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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.

    For beautiful Fine Art images that showcase my personal vision take a look at the Fine Art Photography pages.

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Water, water, everywhere (again!)

You may, if you live in the UK, have noticed that it’s been raining quite a bit this winter.  Heavy rain and strong winds aren’t very attractive to be out photographing in; you, and your camera, can get very wet!  Not good if your camera isn’t weather sealed.  So what can you do?

"Sun screen?" by Derek Gale

“Sun screen?” by Derek Gale

Well, if you’ve gone out for a photographic trip you can wait in your car for a break in the weather.  You don’t even need to leave your car to get interesting images.  Here I focused on the wire elements in my heated front windscreen.  There’s a nice contrast between the heating wires and the other, natural, elements visible; the sun and raindrops.  Of course, when the shower has passed the light can be wonderful.

"Wet road on the Plain" by Derek Gale

“Wet road on the Plain” by Derek Gale

This wet road on Salisbury Plain is a case in point.  The shower has left the road covered in very reflective water, and there’s a lovely curve of shiny wet road (to Imber village)  in the distance.  I put lots of foreground in the composition because the textures and lines on the broken tarmac are wonderful.  The rain does make the rivers and streams run full too…

"Stanford waterfall" by Derek Gale

“Stanford waterfall” by Derek Gale

Without lots of rain this stream would be just a trickle.  I wanted a fixed point of reference to give contrast to the flowing water, and the rock and branch/twig fitted the bill nicely.  I used a simple travel zoom compact camera, set on Shutter Priority.  A shutter speed of about 1/15th of a second gave enough blur without losing too much texture.  I had no tripod so I wedged the camera into a bridge support to reduce camera shake.

Lots of rain a problem?  Yes, of course, but remember to take your camera with you as well as an umbrella!

It’s as wide as it is long.

Recently I was down in Weston-super-Mare for lunch.  I say “lunch” but it was actually a sandwich on the almost empty promenade at about 3.15pm.  That’s a bit late for lunch these days when it gets dark so early.  Still, the sky was fabulous as the sun was setting behind Brean Down.  I had a travel zoom compact with me, (always carry a camera), so took a few images.  There’s always a composition decision to take with landscapes like these.  It’s whether to take them as wide angle images or to use a longer (telephoto) lens to capture details.

"Weston sunset: wide" by Derek Gale

“Weston sunset: wide” by Derek Gale

Here’s the wide-angle shot.  The beach sand was too dry and dark to add any foreground interest so I found a large salt-water pool to reflect the sun and sky in.  The breeze was rippling the pool’s water so that the reflection was broken up into an abstract pattern.  I placed the “gull on a post” off-centre on the right to balance the position of the sun.

"Weston sunset: long" by Derek Gale

“Weston sunset: long” by Derek Gale

The gull was facing towards the sun, and it caught my eye.  I moved so it was in line with the sun, placed the sun behind the post to reduce flare, and zoomed to about 300mm equivalent.  The gull’s nicely caught against a line of dark cloud, and there are some attractive shapes and reflections in the sky and water.  It’s no longer an image that shows Weston.  It’s more of a generic seaside sunset.

Wide or long?  Actually it’s best to take both!

Town and Gown – and a camera!

I recently visited the fascinating city of Oxford.  Normally when I’m there I’m rushing around with lots of stuff to do, but this time I was not in a hurry, so I was able to take my time and treat it as a sort of Photographic Trek.  There’s lots of photographic opportunities in Oxford; the buildings, the people, the contrasts, etc.

Creative imaging by Derek Gale

One contrast is between practicality and protecting the architectural heritage.  There’s need to keep the entrances to the colleges clear of the many bicycles in the city.  Bikes are great but they can get in the way when parked (though not as much as cars!).  I liked the threat of the sign and the way the bike had been left there anyway.  Those rebellious students!  I used Perspective Crop in Photoshop to get the railings’ lines parallel.

Creative imaging by Derek Gale

There had been some sort of graduation ceremony that day, so there were quite few students around in academic dress.  I took advantage of the more interesting viewpoint into Radcliffe Square afforded by the gardens of Exeter College.  It looks as if this photographer had missed her subject!  There’s a nice range of road textures and angles, and the waste bin reminds us that it’s not all ivory towers; the rubbish needs to be collected too.

Creative imaging by Derek Gale

It had rained overnight, and just up the road, in the grounds of the church of St Mary the Virgin, there was a very small puddle.  With a bit of serious crouching and bending I was able to get the dome of the Radcliffe Camera, (the camera of the title), reflected in the puddle.  I used a Sigma 60mm f2.8 lens on my Lumix G3, and set the aperture to f2.8.  This gave a small depth of field to make the puddle edges all fuzzy.

Creative imaging by Derek Gale

It wouldn’t be Oxford without some quirkiness.  I wanted to visit the Pitt-Rivers museum, and to get to it you go through the Natural History museum.  That museum is having its fabulous glass roof reglazed so it’s closed, though you can still visit the Pitt-Rivers musuem.  All the N-H museum exhibits have been moved or covered up.  One thing that caught my eye was a bird in a glass case that had plastic wrap on it for protection.  The shape of the bird was still quite clear but the translucent plastic made it somewhat mysterious.  The B&W conversion and Contrast lift in Photoshop added a bit more mystery.

Oxford?  It’s a great photographic location!

Slippery when wet

My wife bought a new-to-her car recently.  It had been very well prepared by the dealer, especially the paintwork which had been treated with Autoglym polish.  As a result of the waxy polish any water on the car’s bodywork formed into separate droplets instead of forming a film.  It looked fab after some overnight rain, so I got out my macro lens and started exploring.

Photography training with Derek Gale

“The curve of the wing” by Derek Gale

As with photographing people, areas where the curvature of a surface changes are more interesting than flat areas.  This shot of the roof going down to the rear wing had a step with larger droplets, and it caught the light in the sky to give a highlight line across the frame.  It’s clearly a man-made structure, and we can get an idea of the scale from the size of the droplets.

“Wet car bokeh” by Derek Gale

I’m a big fan of images with a very small depth of field, and especially like the way out of focus highlights form into circles. It’s an effect called “bokeh”, and is best achieved with a large aperture lens wide open.  There’s almost a “mist” of circles in the background of this image, there’s no real point of reference, and it’s become hard to tell what the subject or scale is.

“Moss in a water droplet” by Derek Gale

The heavy overnight rain had knocked moss off the house roof and some had landed on the car.  This piece of moss had become submerged in a water droplet and looked a bit like an insect trapped in amber.  The almost luminous green of the moss made a fabulous counterpoint to the metallic silver of the car.  The sun had come out which really lifted the texture of the paint and showed the translucency of the moss.

Just a wet car, but a great photographic subject.

PS  I’m very pleased with these images, and my wife is very pleased with her car!

Catching the light in Umbria

Just back from 2 weeks travelling around the beautiful Umbrian region of Italy.  OK, so there might have been a bit of Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany thrown in too!

Much as I love the image quality from my Nikon DSLRs and large aperture lenses, they can be a bit heavy.  I wanted to keep weight to a minimum whilst keeping the quality up, so I took my Panasonic Lumix G3 and three Micro 4/3rds prime lenses; 14mm wide angle, 21mm standard, and 60mm telephoto.  The G3’s cropped sensor gives full-frame equivalent focal lengths of 28mm, 40mm and 120mm.  It’s a great quality system and is small and light.  The 14mm lens in particular is tiny.

"Umbrian morning" by Derek Gale

“Umbrian morning” by Derek Gale

It’s often said that the light in Umbria has a special quality.  If the view of the rising sun and morning mist from our hotel bedroom window is anything to go by that is certainly true.  The mist was gone just 10 minutes after I took this image.

"Umbrian recession planes" by Derek Gale

“Umbrian recession planes” by Derek Gale

A different sort of mist in this late afternoon image of the hills south of Gubbio.  There’s a somewhat scary “funivia” ride to the top of the mountain behind the town of Gubbio, but the view is worth it.  The mist in the distant hills was enhanced by smoke from some forest fires.  It gave a wonderful series of “recession planes”.  It looks as if the landscape is made from a series of 1-dimensional cutouts.

"Catching up on the news" by Derek Gale

“Catching up on the news” by Derek Gale

The G3 system is great for street photography.  The articulated screen on the back means you can be looking in one direction whilst the camera looks in another.  These 3 women in Ferrara were clearly having a good catch up on the news.

"The pool" by Derek Gale

“The pool” by Derek Gale

As you can tell from my Fine Art page, I love abstract images.  The sunlight playing on the water of a hotel swimming pool really caught my eye.  There’s a lovely combination of light on the pool’s bottom and bubbles on the water surface.  This image would make great wall art, especially as a large print on aluminium.  Get in touch to discuss size options.

If you want to catch the light in Umbria, get in touch.  If there’s enough interest I’ll run a photography course there.