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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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Here comes the sun: Part 2

I have mentioned before just how powerful images can be if you ignore the old advice from Kodak to, “Always have the sun behind you”.  Images where you point the camera towards the sun, or other bright light, are called “contre-jour” from the French for “against the day”.  It’s best to keep the direct light of the sun out of view in this type of image as it can reduce image contrast.   It’s also safer, because looking directly at the sun can be dangerous.

"Statue & pigeon" by Derek Gale

This image of a statue at Greenwich Observatory in London was taken with a Panasonic FZ-50 superzoom compact.  It shows how this technique can reduce shadow detail, and often produces a silhouette.   The cobwebs need cleaning off, and the pigeon on his hat is the final indignity.

"Canopy outline" by Derek Gale

This is a sort of anti-silhouette.  It’s of an aircraft canopy shot at an aircraft museum in California.  Shooting into the light has shown the wonderful pattern of scratches on the Perspex, and there’s a great highlight curve at the top.  The background was in shadow so has rendered very dark.

"Complex tail" by Derek Gale

Another shot from the same museum.  It’s of the tail of an in flight refuelling plane.  Turning it into a silhouette has taken away  the context and it makes it harder to tell what it is, especially as the tail is more complex than a regular aircraft.  Adding a bit of mystery to images is a good thing.

"Garden sculpture" by Derek Gale

This image is a bit mysterious too.  It’s actually of a sculpture in a garden.  I used a simple compact digital camera, and dropped down low to get lots of sky in the composition.  I made sure that the sun was behind one of the axe shapes to reduce flare.  I increased the contrast a bit in Photoshop to make it punchier.

"Brandy Cove, Gower" by Derek Gale

This final image does not have the sun in it, but does have very bright sunlight reflecting off wet sand.  It’s a contre-jour landscape image taken at Brandy Cove on the Gower Peninsular in South Wales.  I really liked the interlocking shapes made by the silhouetted rocks, the pools of water, and the variations of brightness across the glistening sand.

Get out with your cameras on a sunny day and have a great time playing with this technique.

It’s gone all wobbly!

Camera manufacturers spend an awful lot of money ensuring that their lenses are well corrected for any focusing errors, and are contrasty and sharp.  Well, it’s time to get your images all wobbly again!  You can get creative images by shooting through distorting materials such as uneven glass, cheap optical toys, and even hot air.

"Distortion 1" by Derek Gale

This cityscape, taken from a high tower, was shot through a fabulously uneven bit of window glass.  The hexagon makes a great frame for the image, which is very impressionistic, with broken outlines and almost the effect of brush strokes.

"Distortion 2" by Derek Gale

In this image the cityscape is even more distorted.  It’s more an image of the details in the glass than an image of what’s behind the glass.  The bubbles in the glass add a further air of unreality to the image, yet the four vertical sections give a sense of order at the same time.

"Distortion 3" by Derek Gale

Here the distortion has been made by water on plain glass.  It’s actually shot from inside a car in a car wash, with rinsing water running down the windscreen.  I made sure the focus was set on the distant subjects so the nearer water would be nicely diffused.  The right hand wall of the car wash and the left hand side hedge give good lead-in lines to the composition.

"Distortion 4" by Derek Gale

This image is through a cheap child’s optical toy; an plastic insect eye kaleidoscope.  The subject, an orange, is split by the toy’s 16 facets into 16 separate versions.   The sides of the toy are blue, and these give an excellent colour contrast with the orange.

"Distortion 5" by Derek Gale

This final image shows the distortion caused by hot air mixing with cooler air.  The mixture of cool and warm air has varying density which gives varying amounts of light refraction.  The hot air is coming from the funnel of a heritage steam train in Minehead, Somerset, and it’s breaking up the outline of the CAFE sign and wall behind it.  I would have loved to have been there when the sign-writer realised that the accent still need to be added to the E, but there was no space above it.  “I’ll just stick it between the F and the E, no-one will notice”!

It’s great fun looking for this kind of image, so get out there and get wobbling!

John BoyceJanuary 29, 2013 - 9:33 am

I’ll add this to my collection of appalling spelling and grammar on signs and noticeboards! I think this person actually thinks it’s a required apostrophe…

Spring into action.

In the “old days” what happened at a portrait studio is that you were told to sit still and be quiet.  It’s not like that today!  A portrait studio, or a location portrait shoot, is a place for fun and movement.  Given that it’s now Spring, it’s time for some Springing about.

"Jumping in the frame" by Derek Gale

Here’s a studio shot of a boy jumping; he’s clearly having fun.  We were exhibiting at a show in Coleshill, and set up a temporary studio in a converted grain loft.  The picture frame he’s “wearing” was linked to the theme “Put yourself in the frame”.  Kids have got that energy, so why not use it?

"Minster Lovell jump" by Derek Gale

This jumping image was taken during a family portrait shoot on location at Minster Lovell House in Oxfordshire.  The morning light coming through the ruins was fabulous, but I still needed a pop of fill in flash to light his face properly.

"Trampoline jump" by Derek Gale

This jumping image, on a location portrait shoot, used an aid to jumping; a trampoline.   It meant the the kids were really high up so I could use a low angle, which made them look even higher.  Once again I’ve used a pop of flash to ensure their faces were lit well.

"Garden jumping" by Derek Gale

This final jumping image is at our photographic studio and garden in Oxfordshire.  I was down below a terrace wall in the garden which gave me a lower camera angle.  I asked the girls to kick their legs under them.  Combined with the low angle this made them look really high up.

Why not come along for an energetic* photo shoot with us.  Just call 01793 783859 to book.

* You can be relaxed instead if you want, it’s still fun!

A Capital compact camera: Panasonic GF1 in London

In my last post I said I was taking my Panasonic GF1 to London when I dropped off the Royal Academy stuff.  My artworks were safely delivered to the RA, so here are some  images from that day.  

Regarding the post title, the GF1 is not a really a “compact camera”, but with the 20mm pancake lens on it’s pretty small, so it’s compact in that sense.  That makes it very pocketable, and inconspicuous to use.  The 20mm lens is the equivalent of a 40mm lens on a 35mm film camera.  Using a fixed focal length lens sounds as if it should be restricting, but it means you look very hard at composition, and adjust your position to get it just right, rather than just changing the focal length if you are using a zoom lens.  It’s actually very liberating.

"Jumping pigeon" by Derek Gale

There are lots of pigeons in London!  There were a few pecking round us at lunchtime whilst we were sat in Victoria Gardens.  I held the camera with one hand, finger ready on the shutter button, and then waved my other hand to make the pigeons react.

"Wings ready" by Derek Gale

I really like how different the two images are given it’s the same bit of ground, and the same bird(s).  In one image there’s a sense of space and freedom, whereas in the other it’s all rather crowded, and there’s a problem with the neighbours.

"Trees: Tate Modern" by Derek Gale

The pigeon images used a short shutter speed to stop the action.  For  this image, of birch trees outside the Tate Modern art gallery, I’ve used a long shutter speed (1/6th of a second) and moved the camera down during the exposure.  The white tree trunks and red/brown bricks combine to give an ethereal image with lovely twirling shapes.

"Tate sunflower seeds" by Derek Gale

Inside Tate Modern was Ai Weiwei’s installation “Sunflower seeds”.  There are over 100 million (!) hand-painted porcelain sunflower seeds in the turbine hall.  You can read more about it on Tate Modern’s website. I dropped down nearly to floor level to give a different view, and used a wide aperture to give sharpness on one area of seeds, whilst letting the other seeds go softly out of focus.  Concentrating on the corner of the mass of porcelain seeds gave a good idea of the scale of the work.

"Tate silhouette" by Derek Gale

This final image, looking up towards the exit of the Tate’s turbine hall, was shot hand held with the lens wide open at f1.7.  The fast maximum aperture on the 20mm pancake lens gives you the creative flexibility which makes this sort of image possible.

In a way the day in London was a personal Photo Trek.  I was in an interesting place and looking for photographic opportunities.  If you would like to do that yourself, and get “al fresco” photography training from me at the same time, then why not come along to one of my 2011 Photo Treks?  You can get more information on the Photo Treks page of the website.


Derek Gale                                          

A right Royal event: Part 2

OK, let me state at the start that this blog post is not about the Royal Wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton.  No, it’s about the Royal Academy of Arts’ Summer Exhibition, in London from 7th June to 15th August 2011.

Their website says, “The Royal Academy’s annual Summer Exhibition is the world’s largest open submission contemporary art exhibition. Now in its 242nd year, the exhibition continues the tradition of showcasing work by both emerging and established artists in all media including painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, architecture and film.”     Note the word “photography“.

To have work accepted by the Royal Academy for their Summer Exhibition is a real achievement, as they get over 10,ooo works submitted.  As they say, “Nothing ventured…” 

"Bokeh 073" by Derek Gale

I decided to enter two of my Fine Art Photography “Invisible Beauty” Bokeh series.  I’ve mentioned these before, and they don’t look like photographs at all.  As you can see from the image above, they are much more like abstract paintings.  The images I am entering are printed on aluminium laminate and are 1 metre wide, and there’s the complication…  Works have to be delivered to the Academy in an unwrapped/unpackaged condition, which rules out most couriers, so I’m taking them myself.

"Bokeh 048" by Derek Gale

It was interesting deciding what category they were, as different types of works need to be delivered on different days.  After some discussion with the RA it we agreed that they were, as unframed images mounted on aluminium, best categorised as “Unglazed works”. 

To keep them in great condition I’ve had to get some corner protectors and side protection foam.  With the foam on, the two works just fit into my exhibition board carrying case; it might have been made for them.  There’s no parking at the RA so it’s down to public transport. I’ve sorted out a route which involves no changes of Tube line, which will be useful with a large bag to lug around.

So off to the RA I go, and I’ll keep you posted as to how I get on.  Wish me luck!



PS   Once the works are safely delivered, I’ll be free to spend some time in London doing some street photography with my Panasonic GF1 and 20mm lens.  It’s a perfect combination for that.