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  • Welcome to Gale Photography

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

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Travel by tube…

Many photographers are interested in macro photography, but are put off by the cost of macro lenses.  For example, the Panasonic Leica macro lens for my micro 4/3rds camera costs well over £500.  Getting really close to your subject opens up a whole new world of image possibilities, so how can you do it without breaking the bank?  The answer could be a set of cheap extension tubes.  I’ve recently bought some to test out my theory.  They are made in China and branded as Photga.  The set is two tubes of differing size that can be used alone or stacked together, and they have electrical connections which means you get autofocus.  They move the lens further away from the camera, and thus allow it to focus much closer than normal.

"Ice on car window"

“Ice on car window”

This is an ice crystal on my car side window one frosty morning.  I’ve framed it so a brick wall was reflected in the glass.  This gave the warm red tone to the image background which contrasted well with the cool blue of the ice.  There’s a nice line of sharpness across the frame.

"Petzl head torch lenses"

“Petzl head torch lenses”

The tubes allow you to get very close indeed!  I fitted the longer tube to my 14mm lens and it almost hit the subject before it was in focus.  This brought problems as the lens/camera obscured the light reaching the subject.  The solution was to photograph something with its own light source: in the case an LED head torch beam diffuser.  Looks a bit like the honey cells in a beehive.

"The Kered watch"

“The Kered watch”

The French have a saying, “The mad man sees his name everywhere”.  In this case it’s not my surname, but my first name backwards.  That’s why I bought it.  It’s a vintage/old KERED watch, that was made in France in the 50’s or 60’s.  I used my, very useful, LED head torch as a light source to camera left.  It’s given good shadows on the numbers and hands.

So do the tubes work as a macro lens replacement?  Yes and no.  They do let you get very close, but unlike a true macro lens, once you have fitted them you lose the ability to focus on infinity.  However at around £23 for a set they are great value, so are well worth buying.

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!