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

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How to make litter beautiful!

Whilst on a countryside walk recently I came across this huge pile of discarded shotgun cartridges on the edge of a wood.  There were thousands!  I wondered why the people who had assiduously gathered them up could not have then disposed of them in a responsible way.  Whilst the metal parts might rust away over time, the plastic parts will hang around for decades.

In an “out of the strong came something sweet” moment, I decided to try and make something beautiful out of the ugliness.  There was a good mixture of colours, so I set my Huawei Mate 10 Pro phone camera to “Silky Water” light painting mode.

I found a suitable section of cartridges and moved the phone in a smooth straight line.  The use of such an additive multi-exposure mode has reduced the cartridges to a composition of shapes and colours with a sense of movement along the frame.  I was pleased with how such an ugly thing had been altered by a simple technique.

Choosing a smaller section of cartridges I moved the phone in more of a curve/rotation.  I kept the phone still for part of the exposure to blend some sharpness with the blur.  If you look very hard you can see more of the individual cartridges, but they are hard to recognise unless you know what they are.  Again, the ugliness has turned to beauty.

I suppose the moral is that even the least promising subject, the result of other people’s selfishness, can be used to your photographic advantage.

Lockdown wanderings: Tracks and Traces #2.

The weather recently has not been conducive to getting one’s permitted daily exercise.  It’s been very cold, pretty windy and pretty wet.  Despite that I thought that popping up to the Ridgeway a few miles from my house would be a good idea.

The Ridgeway is an ancient trackway on the Marlborough Downs and it has various lumps and bumps visible near it.  Sometimes they are ancient burial mounds, and sometimes, like this one, they are just reservoirs.

It’s a grab shot.  I saw the person walking towards it, got out my TZ-100 compact and had time for one shot before they were not in a good place.  The B&W conversion makes it simpler and more timeless.  It rained hard soon after…

It had been raining on previous days and there were many puddles on the track.  It was so windy the puddles had ripples!  I dropped down and shot a detail of the ripples with my mobile.  I did a bit of post-processing to bump up the contrast.  It’s hard to tell the scale.  They could be big waves shot from a cliff.

It then started raining with a vengeance.  The wind made my brolly unusable, so I took shelter in a small copse.  There was a derelict building in the copse, and it would have been rude not to take a look inside.  I think it had been a pump house for a nearby reservoir.  Part of the roof was still present so it offered some extra shelter from the rain.  There was some graffiti on the wall and I was pleased to see that someone had provided an update to their relationship news.  That’s so rare to see.

A challenging day for exercise, but one with a few photographic surprises.

Lockdown wanderings: Tracks and Traces.

Almost a year into the Covid crisis, (though it feels like 5 years), and we are in lockdown again here in leafy Oxfordshire.  We are permitted to take exercise outside of our homes once a day, so I go for a walk as often as I can.  These walks are a great chance to look closer at my area than in normal times, and one thing that struck me was the number of traces of things that were important in the past but have now lost that importance.

This sign outside a local farm is a good example.  Someone went to the trouble of making a sign and edging it with metal strip to protect it.  They’ve added a bit of design by chamfering the corners.  Leaving it as right angles would have been easier, so this shows that some care went into the making of the sign.  Clearly that care has gone and the sign is no longer used.  There’s just one small price of white plastic held on with a rusting staple to show it was ever used.

Further down that road there is a railway footbridge over the Great Western main line.  The bridge was erected to replace a level crossing that was closed after the nearby railway station was closed and demolished.  The road just comes to an abrupt stop at some concrete barriers and a fence.  There are still road markings to indicate that “No Overtaking” is permitted.  It’s all a bit moot as traffic can’t go any further.

At the top of the road there is a shop on the corner.  In the old days it would have been supplied by carts and then small vans.  These days deliveries arrive in large trucks that stop in the road to disgorge their cargoes of groceries.  They reverse from the High Street into the smaller road and oft times get it wrong.  The wall of the shop bears witness to multiple contact from vehicles.  You know it happens often, as the damage from one incident has itself been damaged.

On your daily exercise what traces you can find?

 

Have a great Christmas and a better New Year.

It has to be said that this year has been one of the strangest and hardest I’ve lived through, but next week is Christmas, so it’s a chance to relax.  Lockdown did give me the chance to improve my own skills though, and I’m pleased with that.

Over the Christmas period and the soon-to-come New Year you can also try out new photographic ideas, especially if you have some Christmas lights up.

Anyone can photograph the lights in focus, but why not think about how they might look if you deliberately get them out of focus?  It’s called “bokeh”, and you get the best sharp-edged circles if you shoot with your lens aperture wide open.  Use manual focus of course.

As well as photographing the lights directly you could look for their reflections.  Try mirrors, picture frame glass, or in this case a brass light switch.  Things that aren’t completely flat are best as they produce distorted, abstract versions of the lights.

However you celebrate, I hope you stay safe and that you have an equally safe New Year.

PS  I won’t be leading any holidays for HF next year, so will have more time to offer one-to-one training.  What do you want to learn?

They call me mellow yellow*.

Even in these long, greyer winter days the world around us is full of colour – a lot of colour.  Sometimes there is too much colour, and it’s worth simplifying your images by selecting things that have just one major colour.  Here I have chosen yellow.

This abstract image is a macro shot of a failed LED filament light bulb.  I’ve carefully placed the main, in focus, line on the diagonal and let the other lines fend for themselves.  The yellow sleeve over the LED filament is to give the correct colour balance, in this case “warm white”.

Our streets are full of signs ordering us to do things, or ordering us not to do things.  In this case it’s the infamous double yellow lines that mean “No Parking”.   Well, here they have bred and have made some quadruple yellow lines!  The image is definitely related to the macro shot with a strong diagonal composition.

I’m fond of “found images”.  While I was having a new battery fitted to my car at Halfords recently, (which turned into a literal two-man job with lots of huffing and puffing), I noticed these number plate screws on top of a post nearby.  It was serendipity that the yellow one was on the yellow paint, and the black one was on the black paint, and that they were pointing in the right direction to give a flow through the image.

In all of these images there is a hint of  blue, the complementary colour to yellow, so there’s a good balance of colours.

Go and find your colour!

* For those of a certain age this will mean something.