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insights into photography
Tag Archives: www.photographersworkshop.co.uk
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’.
December 10, 2017Posted by on
This might be a bit of shameless self promotion but I do believe we offer the very best courses in photography in the Oxford area. We go from the basics of understanding your camera, DSLR or compact/bridge camera for beginners through the vital areas of composition, Photoshop, Lightroom and more subject-based courses such as portrait and travel photography If you are interested in photography and want to get more from your camera then our courses will help you achieve your aim.
If someone asks you what you want as a present and you don’t know get a voucher and choose from our courses when you have worked out what you need
Here are some recent comments:
I attended Keith’s one day introduction to using an SLR. I thought the course was excellent. We went through all the basics at a good pace and had an opportunity to put some of the lessons into practice. Keith also covered some basic principles of photography that i hope to put into practice. I am confident that Keith has provided the break through that I needed. Keith also provided a very clear summary of the sessions and follow up links to relevant blogs etc. The session exceeded my expectations From Andrew
I took Keith’s basic course, Understanding Your DSLR, and was very impressed in every respect. Keith is a terrific instructor–very knowledgeable, articulate, organized, and attentive to student questions and issues.The course brought together students who were generally at a basic level, but the few who had had far more experience with the camera/photography appeared to get a lot out of the course as well. The atmosphere was relaxed, respectful, enjoyable, and amiable right at the outset, and students were comfortable asking questions at all levels. His many examples were carefully thought out and greatly helped students understand what he was describing. After each class, he emailed students many references and additional information to both underscore/reinforce what had been discussed in class and to expand on that information for future use. I know that I will greatly benefit from reviewing those references as I continue to use my camera in the future. I highly recommend Keith as an instructor, as well as the class, to anyone –novice or veteran user–who is interested in learning about the DSLR camera. I would definitely take his other courses but am now no longer living in the Oxford area. Anyone in the area interested in obtaining a solid background in the DSLR camera will be very pleased with his class. From Ann
Here is a list of our courses
Understanding Your DSLR Camera Evening Class £85
4 sessions Start Dates: 31.1.18: 8.03.18
Understanding Your DSLR Camera Saturday Morning Class £85
4 sessions Start Date: 03.03.18
1 Day Understanding Your DSLR Camera £95
Sunday 28.01.18: 25.02.18: 25.03.18
Start Date: 29.01.18
Understanding Lightroom £85
4 sessions Start Date 30.01.18
Composition In Photography – Seeing Pictures £85
4 sessions Start Date 7.03.18
Portrait Photography £85
4 sessions Start Date 26.02.18
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
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.
November 15, 2017Posted by on
I like DIY Photography as a site, it covers a range of topic areas, some techniques, some equipment some more esoteric, it is a place I regularly return to.
This article reminded me of one of the photographers on my Intermediate Photography Course a year or so ago. Darren Bickell, if you are still out there I hope you are photographing and making great images still.
If you want to learn how to make images like Darren go here
There’s something special about photos of water droplets. I personally like the element of surprise, because you can’t predict the exact shape you’re going to get. You can create fantastic photos using only water and some color, and photographer Adam Karnacz shares an in-depth tutorial for making them. He’ll guide you through all the steps, from setup to printing your final work. So, watch his video to learn what you’ll need and how to approach this interesting area of photography
October 13, 2017Posted by on
When I went to see the Gregory Crewdson exhibition in London earlier in the summer, it was the opening day and I had a strange experience. I went with my friend David and we were looking at these fantastic images and I was trying to explain to David how I understood Gregory worked and the use of symbolism and atmosphere in the pictures. I was eulogising the work and the man, I think he is a genius. Then as I was explaining a man started to invade our space, he was in a suit but creatively scruffy, long hair and with a friend following. You know how it is at exhibitions, you sort of want the space to yourself and as I was in full flow was a touch put out by the intrusion.
We moved on the next picture and in a short while here was the man again, more lacking in exhibition etiquette I thought in my very British way. The man and his companion had moved to the 3rd picture on the wall so David and I hopped to the 4th. I was leaning in close to admire the exquisite detail in one of the images when they appeared again, the companion leaned in and pointed to exactly where I was looking and turned to the man and said, “That is so beautiful, you are so clever”
I had been irritated by the presence of a master, how stupid of me. I didn’t say hello, a bit embarrassed but I wish I had now.
Yesterday I found this film on YouTube where Gregory talks about his process and motivations and intentions, I so wish I had head it from him in person. The 30 minute film shows him orchestrating the actors, environment and atmosphere to capture the remarkable images he makes.
If I had seen this first I would have recognised him and maybe not have made a fool of myself by explaining to the master his works!
The great man at work
Sadly the exhibition of his recent work Cathedral of the Pines has now ended at the Photographers Gallery
June 21, 2017Posted by on
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
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.
“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.
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.”
June 18, 2017Posted by on
yet more startling images found in the Guardian.
Known for his portraits of Spanish miners, Pierre Gonnord has turned his technique to young people, creating portraits that look like oil paintings. Light of the Soul by Pierre Gonnord is at Festival Portrait(s), Vichy, France, 16 June to 10 September. All photographs: Pierre Gonnord; he is represented by the Galería Juana de Aizpuru, Madrid
Remarkable aren’t they? see more here