Oxford School of Photography

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Monthly Archives: October 2012

2012: Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year – Winner

Wildlife photography is one of the most popular items we write about. So many people would love to make pictures of wildlife but don’t have the time, gear or knowledge so being able to see the work of these winners is a joy

Paul Nicklen (Canada)

Bubble-jetting emperors

This was the image Paul had been so hoping to get: a sunlit mass of emperor penguins charging upwards, leaving in their wake a crisscross of bubble trails. The location was near the emperor colony at the edge of the frozen area of the Ross Sea, Antarctica. It was into the only likely exit hole that he lowered himself. He then had to wait for the return of the penguins, crops full of icefish for their chicks. Paul locked his legs under the lip of the ice so he could remain motionless, breathing through a snorkel so as not to spook the penguins when they arrived. Then it came: a blast of birds from the depths. They were so fast that, with frozen fingers, framing and focus had to be instinctive. ‘It was a fantastic sight’, says Paul, ‘as hundreds launched themselves out of the water and onto the ice above me’ – a moment that I felt incredibly fortunate to witness and one I’ll never forget.

The exhibition of this prestigious award is held at the Natural History Museum

Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition 2012
19 October 2012 – 3 March 2013
Open 10.00 – 17.50 daily

This world-renowned annual exhibition at the Natural History Museum provides a spotlight on the rarely seen wonders of the natural world.

The 100 winning images that will be on show are selected from 1,000s of international entries and are beautifully displayed in sleek backlit installations.

Admission:              Adult £10*, child and concessions £5*,                                    family £27* (up to 2 adults and 3 children).

You can book tickets on line here and directions are here

The competition is hosted by the NHM and the BBC and there is a link to pictures on the BBC website here

There is a fabulous book associated with this competition have a look at it here

Just Weird

I know I spend too much time looking for interesting articles to bring to this blog but I might need to go into some sort of internet rehab for a while.

Cooper is a 6 year old American Shorthair cat living in Seattle. Once a week he wears a lightweight digital camera fastened to his collar, which snaps a new photo every 2 minutes.

Here is one of Cooper’s shots

If you want more go here

Lightroom 4 and Black and White

A week isn’t worth having unless I have time to visit some of my favourite sites on the web. One of these is  by David du Chemin. David duChemin is a world & humanitarian assignment photographer, best-selling author, international workshop leader, and accidental founder of Craft & Vision. When not chasing adventure and looking for beauty, David is based in Vancouver, Canada.

This week I found an article he had written about Lightroom 4 and black an white conversions, here is a bit of what he says:

One of my favourite improvements in Lightroom 4 is the ability, in the graduated filter and the adjustment brush, to dial in colour temperature and tint……It’s worth remembering that in Lightroom you aren’t really working on a monochrome image. You’re working on a colour image with a monochrome filter on top. So moving the colour values around underneath that filter – either with temperature or with the channel mixer (Black and White Mix) – will change the tonal values you see in the resulting image. Different tonal values, different contrasts, and different visual mass – in other words, a different feel for the image, and new ways for us to hone our expression. Want more read on here

©David duChemin

Lighting Up the Night

My other go to place for great photography is The Atlantic, another one you should bookmark for the future. This week they have images on the theme of Lighting up The Night

Around the world, people are using light to paint, perform, honor, work, and play. In villages and cities alike, lanterns and candles are used to celebrate and commemorate events. In Berlin, famous landmarks are currently being illuminated for the annual Festival of Lights. In Florida, a private spacecraft climbed into orbit atop a pillar of fire, and around the globe, dozens of buildings were bathed in pink for breast cancer awareness month. Gathered here is a handful of recent images of humans pushing back the dark and lighting up the night

Magician David Blaine performs his “Electrified: 1 Million Volts Always On” stunt in New York, on October 7, 2012. (Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Paper lanterns float on the Motoyasu River in front of the Atomic Bomb Dome (center) in Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 2012. Tens of thousands of people marked the 67th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, as a rising tide of anti-nuclear sentiment swells in post-Fukushima Japan. (Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images)

Runners and walkers wearing light emitting suits and holding light sticks make their way up Arthur’s Seat as part of a dress rehearsal of a mass participation public art piece called “Speed of Light” on August 8, 2012 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The piece which forms part of the annual Edinburgh Festival is set to illuminate the iconic natural monument as hundreds of people make their way up and around, creating streaks of light as they go. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Go here to see another 30 of these special images

Pictures of the Week: October 5, 2012

From the always excellent photo blog at The Denver Post, 20 images to make you think and to marvel at the talent of the photographers, go here to see the whole series

An Afghan refugee girl stands next to her family’s sheep in a field next to a slum area on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, Monday, Oct. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

Christian pilgrims take part in a group baptism in the waters of the Jordan River on October 3, 2012 at Yardenit in northern Israel. An estimated 100,000 Christian worshippers make their pilgrimage to the Holy Land each year and one of their most sacred rituals is being immersed in the biblical river where, according to Christian beliefs, Jesus Christ was baptised by John the Baptist. (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

Smoke rises over Saif Al Dawla district in Aleppo, Syria, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012. The U.N.’s deputy secretary-general says U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon made a strong appeal to Syria’s foreign minister to stop using heavy weapons against civilians and reduce the violence that is killing 100 to 200 people every day.(AP Photo/ Manu Brabo)

A Syrian man cries outside the Dar El Shifa hospital in Aleppo, Syria after his daughter was injured during a Syrian Air Force strike over a school where hundreds of refugees had taken shelter Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012. The border violence between Turkey and Syria has added a dangerous new dimension to Syria’s civil war, dragging Syria’s neighbors deeper into a conflict that activists say has already killed 30,000 people since an uprising against President Bashar Assad’s regime began in March 2011. (AP Photo/ Manu Brabo)

See the rest here

Men and Women by Tom Wood

One of the most important things to do as a photographer is to work on projects, to work to themes. This means looking for similar subject matter or returning to the same locations to photograph over a period of time. It is this that trains the eye and develops the understanding of the subject and makes images that have more than just snap value. I teach this on our Intermediate Photography course and see great results from our students and such progress in their work.

There is a new exhibition by Tom Wood of a project that he has worked on for more than 40 years.

Phil Coomes on the BBC website looks at Tom’s work and discusses the process and results, it is well worth a read here

How long does it take for a body of work to be ready? A decade, more? Well, for photographer Tom Wood it seems that 40 years is about right.

Men and women is a new show at the Photographers’ Gallery in London which brings together Wood’s pictures of the everyday lives of the people of Liverpool and Merseyside between 1973 and the start of this century.

Wood’s method of working was simple. For five days of the week he’d shoot on the streets, or from a bus, and was soon known by those he saw regularly as Photieman.

“I was making pictures, with people that allowed me to photograph them,” says Wood. “I was just going out and making pictures every day on loads of things all at once and never finished anything. Lots of the projects I didn’t want to finish or to put in to the world at that time.”

The resulting pictures would be filed away, each one contributing to different projects that over the years built in to substantial bodies of work MORE from Phil Coomes here

Right Here, 1990

Mad Max, 1993

The exhibition of this work is The Photographers’ Gallery, London Admission Free, 12 October 2012 – 6 January 2013

This is from the gallery’s site

Irish born photographer Tom Wood (b. 1951) has, for the last four decades, continuously recorded the daily lives of the people of Liverpool and the Merseyside area – at the football ground and markets, on the bus and the ferry, in pubs and nightclubs, workplaces, schools and hospitals.

Never seen without his camera, and constantly moving between different formats and photographic styles, colour and black and white, Wood readily mixes images of strangers with portraits of family and friends. His work, although documentary in its approach, is much more fluid than that – an exploration of the medium of photography as much as a celebration of the city of Liverpool and its inhabitants.

This first major solo exhibition of Tom Wood’s work in the UK focuses on previously unseen portraits dating from the early 1970s to the early 2000s. The exhibition also features some of Wood’s rarely seen book dummies – including Looking for Love (1989), All Zones off Peak (1998) and Photieman, (2005) – as well as a selection of vintage work prints, giving an overview of his important publishing output and an insight into his working methods.

Wood has exhibited internationally including at the ICP, New York; the Shanghai Arts Biennale; FOAM, Amsterdam; and the Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, and his work is held in major national and international collections. He lives and works in Wales. MORE INFORMATION HERE

Lytro the camera you can focus after taking the picture

Last night in our Portrait class a student was concerned that using his 85mm f1.2 meant he sometimes focussed in the wrong place, I suggested that f1.2 might be just too shallow for a portrait photograph that captures a face and this started a discussion as to where one should focus. I maintained that the eyes are the most important in a portrait but, rightly, others said sometimes there are other aspects of a face, or in fact the portrait,  that one might want to highlight. I said there is now a camera that you can focus after having taken the picture. This brought amazement and scepticism. The sceptical aspects were surely a photographer should know where they want to focus before pressing the shutter, personally I agree with this thought, and that how can a camera do this. I promised to find information on this. I have posted on the Lytro before here and here but this time I found a new article,  that explains how the Lytro is going to allow manual settings, seems weird when everything else is automatic, but what is really interesting on this site is that it allows you to re-focus images on the site itself so you can see how the process works. Go and have a play.

Do I care about this stuff, no not one bit, this is not photography as I have known it for decades, the making of decisions at the point of capture is fundamental to me but then I am old, how about you, not are you old, but what do you think about the making of images. Can everything be Instagramed to make it interesting afterwards, perhaps I should put interesting in quote marks. If I see another ‘creative’ filter applied to a crap picture to make it ‘interesting’ I might explode, now that would be worth photographing

DSLR Video Recording: HD movies and what you absolutely have to know

In class last night someone asked about HD video recording with a DSLR. I started to answer some of their question and quickly realised it would take more than the 10 minutes left of the class and said I would do a little research and send them some links about it. I found this article which although hardly definitive does go some way to answering the questions many people have. I will return to this subject in later posts but for now if you are thinking about using your DSLR for video read this article from Digital Camera World

We take it for granted that new cameras these days come with the capability of recording HD movies. Once scoffed at, DSLR video recording has come into its own, and this feature is now one of the first things people check on the specification list when new cameras are announced. In fact, advances in DSLR video capability have created legions of dedicated HDSLR users, who find the versatility of being able to record HD movies on your camera a wonderful creative freedom.

In this tutorial we’ll start by answering some of photographers’ common questions about DSLR video, then explore some of the finer points of making HD movies, such as how to pace your film, understanding frame rates and what direct controls on your camera can make the DSLR video process easier for you.

If you want more go here

10 Inspirational Photo Books

I am a great believer that looking at the work of important photographers is one of the best way to expand your horizons, to understand what it is to be a photographer and to improve.

This article By over on Lighstalking makes the same point. We all have our favourites but I have a number of the books Phil recommends. It is easy to be amazed by beautiful decorative images of landscapes and flowers but these don’t often make us think beyond, “that is beautiful” and photography as a creative art has to offer more than just beauty. No Ansel Adams here

I really wanted to inspire some photographers out there with some truly great work – photography that made me pick up my first camera.

To do this I have turned to one of traditional forums for displaying photographs; the photo book. Nothing quite beats sitting quietly with a hot drink and flicking the pages of a book packed full of incredible images. There are a huge amount of fantastic books out there, an inexhaustible list in fact. I have compiled 10 of my personal favourites, books that have aided my own photographic journey.

The Americans – Robert Frank

The Americans, Robert Frank

They should hand this out with every new camera sale! A lesson in editing, Frank shot 28,000 images for the book with only 83 ending up in the published book, and every one of those is a brilliant look at 1950’s American life warts and all.

Last Resort – Martin Parr

Last Resort, Martin Parr

Challenging the traditional view of documentary photography, Parr takes you through a surreal and very funny tour of English resort town New Brighton. Street photography at its absolute best.

Guide – William Eggleston

Guide, William Eggleston

William Eggleston’s Guide was one of the first publication’s to feature colour photography. The book may almost be dismissed as a collection of snap shots, however the more you look and look, the more it makes sense. Fantastic book.

Off the top of my head I would add these and when I have more time I will add more

Shortlist announced – Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2012

The Taylor Wessing prize for portrait photography is now firmly established as one of the defining awards given to photographers. It would not be unkind to say that it often generates heated debate and bafflement as well as admiration. This year the four shortlisted photographers are : Spencer Murphy, Jennifer Pattison, Jordi Ruiz Cirera and Alma Haser.

This is from TW website:

The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize presents the very best in contemporary portrait photography, showcasing the work of talented young photographers and gifted amateurs alongside that of established professionals and photography students.

Through editorial, advertising and fine art images, entrants have explored a range of themes, styles and approaches to the contemporary photographic portrait, from formal commissioned portraits to more spontaneous and intimate moments capturing friends and family.

This year the competition attracted 5,340 submissions by over 2,350 photographers from around the world. The selected sixty works for the exhibition, many of which are on display for the first time, include the four shortlisted images and the winner of the first John Kobal New Work Award. This is the best place to see the shortlisted artists as well as the others selected for exhibition

The Ventriloquists: two of Alma Haser’s friends from south London ©Alma Haser

Maria Teichroeb, by Jordi Ruiz Cirera: Maria is a member of a community of Mennonites in Bolivia ©Jordi Ruiz Cirera

Lynne Brighton, shot by Jennifer Pattison in the bedroom of a derelict house ©Jennifer Pattison

Mark Rylance, by Spencer Murphy ©Spencer Murphy

There are more images from the exhibition in The Guardian here

And also in The Guardian an interesting article by the excellent about being asked to be a judge having been anything but complimentary about last years competition. Last November, I wrote a not altogether positive review of the 2011 Taylor Wessing photographic portrait prize headlined Another animal, another girl with red hair. It described my bafflement at the judging process and the general “dullness of the selection”. It was a surprise, then, to be asked to be one of this year’s judges. I jumped at the chance. I think Sean echoed many peoples’ views on the Taylor Wessing Awards. He goes on Last year, I was critical of the Taylor Wessing photographic portrait prize. This year I helped judge it – and now realise how tough it is to pick a winner. Read what he has to say about judging this year here

The winner will be announced on 5 November, ahead of an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, which organised the prize, from 8 November-17 February.

So what do you think, dull lifeless, blank stares, odd looking people or vibrant cutting edge creative photography?