Oxford School of Photography

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Tag Archives: photographersworkshop.com

Architecture Photography: A Quick Guide to Shooting Building Exteriors

Following on from this post about The Taj Mahal this article is well presented with lots of ideas and techniques and considerations of what lenses you should use to achieve a special view.

Camera Sensor Cleaning Techniques

From those very clever people at Cambridge in Colour a useful tutorial on how to clean the sensor on your camera. You may be aware of spots appearing in areas of clear tone in your pictures, areas like blue sky, these are almost always caused by dust on the sensor. This in depth article explains how to resolve the issue and explains about use of brushes, blowers and other stuff.

“If you’re using an SLR camera, you’ll eventually encounter spots in your photos due to a dirty camera sensor. If it hasn’t happened yet, don’t worry — it will. When it does, you’ll need to know if what you’re seeing is indeed from sensor dust, or is instead the result of a dirty viewfinder, mirror or lens. Most importantly though, you’ll need to know how to clean the sensor, and how to minimize the risk of this happening again.”



Michael Kenna: Traces of the Past

Michael Kenna is sort of local to Oxford, having taught in Banbury so not quite a home town boy but  one of the most experienced black and white photographers still active. This really illuminating interview is worth your time.

“Michael Kenna’s beautiful black-and-white images have been described as haunting, minimalist and ethereal. And by his admission, he chooses to examine one or two elements in a scene, “instead of describing everything that’s going on.” His unique approach to the environment results in simple but powerful photos of architecture, landscapes and the sea.”


Breathtaking Urban Decay Photographs

As a subject area dereliction is often appealing, there is something about grime and decay that draws many photographers’ eyes. This display offers some really interesting images that make you think, wish I had seen that, but at the same time might encourage you to go and seek such locations for yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breathtaking Urban Decay Photographs | CreativeFan.

The best advice for a photography beginner

“The book “On Being a Photographer” by Magnum Photographer David Hurn and Bill Jay (this only seems to be available as a Kindle download unless you are prepared to spend about £140 for a paperback! Worth buying the Kindle)  helped me more than any other book about photography I have read. One of the main things I learned is the importance of picking a project rather than just walking around looking for pictures. And it is important that the subject matter you choose be continuosly accessible. This translates for most people into picking a subject close to home. It is harder photographing your own day to day life. You don’t need exotic places — and often they are deterrent because the photographer does not know the exotic place well enough to capture its essence. Showing what is beautiful (or not beautiful) in your day-to-day environment is infinitely more interesting.

Decide on one or two qualities that you will search for. Perhaps that quality is “symetry”. Find all the photographs that use symetry as a dominate quality. Churches are often symetrical. People can be symetrical. The ocean can be symetrical. A car can be symetrical. So, spend a day just looking for this one quality. That is alot cheaper than spending money on taking pictures, at first!

When you use your camera, try to emulate or use this quality of “symetry”. After looking at symetrical objects in magazines, go outside and find an object, like a sign or a newspaper rack or a telephone, or an apple, and make a symetrical photograph of it.

 

Is that exciting? Nope. But either is playing on a piano with 1 note. But now you really know where that 1 note is. You can pull it out and use it anytime you need to in the future.

I took a course in photography for 3 weeks. This is how I learned. We were given assignments like: “shadows”, “near and far”. We did about 5 different qualities. As a result, I was somewhat equipped to do assignments for the college newspaper and I did PR for the college as well. Therefore, I became professionally almost immediately. All I knew was 4-5 qualities. But I knew the qualities that would help me as a beginning professional, and I didn’t fail.

Decide what it is you like in life. Having a *passion* for old motorbikes, landscapes, flowers … is the real driver to making good photos. I find it almost impossible to shoot good images of things I have no interest in, but I can happlily spend a whole day photographing what I love.

I suggest to you that you would concentrate on one quality of a good photograph at a time. Spend a week just looking for this one quality, and take about 40 pictures of things or events that have this one quality. A good picture usually has 4-5 good qualities. However, there may be 100 good qualities out there to choose from. The rule of 1/3rds is one quality.

Another, is “diagonals”.

Another quality is “near and far”.

Another quality is “shadows”.

The way I started, my first picture was of stairs. I pictured the stairs diagonally across my frame. And with that, I learned the first quality. You must spend one week on your assignement to learn about each quality. Then after a month or so, you can combine qualities.”

My advice echoes this, to get better at photography always consider composition, you could even take our composition course and practise one feature at a time, spend hours or even days just looking for and photographing using one compositional device like rule of thirds. When you start seeing images even when you do not have a camera with you then you are on the right road

The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera”
Dorethea Lange

Working to projects rather than just aimlessly wandering around with a camera sharpens your eye, helps you see better and if you come across the slim paper back “On Being a Photographer” by Bill Jay and David Hurn snap it up

Studying Photography at a college in the UK

University guide 2015: league table for film production and photography as found in The Guardian

We run courses aimed at recreational photographers, those people for whom photography is a wonderful creative activity, some people take our courses as a precursor to going to college and study photography in depth.

If you want to become a photographer it seems easy now, digital cameras do it all for you right, well wrong actually. Digital has made it easier for people with limited technical or visual skill to enter the market as a photographer and to work at a low level but if you want to succeed as a professional photographer you should consider going to college and studying as you would for any profession.  Where to Study Photography In The UK is another place to start looking, this new post featuring The Guardian lists a league table of the best colleges. For more information go here

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Another take on this can be found from 2012 and an article by  Alex Hare in the Independent “The new academic year is almost upon us and as universities prepare to open their doors to the latest batch of students paying the highest fees in history for their education, we take a look at whether embarking on a photography degree is still a worthy option.

First, let’s consider why someone would want to study photography. I teach one morning a week at my local university and I ask all my year one students what they want to do when they graduate. Everyone says they want to be a photographer. Will they all graduate and instantly become professional photographers? No, and I’d eat my 70-200mm L Series lens if they did. Will some make it eventually? Yes, inevitably, and this doesn’t mean that, for the rest, the degree has been a waste. Not every history student becomes a historian, after all………….But, it’s taken me 10 years to get to where I want to be and Karen thinks a photography degree can drastically cut the time spent getting ‘Life Experience’ down; “a photography degree is not some glorified camera club, we interview and assess candidates before accepting them. We ensure we have the brightest, most committed students and in return we give them a genuine means to an end. The degree opens far more career doors than it shuts and they leave with enough technical knowledge to hold their own as well as a range of intellectual rigour, academic, political and ideological awareness that employers in any industry look for in any graduate…………I’m left wondering what a first year student can do then to give themselves the best possible chances of succeeding, whether they choose to become a photographer or enter a different career path on graduation. Karen says; “they have to live and breathe the subject, not just stroll in, do their lectures and go home. They have to put in time and effort to push their creativity and their intellect beyond what we’re teaching them.”” Read the full article here

 

 

 

New website for Photographers Workshop

The origins of The Oxford School of Photography were in the training, tuition and courses run by The Photographers Workshop. Opened in 1982 as the UK’s first commercially run darkroom and studio hire centre with over 20 enlargers, black  and white and colour darkrooms, full finishing area and extensive studio, PW was a haven and home for many photographers and would be photographers. As well as providing access to essential equipment we also provided tuition to those just starting in photography. This connection still exists but we no longer have darkrooms and all our courses are scheduled as evening or weekend workshops. So is PW the mother ship of the Oxford School of Photography, well yes I think it is. The Photographers Workshop is now exclusively the commercial photography arm of the covering all areas of professional photography, the new website has been developed to reflect the continuing relationship between PW and OSP.

Have a look at our new site

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Practical experience for photography students – Oxford Playhouse

We don’t usually promote people asking for photographers unless they are offering some pay, we all have to eat but a good cause requires some support and the Oxford Playhouse is a good place and a good cause so here goes

Oxford Playhouse is currently looking for a photographer who’d like some practical experience and build up their portfolio for one of our Playhouse Play’s Out Productions.

BICYCLE BOY TITLE TREATMENT

Summer 2013 logo

 From 3 – 12 May, we’re presenting an interactive family show for children ages 5- 8 and their families in a specially converted bicycle workshop on Osney Mill Marina. Full details on the production can be found by clicking here.

 The show will be rehearsing at The Story Museum on Pembroke Street and we’re looking for someone who can photograph the actors and creative team in rehearsal on Mon 22 April as well as photograph the dress rehearsal on the afternoon of Thurs 2 May.

 Unfortunately we don’t have the budget available to pay anyone, but we’re happy to cover reasonable expenses for travel and food, credit the photos to whoever takes them on the programme and wherever we use them on our website etc, as well as providing references.

 If you’re interested in this opportunity or require any further details, please contact Bethan James (Marketing & Press Officer): bethan.james@oxfordplayhouse.com or01865 305388.

 

Olympics organisers refuse to clarify photography rules ahead of Games

Do you have tickets to see any of the Olympic events and thought you might take a camera along to record that once in a lifetime opportunity, well maybe you should think again. It seems that for ill defined reasons the organisers are prepared to ban the use of what they deem to be professional type cameras, my guess is this means DSLR cameras with a lens long enough to capture anything on the track or field of play. This is another example of photographers being demonised because those in authority do not understand why people take pictures. We do it because we are interested in photography and like to record our lives, where we go and what we see.  Of course it could be that the athletes, their managers, sponsors or whomever want to have complete control over what images are available. God forbid you might get a picture of an athlete throwing a hissy fit or one of the football stars doing something unmentionable to another.

The BJP, always a source of informed news and comment has an article by  Olivier Laurent, with James Temperton of Computer Active on this matter, read the full article here but this is the nature of what is being considered

“Some venues will be more flexible,” she said. “For example, if you’re attending an event in Green Park, there’ll be more space for spectators, so security might allow you to get in with larger equipment. But that won’t be the case at the Olympic Stadium,” where large lenses and tripods could interfere with spectators’ view of the sporting events.

However, BJP and ComputerActive, another Incisive Media publication, have found that Wembley Stadium, which will host football events during the Olympic Games, will prohibit any kind of “professional-style cameras [any camera with interchangeable lenses] or recording/transmitting devices”.

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From the BJP: Aerial view of the Olympic Park showing the Olympic Stadium and warm-up track in the foreground.

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‘the true wonder of bloody everything, no less’ – Jane Buekett

The Photographers Workshop was originally a darkroom and studio hire centre. We opened in 1982, and at that time we were the only privately funded darkroom hire centre in the country. Our ethos was access to equipment and access to knowledge. The equipment when we started was better than many colleges of photography had and our tuition was given freely and on a 121 basis. we later ran courses but the most important part of what we did was to teach everyone at their level and at the speed they wanted to learn. In the subsequent years we went through transformations due to the rise of digital. We no longer have darkrooms and our teaching is now exclusively through courses and weekend workshops. One of the best things about the Workshop was seeing the development (no pun intended or otherwise) of people and their technical skills. People would come with a desire to make pictures and we made that happen for them.

So I thought it would be a good idea to track down some of the photographers, both amateur and professional (some started as one and became the other) who used our darkrooms in the distant past.

Today I would like to introduce you to Jane Buekett. I consider her pictures to be some of the most beautiful and mature images. Taste is an interesting thing, what some love others hate, no don’t even think of Marmite this is much more important than that.

Jane was to be found working in the darkrooms every week, either in the evenings or on a Saturday, quietly going about making gems.  As she quotes “I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed.” Gary Winogrand

She has a blog with a small selection of the thousands of images she must have made and some of her writing which like her pictures is a joy to read if not always joyful. Here is a link to her blog

I asked those alumni who responded to my requests for pictures and words, pictures from the past as well as pictures from now. Here are some of Jane’s images and later her words. The older work shows first

“I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed.” Gary Winogrand

When I joined the Photographers Workshop in the early 1990s I knew nothing about black and white photography except that I wanted to do it. On my first evening Norman McBeath showed me how to load and process film, make a contact sheet and a basic print. He was kind and encouraging, the process was magical, and I was hooked.

The workshop was very male: rather spartan, with loud music playing and a constant teasing and banter between staff and regular customers. All day people would be calling in to chat or have a coffee. I sometimes felt the place was more like a drop-in centre than a darkroom. But it became somewhere I felt very much at home.

I took classes there, I learnt to print from evening after evening of working at it and getting advice from whoever was on duty. I became obsessed with making pictures, with the silver print, and, like Gary Winogrand, with photographing things to see what they looked like. I had exhibitions at the workshop. I met people who became a big part of my life, I developed a passion, I learned to see.

I liked those Saturday afternoons in the darkroom, wearing my horrible printing shirt stained with hypo, and my yellow rubber glove, when my prints would be sharing the developer with wedding photos, professional portraits, a snapshot of someone’s cat, an artist’s photograph of the moon. Often it was frustrating – trying to make exhibition-quality prints with other people poking at my fibre-based paper or contaminating the chemicals with dirty tongs.

Today I have my own darkroom. The music is more tasteful. There is no-one accidentally pouring stop into the developer. I don’t have to compete to get my favourite enlarger. But I miss having someone to ask, ‘Does this print look OK?’

Jane Buekett

Die bleierne Zeit

Trüb ists heut, es schlummern die Gäng’ und die Gassen und fast will
Mir es scheinen, es sei, als in der bleiernen Zeit

(Gloomy it is today, sleepy are the pathways and lanes and it seems as almost, we are, in the leaden times.)

(Friedrich Hölderlin)

Wish you were here

©Jane Buekett

©Jane Buekett

©Jane Buekett

©Jane Buekett

©Jane Buekett

I hope you have enjoyed these and would like to see and read more, you can do so here