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

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It’s a sign of the times

On my workshops I always suggest to students that they keep their eyes open for things that are out of the ordinary or are a bit of a contradiction.  The signs that people put up can fit into that category, and photographing them is a type of street or documentary photography.

Sometimes a sign appears quite normal at first glance but then it “does your head in ” because of the information it does, or doesn’t, contain.  The mystery here is what happens on the 28th March…

Sometimes a sign tells a story that make you worry.  This sign, seen in Winchester, had clearly been in place quite a while.  Whilst I loved the idea that the mechanism was “at fault”, it was obvious that the building’s maintenance left a lot to be desired.  The sign on the main exit door told so much about the rest of the building.

I think this sign tells its own story.  I particularly like the missing bottom right corner.  The sign has been used so many times that the Bluetac has ripped the corner off.  Austerity?

This sign was important enough to put on a metal sheet.  The sheet was screwed to the wall with care so it was straight and level.  What went wrong, and when did it become just a blank metal plaque?  There is some evidence that something has been Sellotaped on to the plaque.  Sellotape?  Standards have slipped!

Just some signs on the wall or in windows, but they can tell us so much.

Up close and personal: Part 3

Welcome to the first Gale Photography blog post of 2018!

Yesterday I was fine-tuning and timing my new “Macro Photography” talk.  I reckoned it was looking and sounding pretty good, but I felt the ending needed a theme.  Macro photography can be done anywhere, so I set myself a little challenge.  It was to spend no more than 30 minutes taking some macro images.  The rules were that I could not leave the house, and I must use a hand-held LED torch as my light source.

The choice of theme was one of those “lightbulb moments”, so it was only fitting that my first subject was – a lightbulb.  It was one of those lower-energy filament bulbs that has what looks like a car headlight bulb in the middle.  Popping the torch behind the bulb gave interesting back lighting.  It’s got a real steampunk/industrial look to it, and because it’s a semi-silhouette it’s almost monochrome.

We had a good friend over for lunch on Monday and made a dessert called “lemon surprise pudding”.  It’s delicious, and has the juice of 2 lemons and the zest of 4 lemons.  The means that there zested lemons left over.  After a couple of days what’s left of the peel and the pith underneath starts to dry out.  Lighting it at an angle brought out the texture of the pith and the little bits of colour from the remaining peel.  It’s like a lemony moon.

Another industrial look for the final image.  It’s a powerbank for my mobile phone and has a ribbed metal case.  Lighting from the lower right gave strong highlights and shadows.  Composing across a near diagonal gave a very odd optical illusion.  Our brains don’t seem to like diagonal lines and always want to straighten them.  In doing so the edges of the image go completely crooked, even though they are not!  It looks like a trapezoid rather than a straight rectangle.  You can check it’s really straight by putting the edge against a known straight line.

I popped these images, and a few others, into my talk and it now finishes by showing how inclusive macro photography is.  I’m looking forward to giving the talk for the first time in February.

Happy Christmas from Derek at Gale Photography

It’s that time of the year again.  The time where we review the year gone by and look forward to the year to come.  First though, for some, we have the celebration that is Christmas.

Photographing Christmas trees is a bit harder than you think.  You need to balance the ambient light and the tree lights.  I used a handy camera support (a coffee table), to ensure a sharp image.  A little bit of fill flash brightened up the shadows.

Your own tree, if you have one, may be larger or smaller.  This tiny Christmas decoration-sized wooden tree has got a lovely grain texture.  No fill flash here as it would have made the grain less visible.  The background is the corner of the room, which gives a blend of lighter areas and shadows.

However you celebrate over the next week or so I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  Get ready for some “phabulous photographic phun” in 2018!

There are images everywhere!

Last weekend I was up in Manchester for a social event.  As usual I took my little Lumix TZ-70 along with me.  It’s got a broad zoom range and is eminently pocketable, so I always have it with me.  Being a photographer means that I am looking for, and seeing, images everywhere.

There was a Christmas Market in Albert Square in front of the very impressive Town Hall.  It was very, very busy indeed!  A big illuminated Santa and lights at the market cried out for a bit of camera movement.  I made sure you could still read “Merry Christmas Manchester” by keeping the camera still for a bit of the time the shutter was open.  There’s lots of colour.

I’ve been taking “view from hotel bedroom window” images for a long time now.  This is from our Manchester hotel early in the morning.  To get it I had to tuck myself under the window blind.  It’s made an intriguing image which has the reflection of the blind cord as well as the tall buildings opposite.  It’s a much more muted colour palette than Santa.

At the social event I got a little notebook out of my Christmas cracker.  It has a cover made from holographic paper, and the spectra from it caught my eye every time I moved it.  I reckoned that there was an abstract image to be found in those spectra.  When I got home I put a macro lens on my Olympus E-M10 and took some out of focus images of the highlights.  I used a single-LED torch to make the colours strong.

Three images with varying scale and varying colour palette.  There were hundreds more I could have taken.  Try looking around you in different way and you can start to see them yourself.

It’s a big pointy tower!

I spent a weekend in London recently, and stayed in Southwark.  The main architectural feature of that area is The Shard, which is over 1000 feet high.  At present it’s the tallest building in the European Union, and the fourth-highest building in Europe.

It stands well away from other very tall buildings, so it tends to dominate the view of the area.  As I was there for a few days I was able to see it lit from different directions and also at night.

The viewing platform on top of the new extension to Tate Modern has a very good view of The Shard.  I did not have a tripod with me, and the hand rail has an annoying curve which makes resting a camera on it in a stable way a bit hard.  I persevered, and managed to get a sharp image with a shutter speed of 0.8 seconds.

One morning, whilst the sun was at quite a low angle, The Shard was almost silhouetted against a moody sky.  There was just a sliver of brightness from the glass panels on each side.  It really did look like a bit of broken glass.

The following morning was very different!  The clouds were very low and for a while the top of The Shard was hidden in them.  I did have to apply a bit positive exposure compensation to stop everything being grey.  I did feel for those poor people who had paid millions for a flat with a view of London…

As I said, it really does dominate the area and it’s reflected in everything, even puddles.  This was a windy day and I had to wait till the wind had dropped a bit otherwise The Shard came out a bit too abstract.

One building; lots of variations.  It’s nice to have had the time to see how things change.