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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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Same person: different look.

In creative portrait photography how an image looks is down to the photographer.  In the studio how you light your subject is critical, and for location images it’s critical to work properly with the natural light.  How you then modify the light can dramatically affect the look of an image. 

Once you have your lighting sorted, simple changes to the composition of the image can also change the look significantly.

"Split image" by Derek Gale

Take this image:  The lighting, a soft-box from the front, is quite simple.  The interest comes from having the subject’s face split by a sheet of muslin that was hung up to act as a diffuser/reflector.  I had taken a series without the muslin and then asked her to move slightly so that it was partly in front of her face.  It was far enough away from her to be nicely out of focus, and its translucency allowed the obscured part of her face to show through sufficiently.

"Hair!" by Derek Gale

We tried to get some shots  of her hair “in flight”. They were fine, but I wanted more structure to the image.  We spread her hair out on the studio floor and I shot from a step-ladder directly above her.   It was simple to light with a fairly directional light on her hair which gave a nice sharp shadow under her chin.  Even though her expression was similar to the previous image, the end result was very different!

"Poster girl" by Derek Gale

Away from the studio there’s less control of lighting direction, unless you carry remotely fired flash units, so you need to be careful with where you do your shoot.  This urban image was at an abandoned car repair centre and the fly posters had been  busy.  I made sure that enough of a poster was included to clearly show the type of area we were in, but not so much that the poster’s text was a distraction.  Her pose echoed the pose of the man on the poster.  I’ve punched up the background colour by “cross-processing” it in Photoshop.

"Wall supports" by Derek Gale

Same day, same shoot, completely different look.  The pipes in the image were supports for a wall near the Railway Village in Swindon and were at quite an acute angle.  By asking my model to lean on the pipes, and then tilting the camera so she looked more upright, her arms became much more elegant.  The background brickwork also became less distracting.  A crop to simplify the image, a bit of “diffuse glow”, and it was done.

"Estate portrait" by Derek Gale

Same day, same shoot and yet another look.  This final image shows how the most mundane of objects, an estate car, can be used for creative portraits.  My model is lying down on the load area floor.  The car’s open rear hatch screened the direct sun, which meant that the remaining light was beautifully diffused.  The grey carpet and shadow area from the rear seats acted as a perfect foil to her skin tones.  The black and white conversion simplified the image.

As you can see: one day, one model, many different looks.  Control your lighting and your composition to get variety into your images.

Cheers,

Derek                     www.galephotography.co.uk

A highly dynamic photographer

Our eyes are wonderful things.  They can see texture on brightly lit surfaces and in deep shadows, let you read a newspaper by moonlight, and even see in starlight. Cameras aren’t quite as good as our eyes.  They can record good highlight detail, or they can record good shadow texture, but most of the time they can’t record both simultaneously.  The amount of brightness and shadow that a camera can record is known as its “dynamic range”.

There’s a photographic technique that you can use to produce images that more closely resemble how the eyes see.  It’s called “High Dynamic Range” photography, or HDR for short.  In this technique you take a series of images with different exposure settings; known as “Exposure Bracketing”.  The simplest method uses images taken at; the correct exposure, one unit under exposed, and one unit overexposed, however you can take other combinations.  I’ve taken up to 9 shots with varying exposures for some of my HDR images.  The sets of images are then put together on the computer using special software.

"Canadian street HDR" by Derek Gale

This is a simple HDR image of the sunset in a small town in Canada.  Without HDR I had the choice to expose for the sky or to expose for the trees, not both.  The images were taken hand-held.  That’s always a bit of a risk with this sort of photography as you can get “ghosting” where the images don’t quite overlap because you’ve moved a bit.  You’re better off using a tripod.

"Tithe Barn HDR" by Derek Gale

I used a tripod for this 9-image HDR shot of the 13th-century tithe barn at Great Coxwell near Faringdon.  I loved the dramatic sky, and wanted to really show it against the texture of the stone barn. Converting the final image to black and white helped to give an air of mystery to the image.  I used a very wide angle lens to give a bit of perspective drama.

"Tractor & farm HDR" by Derek Gale

One thing you need to be careful of with HDR images is the “cartoony” effect that you can get.  The software I use has settings for various styles of image.  I like the “photorealistic” option as it leaves the images looking more natural.  This tractor shot shows what can happen if  you use the “surrealistic” setting.  The contrast and colour are significantly changed from the original images.  It’s OK for a few images but can be a bit intense for some subjects.

"Leopard tank interior HDR" by Derek Gale

This image is from a trip to the “tank shed” at the Defence Academy in Shrivenham.  It’s of the interior of a sectioned Leopard tank; Germany’s main battle tank for many years.  The lighting was quite contrasty and using HDR helped me to get detail in the shadows that was not recorded in a normal exposure.  HDR’s not a good technique for portraits as the need to take multiple images means your subject has to stay absolutely still.  Here the crew were dummies so it was easy!

"The Folly HDR" by Derek Gale

HDR is useful in architectural photography too.  This image, of an 18th-century folly in Berkshire, shows detail in the artificially lit interior as well as the naturally lit exterior.  On the day there was a significant difference between the brightness of the inside compared to the outside, but HDR was able to show both well.

So, to improve the dynamic range in your creative photography try a bit of HDR!

Cheers,

Derek                www.galephotography.co.uk

Snow, snow, quick, quick, snow!

The winter weather has come early to the UK, but instead of  hiding away inside in the warm, treat it as a chance to take some stunning winter images.  As long as you keep yourself safe, (no walking on icy lakes), and keep your camera as warm as you can, it’s a great time for creative photography.  You’ll also see things that you never see the rest of the year.

"Frosty windscreen" by Derek Gale

A frosty car windscreen is a perfect example.  I’ve used a 50mm macro lens from inside the car (out of the wind!), and made sure the background was dark to give better contrast.  These ice crystals are a pain to shift when you want to drive, but are simply beautiful to photograph.  Their fractal character means they look like feathers, or ferns.

"Icicle" by Derek Gale

Icicles are excellent photographic subjects.  This one, at the base of a wind turbine, seemed to be not very bothered about which direction it grew in.  It only started to point downwards near its end.  Again I needed to control the background to make the icicle stand out.  The out-of-shot sky was blue, which gave blueness to the shadows, and gave a very cool feel to the image.

"Snow shadows" by Derek Gale

Snow images often benefit by being turned into black & white.  I loved the way the winter sun formed long shadows across the snow by the table.  The low early morning sun really picked out the snow’s textures, and the black & white conversion simplified the image.  My high viewpoint helped to give a strong, simple composition.  As with most snow pictures I needed to give some positive Exposure Compensation so the snow came out white, and not grey.

"Trees in snow" by Derek Gale

For most of the year the ground under these trees is mostly brown.  This means that the colour contrast between the trees and the ground is quite low.  The snow on the ground changed all that, and allowed a pattern picture with a contrasting foreground.  The trees’ shadows gave more contrast and texture to the snow.  I cropped it into a vertical letterbox to accentuate the trees’ shapes.

"Birdtracks" by Derek Gale

Although a lot of the time it’s quite hard to see birds, the snow lets you see where they have been.  This bird has walked, not hopped, and left a great trail running diagonally across the image.  I’ve dropped down to get the best angle, and focused on the nearest track.  I let the other tracks go out of focus, into the darker area. Control of focus is a powerful compositional tool for photographers.

As you can see the winter weather is a great aid to your photography.  Wrap up warm, and use all that reflected light creatively!

Cheers,

Derek                          www.galephotography.co.uk

Gone walkabout!

I like walking and I like photography.  On a walk it’s great to have a wide variety of lens focal lengths; wide-angle to telephoto, to give maximum photographic flexibility.  I’ve got a Lumix superzoom compact digital camera that’s really light, but the online photo library I use won’t accept images from that camera.  To produce images that the library will accept I need to use a DSLR.  My DSLR lenses all have large maximum apertures, and as a result they’re very heavy – not great if you are on a walk! 

I’ve been looking for a “walkabout” lens for a while, and bought one last weekend.  A “walkabout” lens is one that removes the need to keep changing lenses while you are walking about, as it has a large focal length range.  The lens I bought is a Tamron 28-300mm.  On my crop sensor Nikon DSLRs it has an equivalent focal length range of 42-450mm.  It’s not that wide-angle, but it’s very light and has great telephoto “reach”.  I decided to test it out…

"Jackdaw with bacon" by Derek Gale

This shot, of a jackdaw having its breakfast bacon, is a perfect example of the lens’ “reach”.  It’s perched on our chimney stack, and was posing nicely in the morning sunshine.  Taken from ground level @ 300mm.

The lens doesn’t have a large maximum aperture, and isn’t image-stabilised, but that just means my camera stabilisation technique will need to be up to scratch.  Lots of leaning on posts, walls, fences, car roofs, etc.

"Car roof bokeh" by Derek Gale

Rather than using a car roof to stabilise my camera, here’s a shot of my car roof with frost on it.  I used the longest focal length again, and the largest aperture, to get a small depth of field.  I like the look of the out of focus areas or “bokeh”.

"Tree bokeh" by Derek Gale

Here’s another “bokeh” image.  The morning sun melted the frost on a tree in the garden, giving lovely sunlit water droplets.  I’ve set the aperture to its maximum again and focused on some branches in the foreground.  The out of focus highlights in the background look beautiful.

"Clothes peg & contrail" by Derek Gale

You will have noticed from previous blog posts that I like simple images.  I saw the clothes peg and a drying frosty car cover against the blue sky, and thought it would make an interesting wider angle image.  As I was taking it a plane flew past high up leaving a white contrail.  I quickly lined up the peg and the trail and took a few shots.  It looked best cropped to a letterbox format.

"Sunset glass" by Derek Gale

This last image is of the sunset a couple of days ago.  The sky went an attractive colour but needed something else to make it interesting.  I took a shot of the sky and a hedge through the wobbly glass of the bathroom window.  Now, instead of being a straight shot of the plain sunset sky, it’s a beautiful abstract of interlocking colours and shapes.

Thus far I am pleased with the results from my new lens.  It won’t replace my professional specification lenses for creative portrait photography, but as long as I work within its limits I’m sure it’s going to be a very useful part of my photographic arsenal.  It’s going to be especially useful on my Photo Treks – photography training “al fresco”.

Cheers,

Derek

www.galephotography.co.uk

A multitasking man…

I’m in a particularly busy, and varied, time at the moment.  For a professional photographer and photographic trainer that’s just great.  Perhaps it’s something to do with the run up to Christmas, but everything is happening at once. 

I ran my “The Creative Eye” course last weekend, and I have another one this weekend.  Last week’s was near Wantage, and this weekend I’m at the Royal Photographic Society in Bath tutoring a course for them.  I really enjoy it, and it’s great helping people develop their photographic style.

"Trolley pattern" by Derek Gale

On the course I show how you can get interesting images anywhere, even outside your local supermarket.  This image is deceptively simple, but I put a lot of care into the framing and composition.  There are lots of great patterns like this everywhere you look.  If you know how to look…

I’m also busy with contemporary portrait shoots.  I’ve just edited a set for some clients and prepared their sequence, and have another shoot tomorrow.

"Cross processed" by Derek Gale

This portrait, like the trolleys image above, appears simple but there’s a lot going on.   It’s taken with studio flash that’s set to give the same exposure as the outside ambient light.  In terms of the composition, the amount of space the person takes up balances the space defined by the irises and poppies at the top of the image. During the image editing stage, the whole image has been “cross-processed”, which alters the colours, and the subject’s skin has then been corrected back to their normal colour.  The image also breaks the “rule” that says the lighter areas should be at the top of the image and the darker areas at the bottom.  Creative portrait photography is a complex thing! 

As well as the venue-based photography training and portrait photography, I’m doing some 1-2-1 & 1-2-2 training at my photographic studio near Swindon

"Large DOF" by Derek Gale

"Small DOF" by Derek Gale

The 1-2-1/1-2-2 training is bespoke, can cover any aspect of photography; technical or creative, and is tailored to the client’s camera model.  These images, from some technical 1-2-1 training, show the effect of closing the lens aperture down to control the depth of field (DOF).  The DOF of an image is the degree to which it is sharp all over.  Small DOF gives little sharpness other than in one area.  Images with a large DOF are sharp everywhere.  Controlling the DOF can improve your images dramatically.

"Another place" by Derek Gale

As an example, in this image of “Another Place” by Anthony Gormley, I needed to ensure that the boat and the figure were both sharp enough.

As well as all this, I’m also working on a very interesting image editing project for a client.  It involves, among other things, an 84-image High Dynamic Range (HDR) panorama.  The file size of the final panorama is about 2Gb!

As Christmas is coming, when I may take a rest from my multitasking, remember that we offer personalised photography gift vouchers.  You can give someone a day or half a day 1-2-1 training, a contemporary portrait shoot, or a place on a photography training course.  Just call on 01793 783859 to reserve yours.  The last day for ordering photography gift vouchers in time for Christmas is Monday 13th December.

Cheers,

Derek                                               www.galephotography.co.uk