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    Hello, and welcome to my website! I'm Derek Gale, photography trainer and Fine Art photographer.

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Take your photographic chances – once more

I was on my way out to the studio a couple of days ago and saw an odd shape on the door.  I thought it might be a leaf caught in a cobweb, but it just didn’t look right.  On closer examination it turned out to be a pair of mating Poplar Hawk Moths.  I’ve not seen that many Hawk Moths in my life, so this was a photographic chance I simply couldn’t miss.  I ran and got two Olympus E-M10 bodies.  I fitted one with my Nikon-fit Sigma EX macro lens and adapter, and the other with my Panasonic 100-300mm lens and an extension tube.  I did need to focus closer than the lens would normally focus.

The moths were in the shade so the contrast was nice and low.  It was quite awkward to get into a good position due to parked cars, but after a bit of back bending I was there.  The female was somewhat larger than the male; it’s all those eggs she was carrying.  She was also much more colourful.

After a while the sun moved round so the moths were lit more brightly, and the contrast went up.  I put the camera on the door below the moths and flipped up the rear screen so I could frame the image.  The male, with his larger antennae, now looks a bit like a biplane aircraft.

The angled sun was picking out the wing patterns and scales so I began to get closer.  I didn’t want to get too close as they were somewhat occupied, and it would have been rude to disturb them.  The female’s wings and furry thorax have lots of detail and beauty.

 

Finally I focused on just one wing of the female.  You can see each individual wing scale and the pattern is fabulous.  The wings are quite big; the female has a wingspan of around 70 to 100 mm.  It’s a good-sized insect!  They were mating for several hours, but eventually left.  I may never see anything like this again, and it was literally in my own back yard.

Take your photographic chances!

My first 2018 HF holiday completed.

Last week I was leading my first HF Holidays photography holiday of the year.  It was in the fantastic county of Derbyshire.  We were based just up a side valley from beautiful Dovedale, so it was an easy walk down.

Dovedale on a summer half-term weekend was very busy, but if you moved away from the most popular sites, such as the famous Dovedale stepping stones, it was a bit quieter.  We concentrated on the weirs and cascades, and there were great images to be found.  This small weir section looks like migraine zigzags!  I had to underexpose by 2 stops to get the highlights as I wanted them.

As well as visiting sites in Derbyshire where water has played a major role; Dovedale, New Mills, Buxton, Bugsworth Basin (to name but a few), we also visited the atmospheric Magpie Mine, an old lead mine.  There are many mines and quarries in Derbyshire where man has extracted riches from the ground, and in fact continues to do so.  This image shows the replica horse-powered lifting engine.  It’s near two very deep shafts and the original one was used to haul miners back to the surface  Rather them than me!

During the holiday we had a free day, which I used to research potential sites for future photography holidays.  I was struck by this lone tree near a huge abandoned quarry complex near Castleton.  The cropped letterbox composition gave the best shape to the image.  Nature has a way of coming back.

I’m looking forward to my next HF Holidays lead in July.

Robert KimberleyJuly 14, 2018 - 9:21 pm

Thanks for holiday tuition at Church Stretton.

It’s all a bit Gothy in Whitby.

Last week I was up in Derbyshire and Yorkshire doing some research for a couple of photography holidays I am leading for HF Holidays.  One of the places I visited was Whitby and by a happy coincidence the famous Whitby Goth Weekend was happening.  There were lots of people in fabulous outfits and all seemed happy to pose for photos.  It would have been rude not to…

One of the key locations for the weekend is the ruins of Whitby Abbey.  It’s a real eyecatcher up on a hill overlooking the town, and is about as Gothic as they come.  I used the Dynamic Monochrome Art Effect on my Olympus EM-1o.  I’m not too proud to use the Art Effects from time to time, though I save a RAW file as well of course.  I exposed for the sky to give a nice dark mood.

Some of the headgear on show was pretty full-on.  This person was in full-length leather and studs, but I concentrated on their mask and hat with horns.  It looks a bit like a selective colour image but it’s not.  The wall behind was white which made the red on the horns stand out very clearly.

On the subject of headgear, this guy’s top hat was one of the tallest I saw.  He was wearing a very elegant black jacket and neck decoration.  I have reduced the colour saturation to make him look a little washed out.  Those vampires do take their toll you know!

I managed to avoid all the vampires and escaped, so I was able to get all my holiday research done.  Phew!

“Spring has sprung, the grass has riz.”

…as the old saying goes.  Its not just the grass that’s growing well here in the south of England.  The spring flowers have started flowering too.  Having looked at and admired them the question arises of how best to photograph them.  If you want to get close-up to a flower you can stand at a distance and use a telephoto lens to simulate closeness, or you can really get close with a macro lens.   They each have a different look, as the relationship between the subject and the background changes.

This lovely primula flower was growing in the lawn so I mowed round it.  I got a plastic sheet and lay on the ground to get the best angle.  The plastic sheet was to keep me dry!  I used my 100-300mm lens set at around 180mm.  That’s the equivalent of a 360mm lens on full-frame.  The very diffuse background, a dark hedge, has appeared to come a bit closer due to perspective compression, but it’s nicely controlled.

These tulips were taken with a 50mm macro lens, giving an equivalent focal length of 100mm.  I had to get a lot closer to the tulips, and even at the same aperture as the telephoto zoom lens the background is less diffuse.  This is due to the greater depth of field of the shorter focal length lens.  There’s still enough focus separation to isolate the nearer flower though.

There were reports in the media this week that the spring flowers might be over more quickly than usual.  It’s best to get out and appreciate them while you can.  Oh, and take some pictures too!

Another exercise in Movement

On my “Movement in Photography” workshops, and in my camera club talks, I discuss the use of camera movement and subject movement, but sometimes an image that involves neither cries out to be taken!

These are battery-powered LED Xmas lights taken with a wide-aperture lens (f1.4) and defocused to give nice big “bokeh” circles.  There’s lots of colour mixing going on in the overlapping areas.  It’s like a very complicated set of Venn diagrams.

The LED lights appear to be illuminated all the time, but if you move the camera another story emerges.  Swinging the camera from one side to the other whilst the shutter was open gave a series of dotted lines. This shows that the LEDs are flashing on and off.  I assume it’s a power saving thing.

More LEDs here, but this time in the form of gloves with LEDs in the fingers.  With the camera firmly on a tripod I made the shape of a person by moving the gloves whilst the shutter was open.  It’s not too easy to do!

So that’s a static subject, a moving camera and a moving subject.  You can learn more about these techniques, and lots more, if you book for my photography holiday in October with HF Holidays.  It’s in the fantastic Shropshire Hills.  You can find out more here.