OPS Weekly Newsletter 17 March 2024

OPS Weekly Newsletter 17 March 2024


  • If you haven’t already done so, please upload your Best Use of Light entries. So far we only have 27 entries which will make it a short evening. The deadline has been extended to midnight Monday 18 March http://www.photocontestpro.com/Default.aspx
  • The Silverband Hall will be close in April for three to four weeks due to renovation work. Our 2 April evening will be held at Old School House, Hertford Street, East Oxford, OX4 3AJ. Subsequent April evenings will be held at Holton Village Hall, Holton, Oxfordshire, OX33 1PR.


  1. Last meeting – ZOOM Presentation – Phil Savoie with his talk “The Principles of Photography talk”


Zooming into the hall is always a technical challenge and many thanks to Jill, Keith and Dave B for all their skills, patience and perseverance they displayed as they sorted out all the technical issues we faced. Phil was zooming in from close to the Irish Sea in west Wales, and it was great to see Ron, all the way from Swanage on the zoom.


Phil has not lost his American accent even though he has been working on BBC Bristol wildlife films for many decades. As a young 20-year-old he worked in a New York photo agency, commuting two and a half hours to and from his home. Though he enjoyed the work it was untenable, and he went on to university to study tropical biology.


Eventually he ended up in Belize for 11 years being a wildlife tour guide and encountered David Attenborough and the BBC Wildlife team. He ended up working on the groundbreaking Life on Earth TV series. To survive in that environment, you not only had to be technically competent but also be highly creative. He showed short extracts of some of his films from that era: a macro film travelling through amber that ended up with a close up of an ant, a film of Mandrills marching across the countryside of Gabon, also a film about the partnership between the Heliconia plant and hummingbirds. A selection of his films can be seen here.


He has some good advice on photography. For Phil a good photograph tells a story. This means:

  • Having a story, usually something that is project based
  • This means you will have to research and learn about you subject matter
  • Any meaningful narrative takes time
  • Your craft will demand visual refinement – directing the viewer’s eye
  • The treatment will need to be ‘emotive’.


Phil had a few excellent photographic aphorisms from famous photographers

Peter Adams: “Great photography is about depth of feeling, not depth of field.”

William Albert Allard: “What’s really important is to simplify. The work of most photographers would be improved immensely if they could do one thing: get rid of the extraneous. If you strive for simplicity, you are more likely to reach the viewer.”

Alfred Eisenstaedt: “Never boss people around. It’s more important to click with people than to click the shutter.”

See more here if you ever need a photographer’s quote


He advised that we need to take many photos, the more you shoot the more you learn. Fill the frame, from edge to edge. Improvement depends on time, practice, patience, and determination. Be creative, experiment and learn from your mistakes.


He then ran through some photographic genres:


Landscape – he reeled off a number of ‘apps’ he relies on: Clear Outside, Photo Pills, Sky Guide, Sun Seeker, Compass, Time and Date, Google Earth. These help him locate the viewpoint and tell him where the light will be etc. There is also a best apps for landscape photography list here


His tip was to find a gorgeous tree and photographic it around the seasons, while also finding  a different way to shoot it. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a tree but something that is ‘gorgeous’.


Sport – break out of your comfort zone, try a different genre, shoot motorcycle races, point to point races, make photos that scream speed, show the motion in a static photo. Swallows are a personal passion of his, they are not a sport but my do they fly fast.


Astro-photography – he showed various shots of the night sky, one including his gorgeous tree in the foreground.


Phil ended his first half with advice of backgrounds. They usually make 85 percent of your photo and pay attention to them as they can ruin the shot if they are busy and distracting. Move your camera to get a better background.


Also think about eye-line, where the camera lens is in relation to the subject. If the lens is lower than the eye-line of the subject then the subject will be stronger in the frame and have ‘presence’. It’s an old Hollywood trick.


In the second half Phil told the story of the BBC asking him to test all the lenses it was going to use for an upcoming wildlife series. He spent many months checking the lenses and his result was that the sharpest f-stop to shoot is between f/5.6 and f/8. Go for f/7 and you can’t go wrong. Sharpness starts to tail off at f/11. He said that if you want to check your own lens there are lots of results on www.opticallimits.com. (My old Nikkor 10.5cm f/2.5 is on the site! Must use it more). He advised that we all test our lenses and have the results pasted to the lens cap or another convenient part of the lens.


Phil had tips on gadgets to help with your photography:

  • Table top tripods can be used by holding it to your chest to steady the camera – just done breathe will the shutter is open
  • Have a view finder magnifier.
  • Have an adjustable diopter
  • Use clingfilm to cover your camera and lens from the elements
  • Run a pencil along the threads of your filters, it makes them easier to mount and unmount
  • Use a kneeling pad, it can also act as a ‘flag’ to reduce lens flare
  • Take fitness weights to reduce vibrance of a lens
  • Use a fishing bucket with a ball baring lens to carry some of your kit and to sit on


He finished with a list of essential things to rememeber:

  • Eyeline/perspective
  • Backgrounds
  • F-stop
  • Shutter speed
  • Experiment and fail


And added: Think Creatively, Story-telling Tools, and most importantly – Have FUN.


A wonderful evening of entertainment and instructions. Many thanks to Jill, Keith and Dave B for all their efforts at making it happen.


  1. Next week’s meeting Tuesday 19 March: Best Use of Light judge by Phil Joyce FRPS


If you haven’t already done so, please upload your Best Use of Light entries. So far we only have 27 entries which will make it a short evening. The deadline has been extended.


Next Tuesday is our Best Use of Light competition. Please upload your two entries on PhotoContestPro http://www.photocontestpro.com/Default.aspx by midnight Monday 18 March. Usual size and format apply


Max width 1600

Max height 1200

Format is jpg

Colour space is sRGB

File name should the title of your image only


details here: https://oxfordphotosociety.co.uk/dpi-competition-entries/



  1. Upcoming meetings in March and April


Tuesday 26 March: Internal Presentation

First half of the evening a presentation by William Hall – The second half will be a presentation by Dave Atkinson (TBC).


Tuesday 2 April: Confessions of a Landscape Photographer (Change of Venue – see details below)

Paul Mitchell FRPS MCSD : Born in East Yorkshire, Paul’s interest for photography began at school. He then studied graphic design at art college and soon after began his design career in London working for many well known FMCG companies and brands. He now lives in East Dorset as a professional landscape photographer and specialist book designer.


Paul has had numerous exhibitions in London and the South East and has had articles and images published in many photographic magazines. He is a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society and is the current Chair of the Landscape Distinctions panel. He also serves on the Visual Art and PhotoBook panels. A member of the prestigious Arena group of photographers and a founder member of The Landscape Collective UK (LCUK). Paul is also a well respected photographic judge and lecturer.


Paul has also been successful in the prestigious Landscape Photographer of the Year competition, winning the Sunday Times Choice Award in 2013, the Urban Category winner in 2015 and commended in 2017 and 2018. He has also had successes in the Outdoor Photographer of the Year and the International Garden Photographer of the Year. In March 2022 Paul won the RHS Gold Medal and Best in Show at their Botanical Art and Photography Show held at the Saatchi Gallery.


You can see more details by visiting his web site : www.paulmitchellphotography.co.uk


His talk tonight is titled ” Confessions Of Landscape Photographer ” : An illustrated talk about how Paul researches and plans ahead before going on his landscape photography trips at different locations (coast, woodland etc.). He also gives an insight as to what techniques he uses when composing landscapes and the type of landscape images he would make under varying weather conditions. It also covers the type of software apps, filters and equipment he uses. Paul’s talk is fully illustrated with digitally projected images and prints.


Change of venue: Our 2 April evening will be held at Old School House, Hertford Street, East Oxford, OX4 3AJ.


Tuesday 9 April: Digital Image Competition No. 3 ( Change of venue – Holton Village Hall )

Peter Cox

President – Tring & District Camera Club

Is also a speaker and judge.


Change of Venue: Village Hall, Holton, Oxfordshire, OX33 1PR


Tuesday 16 April: An evening in Oxford with our cameras

OPS members to take images in and around Oxford showing the very diverse way people see images from each other. We are going to have our second one of these evenings following on from the success of the first one we held on the 16th January.


  1. Photo themed events in Oxford


Bluebell photography course

Capture spring’s stunning display of colours whilst exploring the Arboretum. Learn various methods to photograph trees, plants and views with your own camera

10.30am – 1pm/£50/Sat 4th May 24 Harcourt Arboretum Nuneham Courtenay


Meadow photography course

Capture our wonderful meadow in bloom in the summer whilst exploring the Arboretum. Learn various methods to photograph trees, plants and views with your own camera

10.30am – 1pm/£50/Sat 15th Jun 24Harcourt Arboretum Nuneham Courtenay


Natural Photography Workshop

Leave the cameras at home and try a photography workshop with a difference. Create your own beautiful prints from plants and explore a new experimental photographic technique that references Sir John Frederick William Herschel’s discoveries in the 1800s

10.30am – 2.30pm/£50/Wed 3rd Jul 24. Harcourt Arboretum Nuneham Courtenay


  1. Photo exhibitions further afield


Best photography exhibitions to see in 2024

One of the best ways to gain inspiration for your photography and exploring different styles is by experiencing and viewing the work of other photographers and artists. We’ve put together a selection of the best exhibitions on around the UK during 2024 to see photography; including exhibitions that present photographs alongside other disciplines.


Below, you’ll find the information you need including dates, location and ticket details to plan your trips.



  1. General photographic interest


Carrying on from the advice given at Phil Savoiei’s talk here are…

Fourteen Guidelines for Photographers to Live By

It doesn’t matter if you’re brand new to photography or a seasoned pro with decades of experience; at some point or another, you’re going to develop some habits and behaviours that are counterproductive.



A ball of barnacles wins wildlife photo award

An incredible image of a football covered in goose barnacles is the winner of this year’s British Wildlife Photography Awards.

The picture was chosen from more than 14,000 entries by both amateur and professional photographers.



Architectural adventures in the Alps – in pictures

After months of isolation in 2020, the Leipzig photographer Albrecht Voss asked his oldest friend to join him on an adventure through the Alps taking pictures of modern architecture. With just 20 days to capture 28 buildings in Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland and Germany, the project involved scaling glaciers in the dark and sleeping in empty chapels. “We would aim to be on top of the mountain for golden hour, when the light is very beautiful,” he says. “Then we’d wait until pitch black at night, when the stars are visible.” The process often involved combining images, but Voss, now shortlisted for a Sony world photography award for the series, tried to stay as close to reality as possible. “The reaction I get from people is that it feels like you are really there.”



A century of monochrome magic – in pictures

A new exhibition celebrates over 100 years of two-tone photography, featuring stunning sharp contrasts, nuanced greys … and a Chinese roller skater