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Tag Archives: The Telegraph

Photography theory: a beginner’s guide

Bewildered by Berger? Stumped by Sontag? We read the essential photography theory so you don’t have to. Putting this simply here is a digest of the writings on photography by the great photography writers as seen in The Telegraph  Here is an example of what is on offer to give the chance to work out if you want to delve further

“The decisive moment”, an idea that has defined street photography and photojournalism as we know it, was first outlined in the preface to a book of photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson. The essay starts with Cartier-Bresson charting his life so far as a photographer – from messing around with a Box Brownie as a child to co-founding Magnum Photos – before talking through his approach to photography.

According to Cartier-Bresson, there is an almost magical split-second in which events in the world – interactions between people, movement, light and form – combine in perfect visual harmony. Once it passes, it is gone forever. To capture such moments as a photographer you must be inconspicuous, nimble and attentive; working on instinct; responding to reality and never trying to manipulate it.

Composition cannot be planned, nor can it be added in afterwards. Cropping will invariably make a good shot worse and is unlikely to make a bad shot better. Camera settings shouldn’t be something the photographer even thinks about – taking a photograph should be like changing gears in a car.

In his own words:

“We photographers deal in things that are constantly vanishing, and when they have vanished, there is no contrivance on earth which can bring them back again.”

“Composition must be one of our constant preoccupations, but at the moment of shooting it can stem only from our intuition, for we are out to capture the fugitive moment, and all the interrelationships involved are on the move.”

“To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organisation of forms which give that event its proper expression.”

How to sound as if you’ve read it:

Be ready and reactive. Don’t get hung up on kit and, most importantly, keep it real.

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Want more? go here

The best new compact cameras 2014

The market is so saturated with cameras it is almost impossible to decide which is right for you. There is almost as deep a pile of review sites giving you their version of what to buy. This article in The Telegraph at least tries to cover the full gamut in camera type and price

The best point-and-shoot cameras on the market, for everything from cheeky selfies to heavy-duty travel photography

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Sony Cyber Shot RX 100 II, available in black, RRP £649.00 

For a camera with so many intricate settings, the Cyber shot RX100 is surprisingly easy to understand. As you scroll between the major modes (Auto, Aperture Priority, Macro and so on), a sentence on the screen will appear to tell you what that program does and when you might use it. There’s also a handy spirit level to show you when you’ve got the camera completely straight.

Once you are in and shooting, there is even a “help” button which brings up practical advice on capturing difficult subjects: dusk, for instance, or the greenest leaves.

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5, available in black, blue, orange or silver, RRP £249.99

It’s sacrilegious to compare anything to a Leica; but it’s also an open secret that Leica’s digital lenses are made by Panasonic. If you dream of owning a digital Leica, complete with famous red-spot logo, then you’ll have to set aside at least £500. But if the quality of the photograph is what matters to you, you can get your Leica lens for less with a Lumix. It’s what quite a few professional photographers carry around with them

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Sony TF1available in red, black and blue, RRP £140.00

This relatively cheap camera is slim and light and sits easily in the hand, with rubberised edges to keep your grip secure. I was initially befuddled by the placement of the lens in the top-left hand corner of the camera – which is where I suppose you would expect to find it on a cameraphone. But with a largeish screen, when your finger strays into shot, which it inevitably will, you can see it and readjust accordingly. The zoom button on the top of the camera is ridged, which makes it easy to get hold of; the zoom is internal, not telescopic, which makes it more robust – if you dropped it, there probably wouldn’t be dire consequences.

See the rest of the reviews of these cameras and the others recommended here

Photography theory: a bluffer’s guide

In The Telegraph,

Bewildered by Berger? Stumped by Sontag? We read the essential photography theory so you don’t have to. 

I must say this line sounds familiar to a line I say when teaching understanding your digital slr courses, “I’ve read the manuals so you don’t have to”

So here is a list of books you probably should have read if you are really interested in photography but somehow they slipped your mind, the first is about the decisive moment

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HCB

The Decisive Moment by Henri Cartier-Bresson (1952), digested by Rachel Segal Hamilton
What’s it about?
“The decisive moment”, an idea that has defined street photography and photojournalism as we know it, was first outlined in the preface to a book of photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson. The essay starts with Cartier-Bresson charting his life so far as a photographer – from messing around with a Box Brownie as a child to co-founding Magnum Photos – before talking through his approach to photography.
According to Cartier-Bresson, there is an almost magical split-second in which events in the world – interactions between people, movement, light and form – combine in perfect visual harmony. Once it passes, it is gone forever. To capture such moments as a photographer you must be inconspicuous, nimble and attentive; working on instinct; responding to reality and never trying to manipulate it.
Composition cannot be planned, nor can it be added in afterwards. Cropping will invariably make a good shot worse and is unlikely to make a bad shot better. Camera settings shouldn’t be something the photographer even thinks about – taking a photograph should be like changing gears in a car.
In his own words:
“We photographers deal in things that are constantly vanishing, and when they have vanished, there is no contrivance on earth which can bring them back again.”
“Composition must be one of our constant preoccupations, but at the moment of shooting it can stem only from our intuition, for we are out to capture the fugitive moment, and all the interrelationships involved are on the move.”
“To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organisation of forms which give that event its proper expression.”
How to sound as if you’ve read it:
Be ready and reactive. Don’t get hung up on kit and, most importantly, keep it real.

Other included works given the treatment are

Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography by Roland Barthes

The Ongoing Moment by Geoff Dye

On Photography by Susan Sontag

The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Walter Benjamin

Regarding the Pain of Others by Susan Sontag

Read all these useful cheat sheets here

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Camera Sculpture by Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs Photo: Courtesy the artists, RaebervonStenglin, Zurich and Peter Lav, Copenhagen

Food Photographer of the Year 2014

On The Telegraph web site we find the winning entries, here are some to see the rest go here

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I bet you wished you had entered, see the rest here

Chloe Dewe Matthews photographer

The ever eagle eyed Norman McBeath took time out from his hectic schedule of cornering the market in portraits of poets to recommend this photographer he had unearthed. As the last post was about rising stars in photography I thought we should add our own views and although I knew nothing about Chloe I was very pleased to see she once was at college in our home town of Oxford. This link for The Ruskin School of Art heralds her as one to watch, so maybe we are onto something.

Her images fit perfectly into a way of seeing that I find absorbing and beguiling, she reminds me of Nadav Kander in her approach although I do feel she is much more about people than atmosphere as many of Kander’s work exhibit.

The Telegraph featured Chloe as one of The five most promising new artists of 2011: in pictures

and The Guardian had this to say

“The 29-year-old documentary photographer Chloe Dewe Mathews was a few months into an overland trip from China to the UK in 2010 when she stopped in Naftalan, Azerbaijan. She had heard about a sanatorium where locals – since the days of Marco Polo in the 13th century – have sworn by the therapeutic benefits of bathing in sludgy crude oil heated to 37C and she thought it might make a diverting subject for a portfolio of pictures. Dewe Mathews says, “I remember thinking, ‘Would this interest anyone at all? Well, I might as well just do it anyway.'”

Validation was not long in coming: in June last year, she was signed to the photo agency Panos Pictures; then, in November, her series Caspian, including images from Naftalan, won the 2011 international photography award run by the British Journal of Photography. More enduringly, she now had a blueprint for a lifetime’s work: “I was away for nine months, but I realised it could be a long-term thing, almost a recce for my career.”

Dewe Mathews is smart and assured, and her approach is fearlessly single-minded: for example, she crossed Asia and Europe entirely by hitchhiking. “If you’re on a bus the whole time, you have that lovely staring-out-of-the-window thing,” she says, “but it’s not the same as going from one person’s car with all sorts of funny things hanging from the mirror and them telling you their stories. It makes for a much more fertile atmosphere.”

She returns to Russia this month to continue the Caspian series and will exhibit the new photographs next October at the 1508 Gallery in London. This time, however, she has been forced to make arrangements for the transport. “It will be too cold to stand out on the road,” she sighs, genuinely disappointed. “But I’m going to do couch surfing, so hopefully I will hear stories that way.”

I suggest you go to her website and see a selection of remarkable images, here is the link