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

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Happy Christmas and a great New Year!!

For me it’s been a fascinating year photographically.  I’ve moved from dSLRs to micro 4/3rds and I now use a mixture of mostly Panasonic and Olympus gear.  The micro 4/3rds system gives me the image quality I need with the benefits of lighter and more compact bodies and lenses.  The Olympus bodies also have various tricks such as “Live Composite”.  Look out for some images from that soon.

Venn-diagram-Xmas-lights-Dec-2015-blog

I can still get the “bokeh” images I love.  This image is, of course, Christmas tree lights.  I reckon they look like Venn diagrams.  The little dark dots in some of the circles are fascinating.

Tree-lights-reflected-Dec-2015-blog

The tree lights also reflected nicely in a brass dimmer switch, to give an abstract image with mysterious shapes and textures.

I hope that your photographic year has been as interesting.  Do let me know.

Have a wonderful Christmas, and a phabulously photographic New Year!!!

Quick, before the light goes! Episode 3.

Last weekend I was in Wolverhampton overnight, and when I woke up the sun was just rising.  I looked out of the window and saw the sun shining on the Merry Hill flats.  I recently bought a Panasonic Lumix TZ70 travel zoom camera, (ZS50 in the USA), so it was a chance to try it out.

Merry-Hill-sunrise-1-blog

I zoomed the TZ70’s lens to its maximum focal length of 720 mm (equivalent).  The extreme telephoto allowed me to isolate the flats and remove, as much as possible, some other distracting buildings.  I couldn’t do anything about the TV aerial!

Merry-Hill-sunrise-2-blog

I wanted something with a bit more interest, so I set the camera to 2 stops underexposure and metered off the sunny highlights.  This had the effect of making the image look as if it was shot at night, with lights on inside the building.  I used perspective cropping in Photoshop to get the lines straight.

Merry-Hill-sunrise-3-blog

I had had to move some net curtains out of the way to get these images, and wondered what would happen if I shot through those curtains.  The result was lots of diffraction, which broke the highlights into spectra.  It’s now a very abstract image.

Merry-Hill-sunrise-4-blog

A few minutes later the light from the rising sun had pretty well gone and it was just a drab autumn morning.  You need to take advantage of the light while it lasts!

Lens distortion? I love it!

Yesterday, Nov 11th, was my birthday and a friend gave me an optical toy as a present.  It was an insect-eye “kaleidoscope” that had a faceted lens at the front.  The lens produces distorted multiple versions of whatever is in front of it.

insecteye-thing-blog

It’s got a quite deep wooden housing as it’s made to suit the human eye, but I wondered what would happen if I tried taking pictures through it.

insecteye-rearlights-blog

The hole you look through is quite small, so a DSLR lens or even a micro 4/3rds lens is too big.  I used a zoom compact which fitted the hole nicely.  I found that the lens need to be zoomed out somewhat to avoid giving a circular image in the centre of the frame, although the circle is an interesting effect.

insecteye-glass-blog

Zooming till the image fills the frame produces images that have a little bit of “cubism” in that the different facets show a slightly different view of the subject.  There’s a lot of colour fringing

insecteye-glassthing-blog

The pattern repeat makes the images tend towards the abstract, whilst the colour fringing and edge distortion focus your eye towards the centre of the image.

It’s a fun thing, and we are, after all, supposed to have fun with our photography.  I’m looking forward to trying out more ideas…

The fires of autumn!

Here in the UK we are having a wonderful autumn (fall).  The deciduous trees are looking fabulous, with golds and oranges and reds showing strongly.  One place that is looking especially good is Westonbirt Arboretum.  It’s only about an hour from me, so last week I popped over there.

Westonbirt-colours-Oct-2015-blog

It holds the UK’s National Japanese Maple Collection, and a walk through that part of the Arboretum is like walking through a firework display.   This maple was particularly colourful.  I’ve applied an edge sharpening effect, and a corner vignette.

Leaves-and-flash-blog

I was walking with a photographically-minded friend, and we were trying out some camera movement (creative camera shake!).  This image used a fisheye lens and flash.  The flash gave a sharp image overlaying a blurred image from the movement.  The extreme wide angle offered by the fisheye lens meant that the corners of the image weren’t well illuminated by the flash. Result? Instant vignette!

Westonbirt-falling-leaf-blog

This is a composite of two images.  The base image is of an enclosure made from tree branches.  It’s about 15 feet across, but the fisheye lens and low angle that I used made it look much bigger, with curvy sides.  I increased the contrast so the branches were silhouetted.  The second image is of a maple leaf I was holding. I selected just the leaf, and then placed it in the hole made by the branches.  I then applied a bit of movement blur to the leaf to give the impression it was falling.

Get out there before the storms shake all the leaves off!

Street is neat!

I recently visited the lovely French city of Avignon. It’s famous for having a bridge that goes nowhere and for a Popes’ Palace with no Popes.  It does have a lot of tourists however! The Rhone river cruisers stop there, so it’s a very busy place with tour groups all over the main attractions.  It’s a great place to practice people watching and for street photography.

Everything-is-awesome-Avignon-blog

The old bridge is very interesting, and is best seen from a bit of a distance, such as from one of the main road bridges.  There’s quite a bit of graffiti in the city, some negative and some positive, like this uplifting message.  The weather was great with good visibility.  You can see Mont Ventoux in the background past the old bridge.  No, I did not dance on (sur), or under (sous), the old bridge, but I did sit high up on the main square with a 40-150 mm lens.

Selfie-stick-Avignon-blog

As I said there were lots of tourists, especially in the main square, the Place du Palais.  These days there were also a lot of selfie sticks!  The philosophy seems to be that unless you are in the picture people won’t believe that you were there.  This gave rise to lots of curious posturing, and almost dance-like movements.

Shadow-photographers-Avignon-blog

Another aspect of this “photographic narcissism” is taking an image that shows your impact on wherever you are.  In this case it’s getting your own shadow in the frame.  I much prefer this to the selfie stick option however.

Bike-and-pigeon-Avignon-blog

In the square there was a boy on a BMX bike showing off his tricks.  Only one person, me, seemed to be watching, but he carried on trying to get them right.  The local pigeons have seen it all before so weren’t at all interested.

One evening we went to the best AV/multi-media presentation I have ever seen.  It was called “Les Luminessences d’Avignon”, and was projected on all 4 walls of the main courtyard of the Palais du Papes.  Catch it if it’s back next year!

Avignon’s a great place for photographers.