Oxford School of Photography

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10 Best Photography Courses In Oxford

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.

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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

If you want to see more reviews you can do so here

Here is a list of our courses

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The best travel compact cameras in 2017

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

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TZ100 Travel Compact

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.

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.

Some models now sport larger sensors for improved image quality, the TZ100 has a 1″ sensor and is great in low light

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.

The 10 best compact cameras in 2017

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.

Tech Radar has a review of some of the compact cameras that have excelled in 2017

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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

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?

The 10 best mirrorless cameras in 2017

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

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Best CSC Cameras 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.

AN A-Z GUIDE FOR MAKING FANTASTIC WATER DROPLETS SPLASH PHOTOS

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.

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©Darren Bickell

If you want to learn how to make images like Darren go here

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©Darren Bickell

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©Darren Bickell

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©Darren Bickell

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©Darren Bickell

from DIY Photography:

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

 

 

The Why and How of Gregory Crewdson

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.

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Gregory Crewdson The Haircut, 2014 © Gregory Crewdson

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.

This is such a brilliant 30 minutes I would really recommend you watch

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

GREGORY CREWDSON: CATHEDRAL OF THE PINES

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

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‘They were more difficult because they were less spectacular’ … Father and Son, 2013. Photograph: © Gregory Crewdson / Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

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.

The new exhibition can be seen from the 23rd at The Photographers Gallery

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Gregory Crewdson The Haircut, 2014 Digital pigment print Image size: 37 1/2 × 50 inches (95.3 × 127 cm) Edition of 3 + 2 APs © Gregory Crewdson

“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.

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Gregory Crewdson The Motel, 2014 Digital pigment print Image size: 37 1/2 × 50 inches (95.3 × 127 cm) Edition of 3 + 2 APs © Gregory Crewdson

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.”

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Foreboding … Mother and Daughter, 2014 Photograph: © Gregory Crewdson / Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

see more pictures and read the rest of the review in the Guardian here

find out about the exhibition at the Photographers Gallery here

Supercharged children– in pictures

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

Pierre Gonnord

Nicola, 2010 ‘I know why I do portraits. For the opportunity of encounters. These life experiences. Learn from others, listen, watch, see, feel, express. It’s to open one’s eyes to the world, to know other universes, other realities in order to go beyond one’s own small frontiers in the urban environment and enter little by little into the sharing and the understanding of humanity’

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Iris, 2011 ‘Installed in the silence of a room, generally a very small space, sometimes with daylight, sometimes with a lamp, a flash, just one spot … in a short distance, in the same living area, I can talk with the individual, my fellow, a chosen human being, and looking at him I repeat once again this old ritual. A very short moment. Probably the most ancient since man has been on Earth. Strip little by little all the details, and in silence try to catch what maybe is under the skin’

Pierre Gonnord

Adriano, 2010 ‘I chose the person, the individual, alone in the margins of his social group,’ says Gonnord. ‘When I travel and meet a community, I have time enough to establish contacts and connections, to know individuals that move me for their charisma, sensitivity, intelligence, shyness, beauty … and this is why I decide to invite them (and no others) to do a portrait’

Pierre Gonnord

Attia, 2010 ‘We are absolutely and irreparably involved in otherness. I would like for my portraits to situate us as spectators in front of this other that is at the same time our spectator. The other exists because we exist’

Remarkable aren’t they? see more here 

Even better go and see his website here

Gods of garbage – in pictures

Fascinating set of pictures found in The Guardian

Fabrice Monteiro travelled to the most polluted places in Africa and created terrifying characters who roamed their midst dressed in eerie debris. They are spirits, he says, on a mission to make humans change their ways

Fabrice Monteiro’s All images courtesy the artist, Photo Basel 2017 and Mariane Ibrahim Gallery

‘Who is fighting for clean water in the US? Native Americans. Who is fighting for land preservation in Australia? Aboriginals. The rainforest in Brazil? Indigenous peoples.’

Fabrice Monteiro’s All images courtesy the artist, Photo Basel 2017 and Mariane Ibrahim Gallery

‘When I started the project, I found out what Senegal’s biggest environmental challenges were and chose nine topics that seemed the most visual.’

Fabrice Monteiro’s All images courtesy the artist, Photo Basel 2017 and Mariane Ibrahim Gallery

The surreal figures wear costumes made in collaboration with Dakar-based designer Doulcy, from items found at each location.

Fabrice Monteiro’s All images courtesy the artist, Photo Basel 2017 and Mariane Ibrahim Gallery

Informed by Africa’s environmental problems, Fabrice Monteiro’s photographs aim to highlight urgent ecological issues all over the world. His series The Prophecy is on show at Photo Basel 2017 until 18 June. All images courtesy the artist, Photo Basel 2017 and Mariane Ibrahim Gallery

See more of these astonishing images here

And visit Fabrice Monteiro’s site here

Cloud Storage

When I am teaching I am often asked about cloud storage as a means of backing up images. It seems to me that most people shoot a lot and backing up to the cloud is OK if you have a fast broadband connection but there is the additional issue of cost. We have been seduced by the likes of Google and Amazon offering free or cheap storage but when that free storage is say 30GB that is not much use when you are regularly filling 32GB cards with images. Then came the options of unlimited storage, Amazon were one of the first in on this and it seemed a good deal but as we now learn from DIYPhotography this is coming to an abrupt end and if you have Amazon as your storage you have to look at what you are using because otherwise it might all disappear.

Clouds above Sydney Opera House

Clouds above Sydney Opera House

 

Google have been pushing people towards Google Photos as a means of cloud storage and you get 15GB free, less than one card! a 1TB of storage is $10 a month. Currently I use 3TB external hard drives to back up my images, so that would cost me maybe $30 a month with Google.

Cloud storage is fine if all you do is back up your phone snaps but for any serious photographer the cloud is adding to the expense. So you say external hard drives connected to the computer cost too, this is correct, my Western Digital drives cost about £70 so in 3 months or so I get free storage and the peace of mind knowing Google etc are not tracking my images.

I still like Flickr you get 1TB (1000GB) free and if you want a more pro feel you can upgrade for about £32 a year. It allows for RAW file storage unlike Google and although 1TB is not enough for all my images I use it for my personal work. The trick would be if you want more than 1TB then have more than one account, break your storage down into subject areas.