Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

Tag Archives: Ansel Adams

Black and White Photography

We have a Black and White Digital Photography course starting in March and we are very aware of the great demand and pleasure photographers have for black and white images, this article by Tara Hornor on January 13, 2012 on Tripwire states the obvious and has some excellent images to back up the comments

“Black and white photography has the unique ability to create a stunning image but leaves room for imagination at the same time. The lack of color in a photo can add a mysterious tone to a wall piece or can give a printed brochure a sophisticated look. Black and white landscape photography is no exception and this collection looks at some famous and unique examples. In keeping with the idea of leaving room for the imagination, we found some B&W photos from yesteryear when technique trumped technology. Check out these contrasting styles and methods, starting with the master, Ansel Adams. If you like this style of photography you should check out this black and white wallpaper collection”  If you want to see more go here

Ansel Adams


Bill Lockharts


Brad Fernihough


Dakota Visions Photography LLC


Jeff Lynch


John Brady


Photography Now – a beautiful portfolio site of the masters of photography

This has to be my favourite site at the moment. I love the web for showing me the work of the very best photographers, providing information and background, allowing me to explore this fascinating subject of photography.

Quite the most beautiful presentation of the works of the greatest photographers, I dare you not to be impressed. Here is Photography Now

Exposing for Black and White – Free pdf download

In the distant past, when life was simple for a photographer there was black and white film. If one studied the way light worked with film and combined this with an understanding of the effects of film development and finally how the resulting negative could be printed to achieve optimum results then there was a satisfaction in that we were working as the greats like Ansel Adams. AA wrote three books that were seminal to an understanding of black and white photography; The Camera, The Negative and The Print. He was introducing to the world the Zone System.

The evolution into digital left many skilled and experienced photographers bereft, decades of learning and practical application were almost valueless in the new world, or so we thought. Eventually methods were realised that allowed us to apply much of the Zone System to digital photography. Of course it is not quite the same as working in a darkroom; it is cleaner, you smell less of hypo, your clothes are less stained and you do not spend hours on your own in a darkened room. I often think this last point was much of the attraction for some photographers although not for all, hence the success of The Photographers Workshop where from 1982 until 3 years ago you could rent professionally equipped communal darkrooms and were able to share the dark with others, it became….well communal. We still operate as The Photographers Workshop as well as The Oxford School of Photography but no longer have darkrooms.

We run a Black and White digital course that embraces the concepts of the Zone System as applied to digital photography, it is involved and technical but even in the chemical days it was always thus. This course is proving to be a great success and many of the images produced by students for the class have well….class. some are below from the most recent course.

Anyway the point is that the nice people at Lightstalking have prepared a pdf, which is free to download here that goes some of the way to explaining how to achieve the best results shooting black and white digitally. The information is not as precise or as inclusive as we provide on our course but you may not be lucky enough to live in Oxford and be able to attend one of our courses so this will have to do.

Graham Rollerson

Richard Parker

Eniko Varga

Photography by the light of the moon

I noticed as I drove home last night that it was a full moon again, strange how it happens with such regularity, anyway it was so bright I started thinking about making images just by the light of the moon. I quickly realised that in any town or city there might be too much light pollution to just use the moon as a light source but that might not be a great disadvantage.  At this time of year if there is a full moon it usually means it is going to be cold and it was last night so I put the idea on hold but this morning I wished I had been more hearty and put up with the cold. So researching how best to achieve pictures by the moon I found some interesting sites with tutorials and tips that if you are interested might help.

This is one site that you might want to look at, a blog by The Discerning Photographer and this site lists phases and times of moon rise from what seems to be most locations in the world Time and Tide

There are obviously some absolutes, take a tripod, use either a remote release cable or use the self timer function, set the maximum aperture your camera has and work around the 30 second shutter speed, you can use the ISO settings to increase or decrease exposures, start off at about 400 ISO and see how that does. Using such long shutter speeds will eat up your battery and as it is so cold this will also reduce battery capacity so you may need a spare or two depending on how long you plan to be out, also take a torch/flashlight.  This site offers a string of tips and although it is primarily written for film users all the relevant information can be applied to digital capture this is another link you might find useful.

Photographing by  moonlight can easily spring some fascinating results that are as unexpected as beautiful, movement somewhere withing the images, whether clouds or water adds to the dreamy, ethereal quality of the image and on clear nights and long exposures you may capture star movements.

Perhaps the most famous moon lit image is Ansel Adams Moon Rise Over Hernandez, New Mexico, this must have inspired many to get out after dark

This link gives more insight into the creation of this image and asks questions that you will find interesting.