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

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My, how different it looks!

When taking photographs your choice of viewpoint and lens makes a huge difference.  Many of you will have digital compact cameras with large zoom ranges, and it’s worth taking a single subject and looking at how it changes as you change the lens focal length (zoom), and also how it changes as you change your viewpoint.  Doing that will help you take better images when you are on your travels.

Below is a series of images where I have changed the lens focal length and changed my viewpoint.  They are of some lobelia plants which are about 2 feet tall.

"Lobelia 18 mm" by Derek Gale

In this first image I used a very wide angle lens, 18 mm, and dropped down to ground level.  Because of the effect of perspective the plants look very tall indeed, and the background includes lots of sky.  The image shows the plant in its surroundings.

"Lobelia 63 mm" by Derek Gale

Moving the viewpoint up a bit and changing to a lens that has a field of view narrower than the human eye, about 63 mm, gives more isolation to the lobelias.  The sky has gone so the background is now just the hedge and the plants in between are less distinct.  The image is more like a plant portrait.  This focal length is good for people portrait photography too.

"Lobelia 300 mm" by Derek Gale

This image has been taken with a 300 mm lens.  It’s the equivalent of the telephoto zoom on some superzoom compact cameras.  The background hedge is now very out of focus, and the lobelia plants look as if they have been cut out.

The images above were taken from a constant direction so the lighting is constant relative to the camera.  It was falling from behind me.  I moved round to see how it would change with backlighting.

"Lobelia 300 mm" by Derek Gale

Still taken with the 300 mm lens and a little bit closer to the lobelia, the image now looks very different.  The background is now very soft.  The backlighting has really lifted the image.

Having taken the shot of the lobelias, I moved my camera a little and took this image of another type of plant.  The backlighting on the flower looked great, and I used a closer plant to give an out of focus area which softened the contrast on the other flower heads.

So, you can see that zooming your lens and changing your viewpoint changes the image a lot.  Get out and have a practice.


A quick mystery…

A simple post this week.

It’s a photographic mystery for you to solve.  There aren’t any prizes, other than that feeling of quiet satisfaction that you will have if you get it right, but I will post/Tweet your name if you want.

It’s another example of how interesting images can be seen anywhere and everywhere.

"Yes, I know what that is!" by Derek Gale

“Anywhere and everywhere”?  There’s a bit of a hint in the post Categories I’ve used…

Good luck!


Capturing their character

In my family portrait photography I’m always trying to capture the character of the people I’m photographing.  With a human subject it’s easy to get good communication, which helps to produce great images, but with animals it’s a bit harder.  I’ve had a look at some of my animal portraits to see if that character is there too.

"Resting lion" by Derek Gale

This resting lion, in a zoo, really has the Aslan look about him.  Aslan is the lion in the C. S. Lewis series of books about Narnia.   There’s a sense of quiet power in his face.  There was a wire fence between me and him, so I used a long lens and wide aperture to throw it out of focus.

"Perky pony" by Derek Gale

This pony, peering over a fence, had a different sort of character; no quiet power here.  The perked up ears and half smile make her (look at those eyelashes!) look a bit cheeky, and definitely interested in any sort of food you might have.  I used a long lens again to ensure that the background was nice and fuzzy.

"Cross little owl" by Derek Gale

With some animals we put our own spin on what their characters are like simply because of how they look.  This little owl is  a prime example.  To me they always look really cross!  It was in quite a dark pen so I used a pop of flash to fill in and give good catch lights in the eyes.

"You lookin' at me?" by Derek Gale

This Egyptian Vulture, seen in Tunisia, looks a bit foppish with its fluffy white feathers, but its face has the expression of Travis Bickle in the film “Taxi Driver”.  His most famous phrase was, “You lookin’ at me?”.  It’s a sort of “don’t mess with me” face.

"New born lamb" by Derek Gale

Finally, the Jacob’s Sheep ewe, seen with her new lamb,  looks both protective and very pleased with herself.  The other ewe in the background is like a neighbour who wants to know what’s going on but can’t quite see.  The lamb, who has no experience of life yet, just looks cute.

So is there real character there in these animal portraits, or is the character something that we apply to the animals ourselves based on the character of humans we’ve met?  I think the answer  is “Yes” to both questions.

Sandy Shore (with bare feet?)

Some of you will understand the punning reference in the title, others won’t.  You have to be a certain age I think…

Anyway, it’s well into the holiday season and it’s really tempting to take our cameras with us wherever we go.  In fact I recommend it!  You do need to be careful though, so here are some useful seaside holiday photography tips.

The first is to download, then delete, all images from your memory card before you leave home so you’ve got lots of room for holiday memories.  It’s also a good idea to Format the card after deleting lots of images.  Next, make sure that you carry a spare battery and a spare memory card.  If, like my Samsung WB650, the battery is charged in the camera, then also take the battery charger (and plug adapter if going abroad).

"Rock pool wave" by Derek Gale

The seaside is great but has some hazards that can do nasty thing to your camera.  The first is salt water, of which the sea has quite a lot!  If you are rockpooling or paddling make sure that your camera strap is round your neck, or round your wrist if it’s a compact.  A camera dropped into seawater is sure to be ruined.  The card may survive so salvage that, but the salt water isn’t good for your sensor.

"Rusty shipwreck" by Derek Gale

I was tempted to say that this was a shot of a camera that had been dropped into the sea, but it’s actually part of a shipwreck.  You can see how salt water is corrosive though…

"Shingle beach" by Derek Gale

The next hazard is the surface you walk on.   I saw the result of someone dropping a nice image stabilised Canon lens on to a hard shingle beach; it broke.  Sand is even worse.  It can be blown about by the wind and get into the delicate parts of your camera.  Lenses especially can really suffer.  I try and keep my camera in its case and then inside a plastic bag to prevent this.   Make sure that you haven’t got sand stuck to your fingers when you’ve been using sun screen.  Oil and sand is a really bad combination.

"Windsurfer" by Derek Gale

Sometimes the salt water comes to you.  This was a windy day in Dorset and there was a lot of salt spray flying around.  If you can taste salt on your lips it’s time to put away your camera, or at least hide it out of the spray until you need to take a quick shot.

"Low pass: Cormorant" by Derek Gale

Remember to look after your camera, get great shots, and spend your holiday as free as a bird.

Great images from Buscot trekkies

Here are some of the delegates’ images from last week’s Buscot Park Photo Trek.  There’s some really good stuff there.  I particularly like the camera movement images from our first exercise.

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