to Barcelona from Oxford to photograph the Christmas festivities in the year 2000. I had been there to party on the millennium new year (the year before) and as I had too much party and not enough photography decided to go back the next year. I was sitting in my car in the centre of Barcelona at traffic lights on Christmas eve, I noticed a guy walk towards my card with his hand out and I thought he was begging, next thing I knew he had opened the passenger front door, I leant over, grabbed the door handle, slammed it shut, the traffic lights changed and I sped across the interchange thanking my luck thinking he was after my phone, wallet and passport which were sitting on the passenger seat. Only when I got across the junction did I notice that the back door behind me was open. I stopped and realised my worst fears. My camera bag with everything I had needed for a 6 day shoot in the city had gone. The ‘beggar’ had been a decoy and I had fallen for it. It was a long and boring Christmas and new year without my cameras. I had been very stupid, now I never travel in my car with anything of importance inside the cabin of the car, everything goes in the boot, out of sight and I hope safe.

This article from Jason Row at Lightstalking has a whole host of tips to help you avoid theft and loss of your camera equipment

“For most of us, base jumping Go Pro photographers excepted, photography is a pretty safe hobby or profession. However sometimes we forget that the pride and joy hanging around our neck, is in fact, an expensive, hi-tech piece of equipment that may have cost several thousand dollars. The aim of this article is to inform but, not scare you, of some of the more frequent scams, both out on the streets and online. Being forewarned is being forearmed and understanding what is going on has helped me on more than one occasion.”..…MORE

We consider this issue important, as more and more people travel with expensive camera gear we become targets for those who would rob us. We spend some time in out Travel Photography course considering this.

Whilst researching this article I also found this excellent article dealing with the same points in more detail recommending specific camera bag systems. “If your photography gear has been stolen, you probably know how frustrating it is. Many professional photographers carry equipment that is worth thousands of dollars. Photographers have found many tricks that help them camouflage their expensive gear so thieves and pickpockets won’t notice that they carry expensive cameras and lenses. There is no doubt that pickpockets do their homework very well. They know how to spot travelers who carry expensive camera gear and know that exact time to move in. If you are traveling with your camera and won’t to avoid losing your precious camera gear, here are some useful tips to come back home safe (with all your gear).

Professional pickpockets will spot a professional camera gear from far away. If you have taken you Canon 5D Mark II with battery grip and a large white L-lens, do you think that a pickpocket can miss that. This is a delicious launch for him, and he will try to do its best to grab a hand on your equipment. In order to prevent yourself being a victim of theft, here are my tips for the naive photographer.….MORE


Mitch Dobrowner wins 2012 Sony World Photography Awards


Image © Mitch Dobrowner, USA, winner of L’Iris d’Or, Sony World Photography Awards 2012.

Olivier Laurent reports in the BJP:

“My passion has always been to photograph landscapes during interesting weather events,” Mitch Dobrowner tells BJP. “Mainly because they offered the most interesting lighting conditions. So I asked myself, ‘Why not try to experiment?’ which brought me to research photographing storm systems in Tornado Alley.” Tornado Alley is a loosely geographically defined area located between the Rocky and the Appalachian Mountains in the US, and Dobrowner has now been shooting there for a couple of years, creating a portfolio of photographs that has won the 2012 Sony World Photography Awards.

Dobrowner was selected from more than 112,000 entries from 171 countries, and a shortlist of more than 120 photographers. He received the top prize in the Fine art/Landscape category, as well as L’Iris d’Or worth $25,000 at a high-profile ceremony in London on 26 April.” FULL STORY HERE

Other winners are here,further information can be found at www.worldphoto.org


Image © Luis Henry Agudelo Cano, Columbia, Winner, Travel, Sony World Photography Awards 2012.


Image © PALMER+PAWEL, United Kingdom, Winner, Sport, Sony World Photography Awards 2012.


Image © Jacek Kusz, Poland, Winner, Nature & Wildlife, Sony World Photography Awards 2012.


Image © Kasia Bielska, Poland, Winner, Contemporary Issues, Sony World Photography Awards 2012.


Image © David Airob, Spain, Winner, Architecture, Sony World Photography Awards 2012.


Image © Irina Werning, Argentina, Winner, Portraiture, Sony World Photography Awards 2012.


Image © Peter Franck, Germany, Winner, Campaign, Sony World Photography Awards 2012.


Image © Manuel Geerinck, US, Winner, Conceptual, Sony World Photography Awards 2012.


Image © Peter Franck, Germany, Winner, Fashion, Sony World Photography Awards 2012.


Image © Donald Weber, Canada, Winner, Current Affairs, Sony World Photography Awards 2012.


Image © Rob Hornstra/INSTITUTE, The Netherlands, Winner, Art & Culture, Sony World Photography Awards 2012.


Image © Simon Norfolk, UK, Winner, People, Sony World Photography Awards 2012.


“In July 2009, I tracked a severe weather system for nine hours. I eventually stopped in a field outside Valentine and stood in awe of the towering super-cell,” says Mitch Dobrowner. “It was building with intake wind gusts of 60+ mph, and I felt like we were standing next to a 65,000ft high vacuum cleaner.” Image © Mitch Dobrowner, USA, winner of L’Iris d’Or, Sony World Photography Awards 2012.


Photos: The Conflict in Sudan

From the excellent Denver Post pblogs

“Sudan’s president has threatened to topple the government of South Sudan during a visit to an oil-rich border town that has sparked a recent surge in violence between the two countries.

Omar al-Bashir’s comments Monday were the latest in a war of words against Sudan’s southern neighbors.

The two countries disagree over where the border between them lies and ownership of oil resources in the region.

This latest outbreak of violence threatens to escalate into a full-scale war.

Al-Bashir vowed during his visit to Heglig to press ahead with his military campaign until, according to him, all southern troops or affiliated forces are chased out of the north.

His forces bombed a major town inside South Sudan Monday. (AP)”


Sudanese jet planes bombed near the bridge in Bentiu, South Sudan, on April 14, 2012. The attack killed at least four civilians. (Alan Boswell/MCT)


A Sudanese soldier rides a bicycle during a patrol following clashes between the army and South Sudan’s forces in the town of Talodi in South Kordofan, about 50 kms (30 miles) from the disputed frontier with South Sudan, on April 12, 2012. The leaders of Sudan and South Sudan accused each other of wanting war, with each denying the other’s charge, as Sudanese war planes bombed a bridge in the South after days of fighting in a contested border region. (ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images)


This photo of Sunday, April 15, 2012, shows a soldier from the Darfuri rebel group Justice and Equality Movement at a South Sudanese position in Heglig, South Sudan. Sudan has accused South Sudan of fighting alongside the rebel group in the recent clashes along the disputed border. Two Sudanese Sukhoi fighters dropped 6 bombs in the Bentiu area, killing five and wounding four others. (AP Photo/Michael Onyiego)


A picture taken on April 14, 2012 shows Peter Yien Chuol, a local farmer, waiting for treatment at the Bentiu Hospital after being injured by a bomb in Bentiu. A Sudanese plane bombed Bentiu, capital of South Sudan’s oil-rich border state of Unity, on April 14, killing five civilians and wounding six, a local government spokesman said. Gideon Gatfan, spokesman of the Unity state government, said one bomb fell beside a car market near a bridge which was the target of the raid. (ADRIANE OHANESIAN/AFP/Getty Images)

See the rest of these moving pictures here

How to Photograph Lightning

From those nice people at Lightstalking we get this tutorial on how to photograph lightning.

“The Technique for Photographing Lightning

The Simple Explanation

In a perfect scenario, photographing lightning at night should be quite simple.

Just make sure the camera is on a tripod and you have a cable or remote shutter release. Set the focus to infinity, the ISO to 100 or 200 (on DSLRs) and choose the aperture accordant to the intensity of the lightning. Then open the shutter until the lightning goes off and then shut it just after you get a flash of lightning.”.….MORE

Lightning on the Columbia Riverphoto © 2007 Ian Boggs | more info (via: Wylio)

sky is crackingphoto © 2006 G Meyer | more info (via: Wylio)

89 Awesome Photography Links and Photographs

Another batch of tutorials and great links to give you something to read this weekend

Never one to spend too much time lounging, the Toad is always searching the internet for tutorials, great photography and interesting blogs to share with everyone.  This week’s list contains a set of links to some truly incredible pieces of art posted by some truly talented artists.  We really hope you enjoy seeing and reading these posts as much as the folks at Toad Hollow Photography did in bringing them to you.

The Toad is well into writing his second publication of eBooks intended to share some tips and insights into the world of HDR photography.  These publications are made available for free to subscribers of his Free HDR Guides, Tips and News.  If you haven’t signed up already, head on over and subscribe to get your free copy of his first edition “The f-stops Here”.

Ikea cardboard camera…..it’s not a joke

Well I say it is not a joke but I found this on a Spanish website and had to rely upon google translation……. my Spanish goes little further than asking for a beer and then thanking the very nice person for providing the same.

There has been an interest in improbably simple cameras for so many years, I started out 40 years ago with something that it only had one button, it got me hooked. You are right, that was the dark ages, fun for a small boy then usually involved mud and or worms or perhaps puppet cartoons such as the excellent Thuderbirds. Think of the post from earlier this week about the World Pin Hole photography day, I asked if that was a joke but no one stood up to be counted in either direction so I assume it was real.

Canon, Sony and company can start to shake. Ikea has decided to create its first digital camera, but yes, cardboard. Now I would like to bring you more but when you copy and paste a google translated page it seems it to revert to the original language here is the link I have for the translation, go see for yourself

Alternatively here is the Spanish, perhaps you can tell us what it means, here is a link to the original page

Canon, Sony and company can start to shake. Ikea has decided to create its first digital camera, but yes, cardboard. . The chassis or Kämeroschiflen Ikeacam is not like we’re used to, but fortunately this time it’s a product that already assembled, do not pull manual for assembling pieces go.

Includes a small target, a memory and an image sensor. Operates on two AA batteries and is controlled by a button board. No LCD screen, or exposure controls, and filters. You can not ask for more.

 Can store a total of 40 images.  These are then passed to the computer via USB.  Then you have to do is reset the internal memory to capture 40 images.

So far this camera is not so curious for sale.  Has been presented on the occasion of the celebration of the International Furniture Fair of Milan.”


Google Photography Prize winner – Viktor Johansson

I must use google 20 or 30 times a day and although I am there more than I am at home I had never heard of the google photography prize until it announced a winner.

Grand Prize – Viktor Johansson

“Viktor is a 24-year-old student at the Swedish photography school, Nordens Fotoskola Biskops-Arnö. The judges were impressed and captivated with his series that focused on Christoffer Eskilsson, Sweden’s best male diver from 10 metres. Viktor has chosen to show us an alternative view, one that we are not used to seeing from sport photography in the media. Instead of glamorous action shots of an athlete in competition, he has produced arresting and unexpected photographs that focus on the long, lonely hours of repetitive training and practice that it takes to excel in your field.”

I have searched for a web site for Viktor without luck so although there is much media coverage of his win and his winning portfolio you may have to wait for further information.

I think that the competition is open to students, but if I am honest I haven’t looked at the rules, and I also assume there is a competition running through the next 12 months but again I struggle to find the information, seems to me that for an information company google are not doing well in this instance.

Here is the link to the google photography prize page

All images © Viktor Johansson

Other links of interest

The Telegraph

The Independent


Design Week