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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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I’m just a regular guy: Part 4.

It’s the “regular guy” thing again!  

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s a real privilege to photograph the same people over a period of time, especially kids.  You see how they’ve grown and changed, and the shoot is easier, because you’ve photographed them before.  

At a recent portrait shoot, two brothers and their respective families, came along.  I’d photographed the family of one of the brothers twice before.  With the other brother’s family it was the first time I’d met them. 

"Looking up 1" by Derek Gale

On their previous shoots I’d gone for a natural style, with diffused lighting, so to keep the  same look and feel as the previous images, I did the same for this shoot.  Here I’ve concentrated on the girl’s eyes, which were slightly accentuated by the angle I chose.  

"Looking up 2" by Derek Gale

This image of her brother uses a similar technique.  With this sort of image the conversion to black & white really helps simplify the image, and in each case I’ve used a long(ish) lens (80 mm equivalent) to throw the background out of focus. 

"Looking up 3" by Derek Gale

I didn’t need a black and white conversion here.  The boy’s skin tones were fantastic, and it would have lost too much of the colour contrast with his blond hair.  Again I’ve used a long(ish) lens to simplify the image.  He was great to photograph, with a really good “resting face”. 

"Looking left" by Derek Gale

Here you can see the difference between looking down on a subject and being at their eye level.  In this image I dropped down to his level, and to me he looks a bit older because of that.  It’s much more of a “moment observed”, as he seems unaware of the camera.  Once again the black and white conversion helps to make the image stronger. I didn’t need the colour contrast, and didn’t want the green foliage in the background to distract. 

"Looking right" by Derek Gale

His brother was really fun to work with.  He was asking “Why?” to everything, and was very lively.  He had a very expressive “active face”, and a great grin.  This image, of him looking off camera, caught his personality well. 

So, all in all it was a great shoot.  I look forward to the next one! 

Cheers, 

Derek 

www.galephotography.co.uk

The Car’s the Star!

You may have noticed from previous blog posts that I am a bit of a fan of cars.  I own a classic Pininfarina Spidereuropa.  It sounds glamorous, but it’s really just an old FIAT in a party dress.  

The shapes of cars are fascinating subjects for creative photography, and I love the little details. 

"Jaguar C-type bonnet" by Derek Gale

This is the bonnet of a Jaguar C-type Le Mans racing car from the 1950’s.  I was attracted to the louvres – cut into the bonnet to help engine cooling – and the way that the highlights in the background made a complementary pattern.  I used a long lens and a wide aperture to give great bokeh

"Le Mans Audi grime" by Derek Gale

Often, selecting just a part of a car can tell a story.  Take this image for example.  It’s part of the front/side bodywork of the modern Le Mans 24 Hour Race-winning Audi R8.  You can see just how effective the aerodynamics of the car were, because the oil from other cars has spread in perfect lines on the Audi’s curves.  Not really pretty, but it tells us so much more about the car than completely clean bodywork. 

"Maserati Birdcage reflection" by Derek Gale

This car, the Maserati Birdcage concept car, does have completely clean bodywork.  It’s very shiny, and reflecting the chequered flag pattern of the marquee the car was under.  It’s made a great pattern/abstract shot, which also reflects the fabulous racing history of the original Maserati Birdcage. 

"Mercedes star" by Derek Gale

Bonnet/radiator badges on cars are a perfect example of branding.  This 1930’s Mercedes badge really sums up everything about the car; quality engineering, style without (too much) ostentation, and exclusiveness.  I don’t need to show the rest of the car.  You get enough of an idea of how it is from the out of focus bonnet hinges, and the split windscreen in the background. 

"American car tail light" by Derek Gale

This car did have style with a lot of ostentation.  It’s a 1950’s Cadillac, and was made in the era where cars looked a lot like jet fighters or rockets.  These tail lights have it all; lots of chrome, space-age design, and they are “loud and proud”.  I used a long telephoto lens to throw the second light in the background out of focus.  This lets us concentrate on the foreground light. 

"Bentley Mk VI bonnet" by Derek Gale

Lest we forget, cars are made for driving, and not just for admiring their design.  This image is of my view from the passenger seat of a friend’s early 1950’s Bentley Mark VI Park Ward convertible.  It shows an empty open road, the sheen of the coachbuilt bonnet reflecting the sky, and the proud Bentley “Flying B” pointing the way. You can follow the line of the bonnet, and that of the road, to that magical place called “just around the corner”, that makes you want to keep on driving. 

Cars and photography; the perfect partners. 

Cheers, 

Derek 

www.galephotography.co.uk

30-minute challenge: Part 2

A few weeks ago, I set myself a little challenge.  It was to take as many creative images as I could in just 30 minutes.  As I said before, I restricted myself to a fixed focal length/prime lens, that was still very versatile; a Sigma 50mm f2.8 EX macro. 

I’ve already posted the first set of images from that creative half-hour, and here are some more…

"Against all the odds" by Derek Gale

This is taken at ground level.  It’s a little viola plant on the edge of the road outside the pub in our street. It’s in a tiny little crack in the tarmac next to the kerb, and it gets almost flattened every time a car parks there – but it’s still going strong.  I’m pretty sure that nearly everyone that goes past doesn’t see it, but there is beauty in the most unlikely places.  I had to lie down in the road to take it, so I was very careful about the traffic!

"Feather macro" by Derek Gale

Whilst I was getting up I spotted a feather, probably from a jackdaw.  I held it up to the light and focused by moving the feather backwards and forwards slightly.  Result?  A cool pattern picture.  The strong diagonal line from the main quill of the feather breaks the pattern and stops it being too repetitive.

"Close up scabious" by Derek Gale

Another flower image.  This time it’s a blue scabious flower in the garden.  These flowers are, as you can see, very popular with pollen beetles.  There was quite a number crawling across the pollen-bearing parts of the flower.  This is the sort of thing that the Sigma macro lens is perfect for.  It’s performance close up is fantastic.

"A cherry on the table" by Derek Gale

I recently made a “rustic” table for the garden.  It was used today, as a prop for a family portrait shoot.  The top is made of decking wood, and we store the table under a cherry tree.  During my 30-minute Creative Photography Challenge, I noticed that a cherry had fallen on to the table top.  I liked how the lines of the decking wood gave a great perspective and an interesting background.  The highlights are only on the cherry, which helps draw your eye to it.

"Lily spadix" by Derek Gale

Finally, here’s an image taken inside rather than outside.  The spadix of this Peace Lily plant was in a very shady place on the window sill.  I spot metered just for the spadix, and allowed the background, which was much brighter, to become over-exposed.  It simplifies the image, and that allows us to concentrate on the complex structure of the spadix.

So, there’s the final selection of my 30-minute challenge images.  As I said previously, why not set yourself a challenge, and see what you can produce?  It’s great fun, and improves your photography.

I’ve noticed that there is a common feature in all these images – except one.  What’s the common feature, and which is the odd one out?  No prizes – but I will blog to say who got it right! 

Cheers, 

Derek 

www.galephotography.co.uk

PS   There are places on my Savernake Forest Photo Trek on September 4th.  You can book online here.

Tripping the light fantastic: Part 2

In an earlier post I talked about light, and how altering it, or using it to the best advantage, can make images more dramatic.  In this post I’ll continue the discussion, and give you some more examples. 

If you think about it, the fundamental state of nature, or a photographic studio, is darkness.  You have to add light to be able to see or to take photographs.  Most of the time, the things we see are illuminated by a combination of direct light and reflected light coming from a number of directions. Interesting things happen if you restrict the light to just one direction. 

"Silhouette 1" by Derek Gale

In this creative portrait there’s no light reaching the side of the person that’s facing the camera.  The background has been carefully lit so that it comes out plain white, and the person comes out as a plain black silhouette; the ultimate black and white image!  It’s a modern take on the classic cut out paper technique developed in 18th century France. 

"Silhouette 2" by Derek. Gale

This image uses a similar method, but has a completely different end result.  Here the black background isn’t lit, and the single light is turned to point towards the subject from behind.  It gives a fantastic light outline to the person’s hair and face, but shows no other facial detail.  It’s a great look, and pretty difficult to achieve by cutting paper! 

"Portrait with attitude" by Derek Gale

In this image the light is still coming from one direction (high to the left), but it’s now lighting the person’s face.  It’s quite a focused light, so the background hasn’t been lit very much, and the person’s hair makes a good background to the profile of their face.  The position of their arm and hand, and their direct expression, gives this individual portrait quite a bit of “attitude”. 

Once you get out of the studio there’s generally quite a bit more light around.  It’s harder to get the light coming from the direction you want unless you bring your own light along in the form of a portable electronic flash.  

"Jumping boy" by Derek Gale

With this jumping boy image, I used a wireless off-camera flash low to the right to give the look I wanted.  He’s lit mostly by the flash, which is strongly directional.  I’ve set the exposure so that the background, lit by ambient light, comes out quite dark.  To get him high in the frame I’ve used a wide-angle lens and a low viewpoint, and there’s just a bit of movement blur, which gives more dynamism to the image. 

"Stylish portrait" by Derek Gale

Sometimes you don’t have access to portable flash, and you have to use the flash on the camera to give you the directional light you want.  This image was taken with a compact digital camera, a Panasonic Lumix FX-500, which has a very small built-in flash unit.  It’s part of my continuing  project to see just what sort of creative images you can take with these cameras.  I chose a dark barn to give me enough chance for the small flash to be effective, and moved the camera during the exposure.  It’s given an image with a really good mix of blur and sharpness, and excellent separation of the subject and background.  The flash catchlights in her stylish sunglasses make it look like a paparazzi shot of a film star. 

So, control of the light direction gives you better images.  To give me even more control I’ve recently bought some radio flash triggers.  These will allow me to fire my flash units from much further away, even in daylight.  I’ll be posting some example images soon, so why not subscribe to my blog so you’re the first to know? 

Cheers, 

Derek 

www.galephotography.co.uk

Calling all Trekkies – once again

It was easy to choose a subject for this week’s blog post; last week’s Photo Trek at Buscot Park.  We were at Buscot Park near Faringdon again, courtesy of Lord Faringdon, and it all came together very well.  The weather, the location, and most importantly the Trek delegates, were excellent.  They had a wide range of camera types, and a wide range of photographic experience.  

"Wobbly glass abstract" by Derek Gale

Just before the Trek started I found a nice bit of wobbly glass and took an abstract image with my trusty Panasonic Lumix FX-500.  To find out where it was taken you’ll have to visit Buscot Park for yourselves. 

We started our Photo Trek near the Ticket Office, assigned the delegates their photographic projects for the afternoon, and moved on to a clump of trees nearby.  Even on a bright sunny day like last Saturday it’s a great place to learn about the use of long shutter speeds and camera movement.  It’s also chance for the delegates to gain the confidence to move the camera off the fully automatic settings.  We had great fun with camera movement, subject movement and combining them with flash. 

"Invisible arms" by Derek Gale

Here’s one of the delegates with invisible arms!  It was taken with a long shutter speed as he was waving his arms up and down.  There’s a little pop of flash as well to give some light in his eyes. 

Our next port of call was the Four Seasons Walled Garden.  It was full of colour and texture, and the sea hollies were a particular feature. 

"Sea Holly circle" by Derek Gale

The wind was quite strong which helped the delegates to learn about the challenges of close-up plant photography, as a lot of the plants were moving around quite a lot.  The sea  hollies are very useful to show the changes that occur as a subject is viewed with the light falling directly onto it, or shining from behind it. 

A new feature of the gardens at Buscot this year is the small army of terracotta warriors.  They were a real hit with the group, as they allow practice at portrait photography, pattern pictures, and control of the depth of field. 

"Leica compact warrior" by Derek Gale

Here’s a delegate hard at work with his Leica compact… 

"Face to face" by Derek Gale

.. and here’s another delegate getting “up close and personal” with another terracotta warrior. 

"Buscot Warriors" by Derek Gale

This what I meant about pattern pictures, and control of the depth of field.  The front warrior is nicely sharp, and the others in the background are becoming less and less sharp. 

"Close-up shooting" by Derek Gale

As mentioned previously, the delegates each had a photographic project during the afternoon.   The project here was “Red”.   It really shows just how close some digital compact cameras will focus – there is a red leaf on the wooden bench.  This macro focusing ability opens up a wealth of creative photography opportunities.  You can see the image being taken here, and other images taken by the Buscot Park Photo Trek delegates on my website. 

All too soon we had to return to the start point as our time at Buscot was up.  I’d had a great afternoon, and so, according to their feedback, had the delegates.  

We’re back at Buscot Park for another Photo Trek on Aug 14th. It’s fully booked, but there’s space on our 1-day Photo Trek on the Ridgeway near Wantage on July 31st.  Loads of chances for great landscape images. 

Cheers, 

Derek 

www.galephotography.co.uk