Archive for September 2009

Making an exhibition of myself!

September 16, 2009

My, what a busy weekend we had! 

We were exhibiting in two places at once on Saturday.  The first was at the National Trust “Coleshill Food Festival”.  Astute observers will notice that we’re not involved in producing food, but offer creative portrait photography and photographic training.  Well, at the show there were some craft stands, and that’s where we come in.  Mind you, the sort of thing we try and do with our portrait photography also applies to food…

Stuffed peppers by Gale Photography

It’s a nice off-centre composition, and shows the food to its best advantage.  It works with people too. 

Our stand at the Food Festival was busy all day, and we had lots of interest in both the portrait photography and the photographic training courses. 

The second place we exhibited was at Pat Elmore’s sculpture garden in Longcot as part of Swindon Open Studios.  The weather was great on the Saturday, and it looked more like the Med than Oxfordshire!  

sculpture by Gale Photography

I also had lots of interest in the Fine Art abstract images printed on aluminium.  You can check my previous posts to remind yourselves what they look like. 

Whilst I was there I took the chance to go round Pat’s sculpture garden, and to take some creative images using the sort of techniques we cover in our “The Creative Eye” course.

Roof Spider by Gale Photography

This “spider ” on the glass roof of a greenhouse caught my eye, as did this fabulous pattern on the leaf of a large plant.

Plant stripes by Gale Photography

In the “Spider” image I’ve put the main subject well off-centre, and with the pattern image there’s a lovely diagonal curve.  You can find out more about these and other compositional techniques at one of our courses.

See you soon!


It’s only words…

September 10, 2009

All around us there are words.  Our environment is full of notices, adverts, signs (mostly directing, allowing or forbidding!) and other visual paraphenalia.  These words can make for interesting and thought-provoking images, especially if you deliberately remove the context.  Here’s an example…


Who, or what, or where, is “VERY OLD”?   Who carved the letters, and why?  The image of just the words and sky doesn’t actually help you answer these questions, so you need to let your imagination take over.

Sometimes the sign seems odd even when you know the context.  At first glance this sign is laughing at you – like the Nelson Muntz character in “The Simpsons”.  It’s actually to indicate the presence of a “ha ha” or sunken ditch to keep animals from straying.  Use a low angle to remove the background and you have an instant mystery.


Finally, here’s an Extra image.  Like the other two images it works well because it’s been simplified with a low angle, and a plain blue sky.


As a project you could think of a well known phrase, go round looking for the words in that phrase, take a series of images of those words, and then put together a composite image showing the whole phrase.   Try it!

To really get your photographic ideas going, why not come to one of our Training courses? Check out

Here comes the sun

September 3, 2009

In the old days of photography, Kodak’s advice about taking pictures was to shoot with the sun behind you.  This was because lenses weren’t very good, and film was not very sensitive to light, so you needed lots of light on the subject.  This resulted in nice, well exposed, shots of your friends and family squinting into the sun!!  Nowadays, with huge advances in lens and sensor technology, you can ignore Kodak’s advice and shoot directly towards the light.  It’s called “contre jour” photography.  With care* you can get great images.

Here I’ve used the shape of the Millenium Bridge at Gateshead, to block the sun and give a super highlight to the image.


In some images, such as this shot of a kite at Wroughton Kite Festival, this technique gives an almost black and white effect, because you are reducing the range of tones captured.


Of course, if you convert the image to black and white, and increase the contrast in Photoshop, you can use the strong silhouettes to give a powerful composition.


Finally, even the modern-day equivalent of Kodak’s “Box Brownie” camera; a compact digital camera, performs surprisingly well for “contre jour” photography.  This image of a child on a climbing frame was taken with a Panasonic Lumix FX-500.


I dropped down to get a nice low angle, and used part of the structure to prevent sunlight hitting the lens directly.

We cover this technique, and others, in our “The Creative Eye” photographic course/workshop.  Have a look at our Training and Treks page for more info at



* You need to be careful with this type of creative photography to ensure that you never look directly at the sun!