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  • Welcome to Gale Photography

    Hello! I'm Derek Gale, Fine Art photographer and photography trainer.

    I make beautiful Fine Art images that showcase my personal vision. I also love passing on my photographic ideas and knowledge, so if you want to improve your photographic creativity and technical skill do get in touch.

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It’s long, but it’s not wobbly!

I try not to blog about equipment, but here’s a post about… equipment!

I’m using my micro 4/3rds camera a lot these days.  It’s light, small, and has excellent image quality.  I’ve got three prime lenses; a 14 mm wide-angle, a 20 mm f1.7, and a 60 mm portrait lens.  With micro 4/3rds lenses the declared focal length needs to be multiplied by 2 to give the effective focal length.  The 14mm is therefore a 28 mm and so on.

I have been feeling the lack of a longer reach lens.  Although I have an adapter to fit my Nikon telephoto lenses they are only manual focus, so I decided to buy a native micro 4/3rds lens.  After doing quite a bit research I recently bought a Lumix 45-150 mm lens.  It’s the equivalent of a 90 mm to 300 mm lens, so has reasonable reach.  Mostly importantly it has image stabilisation (IS), which reduces camera shake.  My Panasonic camera body does not have IS built in.

"Cosmos flower"

“Cosmos flower”

The lens has a modest maximum aperture of f5.6 at its longest focal length of 150 mm, but, with a reasonable separation between the subject and the background, you can get a nicely blurred background.  As shown with this image of a cosmos flower in the garden

"Japanese maple"

“Japanese maple”

It’s a pretty sharp lens, and there’s plenty of detail in this shot of our Japanese maple (Acer palmatum dissectum “Red Dragon”).  I’ve added the vignnette! Even shooting on a dull day at around 1/60th of a second there’s no camera shake due to the IS system’s assistance.  Normally I would try and shoot at the reciprocal of the focal length; in this case at least 1/150 of a second.

"Abstract water"

“Abstract water”

The longer reach allowed me to get this image.  I was on a bridge over the Kennet and Avon Canal near Newbury and saw the wonderful reflections of the clouds and sun in the water.  Without the new lens I would have been too far away.  The movement of the water has produced some beautiful patterns.

I’m looking forward to shooting some portraits with the lens, so look out for another post.

“Wot we did on our holidaze”

So, you’ve packed your suitcase, beach towel, sun cream, money and passport.  What do you do next to ensure a trouble-free holiday as far as photography is concerned?  Here are some things to do before you leave home, and some to do when you are on holiday.

"Windsurfer @ Kimmeridge"

“Windsurfer @ Kimmeridge”

Before you leave home:

Firstly, charge your all camera batteries. If you don’t have spare battery now’s the time to buy one (or two!).

Move all your older images from your memory cards to your computer, and then use “Format” to delete all the older images and make the card ready for new images.  If you don’t know how to do this take a look at your manual.  It’s often in the “Setup” menu.

Using an indelible marker write your surname and postcode (+ UK) on your memory cards.  It improves your chances of getting a lost memory card back.

Buy some spare memory cards, (they are very cheap these days), and a separate case to safely store them away from your camera bag.  I use a little Lowepro memory card case which fits on my trouser belt.

If you are going away for a while, pack a battery charger.

"Rock pool patterns"

“Rock pool patterns”

And while you are away:

Keep your camera out of sight until you need it.  I’ve seen folks wandering through tourist areas with very expensive Leicas round their necks.  Don’t be a target!

Do the same when you are on the beach.  Keep your camera out of sight, and out of the way of potentially damaging sea spray or sand.  Salty water and sand are not good company for lenses and sensitive electronics. If you have used sun screen, wipe your hands before you use the camera, as sun screen can attract sand.  A plastic bag to put the camera in is a good idea – but don’t leave it in direct sun!

Leave any full memory cards in your hotel room safe or hotel main safe.  If you are touring around then keep them on you in the little belt case.   A camera can be replaced, but the images on your cards can’t.

If you will be away for quite a while, consider uploading your images to a cloud-based service, such as Dropbox or Picasa, as you go.

"The big wave!"

“The big wave!”

Follow these guidelines and you should come back with great memories and a working camera.

Happy holiday!!

It’s in the frame.

In the “old days” we were always told to use some sort of frame in the foreground of our images to “hold in the edges”.  Whilst some advice from then is no longer so useful, such as always having the sun over your shoulder when taking  a portrait, the use of frames is still valid.

Windows have frames, and you can use them to frame your images.  You then need to decide whether to be inside looking out, or outside looking in.  Take a look at these  slightly unconventional portraits…

"Framed portrait looking out"

“Framed portrait looking out”

Here I’m inside a garden shed, with very cobwebby/dusty glass.  The dirty glass softens the view out, reduces the contrast, and makes the portrait a bit mysterious.  The green jacket and lots of greenery in the background have lent a green tone to the skin in the shadow areas.

"Framed portrait looking in"

“Framed portrait looking in”

Here I’m outside looking in.  The scale of the face relative to the window is quite different to the previous image.  The face is giving scale to the, glassless, window rather than the other way round.  Again were aren’t looking at a pristine building, so there’s a story of change and decay here somewhere.

Frames?  Very useful, although how you might frame a print of these images gets interesting!

It’s also all about the angle…

In my last post I wrote about the angle of the light.  Today’s post is about the angle of view and also the viewpoint you take the image from.  These examples were taken today of some fabulous poppies in my neighbour’s garden.

"Long lens poppies"

“Long lens poppies”

For this image I chose a long telephoto lens and I was at my normal height.  The lens has the equivalent field of view of a 600 mm lens on a full frame camera.  The poppies are clearly shown against an out of focus background.

"Low angle wide-angle poppies"

“Low angle wide-angle poppies”

Here I’ve used a wide-angle lens and got low down against the sun.  The field of view is the equivalent of a ca. 20 mm lens on a full-frame camera.  You can see much more of the poppies’ environment, and the low angle adds some drama with the petals now backlit.

"Low angle long-lens  poppies"

“Low angle long-lens poppies”

In this final image I’ve used the low viewpoint with the long lens.  The image has the backlit petals, and the long lens isolation.

All I’ve done with these images is to change my lens focal length and my viewpoint height.  They’re simple changes that make a massive change to how your images look.

Get out, get low, and give it a go!

It’s all about the angle

I may have mentioned it before, but the angle of the light on your subject can make a massive difference to your images.  With natural light you are more limited than with artificial light, but it’s always worth looking closely at your subject and working out where the light should come from to give the best image.  With moveable artificial light sources you have complete control.

Here are four macro images of some paper packaging material.  They were taken with a fixed camera, a fixed subject, and a moveable light (electronic flash).  All I have done is changed where the light comes from.

"Flat frontal light"

“Flat frontal light”

In this image the flash is close to the camera’s pop up flash.  The light is from the front, flat, and uninteresting.  There’s no real idea of the 3-dimensional structure of the paper.

"Light to the left a bit"

“Light to the left a bit”

Here the light has been moved so it’s coming from the left of the frame at about 45 degrees to the paper.  We’re now getting some shadows (large and small), which begins to show some dimensionality.

"Light to the left a lot"

“Light to the left a lot”

Moving the light further to the left, so the light is coming at a shallow angle across the paper, gives this image.  There are now lots of strong shadows, and you get a really good idea of how much structure there is in the paper.

"Light from behind"

“Light from behind”

This final image shows the light coming from behind the paper.  There’s a loss of depth information compared to the previous image, but there’s now a lovely rim light on some of the holes, and the paper’s texture is much more visible.

Four light directions, four looks.  You have the power to make the image look how you want it.