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

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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.

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