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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 in the frame.

In the “old days” we were always told to use some sort of frame in the foreground of our images to “hold in the edges”.  Whilst some advice from then is no longer so useful, such as always having the sun over your shoulder when taking  a portrait, the use of frames is still valid.

Windows have frames, and you can use them to frame your images.  You then need to decide whether to be inside looking out, or outside looking in.  Take a look at these  slightly unconventional portraits…

"Framed portrait looking out"

“Framed portrait looking out”

Here I’m inside a garden shed, with very cobwebby/dusty glass.  The dirty glass softens the view out, reduces the contrast, and makes the portrait a bit mysterious.  The green jacket and lots of greenery in the background have lent a green tone to the skin in the shadow areas.

"Framed portrait looking in"

“Framed portrait looking in”

Here I’m outside looking in.  The scale of the face relative to the window is quite different to the previous image.  The face is giving scale to the, glassless, window rather than the other way round.  Again were aren’t looking at a pristine building, so there’s a story of change and decay here somewhere.

Frames?  Very useful, although how you might frame a print of these images gets interesting!

It’s also all about the angle…

In my last post I wrote about the angle of the light.  Today’s post is about the angle of view and also the viewpoint you take the image from.  These examples were taken today of some fabulous poppies in my neighbour’s garden.

"Long lens poppies"

“Long lens poppies”

For this image I chose a long telephoto lens and I was at my normal height.  The lens has the equivalent field of view of a 600 mm lens on a full frame camera.  The poppies are clearly shown against an out of focus background.

"Low angle wide-angle poppies"

“Low angle wide-angle poppies”

Here I’ve used a wide-angle lens and got low down against the sun.  The field of view is the equivalent of a ca. 20 mm lens on a full-frame camera.  You can see much more of the poppies’ environment, and the low angle adds some drama with the petals now backlit.

"Low angle long-lens  poppies"

“Low angle long-lens poppies”

In this final image I’ve used the low viewpoint with the long lens.  The image has the backlit petals, and the long lens isolation.

All I’ve done with these images is to change my lens focal length and my viewpoint height.  They’re simple changes that make a massive change to how your images look.

Get out, get low, and give it a go!

It’s all about the angle

I may have mentioned it before, but the angle of the light on your subject can make a massive difference to your images.  With natural light you are more limited than with artificial light, but it’s always worth looking closely at your subject and working out where the light should come from to give the best image.  With moveable artificial light sources you have complete control.

Here are four macro images of some paper packaging material.  They were taken with a fixed camera, a fixed subject, and a moveable light (electronic flash).  All I have done is changed where the light comes from.

"Flat frontal light"

“Flat frontal light”

In this image the flash is close to the camera’s pop up flash.  The light is from the front, flat, and uninteresting.  There’s no real idea of the 3-dimensional structure of the paper.

"Light to the left a bit"

“Light to the left a bit”

Here the light has been moved so it’s coming from the left of the frame at about 45 degrees to the paper.  We’re now getting some shadows (large and small), which begins to show some dimensionality.

"Light to the left a lot"

“Light to the left a lot”

Moving the light further to the left, so the light is coming at a shallow angle across the paper, gives this image.  There are now lots of strong shadows, and you get a really good idea of how much structure there is in the paper.

"Light from behind"

“Light from behind”

This final image shows the light coming from behind the paper.  There’s a loss of depth information compared to the previous image, but there’s now a lovely rim light on some of the holes, and the paper’s texture is much more visible.

Four light directions, four looks.  You have the power to make the image look how you want it.

Goodbye Didcot Power Station

In the next few months we may well see the demolition of one of Oxfordshire’s most famous landmarks; the cooling towers of the “Didcot A” coal-fired power station.  The power station closed a while back as it could not be made to meet EU emission standards.  It reminded me to look at some images I took before it was thought that it might close.  To give you an idea of how long ago it was, I took the shots with a then-new Olympus C2500 which had an almost unheard of 2.5 megapixels!

"Didcot Cooling tower" by Derek Gale

“Didcot Cooling tower” by Derek Gale

This is one of the 6 cooling towers that form such a part of the landscape of South Oxfordshire.  There was an attempt to save them but to no avail.  They will be demolished.

"Didcot pipes" by Derek Gale

“Didcot pipes” by Derek Gale

Power stations are very complicated things, and here’s some pipework to show you just a little bit of that complication.  It would be interesting to try and replace one of the lower pipes!

"Didcot Control Room" by Derek Gale

“Didcot Control Room” by Derek Gale

Here’s the heart of the matter; the control room.  These days power stations are full of very large flat monitors, but not here.  There are a few CRT displays, but it’s mostly dials and lights.

It felt so large and permanent and I didn’t think it would all be gone in my lifetime.  At least I have some images to remind me.  That’s the power of photography.

The devil is in the detail(s)

I recently went to the Bristol Italian Auto Moto Festival (BIAMF).  There were lots of exotic cars, but it was hard to get a whole car without someone in the frame.  The solution?  Get in close and get those little details that make a car different.

"Diabolo badge" by Derek Gale

“Lamborghini Diabolo badge” by Derek Gale

Take this (very yellow) Lamborghini Diabolo VT.  Just the badge and the vent/duct in the background tell you all you need to know.  It’s an extreme sports car.

"Lamborghini headlight" by Derek Gale

“Lamborghini Aventador headlight” by Derek Gale

The headlight detail tells the same story.  It’s on a Lamborghini Aventador, and it’s all angles and aggression.  The squashed insects tell you the car’s been driven “briskly”.

"Sebring filler cap" by Derek Gale

“Maserati Sebring filler cap” by Derek Gale

This image take us back to a more genteel time, when Grand Tourers were high-speed cars you drove across Europe in a day, and stepped out of at a grand hotel.  It’s the fuel filler flap of a 1960’s Maserati Sebring, a car that’s all grace and elegance compared to the brute force of the modern Lamborghinis.

Details are great.

If you want to talk cars and photography, come and see me at this year’s Oxfordshire Artweeks from 3rd to 11th May.