Archive for March 2010

Family fun!

March 25, 2010
Had a really fun family (Mum, Dad, 2 children &  their dog) for a studio portrait shoot recently.  The shoot was mostly in our studio in South Oxfordshire, as it was pretty cold outside – although the light outside was soft and flattering.

The children had loads of energy, and their daughter was especially good at jumping. 

"High jump" by Gale Photography

The curved background makes it hard to see where the floor ends and the wall begins, so it makes her look really high off the ground. 

Their son is very keen on badminton, and he had brought along his racquet and a shuttlecock to use as props for some action shots.  Here I’ve thrown the shuttlecock with one hand, whilst firing the camera with the other hand.  

"Badminton action" by Gale Photography

It was pure chance that in this shot the shuttlecock was right in front of his face, and between his eyes.  It has not been put on afterwards in Adobe Photoshop; sometimes you just get lucky! 

We also tried some more serious shots with the racquet. 

"Differential focus" by Gale Photography

Here I’ve set a wide lens aperture to use what’s called “differential focus” in a creative way.  The boy is nice and sharp against the dark background, whilst the racquet strings are well out of focus and give an attractive graduated pattern down the image. 

With this dark background image of the girl, I used simple lighting from one main light, and used her hair and hands to frame her face.  With the image converted to B&W, her expression made for a nice moody shot. 

"B&W moody portrait" by Gale Photography

Finally, when we were back outside, I couldn’t resist taking a portrait of their dog “Tigger”.  She was a real bundle of energy (like her namesake), but I managed to get her still enough to get a few shots. 

"Tigger" by Gale Photography

The dark background (a hedge in shadow) makes it look as if she’s been lit by flash, but it’s a natural light image.  Her alert expression is due to the fact she was being offered a treat to encourage her to sit still. 

As I said, it was a fun shoot (with lots of laughter), and they loved the images. 

If you would like to experience a shoot with Gale Photography for yourself  just get in touch to arrange the date! 

Cheers, 

Derek 

www.galephotography.co.uk 

I’m just a regular guy: Part 2

March 18, 2010

I mentioned in a previous post how much fun it was to photograph a family on a regular basis.  Here’s another example… 

A few years ago I photographed a couple of dogs for some clients, then their other dog, then their wedding photography (the clients not the dogs!), and then did a portrait shoot for their son’s first birthday.  Well, he was two years old recently, and we had the pleasure of another portrait shoot with him.  He was great to work with, with a real character developing. 

Child portraits by Gale Photography

"K at two 1" by Gale Photography

 

For the studio images I used a single large softbox off to camera right.  It gave a softly directional light which made for good light and shadow on the child’s face.  I made sure I was at the child’s eye level for most of the images, as it made him more important in the frame. 

"K at two 2" by Gale Photography

 

Here, I’ve got just a little bit below his eye level.  It gives an unusual viewpoint, because we are used to being higher than a child.  He’s turned a bit more towards the softbox, which has given a more even light coverage with fewer shadows. 

In this last studio image he’s happily playing with his toy, and the look of concentration on his face is super.  

"K at two 3" by Gale Photography

 

His head and arms make a strong triangular composition.  In this image I’ve chosen to keep some colour, unlike the other images that I’ve converted to black and white.   The low colour saturation makes the image have an attractive mood. 

After the studio portrait session, we went outside for some location portraits.  I wanted to get a shot of him on some steps but he didn’t want to sit there.  I tried a classic bit of “reverse psychology”, and told him that he mustn’t sit on the steps.  It worked perfectly; he immediately sat there! 

"K at two 4" by Gale Photography

 

The expression on his face was perfect.  He thought he’d been mischievous, and I got a great shot. 

All in all it was an excellent portrait session, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s. 

Cheers, 

Derek 

www.galephotography.co.uk

Get on down – for the sake of clarity

March 4, 2010

There are signs of spring here in Southern England.  The snowdrops are almost over, the birds are nesting like mad, and all of those lovely spring flowers are getting ready to pop out.  What with the days getting longer as well, the winter hibernation of many photographers will soon be over too. So how do you get great photographs of the new season’s growth?  Well, here are some photo tips.  

It pays to get yourself down to the level of the plants themselves.  What you are trying to produce with outdoor plant and flower pictures is something that sums up the plant/flower and its environment.  If you stay at normal human height relative to the plant you’ll just get a shot of it from above.  Drop down and you can simplify the image. 

"Snowdrops" by Gale Photography

"Snowdrops" by Gale Photography

Here the snowdrops were in a raised bed which meant that I didn’t have to drop down so far.  Here I’ve gone for three clumps of snowdrops, rather than isolating a single flower.  Snowdrops look their best as drifts of flowers, with each clump of flowers relying on the others for the best effect, so I’ve tried to record that here. 

If you can’t bend down or lie down on the ground to get a low viewpoint, it can be hard to see the viewing screen on the back of your camera.  The Panasonic Lumix FX-500 compact digital camera that I used for the snowdrops picture, has a rear screen viewing angle option for where you hold the camera above your head.  If you set it to that, and then turn the camera upside down, you can hold it closer to the ground and still see the screen clearly. 

As another example of the simplifying effect of getting down to where the flowers are, here’s a shot of a cowslip (primula). 

"Cowslip" by Gale Photography

"Cowslip" by Gale Photography

I’ve been able to make the flower the simple main subject.  You can tell that the plant is growing in a grassy area, yet the background is not distracting whilst still having enough detail to give you an idea of the plant’s environment. 

You can do this with other plant types as well.  Here’s a shot of some catkins on a weeping silver birch tree. 

"Silver birch catkins" by Gale Photography

"Silver birch catkins" by Gale Photography

I chose a low viewpoint that was level with the catkins (lovely word!), and made an image that had just two of the catkins and some newly emerged leaves.  The leaves have that fabulous acid green colour that only spring can produce.  By using a long focal length lens, I’ve thrown the background well out of focus.  We cover how to achieve this sort of image on our outdoor photography training – the Gale Photography Photo Treks. 

Finally, one of the classic flowers of Southern England is the snakeshead fritillary.  They love damp areas, and I’m lucky enough to have them growing in my garden, by the pond.  They are one of the few plants in nature to have a regular checkerboard pattern. 

"Snakeshead fritillary" by Gale Photography

"Snakeshead fritillary" by Gale Photography

The ground was pretty wet, so I put a waterproof sheet on the ground and laid on that.  You do need to be careful that you won’t damage any plants when you do this.  The foreground plant was fully out, and the two others; one white, one normal, were still to flower fully.  This gave a good contrast with the flower that was out. 

I hope that you’ll try some of these techniques for yourself this spring, and perhaps I’ll see you on a Photo Trek soon. 

Cheers, 

Derek.

www.galephotography.co.uk