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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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    Looking forward to hearing from you! In the meantime read my blog posts below. They're full of useful info...

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Who needs flash?

There’s a common misconception that you need lots of light and lots of lighting to take great portraits.  Well, that’s not the case.  Modern cameras have excellent high ISO performance (ISO in photography is a measure of sensitivity to light), so the amount of light you need to get a practical exposure is reduced.  The images in this post were taken on a very gloomy day.  Because it was raining it was not easy to be photographing outside.  Actually it was very easy, but you got very wet!

Daylight portrait 1" by Derek Gale

Daylight portrait 1″ by Derek Gale

I had a very small space to work in, and was between the subject and a window.  The light was lovely and soft, but there wasn’t much of it so I put the ISO up to 1000.  In this image I used a very symmetrical composition and a large lens aperture (f1.8) to accentuate the subject’s large eyes.

"Daylight portrait 2" by Derek Gale

“Daylight portrait 2” by Derek Gale

Here I used a smaller aperture, as I wanted to get a reasonable amount of her front eye, lips and nose in focus.  By using a high ISO setting I was still able to use a shutter speed of 1/60 sec to avoid camera shake, and the smaller aperture has given some softly contrasting texture in the background.  The off-centre composition gives her plenty of space to look into.

Bad light?  No such thing.

Only 2 days to go!

“SOS Venue 24” – Derek Gale: Photography

There’s now only 2 days to go to the start of SOS (Swindon Open Studios 2013).  Today I’m doing the finishing touches such as direction signage and info labels.  All the images are ready, and I’ll finish hanging them tomorrow.

Do come along, to 7 Eagle Lane, Watchfield, SN6 8TF, if you can.  I’m open from 11am to 5pm on 7th/8th and 14th/15th.

I’m hoping the weather stays fine so you can enjoy the garden too.


SOS is coming up!

I’m now in the middle of setting up my 1-man show which is part of Swindon Open Studios (SOS).  SOS is Swindon’s own Visual Arts Festival, and if you’ve spotted that I’m actually in leafy South Oxfordshire rather than Swindon, SOS is for artists living or working within 15 miles of Swindon, so that’s OK.  Setting up is always an exciting time, and the images are looking great.  Well I would say that wouldn’t I!

“Smoking samurai?” by Derek Gale

I’ve blogged about SOS before, but to remind you, it’s on over two weekends in September; 7th/8th and 14th/15th from 11am to 5pm.  As well as my photography, there are some acrylic paintings.  All works are for sale, (you can choose from limited edition prints on aluminum laminate or metallic paper*, or open edition prints in card mounts), but you are welcome to just browse and chat about photography.

* such as the “Smoking Samurai?” image above.

My show is at my studios at 7 Eagle Lane, Watchfield, SN6 8TF, but please park in Watchfield High Street as there’s only limited parking in Eagle Lane.

Hope to see you there, and don’t forget to visit the other SOS venues!

Photographs with a certain flare.

According to Wikipedia, “lens flare” is, “the light scattered in lens systems through generally unwanted image formation mechanisms, such as internal reflection and scattering from material inhomogeneities in the lens.”  This definition implies that it’s unwanted all the time, and that’s not true in photography.  Flare can be used to add drama, to introduce a balancing compositional element, and to help tell a story.

“Stonehenge flare” by Derek Gale

In this image, of Stonehenge in Wiltshire, UK, I have shot directly towards the sun.  The lens flare introduces colour (in the form of blue circles), produces sun rays on the right-hand side, and gives a contrast change across the frame.  It helps with the narrative of the image, as Stonehenge is believed to be a sort of solar observatory/calendar.  It  needs the sun to fulfill its purpose.

“Kite and flare” by Derek Gale

Likewise this image, at a kite festival, uses flare to add to the composition.  Without the sun heating up the earth’s atmosphere there would be no wind, so a kite needs the sun.  Obviously the sun’s disc is completely overexposed, but there are attractive diffraction rays around it, and colour patterns produced by the massive amount of light being bounced around inside the lens.  There’s a darker highlight in the top of the frame which helps to produce a nice diagonal line from the bottom right to the top left.

So flare can add flair to your images.

Caveat: As with any activity that involves looking towards the sun, please remember that direct sunlight can damage your eyes.  Only look at the sun indirectly – such as on your camera’s rear screen.   I used a compact camera for these images, but if you use a DSLR that doesn’t have live view be extra careful.

A real tattoo – but no ink!

I recently attended the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at Fairford in the UK.  It’s one of the largest military airshows in the world, and even though the US military planes weren’t there this year, the flying display was great to watch.  It was also great to photograph, and the visitors, from all over the world, had brought lots of lenses with them!

“Fairford lens fest” by Derek Gale

I was in the FRIAT enclosure, at display centre, and it seemed like every telephoto lens that had ever been made was there.  I added to the lens mix by taking a Sigma EX 70-200 f 2.8 lens with a dedicated APO 2x tele-converter.  That gave me the equivalent of a 600mm lens on my crop sensor DSLR; more than long enough.

“A400M take off” by Derek Gale

One highlight of the show was the new Airbus Military A400M.  The aircraft on display was one of the 5 pre-production aircraft, known as “Grizzly 5”.  In service the A400M will be called “Atlas”.  For this shot of the take-off I needed a short shutter speed to reduce camera shake.  It’s at 1/2500 sec, and that has stopped the movement of the large scimitar-bladed propellors.

“Vulcan in heat haze” by Derek Gale

Another highlight was XH558, the only flying Avro Vulcan in the world.  I tried to get a slightly unusual shot by waiting till it was flying away and photographing it from almost directly behind.  It’s making its own heat haze from its four Olympus engines, which makes the fuselage “fuzzy”, but the wingtips are sharp.  You can see the large control surface movements need to manoeuvre the aircraft.

“The Falcons break” by Derek Gale

Being at display centre meant that some aircraft approached from directly in front and then broke formation.  It made for fun keeping the focus right but this shot, of the Royal Jordanian Falcons’ Extra 300-Ls, shows how good timing, and a good location, can produce a more unusual image than a simple fly past.  And no, they didn’t hit each other!

Was it worth being a FRIAT member?  Absolutely!