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  • Welcome to Gale Photography

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

    If you are looking to improve your photographic creativity, skills or knowledge, check out the Photography Training pages.

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Pylon the pressure

On a walk with a friend on a lovely sunny day recently we came across a large electricity pylon.  The appearance of pylons divides people, but whether you like them or not it’s worth looking up and seeing if there are any images to be found.

The sun was shining through the glass insulators on the pylon.   I used a couple of stops of negative Exposure Compensation to try and keep the highlight detail in the insulators, and this had the bonus effect of darkening the very blue sky.  It was worth waiting till a small cloud had moved away so it was a plain blue background.

Sidebar: there is a huge amount of interest in glass insulators and folks all over the world collect them.  Who knew?

Looking up pylons from directly underneath is worthwhile to get pattern images.  I’ve posted about this before and it’s fascinating to see the difference the lighting makes.  Here the direct sun means the lighting on the four main supports ranges from flat on, side-lighting and full back lighting.  The square crop and black & white conversion simplifies the image.

As well as going for the bigger picture the details of these structures can also be interesting.  It’s clear that not too much care went into getting a super smooth paint finish on the pylon.  Just one painted cross-support diagonally placed against that sky gives a simple texture image.

Pylons aren’t as ugly or as much blots on the landscape as some might say.  Go and find one, they are pretty easy to spot!

March macro mayhem

A friend recently gave me a bellows attachment.  Bellows allow you to get the lens away from the camera body, and this gives you more magnification.  It was made for an M42 screw-thread mount camera system (think 1950/60’s Pentax or Praktica), so making it work with my Olympus MFT system needed an adapter.

Having done a few trial images I decided to “go big or go home” and stuck on some extension tubes (two lots of two) as well.  Oh, and I also fitted my Olympus 1.4x teleconverter.  The converter is not designed to do this, but it fits if you are careful.  It ended up being quite a long system!

From camera to lens it goes: Oly 1.4x teleconverter, Fotga MFT extension tubes (x2), MFT to M42 adapter, Vivitar bellows unit, M42 extension tubes (x2), 50mm f1.8 Pentacon lens.   I bought the lens from ebay but on arrival it didn’t work properly.  The seller refunded me and said I could keep the lens.  Having watched some videos, I managed to disassemble the lens, unstick the stuck aperture blades, and reassemble it.  It’s now working OK.

The light source is a 64 LED panel and my first subject was a £20 note.

With all this extension and the converter, I reckon I’m getting about 5x life-size on the sensor.  You can see just how much detail there is on the notes, which make it harder to forge.  The Pentacon lens is never going to be a stellar performer, but it’s OK.

Because this arrangement ends up very close to the subject it’s easier to shoot things that are self-illuminated or translucent.  This image is of a section of my HD monitor screen that was showing pure white.  Red plus Blue plus Green in equal amounts gives white, but get close and it stops being white.

I’ve subsequently got a reversing ring, so I will be able to reverse the lens and get even more magnification.  Keep your eyes out for further posts on this.

 

A belated “Happy New Year”!

At last we are in the year where it will all be better.  Well, I hope so anyway!  Since my last post we have had the Christmas celebrations and New Year’s Day.  I hope yours went well.

One thing I did at Christmas was to go to the Worcester Cathedral Christmas Tree Festival.  There were loads of decorated trees in the Cathedral cloister.  Some were from schools, some from charities and some from commercial organisations.  Most were fab!

Here I’ve used my mobile’s Silky Water mode, (yes, again!), and walked as fast as I could down the cloister.  I had to wait till there weren’t too many people.  I like the combination of warm orangey lights and cooler blue lights.

This is rather closer to home;  well, it’s actually at home.  We had some Xmas lights left over, so we put them in the mini-stairwell going down to our kitchen.  I went up the other stairs and wobbled the phone around in, you guessed it, Silky Water mode.  I simplified the image by converting it to black & white in Snapseed.

Having reached the kitchen it was time to pop my clip-on macro lens to the front of my mobile.  Here are some condensation droplets on the underside of the plastic film on the top of a ready-meal.  It just shows that there are interesting abstract images in the most mundane of things.

I’m thinking of running some photo walks in Worcester.  if you are interested pop me an email.

Landscapes are better in bad weather

Living, as I now do, in Worcester, the Malverns Hills are now a local place to visit.  Although they are called hills, some of the peaks are high enough to be classified as mountains.  Once such is Herefordshire Beacon at 1109 feet above sea level.  It’s the site of British Camp, a huge Iron Age earthwork complex.  The earthworks give a curious silhouette to the hill, and it looks very man-made.

The views from the Malvern Hills are wonderful.  Elizabethan diarist John Evelyn called it “one of the godliest vistas in England”.  There are three cathedrals visible on a good day, but it doesn’t always have be a good day.

On a recent trip there were showers amongst the sunshine and clouds.  By a stroke of luck they all missed me, but they made for fabulous skies and lighting effects.  This shower is about to land on British Camp.  I underexposed a couple of stops to make the sky darker, and to get solid blacks on the hill.

When the shower had cleared away the people on top of the hill reappeared from wherever they had been sheltering, and their silhouettes added an extra dimension to the dark hill and variegated sky.  Once again I underexposed to give more drama in the sky.

Turning to look the other way, there was another shower raining happily in the Pershore area.  The line of the clouds is like an arrow, and the cloud shadow in the foreground helps take the eye to the pouring rain. There’s a sort of reflected symmetry in the shapes at top right and bottom left.  I converted the image to black and white to take away the blue sky.

I’m glad the weather was so variable, and I look forward to many more trips up there.

Reflection and refractions

It’s well and truly autumn now and the sun, when it’s out, is at a much lower angle to things than at the same time of day in summer.  That lower light angle means that lots more photographic opportunities arise.

There are very busy spiders living on and around our window frames.  However often you clean off their webs, they spin new ones really fast.  The low angle morning sunlight picked up this one and gave fabulous refraction colours.  The hedge in shadow in the background gave good contrast.  I used a macro lens, and used manual focus with full lens aperture to have just a tiny bit of the web in focus.  The out of focus backlit highlights now look like multi-coloured barcodes.

Landscapes also benefit from the lower angled light.  Here at Sharpness on the River Severn, (no soft images here!), the muddy areas and the river have picked up some delicious reflections from the low sun.  It’s given good contrast.  In fact the contrast was so strong I had to use HDR processing to get some shadow detail back.

The sun’s position relative to a cloud bank meant that the Severn bridges and Oldbury power station were silhouetted against a bright sky.  The reflections off the river put some life into the otherwise just dark foreground.

Low autumn light?  Embrace the change!