Oxford School of Photography

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Category Archives: Photography Tutorial

How to Pause and Learn to Make Fewer and Better Photos

The question I always impress on my students that they should ask themselves is Why? Why are you taking this picture, interrogate the reasons that made you stop and look and raise your camera. If you can understand why that will help you to point the camera at the right bit of your subject but also tell you how to set the camera. I ask my students to employ a simple technique which I describe as close, closer, still closer. By looking harder, pausing and thinking about why, taking a picture, then getting closer and doing the same you learn how to understand what about the subject moves you

Launceston Gorge Tas Au © Keith Barnes

Launceston Gorge Tas Au © Keith Barnes

This article on Digital Photo School A Post By: Kim Manley Ort explains this in a different way but I totally agree with the ideas here. If you want your pictures to improve read this and learn what it is that makes a photographer.

At the end of each year do you find yourself with thousands of photos and wonder what to do with them all? Or wondering if you should even keep them? This is a lament that I often hear in my photography workshops and have experienced the same problem myself. Sometimes, this is a result of being too quick to click. You see something that excites you photographically and proceed to snap away, hoping that you’ll cover all the bases and that at least one shot will be a keeper. Sometimes this works and you do get one that you like, but often you find yourself disappointed because there isn’t even one that truly reflects your experience.

Luna Park, Sydney,Aus ©Keith Barnes

Luna Park, Sydney,Aus ©Keith Barnes

Kim Manley Ort says But what if you could take a different approach to your photography? One where you make fewer and also perhaps better photos? I’ve found that the simple practice of pausing before clicking the shutter can make a huge difference in the quantity and quality of your photographic output and enjoyment…..read more here

Peacock tail ©Keith Barnes

Peacock tail ©Keith Barnes

Pausing is the practice of checking in with oneself. When something stops you and you want to make a photograph, take a moment to notice what’s happening and ask yourself a few questions.

  • What do I see, smell, and hear?
  • What stopped me?
  • Was it a colour, shape, or texture?
  • What am I feeling? What do I like about it and why?
  • Does it mirror something going on in my life at this moment?

If this sounds like navel-gazing to you, believe me, it’s not. Many photographers over the years have said that a photograph says something about the creator. Your choice of subject matter reveals a lot about you. By becoming more aware of why you photograph what you do, you will gradually uncover your photographic vision…..read on

 

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Adding an Off-Camera Flash to Create a Winning Image

Found on DPS an in depth tutorial on how to use off camera flash for stunning results A Post By: Bruce Wunderlich

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This image, titled “Star Gazers”, won Grand Prizes at the 2015 Shoot the Hills photo competition. Held in the Hocking Hills region near Logan, Ohio, this competition takes place the 3rd weekend every April. 160 photographers from several states participated this year.

I initially came up with the idea for this shot over a year earlier, but my first attempt at the image failed miserably. (see below)

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What mistakes did I make?

If I would have checked the histogram I would have seen that all of the image was extremely under-exposed with all the data pushed up against the left side of the histogram.

  1. The image was under-exposed, because I failed to check the histogram. In the dark the image looked great on the LCD on the back of the camera!
  2. With the long exposure (30 seconds) there was no way for the subjects in the image to remain still enough to avoid blurring.

The Solutions

  1. The solution for the exposure was simple. First I turned down the brightness of the camera’s LCD screen. Then I used the histogram to determine my exposure.
  2. The length of exposure time was the main problem I had with this first attempt at capturing the image I had planned. It is nearly impossible for a live model to stand still for 30 seconds to prevent blurring. An off-camera flash was added behind the models to create the rim lighting in order to freeze their movement. Adding this flash was the major difference-maker from my earlier attempt of this image.

 

Want to read the rest of this article? Go Here

We teach about this on our flash course, 

12 Steps to Becoming a better Photographer

This came winging to me from DPS in Oz

The true key to growing as a photographer is to dedicate and immerse yourself in it on a consistent basis. Passion and enjoyment are key to becoming great at your craft.

That beings said, there are many things to consider in order to progress through this journey as effectively as possible. If I were to start all over again, these are the stepping stones that I would have preferred to have taken, beginning with the technical and ending with the conceptual.

Have to say number one is top of my list too, and then number two is second on my list, I think I agree with the author James Maher

1. Look at Light

When you start out in photography, it seems obvious to say that learning to use your camera is the logical first step. However, thinking this way can actually confuse you. The camera is just a tool that has the ability to record light.

When you walk out the door to photograph, the first thing you should think about is light, and not the camera. What time of day is it? How strong is the light and what direction is it coming from? Is it sunny or cloudy? Is the light soft or contrasty? Is the sun in front of, or behind you? Where are the artificial light sources and what colors do they give off?

This is the first thing that a seasoned photographer will look for every time they begin to shoot, and constantly be aware of while they are shooting. They do this for a reason. The light will affect how they shoot and the settings that they use. Even a slight change in direction to your light source can completely change how an image will look. You can’t learn how to use your camera correctly if you do not first understand the light.

2. Learn Your Camera Settings…….read the rest here

You could also be taught this on one of our excellent courses

Here is a big fish

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How to take an exposure reading on your digital camera

It is your cameras job to meter for you, right? Well every camera or phone has to measure the light reflected back from the subject so that it can get the balance of aperture and shutter correctly set, given that this is essential to taking perfectly exposed images it is surprising how few photographers fully understand the process. We teach about metering on our Understanding Your Digital Camera Course but a bit of follow up in the guise of this tutorial will help

Even for experienced photographers, metering and how to take an exposure reading on your camera can be confusing, but the basics are easy to get to grips with…

Spot metering and AF: set spot metering point

All digital cameras have a built-in light meter which is used to calculate the exposure settings for a given scene.

Without getting bogged down in aperture and shutter speed, the most important thing to realise is that built-in light meters are programmed to expose every image as an average mid-tone.

This is fine for most scenes, because they contain a mix of shadows, mid-tones and highlights that average out to a mid-tone.

But the meter will also expose very light subjects (such as snow) or very dark subjects (such as black card) as a mid-tone, so you need to be aware of this to avoid poorly-exposed images.

 

Read the full article here

4 ways to get a studio look without a photo studio

On our Portrait photography course we spend a lot of time explaining about light, how to use daylight rather than needing to invest in some form of studio lighting. Remember how we all thought digital photography was going to be free once you owned a camera? This article via Digital Camera World offers another way to set up a home studio and in general everything here is valid and the advice would help you to be a better studio, portrait or still life photographer.

Few amateur photographers can afford the luxury of a dedicated studio, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t take top-quality images that look like they were taken in a studio. In their latest guest post the team at Photoventure show you  how…

Find-some-space

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

 

Why does your camera see things differently than you?

On DPS  By: Anne McKinnell

Do you ever see a beautiful scene, take out your camera, take the shot and then wonder what went wrong? Why doesn’t the display on the LCD screen look at all like the scene in front of you?

Do you ever stand next to another photographer and wonder how they made an image that is better than the scene you see with your own eyes?

Understanding how the camera “sees” is the key to figuring out why this happens and what you need to do to take charge of your camera and make the images you envision.

If you’re already dreading the mathematical calculations, don’t worry! I’m not going to start measuring my eyeballs and pupils and trying to figure out what kind of lens my eyes are equivalent to in focal length, f/stops, and ISO, or how many megapixels my eyes see. That’s not what this is about.

It’s just about understanding how a camera works differently than our eyes.

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When the camera’s “eye” is better than our own

Sometimes the best images show the very thing that we cannot see with our own eyes.

Low Light Levels At low light levels our eyes are less sensitive to colour than normal. Camera sensors, on the other hand, always have the same sensitivity. That’s why photographs taken in low light appear to have more colour than what we remember.

Depth of Field

One thing that is somewhat similar between a camera and a human eye is aperture, but only if you hold it steady. For example, if you stare at one word in the middle of the this sentence and do not move your eyes, you can perceive that the other words are there but they are not clear. The part that is in focus is only the centre portion of your field of view.

That is the same as a camera with a small aperture. The difference is that you can’t actually look at the out-of-focus part. As soon as your eye moves to the out-of-focus words they instantly become in-focus.

Whereas if you are looking at a print or an image on your screen you can look at the out-of-focus part which is something we cannot do with our eyes. That’s why shallow depth of field images are so interesting to us.

Laos

see the whole article here and understand what you see is not always what you get

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

 

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