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  • Welcome to Gale Photography

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

    If you are looking to improve your photographic creativity, skills or knowledge, check out the Photography Training pages.

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Street is neat (again)

There are as many stories at our feet as there are at eye level or higher.  It’s definitely worth looking down at your feet for images.  If you are afraid of the journey I’ll take you there gradually…

This image shows that one department, the pavement painting one, has not communicated well with the sign installing one.  Ignoring the oddly proportioned bicycle, the sign/painting combo might tend to confuse obedient walkers and cyclists.  Do you walk on the left or the right?  It’s just up the road from where the infamous “etc…” sign was.  Cropping off all except the “message” parts of the image makes it look as if it’s spot colour/B&W.

Sometimes the story isn’t clear.  Why is there only part of the frying pan spatula instead of the whole thing?  When did it break, and why?  How did it come to be in the road?  Whatever the answers are to these questions it does make for an interesting juxtaposition of the interior domestic with the exterior urban.

The yellow lines and manholes/inspection covers in Watchet, Somerset, make an abstract composition of lines, triangles and rectangles.  The larger cover has a story to tell.  At some point in the past it must have been lifted and put back the wrong way round.  When it was repainted, clearly a while ago, the painter just painted a new yellow line to join the one on the road.  It was obviously outside their job description to lift the cover so it was the right way round before repainting the yellow line.

The moral is to look down.  There’s a world of photography at your feet.

Macro lens + mobile means you can stay at home!

The cameras on mobile phones continue to get more and more accomplished, with AI and computational photography coming to the fore.  My Huawei Mate 10 Pro has both those features but I also have a nice low tech device that helps me make images.  It’s a clip-on macro lens made by Bauhn.  I got it as a Special Buy from Aldi for just £4.99.  I think it’s available on eBay for £6.99.  It comes with an LED ring light which adds flexibility.

As you can see it’s a sort of clothes peg arrangement that simply fits over the phone camera lens.  My phone does twine on at me about covering one of the lenses (it has two), but I just ignore it.  The light has three levels of brightness, and the lens quality is actually pretty good considering the price.

The phone camera lens has a fixed aperture of f1.8 which means that there is no control over the depth of field; you just have to work with it.  This toothbrush was lit by daylight and the ring light added some shadow fill.

Morning sunlight shining through condensation on the window made for an interesting abstract image.  The out of focus shrubs in the garden in the background gave some colour contrast.

For this last image I almost went outside!  There’s a hopper on the wall by the front door that has usually got a flowering fuchsia in it.  At this time of the year it’s just sitting there doing nothing, but there was some moss in the hopper.  I stood on the door threshold so I was technically still in the house.  I selected just one capsule to be sharp, with the rest of the moss giving a soft diffuse green background.  It’s a good contrast to the rusty metal hopper.

Have clip-on macro lens will travel, though you don’t even have to travel!

 

Watch what you are doing!

If you sell things on eBay how do you make your adverts stand out and sell quickly or for more money?  Well, one way is to make sure your photography is as good as it can be.  I have seen many examples of photography on eBay where a little thought would have made the images much better.

Here’s a watch I bought cheaply on eBay.  It’s a Kered, and the sharp eyed among you will have norticed that my first name backwards is Kered.  How cool is that?  Anyway, I plonked it down on a window sill in bright sunshine and took a picture with my mobile.  The main problem is that the sunshine is causing too many shadows and bright highlights.  The body of the watch is a bit small as well.  Having said that I have seen much, much worse images where it’s actually hard to see what’s for sale!

The image is improved somewhat by putting in a shady part of the window sill.  The contrast is reduced which makes the details on the watch face easier to see.  It’s a bit bigger, but the background is a problem.  The wood grain is somewhat distracting.

The wood grain problem is easily solved by using a bit of black cloth as the background.  The size problem is easily solved by getting as close as you can.  Your potential eBay customers are buying a watch not the window sill!  I’ve used a bit of white paper on the side away from the window to reflect a bit of light into the shadow areas.  A crop and a tweak in Snapseed and “voila!”, a much better image than the first one.

There’s no fancy kit used here, just my mobile phone.  As with most photography the most important bit of kit is between your ears. I used the light from the sun, (which is free!), and I turned my flash off, as the light from that is too harsh.

PS  The Kered watch in this case is a Seiko in disguise.  It’s very elegant as the winding/setting crown is hidden.

Look for images everywhere!

I look for images everywhere, but the trouble that it can delay my non-photographic life.  Here’s an example:

Last week I was going back to my car from shopping at a local supermarket.  I pushed my trolley towards the trolly park and saw a long row of other trollies.  I saw a pattern, and wondered what they looked like viewed from a low angle.  It was easy to pop my mobile phone inside one of the trollies.

There was a great “to infinity” effect with the trollies’ metal frames.  I did a quick B&W conversion to remove a distracting background colour and to simplify the image.  I also did a Perspective Crop to make sure it all lined up nicely.

These trollies are clearly an inspiration, (or I spend too long lurking in supermarket car parks),  because a week earlier, on a very wet day, I had spotted a reflection in a big puddle in the car park.  I got low down to get a good angle and reflect the sky. I’ve inverted the image in post-processing.   The lower frames of the trollies look, to me, like the hammers in the video for Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”.

I do do more interesting things than shopping, such as the washing up, but once again I got caught by the seeing images bug.  One particular saucepan we have has a hole in the lid.  It’s just right to generate little bubbles when it’s put into the soapy water.  The bubbles formed a hexagonal-close-packed array.  It’s common in nature; think honeycomb.  I popped my macro lens on to my mobile phone got in really close.

I said that looking for images all the time can delay my non-photographic life.  Thinking a bit more about these images makes me wonder if I actually have a non-photographic life!

Putting the graphic into photographic

This is a post about composing your image.  Some folks go on about the so-called “Rule of Thirds” as if it was the law.  Spoiler alert: it’s not!  By all means compose your images carefully, but don’t get caught by the “it’s the rules” trap.  Sometimes images cry out to be treated as graphic design rather than a record of what’s there.

Take this Christmas present.  The box was made from corrugated cardboard which picked up the strongly directional sunlight.  I placed the box so that a shadow fell across it.  The shadow starts from one corner and divides the image into two almost halves.   I’ve put the red label so part of it starts from a corner.  Making the label a semi-circle gives it ambiguity.  It’s now all about the shapes the things make and their relationships, rather than what it is.

I’ve used an extreme composition in this image of an oak tree.  The graduated blue sky makes a fabulous contrast against the branches of the tree.  Inverting the image means that it’s no longer clear as to what the scale or subject is.  Once again it’s about the design rather than the subject.  Those who love the “Rule of Thirds” had best look elsewhere…