Oxford School of Photography

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Monthly Archives: December 2014

Ten photos capture the UK in 2014

From Phil Coomes at the BBC_79771078_pa-18605157

As we reach the end of 2014, Milica Lamb, picture editor at the Press Association (PA), selects some of the best shots captured by the news agency’s photographers across the UK.

“PA produced close to a quarter of a million images in 2014, so, as always, being tasked with selecting an editor’s choice for the year has proved incredibly hard – there are just too many amazing images I have had to leave out,” says Lamb.

“This year proved to be an eventful year, and with the general election, Rugby World Cup and the appearance of a new royal baby to look forward to, I expect next year to be even more exciting.”

Here is Milica Lamb’s selection with comments from the photographers.



see the rest and explanation of the shots by the photographers here

Jane Bown: a life in photography – in pictures

Jane Bown, the Observer photographer known for her natural light portraits of the famous has died aged 89. One of the great British photographers, sadly missed.

Jane Bown: a life in photography – in pictures From The Guardian


Jane Bown: a self-portrait, c1986


Samuel Beckett, 1976Having thought she’d missed her quarry, Jane snuck round the back of the Royal Court Theatre in London’s Sloane Square, where after rehearsals of Beckett’s Happy Days, part of a season celebrating his 70th birthday, she caught him exiting via the stage door


Mick Jagger, 1977

From The Telegraph: 

Jane Bown, who has died aged 89, was an outstanding portrait photographer who confounded the experts with the simplicity of her camera technique. She spent 65 years on the Observer, for whom she took several thousand pictures of politicians, bishops, actors, pop stars and other celebrities, as well as ordinary people – miners, hop-pickers and women at a holiday camp – whose faces captured her interest.

Nearly all her pictures were snatched on location during the 10 or 15 minutes she was allowed while a reporter was interviewing someone for the newspaper. A tiny, round-faced, unobtrusive woman, she would appear with only a shopping bag, in which her camera would often compete for space with vegetables for that night’s supper.

This unthreatening demeanour had the effect of defusing a subject’s initial hostility. Both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones took to her and allowed her to stay long after the time allocated by their minders. This resulted in famous portraits of Mick Jagger and John Lennon in particular; she found Paul McCartney “a bit pompous”.

Her much-admired picture of Samuel Beckett, showing his face as a cracked desert of lines protruding from a white polo-neck, was captured at the stage door at the Royal Court after he had declined to see her. A very determined character beneath a gentle, nervous manner, she obtained a memorable portrait of Richard Nixon by crawling through the legs of the crowd outside his hotel and shouting to him to look at her……MORE


Queen Elizabeth II, photographed in 2006 for her 80th birthday. It was Jane’s 80th birthday that same year


The Beatles relax backstage in East Ham, London, 1963When someone asked Jane to leave at the end of the photo shoot, Ringo Starr insisted she be allowed to stay


Sir John Betjeman, 1972

See more of Jane Bown’s portraits in this extensive gallery

From the BBC …

Observer editor John Mulholland called her “part of the Observer’s DNA”.

Bown last appeared in the Observer offices in August, although by then she was too frail to take photographs.

‘Immense contribution’

Mr Mulholland said: “During more than 50 years working for the Observer, she produced some of the most memorable and insightful images of prominent cultural and political figures taken during the 20th Century.

“From the Queen to the Beatles, Samuel Beckett to Bjork, John Betjeman to Bob Hope, her beautifully observed pictures have become part of our cultural landscape.

“She is part of the Observer’s DNA – her contribution to the paper’s history, as well to Britain’s artistic legacy, is immense, and will long survive her.

Jane Bown spoke to Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour in 2006

“She was loved by her colleagues and adored by our readers. We will miss her hugely.”


Photography Courses For 2015

well we have done it again, created a new course to get you making better pictures. It has the most unwieldy title because we couldn’t think of anything better, sorry.

Basics of Landscape, Travel, Flower and Black and White Digital Photography

The course is based on our observations that these are the main subject areas along with portraiture, (which is covered in our separate Portrait Photography course), that interest our students. Each session we look at one of the four subject areas.

This course is aimed at students who already have a good understanding of how to use their cameras. There will be no instruction on camera use therefore it might be worthwhile taking our Understanding Your DSLR course first if you tend to use the fully auto mode when photographing. All areas of photography rely on technical and visual skills and although there will be references to camera use and composition there will be no in depth discussion of these areas and if you do not understand basic compositional methods our Composition In Photography course would be a great asset to you. Get full details here


We now have our course schedule sorted out for the next term, here are the dates

Understanding Your DSLR Camera Evening Class £85 Start Dates: 26.01.2015;  11.03.2015

Understanding Your DSLR Camera Saturday Morning Class £85 Start Date: 07.03.2015

1 Day Understanding Your DSLR Camera £95 Dates:  01.02.2015; 01.03.2015; 29.03.2015

Intermediate Photography £97 Start Date 26.02.2015

Flash Photography £85 Start date 05.02.2015

Understanding Lightroom £85 Start Date 03.02.2015

Introduction to Photoshop and PS Elements £97 Start Date 25.02.2015

Composition In Photography – Seeing Pictures £85 Start Date 03.02.2015

Portrait Photography £85 Start Date 10.03.2015

Basics of Landscape, Travel, Flower and B&W Photography Start Date 09.03.2015  £85


How To Upload Photos to Facebook

I don’t use Facebook to show my pictures, they are either on my website or on Flickr however I am aware lots of people do. I am always disappointed by how images look of Facebook and that has nothing to do with all those awful Instagram filters just how flat and dull pictures look. Well this article by  on Fstoppers explains why and how you can improve how your pictures look. As this is posting to the web much of what is explained applies to many web environments you may populate with your images. It makes sense to me and has some nifty graphics

Assuming Facebook doesn’t change these anytime soon, here are the full details on what I do (at least) to make my images on my Facebook Page look clear, sharp, and with minimal or no data compression, as of December 13, 2014. Let’s start with some history, because thorough knowledge is better than hasty knowledge.  READ MORE HERE  This image shows some of what is explained, if you are reading this on Facebook who knows what it will look like

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 16.16.09Thank 


Travel photographer of the year 2014 winners – in pictures

The Guardian has some of the winning entries to the TPOTY award for 2014 but the TPOTY website has them all and details of the photographers.

From the Arctic Circle to rural China, and from crystal clear sinkholes to 14,000ft mountain lakes, the winning images in this year’s TPOTY competition showcase astonishing natural beauty and incredible human diversity. To see all 150 images visit the TPOTY website

The winner Philip Lee Harvey won for his selection of images from Ethiopia.


Philip was born in Canterbury, England in 1969. After completing a Graphic Design degree at the Norwich School of Art and Design, Philip assisted some of the UK’s leading advertising photographers. Eager to develop his photographic career, Philip soon started taking on editorial and advertising commissions of his own.

Since then, he has worked in over 100 countries, ranging from Antarctica to the Sahara. His journeys have taken him to some of the world’s most inhospitable and demanding destinations.


10 pro tips you can use in any genre of photography

From Digital Camera World, words of wisdom, or it’s obvious really but still worth saying

It doesn’t matter whether you like to shoot landscapes, portraits or still life photography, these ten tips from our guest bloggers at Photoventure  will help you improve your images time and time again…..

©Jane Buekett

©Jane Buekett

1. Keep it simple

As a rule it’s best to keep things as simple as possible. In the studio this may mean using two lights (or even just one) rather than three, or including fewer props, but it’s also a useful thing to remember when composing landscapes and still life.

Avoid complex, confusing scenes and look for compositions that have clean lines and nicely spaced elements.

When large format cameras were more common, many photographers claimed the fact that they showed the scene upside down and laterally reversed helped them improve their composition because they stopped seeing the subject as a recognisable object and instead saw a collection of shapes to be photographed in an attractive arrangement.

Modern cameras show the image correctly orientated (usually even if you review a shot and turn the camera upside-down) so you have to use your imagination to see images as shapes and patterns of light rather than objects.

See the other 9 tips here

Copyright © What and where can you photograph and who owns your pictures

Perhaps once a week I have a discussion with someone about copyright. The rights that a photographer has to their images but also the rights say the owner of a property has when it is photographed, or say an individual photographed in the street. There are many untruths put about with regard to what you can photograph, people claiming rights and demanding you delete your pictures or pay them or they will call the police.

Sal Shuel has written a very informative article for the Canon Professional Network which I urge you to have a look at.

Whoever presses the button owns copyright, no ifs no buts. If a picture of yours is used without your permission you have a case to ask for payment.

What can you photograph?

“Photographic restrictions are manifold. Steer clear of (amongst many other things) schools, playgrounds, hospitals, children (particularly if naked), army camps, power stations, military personnel, London’s Trafalgar Square, Paternoster Square and Canary Wharf (all private property believe it or not), plus National Trust properties, road accidents and police arresting people. Anyone working in uniform unless they are on show are also ‘no-nos’, as are airports,………In some countries it’s necessary to seek permission before photographing the exterior of a building but not in the UK. If it’s visible from a public right of way it’s fair game although the security guards will claim otherwise.”

The rules obviously vary in different countries, France is pretty much a no go zone for everything, as is Uluru in Australia, if you are travelling check the local laws before assuming what goes in the UK goes everywhere.

As I said if you are worried about what you can photograph or that someone has used your images then read this excellent article


I definitely pressed the button! ©Keith Barnes



Abandoned America: Amazing photos of a nation’s ruins

By Fiona Macdonald on The BBC website

There is a great interest in abandoned buildings, they somehow speak to our own fragility and remind us of what happens where we don’t look after things. The finding of and photographing derelict buildings is often called Urbex, (urban explorers) their motto is take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints

“People love to use Detroit as a poster child for the abandoned urban landscape … but it’s not just Detroit that is suffering from the loss of urban infrastructure. The collapse of industries has torn holes in the identities of many major cities,” says Matthew Christopher. The photographer began exploring abandoned buildings when looking at the history of mental health care in America, but soon widened his search. A new book, Abandoned America: The Age of Consequences, brings together his images of prisons, hospitals, churches and hotels. Christopher aims “to connect the dots, to show that it is not simply one type of structure or one geographic location that is affected”. His photographs reveal both decaying industrial giants and derelict domestic spaces





you can see more of this here

more posts on Urbex here

Treasure trove of 60 barn-finds includes ‘lost’ Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider

30 abandoned structures that evoke more than just decay

‘The Ruins of Detroit’ by Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre

Urbex – Talkurbex



8 reasons your photos still look like snapshots

When people come on our courses they sometimes think all they want to know is how to make their pictures look better. We slowly coax them into understanding that there is no magic button hidden on their camera that will suddenly improve their pictures. We explain that understanding their cameras, knowing how to use the controls to suit the specific requirements of their subject, and that not all subjects are the same so it is not one size fits all. We encourage practice, we suggest that, like learning to drive, it is hours of doing the same thing that gets them skilled in camera use, and that the same goes for their eye. I am occasionally confronted by people who say they take really nice pictures, ‘they have a good eye’, but they don’t know how to use their camera. I save myself from asking how they take ‘really nice pictures’. It is the whole, your vision, your knowledge, your understanding that makes great images. Our courses are aimed first at getting people to understand their cameras, then on teaching them how important composition is and that it can be learned as long as they are prepared to look and practise and finally how to explore more. This means to look at their subjects carefully, to explore them with their eyes and their cameras and then to think about what they are trying to say with their picture. In essence why are they taking the picture, knowing why helps to inform how.

This article on Digital Camera World touches on some of these ideas and if you are finding your pictures do not do what you want read it here. If you are inspired look at our courses and find the ones that will help you become a truly better photographer. We have been teaching photography since 1982, we do know.

here is some of the article

Photography can be a frustrating business when you’re a beginner. If you spend long enough browsing online photo sharing websites like 500px or Flickr, you may be both inspired and infuriated in equal measure. How do other photographers get their pictures to look so good? Why do my photos look like snaps while everyone else’s look like works of art? What camera trickery do they know that I don’t?

The good news is that you’re not alone: no photographer started creating magic the minute they picked up a camera. It can take months or years of work until you’re completely happy with the pictures you take. But there are some steps you can take today to stop your photos looking like snapshots. In their latest guest blog post the team at Photoventure offer some suggestions…

1. You’re not paying enough attention to the light

The quality and quantity of light will make or break a photo. If you’re not shooting in light that complements the subject or the look you’re after, then you’ll end up with a so-so snap.

We’re not suggesting you should take all your photographs during the ‘golden hours’ at the start and end of the day. You can have too much of a good thing, after all. No, shooting at dawn and dusk might be the classic advice for landscape photography, but it doesn’t suit every subject.

Some subjects work better with more directional, hard-edged light, while others are better photographed under softer, more diffuse light. The harsh, burning light you get in the middle of clear, sunny day is generally the least flattering, particularly if you’re creating portraits or close-up photos.

If the light’s not working, then try enhancing it: a diffuser or reflector can help you manipulate the existing lighting, while fill-flash will allow you to reveal detail in shadows that would otherwise be lost.


©KeithBarnes Visit our course website here

See the rest of this valuable article here


Treasure trove of 60 barn-finds includes ‘lost’ Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider

we get a lot of hits for our urbex posts and here, pictures of dishevelled buildings, but these pictures of the automobile equivalents will have petrolheads salivating with these exquisite images from Rémi Dargegen for Classic Driver

From Classic Driver

“Never again, anywhere in the world, will such a treasure be unearthed,” says Pierre Novikoff, motor car specialist at Artcurial auction house. He’s describing a staggering collection of 60 barn-find cars that have been discovered after lying hidden for 50 years.

And if you think he’s exaggerating, then let me quote our photographer, Rémi Dargegen, who reported back to us right after the photo-shoot, saying, “It’s amazing, just amazing. The place is incredible… the most impressive thing is the sheer quantity of cars hidden in the barns.”




It all began with the grandfather of the family that currently owns the collection: back in the 1950s, he dreamed of conserving the heritage of pre-War cars in museum surroundings, focusing on the great French brands and famous body shops. This gentleman was an entrepreneur with a transport company in the west of France and he was a serious enthusiast: he even exhibited a roadster that he’d built himself at the Paris Motor Show in the 1950s. Sadly, during the 1970s, his dream fell apart when his business suffered a setback and he was forced to sell some 50 cars. After that, the rest of the collection stayed totally untouched, all these years, until its very recent discovery.




Photos: Rémi Dargegen for Classic Driver © 2014

See all of these wonderful old cars and read the jaw dropping histories here