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

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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.

If you would like to be on one of my training events please use the “Contact Us” button and subscribe to the Gale Photography newsletter “Writing with Light”.  It’s a fab way to keep up to date with new photography training dates, get useful photo tips, and benefit from great portrait photography offers.

Calling all Trekkies; Buscot impresses again!

Last Saturday I tutored another Photo Trek at Buscot Park near Faringdon.  Once again Buscot impressed with its mixture of open parkland and more formal gardens, giving a superb variety of locations for photography and, of course, photography training. Thank you to Lord Faringdon for allowing us to run Photo Treks there.

The Trek delegates were a nicely mixed group with a range of experience and equipment.  All came with a  desire to improve their photography in a beautiful place.

As always on a Photo Trek there were surprises…

"Toady back?" by Derek Gale

The central pond in Buscot’s 4-seasons walled garden has fabulous dark red water lilies and quite a number of frogs, but we were surprised to see a toad sat on a lily pad with a toadlet on its back.  You can imagine it’s thinking something like, “Go into the pond and play!  I’m trying to get a bit of rest here.”

The weather on the Trek was perfect.  The sky was partly cloudy with sunny intervals, and the light was changing all the time.  This allowed me to demonstrate to the Trek delegates the importance of looking at the sky and waiting for the right light to come along.

"Buscot House 1" by Derek Gale

Here the sky is very atmospheric but the house is too dark.  The difference in brightness between the house and the sky is too large to give a good exposure for both of them.  Using the camera’s Exposure Compensation control made the sky too bright.  What was needed was more light on the house.  A quick look at the sky and wind direction showed that it would be in sunlight in a few minutes.

"Buscot House 2" by Derek Gale

The sun came out, the house became much brighter, and it was then possible to get both the sky and the house properly exposed.  Just by waiting a few minutes.

"Buscot House 3" by Derek Gale

There’s a perfect spot at Buscot for discussing the use of foreground objects to frame the main subject.  The swimming pool by the east end of the house has a pavilion next to it.  The pavilion contains a theatre and a squash court.  The archway through to the pool is a perfect frame for the east elevation, and is useful for getting rid of the otherwise bright sky.

"Buscot canal leaf" by Derek Gale

One of Buscot’s defining landscape features is the water garden designed by Harold Peto.  The gardens are arranged as a series of canals and rectangular ponds down the hill towards the lake.  Here we talked about using different camera viewpoints to give more interesting images.  The leaf was floating on one of the ponds and I held my camera just above the surface.  It was hard to see what I was framing on, but the beauty of digital is that it costs nothing to try again.

They say that “time flies when you are enjoying yourself”, and all too soon it seemed, we had to return to our starting point.  It had been a great afternoon, with lots of photographic ideas flying around, and lots of “How do I…” questions being raised.  Thanks to everyone for making it fun for me too.