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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 all show: Artweeks 2015!

It’s May (nearly), and that means it’s nearly Oxfordshire Artweeks again.  Artweeks is one of the premier regional art festivals, and takes place all over Oxfordshire in 3 stages: North Oxfordshire, Oxford City, and South Oxfordshire.  There is every type of art on show and it’s all free to attend.

I’m exhibiting my Fine Art photography as part of Artweeks in three places over three different time periods.  The first is a single piece as part of Didcot’s shiny new Cornerstone Gallery’s DRAW:SHOW exhibition.  This curated exhibition is taking place from 5th May to the 21st June.  They say: “This year the gallery will be filled work submitted by artists from across the region as we celebrate the practice and explore the concept of drawing.”  Cool to get a photograph accepted in a drawing exhibition…

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“Water #1”

Next, I’m part of Artweeks venue 199 in Oxford Library: “Looking West – Faringdon area artists come to Oxford”, (even though my name is not listed on the webpage!).  It’s on from the 4th to the 25th of May.  This is a taster exhibition for the main “Vale Artists” show in Faringdon.  Again I have one piece, and it’s a nicely ambiguous work where the sense of scale is obscured.

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“Bokeh #3”

The main exhibition is Artweeks venue 342 in The Rookery in Faringdon from the 15th to the 25th of May.  Please note: the gallery is not open Sundays, and the Artweeks venue 342 webpage dates are wrong.  I’ll have at least 6 works including some of my large “Invisible Beauty” images.  These highly abstract, but unmanipulated, photographs look like paintings with their swirling patterns of deep colour.

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“Invisible Beauty #48”

Some of the days I’ll be at the Rookery so we can chat about photography (or the weather).  Hope to see you there!  If you go and I’m not there, and you would like to talk about my work, do please get in touch by phone or e-mail.

It’s the start of the end of the pier show!

I recently went to Norfolk for a short break.  It was the week before Easter, and everywhere had the feel of being slightly out of season.  I stayed in the town of Cromer, which has a traditional pier which was undergoing the last part of a restoration after being damaged in a winter storm surge a couple of years before.

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“The pier by night”

The pier looked very attractive in the evening with its floodlights.  I photographed it about half an hour after sunset, so there was still some light in the sky and some detail in the sea.  I had to crop off a builders’ skip in the foreground!

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“Fisheye on the pier”

The following morning, after overnight rain, it looked less appealing, but I thought there must be something I could do with my fisheye lens.  I applied a grainy B&W effect in-camera, to give good atmosphere, and tried to keep everything symmetrical.

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“In the shelter”

It wasn’t the best of weather that day, and a couple of people were taking advantage of the shelter…  …to shelter (oddly enough).  The B&W conversion simplified the image and made the figures more prominent.

Cromer pier has just won the “Pier of the Year” award for 2015, even though not much of 2015 has passed.  Though the holiday season has yet to start, it’s never out of season for photography.

Millennium Bug to hit digital camera sensors?

I heard recently that there is a new version of the Millennium Bug on the way, but one that will affect digital camera sensors.  It’s all to do with the ever decreasing pixel size in modern sensors, the new “backside illumination” technology, ever higher ISO sensitivity, and the fact that sensors have now reached what’s called the “defined limit of sensitivity”.  According to Professor Prvi Budala, of the Croatian Advanced Imaging Technology Institute, (based in the University of Split) , the change is initially quite gradual, and reversible.

April Fool!

“Green sensor stripes”

The first phase is that green stripes start appearing on the sensor, and they get stronger as each day passes.  You can, initially at least, remove them by using pixel mapping in such programs as Photoshop, or the pixel mapping function of your camera if it has it – my Olympus OMD EM-10 has this.  This is only a “quick fix” however, and after a while the sensor gets worse.  Note: The red/pink area in the image above is an artefact of the centre-weighted metering system and should be ignored.  I have no idea what the black dot is.

“Black sensor stripes”

As the Bug progresses thick black stripes appear in your images, and they cannot be removed using the above techniques.   According to Professor Pershe Kvitnya from the National University of Technology in Kiev, Ukraine, there are some extreme measures that MAY reduce the effect of the Bug.  One is to photograph only objects that have equivalent white stripes in them, such as white picket fences or stripey deck chairs.  These counteract the dark stripes.

April Fool

“Black sensor”

Eventually the Bug enters its final phase.  You then get images that consist of black stripes on a black background, (or vice versa), and it means that your sensor has failed utterly and you must buy a new camera.  That’s no hardship though, as the new ones will not have this Bug in them, and you will be able to justify the cost by using the “W=X+1” equation, loved by gear-heads.  Where “X” is the number of cameras you have, and “W” is the number of cameras you want.

The last word must go the Frau Professor Doktor A P R Ilscherz of the Technische Universität München, Germany.  She says, “Es ist alles Unsinn”, and you can’t disagree with that.

Spring has sprung!

Spring has officially sprung here in the UK, so it’s getting warmer and sunnier, even though we had a solar eclipse today.  It’s time to get out your cameras and get some images of the fresh flowers that have opened in the garden.  If you do that on a sunny day you need to make a decision about where the light should be coming from.  The classic way to photograph flowers is with the light coming from the front and hitting the petals quite flatly.

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“Daisy with light on front”

Take this daisy flower photographed with a short telephoto lens and an extension tube to let me focus closer.  The bright sunlight has illuminated the petals well, and the background is nicely out of focus, but it’s not that exciting.

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“Daisy backlit”

I wanted something with a bit more life to it, so I picked a daisy (we’ve got loads!) and held it at arm’s length so the sun was coming through the petals.  The background is a hedge in shadow, so it’s come out very dark.  It’s a much more interesting image, almost like it was shot in a studio, with the green sepals having lots of detail.  The white petals are a little bit like a firework exploding.

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“Yellow flower with light on front”

I’ve used the same principle on the small yellow flower (Lesser Celandine?).  It’s OK with the light straight on, but is very much a record type image.  It’s dramatically improved with the dark background and the light coming through the petals.

Creative photography training with Derek Gale

“Yellow flower backlit”

An interesting effect with all these images is that there is some quite pronounced red fringing on the petals’ edges.  This almost certainly because the lens wasn’t designed to be used with extension tubes, and was past the limits of its optical correction.  I quite like it!

So, decide where you want the light to come from, make it happen, and you’ll get the best images.

Looks a bit fishy to me.

I recently bought a fisheye lens for my Micro 4/3rds cameras.  It’s a manual focus Samyang 7.5mm, which has the equivalent focal length of around 15mm, so it’s pretty wide.  It’s a “full frame” fisheye.  That means it produces a rectangular image, unlike the circular fisheye lenses that don’t fill the frame.  You have to careful with these lenses that your fingers or feet don’t appear in the frame, because it’s got a 180 degree field of view.

"V&A museum cafe"

“V&A Museum cafe”

Lines on the edge of the frame are very curved, but if you find a space that’s suitable you can use that curvature to give dramatic compositions.  Here’s the wonderful tiled cafe in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.  The very wide view allows the whole of the room to be included.

"Dippy in the Natural History Museum"

“Dippy in the Natural History Museum”

Here’s a London favourite that’s about to be moved.  It’s the Diplodocus skeleton in the entrance hall of the Natural History Museum.  The hall itself is an amazing space, and the bones coming in from the bottom of the frame add a somewhat surreal look.  I’ve added an HDR treatment to get extra detail in the shadows.

"Stage set model box"

“Stage set model box”

This lens isn’t just for large objects or spaces.  It will focus quite close, so here’s an image of an unusual object; a “model box”.  It’s a scale model of a stage set design.  Theatres use them to help understand how the set design will work in practice.  It’s not much bigger than a shoe box, so I focussed the lens as close at it would go.  The front of the stage is actually straight, but it doesn’t matter too much that it’s come out curved.

I’m still getting to grips with how the lens performs, but I’m looking forward to going fishing again very soon.