The Gale Photography blog has moved. We now have a combined website/blog and it’s at…
Please have a look!
The Gale Photography blog has moved. We now have a combined website/blog and it’s at…
Please have a look!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 www.galephotography.co.uk
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…”
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.
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.
Normally I blog about photography rather than cameras, but this post is a bit different.
Panasonic’s highly regarded GF1 micro 4/3rds camera has been discontinued, and a new model, the GF2, has replaced it. So why the report of a GF1? Well, it’s because I’ve just bought one! I reckon that buying an outgoing model is a sensible option as it gets significantly discounted, and offers most of the performance of the new model. It’s true of the GF1. I also prefer the control dials on the GF1 to the touch screen controls on the GF2.
So what’s special about the GF1? Well, it’s small but packs a real punch. It takes interchangeable lenses and the sensor is much bigger than a compact digital camera so the image quality is there. It’s on Alamy’s list of approved cameras, so it must be good.
Here’s a shot with the kit 14-45mm lens of some pegs, a sheet and the blue sky. It’s really crisp and punchy. Using the rear screen to compose isn’t too bad in the sun, so the lack of an optical viewfinder shouldn’t be a real problem. Panasonic do sell an electronic viewfinder, but it’s not too good, and very pricey.
This still life of stones in a small bowl shows a lot of subtle tones. It will focus to about 1 foot, and the Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) makes using a small lens aperture easy without recourse to a tripod.
For this abstract plant image, using a lot of camera movement during the exposure, I turned the OIS system off. There’s no point trying to get a blurry image if the camera’s trying to stop you!
The GF1 has a hot shoe for fitting a flash gun, or in this case a Yongnuo radio flash trigger controlling a Nikon SB-800 flash. The flash was bounced off a grey ceiling to control the reflections, especially those off the shiny lemon. I’ve done a bit of colour control and vignetting in Photoshop CS5 to give a nice old-fashioned feel to the image.
This last image is of a glass elephant and was set up in low light to see how the live view viewfinder coped. It was OK. As with the previous image I’ve fired a remote flash using a radio trigger. The flash was about 18 inches below and behind the elephant, which back-lit it very well.
So what are my impressions? So far, very good! I’m about to get the fabled 20mm f1.7 prime lens, so will give you a report about that at a later date.
I recently had the pleasure to do a contemporary portrait shoot for a little boy’s third birthday. It’s now my 7th shoot for the same family. I’ve shot his parents’ wedding, did portrait shoots for his 1st, 2nd and 3rd birthdays, and also three portrait shoots of their dogs.
Here he is, looking very cute, on his first birthday. At that time he was not quite able to walk unaided, and he had a mass of curly hair that was cut soon after this shoot.
Fast forward from 2009 to 2010. He’s grown loads and now has a smart haircut. He also now knows how to work an Iphone…
Fast forward from 2010 to 2011. He’s grown even more, still has a smart haircut, and can operate an Ipad too…
He’s a great portrait subject because he’s got a wide range of facial expressions. We were throwing a small red ball around, actually an old Red Nose Day squeaky nose, and he was celebrating if his Dad caught it. I caught him too, mid laugh.
He also did a sort of celebratory dance when the nose was caught, clearly influenced by those that footballers do when they score goals.
This final image shows his resting face. He was looking at his Dad in a very thoughtful way. Just a moment later he was laughing again.
It’s been great watching him change from a baby to a proper little boy.
Why not book a contemporary portrait shoot for your family, and watch them grow?
I have a book, by ex-BBC journalist John Timpson, called, “Timpson’s England”. It’s a celebration of the unusual and mysterious things to be found all over England. We can look for our own unusual things and mysteries. Sometimes they are obvious, and sometimes we have to search hard to find them.
This one was obvious. It’s a topiary face cut into the hedge round James Dyson’s house, Dodington Park, near Chipping Sodbury in Gloucestershire. It’s not in very high relief, so it’s hard to photograph, but it is a very curious sort of decoration. Perhaps it’s some sort of totem to keep unwanted visitors away, or perhaps it’s the face of someone whose vacuum cleaner has broken?
This strange little entrance, not too far from James Dyson’s house, looks to have been made to allow visitors rather than stop them. It was in a very long, and high, brick wall. The very small gothic arch is an elegant way to make an animal entrance. Perhaps it’s for a cat that appreciates architectural details? Would be useful to replace the missing stone on the left hand side though…
I saw this branch, apparently floating in mid-air, whilst out for a walk one day. There was a gentle breeze so it was slowly turning round and round, and then going back the other way when the breeze dropped; it was most odd. I took a long telephoto shot with my trusty Panasonic FZ-50 and checked the image. Only then could I see the fishing line and hook that was attached to the branch. It’s interesting to imagine the language of the angler when they caught their line!
Sometimes we can produce the mystery photographically, by looking for distortions of reality, or by post-processing an image.
This is a reflection of a dead tree in a puddle on the road. The shallow water, with a breeze blowing, distorted the tree into a strange and disturbing shape. It could be just a tree, or it could be a creature from the Tolkein’s Fangorn forest.
The mystery here has been added in Photoshop. The base image was a low-angle shot of a Celtic cross in a Welsh churchyard, but it’s been given a simulated infra-red black & white treatment. The image now takes us back into the myths, and to the great Celtic Kings battling for control of the Welsh Marches.
Mysteries abound everywhere, so why not go out and look for some?
In my previous post I talked about photographing children, and mentioned at the end that I’m happy to photograph adults too! Here are some images from a recent shoot for an adult couple.
This is a blue-toned black and white image. The toning adds to the cool look of his serious expression, but the image is lifted by the slight smile on her face. The plan was to have neither of them smiling, however I really liked the contrast with one person smiling and one not smiling.
With this image I wanted to make sure that her outfit, carefully chosen to match her eyes, was properly recorded, so it needed to be in colour. To give a tiny little catchlight in her eyes I used a tiny pop of fill-in flash. The long focal length lens has put the background nicely out of focus.
I’ve used the same fill-in flash technique here. He was in an area shaded by a large building so needed that extra reflection in his eyes. He’s over to the right side of the frame, which balances with the space on the left side of the frame, gives him an area to look into, and draws you into the image.
In this last image he was in a much more open area which gave good eye reflections, so didn’t need an extra catchlight. Going in close and using a large lens aperture has thrown most of his head out of focus, leaving just the plane of his face sharp. This lets us concentrate on his expression and eyes. There’s a direct communication between us and the subject, making for a strong portrait.
It was a fun shoot with a great couple.