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  • Welcome to Gale Photography

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

    If you are looking to improve your photographic creativity, skills or knowledge, check out the Photography Training pages.

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Quick, before the light goes! Episode 2.

I mentioned in previous posts about how you need to take your photographic chances, and how you need to take advantage of the winter light before it goes.  Sunday was a beautiful winter’s day, with low angle sun glancing across the landscape.  Perfect for a walk in the countryside, and for photography of course.  I chose Ashdown Woods in Oxfordshire, next to the National Trust’s 17th-Century Ashdown House, now tenanted by The Who’s Pete Townshend.

"Smoky Ashdown House"

“Smoky Ashdown House”

I had just come out of the woods on to the broad ride, with the house in the distance, when somebody lit a bonfire.  The smoke from the bonfire drifted across the side of the house and partly obscured it, giving a fabulous atmosphere.  Two walkers were silhouetted against the backlit smoke, so I quickly got my camera out.  As I was quite a long way from the house I fitted my Panasonic 45-150 lens and took 3 or 4 shots.  Even with the lens set at its maximum focal length, (300mm equivalent), the house and walkers were quite small in the frame, so I walked closer.  By the time I had got close enough the smoke, and the walkers, had gone…

"HDR Ashdown House"

“HDR Ashdown House”

Being closer to the house I took the chance to take a more architectural image using an HDR technique.  There’s still nice light angling across the lawn, and giving a bright edge to the right side of the building, but the mood is very different.  Just a few minutes can change everything.

"Sun through trees, Ashdown House"

“Sun through trees, Ashdown House”

Turning away from the house I looked through the trees on the lawn.  The lack of leaves made attractive patterns at the top of the frame, and the sunlight gave strong shadows and texture in the foreground.  I composed the image so the conical plants in the background were near the brightest part of the frame and not quite in the centre. Their more geometrical shapes gave good contrast to the more random shapes of the trees and branches.

I converted all these images into black and white in Lightroom.  Contrasty scenes are often helped by being in B&W.  The smoky house image has been cropped to give a “3 sides dark, top light” composition.  The trees image has a darkening gradient at the top to guide your eyes to the lighter areas.

Carry your camera, and take your photographic chances!

Ice Ice Baby.

Firstly: Happy New Year!  I hope Santa brought lots of photographic goodies.

I got a new camera bag for Christmas, popped my Olympus OMD E-M10 in it, and tested it on a cold day by going for a walk near my Oxfordshire studio.  On my walk I came across a frozen puddle.  The ice had been broken and there were various shards of quite thick ice floating in the water.  I picked one up and balanced it on a nearby gate post.

"Close up"

“Close up ice shard”

It was not far off sunset and the winter sun was at a low angle.  I positioned myself so that the sun was just over the top of the post and shining through the ice.  It’s picked out the details of the air bubbles in the ice, and given a lovely light/dark edge to the shard.

"Let the brightness take you"

“Let the brightness lead you”

Next, I moved a bit further away and put the shard into a more unusual place in the frame.  I added a couple of exposure gradients in Lightroom in order to darken the top and the left of the frame.  This darkening leads your eye to the beauty of the light shining through the ice.  It also enhances the clouds/contrails in the sky.

The shard then fell off and broke!

"Another shard and the sun"

“Another shard and the sun”

There were plenty of other shards around, so another one was pressed into service as a “light capturer”.  This final image has features of the preceding two images, with an off-centre composition and a gradient in Lightroom.  The shard was melting slightly and the drop of water on its bottom left adds to the story.

Just ice from a puddle, but full of beauty and interest.

The bag?  Well, on my walk one of the zips failed!  The shop changed the bag with no quibbles, and I’m happy with it.  Quite a bit bigger than my other bag, but not too big.

Happy Christmas from Derek @ Gale Photography!

It’s almost Christmas, your Christmas tree is in place, and you want to take a picture of it, to show how pretty it looks.  So how do you do that?  Well, the first thing is to make sure your flash doesn’t fire.  The tree has its own lights so you don’t need to add any more light to it.  The light isn’t usually very strong, so you may end up with a long shutter speed, and need to use a camera support.

"The Christmas tree"

“The Christmas tree”

For this Christmas tree image I put the camera on a coffee table; no need for a cumbersome tripod!  I wanted the lights to render as stars, so I used a small lens aperture of f16.  The shutter speed was about 6 seconds, but the table made sure the image was pin sharp.  I wanted the tree to be the only light source, so I turned off all the room lights.

"Ice rink in Birmingham"

“Ice rink in Birmingham”

Of course, sometimes you want to use blur creatively, as with this image of an ice-skater on a temporary Christmas ice-rink.  It was taken from inside the International Conference Centre in Birmingham, UK, and the blur comes from using a shutter speed of 1/3rd of a second.  I waited until a woman in a red dress skated past.  She acts as strong main subject and the blur gives the impression of movement and action.

Have a great Christmas and a Phabulously Photographic 2105!

Quick, before the light goes!

This time of year, it’s now winter here in the UK, the light at any given time of day is quite different the light at the same time in the middle of the year.  The sun is at a much lower angle in the sky, and your subjects can get lit in very interesting ways.  Another thing that can happen is frost.  It’s fascinating whilst still frozen, and differently interesting when it thaws.

"Grassy Bokeh"

“Grassy Bokeh”

For this image, of thawed frost on grass, I used a wide-aperture Nikon-fit Sigma 70-200 lens on an Olympus micro 4/3rds camera and got down to ground level.  The low camera position allowed me to capture the low morning sun shining through the water droplets.  The very limited depth of field has rendered the out focus areas as circles.

"Frosty landscape?"

“Frosty landscape?”

This image looks like a frosty landscape with a road going across it, but appearances can be deceptive. It is frost, but the main subject is the roof of my car!  The line across at about 1/3rd of the way down is actually the gap between my car’s bootlid and the roof. The sun at the top centre is shining between a hedge and my studio.  I used a wide-angle lens (28mm equivalent) to exaggerate the perspective and a small lens aperture to give the starburst.  The light was like that for less than 5 minutes.

"The fig in the window"

“The fig in the window”

Finally a “fig in the window”.   The low winter sun was reflecting off a window of our neighbour’s house and on to our kitchen window.  It only happens a few times in the year.  We have a terracotta colour roller blind in the window, and a variegated fig plant.  The light was silhouetting the plant too much, so I’ve had to lift the exposure on the leaves in Photoshop.

So be quick, before the light goes!

Just a drop please…

At a recent keynote presentation I gave on creative photography, one aspect that I touched on was the use of distorting objects, or materials, in front of the lens.  This blog is about that, in a way…

These images were all taken with a mobile phone camera.  I put a tiny water droplet on the lens of the camera and found it acted as a macro lens, albeit one with quite a small area of sharp focus.  If you try this make sure it’s a small droplet or it will fall off when you hold the camera vertical.  It focused very close indeed, and had quite a wide field of view.

"Droplet lens - tablet screen droplets"

“Droplet lens – tablet screen droplets”

This first image is of water droplets, (of course!), on the screen of my tablet.  I was running an app that let me change the screen colour.  I tried various colours and found that white worked best.  There are some nice spectra round the droplets and the screen construction is quite clear.

"Droplet lens - LED lamp"

“Droplet lens – LED lamp”

Here’s an LED from a bicycle lamp.  Lots of lovely shapes in this image of one of the lamp’s lenses.

"Droplet lens - perfume bottle"

“Droplet lens – perfume bottle”

Finally, this is of the top of a perfume bottle.  The bottle has got some coloured foil lining it and angles/facets that give spectra.

Just a mobile phone and a drop of water, but fascinating images.