Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

Monthly Archives: February 2016

The Photographers Eye – Szarkowski

I read in a book I found online

The Frame

Since the photographer’s picture was not conceived but selected, his subject was never truly discrete. never wholly self-contained. The edges of his film demarcated what he thought most important but the subject he had shot was something else: it had extended in four directions. If the photographer’s frame surrounded two figures, isolating them from the crowd in which they stood, it created a relationship between those two figures that had not existed before. The central act of photography, the act. of choosing and eliminating, forces a concentration on the picture edge — the line that separates in from out and on the shapes that are created by it.

I think this is a very good description of what we as photographers do

Here is a link to that book

The Photographers Eye – Swarkowski


Fred Herzog


You may be aware that there is an exhibition of Warhol prints at the Ashmolean Museum until May.

This interview in American Photo is with a photographer who worked with Warhol at ‘The Factory’

If you like Warhol this will interest you

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Velvet Underground

Billy Name, born William Linich, was a lighting designer living in Lower Manhattan in the early 60s who, in an amphetamine-fueled fugue, ‘redecorated’ his East 5th Street apartment into an art installation. He covering the entirety of his space in silver spray paint and aluminum foil. “I even painted the silverware silver,” he said. When Andy Warhol, who Billy had been seeing at the time, came over for a hair-cutting party, he asked him to do the same to a new loft he bought on East 47th Street, the site of the since-infamous Silver Factory.

Billy went over to give Warhol’s loft the same silver treatment as his own apartment, and ended up staying for several years, developing close relationships with many of the famous Factory denizens. He had never had a camera until one day, Warhol’s 35 mm fell into his lap and the rest became art history. Decades later, nearly every contemporary art museum in the world at any given time has at least some work by Warhol on view, and anything even remotely associated with the artist seems to garner instant attention.

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Edie Sedgewick

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Andy Warhol

Read more of this interview here

Getting Started In Wildlife Photography

This rather excellent article on Lightstalking seems to sum up all the difficulties that most people would prefer to ignore when approaching wild life photography. Don’t be put off by the explanation that you need to know your equipment, that you have to know your subjects and that you need endless patience because when you get a great shot of an animal it does all seem worthwhile. There is a most apposite line in the article : “The goal is to relax and enjoy the full experience, not to succeed immediately whenever you try. Once you have patience and are prepared for any subject that might cross your path, you’ll be ready to face whatever challenge comes your way…….If you’re under the impression you only need to go out for an hour or two and will come back with a slew of keepers, don’t bother going out at all. It won’t happen (unless your luck is supernatural).”

I am not much of a wildlife photographer, actually I am worse than that, I can’t much see the point, let someone else who has the gear, the learning and the patience do it, I will admire their pictures. I doubt I have ever taken a worthwhile animal picture in all the 50 years I have been photographing but I do understand that for many people it is their burning desire. This article is very good, if you are interested in wild life photography read it.


Photo by Michele Burns

Getting Started in Wildlife Photography

Many new advances in camera equipment have made better gear more affordable for everyone, bringing a lot of photographers closer to realizing our goals in photographing wildlife.

For those of you who have never tried a style like this before, don’t worry. Though wildlife photography is a demanding art form and requires practice to balance the many variables and technicalities involved, the rewards far outweigh any difficulties. These seven steps will help you as you begin your adventure in the great outdoors.

Understand Your Gear

Whether you’ve just upgraded to a new camera or you’re using one you’ve had for a while, you need to know your equipment like the back of your hand. In the wild, getting or missing the perfect shot often comes down to the span of nanoseconds. Consequently, the only way to succeed in wildlife photography is to know instinctively how each part of your gear operates and at what speed each function responds.

When out on a shoot, you will need more than preparation beforehand (such as micro-adjusting your lenses for focus inconsistencies) to carry you through successfully. You must know, among other things, the exact time required for a specific lens to focus when on certain settings, how much time you have in a burst before the buffer maxes out, whether the meter will be right, and how much you can recover the shadows and highlights if need in post-production.

Memorizing every little quirk of your gear is a crucial accomplishment for all types of photography, but has the most immediate benefits for action photography (wildlife, sports, etc.), since instantaneous movement is part of what you want to catch.

This might be a bit over the top, most lenses do have variations in focusing and it is worth knowing about it but micro adjustments will not make a great difference in most situations unless you are working at the shallowest depth of field but certainly knowing how best to use the exposure functions on your camera is essential. If you don’t try one of our DSLR Courses

Read more here

here are some more tips to help you

77 photography techniques, tips and tricks for taking pictures of anything

Wildlife Photography Tutorial – How To Photograph Wildlife video

12 Great Online Tutorials on Wildlife Photography


International garden photographer of the year – in pictures

From the Guardian

The international garden photographer of the year in association with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, have announced the winners of their annual photography competition

The overall winning entry was of Tekapo lupins taken by Richard Bloom Photograph: Richard Bloom/IGPOTY

The overall winning entry was of Tekapo lupins taken by Richard Bloom
Photograph: Richard Bloom/IGPOTY

Patrizia Piga’s masterly still life of harvested plants and vegetables Photograph: Patrizia Piga/IGPOTY

Patrizia Piga’s masterly still life of harvested plants and vegetables
Photograph: Patrizia Piga/IGPOTY

Christine Blanchin dos Santos snapped this collection of seed pods Photograph: Christine Blanchin dos Santos/IGPOTY

Christine Blanchin dos Santos snapped this collection of seed pods
Photograph: Christine Blanchin dos Santos/IGPOTY

A close-up of a giant poppy by Stuart Hall Photograph: Stuart Hall/IGPOTY

A close-up of a giant poppy by Stuart Hall
Photograph: Stuart Hall/IGPOTY

See more from the Guardian Gallery here


International Garden Photographer of the Year is the world’s premier competition and exhibition specialising in garden, plant, flower and botanical photography.

International Garden Photographer of the Year is wholly owned and organised by Garden World Images Ltd.

It is run in association with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom. The main exhibition is held annually at Kew, with a rolling programme of touring exhibitions in the UK and all over the world. Exhibitions are linked to events such as workshops and lectures on garden photography.

Exhibition dates

February 13th – April 29th 2016 NT Hanbury Hall, Droitwich, Worcestershire, ENGLAND 8 Indoor Competition 8
February 6th – 13th March 2016 Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, ENGLAND 9 Competition 9 Winners Revealed To Public ~ Winners and finalists from Competition 9
March 4th – 28th 2016 RHS Garden Hyde Hall, Rettendon, Chelmsford, ENGLAND. 8 Indoor selection from Competition 8
April 12th – September 19th 2016 de Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam, NETHERLANDS 9 Outdoor selection from Competition 9
April 23rd – June 26th 2016 Sunderland Museum, ENGLAND. 9 Indoor selection from Exhibition 9
April 23rd – 28th August 2016 Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, ENGLAND 9 Winners from Competition 9
May 29th – September 3rd 2016 Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, ENGLAND 9 Outdoor exhibition, winners from ‘Captured at Kew’ category
May 28th – 7th August 2016 Garden Society of Gothenburg, SWEDEN 9 Competition 9
28th June – 6th September 2016 NT Sheringham Park, Norfolk, ENGLAND 9 Outdoor exhibition, competition 9
October (tbc)- December (tbc) 2016
Stockwood Discovery Centre, Luton, ENGLAND
9 Indoor exhibition, competition 9
September TBC 2016 – January TBC 2017 Falkirk Community Trust, SCOTLAND 2,3,4,5,7,8 Mixed indoor selection from comps; 2,3,4,5,7,8



The 10 best DSLRs you can buy right now

TechRadar are one of my favourite sites for getting  no nonsense reviews of cameras, this and DP Review are the best sites out there if you want to know all about a camera, lens or flash. So here they are again telling you what is the best on the market now.

For decades, the DSLR (digital SLR) has been the top choice for anyone who wants to take their photography to the next level. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, a DSLR offers three key ingredients: manual controls, excellent picture quality and interchangeable lenses.

Mirrorless cameras are another option of course. They’re smaller, mechanically simpler and, like DSLRs, they take interchangeable lenses. If you want to know more about how they compare, read this: Mirrorless vs DSLR cameras: 10 key differences. Or, if you want to know more about different camera types in general, check out our step-by-step guide: What camera should I buy?

A DSLR is still the cheapest way to get a camera with interchangeable lenses and a viewfinder (entry-level mirrorless cameras don’t have viewfinders) and, at the other end of the scale, almost all professional sports, press and wildlife photographers choose full-frame DSLRs over every other camera type.

In between are a whole range of digital SLRs aimed at different users, different levels of experience and different budgets. Here’s our pick of the standout DSLR cameras you can buy right now:

I have to admit I have a bias in this list. I bought a Canon 6D as my backup to my 5D and I love it. I love that it is lighter, it is as they say ‘old school’ and the quality it produces is just brilliant, but it only makes number 6 in their list

EOS 6D FRT w EF 24 105mm L-650-80

6. Canon EOS 6D

Full-frame on a budget – the 6D’s straightforward design has old-school appeal

Sensor: full frame, 20.2Mp | Lenses: Canon EF (not EF-S) | Monitor: 3-inch, 1,040K dots | Viewfinder: Optical | Continuous shooting: 4.5fps | Movies:1080p | User level: Expert

Great value for a full frame camera
No fuss features
Basic autofocus system
Only 4.5fps continuous shooting

But don’t assume you need the latest tech to get a good camera. It’s tempting to chase the biggest numbers and newest gadgets when choosing a camera, but sometimes the simple things count for more. The EOS 6D is Canon’s cheapest full-frame DSLR, and compared to some of the other cameras around it, it’s a simple-minded old-school relic. But that full-frame sensor delivers a subtle quality and a sense of depth that you only get from a big sensor, and the no-fuss specs will appeal to quality-conscious photographers who like to keep things simple.

Read about all of their recommendations here



From American Photo


Through February of next year, the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh is hosting the first major survey of the pioneering photographer Duane Michals’ work in more than 20 years. “Storyteller” covers nearly six decades of photographs from his first encounter with the camera in 1958, through his iconic narrative sequences or “mime fables” of the late 60s and 70s, up until the colorful, painted-over tintypes he’s been making in recent years.


Michals (b. 1932) has continually rebelled against and expanded the documentary and fine art traditions. At the onset, he baffled critics who knew not what to say of his work, rejecting the notion of the “decisive movement,” the supremacy of the sensational singular image, and the glorification of the perfect print. As an expressionist, rather than going out into the world to collect impressions of the eye, he looked inward to construct the images of his mind, exploring the unseeable themes of life, death, sensuality, and innocence.

Shooting mostly Tri-X in available light, he’s maintained a simple process all these years, whether it was for his personal work, or for the commercial work that supported it—the LIFE magazine cover, the ad campaigns for Microsoft and Pampers, an album cover for the Police. Once a radical outlier, now a father of dominant trends, he inspired generations of photographers from Jim Goldberg and Cindy Sherman, to the countless others staging, scribbling over, and painting on their photographs today.


Read more and see DUANE MICHALS sequences here