Archive for October 2009

Saatchi Gallery!

October 30, 2009

As from today I now have my own Fine Art Photography page on the Saatchi Gallery website!  Yes, THAT Saatchi Gallery.  You can find it at

It’s on “THE WORLD’S INTERACTIVE ART GALLERY” according to them.  It would also appear from looking at other artists’ sites, that I’m a “lens-based artist” rather than being a photographer.  Does sound rather more “artspeak” doesn’t it?

To celebrate, here’s a shot of a flying shoe.   It’s in homage to an image I saw several years ago, where someone had thrown 4 balls in the air trying to get them into a perfect square in the sky.  They didn’t succeed, and the image shown was the best of loads of attempts.  This shoe shot was the best of one…

"Flying shoe" by Gale Photography

"Flying shoe" by Gale Photography

Anyway, it’s all good stuff, and I’m looking forward to the results of my increased exposure to the Fine Art world.


Only connect

October 29, 2009

One of the best things about being a social photographer is that you are working with people.  Landscapes may be beautiful to photograph, but people are really interesting.  It’s been our pleasure to work with some families more than once, and we’ve become the “photographers of choice” for their family events.

Here’s an example.  We photographed Claire and Chris’s wedding a few years ago at Newtown Church, and Elcot Park near Newbury.  They had a fabulous wedding day, and so did we.  They were great fun to work with, and the croquet match will live in my memory for ever…

Clare & Chris by Gale Photography

Claire & Chris by Gale Photography

Also at their wedding, with his fiance Stephanie, was Claire’s brother Iain.  He was one of the ushers. 

Steph & Iain by Gale Photography

Stephanie & Iain by Gale Photography

They loved Claire & Chris’s wedding images, and we were delighted when they chose us to photograph their wedding as well.  Fast forward to 2009 and it’s their turn.  Their wedding at Sonning Church, and The Berystede Hotel at Ascot, was delightful, and it was great to meet everyone again.

Stephanie & Iain by Gale Photography

Stephanie & Iain by Gale Photography

To  make it all nicely symmetrical, Claire & Chris were at Stephanie & Iain’s wedding.  Claire was a bridesmaid, Chris was an usher, and they had their young son with them.


Claire & Chris & son by Gale Photography

It’s always special to be asked to photograph someone’s wedding.  It is after all one of the most important days of their life, and they’re putting their trust in you to do a great job.   If you know the people from a previous event, it gives everything an extra edge, and of course, you’re under even more pressure to deliver.   That’s what makes it such great fun!!

Tripping the light fantastic

October 23, 2009

Working in the studio I try and keep my lighting simple.  It’s easier, and helps me concentrate on getting the best images for our portrait photography clients.  It’s very interesting how you can change the feel of an image by some simple lighting changes.  I’ll illustrate this with some recent portraits.

In this first image there’s a main light (a softbox) to his right, and what’s called a fill light to his left.  This lighting gives nice modelling to the face whilst filling in any shadow areas.  It’s a classic style of portrait photography lighting.

"Classic Portrait" - by Gale Photography

"Classic Portrait" - by Gale Photography

Here a simple change to the lighting direction relative to the subject’s face makes for a much more dramatic image.  He’s now looking straight at the main light, and the fill light has become a light for his hair.  He’s closer to the light, which means an exposure change, so the background has become much darker.  I’ve added to this photographic mood change by slightly changing the colours of the image in Photoshop.  It’s now a much more creative image.

"Dramatic Portrait" - by Gale Photography

"Dramatic Portrait" - by Gale Photography

Next, I’ve used a large window to light the subject.  This light is strongly directional, and gives her face some lovely modelling.  I’ve asked her to turn her head sufficiently towards the light so that both of her eyes were lit, and so that her hair on the left of the frame got enough light to show its shape.

"Window Portrait" - by Gale Photography

"Window Portrait" - by Gale Photography

In this final image, lit with a studio flash in a softbox, the lighting on her face is more diffuse, but I’ve balanced the ambient light outside and the flash to separate her from the background.  This gives a slightly surreal feel to the image.

"Balanced Portrait" - by Gale Photography

"Balanced Portrait" - by Gale Photography

To see more of our portrait images, have a look at the Portrait Gallery on our website    If you would like to see images of yourself, why not book a Portrait Experience with us?

Once is not enough!

October 16, 2009

A great way to improve your photography is to take a series of images of something that has caught your eye, instead of just taking a single image and moving on.  It helps you with the process of looking for images, and with getting the best from a subject. 

Let’s take this stack of chrome and laminate chairs as an example.  I’ve turned the images into black & white to simplify them:

"Chair pattern 1" by Gale Photography

"Chair pattern 1" by Gale Photography

I’d seen that they made an interesting asymmetric pattern, so after taking the first image I moved round them looking for other patterns and found a more symmetrical one.

"Chair pattern 2" by Gale Photography

"Chair pattern 2" by Gale Photography

I really liked the way the strongly directional light caught the  chrome tubing on the right-hand side of the composition, whilst leaving the left-hand side more in shadow. 

"Chair pattern 3" by Gale Photography

"Chair pattern 3" by Gale Photography

In this third image I’ve used the strong diagonal lines as my main compositional element.  The lower left of the image has some lines coming in from the other direction, and there’s a vertical line about one third of the way across from the right, both of which help balance the composition. 

In this last image I’ve used the shadows from some of the chairs that had been set out in the sun.

"Chair pattern 4" by Gale Photography

"Chair pattern 4" by Gale Photography

The chairs themselves are absent, but it’s their effect on other things, and the shapes the shadows form, that gives us a point of interest. 

All I did was notice a stack of chairs…

These images were taken in Canterbury Cathedral, and I did get a few strange looks from other visitors while I was photographing the chairs.  Clearly they were wondering why I wasn’t taking the standard “tourist shot” down the aisle.  Looking for a different type of image, of something that most other people don’t even see, is part of our development as photographers.  If you want the “tourist shot” you should buy a postcard!

If you want to improve your photography, and start looking for images like these, you can join one of our training courses.  Have a look at the Training & Treks page of our website at

“They’re just holiday snaps.”

October 7, 2009

How many times do I hear people say, “They’re just holiday snaps”?   Well, your holidays are the time off you’ve earned as a result of all the hard work you’ve done during the rest of the year, so shouldn’t your holiday photographs be the best they can be!   Luckily, there are techniques you can learn to get great holiday images. 

Here are some of my recent holiday images.  They were all taken with a digital compact camera, which shows that you don’t need a fancy camera to get great holiday images.

Holiday images need to capture the feelings you had on your holiday, or recreate the experiences.  This image of the sky at Whitstable in Kent sums up my feelings of relaxation on that day, and also the superb view.

sea-&-sky by Gale Photography

"Sky at Whitstable" by Gale Photography

Once you have chosen your subject, you should then compose your shot to give the greatest impact.

"O2 arena at dusk" by Gale Photography

"O2 Arena at dusk" by Gale Photography

With this image of the O2 Arena in London I’ve waited till sunset so I got the arena’s lights with an interesting sky behind the arena’s supports.  I’ve then cropped off  some of the foreground to give the best composition.  This is the “fill the frame only with interesting stuff” rule.

Some of our trips on holiday involve going to historic buildings where photography can be a bit of a challenge.  Here’s an example from Canterbury Cathedral.

Canterbury Cathedral ceiling by Gale Photography

Canterbury Cathedral ceiling by Gale Photography

I wanted to capture the fantastic vaulted ceiling on the “Bell Harry Tower”, but the exposure set by the camera meant that hand-holding wasn’t practical because of camera shake.  The little flash on my Lumix digital compact camera wasn’t anywhere near powerful enough to light it, so what could I do?  Easy !!  Put the camera on the floor underneath the centre of the ceiling, set the self-timer, press the shutter, and move out of the way.  The result is a sharp image showing just what I wanted.

"Ightam Mote panorama" by Gale Photography

"Ightham Mote panorama" by Gale Photography

Finally, there are times when you just can’t get everything in because your camera’s lens isn’t wide enough, or you just can’t get far enough away.  I had this problem at Ightham Mote in Kent.  I couldn’t fit it all in because a hedge stopped me going far enough back.  The solution was to take a number of images (6 I think) that covered the whole of the building, and then stitch them together afterwards to give one complete image of the whole building.  Sounds a bit complicated but it’s actually very easy.  I used a free program called Autostitch, but there are plenty of others available.

All of these tips, and plenty more, are covered in our “The Creative Eye” photographic training course which we’re running in the New Year.  Our website has details of the dates and venues.