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Saturday, 30 January 2010


I was quite lucky over the Christmas period and was give a few Photography books. I haven’t had a great deal of time to read though them yet, however I’ve listed them here and given some initial thoughts where I’ve skimmed through them. Maybe as the course goes on I will add new books and update my thoughts on them…


Digital Photography Masterclass: Advanced Photographic and Image-manipulation Techniques for Creating Perfect Pictures  - Tom Ang

First impressions are good, with an easy readable style with lots of suggestions and examples of different photographic situations. The book has also has some interviews with up-and-coming photographers from different fields which I particularly like


  The Photographer's Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos – Michael Freeman

Not had a look at this one yet. However I bought this one as recommended text from the OCA Art of Photography Course  suggested booklist


  The Photograph: A Visual and Cultural History (Oxford History of Art)  - Graham Clarke

Not had a look at this one yet. However it came with the course materials for the OCA Art of Photography Course


  Langford's Starting Photography: The guide to great images with digital or film  - Michael Langford & Philip Andrews

I bought this one during the Open University Course T189. I found this a good starting point with the OC course. I particularly liked the ‘self’ projects at the end of some chapters as they give ideas for practising the theory


  The Book of Digital Photography – Chris George

This was another Christmas present, however my first impressions are that it has a very easy reading style. It appears to be focused more on the technical aspects of camera control and editing software. Looks like it will be a useful reference tool


  The Digital Photography Book: The Step-by-step Secrets for How to Make Your Photos Look Like the Pros'!  - Scott Kelby

Another present and again not really looked at this one much yet, but first impressions is its a series of tips under certain circumstances and conditions. The author has put a ‘sense of humour’ to his writing style, but my verdict’s out on it’s usefulness (or humour) yet.


  PhotoPlus (Canon Edition) – Chris George (Editor) 

Ok it’s not a book, however it is a magazine that I have bought from time to time as it is aimed at the Canon DSLR user. I find the free CD ROM useful as it contains tips and lessons on using Photoshop Elements and other software applications.

Note: I do work for any of these publications and I’m not linked to any organisation that represents them.  They’re just my opinions.  

More pre-course admin

I’ve had a bit more time today to go through the course materials and sort out a bit of admin. I’ve skimmed through the course book and looked at some of the assignments, but mostly I’m still the the preparation phase, making sure I know how this all works and being as prepared as I can be. I’ve read through the student handbook and sorted out space in a filing cabinet to keep all the photo materials and coursework, plus I’ve put some folder dividers in the course book making it easier to find the projects and assignments.

There are still a few things to tick off my initial pre-course list, but so far I still feel in control at this stage.

  • Complete Student Profile
  • Register with the OCA website (done!)
  • Send off Information sheet to OCA
  • Make contact and send student profile to tutor (email later or tomorrow morning
  • Read through course materials and start the course – Ongoing!
  • I’ve already done the blog!

I’ve also spent a bit of time today to ‘smarten’ up my blog with a few of my personal links. including an additional ‘subscribe’ to Posts and Comment updates to encourage more interaction to anyone who is interested. I personally find this a useful tool, allowing me keep track of the progress of other blogs that I like. I feel that it encourages more interaction with others; when I see an update on one of my feeds it prompts me to have a look and make comments. It’s also useful to keep track of comments people make on my own blog.

I find interacting with other students a valuable exercise. A big part of the OU course was geared towards ‘peer’ interaction as it gave fresh eyes to your work (and theirs) often spotting/suggesting ideas that were not considered at the time, across all ability levels.
I feel that looking at peer work and giving/receiving feedback helps you to think more constructively about an image, moving from just thinking ‘That’s a nice picture..’ to ‘That’s a good image because..' and ‘that’s a good image which could be improved by..’

Anyway food for though.

If you have a flickr account feel free to add me as a contact , so idea’s can be shared there as well as blogs and OCA

Friday, 29 January 2010

Course Materials here!

My course materials pack arrived today! However I’m resisting the temptation to dive straight in with the coursework. I plan to take my time and make (and log) my preparations.

I was expecting a bit more in the case of ‘materials;’ but after having a flick through I get the impression it’s content/quality and not quantity! So I’ve spent the evening reading through the supplementary materials and have made a couple of points on what I to cover for the Student profile.

I will have a ‘proper’ read through the materials Saturday and plan what I need to do over the next few days. but so far it would be:

  • Complete Student Profile
  • Register with the OCA website (done!)
  • Send off Information sheet to OCA
  • Make contact and send student profile to tutor
  • Read through course materials
  • I’ve already done the blog!

I will hold off from buying any stationary yet until I have made contact with the tutor. I would hope that my tutor likes to use ‘electronic medium’ be it Blog, flickr, email or burning and sending CD/DVD’s for the course; this is by far the most convenient way for me to communicate over distance at the moment.    

Thursday, 28 January 2010


Hello and welcome to my Blog!

Before I get started; and should be no surprise, Grumpy Bear is not my real name! ‘Grumpy Bear’ is just an affectionate nickname from my family that I use as an alias when working on the internet from time to time. My real name is Graham and I’m happy to be called either.

I’ve never considered myself as a creative person but over the past couple of years, I started to take more of an interest in taking photographs of friends and family; the usual holiday snaps and special occasion type of thing with a standard point-and-shoot compact digital camera. Being a bit of a gadget fan I started to get interested in the technology of the cameras and sharing my images online as I took more photos.

Then last year I bought my first DSLR camera; A Canon EOS 450D. After reading the manual, telling myself I would play around with all the settings and get to grips with ‘Photography Lore’, I promptly put the camera on Auto and carried on where I left off!

However while browsing the magazine shelves (and before you think it; not the top shelf!) I bought a camera magazine. In it were some simple tips for getting more from a DSLR. This sparked my interest again and I started to research the internet for photography courses. Being a shift worker though, meant it was difficult to find a basic entry level course that I could commit to on a regular basis and that’s when I started to look at online courses. Eventually I decided on an introductory course with the Open University.

That was the real beginning for me; I was finally getting inspiration on what to take, I was learning more about camera settings, post-processing and some basic composition. The course however was only 10 weeks and at the end I was left feeling that I wanted to go deeper and develop more creatively; something that  I’ve never considered before. I was hooked.

With a bit of research I found the Open College of Arts and was immediately drawn to the Art of Photography course, which ticked all the boxes of what I was looking for. As well as that  I’ve had to deal with a recent family tragedy and felt it was the right time to start a new positive outlet.

I’m now ready to go, waiting for my course materials and have my Canon EOS 450D and Kodak C713 Zoom Digital at the ready.I’m not sure if I’m going to go on and build courses towards a Degree, but what I hope is that this will be a challenging but rewarding experience that I can share with my family and friends.