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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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By way of contrast, it’s black and white.

Sometimes an image works in black and white.  When we say that, most of the time we are really talking about an image with many shades of grey rather than just black and white.  This post is about images with just those two tones.  I’ve used Photoshop with all these images to take away the colour, reduce the range of tones, and give a huge jump in contrast.

I was testing out my new lens with Olympus’ “Pro Capture” mode on the camera.  It’s a nifty pre-shot system that starts taking images as soon as you half-press the shutter button, and finalises when you fully press the shutter button.  It’s great for getting the perfect moment.  Here the jackdaw’s primary feathers have the same sort of pattern as the central part of the TV aerial.

 

This macro image is an iris sawfly larva on an iris leaf.  I lit the background with an LED light and then exposed so the larva was in silhouette.  You can see the damage it has done to the leaf.  The contrasty treatment has simplified the image.

This dead fly was on a window sill in rainy North Wales. It looks like it is supplicating itself before a monarch.  I used macro focusing mode on  my compact camera.  The grey sky background was turned to white in Photoshop as before, and it left a few shades of grey in the wings.  I thought that too much was lost if they went black.  This sort of image make you realise just how hairy a fly is.

Only black and white; who needs shades of grey?

Fancy a remote talk for your club?

I’m doing my first remote talk to a camera club soon.  I’m using GoToMeeting for that one, but I’m happy to work with other conference systems, such as Zoom.

I charge my usual fee, but there’s no travel costs, so your club could be anywhere in the country, or even further afield.

Current talks:

“Movement in Photography” – covering Camera Movement, Subject Movement, or both together.

Close-up and Macro photography” – an introduction to equipment and techniques for this fascinating area .

Drop me an email (info@galephotography) or go to my Contact page and send a message.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

No lockdown for wildlife.

So here we are still in lockdown. It is admittedly a bit looser than a few weeks ago, but there are still many restrictions.  Lockdown does give me plenty of time to watch, and photograph, the wildlife in the garden.  We have a good-sized garden pond and it has lots of critters in it; newts, frogs, damselflies, dragonflies, snails, etc.  Sometimes they decide that they want to leave the pond, and that’s the case with the dragonflies.

The first thing that they do when they come out of the pond is that the larva crawls up a pond plant, in this case an iris.  The adult dragonfly then emerges from the larval case and leaves the empty case behind.  It’s called an exuvia.  This case is from a broad-bodied chaser, libellula depressa.  I took the leaf into the studio and photographed the exuvia with my macro lens.  The lighting is just an LED light on a flexible “stick”.  You can see the hole that the adult emerged from.

This is an adult female on some dogwood.  You can tell because the top of the abdomen is yellow/gold in the female and blue in the male.  It was sat still enough to get a nice crisp image with my 300mm lens (600mm equivalent).  They are quite obliging, in that they rest for a reasonably long time.  When they take off they just suddenly go.  There’s very little warning they are about to fly.

This is the male captured a few days later.  The top of his abdomen is blue.  One benefit of using a long focal length lens is the ability to throw the background out of focus.  The diffuse green isolates him nicely, but still shows it’s outside.

My next dragonfly project is to photograph them on the wing.  Olympus “Pro Capture” should help, but on a warm day they move very fast, which will be a challenge.

What do do in lockdown

So here we are still in lockdown.  While the rules do allow us to drive to a place for exercise, photography might not be considered as exercise.  Given that, it’s probably better to stay in the house and garden if you are concentrating on photography.

We have been blessed with some gorgeous sunny days recently, with plain blue skies.  The plain sky makes it easier to take simpler images.  I popped my macro lens on to my E-M5 MkIII and went looking for subjects in the garden.  There are quite a few dandelions, so I picked one and held it up with the sun behind it.  I was careful to ensure I did not look into the sun when I did this!  I dialed in some underexposure, and the sphere of seeds looked fab.

A feather was my next subject for the same technique.  I had to use a very small aperture to get the right exposure, which does soften the image a bit.  There are some lovely diffraction patterns coming from the aligned feather parts.

One morning the sun was shining off the rear screen of a car parked in the drive and it was making great shadows on the ceiling inside the house.  I lay on the floor and used my mobile to get a shot.  I converted it to B&W in Snapseed, upped the contrast, and did a bit of Perspective cropping to get it composed better; lines from the corners and that sort of stuff. There are some interesting shapes and textures.

It might be a physical lockdown, but you don’t have to lock your photographic imagination down.

This too will pass.

I went for some exercise recently.  The lockdown rules in the UK allow the use of a vehicle to drive a “reasonable distance” to where a person will exercise.  I drove a few miles to the Ridgeway.  The car park I arrived at was empty, so I considered it reasonable to park there and walk.  It was a glorious day, and eventually I arrived at a place called “Wayland’s Smithy”.  It’s a Neolithic long barrow (burial chamber), and is 5500 years old.  That’s older than the Great Pyramid at Giza.

It’s a fabulously atmospheric place, and is made more atmospheric by the ring of beech trees planted by the Victorians in the 19th century.  I pushed the focus differential as much as I could on my mobile, and then added some more blur in Snapseed.  B&W conversion was an obvious thing to in order to add more mystery.

The entrance to the barrow is guarded by four large standing stones. There is a smaller one to step over to reach the burial chambers.  The barrow itself is much longer than the part with the chambers that is accessible today.  On one of the stones someone had chalked “STAY HOME” and “COVID19”.  There are no houses nearby, so they had come a long way to tell others not to do what they had done themselves.  They had, of course, also defaced an ancient monument, which is a criminal act.

I used a multi-shot panorama technique to get the whole of the front of the barrow in one image.

Using selective focus I concentrated on just one of the standing stones.  I was trying to contrast light and shade, and texture and pattern.  The line of trees in the background delineates The Ridgeway, and ancient drovers’ track, and perhaps the oldest track in the UK.

These stones have seen many changes over the thousands of years they have been used as architectural features.  Humans have passed, visited, lived and died, but the stones remain.  Covid19 will also pass.

Stay safe.