Archive for January 2011

The Car’s the Star: Part 2

January 27, 2011

If, like me, you love cars especially classic cars, you will have probably got frustrated trying to photograph them at car shows.  They aren’t always parked in the best place, you have little control over the lighting, and there always seems to be other people in the way!

"Pininfarina Spider in Bristol" by Derek Gale

Here’s an example.  It’s a very nice Pininfarina spidereuropa 2000i (mine!) at last’s year’s Bristol Italian Auto Moto Festival.  It was taken in a brief moment when there was no-one walking past or looking at it.  The Festival is held on the street in the old part of Bristol, so there are often distracting buildings in the background, as can be seen here.  In case you were wondering, the roads and the bank were closed, so I wasn’t parked illegally!

Under these circumstances, instead of trying to get the whole car, it’s better to capture the details that are often missed.  These little details, such as badges, are often works of art in themselves.  Getting in close allows you to hide (or creatively use) the background, lose people, and control the light a bit more.

"Lamborghini Espada badge" by Derek Gale

This is the badge of a fabulous Lamborghini Espada in classic Italian red.   The Espada was Lamborghini’s 4-seat supercar, and was made between 1968 and 1978.  The badge shows the bull that they adopted as their symbol.  Some say it’s a dig at Ferrari, whose badge symbol is a prancing horse, because bulls are more powerful than horses!  The badge and strake on the bonnet are like an arrow pointing forwards. 

"Vignale coachbuilder's badge" by Derek Gale

As well as the badge of a car’s manufacturer, you may also find the badge of the coachbuilder.  Coachbuilders are the people who build bodies for cars/coaches/lorries etc.  This is a Vignale badge on a very rare Triumph Italia 2000.  The car was designed by Michelotti, and built in Turin by Vignale on Triumph TR3 running gear.  The badge is a lovely piece of enamelling featuring the Mole Antoelliana, a famous Turin landmark, and the “V”  shape reflects the shape of the Turin coat of arms.

"Triumph Italia badge" by Derek Gale

The badge denoting the car model is another beautiful bit of design and engineering.  It’s delightful how the stroke of the “t” lines up with the “2” of 2000, and how the zeros get smaller towards the right.  This level of detailing helps make the car look as if it’s moving even when it’s standing still.  The reflected building in this image gives a good curved zigzag line which adds to the sense of movement.

"Superleggera badge" by Derek Gale

This badge denotes the method that’s been used to construct the car’s body.  “Superleggera” means “Super lightweight”, and is a system of steel tubes covered with aluminium panels to give the final shape of the car.  The system was developed by the coachbuilder Carrozzeria Touring in Milan.  Their own badge is also in the shot.  This image of the badge and panel gap really benefitted from a diagonal composition.  I was careful to ensure that the reflection in the background didn’t break the line of the Touring badge.

"VT badge" by Derek Gale

This final badge is on the back of a supercar.  It’s only when you look closely at the badges that you see the tiny little features that the designer has put in.  On the bottom left of each letter there’s a small stroke off to the left that gives the impression of speed; it’s a very clever bit of iconography.  Any ideas as to what car it’s on?  Obviously it’s Italian, as it was at an Italian car show.

You don’t need a DSLR to be a creative photographer.  All of these images were taken with a Panasonic Lumix FX-500 compact digital camera set on wide-angle and macro.  It’s all down to the photographer.

Cheers,

Derek.                           www.galephotography.co.uk

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Photographic training update – mini blog post

January 25, 2011

Just updated my photography training calendar with some new Photo Treks at Buscot Park near Faringdon. 

You can get more info and book your place here.

"Buscot Park Tulips" by Derek Gale

See you soon!

Cheers,

Derek                                 www.galephotography.co.uk

Taking the wide, and long, view.

January 20, 2011

A client came to me recently with a very special job.  It was to turn his eighty-four RAW image files into a stunning High Dynamic Range (HDR) panorama, to place 24 priceless family images around it, and then produce a large, framed, composite print.

Some of the family images were very damaged and needed some serious editing time to rebuild them.  Some were faded, or taken under challenging lighting conditions, and again needed a lot of photo restoration to make them look right. 

"Before and after" by Derek Gale

This image is an example.  The original had been folded in half at some point, and had serious creasing, a partly missing background, and other problems.  The new “Content-aware” Fill tool in Photoshop CS5 was very useful here, although it doesn’t work miracles, so I did quite a bit a regular cloning as well.

The HDR panorama side was very interesting as well.  One issue with HDR is that the final result can look somewhat unreal.  The challenge comes when you want the benefits of HDR without the unreality.

"Rusty Morris 8" by Derek Gale

This image, of a very rusty old Morris 8, shows the classic unreal HDR style, as it looks almost like a cartoon.  (The car is not for sale but you can buy a print of the image from me).  This treatment, whilst interesting with the right images, was not appropriate for the composite image I was working on.  For that image I chose a more photorealistic look which was more natural. 

The final HDR panorama needed quite a bit of editing too.  As the images for the panorama were taken over a reasonably long period, some of the sheep in the foreground had moved around quite a bit, and had to be de-ghosted/cloned so they were nice and tidy.  As well as the moving sheep, the lighting had changed while the separate images were being exposed, so the brightness variation across the image needed to be levelled out.

"Panorama section" by Derek Gale

The HDR panorama, made from so many separate images, was quite a large file in Photoshop at over 350 Megabytes.  It was amazing just how much detail could be seen in it.  This image is of a section of the final image and is just 0.4% of the total panorama area.  There’s good texture on the mountain and plenty of detail in the fields in the foreground.

"Family panorama" by Derek Gale

The final image was printed to the agreed size, mounted on Foamex to give it rigidity, and then framed with a complementary moulding.  It was a fascinating exercise to do the work, and I’m really pleased with how it turned out.  Much more importantly, so was my client.

That’s the “wide” part of my post title, so what about the “long” part.  It’s about taking a long-term view of the potential uses of the images you are shooting today.  A lot of the images surrounding the HDR panorama were old.  Some were well over 50 years old.  You need to be keeping the images you take now in a form that will enable people in 50 years time to do a similar thing to what I’ve done here.  The best form for that is a good print kept in a cool, dry, dark place.  We don’t know that we will be able to read a digital file from a CD/DVD in 50 years, but in 50 years we will still be able to see a printed image.

Cheers,

Derek                     www.galephotography.co.uk

* All non-Gale Photography images are copyright their respective owners, and were used with permission.

Taking images that sell.

January 14, 2011

I’m a subscriber to a stock image library called Alamy Images.  A stock library is a source of images for book publishers, website designers, magazines, newspapers, in fact anyone who needs images for their publications.  Alamy is a large stock library, and it now has over 21 million (!) images for sale.  The deal is simple: I take the images. I upload the images to Alamy. Someone searches for and then buys an image.  They pay Alamy and use the image.  Alamy take a commission and pays me the balance.

So what is it that people buy? 

"Whirling Hygrometer" by Derek Gale

This image is my best-seller.  It’s of a whirling hygrometer that’s used to measure the humidity of the air.  It was great fun taking the image whilst holding the camera one-handed and whirling the hygrometer with the other.  Not usually a good recipe for a sharp image!  It’s been used in various textbooks in a number of countries round the world.

"Fly tipping" by Derek Gale

This image was my first ever sale on Alamy.  It’s of some fly tipping just off the A420 near Swindon in Wiltshire.  I was passing, and as always was carrying a camera.  I stopped and took some shots.  It’s not exactly very pretty, and it’s not a very creative image, but earned me a $250 sale, so I wasn’t complaining!  This is a really good example of something that most people would walk past producing a saleable image.

"The Sage, Gateshead" by Derek Gale

This image, of the Sage Arts Centre in Gateshead, has also sold several times.  I was on my way to a friend’s wedding in Scotland, and stopped off in Newcastle overnight.  The weather the next day was great so I wandered around taking some stock images.  This image was taken from the Newcastle side of the River Tyne, and it’s probably so successful because it’s a very simple clear image of a landmark building in sunny weather.

"Kit's Coty" by Derek Gale

This is another wedding-related image.  It’s of “Kit’s Coty” which is a Neolithic chambered long barrow near the Medway valley in Kent.  It was taken whilst I was photographing a wedding reception in an appropriately named venue nearby.  The blue colour comes from the use of a blue filter in front of the flash.  The flash was on the ground just inside the railings and was fired remotely.  This shot was used in a Halloween-related publication in October 2010.  They clearly liked the spooky blueness.

"Westmill wind farm" by Derek Gale

This image is my most recent sale, I only found out about it today!  It’s of the wind farm at Westmill near Watchfield, in Oxfordshire.  It took most of a day to find the best place to take the shot.  On another day, with the wind and light in different directions, somewhere else would be the best place.  The image was used in a UK national newspaper this week (11th/12th Jan 2011).  With Alamy you aren’t told where your images have been used, just that a sale has been made.  If you are lucky someone sees it, and posts a report on the Alamy forum.  So if you’ve seen it please let me know!

I’ve just had another batch of images accepted by Alamy’s Quality Control department, so I now need to do the keywording that will enable the images to be found, and then hopefully be bought.  The great thing about stock libraries like Alamy is that you can earn money while you are sleeping!

Cheers,

Derek   www.galephotography.co.uk

Here’s to the next 10 years!

January 6, 2011

It’s my 10th anniversary!  On Jan 1st 2011 Gale Photography celebrated being in business for 10 whole years. Woo hoo!!!

It’s been great fun working with all the changes since 2001.  Back then it was hard to predict just how much the technology of photography would change in just a few short years.  The digital revolution was underway but many photographers still used film.  Today the default is digital, and there are very few users of film. 

When I went professional I used a Rolleiflex 2.8f medium format film camera.  It was, and is, a fabulous tool ( I still have it), but it only took 12 images on one film, so it meant that I had to change films quite often.  I shot colour on the Rollei, but as my wedding photography involved black and white images as well, I also had to have a 35mm film camera loaded with B&W film.  I also carried a 2 spare 35mm cameras loaded with colour film.  It was all very heavy, and all the wedding guests shot film too.

"It's a film camera!" by Derek Gale

Digital arrived in my professional photography life in the middle of 2001, and my first digital camera was a compact.  The Kodak DC4800 “Professional Digital Imaging System” was a 3 million pixel camera that cost an eye-watering £600.  The 128Mb compact flash card I needed for it cost an even more eye-watering £175!!  To put that into perspective, nowadays a typical 8Gb compact flash card, (64 times more capacity) is around £20. 

"3 mega pixels" by Derek Gale

I did use the Kodak the following week for an urgent commercial photography job and it was great.  This shot was done in camera with a colour-filtered Vivitar 283 flashgun on a long lead lighting the background, and another 283 on the camera lighting the bag in the foreground. What you can’t see is my assistant standing up a ladder out of shot pouring the grain into the sack.

2003 saw the really big change when I got my first digital SLR.   It was the oddly named Pentax *istD.  This 6Mp camera cost me £1200 just for the body, and would be considered to have a very low specification today.  From the first day of using it I was inspired!  I loved the freedom, the flexibility, and the “insurance”.  Insurance?  Well, with a film camera you send away the precious original negative to be processed/printed, and if it gets lost you’re in trouble. With a digital camera you only ever send a copy, so you increase your customers’ confidence.

"Ian & car" by Derek Gale

The really great thing about digital that I found so liberating was the ability to experiment and see the result immediately.  This portrait of a guy and his beloved Range Rover is an example.  I was able to slightly rearrange the composition and check it, then alter the exposure and check it again, to give the image I wanted.  With film this would have been much more difficult.  Digital makes the whole photographic experience much more interactive and much more fun.

"Dog portrait" by Derek Gale

In 2006 I moved from Pentax to Nikon as I wanted a wider range of lenses than Pentax offered, and I’ve stayed with Nikon since then.  The fast response and great lenses let me get candid images, of people or their pets, that would have been very hard in the Rollieflex days.

"Hands" by Derek Gale

That’s some of the technology changes over the last 10 years, but what’s stayed the same?  Well, the need to be as photographically creative as possible and to offer customers; the best possible images, the best customer experience, and the best value, have been constants.  Without offering these the equipment used is irrelevant.

I’ve met some fantastic people over the last 10 years, and it’s been a real pleasure to be part of your families’ lives, if only for a short time.  Thank you!

I’m looking forward to the next 10 years!

Cheers,

Derek    www.galephotography.co.uk