Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

Monthly Archives: November 2012

Did the Lomo camera save film photography?

Lomo Cameras were part of a retro craze when film was still the only way to make photographs. This article on the BBC website By Stephen Dowling gives some of the history and reasons why the little Lomo camera became so popular. I have one of the original LC-A Lomo cameras, sadly it almost never gets an outing these days.

It was a nervous time for film photography when digital cameras took off in the 1990s, and seemed set to take over entirely. But with some help from Vladimir Putin – then deputy mayor of St Petersburg – the little Lomo camera became a retro cult classic, and showed film had a bright future.

In 1991, a group of Austrian art students on a trip to nearby Prague found, in a photographic shop, a curious little camera.

Black, compact and heavy, the camera was rudimentary. The lens was protected by a sliding cover. Loading, focusing and rewinding were all done by hand.

After developing the shots, the students found it produced pictures unlike anything they had seen before.

The colours were rich and saturated, an effect heightened by the lens’s tendency to darken the corners of the frame to create a tunnel-like vignetting effect, and there were dramatic contrasts between light and dark. The Austrians were hooked, and so were their friends when they showed them the results back home in Vienna. READ MORE HERE

There is a huge Lomo movement and the production of odd fun cameras with time lapse, or multiple lenses helped to spread the interest, in almost an ironic way what started as a niche or specialist home spun interest camera has spawned a flash website with galleries and a global community, here is a link to the Lomo site

Characteristics of the camera that appealed to those seeking something different were

  • Vignettes – the Lomo’s shots show a characteristic vignette at the edges, like tunnel vision
  • Bold colours – a Lomo hallmark, especially with cross-processed slide film
  • Long shutter speed – the Lomo LC-A’s shutter stays open for as long as it needs to expose a photo, which can lead to interesting light trails
  • Expired film – the LC-A’s lens suits the warped coloured shifts found on cheap, expired film
  • Small size – the best camera is the one you have with you, and the LC-A fits in a jacket pocket

Photographic Exhibition by Trevor Ashby in Oxford


Ashby spent fourteen months at the Eden Project,working in natural light, so the rhythm of his work was controlled by the light under various weather conditions. He found pattern & structure in the forms of the natural world – not only looking to the specimen plants, but also making images from fallen leaves & flowers, that often lie unnoticed. From the fractures of decay and dissolution, he creates close-toned images that have their own opulence.

He also worked for a year at the Royal Cornwall Museum, unearthing fragile, often over-looked objects from the archives. The combination of curiosity and exquisite form, makes intriguing images.

Art Jericho 6 King Street Oxford OX2 6DF

Open  Wednesday-Saturday  11am – 5pm

23rd November – 23rd December 2012

Awesome Photography Links

From Toad Hollow via Lightstalking to you, some of the best photography links from last week

The internet plays host to so many fabulous photographers and artists, and Toad Hollow Photography searches high and low every week trying to find the best links to tutorials, great photography and blogs of interest to share with everyone here.  This week’s list is chock-full of awesome images and great posts by a wide variety of super-talented people.  We really hope you enjoy checking out the photographs and posts as much as the Toad did in bringing this list to you.


Top 7 Natural Light Portrait tips that I’ve learnt – a fabulous list of tips and tricks for doing portrait photography in natural light settings.  Tristan Jud outlines a short series of thoughts here that can really help you make the most of this genre of image production.

DIY: Keep Your Turkey Company with Beautiful Photo Place Holders – what a neat idea!  With the Thanksgiving Holidays nearly upon our American friends now, this timely article shows how you can incorporate great photography into dressing up the dinner table.  This step-by-step tutorial takes you through the entire process.

Click Here: This Many Awesome Photography Links May Be Hazardous to Small Children

Learn Lightroom 4 ebook

I am regularly asked if we run a course on Lightroom and it is something we plan but if you can’t wait for our return from Australia to OSP towers you might want to buy this very cheap ebook and get started yourself. I have always been super impressed with Craft & Vision books and have bought just about everyone they put out. They are full of excellent technical detail, inspiring ideas and are beautifully illustrated.

This is a complete guide to Adobe Lightroom 4 and we know you’ll love diving into this beefy book. At 312 spreads this PDF is full of high-resolution screenshots, step-by-step instructions, and the tips, tricks and ideas that make digital darkroom work productive and more enjoyable. If you’re looking to learn Lightroom 4 and need a resource to help you do that quickly, or you’ve just upgraded and need to get up to speed, this is a great value.

This rather expansive ebook with 312 pages costs just £12 or $20, get further details and purchase here

John Wreford our man in Damascus

John is a great friend who is trying to stay living in Damascus, as a photographer he finds it difficult to take his camera out at the moment, arrest and or death seem to great a penalty to pay. His occasional musings in words rather than pictures must suffice. This picture is of John from calmer times

©Keith Barnes

Here are John’s words from his recent return to Damascus from Beirut

Damascus for me has always had the amazing ability to raise my mood, if for whatever reason I have fallen out of bed on the wrong side and started the day in a grumpy mood it hardly ever lasted before some quirk of Damascene life made everything chipper again, I remember a while ago waking to find the electricity cut and just as I was about to make coffee I ran out of gas, at that time I lived in a modern apartment over the road from the presidential office but it felt more like the third world, I went out in search of the gas man but instead headed for a coffee shop downtown, the smell of Jasmine and the croaking of frogs along the drizzle of a river were not quite enough to counter the effects of being deprived of early morning coffee but as I passed a police guard box outside an embassy building I couldn’t keep the smile from spreading across my face, the two young policemen were fast asleep and entwined like satisfied lovers, a short walk later I passed a hairdressing salon that was having its windows cleaned, the signage in English was advertising Hair Extensions, Wigs and Beards and for some reason tickled my fancy enough to make me laugh, I found a café enjoyed my fix and headed home, not to far from home I met the truck with the gas, I stopped him and asked if he would come and change the bottle, typically he asked who’s house rather than the actual address, this I knew was going to be a test of my Arabic but persevered with directions, he knew the area, he knew the street, he knew the chicken shop a few doors down and so when I said it was the black door he then asked was it the black door with the step or the one without, it was with and the gas was on its way, I have no idea what all the fuss was about, I had a lovely couple of hours.

Damascus still has the ability to surprise me but lately its more likely to change an otherwise pleasant mood into a depressing one, after a few days of much needed rain I was out enjoying the winter sun, walking back from town through Al Hamadiyya souk, the market was busy, busier than normal it occurred to me, I exited the souk and children were chasing the pigeons in the square, I rounded the mosque and instead of heading towards Norfra café as I would normally I decided to buy some dried Figs in souk Bouzariya, after which I walked along the narrow alleyway behind the Azam Palace, I remember looking up at a healthy bush of Jasmine tumbling down over a beautiful Arabic house, a little further along I paused to smile at how all the Arabic graffiti had been painted over and only the English word “Freedom” was left legible and it was at exactly this point that a mortar fizzed over my head and exploded in the next street, the walls of the alley vibrated causing bits of concrete to fall, it seemed to me at the time the target must have been the Umayyad mosque but I couldn’t tell, the next alley directly opposite the Jesus Minaret where some say Jesus will descend on Judgment Day- was a hive of panic with a couple of soldiers running around, maybe it was Judgment Day, whoever in their infinite wisdom decided to fire that mortar should and sooner or later will be judged, I went home not so much scared by what had happened but angry and confused.

At home and sitting on my roof only a couple of hours later I watched a fighter jet pounding the suburbs a few kilometres away, the fairy lights of its payload glowing in the evening sky, a mother and her three children were on a neighbouring roof were also watching, then automatic gunfire echoed over the rooftops, it was close but only when I heard bullets ricochet of the satellite dishes did we all scuttle downstairs, I turned on the TV to watch the news, I saw familiar roof tops and an evening sky, I saw the fairly lights and the screaming jet, it wasn’t Damascus though it was Gaza, Syria didn’t make the news today.

You can see John’s pictures here

Step by Step a gallery by Steve McCurry

Michael Kenna Exhibition at The Chris Beetles Gallery


The exhibitions at Chris Beetles Fine Photographs reflect the wide variety of genres and styles available in the photography market, and are always of the highest quality and from the finest sources. We hold up to 8 individual exhibitions per year, including our annual show ‘The Photographers’, which takes place every November and showcases the very best of the gallery’s stock, from rare vintage prints to modern limited-editions. Most shows are accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue containing biographies, essays, chronologies, bibliographies and extensive research.

Details here

Slow a new ebook from Craft and Vision

We really like the Craft and Vision ebooks, incredibly cheap £3.25 ($5), for such useful and inspiring books, beautifully illustrated and absolutely hit the marks for people who are photographers, those interested in photography rather than just those who happen to own a camera. If you like taking pictures then all of the Craft & Vision books would add to your skill and vision.

Looking to explore the creative possibilities behind the slow end of the shutter dial? Looking for some new ideas, or want a primer on intentional camera motion, panning, long exposure techniques, and the equipment to help you make it happen? SLOW is an excellent place to begin.

Andrew S. Gibson’s SLOW is 64 spreads of teaching and inspiration on the techniques and aesthetics of using a slow shutter to create expressive images skillfully captured through exposure and movement. To complement his own work, Andrew also includes two case studies from photographers Doug Chinnery and Joel Tjintjelaar, which help to provide tangible insights on the subject of long-exposure photographyGet further details on this new book here

Other books in the series include these titles

This is an inspiring and beautiful eBook that teaches just about everything David’s learned about landscape photography while chasing the light across seven continents. As a landscape eBook for all levels, photographers will find the education and inspiration to make beautiful photographs of their own, no matter what adventure awaits them.

This massive eBook boasts 65 spreads (130 pages if you’re still counting the old way,) is broken down into sections on Gear, Composition, Light, Land, Water, Snow, and Detail Shots, and is accompanied by large, beautiful photographs, all with complete EXIF data, many of them previously unseen, from travels on all seven continents. There’s also Behind the Shot sections that discuss topics like exposure blending, maximizing sharpness, using ND and polarizer filters, and shooting in weather, like fog. Whether you’re new to landscape photography or looking to hone your craft this eBook will be a valuable and inexpensive addition to your library.

Portraits of Earth An Introduction to Landscape Photography David duChemin

Your camera phone is always with you, and whether you’re an amateur or vocational photographer, it only makes sense to know how to use it to your advantage. eyePhone: Making Stronger Photographs with your Camera Phone is a stunning 45-page PDF eBook, full of inspired insights, invaluable tips, creative considerations, and must-have resources to help you take your photography, and creative life, to the next level.

Whether you shoot and process hundred of images each month or you just take the casual snapshot, you’ll discover exciting ideas and concepts that are sure to turn your camera phone image gallery into a portfolio you’re proud of. This is a game-changer for photographers. It’s photography that fits in your pocket and the avid photographer will benefit from knowing how to wield its potential.

“Thanks to Al Smith I learned more about the camera on my iPhone in 10-minutes than I had in two years. My iPhone has made me a better photographer.” – David duChemin

eyePhone Making Stronger Photographs with your Camera Phone Al Smith

There are more than 30 excellent ebooks in this series and discounts available for multiple purchases might be the best £3.25 you ever spent on your photography, see the full series of ebooks here

Light from the Middle East – photography exhibition

A new exhibition at London’s V&A offers insights from within cultures that are more often photographed and reported from the outside

Review and information from the Guardian here

Full details here

The Porter Gallery
Admission Free

Exhibition opening times

13 November 2012 – 7 April 2013
Daily 10.00–17.30
Friday 10.00–21.30
Exhibition closes 15 minutes prior to the Museum closing
Closed 24 – 26 December 2012

Late night opening

The V&A is open late every Friday. Take this opportunity to visit Light from the Middle East: New Photography, meet friends and have a drink in our café-bar.

How to reach the V&A

Victoria and Albert Museum
Cromwell Road
+44 (0)20 7942 2000