Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

Monthly Archives: June 2014

Daily life in Russia – The Guardian share your photos page






More here

Photography Oxford Festival

I have written about this before and now there is a plea for volunteers from the organisers, so as the main place in Oxford for everything photographic they asked if we could spread the word.

The Photography Oxford Festival is being held over three weeks in 22 different locations throughout Oxford, including colleges, galleries and museums.
We are now looking for people to act as voluntary stewards over the three weeks. The main criteria is commitment to be ‘on duty’ at various locations for a maximum of  2.5 hours per day – with a maximum of 6 sessions or a maximum of 3 days, over the three-week period.. The core times are 10am – 6pm. The dates are mid September to October

If you are interested in helping then contact Priscilla Frost,    priscilla@oxconf.co.uk



Susanna Majuri’s photographs are an exploration into photographic fiction as a place for encountering emotions, both positive and negative, with references to storytelling, literature, music,and folklore. Elements recognisable from story books merge with our own memories creating a dreamlike atmosphere. Her characters inhabit a fictive place where boundaries between dreams and reality are continuously brought into question, redefined, and reinvented.


For over 55 years the World Press Photo contest has encouraged the highest standards in photojournalism.
The contest creates a bridge linking the professionals with the general public. As the announcement of the winners makes headlines around the world, so the inspirational role of photojournalism is highlighted to an audience of hundreds of millions.
The results of the 2014 World Press Photo Contest were announced on 14 February. World Press receives support from the Dutch Postcode Lottery and is sponsored worldwide by Canon.
Image: ©Philippe Lopez, France, Agence France-Presse


Adobe makes photography program price permanent, unveils 14 new apps

You cannot buy Photoshop now, for some time it has only been available as a subscription program. This means you pay about £9 a month and get the full version of Photoshop and the full version of Lightroom. These are updated when newer versions are available. You can still but Photoshop Elements as a stand alone program and currently the same is the case for Lightroom. For about a year Adobe have been running a special offer, the £9 saying the full price might be double that when the offer closed. well now they have back tracked and the full price will be £9, until they put it up anyway. If you need the full program and use LR this is a good deal but for many people Elements is more than sufficient for their needs.



Here is what Digital Camera World say on the  matter

As well as announcing updates to 14 desktop apps in its Creative Cloud suite, Adobe has confirmed that its photography program, which was previously billed as a special offer, will be a permanent feature.

The plan includes access to the Photoshop CC and Lightroom desktop applications with free upgrades when they are available, mobile and web apps, 20 GB of cloud storage and a Behance ProSite for £8.78/US$9.99/AU$9.99 per month when you sign up for a one-year plan

New to Photoshop CC: Blur Gallery

Like Adobe’s other desktop apps, Photoshop CC is being updated with a host of new or refreshed features including the addition of two new motion blur filters in the Blur Gallery.

Path Blur allows movement blur to be added along a line (path) and controlled using an on-screen slider around a pin, like the other filters in the Gallery. The degree and location of the blur can be further controlled by adding pins with zero blur.

Spin blur is designed to add a sense of movement to wheels and disks in images. This size of the area affected as well as the stroke length and centre position can all be adjusted along with the intensity of the blur.

Both blur filters are non-destructive and their effect can be undone at any time.

SEE MORE: Motion Blur – how to use layers, masks and filters to create a sense of speed

New to Photoshop CC: Select by focus

Adobe has also added a new way to make selections, Focus Mask, which is ideally suited for use with images that have a sharp subject against a blurred background.

Once Focus Mask is active, it’s just a question of painting over the target area with the cursor and Photoshop will select the sharp areas.

The range of the selection can be adjusted and the refine edge controls are available to ensure that the correct area is selected.

SEE MORE: Shallow depth of field – how to fake it using Photoshop filters and masks

New to Photoshop CC: Heightened awareness

Photoshop CC’s Content-Aware technology has been improved with a colour match algorithm for better results when using features such as the Patch tool.

Rather than just blurring the edges of the cloned section, the surrounding tint is analysed and the element is merged.

See the full article here

Karen Knorr

Strange that I had not heard of Karen Knorr before as she is certainly celebrated. Serious stuff often beautifully crafted with purpose and intent. This series of images from India had her using large format film cameras to capture the sumptuous palaces in Rajasthan and then photographing animals in nearby zoos and digitally combining the images. Can you see the join? Fun and beautiful. Her website has a number of other series of works worth investigating

The bike riders Exhibition by Danny Lyon

In the 1960s Danny Lyon photographed the Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club, not as a passive observer, but in close, as part of the gang. The resulting photographs capture a subculture from the inside and form one of the defining photographic documents of that time, influencing many photographers who went on to record the decades that followed.





All photographs © Danny Lyon Courtesy Magnum Photos / Etherton Gallery, Tuscon, USA and Atlas Gallery, London.

The Seventh Dog by Danny Lyon is published by Phaidon, and 40 modern prints from The Bikeriders series can be seen at the Atlas Gallery from 19 June – 16 August 2014, the first time these prints have been shown in the UK.


Exhibition June 19th to 16th August

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 12.46.26

Atkins Ciwem environmental photographer of the year 2014 shortlist – in pictures

Shortlisted entries to the competition, which showcases the best in environmental photography and film, will be exhibited at the Royal Geographical Society in London from 23 June to 4 July, and tour UK forest venues until November. Launched in 2007 by the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (Ciwem), and sponsored by Atkins, the exhibition will show contemporary, creative, and original pictures taken by international photographers and filmmakers. The winners – chosen from more than 10,000 entries – will be announced on 24 June

Full details about this award can be found here

There is an excellent article in The Guardian here


Rainwater collection, 2012, by Prasanta Biswas (India)
People living in Sundarban, West Bengal, India, face regular shortages of water. The tropical climate has resulted in different physical effects from climate change, including increased temperature and precipitation, increased salinity and extreme weather events such as floods, cyclones and droughts.


Wrapping a surviving tree, Luke Duggleby, 2013


Fishing net making in Mekong Delta, Vietnam, Tuyet Trinh Do, 2012


Solar 4, Steve Morgan, 2013

Following a hugely successful first year partnership, Atkins, one of the world’s leading design, engineering and project management consultancies, are once again sponsoring the competition, allowing for two significant improvements this year. 2014 sees the introduction of the Atkins Cityscape Prize of £1,000, and the competition is now free to enter.

Prizes for the 2014 competition include:

Atkins CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year of £5000

Atkins CIWEM Young Environmental Photographer of the Year (Under 18) of £1000

Atkins CIWEM Environmental Film of the Year of £1000

Atkins Cityscape Prize of £1000

Forestry Commission England Exhibition Award: one photographer will be invited to exhibit a solo show at one of England’s public forests

50 photography tips from jobbing pros to famous photographers

From Digital Camera World comes this sage article. Although some of this advice is obvious I have to say having read all of them that following much of this advice will improve your photography

Advice. It’s a funny thing. If we applied all of photography’s apparent rules and dos and don’ts to our work, there would be little, if any, room for creativity and surely that’s the point. So you’ll find no textbook photography tips here; instead we asked 50 top pro and famous photographers to share the secrets they’ve gleaned from years of shooting day in day out.

Expect to be inspired and challenged by the advice of famous photographers like David Bailey and Mary Ellen Mark, as well as up-and-coming names and photographers who make it their business to take amazing pictures for their clients each day.

I think the first bit of advice looking at the profile pictures of these very famous photographers is 1) Don’t be photographed holding a camera 2) Get a portrait photographer to photograph your profile picture


David Bailey

Here is a taste of the advice on offer

Anna Kari
Once photography becomes a job it’s easy to lose the passion and fascination that originally brought you to it! It’s better to be an amateur who loves photography with all their heart than a bitter pro who can’t stop complaining how little they’re paid. Figure out what you really want to shoot, develop little project ideas and get out there and do it, and you’ll be in as good a position as a professionals to develop truly personal and amazing work.

Andrea Jones
There’s simply no way round it – start before the sun comes up and go to bed after it sets. That’s if you want your pictures to have wow factor. Software programs are wonderful – but there’s no human imagination that can dream up what natural light can do. And there’s no point getting to your location as the sun rises as you’ll miss the moment. Recce the day before, preferably at lunchtime when there’s no hope of good light, and then be waiting for the first (or last) rays of the day. A tough regime in mid summer but the experience is something that you just can’t beat.

Elliott Landy
At my appearances, people often come up to me to show me their photos and begin our conversation with a caution that they’re not professional – their way of telling me not to expect too much. I tell them that the fact they’re not ‘professional’ is actually a badge of honour, because they’re doing it strictly for love and not for money.

Steve Bloom

Always remember that the camera is merely a tool, and no matter how good the technology, nothing can replace the art of seeing. Great photographs are made by learning technique and taking it to a point where it resides in the subconscious. After that, feelings should dictate aesthetics. In other words, shoot from the heart. Photography is like music or poetry, and is best created with heightened feelings. Get excited – be emotional about the photographs you take and try to feel empathy with the subject.

John Kenny
Try to think carefully about what happens to your images when they move from three dimensions to two dimensions – that is, your print or computer screen. Starting to understand this change, and later predict its effects, can really advance your compositions. Developing this skill can really help you capture light and be sensitive to its effects on your subjects without being excessively influenced to emphasise the obvious; helping you to look beyond those near/large objects or subjects that ‘cry out’ for your attention but often make less satisfying images.

all excellent bits of advice as are most of the 50, it is worth your time to have a look at these snippits of truth, go here for that


Photography theory: a bluffer’s guide

In The Telegraph,

Bewildered by Berger? Stumped by Sontag? We read the essential photography theory so you don’t have to. 

I must say this line sounds familiar to a line I say when teaching understanding your digital slr courses, “I’ve read the manuals so you don’t have to”

So here is a list of books you probably should have read if you are really interested in photography but somehow they slipped your mind, the first is about the decisive moment



The Decisive Moment by Henri Cartier-Bresson (1952), digested by Rachel Segal Hamilton
What’s it about?
“The decisive moment”, an idea that has defined street photography and photojournalism as we know it, was first outlined in the preface to a book of photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson. The essay starts with Cartier-Bresson charting his life so far as a photographer – from messing around with a Box Brownie as a child to co-founding Magnum Photos – before talking through his approach to photography.
According to Cartier-Bresson, there is an almost magical split-second in which events in the world – interactions between people, movement, light and form – combine in perfect visual harmony. Once it passes, it is gone forever. To capture such moments as a photographer you must be inconspicuous, nimble and attentive; working on instinct; responding to reality and never trying to manipulate it.
Composition cannot be planned, nor can it be added in afterwards. Cropping will invariably make a good shot worse and is unlikely to make a bad shot better. Camera settings shouldn’t be something the photographer even thinks about – taking a photograph should be like changing gears in a car.
In his own words:
“We photographers deal in things that are constantly vanishing, and when they have vanished, there is no contrivance on earth which can bring them back again.”
“Composition must be one of our constant preoccupations, but at the moment of shooting it can stem only from our intuition, for we are out to capture the fugitive moment, and all the interrelationships involved are on the move.”
“To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organisation of forms which give that event its proper expression.”
How to sound as if you’ve read it:
Be ready and reactive. Don’t get hung up on kit and, most importantly, keep it real.

Other included works given the treatment are

Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography by Roland Barthes

The Ongoing Moment by Geoff Dye

On Photography by Susan Sontag

The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Walter Benjamin

Regarding the Pain of Others by Susan Sontag

Read all these useful cheat sheets here


Camera Sculpture by Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs Photo: Courtesy the artists, RaebervonStenglin, Zurich and Peter Lav, Copenhagen

The best advice for a photography beginner

“The book “On Being a Photographer” by Magnum Photographer David Hurn and Bill Jay (this only seems to be available as a Kindle download unless you are prepared to spend about £140 for a paperback! Worth buying the Kindle)  helped me more than any other book about photography I have read. One of the main things I learned is the importance of picking a project rather than just walking around looking for pictures. And it is important that the subject matter you choose be continuosly accessible. This translates for most people into picking a subject close to home. It is harder photographing your own day to day life. You don’t need exotic places — and often they are deterrent because the photographer does not know the exotic place well enough to capture its essence. Showing what is beautiful (or not beautiful) in your day-to-day environment is infinitely more interesting.

Decide on one or two qualities that you will search for. Perhaps that quality is “symetry”. Find all the photographs that use symetry as a dominate quality. Churches are often symetrical. People can be symetrical. The ocean can be symetrical. A car can be symetrical. So, spend a day just looking for this one quality. That is alot cheaper than spending money on taking pictures, at first!

When you use your camera, try to emulate or use this quality of “symetry”. After looking at symetrical objects in magazines, go outside and find an object, like a sign or a newspaper rack or a telephone, or an apple, and make a symetrical photograph of it.


Is that exciting? Nope. But either is playing on a piano with 1 note. But now you really know where that 1 note is. You can pull it out and use it anytime you need to in the future.

I took a course in photography for 3 weeks. This is how I learned. We were given assignments like: “shadows”, “near and far”. We did about 5 different qualities. As a result, I was somewhat equipped to do assignments for the college newspaper and I did PR for the college as well. Therefore, I became professionally almost immediately. All I knew was 4-5 qualities. But I knew the qualities that would help me as a beginning professional, and I didn’t fail.

Decide what it is you like in life. Having a *passion* for old motorbikes, landscapes, flowers … is the real driver to making good photos. I find it almost impossible to shoot good images of things I have no interest in, but I can happlily spend a whole day photographing what I love.

I suggest to you that you would concentrate on one quality of a good photograph at a time. Spend a week just looking for this one quality, and take about 40 pictures of things or events that have this one quality. A good picture usually has 4-5 good qualities. However, there may be 100 good qualities out there to choose from. The rule of 1/3rds is one quality.

Another, is “diagonals”.

Another quality is “near and far”.

Another quality is “shadows”.

The way I started, my first picture was of stairs. I pictured the stairs diagonally across my frame. And with that, I learned the first quality. You must spend one week on your assignement to learn about each quality. Then after a month or so, you can combine qualities.”

My advice echoes this, to get better at photography always consider composition, you could even take our composition course and practise one feature at a time, spend hours or even days just looking for and photographing using one compositional device like rule of thirds. When you start seeing images even when you do not have a camera with you then you are on the right road

The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera”
Dorethea Lange

Working to projects rather than just aimlessly wandering around with a camera sharpens your eye, helps you see better and if you come across the slim paper back “On Being a Photographer” by Bill Jay and David Hurn snap it up

10 Remarkable Traits All Photographers Have (According to Hollywood)

From the good ship Lightstalking

Yes these are all true, it sums up my life perfectly…..

Ever seen a photographer in a movie? Well, we’ll leave out the likelihood that it was a male photojournalist in a war zone exposing the “truth” (like no other type of photographer exists) and move straight onto the golden cliches that Hollywood likes to push. Here are a few things that our new hero almost certainly has:

Rugged Good Looks – Well this one goes without saying. We are all a remarkably handsome bunch of people. No arguments with that one! Let’s move on…


An Infinite Travel Budget – When you hit the road in a movie, it’s all about the story and the shots. Now the photographers in any movie, in addition to being remarkably handsome and incredibly stylish are also able to travel basically forever. Without thought. Or presumably cost.

I guess that means they are all really rich. Which is great, because the reality is that most photographers earn about half the average national income. Personally, I’d be taking the movie gig any time.

An Uncanny Ability to Find Awesome Bars and Hotels in the Third World – Anybody who has ever been to a developing country will know that the chances of finding a good bar in or near a warzone can be somewhat limited. Hell, finding clean water is often a pretty challenging experience, let alone a traditional Parisian Sidecar cocktail made to specification by a barman wearing a tuxedo who was trained at The Ritz.

A clean toilet – now that’s something a lot of us would actually settle for.

Many have horror stories of arguing with a dreadlocked Aussie backpacker who was “finding himself” by working for food at a crappy hostel with bed bugs and trying to charge extra for a shower. I honestly wish we could have this superhuman ability to find the amazing war hotels of Hollywood legend. I’d probably move in………READ ON HERE or should that be rock on

All Fun Aside, Here are Some Great Movies With Photographers