Oxford School of Photography

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Category Archives: Photography Courses

Garden Photographer of The Year

IGOPTY is an annual competition to find the great images of plants and gardens from photographers around the world. If you have any interest in this area of photography then this web site and the associated exhibition is an absolute must for you. The images are universally beautiful and engaging; you ask yourself if it is this easy, it is photography in a garden, why can’t I do it. I guess it is about a great understanding of the use of your camera, huge amounts of patience, the desire to be there at the best moment and attention to detail. We can help with the camera bit with our courses on understanding your camera and with help on improving your composition and the use of software to make the most of your images we can help too. However the getting up before dawn to be in the right place at the right time that is up to you. To see the full gallery of winning and placed images go here to the IGOPTY site

http://www.igpoty.com/

Volker Michael – Finalist First Rays Jistrum, Friesland, The Netherlands

http://www.igpoty.com/

Rosanna Castrini – Commended The Ring Piedmont, Italy

http://www.igpoty.com/

Jianjun Huang – Commended Charming Dongjiang Guangdong Province, China

http://www.igpoty.com/

Lili Gao – Finalist Waiting Dandong City, Liaoning Province, China

http://www.igpoty.com/

Stefano Coltelli – Commended Plitvice Falls The Plitvice Lakes National Park, Plitvicka Jezera, Croatia

The winner is

http://www.igpoty.com/

This late autumn photo – from Snowdonia National Park in North Wales – has been crowned the overall winner of the 10th annual International Garden Photographer of the Year competition.

Taken by Lee Acaster, and entitled Left, this stark image won the Trees, Woods and Forests category – and then beat thousands of other entries to win the top spot.

Garden designer Chris Beardshaw – one of the competition judges – says the photo “perfectly encapsulates both the extremes of fortune and personality of these giants”.

While Clare Foggett – who edits The English Garden Magazine – says the image “draws the viewer in, to reveal the still surface of the lake behind. It demands closer inspection”.

If you wish you can see these and many more on the BBC website that has a major feature on the competition and winners

http://www.igpoty.com/

The exhibition is toured and here are dates

Venue Exhibition Photographs
November 1st 2016 – Feb 28th 2017 The Beth Chatto Gardens, Colchester, ENGLAND 9 Outdoor selection from Competition 9
January 14th – March 5th National Trust Sissinghurst Castle & Gardens, ENGLAND 9 Indoor exhibition, competition 9
January 21st – March 1st 2017 Willis Museum Gallery, Basingstoke, ENGLAND 9 Indoor exhibition, competition 9
Feb 4th – March 12th 2017 Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, London, ENGLAND 10 IGPOTY Annual launch ceremony – winners of Competition 10 [indoor exhibition] announced to the public.
March 24th – June 18th 2017 de Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam, NETHERLANDS 10 Outdoor selection from Competition 10
April 1st – June 4th 2017 RHS Garden Hyde Hall, Rettendon, ENGLAND 10 Outdoor selection from Competition 10
April 1st – November 15th 2017 The Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle, Merano, South Tyrol, ITALY 10 Outdoor exhibition, competition 10
April 1st – November 15th 2017 Gibraltar Botanic Gardens (The Alameda), GIBRALTAR 10 Outdoor exhibition, competition 10
August 28th – October 29th 2017 National Trust Sheringham Park, Norfolk, ENGLAND 10 Outdoor exhibition, competition 10

12 Creative Photography Project Ideas to Get you Motivated

I don’t know why this article on DPS is headed 12 Projects but it seems that all blog posts these days limit their advice to an arbitrary number. Anyway that is not the point, I agree with the basic premise of this article wholeheartedly. When I teach people who are beyond just getting to grips with their cameras I always recommend working to projects. This is one way of ensuring you have a reason to pick up your camera and go and shoot. It doesn’t rely upon serendipity of finding something interesting you already have something you are interested in. You have defined your project. For this reason I find the picture a day/week a bit unhelpful. I think deciding on a project which could be a specific place or idea or activity is always more productive and I see this in the results my students bring to my Intermediate Photography Course A great example of this is the work by one student, Darren Bicknell who embarked on a project to explore liquid and light, his results and progression was excellent as can be seen by these pictures

Darren Bicknell

light and liquid

Darren Bicknell

Light & Liquid 2

so this article makes a number of good points about projects you can set for yourself and ways to keep your creative juices flowing.

As with anything in life, it’s important to make a plan. This is a big step towards being successful. There are a number of projects you could attempt-

#1 – The 52-week project,  #2 – 365-day day projects,  #3 – One consistent theme

# 4 – Limited yourself to 24 photos,  #5 – A musical song or album, #6 -Use only one lens

Go here to see the rest of the suggestions in this article on DPS

Here are some more of Darren’s wonderful pictures

Darren Bicknell

Liquid & Light 3

Darren Bicknell

Liquid & Light 4

Darren Bicknell

Liquid & Light 5

Darren Bicknell

Liquid & Light 7

Darren Bicknell

Liquid & Light 8

All images ©Darren Bicknell

14 Practical Reasons Your Photos Are Not Quite As Good As You Want Them To Be

When I teach I spend a lot of time trying to help people make better pictures. That might seem obvious, that is what I am paid to do, but that doesn’t just mean teaching what apertures or ISO or focal length mean or how to shoot a portrait or the best way to capture a landscape. It means I try to change the way my students think about photography, their photography. I use many techniques to do this but the bottom line with all of them is the student has to practice. I explain that without paying attention to what they are doing it is unlikely they will be satisfied with their results, or at least not often enough. Many of the ways I encourage students to get better are contained in this article on Lightstalking, a very good blog that I would recommend you follow.

Laos

Composition in Photography

1. You Don’t Pay Attention to the Composition

2. You Don’t Know the Basics of Exposure

3. You Don’t Experiment With the Perspective

4. You Don’t Understand How Lighting Affects a Photograph

5. You Don’t Post-Process Your Photos

6. You Haven’t Taken Up a Photography Project

7. You Don’t Have a Well-Defined Subject in Your Photo

read what  has to say about these and the rest of the reasons here

If what you really need is help with these all our courses will get you going. If you just don’t understand your camera well enough try our

Understanding Your DSLR Camera Course

Composition In Photography – Seeing Pictures this will help you with so many of the visual aspects of your photography

Introduction To Photoshop will help you with post production and Understanding Lightroom will get you processing RAW files properly

Intermediate Photography is for those who have mastered their cameras and composition and want to go that extra step, it is a fascinating course

We have many other courses that will help you to become much better photographers, go here now for the full list

21 Settings, Techniques and Rules All New Camera Owners Should Know

From those very nice people at DPS we have a number of bits of advice that will help you if you are new to a DSLR. We run courses that cover all of these so if you prefer the personal touch have a look at our courses, here is a link We have a course this Sunday with places if you are keen to get started.

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Some are very basic while others go a little deeper – but all have been selected from our archives specifically for beginners and new camera owners. Enjoy.

1. Digital Camera Modes Explained

2. Aperture and Shutter Priority Mode

3. Introduction to White Balance

6. How to Hold a Digital Camera

8. How to Use Focal Lock

See the full article with all 21 tips here

Better photo tips: 60 of the best

From Digital Camera World comes this leviathan of help, tips only just scratches at the surface of what you will find here.

Following on from our popular 77 photography techniques, tips and tricks for taking pictures of anything post, we’re bringing you this list of 60 incredibly useful bits of photography advice.

If you’re new to photography, this resource of surprising camera tips and time savers provides an invaluable shortcut to better photos and a smarter workflow. If you’re a more experienced photographer, there’s still plenty of technical and technique refreshers here.

We’ve separated the advice into three key sections, covering camera settings, composition and exposure, and general photography tips. If you find the advice useful or you want to share your own little-known photography trick, please leave a comment below…

Tip 01: Zoom first, focus last

Tip 02: Set the Neutral Picture Style for RAW

Tip 11: Avoid the smallest aperture on the lens

Tip 13: Your camera’s display is lying to you

just 4 of 60 and these are only about camera settings

Tip 36: Fill-flash in daylight

Tip 43: Research the position of the sun

Tip 42: Wear old clothes

OK you could just come on our courses, and you would get more than 60 tips, you would learn how to make great pictures. Here are a couple by John Wilhelm from an earlier post here to keep you going

creative-dad-children-photo-manipulations-john-wilhelm-2

creative-dad-children-photo-manipulations-john-wilhelm-12

 

want to see more of the 60….HERE

 

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

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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

 

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.

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©KeithBarnes Visit our course website here

See the rest of this valuable article here

 

How to improve your pictures with Photoshop

You know you make good pictures but you also know they could be better, they don’t quite look as good as those you see on the web, we all suffer from this. There is an answer, post production or Photoshop to you and me.

Many people find PS confusing and difficult to use because they have never had the basics explained to them, once you understand the fundamentals of the program learning becomes so much easier. Sure you can buy a book but having a teacher show you exactly what you need to know in small packets of information, then giving you time to try it for yourself whilst having your teacher on hand to answer your questions and show you where you are going wrong is much easier than reading a book.

Our course details the most efficient way to learn, breaking down the various sections so at the end of 6 lessons you have control over how your pictures look. Have a look at this simple picture. The camera has underexposed the subject because of the bright rays of sunlight in the centre of the image, but by using a few simple PS tools we can bring back it’s sparkle and the magic of the original scene.

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Which do you prefer? PS is not just about making a picture look better it can also be about removing or adding something to a picture to improve it. Have a look at these, can you spot the difference?

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We have been teaching students how to improve their pictures using Photoshop for years, in fact all the way back to CS1 (that is a long time ago). Now we recommend most people get the Elements version it is really versatile, easy to use and we teach it on our Introduction to Photoshop course starting on the 22nd October. Come and join us and find out how much better your pictures can be.

We have a few places left on our Photoshop course starting on the 22nd October, it is 6 sessions, 2 hours each and the cost is £97. If you don’t have PS I would recommend the Elements versions 12 is still available and is only about £75, look here for details to buy

If you would like to join our course send us an email now and we will reserve you a place

Intermediate Photography Course starts 21st October

We call it intermediate but it is the most advanced course we currently run but we always want to leave room for more….as they say. The next course starts 21st October

This course is designed for people who are interested in photography as a hobby or maybe a profession, it assumes that photography for you is not just a by product of an interest in say birds or flowers or walking in the countryside. We suggest that this course is for someone who is actually interested in photography, in other photographers and their pictures as well as making better pictures themselves.

“Intermediate Photography “The practical tasks you set us during the lesson and for homework greatly improved the way I took photos and the extended the range of subjects that I would normally take the photos of. Being able to see other people’s work and getting feedback from you and fellow photographers was a constructive way of developing my eye as a photographer. And finally, the course provided me with a reason and most importantly the confidence to approach an organisation and offer them my services as a photographer. Without that I don’t think I would’ve ever considered showing a total stranger some of my work and expect them to give me a job just based on that. So thank you Keith for a most inspirational course and my only complaint is that it was too short.”

We teach you how to become a better photographer by applying yourself to the process, by improving your sense of vision, by understanding how to see and evaluate so you pictures have more meaning, beauty and intent. We set assignments that will get you where you want to be and get you thinking about how and why you want to make pictures using a camera. We get students to work to themes or projects so that their assignment time is not aimless, this creates some wonderful images because they start concentrating on pictures they have thought about. Here is a short video of images from the last course

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picture by Gunilla Treen                            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7LWNyg5Pww

Intermediate Photography “Firstly, just wanted to say I thoroughly enjoyed the class. It was just what I needed, in terms of being able to interact with other like-minded people and being shown different approaches to photography. It was a really worthwhile experience and I think I my abilities have definitely improved. At the very least I’ve seen alot of work by some amazing photographers which I may not have otherwise have known about!” Jess

If you want to improve your photography, want to make pictures beyond just records, want your pictures to say more than “I was here and this is what I saw, perhaps, I was here here and this is what I felt” then come and join us, the next start is the 21st October, full details here

 

 

10 rules of photo composition (and why they work)

From Digital Camera World This is a good tutorial and echoes some of what we teach on our Composition Course – Seeing Pictures which starts on Thursday 9th, there are still places if you are interested. What our course does which this tutorial doesn’t do, and the clue is in the title of our course, is that we relate the basics of composition to the work of the truly great photographers. We introduce you to the work of some of the most outstanding photographers of the last 100 years. Learning to see is as important as seeing through the viewfinder. If you do not live near Oxford this on line tutorial will have to do for you though

In photography, it’s not just what you shoot that counts – the way that you shoot it is crucial, too. Poor photo composition can make a fantastic subject dull, but a well-set scene can create a wonderful image from the most ordinary of situations. With that in mind, we’ve picked our top 10 photo composition ‘rules’ to show you how to transform your images, as well as offered some of our best photography tips from the experts who do it on a daily basis…….

Don’t feel that you’ve got to remember every one of these laws and apply them to each photo you take. Instead, spend a little time practising each one in turn and they’ll become second nature. You’ll soon learn to spot situations where the different rules can be applied to best effect.

Photo composition doesn’t have to be complicated. There are all sorts of theories about the ‘Rule of Thirds’ and more complex ‘Golden Mean’, for example. But if you pay too much attention to strict formulae, your photos will lose any kind of spontaneity.

In the real world, you’ll be working with a wide range of subjects and scenes, and this requires a more open-minded approach. What works for one photo won’t necessarily work for another.

The key thing is to understand how all the decisions you make about composition can affect the way a shot looks and how people perceive your photos. The way you frame a shot, choose a focal length or position a person can make all the difference (check out our Photography Cheat Sheet series for quick fixes to some of these problems).

Technical know-how is very important in photography, of course, and even in some aspects of photo composition. But to take great shots you need visual knowledge too. Here are 10 key things to look out for…

Here is a taste of the article

Photo Composition Tip 6: Use diagonals

10 rules of photo composition (and why they work)

Horizontal lines lend a static, calm feel to a picture, while vertical ones often suggest permanence and stability. To introduce a feeling of drama, movement or uncertainty, look for diagonal lines instead.

You can need nothing more than a shift in position or focal length to get them – wider angles of view tend to introduce diagonal lines because of the increased perspective; with wide-angle lenses you’re more likely to tilt the camera up or down to get more of a scene in.

You can also introduce diagonal lines artificially, using the ‘Dutch Tilt’ technique. You simply tilt the camera as you take the shot. This can be very effective, though it doesn’t suit every shot and is best used sparingly (see our 44 essential digital camera tips and tricks).

Why it works…

10 rules of photo composition (and why they work)

see the whole 10 tips here