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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.

    For beautiful Fine Art images that showcase my personal vision take a look at the Fine Art Photography pages.

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“Is this the way to Amaryllis”?

We have an amaryllis growing in the kitchen; it was a Christmas gift from a friend.  It’s coming along nicely, and a few days ago it was lit by the early morning sun.  I loved the rim lighting, and thought I would try and capture it.

The plant is growing near the window, hence the lovely light, but the background was very fussy.  I went and got a bit of black card and leant it against the window behind the plant.  That simplified the composition a lot and gave good contrast for the rim lighting.  It was much better, but the leaves in shadow were lacking in detail.  If I increased the overall exposure to get that detail the light on the edges of the leaves got too bright, so that wasn’t an option. The solution was to add a bit more light to the foreground with a reflector.  The nearest thing to hand was the brass bowl from our kitchen scales.  It added the perfect amount of light, and its gold colour warmed up the foreground tones.

It just goes to show that you don’t need expensive studio equipment or lights.  Just use what’s to hand and see how you can really change an image.


A belated Happy New Year

At last I can wish my reader a “Happy New Year”!  Testing positive for Covid on Jan 1st was not a great start to the year, and it’s taken a while to get back to feeling anything like normal.  Anyway, I’m back now, and keen to pass on my photographic ideas.

Today’s post is all about a very simple thing.  It’s to show how different your images can look if you change the focusing point.  These two images were taken in Millennium Square in Bristol just before Christmas.  There are some water curtains in the square, and the falling water runs down a shiny stainless steel surface.  Each image was taken using a mobile phone camera and edited in Snapseed.

For this first image I focused on the water falling down the steel.  The red/orange lights of the funfair give some warm areas to counteract the blue/steely colours.  The shutter speed has been short enough to stop the water movement and produce an abstract image with interesting colours and shapes.

For this second image my point of focus was the funfair’s reflection rather than the water.  I switched to one of my favourite modes, “Silky Water”, and this has averaged out the water flow somewhat.  To be perfectly honest I was unaware of just how clear this would make the little boy standing on the edge of the water feature.  The cool blue of his coat adds a real poignancy to the image; he looks so isolated.  There’s a fair amount of camera movement as well as water movement, but to me that makes the image more powerful.

It’s always worth checking to see what will happen if you change your point of focus.

Happy Christmas!

Just a quick message to my readers to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy and peaceful New Year.

Our Christmas tree at home has white LEDs on it.  Just for a change I tried a different Light Painting mode on my Huawei mobile phone; Traffic Trails.  My usual Silky Water mode gave too complex an image.  I like the way the tree shape is still present even though I was waving the phone around.

As we come to the end of 2022 and look forward to a, hopefully, less turbulent 2023, remember that sometimes all we need to do is stand, wait, and write a haiku.

Malvern. A sunset.

The Worcester-bound swan flies past.

The year’s end is soon.

Just look around you.

As we move into the darker and colder days of winter it’s easy to fall into bad habits and stop looking for images, or say, “It’s all a bit grey, so I’ll leave my camera at home”!  Remember though, even if you don’t go out much, there are still loads of photographic subjects, some even right at your feet.

I had a big birthday recently, and one gift was a fabulous cheese selection with vintage port and an olive wood cheese board.  The wood looks to have been “spalted”.  That’s where it’s been attacked by fungi and developed fascinating patterns in the grain.  I looked closely at the wood and found areas that resembled desert landscapes.  This one even has a distant mountain.

One other thing that turned up for my birthday was a helium balloon with greetings, circles and stars on it.  The balloon was made from holographic material and I have photographed this sort of thing before.  I popped my clip-on macro lens on to my phone and chose a section that had excellent reflections and refractions from the lens’ built-in ring light.  Someone said it looked like an extra-terrestrial ovum!

I said about images being at your feet.  I was hoovering on a rare sunny day recently and noticed that the cable was producing interesting shadows on the carpet.  I grabbed my phone and shot directly downwards.  It’s a bit like a big infinity symbol.  I converted it to contrasty B&W in Photoshop.

Dull winter days?  Just stay at home and look around you.

Same subject, different views.

On a recent trip to Pembrokeshire one landscape feature really stood out.  It was the Valero oil refinery at Pembroke. It was tempting, in a landscape that has fabulous coastal scenery, to ignore it as a photographic subject, but it’s such a prominent feature it’s worth a closer look.

Looking at it from the Angle peninsular the refinery stood out against a cloudy sky.  It had nice directional lighting from the right hand top side. I isolated it using a 150mm telephoto lens, which has added some perpective compression.  A bit of HDR treatment and a B&W conversion gave a moody look.

From the summit of the highest point in the Preseli Hills, Foel Cwmcerwyn, the refinery was silhouetted against a backlit sea, and there were good highlights coming from structures in the refinery complex.  Once again I used my 150mm lens, but that was to try and make the refinery as big as possible; it was 20 miles away after all.  I’ve darkened the sky down to make it moodier.  Perhaps it shows “the sunset of big oil”?

On the road from Pembroke to Angle there is an incongruously sited Telephone Exchange.  It’s sat in the corner of a field all by itself, but does have a fine view of the refinery.  Here I’ve used a wide angle lens to make the refinery look a bit smaller relative to the small brick building. I liked how the fence posts leading to the Telephone Exchange mimic the chimneys and stacks of the refinery.

Not so much a blot on the landscape, more a photographic highlight of my trip.