Oxford School of Photography

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Tag Archives: Photograph

EDWARD VAN HERK . PHOTOGRAPHER

György László and his impressive site has become a firm favourite of mine. I think it is so important to understand the motivation behind a photograph and therefore the motivations of a photographer. Of course not all photographers would claim to have ‘motivations’ but they make the dullest pictures. An image is a visual representation of an idea and the more clearly understood the idea the better the photograph. As Ansel Adams said “There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.” 

György László finds images he likes and then interviews the photographer to understand the concept, the motivation and today we have Edward Van Herk, no I hadn’t heard of him either but I do like his pictures.

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EVH: Travel comes with a bag full of expectations and clichés to some extent. When I got an opportunity to stay in Buenos Aires for a few days, I immediately had to think about Tango music. When visiting a new place, I always search for authenticity. Tourist dance performances, Tango dinner shows and so on didn’t interest me. When I found out the porteños (locals) passionate about music and dance came together at Milongas, I knew right then I wanted to get inside and connect. I bought a newspaper to search for locations. This particular picture was made in a traditional Buenos Aires Milonga salon, where passionate Milongueros come together to escape everyday life. Time seemed to freeze there and it felt really exciting.

GL: What are you most ‘sensitised’ to? Light? Motion? Emotions? Stories?

Edward van Herk Milonga 2EVH: Mostly emotions. A Milonga night is filled with passion, drama, beauty, grace, tenderness, love, desire, envy, romance, tension, and of course music. This couple immediately drew me in. The age difference between them simply seemed to fade. Generally a photographer’s first choice is what to photograph. David Hurn once said ‘You don’t become a photographer because you are interested in photography’. He meant that photography is only a tool for expressing a passion in something else. A desire to become famous, to get many likes on the Internet or to fall in love with cameras as desirable objects doesn’t improve your photographs. Mostly it requires practice, getting out there and going to work and not letting failed attempts set you back. Therefore is important to do some research and find an accessible subject and start a project or story. When your subjects become most important, your heart opens up and you will respond and discover and develop your own style. It will allow you to enhance your level of perception and get involved in the world around you. I mostly develop a strong desire to connect to people during my projects. The greatest gift I have received through my work is the connection with my subjects.

Read the rest of the interview

Flower Photography

One thing that has become clear from the years of teaching photography is that many, many people want to take pictures of flowers. They are beautiful, colourful, delicate and last only a short time and do not answer back, be difficult, require extensive walking and can be readily available. That said it got to a point on one of our more advanced courses when I realised that half the class were only photographing flowers that I had to ban them as a subject. It was not that I dislike pictures of flowers but just that once the techniques have been mastered the main challenge is finding beautiful blooms to photograph. The impact on the class was initially concern, what were they going to photograph but once they started looking they found many things that captured their interest.

This article on Lightstalking by  Izabela Korwel explains some of the basics of flower photography. Check out Iza’s amazing macro photography on her blog,. 

All of this article is useful, I would add that most zoom lenses  that come as a basic kit with a dslr camera can close focus to about  8 inches and are great for macro/close focus work. If you want to explore this with your zoom lens put it in manual focus and set the focus ring to it’s minimum focus distance (usually when the ring is extended furthest out) then put the camera to your eye and move the camera backwards and forwards until something close comes in focus, this will be about 6 – 8 inches. Using manual focus with macro flower photography is a better way to work that auto focus because you get to decide what is in sharpest focus rather than the camera.

Here is the start of the article:

Flowers are the easy subjects to come by and to photograph, even close to home. You can go to local park or find a flower bed downtown or at the mall. You can visit a botanical garden, there is one in every major city. You can ask the neighbours if you can photograph in their garden. You can also just go the flower shop and buy potted or cut flowers, and set them up in your living room.

The easiest way, as I discovered this year, is to plant small flower garden in front of your house. Even for the sole purpose of having a photographic subject handy, they do not require that much work, especially if you choose the local wild flowers. The diversity in types and colors will help keeping you interested and returning often to add to the collection of images. Each day, the flowers will looks different, some will be already dying, and some will just start to bloom. There are new and different photos to be taken each and every day.

Click Here: How to Take Incredible Photographs of Flowers 

Henri Cartier-Bresson: ‘There Are No Maybes’

In 1971, Sheila Turner-Seed interviewed Henri Cartier-Bresson in his Paris studio for a film-strip series on photographers that she produced, with Cornell Capa

Q. Have you ever really been able to define for yourself when it is that you press the shutter?

A. It’s a question of concentration. Concentrate, think, watch, look and, ah, like this, you are ready. But you never know the culminative point of something. So you’re shooting. You say, “Yes. Yes. Maybe. Yes.” But you shouldn’t overshoot. It’s like overeating, overdrinking. You have to eat, you have to drink. But over is too much. Because by the time you press, you arm the shutter once more, and maybe the picture was in between.

Very often, you don’t have to see a photographer’s work. Just by watching him in the street, you can see what kind of photographer he is. Discreet, tiptoes, fast or machine gun. Well, you don’t shoot partridges with a machine gun. You choose one partridge, then the other partridge. Maybe the others are gone by then. But I see people wrrrr, like this with a motor. It’s incredible, because they always shoot in the wrong moment.

Q. Can you bear to talk a bit about your equipment?
A. I am completely and have always been uninterested in the photographic process. I like the smallest camera possible, not those huge reflex cameras with all sorts of gadgets. When I am working, I have an M3 because it’s quicker when I’m concentrating.

How to Get Genuine Feedback On Your Photographs

In many of our courses we set up a blog site where students upload their assignment images. This is to allow us to see progress but also to enable the students in a particular group to interact and comment on each others’ pictures. This is universally seen as a really good process, everyone wants feedback and getting it from your peers who understand what you are trying to achieve is hugely valuable. There are many online sites where you can upload your pictures for comment but these often become very anodyne and the process is one of mutual back slapping. The nice people at Lightstalking have also recognised this as a problem and have introduced The Shark Tank, the name is much scarier than the experience. Once a member of Lightstalking, which is free, you can upload your pictures for constructive criticism, I have looked at the early images and commenters and it is hardly a Shark Tank but I am sure it is useful. Here is what they say about the Shark Tank

When you start getting into photography, it’s very easy to get swept up in the awesomeness and friendliness of the online photography community. People love sharing photos online in places like Flickr and 500px, commenting on websites about how much they love each other’s photographs and getting that instant satisfaction that community and encouragement brings. And that is great.

But there’s also a slight problem with how this has evolved. You see, online there is a very strong convention steeped in manners and not offending people that is very easy to see reflected in photography communities. In many cases, this is a necessary thing to avoid communities devolving into a home to online sociopaths and trolling. And that’s fair enough, but it makes it difficult to get genuine feedback on your photography……

Welcome to the Shark Tank

It’s a problem we have been thinking about for a while at Light Stalking and this is what we have come up with.

We have built a specific sub-forum in Light Stalking called The Shark Tank.

Here’s how it’s going to be:

  1. Only Constructive Negative Feedback Is Allowed – This forum is ONLY for constructive negative feedback. All positive comments will be deleted (see the note below).
  2. A Spirit of Camaraderie and Humour is Essential – We’re all in this together and things can obviously easily get heated if we don’t all approach it in the spirit in which it was intended. Reading this forum with a smile on your face is highly recommended!
  3. A Thick Skin is Essential – It can be tough hearing negative feedback about your images. But remember, we are restricting people – they are NOT ALLOWED to post positive feedback so do not take their negative critique personally. Take their feedback in the friendly manner it is intended.
  4. Give to Receive – If you want critiques on your own photographs, make sure you offer your constructive ideas on other people’s work too.  
  5. You would benefit from seeing images and reading comments but you would get much more out of the process by getting involved so go and have a look.

Click Here: How to Get Genuine Feedback On Your Photographs

Photo Democracy Summer Exhibition

An exhibition showcasing the winning work from The Photo Democracy Award for Fine Art Photography 2013 – a selection of the best up and coming photographers showing a diverse range of exciting new photography.

Chris Beetles Fine Photographs

3-5 Swallow St

London

W1B 4DE

Nearest tube: Picadilly Circus/Green Park

Click Here for directions

12 – 17 August 2013

SUMMER_SHOW_FLYER

How to Capture Authentic Emotion in Portrait Photography

We have just completed another successful Portrait Course with some great students and exceptional images. We teach the technical aspects of portrait photography but also the, as important, working with the subject to get the best out of them, we call it ‘posing and all that’. The next course will be in the autumn but if you want some tips before then this article by  on Lightstalking would be useful to you.

If you shoot portraits on a regular basis, I’m sure you have an informal checklist of sorts that you consult — at least mentally — both before and after you click the shutter. You want to make sure the composition is interesting, the desired part of the face is in focus, the lighting is flattering; all important things, to be sure. And on some level, these are easy things. What’s not always so easy is capturing emotion.

When you’re shooting street shots or candids, capturing genuine emotion isn’t too difficult because you’re recording moments as they happen and your subjects are often unaware of or unconcerned with the camera’s presence. But when it comes to actually posing for a portrait session, getting authentic emotion out of your subject can be a tricky course to navigate. Many otherwise easy-going individual tend to tense up once they get in front of the camera while, on the opposite end of the spectrum, others go overboard with exaggerated smiles or all manner of unpredictable and unflattering facial expressions.

It takes a little effort — mostly in the form of simply being a thoughtful photographer — but getting your subjects to display some unfiltered emotion is certainly an attainable goal and one with a huge payoff. The following tips apply whether your portraits are formal or spur of the moment, for pay or for fun.….MORE

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©Tony Haupt  OSP Portrait Course

Click Here: How to Capture Authentic Emotion in Portrait Photography

88 Amazing Photography Links That You Won’t Want to Miss

With another terrific week in the world of photography passing us by, we find Toad Hollow Photography has been searching high and low in all corners of the internet for links to tutorials, reviews, special features, great photography and really interesting blogs to share with everyone here.  This week’s list features some really interesting articles and tutorials, as well as some incredible special features.  And, of course, we’ve got a comprehensive list of great images to check out as well, all carefully collected and curated by the Toad himself!  From Toad via Lighstalking

Here is a taste

TUTORIALS

A Mathematical Look at Focal Length and Crop Factor – this in-depth piece takes a close look at the physics and mathematics behind varying focal lengths and sensor sizes in modern DSLR cameras.  This highly technical piece explains it all in great depth, and even for those who don’t fully grasp all the points being discussed the article will still reveal a few of the secrets behind this topic.

New Fuji 55-200mm lens for IR! – Mark Hilliard writes a comprehensive article taking a close look at the new Fuji 55-200mm lens for IR applications.  Mark includes detailed notes as well as a handful of example photographs to visually show the topics being discussed.

Orbs — the easy way… – this is a terrific article complete with sample images and screenshots to take the reader through the entire process step-by-step.  This great tutorial by Sherry Galey gives an in-depth look into the process for the reader, one that can expand your repertoire in post-processing.

9 Low Light Photography Tips for Professional Photos – this is a basic, common-sense list of tips and tricks for low light photography.  This challenging genre introduces it’s own series of problems to overcome, and all the highlights behind these issues are covered in this article.

 Click Here: 88 Amazing Photography Links That You Won’t Want to Miss

Photography – the absolute basics in one page

This article sums up photography in the basic terms that almost anyone could understand, well maybe not actually, but if you have done some study or taken one of our courses it will make sense. The ‘infographic’ horrid word, tries to establish what anyone aspiring to make photographs either recreationally or eventually vocationally might need to consider. The best advice it offers is practise. Anyway if you want to know everything about anything go here

Photography-101

Natural Light Portraits

We run a course on Portrait photography that teaches how to use natural light rather than having to rely upon flash. This is a popular course because most people would like to take better portraits of their family and friends but find the process daunting. We approach every aspect of this, first the technical, how to manage light, how to use the camera and what accessories you might need to get the best results. Then we look at what you must do as a photographer to get the best out of your subjects. Some of this is covered in this article on Lightstalking

For some photos, nothing beats the natural beauty of ambient light. When used correctly natural light can create soft portraits that bring out great looking skin tones and display a seemingly perfect balance between shadows and highlights. As limiting as it may initially seem, shooting with natural light can offer a pretty diverse range of lighting styles.

How to Find The Perfect Window Lighting

There can be a learning curve to using natural light effectively, especially when shooting indoors where your options may be more limited in regards to finding usable light. It goes without saying you should locate a room in your indoor space that is home to a window…..MORE

Here are a couple of images from our current course.

Portraits-Tony-3©Tony Haupt

IMG_2441

© Anna Indrzejczyk

 

S is for Simplicity: How Simplicity Will Improve Your Photography

The truly excellent  tom dinning writes on Lightstalking about the need to improve your photography by simplifying your images

In a complex world of action and vision it’s often difficult to separate the trees from the forest. In the early days of photography there was a tendency for photographers to emulate the painters or to use the photograph to assist the artist with his composition. The photograph was a means of recording the complexity of the world with all its detail. It was ‘real’. As photographers experimented with their new tool, they discovered that the photograph was also a way of simplifying the sometimes chaotic view before them. They could choose what would be ‘in the frame’ or not, eliminating the unnecessary and focusing on the important detail. 

The photographers were finding another language; the language of photography.

But often there were no words to describe what they had achieved, so they drew on existing words to define their pictorial vocabulary.

‘Simplicity’ is one such term. It was used to give a sense of ‘oneness’ in which the image could stand on its own and tell the story, that the contents contained nothing more in detail than was required by the photographer to achieve his purpose. READ ALL OF THIS ARTICLE HERE

 

©Jane Buekett©Jane Buekett

My great friend and superb photographer Jane Buekett understands simplicity, have a look at all her pictures here but as a taste a few..

©Jane Buekett

©Jane Buekett

summer9

lyme7

all images ©Jane Buekett
Click Here: S is for Simplicity: How Simplicity Will Improve Your Photography