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insights into photography
Tag Archives: www.oxfordschoolofphotography.co.uk
April 10, 2019Posted by on
There is no doubt that the faded, dissembled life of a town returned to nature is attractive. There are so many sites that explore ‘urbex’ photography and it is no wonder that Pripyat offers such poignancy.
Every student of photography would benefit from understanding the way to introduce atmosphere into their pictures and looking at David’s pictures would be a good place to start
The Chernobyl disaster in 1986 forced the evacuation of nearby Pripyat, home to 45,000 people. David McMillan has journeyed there 21 times since to record abandoned homes and buildings as they are reclaimed by nature
February 26, 2019Posted by on
“Photographers love to travel but sometimes it pays to look at what is close at hand and document the community you live in. Richard Beaven has done just that, turning his lens on the residents of Ghent, about 120 miles north of New York.
Beaven has worked on the project for a year or so and in that time he has made 275 portraits, about 5% of the population of Ghent.
“The catalyst for the project was the town’s bicentennial in 2018 and creating an archive for it,” says Beaven.
News of the project spread through the town, with one shoot leading to another and only a handful declining the opportunity to take part.”
It reminded me of Martin Stott, a long time friend from the old days of the darkroom. He has recently rediscovered his photography by embracing digital and has been on a few courses with me. I always preach that finding a project is the way to make your photography important to you and to others. Martin lives on Divinity Road in East Oxford and has started a project to photograph everyone who lives on his street. If you know Divinity Road you will know this is no mean feat.
Back to Richard…Each portrait is accompanied by the subject’s name and the amount of time they had spent living or working in Ghent at the time of being photographed….”The portraits are of individuals. While I take care to select appropriate environments, I provide minimal direction in terms of clothing or what the subjects happen to be carrying at the time.”
So what is stopping you from doing this? You live somewhere, a street, a village, a block of flats, where you live is a place you can build a project around. For Richard the motivation was “The catalyst for the project was the town’s bicentennial in 2018 and creating an archive for it,”
But for Martin it was as much about meeting the neighbours he didn’t know and to build a picture of where he lives,
“My aim with this project is to photograph everybody who lives on Divinity Road, Oxford, over about a two year period. I started in July 2018. This may be as individuals, couples, families or groups of people living in the same house such as students. Divinity Road is a long street and a diverse one. As a resident for over 31 years I still only know a relatively small proportion of the people who live on it. As well as making a photographic record this helps me to get to know more of my neighbours.”
April 10, 2018Posted by on
Paddy was the first person to walk through the doors of the original Photographers Workshop in June 1982. He has been my friend and teacher ever since. I learned from Paddy that a photograph doesn’t have to be about a thing, it can be just about a feeling.
His latest book ‘Empty Days’ is a testament to the idea that art is about feeling and not necessarily decorative. Like Nan Golding or Richard Billingham Paddy does not shy away from showing “the tragic lives he encountered, lives that touched him because they reflected his own struggles, he made images that would tell their stories, his own story.”
From his publisher:
… a sustained enquiry and search for understanding and meaning in a sometimes-bleak interior landscape … the great success of ‘Empty Days’ is in drawing the viewer fully into Paddy’s world… and as in life, it is both rewarding and on occasions disturbing.
– John Goto in Photomonitor, March 2018
“I would say Empty Days is my road trip, through the places I know – on foot.”
In run-down streets and shabby cafés Paddy Summerfield found his pictures for Empty Days. Among the tragic lives he encountered, lives that touched him because they reflected his own struggles, he made images that would tell their stories, his own story.
“This is the world I know, it could be anywhere, a place we have all seen before. I am sad, the world is sad. I don’t know if I take photographs to embrace sadness or or push it away.”
For Empty Days Summerfield has found emblems of the great themes: religion, sex, and death. Yet among the bleakness of various addictions, the ravages of drinking, of pills, he shows no spiritual comfort, no sexual joy, only the search for love in an unloving world, an unsatisfied spiritual longing. Along pavements and pathways, in claustrophobic rooms or open spaces, he finds the isolated figures, lost in thought or caught in a flash of emotion, to express the yearnings and pain that so many of us share. And where no people are shown, the human traces – an abandoned bicycle, a fallen doll, a tangle of nettles and barbed wire – continue themes of loss and melancholy. Yet however powerless or worn down the people and places shown, these pictures offer compassion, not judgement. A handful of troubling portraits, suggesting powerful and complex emotions, punctuate Empty Days, and intensify our sense of a narrative, albeit elusive and incomplete, as the photographs lead us through a fragile and fragmented world to an ending that suggests the possibility of hope.
Oxford-based, Paddy Summerfield, trained at Guildford School of Art in the Photography and the Film departments. His work has been shown in many galleries, including the ICA, The Barbican, The Serpentine Gallery, and The Photographers’ Gallery. His work is in the collections of the Arts Council and of the V&A, as well as in numerous private collections. Empty Days is his third book published by Dewi Lewis. His earlier book Mother and Father(2014) was widely acclaimed, and featured in several lists of the ‘Best Photobooks of The Year’.
March 8, 2018Posted by on
My last post was by another photographer who had the ability to see those things others miss and this post has more images that are clever and witty.
Pau Buscató is a street photographer who has a knack for capturing playful moments in which subjects and scenes come together in curious ways for brief moments of time. Many of his pictures are illusions that may cause you to stare a little longer to understand what it is you’re actually seeing.
“My approach to street photography is very intuitive and I’ve always liked to let my work grow freely, without me forcing any direction or themes,” Buscató writes. “It’s a very open process that demands full awareness and fresh eyes, to see the ordinary things of our everyday not just for what they are, but also for what they can become, when photographed.
“There is a strong sense of play in my street photography. It’s a game for me, and the city is my playground.”
March 6, 2018Posted by on
I saw this in the Guardian and had to share it with you. A few weeks ago I was taken to see Casablanca, the movie, by some friends. I am not sure I had ever seen it in it’s entirety before but it was enjoyable in a noirish sort of way. These pictures have nothing in common with the movie and all the better for it
There’s no sign of Humphrey Bogart or the stereotyped images found in travel guides in Yoriyas Yassine Alaoui Ismaili’s photographs of Casablanca. His images are full of energy and surprise, and show what the city is really like. Casablanca Not the Movie is at Riad Yima, Marrakech until 30 June 2018
or better visit his website here
December 4, 2017Posted by on
A bridge camera is usually shaped a bit like a DSLR, so bigger than a compact but has a fixed lens. These are often super zooms, so from wide angle to extreme telephoto, and this is their appeal. The often suffer from the compromise of having smaller sensors to allow for the extended zoom.
Bridge cameras are a versatile and affordable alternative to DSLRs, offering the same kind of manual controls plus a huge zoom lens that covers everything from wide-angle to super-telephoto photography.
There are two important differences to be aware of, though. The first is that bridge cameras have much smaller sensors than DSLRs or mirrorless cameras, so most can’t match those models for picture quality
The second is that the lens is non-removable, so although it can handle a wide range of subjects you can’t swap to a macro lens for close-ups, for example, or a super-wide-angle lens, or a fast prime lens for low-light photography.
If you’re not quite sure what kind of camera you need, read our essential guide: What camera should I buy?
Bridge cameras do, however, give you a lot of camera for your money, and they’re a great stepping stone for photographers who want to move on from simple point-and-shoot cameras. There are also now a few models that have larger sensors and deliver better picture quality, and which come a lot closer to the performance of a DSLR.
December 3, 2017Posted by on
So travel photography has a number of challenges and the first is the size of your gear. I tried to compromise and use smaller compact style cameras but never felt I could get the same as using my DSLR kit. So my compromise is to carry weighty cameras and lenses however not everybody is that stupid.
There are a range of compact cameras aimed at the travel market, for me Lumix and the TZ range has it in the bag but strangely not everyone agrees with me.
A travel compact should produce decent images, have good pixel count and probably most importantly a tremendous zoom range, sometimes called a super-zoom.
Tech Radar has done a sterling job reviewing what is the best travel camera in 2017
When you’re going on vacation you’re going to naturally want to take a camera along with you too, and the one in your smartphone probably won’t cut. Why? While it might be fine for snapshots, the fixed wide-angle lens on most smartphones won’t allow you to zoom into your subject.
In fact zooming is the key, because you won’t know what you want to shoot until you get there and quite often the things you want to photograph will be off in the distance. Now is not the time to find out your zoom isn’t powerful enough. And don’t think that you can simply digitally zoom in on your smartphone’s screen – quality will drop off rapidly.
- Check out our guide to the best compact cameras
This is why the ‘travel camera’ genre is so popular. These are compact cameras barely larger than a regular point-and-shoot model, but with massive 20x or 30x zoom lenses. You get the portability of a regular camera, but with much more scope for shooting different kinds of subjects.
You’re not going to get the same kind of quality you’d get from a DSLR or a mirrorless camera because the only way to make cameras with big zooms small enough to go in a pocket is to use a smaller sensor. But the picture quality is still pretty good, and perfect for sharing with friends and family, while some models now sport larger sensorsfor improved image quality.
If you’re not sure this is the kind of camera you need, check our step by step guide: What camera should I buy?
Alternatively, if you’re going to be by the pool or on the beach, you might want something a bit more rugged, so take a look at our best waterproof cameraguide.
December 1, 2017Posted by on
A compact camera is by definition small, and by design has the lens built into the body. There are a number of different types of compact cameras some specialised to specific photographic tasks such as travel compact cameras. Most compact cameras offer good quality and the better ones a wide range of functions that would seem to be similar to those on DSLR or CSC type cameras but in their first instances they should work well as simple to use cameras.
I recently bought a Lumix TZ100 to take on my motorbike and I am really impressed with the quality, I still don’t like using a compact as much as I do my DSLR but when it was a choice between wet weather gear and my DSLR camera the wet weather gear won so a compromise on the camera front was needed.
Compact cameras and the compact camera market have changed a lot over the last few years. Smartphones have decimated the entry-level range of point-and-shoot models that used to be popular and as a result manufacturers have concentrated on putting more advanced features into cameras to make them more attractive.
In addition to a move towards having physically larger sensors to boost image quality that can rival DSLRs in some cases, some compact cameras sport lenses long zoom ranges or wide maximum apertures. Wi-Fi connectivity is also now de rigueur on most compacts, so you can transfer shots quickly to a phone for sharing on Facebook etc
BEST COMPACT CAMERAS
Many enthusiast photographers used to be very sniffy about compact digital cameras, but there are now many that make a great alternative to a DSLR or mirrorless system camera. And those who are new to photography and thinking about stepping up from a smartphone have some pretty sophisticated choices as well.
There are small cameras that can slip in a pocket yet have huge zoom ranges, and large bridge cameras that look like DSLRs, but have a fixed lens and lots of automated easy-to-use options.
These cameras prove that you don’t have to buy a camera that takes interchangeable lenses to get great shots.
If you need a bit more help figuring out what kind of camera you need, then read this article: What camera should I buy?
November 30, 2017Posted by on
I wrote about the awards season and missed this one. Thanks to The Guardian I was alerted to these rather excellent images. I don’t know anything about the organisers LensCulture except this street photography award. I think you only have to look at these images to wonder why you don’t pick up your camera and head to the streets.
From intimate personal narratives to teeming markets and the world from a dog’s perspective, the LensCulture street photography awards celebrate the explosion in popularity of the form over the past decade
November 30, 2017Posted by on
For people who want the control of a DSLR but not the size or the weight there are mirrorless or compact system cameras CSC. These have interchangeable lenses and the same sorts of control that a DSLR will have but not the optical viewing system. If there is a viewfinder it will be a EVF type (electronic viewfinder) so this is like a small monitor that you look at through the viewfinder. Some don’t have this at all and you are required to use the monitor on that back to compose your images as you might on a compact camera. I would generally avoid these. This type of camera tends to be more expensive than traditional DSLR and the lenses are expensive too.
I see many of these cameras in class and find I am constantly irritated by the necessity to hide all the controls you want at your fingertips in menus that you have to access on screen. The tradeoff of in size and weight for a decent photographic experience is not one I would choose but I understand why people do
Tech Radar has a very useful review of the CSC cameras available and has ranked these as the best of 2017
Once upon a time, keen photographers bought a DSLR – it was the established order of things. But the mirror mechanism of a DSLR is complex and noisy and adds to the weight of the camera, and that’s where the mirrorless camera, or compact system camera comes in. They keep the big sensors and interchangeable lenses of DSLR cameras but ditch the mirror to produce a smaller, lighter and simpler camera.
In fact, there are still pros and cons to both designs. If you want to find out more, read this: Mirrorless vs DSLR cameras: 10 key differences. Some mirrorless cameras have a compact, rectangular body, some are styled like DSLRs with a ‘pentaprism’ on the top – though this houses an electronic viewfinder rather than the optical viewfinder you get with a DSLR.
Be aware, too, that cheaper mirrorless cameras don’t come with viewfinders at all – instead, you compose the photo on the rear screen, just as you do with a compact camera or a smartphone. (If you’re still not sure what kind of camera you need, read our easy to follow guide: What camera should I buy?)
No two photographers are exactly the same – we’re all looking for slightly different things, so we’ve ranked the 10 best compact system cameras you can buy right now based not just on specs, handling and performance, but size, simplicity and value for money too.