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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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How low can you go!!

Imagine the scene…

You’re photographing a wedding, and the bridegroom produces a small trampoline; this happened to me recently.  The idea was to get some images of him jumping/bouncing.  One way I could have done this was to have used a telephoto lens from a reasonable distance away and captured him with no visible means of support, but with normal perspective.  In terms of being an interesting image, that would have been, “close, but no cigar”, so I thought of a better way to get a more creative image…

The Flying Bridegroom

I lay on the ground, very close to the edge of the trampoline, and used my 12-24mm wide angle zoom lens at its widest end.  I shot upwards, making sure the ground wasn’t visible, and caught him just as he started coming back down.  It was very disconcerting indeed having him land on the trampoline about 3 inches from my head!!   I reckon it was worth it though.

This low angle, wide angle, technique is very useful to help make images look different.  In this second example from a wedding I used a slightly less wide lens and was a bit further away.  One of the ushers had brought a rugby ball with him, as you do, and the guys were having a contest to see who could kick it the furthest, as you do…

low angle for blog Jul 09

It’s for taking shots like this where digital really comes into its own.  I was able to check the images straight away to see where the ball was, and to see the people’s expressions.  This image, where the ball is just in the top right hand corner, was the best one.

Finally, this technique can also be used for portrait photography as well.  It’s great for exaggerating leg length, and producing triangular compositions.

A&H low angle for blog Jul 09

So, that’s it.  Get wide and get low – it’s fun!

Shake, rattle and roll!

Many of you have got digital cameras.  

Given that almost every mobile phone now has a camera built into it, and also that everyone seems to have at least one digital compact camera in their household, I think there must be many more digital cameras in the UK now than there are people.  That’s a very interesting statistic.   It would be interesting to know how many of the people who have a digital camera have read the manual or been on a photographic training course…

creative camera movement blog image

The automatic focusing and exposure systems on newer cameras are simply extraordinary.  They can identify faces, allow you to choose which person is the most important in a group, and then follow that person around the frame as they move.  Some cameras even take two pictures in quick succession, compare them, and then tell you if the people in the pictures have blinked, thus giving you a chance to retake it.  10 years ago this would all have seemed like science fiction.

Despite all this marvellous technology there are still an awful lot of images out there that can be improved.  The main problem I see has been around for ages; it’s camera shake.  Camera shake gives you images that are not sharp, so you aren’t getting the benefit of all those shiny new pixels.  Here’s an example that I took for this post:

camera shake

So how can you stop camera shake?   The best way is to support the camera firmly during the exposure, and use the shortest shutter speed you can.  The trend for cameras to have a viewing screen on the back, and to not have an optical viewfinder hasn’t helped with supporting the camera.  Using the screen on the back forces you to hold the camera away from your body and this increases the risk of camera shake.  If you can, rest the camera on a wall, shelf, tree, or anything that will stop it from moving around as you take the picture.  I’ve even used the roof of my car – with the engine turned off of course. 

The second trend that increases the risk of camera shake is zooming the lens in order to get closer.  The more you zoom the more risk of shake there is.  If you can, it’s better to get closer to your subject by moving yourself and then using less zoom.   In these examples the first image shows shake, as I was further away and zoomed the lens as much as it would go.  Like the door and tiles image above, these two images were taken to deliberately to show how it can go wrong!

zoom shake 1

With this image I got closer to the flowers and used less zoom.  As you can see, the result is much sharper.

zoom shake 2

Digital cameras make it much easier to practice, so give it a try!

Once you have mastered the art of taking pictures without camera shake, you can move on to using it in a creative way, as shown in the first image of this post, and also below.

creative shake 1 watermarked

I’ll be writing more tips on improving your photography in future, so do keep checking the blog, or subscribe so you don’t miss any.

I’m just a regular guy.

It’s great to be a family’s regular portrait photographer. 

I recently photographed one of our clients’ third child.  I photographed her first child in 2004, and we had a great time.  He was about 19 months old and was interested in everything.  At one point he fell into our – very shallow, and safe – stream.  This was in the days of film, and it’s been fascinating looking back at those images, and remembering how different the process was.

Child-A-for-blog-Jul-09

On the day I shot a mixture of studio and location images, using both grainy B&W and colour film.  The image above was shot with him on the studio steps in some lovely soft light.

Almost exactly two years later I photographed his brother at about the same age.  Mum wanted images of the second child on his own so she would have a great record of the two boys at the same age.  By now I was shooting digitally, and so the B&W images are converted from the original colour images.  He was very energetic with a great grin, and spent a long time going up and down the three steps in our garden, obviously very pleased with himself for being able to do it without assistance.

Child-B-for-blog-Jul-09

This image of him is against a simple black background in the studio, and I think, really brought out his character.

Recently, as mentioned above, to complete the set of images of the children at the same age, our client brought along her third child for his shoot.  He was happy spending time playing with his Mum’s mobile phone, as well as being extremely interested in our patio gravel.  The image below shows him on the same steps as the first image, and also has the lovely soft light.

Child-T-for-blog-Jul-09

It was really interesting looking at the similarities, and differences between the children.  They looked quite alike but their different characters came through at each shoot.  It’s capturing these differences in character that makes photographing people so endlessly fascinating.

Mum loved the images from all three shoots, and there’s now a gallery of large images on the kitchen wall.

Fine Art Photography awards

Last week was the Master Photographers’ Association (MPA) Regional Fine Art Photography awards, held near Bristol.   The competition, for creative and artistic images, was judged by Peter Ellis, an ex-chairman of the MPA, and a respected international photography judge. 

Peter awarded two of my images prizes.  The first of these was a view of a couple on the beach at Rhossili on Gower.  I chose a very narrow crop for this image as it really lifted the composition, and helped to show the romantic isolation of the couple.  The image is effectively in three sections; the breaking waves, the receding waves, and the sand with the couple.  The small dark triangle in the top-right corner stops your eye from going right out of the frame.  We cover this sort of composition in our photography training courses.

FA-111-9551 for blog

The other image was one of my “Bokeh” series.  Taken with a long telephoto lens, it’s of a leafless weeping silver birch tree covered in water droplets after the frost that was on it had melted in the sun.  The sunlight shining through the droplets caused a myriad of colours due to diffraction.  The branches made a lovely pattern across these highlights, and gave the image some “compositional energy”. 

FA-999-9551 for blog

 These “Bokeh” images are really beautiful and I’m looking forward to doing even more.