Oxford School of Photography

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GREGORY CREWDSON: CATHEDRAL OF THE PINES

I find I can rely upon the culture section of The Guardian for many interesting articles about photography. If you have been on my courses you will have found that I talk about Gregory Crewdson, his images are cinematic in many aspects, both the nature of their creation and the sense they provoke. He has a new exhibition called Cathedral of The Pines and it is reviewed in the The Guardian

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‘They were more difficult because they were less spectacular’ … Father and Son, 2013. Photograph: © Gregory Crewdson / Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

In 2013, in retreat from “a difficult divorce”, Gregory Crewdson moved from Manhattan to a converted church in rural Massachusetts. “I had to relocate myself, physically and psychologically,” says the photographer. So he spent his time mountain trekking, long-distance swimming and, when the winter set in, cross-country skiing.

“I was out in the snow one day when I came upon a sign for a section of the Appalachian Trail called Cathedral of the Pines,” he adds. “It stopped me in my tracks, just the resonance of the name. I knew I had to use it.”

The resulting series is more sombre, foreboding and inward-looking than the meticulously staged cinematic photographs that made his name. It opens this week at the Photographers’ Gallery in London, the first time the institution has devoted all its gallery space to a single artist.

Cathedral of the Pines took two and a half years to shoot and, typically for Crewdson, required the kind of preparation that usually attends a Hollywood film: months of casting, location hunting and storyboarding, with an extensive crew to oversee lighting, props, wardrobe, makeup and even some special effects involving artificial smoke and mist.

The new exhibition can be seen from the 23rd at The Photographers Gallery

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Gregory Crewdson The Haircut, 2014 Digital pigment print Image size: 37 1/2 × 50 inches (95.3 × 127 cm) Edition of 3 + 2 APs © Gregory Crewdson

“By my standards, it was relatively restrained,” he says, laughing and citing his 2008 series Beneath the Roses, which cost as much as a mid-budget movie and entailed four city streets being closed down for shots that required rain and snow-making machines.

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Gregory Crewdson The Motel, 2014 Digital pigment print Image size: 37 1/2 × 50 inches (95.3 × 127 cm) Edition of 3 + 2 APs © Gregory Crewdson

Cathedral of the Pines was challenging in a different way. “These pictures are smaller in scale and, to a degree, they were more difficult because they were less spectacular. You have to create meaning and atmosphere in a more intimate way, which makes lighting, for instance, a lot more challenging.”

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Foreboding … Mother and Daughter, 2014 Photograph: © Gregory Crewdson / Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

see more pictures and read the rest of the review in the Guardian here

find out about the exhibition at the Photographers Gallery here

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

 

A Cautionary Tale

So this story is true, it was told to me today by a good friend and if you are lax should send shivers down you spine.

My friend was working on images on her laptop, it was a very important project, hundreds of images shot all over the country and almost unrepeatable as most of the subjects were in their 90’s. My friend, she shall remain anonymous, was feeling unwell and so took her laptop to the sofa and in a short time felt unwell enough to lie down to have a little snooze. She has two cats, one came and settled and my friend fell deeper into sleep. Vaguely aware of the other cat trying to get comfortable but too far in the land of nod to do anything about it my friend continued to sleep.

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spoiler alert – this is not the cat in question

When she awoke and settled back into her work she couldn’t find the folder with all her images. She searched her laptop but no they were not there. Panic rising she worked out they must somehow have got into the trash or waste bin so opened that folder and no they were not there……I think by this time panic was no longer rising but had reached it’s zenith of terror. It was clear her images, all of them, the year’s work, were no longer in existence on her computer. I believe we can all imagine how this felt. She worked out that the other cat in trying to get comfortable had hit the delete key and then either out of stupidity or malice when asked “there are too many files to trash these to the bin would you like to delete them permanently” had said yes, or at least pawed yes.

My friend went to a computer store to see if they could help but no they couldn’t, maybe a data recovery company could extract them from the hard drive but it was unlikely and the cost would be hundreds of pounds even if they couldn’t.

Well the story has a happy ending, my friend had backed up her files and so had only lost the processing work she had done since her last back up. All the RAW files still existed.

So have you got your files backed up. I back mine up when I load them into Lightroom, I use the back up to second drive function and later I back them up to a third external drive that I locate somewhere else. I could use the ‘cloud’ but the number of images I have would take a pretty large cloud. If you haven’t backed up recently, or god forbid ever, do so this weekend.

Here are some links that might help you

Your Photo Backup Needs a Backup

Best backup software 2015/2016 UK: 13 best file- and system backup utilities

The 5 Best Ways to Backup Digital Photos

The best way to back up a photo library, back up photos online, back up photos to iCloud

PhotoStartSheet – Best Photo Links – the one place where every link you will ever need is listed

You know how it is, you are trying to look something up, you start with google, sometimes it is there first time but so often you are sent down blind alleys by advertising that you didn’t realise was advertising. Well here is a page of links that really does cover everything you are likely to need, although I am a bit pissed off that under UK Workshops The Oxford School of Photography is not listed, they clearly haven’t done their homework completely. Any way this is a really excellent resource, book mark it and use it for everything you need about photography.

The Photographers Start page

I always like to include pictures on every post but there are no obvious contenders for this one as it is just about links to other photographic related sites so I have chosen this picture of Isambard Kingdom Brunel by the launching chains of the SS Great Eastern by Robert Howlett, 1857 because it has more links than any picture that I can think of

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Vladimir Antaki – shopkeepers

Counter culture: shopkeepers from around the world – in pictures

Vladimir Antaki has been documenting shopkeepers all over the world. His project was born from his desire to document and pay tribute to these ‘guardians of urban temples’ that we meet everyday without really noticing From the Guardian

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Rachid the butcher in Paris. All photographs: Vladimir Antaki/Barcroft Media

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Alyssa in Montreal

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Richard surrounded by hundreds of items in Montreal

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Terrence in his bookshop in Montreal. “Bookstores, you know, are also a form of community centers. A lot of people come here just to sit and browse and chat with their friends. I’ve had people come in here, men and women who have met one an other and ended up getting married, for heaven’s sake.”

We teach about environmental portrait photography on our Portrait course

See more of Vladimir Antaki’s pictures here