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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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They’re not all there…

One question that’s come up in discussions about portrait photography, is whether it’s necessary for a portrait to show the whole of a person’s face, or even to show their face at all?  In a previous blog post I explored the use of shadows and out of focus areas in creative portrait photography, and I’d like to develop that a bit more. 

"Part portrait 3" by Derek Gale

In this outdoor portrait I’ve cropped the image at the centre of the subject’s nose.  It helps to contrast their skin tones with the tones of the rusty corrugated metal behind them.  It also puts the person in a more interesting place in the frame, with much more space above them than the space they take up. 

"Part portrait 2" by Derek Gale

This is a horizontal treatment of the same compositional technique.  Here the empty space was black, so it was better to convert the image into black and white rather than leaving it in colour.  You get a real idea of the boy’s character even though you can’t see all of his face. 

"Part portrait 1" by Derek Gale

This is an even tighter crop on a girl’s face.  It’s said that the eyes are the “windows to the soul”, so I’ve really concentrated on a single eye.  As it was so strikingly blue, I left the eye in colour and converted the rest of the image to B&W.  This splash of colour helps to draw your eye to the girl’s eye. 

"Part portrait 6" by Derek Gale

So how small a part of a person can we show and still show their character?  This shot of an eye, taken with a macro lens, shows a good line of communication between the subject and the viewer.  The fact that the person’s “laughter lines” aren’t creased tells you that they aren’t smiling.  The direct gaze, with a large pupil, shows confidence. 

So what if we don’t show their face at all? 

"Part portrait 4" by Derek Gale

To me this is still a portrait even though the child’s face isn’t visible.  There’s a delightful contrast between the girl’s dress and the chunky boots; a contrast between smartness; “I’m being photographed”, and practicality; “It’s raining”.  Her parents would immediately recognise it as her. 

So, it’s clear to me that you can show a person’s character in a portrait without showing the whole face.  Set yourself a project to take a person’s portrait without showing their face at all! 

You can learn how to look for images like this, and learn creative compositional techniques, on my “The Creative Eye” course on November 13th at the Court Hill Centre near Wantage.  You can book your place here

Cheers, 

Derek 

www.galephotography.co.uk

Autumn: Season of colour & movement.

It’s now officially autumn here in the UK, and I for one am looking forward to the fabulous colours that the season can offer.  The brightest colours in autumn come from the Acers (maples), so a while ago I went to Westonbirt Arboretum which has a fabulous collection of them. 

On my arrival the weather was horrible!  The sky was grey, it was very windy, and it was raining.  The thick clouds made it very dark, which I thought wasn’t going to help with my creative photography.  However, in this case I was wrong… 

I realised that I would not be able to take hand-held images, as the light level was too low, so I set up my trusty Uniloc tripod.  It’s perfect for an uneven ground surface as its legs are independently adjustable.  The wind was causing the trees to move about, so I decided to use that movement creatively.   Selecting a red maple as my subject, I used a small aperture to give a shutter speed of a few seconds, and during the exposure gave a pop of flash from a hand-held flash gun. 

"Blurry maple 1" by Derek Gale

 As you can see, the movement during some of the long exposure gave a misty red feel to the leaves.  The pop of flash helped give some sharpness, and stopped a falling leaf in mid-drop! 

I liked the effect of the movement so I chose another maple, an orange one this time, to see just how misty I could get it. 

"Blurry maple 2" by Derek Gale

 This exposure, of about 5 seconds, gave a sort of “time -average” of where the leaves were as they moved.  The tree’s trunk is nice and sharp – it didn’t move – but the leaves have become very abstract.  It looks more like the smoke from a coloured flare than a tree.  What this type of image shows is that photographs aren’t just about a “moment in time”, they’re also about the effect of time. 

In the first image I used a pop of flash to give a little bit of sharpness along with the movement blur.  In the next image the flash is more important. 

"Blurry maple 3" by Derek Gale

 Having removed the camera from the tripod, I tried a number of images where I moved the camera around during the exposure, and fired the on-camera flash.  This image is of lots of different coloured maple leaves at my feet.  I didn’t want a really long exposures, so I opened up the lens aperture and set the shutter speed to about 1/15 of  a second.  I quickly moved the camera in a semi-circle during the exposure. The camera movement has given a fabulous shape, and the flash has recorded a sharp image of the leaves underneath the blur. 

"Blurry maple 4" by Derek Gale

 Selecting some different leaves, and moving the camera up and down instead of in a semi-circle, gave an even more abstract image. The wet leaves lit by the flash shone back and gave a bit more contrast.  Here the fact that it was raining really helped! 

So, despite my initial misgivings about the weather, and how it might compromise my creative photography, I was pleased with my images.  Next time I go to Westonbirt I’ll make sure it’s raining!
 
We’re currently putting together the programme for next year’s Photo Treks and Photography Training, where you can learn photographic techniques like these.  Do subscribe to our e-mail newsletter to be kept up to date with developments.
Cheers,
Derek

Show and tell!

So here it is, my report from the Royal County of Berkshire Show (aka The Newbury Show) which happened last weekend (18/19 Sep 2010).   Our stand was in the Shopping Pavilion down near the BBC Berkshire performance area.  It was a very busy weekend, and the threatened rain didn’t happen, which was a pleasant surprise.  

"Newbury stand" by Derek Gale

We had some very complimentary remarks about our display, and the acrylic block in the centre of the table really seemed to catch people’s eyes.  Several visitors to the stand knew the person featured!  As well as meeting lots of new people, and discussing portrait photography and photography training with them, it was good to catch up with some existing clients as well.  The Mum of one 2-year-old was very excited to see images of him on the stand. 

"Newbury info stand" by Derek Gale

Before the show started it was really interesting to wander round the showground with my trusty Lumix Fx-500, and capture a few candid shots of people getting their stands ready.  I liked the way the “Information” board was at such an angle. 

"Wickerman 1" by Derek Gale

It was also an opportunity to photograph the impressive 38 feet tall Oxford Wickerman, which is being burnt on Nov 6th in Oxford to raise money for the charity “Rosy”.  The early morning sun on Saturday really made it stand out against the blue sky. 

"Wickerman 2" by Derek Gale

A bit later it had clouded over, so I moved behind the sculpture and shot it with the morning light behind it.  The silhouette makes for a completely different type of image.  It’s a great example of why the direction of the light is so important in photography. 

"Newbury chicken" by Derek Gale

Finally, here’s a portrait of a fine-looking chicken.  It was in a cage in the livestock area, but the small lens of the Lumix just fitted in between the bars.  I used a pop of flash to highlight the bird, and exposed the background so it was nice and bright.  I like the bird’s expression, and the way it’s still looking at me even though it’s a profile shot.  It’s a reminder that the Show is still very much an active agricultural show.

It was a great show, and we’re already thinking about our display for next year.  See you there!

Cheers,

Derek

www.galephotography.co.uk

symmetry + yrtemmys.

You may have noticed from previous blog posts that I like creative photographic compositions that are quite off-centre and asymmetrical.  Although that is the case, you can make very interesting images that are completely symmetrical. 

This is how I do it. First, using some backlit studio shots of smoke from a burning incense stick… 

"Smoke Nazgul" by Derek Gale

I opened the smoke image in Adobe Photoshop and cloned out all of the little dust particles that you get when smoke is produced.  Doing the cloning at this stage saves having to do it all over again after the next stage!  I made another layer that was a copy of the background layer, then reversed it using Edit/Flip horizontal.  I then changed the Blending Mode of the top layer so that both images could be seen.  The right Blending Mode depends on the image but I find that either Lighten or Overlay gives good results.  I think this image looks like  a scary creature from Tolkien, such as one of the nazgul. 

"Aircraft Turbulence" by Derek Gale

This image, produced using the same technique, looks to me like an aircraft flying towards us, and its vapour trails & turbulence. 

"Glass mirror" by Derek Gale

This image was also taken in the studio, and is of some glass objects on a light box.  The only light is coming from underneath the objects.  The glass things overlapped so the patterns formed were already interesting.  Doing the copy/reverse/blend process gave a composition that has many interpretations.  I can see tartan, eyes, a robot, masonic symbols, etc. 

"Blue cross" by Derek Gale

This image is of a single wave coming in to a beach on the Gower Peninsular.   I took the original image with the wave going from one corner to the other, so when it was copied, reversed and blended it formed a blue cross, a bit like the St Andrew’s cross of Scotland.  As if by magic I turned Wales into Scotland! 

"Sea stripes" by Derek Gale

This final image is of a series of waves coming in to the same beach on the Gower Peninsular.  Here, as well as copy/reverse/blend, I rotated the final image by 90 degrees, which has produced a water pattern image that looks much more man-made than natural. 

Making these images is great fun, and it’s always surprising just what you get.  Why not give it a go? 

Want to know more?  We’re exhibiting at The Royal Berkshire County Show (also known as Newbury Show), on Saturday and Sunday (18th/19th September).  Do come over to the Shopping Pavillion and say hello! 

Cheers, 

Derek 

www.galephotography.co.uk

A trip to deepest Surrey

For portrait photography most people come to our photographic studio in Oxfordshire.  However, on a recent family portrait shoot I travelled to deepest Surrey.  The shoot was for a family with three kids, and they were easy to work with; great fun, enthusiastic, and happy to be photographed. 

The family’s house had a verandah/porch with fabulous light. 

"Surrey 3" by Derek Gale

  The light in the verandah was mostly quite diffuse, but with a soft directionality in places.  This image of the older girl shows that to perfection.  I used a focal length of 75mm, equivalent to 112mm on a full-frame camera, which gives a very flattering look to portraits and helps throw the background out of focus. 

"Surrey 4" by Derek Gale

 I used the same location and camera settings for this portrait of the younger girl.  Her expression was great; not quite smiling, and not quite not smiling.  Because the image is a bit more complex, it works better in B&W rather than colour.  The choice between B&W and colour is always interesting, and there are definitely some images that work better in colour than B&W, and vice versa. 

"Surrey 2" by Derek Gale

 The youngest child, a boy, was very excited to be photographed, but here I’ve caught him in a quieter mood by the main support pillar of the verandah.  The garden beyond him gives good context, and frames his head nicely.  There was a roof light which lit him from directly above, and acted just like a hair light in the studio.  The crack in the pillar divides up the white area very effectively. 

"Surrey 5" by Derek Gale

 In this final image, I popped the kids down on to the doorstep into the house.  The unlit room behind them gave a good dark background, and the front door had a fabulous texture.  They were happily laughing and looking at each other, and the image really shows their relationship well.  I had to increase the ISO a bit to keep the shutter speed fast enough, as it had clouded over, and I didn’t want to use flash.  This is another image that works much better in B&W rather than colour. 

So, a successful photographic trip to the wilds of Surrey, to work with a really interesting family. 

To book your own portrait shoot ; family, couple or individual, just give me a call on 01793 783859. 

Cheers, 

Derek. 

www.galephotography.co.uk