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

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Further travels with a compact camera.

Recently I spent a few days down on the UK’s delightful Dorset coast.  We were travelling light on our walks so I only took one small camera.  It was my Panasonic Lumix TZ-70 travel zoom compact.  (The TZ-70 is known as the ZS-50 in the USA.)  It’s a very practical little thing with a zoom range from 24mm to 720mm equivalent.  The small sensor means the the image quality isn’t ever going to be stellar, but it’s really useful having such a focal length range in such a small camera.

On the Dorset coast there’s a place called Winspit which has an old stone quarry system.  It’s a fascinating place to (very carefully) look round, and it has photographic potential too.  There’s not that much light once you are inside, so I popped the camera on to a rock shelf, set it to 24mm, and used a 0.6 second shutter speed.  A black and white conversion from the RAW file in Lightroom and an HDR lift in Nik HDR Efex Pro gave the moody look I wanted.

One of the highlights of the coast in that area is the natural rock arch of Durdle Door, but to get the best image the light needs to be right.  The light on Durdle Door itself was a bit flat, so the beach was my next subject.  The waves have caused some lovely S-shaped curves on the beach and they are great composition aids.  I used the 720mm end of the zoom range to get the framing right, and I was very careful to have the curve starting in one corner and ending in another.  The two people give a sense of scale.

One evening we popped in to the town of Swanage to have a meal.  The sun was setting as we wandered around the town and the sky went an interesting colour. Sunsets are classic subjects for photography but it’s worth thinking about how the sunset is affecting things other than the sky.  The water in the harbour was tinged with red.  Once again I used the 720mm end of the zoom range to capture just a small part of the light on the water.  It looks like it’s on fire.

I’ll be talking about how to look for this type of image on the photography holiday I’m leading in Shropshire in July for HF Holidays.  There’s no coast there but the principles are the same, and it doesn’t matter what sort of camera you use.

Oxfordshire Artweeks: light entertainment #2

In a previous blog post I mentioned that Oxfordshire Artweeks was coming.  Well, it’s almost upon us!  Once again my show is at The Piano Gallery in Faringdon, and it runs from from 6th May to 13th May.  Do pop along for a chat if you can.  I can’t be there on 6th May as I am running a workshop for the RPS in Bath.

I have some new work showing the use of camera movement.  This one, of reeds and water, is a favourite.

This camera movement image is, like the other one, a wet-chemistry photographic print mounted on aluminium “Dibond” and finished with acrylic.  This high quality composite combines a light weight with optical elegance.  The quality has to be seen to be believed.

For more details of my Artweeks show click here.

Quick, before the leaves come!

In the UK spring is here, and the trees are beginning to be in leaf.  If you want to get some tree silhouettes before they are finally in full leaf you need to move fast!

Here I’ve captured a beech wood with the late afternoon sun.  I used the widest angle I have on my TZ-70.  It’s the equivalent of around 24mm.  The tree canopy fills up the whole frame and the sun is diffracting nicely between some branches.

It’s not just a direct image of the tree silhouette that works.  If the light is right, late afternoon again, you can also play with the tree’s shadow.  Here, in Stourhead gardens, I have turned the image upside down so you have to think a bit about what is going on.

Oh look, late afternoon light!  Have you noticed a theme here?  This is taken with a very wide-angle fisheye lens on my E-M10.  The curves of the trees are very sinuous, and once again the tree canopy is filling the frame.  There are some leaves open.

It’s the middle of April, so if you want to get some tree images with no, or few, leaves, you don’t have long.  What are you waiting for ?

Artweeks 2017 – light entertainment

It seems like only yesterday, but Oxfordshire Artweeks has come round again.  Once more I am exhibiting at the splendid Piano Gallery in Faringdon.  It’s Artweeks Venue number 13 and it runs from 6th May to 13th May.

There will be some old favourites, but also some new work.  I’m still finalising what to get printed but you can be sure that there will be some light-painting images.  This image uses about six different light-painting tools including, of course, a mayonnaise bottle with a torch attached.  It’s like a Masterchef edible flower salad.

Here I have used a green plastic bottle with a bit of red cellophane on the end.  It involved lots of dancing around for five minutes using the E-M10’s “Live Composite” mode.  It makes life so much easier for light-painting.  Someone said it looks like a load of green and red chillies.

Hope to see you there.

RhiannonMay 6, 2017 - 7:58 pm

I love the blue and orange colour photograph.

Derek GaleMay 7, 2017 - 8:33 am

Thanks Rhiannon.

It’s another moving experience.

I have mentioned before about the interesting images you can get if you use movement.  There are two sorts of movement; Camera movement and Subject movement.  With Subject movement you have to make the decision whether to stop movement or to show movement.

Last weekend I was in Shropshire’s Cardingmill Valley and the light, (not sunny), was just right for some “show movement” images.  There’s a delightful stream running through the valley with some small cascades.  It’s not a huge stream, just a few feet across.

For this 6-inch drop I used a wide-angle lens low down to give an illusion of larger size.  I used a 1/15th of a second to show the movement in the water, whilst keeping the camera as still as possible.  This shutter speed shows enough movement but keeps the structure of the water visible.  It’s not just a misty vagueness.  The main problem here was lots of water droplets splashing on to the lens filter!

I moved upstream and found water spilling over the weir of a small reservoir.  The water was moving down so during the exposure I moved the camera up, in the opposite direction to the water flow.  With a 0.5 second shutter speed the blur of the moving water has been added to the blur of the moving camera.

In this last image I’ve used the same moving camera technique but kept it still for part of the 0.4 second exposure. You do need to practice this quite a bit to get it right, but it’s worth it.  There’s now a blurry image from the camera movement, a blurry image from the water movement, and a sharp image from the static camera part of the exposure.  It’s all done in-camera, with just some contrast control work in Photoshop.