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

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Watch what you are doing!

If you sell things on eBay how do you make your adverts stand out and sell quickly or for more money?  Well, one way is to make sure your photography is as good as it can be.  I have seen many examples of photography on eBay where a little thought would have made the images much better.

Here’s a watch I bought cheaply on eBay.  It’s a Kered, and the sharp eyed among you will have norticed that my first name backwards is Kered.  How cool is that?  Anyway, I plonked it down on a window sill in bright sunshine and took a picture with my mobile.  The main problem is that the sunshine is causing too many shadows and bright highlights.  The body of the watch is a bit small as well.  Having said that I have seen much, much worse images where it’s actually hard to see what’s for sale!

The image is improved somewhat by putting in a shady part of the window sill.  The contrast is reduced which makes the details on the watch face easier to see.  It’s a bit bigger, but the background is a problem.  The wood grain is somewhat distracting.

The wood grain problem is easily solved by using a bit of black cloth as the background.  The size problem is easily solved by getting as close as you can.  Your potential eBay customers are buying a watch not the window sill!  I’ve used a bit of white paper on the side away from the window to reflect a bit of light into the shadow areas.  A crop and a tweak in Snapseed and “voila!”, a much better image than the first one.

There’s no fancy kit used here, just my mobile phone.  As with most photography the most important bit of kit is between your ears. I used the light from the sun, (which is free!), and I turned my flash off, as the light from that is too harsh.

PS  The Kered watch in this case is a Seiko in disguise.  It’s very elegant as the winding/setting crown is hidden.

Look for images everywhere!

I look for images everywhere, but the trouble that it can delay my non-photographic life.  Here’s an example:

Last week I was going back to my car from shopping at a local supermarket.  I pushed my trolley towards the trolly park and saw a long row of other trollies.  I saw a pattern, and wondered what they looked like viewed from a low angle.  It was easy to pop my mobile phone inside one of the trollies.

There was a great “to infinity” effect with the trollies’ metal frames.  I did a quick B&W conversion to remove a distracting background colour and to simplify the image.  I also did a Perspective Crop to make sure it all lined up nicely.

These trollies are clearly an inspiration, (or I spend too long lurking in supermarket car parks),  because a week earlier, on a very wet day, I had spotted a reflection in a big puddle in the car park.  I got low down to get a good angle and reflect the sky. I’ve inverted the image in post-processing.   The lower frames of the trollies look, to me, like the hammers in the video for Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”.

I do do more interesting things than shopping, such as the washing up, but once again I got caught by the seeing images bug.  One particular saucepan we have has a hole in the lid.  It’s just right to generate little bubbles when it’s put into the soapy water.  The bubbles formed a hexagonal-close-packed array.  It’s common in nature; think honeycomb.  I popped my macro lens on to my mobile phone got in really close.

I said that looking for images all the time can delay my non-photographic life.  Thinking a bit more about these images makes me wonder if I actually have a non-photographic life!

Putting the graphic into photographic

This is a post about composing your image.  Some folks go on about the so-called “Rule of Thirds” as if it was the law.  Spoiler alert: it’s not!  By all means compose your images carefully, but don’t get caught by the “it’s the rules” trap.  Sometimes images cry out to be treated as graphic design rather than a record of what’s there.

Take this Christmas present.  The box was made from corrugated cardboard which picked up the strongly directional sunlight.  I placed the box so that a shadow fell across it.  The shadow starts from one corner and divides the image into two almost halves.   I’ve put the red label so part of it starts from a corner.  Making the label a semi-circle gives it ambiguity.  It’s now all about the shapes the things make and their relationships, rather than what it is.

I’ve used an extreme composition in this image of an oak tree.  The graduated blue sky makes a fabulous contrast against the branches of the tree.  Inverting the image means that it’s no longer clear as to what the scale or subject is.  Once again it’s about the design rather than the subject.  Those who love the “Rule of Thirds” had best look elsewhere…

 

First (Street) among equals?

Last weekend I was up in Manchester for a social event.  I stayed in the First Street district, which is all shiny new office and entertainment buildings.  There’s a lot of glass, and a lot of rectangles.  I popped out one morning with my Lumix TZ-100 compact camera to try and capture the feel of the area.

Some of the architecture is a bit disturbing, such as this, the INNSIDE hotel.  It’s a bit odd standing underneath a large lump of a building that has no visible means of support.  I was careful to ensure I got a nicely symmetrical image.  It’s a shame the glass balcony didn’t quite line up!

Some concessions to aesthetics have been made with the frontages of some buildings.   These large blue glass panels contrasted well with the smaller panels on the other part of the building.  I zoomed in to simplify and abstract the image.  I’ve used Perspective Crop in Photoshop to get it all square to the image frame.

Later that morning I went to the Christmas market in the square outside the Town Hall.  From there I could see the sunlight shining through the roof “blade” of the 554 ft Beetham Tower skyscraper.  Exposing for that light, and letting the less lit areas go very dark, gave a composition of white, blue and black.  I was very impressed with how well the lens/sensor coped with the extreme lighting conditions, showing little flare.

It would be interesting to see how the area looks in softer light.  That’s for next time I think.