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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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Softly, softly.

I recently dusted off my soft-focus lens and tried it on my Panasonic GF1.  It’s a simple plastic tube, with a plastic lens element at the end nearer the camera, inside another plastic tube.  You focus by sliding the outer tube relative to the inner tube.  The lens is made so that it produces a lot of spherical aberration.  This appears to blur everything, whilst keeping the edges sharp.  It’s an effect that is very pleasing under the right circumstances.

"Soft focus maple" by Derek Gale

The image, of wet, newly-emerging maple leaves against the blue background, fits into those circumstances.  There’s a sort of dream-like look, a bit like shooting through mist or gauze.

So don’t worry about getting every image super crisp, try being a big softy!

All that glitters…

… is not gold.

This is actually a misquotation, as it’s supposed to be, “All that glisters is not gold”.   Anyway, here’s an image of a candle, covered in gold glitter, stored on a shelf in the understairs cupboard.  I had seen it glinting on several occasions when getting other things out of the cupboard, and thought there was scope for an image.

"Glitter candle bokeh" by Derek Gale

I took the shot with the candle in situ on the shelf.  It would have been much easier to take it out of the cupboard and put it in the studio, but it was more of a challenge where it was.  The light in the cupboard was from a single tungsten bulb, so I set the White Balance to Incandescent so the colours came out right.  There wasn’t much brightness from the bulb, so I had to increase the ISO to get a short(ish) shutter speed.  I used my Lumix GF1 and 20mm lens with the aperture set on f1.7 to give the smallest depth of field.  I manually focused on a distant subject and then framed nice and close to the candle.  The combination of maximum aperture and distant focusing with a very close subject gave the attractive bokeh circles and ellipses.

To use another quotation…

In “Cold Comfort Farm”, Stella Gibbons’ wonderful book, Aunt Ada Doom had seen, “Something nasty in the woodshed”.  Don’t worry about nasty things in the woodshed, there are beautiful things hiding under the stairs!


Keep on taking the tablets: part 3

Here’s another in my occasional series of images taken with a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet computer.  It’s a close-up of a daffodil in the garden.

"Galaxy Tab daffodil" by Derek Gale

I chose one that was in the sunlight, pointing the right way, and with an unlit area behind it to give good separation from the background.  To focus close enough I used an old condensing lens from a microscope in front of the tablet’s camera lens.  The condensing lens was quite large and hung over the edge of the tablet, and this let light in from the back and gave unwanted reflections.  To get round this I cut out a piece of card, made a hole in the centre, and taped the card to the back of the condensing lens.

It was quite entertaining holding the tablet with one hand, holding the condensing lens on to the tablet with another hand, and pressing the shutter release with another…   I’m pleased with how it turned out though.

Through a glass darkly

I was in London last weekend, and took the chance to visit the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington.  I like glass, (including glass camera lenses of course!), so made sure to visit the glass gallery.  As well as the beautiful exhibits, there’s a fabulous glass balcony in the gallery.

"V&A glass balcony" by Derek Gale

I stopped near the top of the stairs and set my GF1 on a large aperture* to give a small depth of field*.  It wasn’t fantastically bright in the gallery so I rested the camera on the banister rail for extra support.  There are some lovely colours and textures, and it’s an image where it’s hard to judge the scale.  It could be huge or it could be very small.

* If you aren’t sure what this means, I can help.  Take a look at the Photography Training pages for more information.

The Surrey without a fringe on top.

Recently I was in west Surrey for a few days, and took the chance to revisit a few places (I’m originally from the area), and visit some new ones.  One new place was the Watts’ Mortuary Chapel in Compton.  Made between 1896 and 1898 it’s a bizarre Arts and Crafts building with every internal surface covered in decoration.

"Watts' Chapel ceiling" by Derek Gale

Inside the chapel was another photographer shooting HDR images with a Nikon D3 and tilt/shift lens, on a tripod.  I was travelling light so only had my Lumix GF1, 20mm lens and no tripod.  Luckily there was a lectern in the centre of the chapel and I was able to rest my camera on it pointing upwards.  I stopped the lens down to f5.6 to get enough sharpness, and this gave an exposure of 5 seconds.  I used the self-timer, set on a 2 second delay, so the camera stability wasn’t affected by pressing the shutter button.  What’s interesting is the flare coming from the chapel roof’s 4 windows.  They were very, very, bright compared to the interior, and it’s resulted in 4 blue areas.   The 20mm lens has no hood so it was hard to reduce the flare.  It adds a bit of mysterious glow to an image showing all the little faces looking at you – quite unsettling…

"Watts' tile" by Derek Gale

The outside is decorated with tiles made nearby and fired from a local clay.  They have very complex designs in what has been called, “Angels and Arthurian Legend meets Edward Burne-Jones”.  They were made by local villagers under the control of G F Watts’ widow Mary Fraser-Tylter.

A fascinating place, and great to photograph.