Gale Photography bio picture
  • Welcome to Gale Photography

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

    If you are looking to improve your photographic creativity, skills or knowledge, check out the Photography Training pages.

    For beautiful Fine Art images that showcase my personal vision take a look at the Fine Art Photography pages.

    You can keep up to date with me by subscribing to "Writing with Light", my e-mail newsletter, which has special offers, photography tips, and news. Just go to "Contact Me" above and click the “Please subscribe me!” link. I won't pass on your details to anyone else, and it's easy to unsubscribe.

    You can also automatically receive updates when I write new blog posts. Just press the "RSS Feed" button above.

    Looking forward to hearing from you! In the meantime read my blog posts below. They're full of useful info...

    For Gale Photography's Cookies and Privacy policy please click here.

  • Follow @galephoto on Twitter

Our eyes don’t see in rectangles

I don’t know about you, but my eyes don’t see things framed by rectangles.  Cameras, on the other hand, do see in rectangles and we have to take that into account when we take a photograph.  Having forced the view of the world into the rectangle defined by our camera sensor, you can use the edges and corners as strong compositional elements.

This rather wonderful building in the Hauser and Wirth garden near Bruton, Somerset, had a large square aperture.  By taking it at an angle I have turned it into a trapezium.  One of the corners of the trapezium is in the corner of the frame, and the other corners of the the trapezium are on the frame’s edges.  It’s divided the image into triangles and polygons.  The black and white treatment makes it simpler.

The story of this path is a simple one; it runs from bottom left to top right.  The little bit of the curve in the top right makes the shape more interesting.  This needs to be in colour, as the difference in colour between the fields and the path line is important.

In this image I have use three frame corners as line origins.  It wasn’t quite like this in “real life”, (whatever that is!), so I used Perspective Crop in Photoshop to make it fit into the corners.  It’s a blend of the polygons in the first image and the curves in the second image.

Those camera sensor rectangles are forced upon us, so use them to make your images better!

Pattern pictures or Patton pictures?

I recently went to a dinner to raise money for Normandy veterans.  As well as the veterans there were some World War 2 re-enactors.  One in particular stood out as he was the absolute spit of controversial WW2 General George S Patton.  The level of detail he had gone to to replicate Patton’s equipment was extraordinary.  I made it a project to capture how he looked without getting his whole body in.  My mobile phone made it easier.

Here’s Patton’s three-star general helmet and “swagger” stick/riding stick.  The stick is a nod to his pre-war days in the cavalry.  It was hard to avoid getting me in the helmet reflections.

He was famous for wearing a Colt single action army pattern revolver with initialled ivory grips in a holster on his right hip.  He sometimes wore a 357 Magnum on the other hip.  The quality of the costume was amazing.  If you look hard at the shiny little button on the holster you can see me in a dinner suit!

Also as a reference to his cavalry days were his brown leather riding boots.  They went well with the wood of the floor.  The passing leg was a happy accident.

The sequence of images runs from top to toe, and you can assemble them into a sort of whole body shot (if you use your imagination), so it’s a portrait without the person’s face.

 

One or two or three?

Last week I was leading a photography holiday in Cornwall.  On one day I had a chance to go for a walk between St Ives and Lelant, via Carbis Bay.  It was fabulous weather with bright sunshine and a good breeze. Near to Carbis Bay the view from the cliffs was stunning.  There were just a few people on the beach and there were gulls circling.   I got out my TZ-100 camera and took a group of three people on the beach.  I waited till a gull was in shot to give some balance.

This is the original image with three people and a gull.

I tried a simple edit in Photoshop to remove the third person.  I think it’s changed the story to be more about the relationship of couple and their romantic walk on the beach.

Losing the couple and keeping the single person gave yet another story.  Now it’s more about solitude, or perhaps loneliness.

I put those three images up on Facebook and asked which one people preferred.  More people preferred the one with the three people, but there was a unanimous wish that the gull was gone, as they thought it was a distraction.  This final image has no gull!  I think I agree with them as it’s now about the three people and their relationship to the sea.

Moral?  The only good gull is one that’s not there.

Crossing the Rubicon.

Well, it’s actually the River Severn between England and Wales, but the point is the same.  This river has one of the largest tidal ranges in the world, so crossing it has always been a bit challenging.  It has fast currents, and from time to time a tidal bore, which is well worth seeking out.  One of the 20th-Century crossing routes for cars was via Aust, and it ran until 1966.  There are still traces of it to be found close to the M48 Severn Bridge which opened in 1966.

Reeds have taken over the slipway and it’s getting hard to imagine that a regular car ferry service ever operated there.  The original gates, derelict toilet block and pedestrian turnstile are still there but may be demolished soon.  Here I dropped down to a low level to get a silhouette of the gate against the sky.  It was the type of sky that looked best in black and white, so I used a Black & White Art filter on my Panasonic Lumix Tz-100 compact camera.  It’s the same for all these images.

The Second Severn Crossing (SSC) is not too far from the Aust Ferry gate.  It’s a cable-stayed bridge, unlike the original Severn Bridge which is a suspension bridge, and was opened in 1996.  There were some fabulous rain clouds about which gave great interest to the sky.  The showers from this one missed me but those from another one didn’t!  I carefully composed to get the bridge centre section in the bottom right-hand corner.

Later in the day, when the light had changed, I moved closer to the SSC to get the late afternoon sunlight on the edge of the road deck.  It was at the extreme of my camera’s zoom range, which can be little soft, but the contrasty light makes it look sharp enough. I’ve lowered the shadows to give a good dark feel to the image.

The moral is to take time to visit the land around bridges sometimes, rather than always crossing them as soon as you can.

“Everywhere you go, always take the weather with you.”

Last week I led a photography holiday in Brecon, Wales, for HF Holidays.  I had been checking the weather forecast for the week and had been a little bit apprehensive about how we might be affected.  There was rain forecast, and heavy rain at that.  I had a fallback position, but there’s only so much you can do with churches and tea shops.

One place we were going to was the Sgwd Gladwys waterfall on the Afon Pyrddin near Pontneddfechan.  Some people who had been there the day before said it was pretty but was just a trickle.  Luckily for us it rained, hard, overnight the day we were due to be there.  The river was raging and the waterfall was fabulous.  It cried out for a long exposure so I got out my tripod, my 10-stop ND filter and used an 8-second exposure on my EM10 mk3.  I’ve bumped up the contrast and converted to black and white in Photoshop.

The following day we were at Nash Point on the Glamorgan Heritage coast.  Again rain was threatened, but the best bit of weather we had was the strong onshore wind.  It was bringing big waves into the beach and they were crashing over the rocks at the base of the cliffs.   I’ve used a 50/50 sky/sea composition in this mobile phone shot.  It’s said that a 50/50 landscape like this hasn’t got good composition, but the cliff mass on the right-hand side balances the whole thing to my mind.

On the last day we were at a red kite feeding centre.  These birds are now very common in some areas of England and Wales after a hugely successful reintroduction programme.  In a crowd of over 70 birds it’s hard to follow an individual bird as it swoops down to get the food, but sometimes you can be lucky with the shapes two birds make in the sky.  The weather was fabulous!  The rain had cleared the air and the mixture of clouds and blue sky gave a good neutral background to the birds.  I needed to use a bit of positive exposure compensation to get the exposure right.  I think one was impersonating a kestrel and the other a vulture.

I was worried about the weather but the heavy rain and strong wind made the images better.