Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

Monthly Archives: May 2014

Photographer Spotlight – Julia Margaret Cameron

Faded + Blurred do not only find the modern greats of photography and spotlight them, there is also a look into the early days of photography and one of the more famous is Julia Margaret Cameron

When I came across the work of Julie Margaret Cameron, I knew she had to be first, mainly because she was one of the first photographers out there. She was born in 1815, but didn’t get her first camera until 1863 at the age of 48 as a gift from her daughter. She says she ran around the house trying to find gifts to give this girl because she was so appreciative. How many of us have felt like that after a photo… when we know we have gotten “the shot”? It just ignites something in us and I think that is what happened to her. She couldn’t stop. She became obsessed with her new-found hobby. She would spend hours taking countless exposures, having her subjects sit while she coated, exposed, and processed each wet plate. She wrote, “I longed to arrest all the beauty that came before me and at length the longing has been satisfied.” She was very lucky to have a supportive family behind her. She took her coal house and made it into a dark room and turned her hen house into her glass house. She had everyone she knew sit for her.I think one of the reasons she is so important to us today is the fact that she was from a well-connected family. Her friends were people like Alfred Lord Tennyson and Henry Longfellow. She took many photographs of them that we would not have today. She also took a portrait of Alice Liddell who most of you will know as the Alice from Alice in Wonderland. 




julia-margaret-cameron-04Read the rest of the story here


99 Common Photography Problems

I am always entertained by the way magazines and websites come up with a completely arbitrary  number of things you must, must not do or in fact anything at all in life. How about  17 Of The Most Important Babies With Eyebrows as found within 30 seconds on Buzz Feed?

Anyway Digital Camera World is a good site not withstanding their obsession with numbers and I don’t mean f numbers, ISO numbers, shutter speed numbers or the very confusing way camera manufacturers number their cameras so here is a list of problems you may never have known you had……

As well as being one of the most expensive hobbies around, photography is also one of the more technical pastimes you can pursue. But it doesn’t have to be confusing!

We’ve spoken to numerous experts over the years, as well as photographers like you, who may either be just starting out or have been taking pictures for a while but keep encountering the same nagging problem.

From all our conversations, we’ve noticed some common photography problems that seem to plague snappers of all ages and abilities.

Below, we’ve put together 99 of the most common photography problems and offered solutions to get round them, so you never have to be in doubt ever again!

We’ve offered a mix of camera tips, explanations, definitions and more to help answer your questions. And we’ve also provided links, where appropriate, to some of our photography tutorials covering these problems in more depth.

Finally, if you have a nagging photography problem and we didn’t cover it… let us know!


Here is problem number one

Problem No. 1: I want to invest in a really good DSLR, but I’m torn between the full-frame and APS-C sensor sizes. What are the pros and cons of each?

A full-frame camera uses a sensor that’s the same size as a frame of 35mm film. APS-C cameras have a smaller sensor based on the size of an Advanced Photographic System film frame. Your choice depends on what type of photography you’re into.

At any equivalent or effective focal length, larger sensors will give you a smaller depth of field – the depth of apparent sharpness in a picture. As a result, the full-frame sensor size is ideal for portraiture, where you want to use a wide aperture to blur the background and make main subjects stand out (to learn more, see Full frame DSLR: do you really need one?).

The flip side is that APS-C cameras can be more useful than full-frame models when you want a large depth of field. If you’re shooting landscapes and want to keep the foreground as well as the horizon in focus, for instance, this can be difficult on a full-frame camera unless you use extremely small lens apertures, which can mean slow shutter speeds (click here for more quick, but great, landscape photography tips).

For sports photography, a top-end APS-C camera such as the Canon EOS 7D or Nikon D300s is a better choice, especially if you’re on a budget. This is because the crop factor gives you a longer effective focal length.

For example, a relatively lightweight 70-300mm zoom lens will give an effective maximum telephoto reach of 480mm on a Canon camera body and 450mm on a Nikon, Pentax and Sony.

Do you want more problems to be solved?  Go here

Food Photographer of the Year 2014

On The Telegraph web site we find the winning entries, here are some to see the rest go here





I bet you wished you had entered, see the rest here

Flash Photography: buying a flash and flash photography course

How to buy a flashgun: the most important features every photographer should have

This article on Digital Camera World explains about what to look for when buying a flash but if you need more help then we have our Flash Photography Course starting on 29th May

This course is designed to help you understand the use of flash; on camera, off camera and in a studio.

In recent years there has been an interest in using flash off camera and various bits of camera gear have hit the market to make this possible, we look at these and aim to give advice as to which are best value and how to make most use of them. During the course we plan to identify ways in which you can use flash more creatively and will look at the use of flash guns as supplementary light sources, as fill in light, as highlight introducers (catch lights) and how we can use flash during the day as well as at night to better effect.

It is assumed you already have a full understanding of your DSLR, no camera use will be explained on this course, and you probably already have an external flash gun although this is not essential and you may wish to delay purchasing until you have completed the course. Areas covered include: studio flash lights, how and why to use them; metering; on camera flash; off camera flash; coloured flash; syncing off camera flash guns using radio triggers; light modifyers; backgrounds; lighting stands, clamps, reflectors and setting up.”


A full-sized flashgun delivers the potential for versatile lighting techniques in wide-ranging conditions. In this quick buyer’s guide we’ll explain how to buy a flashgun by revealing some of the most important features every photographer will want to have. Too many flashguns never see the light of day. They’re stashed away, only brought out after dark or for shooting in gloomy interiors.
So if you have a flash gun or plan on buying one this article will be of use to you

The Transformative Power Of Light In Photography: Marie Laigneau

On Faded+Blurred there are some wonderful articles and spotlights on photographers, this caught my eye particularly as I have worked on a series called Eternal Light for more than 30 years

One of the things I absolutely love about photography is that initial feeling of discovery in seeing the work of someone new for the very first time. Recently, I came across the portfolio of Chicago-based street photographer Marie Laigneau, whose work is absolutely terrific. In addition to her fabulous photography, her blog offers up some valuable insights into refining the craft of photography. One such post prompted me to email Marie and ask her if she would allow me to share it here on Faded + Blurred. In it, Marie offers some great observations on how light can affect not only the aesthetic value of a photograph, but also our emotional connection to it. Enjoy.

The Beauty Of Things Born Again: Sebastião Salgado

“I tell a little bit of my life to them, and they tell a little of theirs to me. The picture itself is just the tip of the iceberg.” – Sebastião Salgado
Have you ever encountered someone so fascinating or engaging that you can’t even begin to describe them? That is exactly how I felt when I first came across Sebastião Salgado. Considered to be one of the most influential photographers alive today, Salgado’s images are both powerful and compelling. But, it isn’t just his photography that makes him such an important figure; it is the way he has used his work to change the world.

From Faded+Blurred




Salgado was born on a cattle ranch in Brazil in 1944. Growing up, he and his seven sisters led an idyllic life. Living amongst jaguars, crocodiles, and incredible birds; swimming, riding horses, and eating farm-fresh food, Salgado called it “a complete paradise”. When he was just 15 he had to leave this wonderful place in order to finish high school, not knowing he would not return to live there for another 30 years. He ended up at a university studying economics and marrying the love of his life Lélia Deluiz Wanick. He was able to complete his masters in São Paulo, but because of his left-leaning politics they had to leave Brazil in 1969 and ended up in Paris where both of them finished their studies. It was then that Salgado first picked up a camera. “For the first time, I looked through a lens and photography immediately started to invade my life,” he says. “I finished my PhD in economics, and become an economist, but the camera gave me ten times more pleasure.”

It was shortly after this that Salgado got a job in London for the International Coffee Organization as an economist. This job included a lot of traveling and he began to take his camera with him. The images began to take over his life. He realized this was where he belonged, that the camera was his language. He and his wife moved back to Paris in 1973 so he could begin his life as a photographer……….



Ethiopia, 2008


Want more? You know you do, go here

Textus: Seung Hoon Park

You know I am not sure how excited I am about these, they are so reminiscent of the Hockney joiners, but then there is something compelling, maybe I should get past the technique



Berenice Abbott once said “Photography can never grow up if it imitates some other medium. It has to walk alone; it has to be itself.” Despite the fact that digital is where mainstream photography is going, I find it both comforting and inspiring that so many photographers are still shooting film. In fact, while a number of popular stocks have been discontinued, film is enjoying somewhat of a renaissance; either by established photographers going back to it, or in emerging photographers experiencing the magic of silver and light for the first time. I happened upon the work of Korean artist Seung Hoon Park recently and am finding it absolutely fascinating. For his project called Textus,he weaves strips of 8mm or 16mm film together into tapestries of sorts (or placemats, if you prefer), then uses a large-format 8×10 camera to expose the image. As you can see in the photographs below, the results are spectacular; the slight offset in position, angle and depth create almost a kaleidoscopic feel to the images.

Seung Hoon Park’s photographs are available through the Susan Spiritus Gallery in Newport Beach, CA.




Hands on with the Pentax 645Z

Medium Format digital cameras. During the days of film what set a professional photographer apart from the average was owning a medium format camera, be it a Hassleblad, Bronica, Mamiya, Fuji, it didn’t really matter but 120 film and a large negative made the difference. It appears this might also be the case in the digital world except that digital medium format cameras are ferociously expensive. This little baby with lens is over £7,500. Anyway we can dream

This review on the ever excellent DP Review you can file under, when I win the lottery.


Ricoh Imaging’s Pentax 645Z is the newest entry into the digital medium format world. Medium format camera sales have been slipping since the days of film (and the rise of full-frame digital), and Ricoh hopes that the 645Z will reverse that trend.

The 645Z finds itself amongst some very pricey competitors, both of which use the same 50MP Sony sensor (with no AA filter, as you’d expect). The Hasselblad H5D-50C camera and Phase One IQ250 digital back have retail prices of $29,000 and $37,000, respectively – several times greater than the $8,499 MSRP of the 645Z. Pentax’s experience with consumer DSLRs has allowed them to give the 645Z a larger ISO range, more sophisticated AF system, faster burst rates, and video recording – all of which the other cameras lack (though they have their own advantages, too).

That consumer-friendliness means it can also be seen as a rival to high-resolution DSLRs such as Nikon’s D800E. It’s not so readily hand-holdable, but it does make a 36MP full frame sensor suddenly sound less impressive.

The camera will be sold in a body-only kit for $8499.99 / £6799.99 or with a 55mm F2.8 lens for £7699.99. You can pick up a 645Z for yourself in late May. To put this in perspective, this is a around 17% less expensive than the existing, CCD-based 645D was, at launch.

We’ve been lucky enough to spend some time with a pre-production 645Z, and have some first impressions to share on the following slides.


Jay Maisel

From the archives of Faded + Blurred a Spotlight on Jay Maisel

He recently turned 80 years old and has more than 55 years of professional shooting under his belt. Jay Maisel is recognized as one of the top natural-light photographers in the world. Having lived in New York his entire life, the city is in his blood and he has used the wonderful backdrop of Manhattan to become a master of street photography. When you look at one of Jay Maisel’s photographs you don’t just see a subject and a background. Each photograph is a mini-masterclass in composition and how to capture the subtle nuances of light playing against shadow.

“You see shape, and how the light hits things, how the color changes from one end of the photo to the other, and how movement affects the mood of the photo.” -Jay Maisel ...READ INTERVIEW HERE






JayMaisel-200See more here on Faded + Blurred


11 photo printing mistakes every photographer makes

Printing your pictures at home can be rewarding but is often so frustrating. Whether you make mistakes or not the simple fact is you are unlikely to ever get a print to match your screen. This might be because your monitor isn’t calibrated, or because you haven’t worked out that images on screen are viewed by transmission whereas prints by reflection or even just that images on monitors are made up of bits of electricity but your print is ink or chemicals. That doesn’t mean you will be unable to make successful prints just that matching them exactly to the monitor is unlikely. This article will definitely help you to make better prints, all the way from Digital Camera World

Making prints can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of photography, but there are a few common mistakes that photographers make that can have them tearing their hair out. Our Head of Testing, Angela Nicholson, outlines the photo printing problems that can arise and explains how to avoid them.

11 photo printing mistakes every photographer makes (and how to avoid them)

Photo printing mistakes: 1. Dust marks

It doesn’t matter how long you spent waiting for the right conditions for a shoot, or how carefully you tweaked the image to get the colour and contrast just right before adding the perfect border if there’s a spec on the print. It will drive you mad.

Even just the tiniest mark that isn’t visible when the image fills the screen will jump out at you when an image is printed and hung on the wall.

Make sure that you check every image at 100% on screen and use guides to ensure that you look at every part of the shot, touching up any marks with the clone or healing tools as you go.

As a rule, the earlier that you do this in the image-editing process the better.

If you find a mark consistently appearing in the same place in your images then it’s time to clean your sensor.

SEE MORE: 20 questions you need to ask about how to print photos

Photo printing mistakes: 2. Image size confusion

Digital images are made up of pixels and the number of pixels defines their size, but they have no physical dimensions until they are printed.

A print’s resolution is the number of pixels that are used to make every inch and typically it should be kept high.

The most commonly quoted ideal printing resolution is 300ppi (pixels per inch).

However, Epson recommends printing at resolutions that are multiples of 180ppi with its printers, so 360ppi is a good starting point.

Use the image’s resolution to guide the maximum size of the print and try to keep it above 240ppi as dropping below this results in progressive softening of prints.

At 300ppi a 24-million-pixel image, which is has 6000×4000 pixels makes a 50.8×33.87cm (20×13.3inchh) print, or a 42.33×28.22cm (16.67×11.11inch) print at 360ppi.

Dropping the image resolution to 240ppi expands the print to 63.5×42.33cm (25×16.67inches).

A printer’s resolution is measured in drops per inch (dpi) and it specifies how many droplets of ink are used to make up the print. Several droplets maybe required to make-up a single pixel.

PAGE 1 – Photo printing mistakes: dust marks, image size confusion
PAGE 2 – Photo printing mistakes: using the wrong profile, using an uncalibrated monitor
PAGE 3 – Photo printing mistakes: using cheap inks, colours out of gamut
PAGE 4 – Photo printing mistakes: wrong paper size, paper too thick, printer handling the colour
PAGE 5 – Photo printing mistakes: blocked nozzles, using the same paper