Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

Monthly Archives: October 2015

Urban photographer of the year 2015

Another photographer of the year in the genre of Urban Photographer sponsored by CBRE which is a real estate company. I found this on the BBC site

A portrait of a watch repairer has been crowned the winner of this year’s CBRE Urban Photographer of the Year competition, beating more than 21,000 entries from 113 countries.


The portrait by Oscar Rialubin from the Philippines is called Xyclops.

Martin Samworth, chief executive of CBRE said: “The competition constantly provides us with new perspectives on working environments within cities. This year was no exception and Rialubin’s intimate portrait of a watch repairman gives insight into a universal trade. Urban life is constantly changing and the beauty of the competition is that it has captured this every year through the winning images.”


Johanna Siegmann photographed professional dog walker Leslie in Malibou, California.


Cocu Liu won the mobile section of the competition, capturing this winter scene in Chicago on his phone camera.


The Europe, Middle East and Africa prize was awarded to Armen Dolukhanyan for another black-and-white picture. This one shows a young couple, both in the Ukrainian police force.


Peter Graney’s photograph of poultry being prepared for market in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, won him the Asia Pacific prize.

Here is the link to the BBC page and here is the link to the CBRE Urban Photographer of the Year 2015 strangely there doesn’t seem to be an associated exhibition which is the usual fare with these things




Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015

This time of year sees many of the major competitions coming to a close and awards being made. Now it is the turn of Wildlife Photographer of the Year  Here is a quick look at this years winners, we will return with a more expansive post later


“A Tale of Two Foxes”: Don Gutoski’s picture captures a symmetry in life and death,

To the victor the spoils. An image of warring foxes has won the 2015 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.

Taken by amateur Don Gutoski, the picture captures the moment a red fox hauls away the carcass of its Arctic cousin following a deadly attack in Canada’s Wapusk National Park. “It’s the best picture I’ve ever taken in my life,” Don told BBC News. “It’s the symmetry of the heads, the bodies and the tails – even the expression on the faces.”


These scarlet ibis were photographed by Jonathan Jagot (France), off the island of Lençóis on the coast of northeast Brazil. Jonathan is the category winner in the “15-17 years” of age group


14-year-old Ondrej Pelánek from the Czech Republic for his image, Fighting Ruffs.


The “Under Water” winner is Michael Aw (Australia). This is a Bryde’s whale ripping through a sardine “bait ball” offshore of South Africa’s Transkei coast


Edwin Giesbers (Netherlands) pictures a newt from underneath as it moves across the surface of a stream. The picture wins the “Amphibians and Reptiles” category


Juan Tapia (Spain) wins the “Impressions” category. It is a staged scene in which a broken canvas has been placed over a broken windowpane that barn swallows have been using to enter an old storehouse in Almeria, southern Spain

The BBC has a long article on the prize

The Natural History Museum as sponsor has much more

There is an exhibition at NHM, details are here

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015-16 exhibition

The Natural History Museum
16 October 2015 – 10 April 2016
10.00-17.50 (last admission 17.15)

Photography and the art scene, selling your pictures

I subscribe to a site called Artsy, it offers works of art for sale. It is well organised and through preferences you make, lists artists and work you might be interested in and keeps you informed of auctions and so on. No I have never bought anything but I like to look.

I thought you might be interested to see some of the photography that it has for sale, not because you might want to buy but because it might give you some idea as to what you have to do to be considered an artist who sells their photographs. Of course being an artist isn’t just about what you produce but the road or how long that you took to get there, otherwise how would a drawing by Picasso on a napkin be worth anything, according to this story 25 years is the answer to how long.

So you might consider the photographs you make equivalent to some that you can see here on the Artsy photography page but that doesn’t mean yours are worth anything to a wider world. I hope you have learned that what other people think is less important than what you think about your images. You know what you wanted to achieve and whether you did, assuming you don’t fool yourself you will either be satisfied or like most of us know you have to try harder. Being creative in any medium starts with a desire to communicate and if what you produce doesn’t speak to you it is unlikely to do so to anyone else, so be honest did your intent manifest itself in your photograph? Intention is all important; serendipity is fine, happenstance, chance, luck they can all add to your images but in the end they have little to do with what you intended to offer the world as your version of what you see.

So here are some examples of what is on offer at Artsy, you may think they are worth the cost and buy or you may look and repeat that old joke. “How many photographers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?” Answer “25, one to do it an 24 to say ‘I could do that'”

From Artsy:

Arguably the most popular medium in contemporary art, photography was invented in 1839. Since then, its various forms and styles have increased almost exponentially—longstanding approaches to the medium range from documentary photography and photojournalism to photo-abstraction. At the same time, every age seems to come with its own photographic movements, and the past century has seen the influential rise of Modern Photography, New American Color Photography, Diaristic Photography, and the Dusseldorf School, among countless other styles and groups.


JESSE BURKE Lumberjack, 2014 Archival pigment print $2,000 – 4,000
ELGER ESSER Helensburg, 2015 Hahnemuhle Ultrasmooth 100% Cotton Rag Framed €15,000 – 20,000
OLIVIER VALSECCHI Eagle, 2012 Lambda Print €3,000 – 5,000
JAIME LIEBERMAN The iron chicken and the Red Bull, 2013 Painting with light on Varita paper Contact For Price
JEE YOUNG LEE Maiden Voyage, 2009 From the series Stage of Mind €2,500 – 5,000
YASUMASA MORIMURA “M’s Self-Portrait no 40/b” 9/12, 1995 Gelatine silver print, framed Contact For Price
JON FURLONG Water Tower Paste Up, 2015 Fuji metallic pearl paper; Ed. 1/3 $500
WALTER HUGO & ZONIEL Developing Shadows 6, 2011 Plaster board and silver nitrate £4,500
Here are just a few of the very varied offerings available for sale within the art market for photography, go and have a look at the rest it is interesting and enlightening if sometimes baffling. See more here


Alec Soth: America’s most immaculate, intriguing photographer

You will either love or hate his pictures, they will speak to you or infuriate you with their pretensions, it is hard to think of another photographer so feted who is perhaps less understood. Sean O’Hagen in The Guardian makes a very good stab at explaining why Soth is thought to be ‘America’s most immaculate photographer’, it is worth reading even if you don’t like the pictures because the article will help you to understand why some photographers/artists are so lauded. The start point for this Soth love-in is a new retrospective exhibition at The Science Museum. I’m not sure what any of it has to do with science.


2008  from Alec Soth’s book Broken Manual and included in the exhibition Gathered Leaves. All images courtesy of the artist/Magnum


Melissa, 2005, from Niagara


Adelyn, Ash Wednesday, New Orleans, Louisiana, 2000, from Sleeping by the Mississippi


Two Towels, 2004, from Niagara


Bil. Sandusky, Ohio, 2014, from Songbook

O’Hagen says “Underpinning the series, and indeed all of his work, is Soth’s restless vision and relentless curiosity. In Niagara, he finds another location steeped in contradictions, a place of “spectacular suicides and affordable honeymoons,” as he puts it. Soth’s Niagara is both mundane and majestic, its mythology invested with so much hope that disappointment and despair are an inevitable consequence…..

The strange atmosphere of banality and heightened intimacy is sustained throughout, further evidence of Soth’s meticulous editing and his almost writerly understanding of how to sustain a mood…..

This article is a very useful insight into the world of contemporary photography, not photography as most people understand but one where “It isn’t what a picture is of,” the great American photography curator John Szarkowski once said. “It is what it is about.”

Understanding this type of photographic imagery involves using your mind more than your eyes because although what you might see as O’Hagen says “His results are beautiful, whatever their subject matter. Painstakingly composed on a large-format camera mounted on a tripod, his images can be breathtakingly stunning in their subtle range of muted colours.” it is what it speaks of that gives it value

The question is do you believe this is what photography is about? I don’t know, I am intrigued by what I see and I like to try to understand but more often than not I get the impression that artists such as Soth speak to other artists and to those in the art world that own the art version of the Rosetta Stone and the rest of us are diminished because ‘we just don’t get it’

Read the article follow the links look at the pictures make of it what you will. The exhibition information is here

Gathered Leaves: Photographs by Alec Soth

Alec Soth is widely considered to be world’s foremost documentary photographer. Recently described by the Telegraph as the ‘greatest living photographer of America’s social and geographical landscape’, Soth is admired for his experimentation across exhibition, book, magazine and digital forms.

Like many great photographers and writers from the American canon – such as Robert Frank, Stephen Shore and Joel Sternfeld – Soth takes the open road as his subject, but brings to it his own unique and modern twist.

Through haunting, intimate portraits, desolate landscapes and wide open wildernesses, his work captures a profound sense of what it is to be human. Tenderness, joy, disappointment, fear or pride – his striking portraits capture the rawness of human emotion and the tension between our conflicting desires for individualism and community.

This exhibition presents his four signature series – Sleeping by the Mississippi (2004), Niagara (2006), Broken Manual (2010) and the most recent, Songbook (2014) – and highlights his remarkable career and distinctive vision.

Gathered Leaves is Soth’s first major UK show and offers a unique opportunity to see the journey his photographs make from the printed page to the exhibition wall.

Gathered Leaves: Photographs by Alec Soth

First major UK exhibition by award-winning American photographer Alec Soth
Floor: 2
Price: £8


On a final note I am reminded that I went to the Brighton Photography Biennial in 2010. Alex Soth was one of the main attractions, he had been contracted to produce an exhibition of his pictures of Brighton. When he arrived at Heathrow on a tourist visa it was evident he couldn’t work in the UK so was not allowed to photograph for the show so  So he handed over the reins of his latest exhibition to a new collaborator: his seven-year-old daughter The Guardian

It was so disappointing, why not let any local seven year old take the pictures….art, you have got to laugh

Best bridge camera 2015

Bridge cameras look like dslr cameras, have built in lenses, usually super zooms and are often a choice for those who want more than a compact but not the weight of a dslr

Techradar says

Many predicted that bridge cameras would be wiped out by the rise of affordable DSLRs and compact system cameras, but the combination of immense optical zoom versatility and advanced features at an affordable price explains their enduring appeal.

The best bridge cameras now offer DSLR-like levels of control and fast, wide-aperture lenses, along with raw shooting and other useful extras such as Wi-Fi and articulated screens. Image quality didn’t used to be a bridge camera forte, due to their widespread use of small 1/2.3-inch sensors. These days, however, there are models with much larger 1-inch designs that rival the image quality of some compact system cameras.

Here is a cheapie


6. Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ72

The FZ72 may be showing its age, but falling prices keep it in the game

Sensor size: 1/2.3-inch CMOS | Megapixels: 16.1 | Zoom range: 60x, 20-1200mm-equivalent | Screen type: 3-inch fixed, 460,000 dots | Viewfinder: Yes | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 9fps | Maximum video resolution:1080p | User level: Beginner/enthusiast

60x zoom
Raw format shooting
No Wi-Fi or touch sensitivity
Small, low resolution EVF

The FZ72 is one of the cheapest bridge cameras in our selection, yet it still sports a great zoom range with an impressive 20mm-equivalent wide angle focal length. Its lens aperture also opens up as wide as f/2.8, though it does narrow to f/5.9 at full zoom. Raw format recording and full manual control give the FZ72 enthusiast appeal, as does the attractive image quality. We would rank the FZ72 higher, but there?s no Wi-Fi and the relatively low screen and electronic viewfinder resolutions are a let-down. You?ll also have to do without an eye sensor to automatically switch between the two displays.

and here is one that is not cheap


3. Sony RX10 II

Sony’s premium bridge camera has a heavy video slant and a price to match

Sensor: 1-inch, 20.2Mp | Lens: 24-200mm f/2.8 | Monitor: 3-inch 1,229K dots |Viewfinder: EVF |Continuous shooting: 14fps | Movies: 4K | User level:Enthusiast/expert

4K video and 14fps continuous shooting
1-inch sensor and f/2.8 lens
Short zoom range for a bridge camera
High-tech 4K makes it expensive

The RX10 II has the same 24-200m F/2.8 lens and 1-inch sensor combination as the original RX10, making it a premium quality bridge camera for those prepared to sacrifice ultimate zoom range in exchange for a better camera. The RX10 II, however, adds Sony’s new ‘stacked sensor’ design for much faster data readout, 4K video and a 40x slow-motion mode. It’s evolved into an impressively high-tech stills video camera, but while videographers will be interested, it’s made it expensive compared to other bridge cameras for stills photographers – it’s a great camera, but the high price limits its appeal.

The majority of bridge cameras are well under £400 so look here if this is the type of camera for you

The 10 Most Expensive Photographs in the World

From Gizmodo we get this, I think the most expensive may have been surpassed but it doesn’t matter

Sometimes photographers amaze us with their ability to uniquely reflect the world around us and get a look at it from a different angle. Other times, they depict images so disgusting or banal that it’s impossible to understand why so many consider their photographs masterpieces. The art market is inscrutable, especially when it comes to photography. The following ten photos, ranked by worth, sold for millions of dollars at auctions over the past few years.

The Rhine II 1999 Andreas Gursky born 1955 Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 2000 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/P78372

The Rhine II 1999 Andreas Gursky born 1955 Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 2000 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/P78372 

1) Rhein II, by Andreas Gursky (1999). Sold for $4.3 million.


2) Untitled #96, by Cindy Sherman (1981). Sold for $3.9 million.


3) For Her Majesty, by Gilbert & George (1973). Sold for $3.7 million.

Ok there is the top three for you, go here to see the rest

News Flash

Peter Lik's 'Phantom' was sold for an unprecedented $6.5 million and is the most expensive photograph in history. (PRNewsFoto/LIK USA)

Peter Lik’s ‘Phantom’ was sold for an unprecedented $6.5 million and is the most expensive photograph in history. (PRNewsFoto/LIK USA)

Photographer Peter Lik has sold a print for a cool $6.5 million

Australian landscaper photographer Peter Lik has set a new world record after a private unnamed collector purchased one of his photos for an unprecedented $6.5 million.

The black-and-white image, called “Phantom,” was taken in Arizona’s Antelope Canyon, the Guardian reports.


10 best compact cameras of 2015

Techradar looks at a range of compact cameras for you

Compact cameras come in so many different types and sizes that it’s hard to choose the right one, or even know where to start.

A ‘compact’ camera, to most people, is one you can slip into a pocket, though technically it’s any digital camera with a non-removable lens – so that includes DSLR-style superzoom ‘bridge’ cameras and high-powered expert cameras for enthusiasts.

There are so many choices it quickly gets confusing – so we’ve picked out what we think are the top 10 best compact cameras on the market, in all price brackets, and why.

Here is the cheapest in the list


10. Sony W800

It’s cheap, it’s simple and it still gives you a 5x zoom

Sensor: 1/2.3-inch, 20.1MP | Lens: 26-130mm, f/3.2-6.4 | Monitor: 2.7-inch, 230K dots | Viewfinder: No | Continuous shooting: 0.5fps | Movies: 720 | User level: Basic

Compact and lightweight
Low price
Poor quality in low light
Soft-looking panoramas

If price is the biggest factor, then you can hardly do better than the Sony W800. At this end of the market you have to tread a careful line between ‘cheap’ and ‘rubbish’, and the W800 keeps you firmly on the side of ‘cheap’. Its 20MP 1/2.3-inch sensor and 5x zoom lens deliver perfectly satisfactory quality for a budget point-and-shoot camera, and both the build quality and the styling are a cut above what you might expect at this price. It’s small, light, easy to use and gives you just enough manual control to cope with the occasional tricky situation.

and here is the most expensive


3. Fuji X100T

Fuji made its reputation with this fabulous retro-themed high-end compact

Sensor: APS-C X-Trans, 16.3MP | Lens: 35mm, f/2 | Monitor: 3-inch, 1040K dots | Viewfinder: Hybrid optical/EVF | Continuous shooting: 6fps | Movies: 1080 |User level: Expert

Beautiful design
Hybrid viewfinder
Fixed screen
Fixed focal length lens

The X100T is a beauty both to look and and to use, but it’s not for everyone! It’s a relatively large, retro-styled camera with a fixed focal length 35mm equivalent f/2.0 lens, and designed for photographers who hanker after the weighty feel and manual external controls of traditional 35mm rangefinder cameras. It’s a relatively specialised camera you’ll use for a certain type of subject (street photography, for example) and most owners are likely to have other cameras too. The original X100 revived Fuji’s fortunes and gave its rivals the jolt they needed to develop their own classically-designed cameras.

there are 8 more compact cameras rated as best here