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

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Street is neat!

I recently visited the lovely French city of Avignon. It’s famous for having a bridge that goes nowhere and for a Popes’ Palace with no Popes.  It does have a lot of tourists however! The Rhone river cruisers stop there, so it’s a very busy place with tour groups all over the main attractions.  It’s a great place to practice people watching and for street photography.


The old bridge is very interesting, and is best seen from a bit of a distance, such as from one of the main road bridges.  There’s quite a bit of graffiti in the city, some negative and some positive, like this uplifting message.  The weather was great with good visibility.  You can see Mont Ventoux in the background past the old bridge.  No, I did not dance on (sur), or under (sous), the old bridge, but I did sit high up on the main square with a 40-150 mm lens.


As I said there were lots of tourists, especially in the main square, the Place du Palais.  These days there were also a lot of selfie sticks!  The philosophy seems to be that unless you are in the picture people won’t believe that you were there.  This gave rise to lots of curious posturing, and almost dance-like movements.


Another aspect of this “photographic narcissism” is taking an image that shows your impact on wherever you are.  In this case it’s getting your own shadow in the frame.  I much prefer this to the selfie stick option however.


In the square there was a boy on a BMX bike showing off his tricks.  Only one person, me, seemed to be watching, but he carried on trying to get them right.  The local pigeons have seen it all before so weren’t at all interested.

One evening we went to the best AV/multi-media presentation I have ever seen.  It was called “Les Luminessences d’Avignon”, and was projected on all 4 walls of the main courtyard of the Palais du Papes.  Catch it if it’s back next year!

Avignon’s a great place for photographers.

The tallest bridge in the world!

I recently visited France, and one place I made sure to go was Millau in Aveyron.  The A75 autoroute reaches the Tarn valley here, and to get across the valley the French built a wonderful bridge. It’s more properly called a viaduct as it mostly goes over dry land.  It opened in 2004 and and is the tallest cable-stayed bridge in the world.  From the top of the tallest tower to the ground below is over 1000 feet.  It’s taller than the Eiffel Tower!  It is extremely elegant.

From the official viewpoint

There’s a viewpoint set up near the visitor centre, and there were lots of people taking lots of pictures from it – including me!  You get a good view of the bridge, but its the same as everyone else’s, and you can’t really see the valley floor to get an idea of how tall it is.

From the security fence

I went down to the security fence below the viewpoint to get a better view of the valley bottom.  I used a long lens, (300mm equivalent), to get a pattern image of 6 of the bridge towers.  You can see from the size of the trees just how big the bridge towers are.

With the hill in the foreground

On the way back to the car I noticed that the tops of the towers were showing over the hill that the viewpoint is on.  Again I used a long lens to give some perspective compression, and tried to make the size of the towers the same.  I’ve converted it to black and white, and silhouetted it somewhat, in post-processing.

From the Tarn Valley

It was a mostly cloudy day but I hoped to get a bit of sunlight on the towers.  Back in the car it was down into the valley to look at the bridge from below.  The sun came out and gave some good contrast between the white cables and the sky.  Once again a black and white treatment worked best.

From below the tallest tower

Finally it was out with the wide-angle lens from below the tallest tower.  The towers reminded me of sewing needles with the road threaded through them.  As I said, it’s a very elegant structure.

A few days later I drove over it.  It’s very high…

The people of Dismaland

I recently visited the Dismaland attraction in Weston-Super-Mare, England.  This is/was an art exhibition/”bemusement park” curated by the artist Banksy.  It was sold out within minutes of tickets being available, and I was very lucky to have been able to go twice.

I did photograph the artworks, but part of the beauty of the experience was the staff.  They had been trained to act miserable all the time.  Some were quite wonderful at it, and have a career in Customer Services ahead of them.

The staff in the park wore ears that looked very like Mickey Mouse’s, and had jackets with the word “DISMAL” on the back.  This guy was a perfect example, and encouraged everyone to have an unhappy time.

"Dismal portrait - exhibit"

There was an exhibit on a large fairground roundabout.  It was a slaughterman who had just killed one of the roundabout’s horses for meat.  He was spattered with blood and was sitting on large cardboard boxes labelled “Lasagne”.  It was a comment on the horsemeat scandal.

The people attending the show were as interesting as the exhibits.  There was a bench with a sculpture of a woman being attacked by seagulls.  There was space for visitors to sit next to it and have their picture taken.  My eye was caught by the way the woman’s hijab framed her beautiful face.

On the other side of the park there was a place you could take a selfie.  It gave people a chance to take a selfie with no background other than the white board and the words “SELFIE HOLE”.   At one point there was a queue of people waiting to do this.  It was fascinating to watch, as they could have got a selfie the other way with the park in the background.  There’s little bit of “Heeere’s Johnny!” from the film “The Shining” about this one…

Was I bemused at the “bemusement park”?  Yes, but fascinated too.  I was there at the same time as photographer Martin Parr, and would be very interested to see his images.

Welcome to the colourful world of Bob Harris!

Do you want to make moving objects in your images produce vivid colour?  Well, there’s a technique called “The Harris Shutter” that does just that!  The method was first used by Robert “Bob” Harris from Kodak, hence the name.  These days you make the effect in Photoshop after you have taken the picture, but when it was first developed you used film, and produced the effect in camera.

The original method involved exposing the same film frame for three separate exposures in sequence through three differently coloured filters; red, green and blue.  The use of three filters gives strong primary colours to anything that moves during the exposure, whilst keeping the colours of the unmoving parts of the image unchanged.  In the days of film it was important to keep the camera still during the exposure, and that still applies to today’s digital imaging.

Creative photography training with Derek Gale

“Three fountain images”

With digital photography it’s a slightly different technique.  You take three images, (such as the fountain images above), and open them in Photoshop.  An image in Photoshop is made up of a Red, a Green and a Blue Channel.  You duplicate the Red Channel from one image into a new file, duplicate the Green Channel from the second image into the new file, and finally duplicate the Blue Channel from the third image into the new file.  This gives you three channels in a multi-channel image, and it looks very red overall.  Using the “Mode” menu you then convert the multi-channel image to an RGB image, and the colours appear!

Creative photography training with Derek Gale

“It’s a water colour!”

This is what you get, an image with primary colours where movement has occurred.  In this case it might be called a “water colour”!  The great advantage of using digital images is that you can choose which colour channel from each image you use.  This means that you can get six different looks in your final image from one set of three images.

As with the images above, if you’ve got steady hands you don’t even need a tripod, so let Bob Harris lead you to a colourful place.

It’s all about the light (again).

I wanted to do some close-up garden photography today but it was too windy.  Even trying my fancy cleft stick plant stabiliser didn’t work well enough, so I picked a flower from the garden and popped into the studio.  I used a very high tech system, masking tape, to fix the flower to a light stand.  I already had some black paper in the background, so nothing needed doing there.  I popped my Oly EM-10 on a tripod and fixed a macro lens so I could get up close and personal to the 3-inch flower.

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“One light”

This first image has one cheap and simple light, a £10 IKEA clip-on LED lamp, slightly above and to the left of the camera.  It’s quite a hard light that gives sharp shadows.  There was a white-painted wall about 3 feet to the right of the flower, and it reflected a bit of light back to the right-hand side of the flower.  There’s a nice light to dark flow from left to right.

Learn photography with Derek Gale

“One light + reflector”

Holding a piece of white card just out of shot to the right of the flower filled in the shadows on the right-hand side, and gave much more evenly balanced light.  Some detail that was in shadow in the previous image has now become visible.  The contrast between light and dark is now lower.

Learn photography with Derek Gale

“One light + back light”

Finally I used an electronic flash behind and below the flower to give some backlighting.  There’s some light from the white wall, so I didn’t use a close-in reflector.  The backlight has popped a bit of contrast back, and given yet more detail.

A simple subject, and an exercise in how simple lighting changes can make quite a difference in the final image.

Off to IKEA with you!