Archive for the ‘black & white’ category

A Capital compact camera: Panasonic GF1 in London

April 7, 2011

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.

"Jumping pigeon" by Derek Gale

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.

"Wings ready" by Derek Gale

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.

"Trees: Tate Modern" by Derek Gale

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.

"Tate sunflower seeds" by Derek Gale

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.

"Tate silhouette" by Derek Gale

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.

Cheers,

Derek Gale                                                    www.galephotography.co.uk

Advertisements

I’m just a regular guy: Part 5

March 17, 2011

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.

"2009 age 1" by Derek Gale

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.

"2010 age 2" by Derek Gale

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…

"2011 age 3" by Derek Gale

Fast forward from 2010 to 2011. He’s grown even more, still has a smart haircut, and can operate an Ipad too…

"2011 age 3" by Derek Gale

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.

"2011 age 3" by Derek Gale

He also did a sort of celebratory dance when the nose was caught, clearly influenced by those that footballers do when they score goals.

"2011 age 3"

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?

Cheers,

Derek                                                 www.galephotography.co.uk

It’s a mystery to me.

March 10, 2011

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. 

The face in the hedge" by Derek Gale

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?

"Entrance to wonderland?" by Derek Gale

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…

"Hanging around" by Derek Gale

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.

"Wobbly branches" by Derek Gale

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.

"Celtic cross" by Derek Gale

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?

Cheers, 

Derek                                     www.galephotography.co.uk

The adults are alright too!

March 3, 2011

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.

"Blue toned" by Derek Gale

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.

"Fill flash" by Derek Gale

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.

"Fill flash 2" by Derek Gale

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.

"Focus on the eyes" by Derek Gale

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.

Cheers,

Derek                       www.galephotography.co.uk

“The kids are alright”

February 24, 2011

In 1965 The Who had a song called, “The kids are alright”.  As a portrait photographer it’s great working with kids.  Until they are about 4 years old they’ll just do what they want to do.  It makes for exciting shoots, as I’m never sure of what they are going to do next.  It’s also fun working out the lighting, and sometimes it’s best to leave it simple and fairly broad.

Here are some examples from a recent shoot with two kids of different ages…

"Eyes only" by Derek Gale

This shot was taken with a single big softbox quite close to the little boy, which gave pretty even lighting.  He was looking up at his reflection in a curved mirror on the studio ceiling.  The mirror was put there for just this sort of shot.  His eyes said everything, so I didn’t need to show the rest of his face.

"Looking right" by Derek Gale

With this image the lighting is the same.  It was important to catch her great expression and smile without her looking at the camera.  A simple request for her to “Look at Mum and laugh”, gave the perfect balance of  spontaneity and control.  Her face is quite central, but that’s because I wanted to include her hair, which was falling nicely over her shoulders.

“Twirling hair” by Derek Gale

Here I’ve asked her to spin round so her hair was moving.  It usually takes a few tries to get a good shape, but we nailed it first time. It’s great the way her hair has wound round to the back of her head.  You can really see the energy she was putting into getting it right. 

"Cute expression" by Derek Gale

After the studio portraits we moved outside.  As the weather was kind, with soft overcast light, I managed to get some good outdoor images.  Using a wide aperture gave a good soft background, which allowed me to concentrate on his cute expression and eyes.

So yes, taking portraits of kids is great fun.  Don’t worry if you aren’t one, or don’t have any, I’m happy shooting adults too!

Cheers,

Derek                                       www.galephotography.co.uk

It’s an ill wind…

February 3, 2011

I was driving home along a rural road one evening last week, and came across a burning van in a lay by.   The driver was OK, but the van was completely destroyed.  It seems to have been an under bonnet fuel fire that caused it. 

Going past it again in daylight a few days later, I thought the van did look a bit incongruous stuck next to a beautiful area of the Lambourn Downs, but that it may have creative photography possibilities.

"Burnt van HDR" by Derek Gale

My first shots concentrated on the whole van, as I liked the diagonal flame patterns on the sides.  This image is an HDR composite of various exposures.  It was amazing just how fast rust had formed on the exposed steel.  The heat had burnt off all the protective coatings on the metal, and the van had been sprayed with water.  I decided to take a closer look…

"Burnt landscape 1"

To me, the burnt paint on the van looked like a parched landscape from above.  With this sort of photography, where all the clues about scale have been excluded, it’s hard to determine the size of things.  Is it from miles away or is it something very close?

"Burnt landscape 2" by Derek Gale

It was fascinating how much variation in shape and colour there was on the van’s surface.  The colours ranged from rust red to blue-white.  The texture varied as well.  This area of the bonnet had lots of scrape marks from some sort of tool.  The curve made it look a bit like a planet floating in space.

"Burnt landscape 3" by Derek Gale

Some areas look more like images of giant gas planets taken from a passing satellite.  The areas of colour swirled into each other.  I’m sure a chemist who studies fires would be able to explain the processes involved, but how it ended up looking like this doesn’t really matter.  All that matters is that it did end up looking like this.

"Burnt landscape 4"

Other areas looked more structured.  The lines in this image could be roads in a town, or paintings on the wall of a cave.  Perhaps they are ski runs in the snow.  Anything with straight lines or a grid always looks more artificial than natural. 

"Burnt landscape 5" by Derek Gale

This final image is a volcanic island floating in a twinkling sea.  Cloud shadows make darker areas on the water.  It was taken from the small plane that’s due to land on the small airstrip on the north of the island.  It is, of course, none of these things.  It’s another shot of paint on the burnt out van, but these images let us free our imagination, and we can read many things into them.

The van fire was a huge inconvenience to the driver, and he has my sympathy, but it opened up a wealth of photographic possibilities.  It really shows that it’s “An ill wind that blows nobody any good.”

My “The Creative Eye” course, and 1-2-1 training can help you look for the beautiful in the apparently mundane.

Cheers,

Derek                       www.galephotography.co.uk

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