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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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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

“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