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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.

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“If you stop learning you stop growing”

Continuing to learn is especially important in creative photography because there are so many different subject areas and photographic styles, not to mention the changes in technology. I try to continuously develop my own photography and, as today is my birthday, it’s time for a bit of reflection on some of the things I’ve learnt in the past year.

"Biker" by Derek Gale

This shot, from an advanced studio photography course I attended, shows that sometimes you need lots of lights to get a great shot.  The person was lit with just 2 lights, it was the bike that was the challenge.  It was lit by light reflecting off a large white sheet that was itself lit with 5 lights.  This technique gave a better quality of illumination on the bike’s shiny surfaces, and I’m using it in my commissioned work for clients.

"Below Niagara HDR" by Derek Gale

Digital photography involves the use of computers, and these days keeping up to date with developments in image editing software is vital.  I was happy with the composition of this shot of Niagara Falls from below, after all my “The Creative Eye” course includes sections on composition, but I wanted to add a bit more punch to the image.  I used the latest version of Adobe Photoshop to make a High Dynamic Range (HDR) image from a single RAW file.  It’s a technique I learned this year, and it’s great for giving more detail in the shadow areas while keeping the highlight detail.

"Wild strawberry" by Derek Gale

Setting yourself photographic challenges is a great way to learn, and this year I challenged myself to take as many creative images as I could in 30 minutes.  I blogged about this previously, and this is another image from that shoot.  A simple shot of a wild strawberry taken with a 50mm Sigma macro lens.  Getting effective simple shots takes a lot of practice.

"Horse's eye" by Derek Gale

Pushing the boundaries of your cameras is also a great way to learn.  I use a Lumix FX-500 digital compact camera, and it’s a great photographic tool.  It has a surprising close-up ability, and by experimenting I’ve found that it’s ideal for close up portraits.  This shot, of a horse’s eye, shows that you don’t need to show the whole of the face to show the subject well.  To me there’s a sadness in there.

"Ashmolean statue" by Derek Gale

This year I’ve also been inspired by other photographers’ work, and by other works of art.  We can learn so much by looking at paintings, sculpture (and the way it’s displayed), architecture, film and TV.  The newly revised Ashmolean museum in Oxford is fabulous, and I loved the way this sculpture was silhouetted against the sun on the window blinds.

"Sunbathing potatoes" by Derek Gale

Sometimes by being a photographer we learn things about subjects other than photography.  I saw these through a “potting shed” window in the grounds of Chastleton House in Oxfordshire.  At first glance they looked like eggs, although I did wonder why eggs would be there.  They are in fact potatoes, and they are getting a good start to growing by being left in the sun for a while.  They did look as if they were sunbathing!

If my learning this year has inspired you to learn then my “The Creative Eye” course could be ideal.   The next course is on Sat 13th Nov 2010 at the Court Hill Centre near Wantage.  Online sales have ended, but you can still book by calling 01793 783859.

Cheers,

Derek                     www.galephotography.co.uk

Handles sanitized frequently!

Cameras aren’t just for taking pictures of your family & friends or of “big views”, they’re fabulously useful as visual notebooks to help carry out sociological research, and to do research into the changing use of language.  On a recent trip to Canada I was “sign spotting”, because the signs people use tell us a lot about them.

"But why?" by Derek Gale

Here’s an example from Niagara Falls. It was at the entrance to the main Visitor Centre, and I was bemused as to why they were doing it, and why they needed to tell everyone that they were doing it.  The irony is that most people I saw ( and me) didn’t use the handles to open the door!

"But why were there 2 spaces?" by Derek Gale

Here’s an example with one of my pet hates, a badly used apostrophe.  The car parking space at the Royal Bank of Canada was for “seniors” but the sign implied that there was only one senior that might use it.   There was however another “senior’s” space, so the senior in question must have had more than one car!

"Financial crisis" by Derek Gale

This sign was on the edge of Lake Huron, and it had no errors.  I did think that I should bring it back to the UK as a reminder to everyone about the risks some financial institutions took a few years ago.

"Perfectly named" by Derek Gale

This sign was on the door of a medical centre in the Canadian city of Guelph.  With a name like that what other career was open to him (or her!)?  It reminded me of the dentist called Mr Pullar who used to have a practice in Maidenhead, UK.

"Allergy-free food" by Derek Gale

Here’s another nice apostrophe; the famous possessive plural.  I liked the reason that the restaurant gave to stop you bringing your own food in.  It’s a good example of “control by fear”.  After all, what reasonable person would want to risk the health of other diners?  It also implies that all of the food in the restaurant is free from any component that might cause an allergic reaction.  The menu looked pretty normal to me though… … including nuts.

"Welcome home" by Derek Gale

So, after an overnight flight back to the UK from Canada we had to catch the Hotel Hoppa back to our car.  Here’s the sign on the ticket machine in the Hoppa waiting Room.  It did look as if it had been there a while.  Clearly someone didn’t completely believe it, and had torn it, presumably to access the money slot. 

As you can see, there are loads of interesting signs around if you look, and there might even be a book about them waiting to be published.

Cheers,

Derek.                   www.galephotography.co.uk

PS   I wasn’t able to photograph a memorable sign I saw at a National Trust tea room in the UK.  It said, “Child soup & roll £1.75”.  A modern take on Jonathan Swift’s “A modest proposal”?

One light portraits

It’s quite common for people to ask me about studio lighting.  Typically they’ll ask about the minimum photographic kit they need to get great portraits.  My reply is simple, “One light and a camera”.  After all, the sun is only one light…

Here’s a selection of images taken using just one light.  Most are in my portrait photography studio near Swindon, and the last one is taken on location using the “strobist” off-camera flash technique.

"One light #1" by Derek Gale

Here the single studio light is slightly below the subject’s eye line, and this gives a great edge light to her neck and face.  There’s enough light reaching her right eye to give a good catch light, which lifts her eye nicely out of the shadow.  The light was set up so nothing reached the background, hence it’s completely black.

"One light #2" by Derek Gale

This is using the same light but with a red gel on it.  I asked the subject to turn her head a bit towards me.  As a result of that very small movement, we now concentrate on her left eye instead.  As with the previous image I’ve cropped it to a vertical letterbox shape.  This gives a better line across the image frame.

"One light #3" by Derek Gale

I’ve moved my viewpoint so that I am looking straight down on her hair.  It’s being lit in a glancing way so that the texture has been picked out very clearly.  The vertical letterbox crop and off-centre composition with lots of dark space add mystery to the image.

"One light #4" by Derek Gale

This studio shot uses one light fitted with soft box, which acts as a light diffuser.  The diffused light directly on her face gives even areas of light and shade, with very soft shadows  It’s a completely different treatment to the previous images.  I’ve reduced the colour saturation in Photoshop to give the right mood.

"One light #5"

This final image is from a location portrait shoot in a disused quarry in the Forest of Dean.  The light is coming from a single remotely-triggered flash off to the left.  It’s going straight down the subject’s nose line.   The unlit side of the large block of stone makes a great background to her face.  The flash was quite close, and the area was fairly dark, so there’s no contribution to the exposure from the daylight.

So, you just need one light!

If you want to learn how to take more creative images, and to learn the composition techniques I’ve used here, why not book on to my “The Creative Eye” course near Wantage, Oxfordshire on Saturday 13th November?

Cheers,

Derek

www.galephotography.co.uk

You might not think so…

… but if you have a flat bed scanner you have a digital camera.  It’s got a light source, a light sensor, and builds up an image from individual elements.  You can put objects on the scanner, scan them, and then use the resulting digital files in creative compositions

As I understand it, photography means “Writing with Light”, (the name of the Gale Photography newsletter – subscribe here!), so scanning is photography, but as Bones from Star Trek would say, “It’s photography, but not as we know it”.

"Scanned maple leaf" by Derek Gale

This maple leaf was scanned, its outline cut out, and then had a graduated background added in Photoshop.  The background was made of colours found in the leaf.  It was nice and simple to do, and it made an excellent greetings card.

"Scanned Angel" by Derek Gale

This wire christmas decoration was done in the same way.  Scanners often have a large depth of field, so you can get a “macro” shot of a small object with everything in crisp focus.  The decoration was only about 2 inches high.

"Scanned orange & hand" by Derek Gale

Scanners aren’t very good at imaging things that move, especially people.  But it can be done.  Here I’ve cut an orange and placed it cut side down on the scanner.  I held my hand over the orange, and started the scan.  While it was scanning I moved my hand as if I was using a juicer.  I held a wicker basket lid over my hand as a background.  The movement of my fingers makes for an interesting image.  If you do this sort of thing remember to give your scanner a wipe afterwards!

"3 fishes & Great Court roof" by Derek Gale

Here I’ve scanned a little wooden fish into Photoshop, and then copied and resized to give 3 versions.  I’ve dropped them on to a background which was an image of the  roof of the Great Court at the British Museum.  I made the background a bit wobbly to make it look as if it was water, and there we have it, a geodesic fishbowl!

"Scanned flowers blue" by Derek Gale

Finally, these images are part of my “Blue Florals” series of Fine Art images.  I took a series of flowers and scanned them.  It was important to avoid squashing them, so I scanned with the lid off and held a black cloth over the flowers.  The background is a shot of some blue glass with lots of Gaussian blur added.  The  text colour is a colour from the flower.  The text was taken (with permission from the publishers – Dorling Kindersley) from a plant encyclopedia.

So, if you have a scanner gathering dust on the corner of your desk, turn it on and take some photographs!

Cheers,

Derek                             www.galephotography.co.uk

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Phil Hendy and Phil Hendy, Gale Photography. Gale Photography said: New blog post about using flatbed scanners for #photography. http://wp.me/ppD4z-tT Pls RT […]

A Canadian adventure

Well, we’re back from our 2 week trip to Canada.  Still feeling a bit jet-lagged after the flight from Toronto, but we had a great time over there.  Canada is a huge country, and we only had the time to travel in the province of Ontario.  Mind you, it is 2.5 times larger than Texas!

Before we left I had a long discussion with myself about what cameras to take; I was concerned about the weight and size of my “fast glass” lenses.  I eventually chose my Nikon DSLR and a 28-75 f2.8 zoom, with my Lumix FX-500 digital compact for when I was walking and wanted to carry a very light camera.

"Canadian Maple leaf" by Derek Gale

As you will have seen from previous posts, I really like the little Lumix, and it’s great for creative photography.  Here whilst on a walking trail in Algonquin Provincial Park, I’ve set the camera to Macro and held a red maple leaf up between me and the sun.

"Avro Lancaster in the rain" by Derek Gale

I’m into aircraft, both historic and modern, and made sure to take a trip to the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton.  The museum owns one of only 2 flying Avro Lancasters in the world.  The other is in the UK, and is flown by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.  The Canadian one is different in that you can pay for a flight in it; $2000 though… I was lucky to go on a flying day, and even though it was raining hard they were still flying.  The image is through a wet window, and the softening caused by the rain adds a bit of nostalgia.

"Bluecoats at Niagara falls" by Derek Gale

The museum isn’t far from one of Canada’s premier tourist attractions; Niagara Falls.  It’s a fantastic sight, even with all the hotels and other touristy stuff around it.  This shot was from the “Maid of the Mist”, a boat that goes very close to the base of the falls.  I loved the contrast between the falls and the blue rain coats everyone was given to keep dry (ish).

"Bee at Niagara Falls" by Derek Gale

On the promenade overlooking the falls I spotted this bee having a rest.  It may have got wet from the spray and needed to dry out.  Once again I’ve set the Lumix on Macro to get a nice sharp bee with the falls in the background.

"Halloween Pumpkins in Canada" by Derek Gale

Autumn/Fall in Canada is pumpkin season.  There were fields of them and loads of roadside stalls selling them.  These were on a table in the reconstructed village of “Sainte Marie among the Hurons”.  It was very dark so needed a 1/4 of a second exposure.  The window sill came in very useful as a temporary camera support.

"Beaver lake reflection" by Derek Gale

I mentioned Algonquin Park at the start of this blog.  Fabulous place!  We didn’t have long enough there, but managed to fit in an 11km trail which took 5 and a half hours to complete.  We lunched, accompanied by very tame Gray Jays, by the side of a beaver lake.  We walked across the dam to get to our lunch spot, a detail of which is featured above.  It’s just amazing how much change these animals bring to an area.  Streams turn to lakes, lakes silt up and turn into swamps, then into meadows.

"Moose in Algonquin Park" by Derek Gale

Finally, as we were heading out of the park at dusk we saw this bull moose.  He had a fine set of antlers and probably weighed about 700 lbs!  My 200mm lens would have been useful here…

In summary, a superb trip and a great place for creative photography.

Cheers,

Derek

www.galephotography.co.uk

Anne RogersOctober 15, 2010 - 1:46 pm

Great post! I’m going to Canada early next year so these pictures really whetted my apetite. Oh, and I especially liked the one of the Lancaster.