Archive for the ‘Photo Trek’ category

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

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Calling all Trekkies: the story continues…

August 18, 2010

Once again I’m pleased to report a successful Photo Trek at Buscot Park.  It was last weekend and we had a “full house”.  These photographic training events are great fun, and Buscot Park is a perfect venue for them.  The group was terrific, with a wide range of photographic experience, and equipment ranging from a digital compact camera, to a digital SLR and lots of lenses.  I assigned everyone their afternoon’s photographic projects, and we were off. 

"Buscot swirl" by Derek Gale

Once again, we started under the trees near the garden entrance.  The exercise we do here is great for breaking the ice.  It gets everyone off the “Fully Automatic” setting, and shows them the freedom that digital cameras give you.  The rapid camera movement I’ve used here made for a fabulous off-centre swirl.  

"Buscot garden entrance" by Derek Gale

It has to be said that the weather at this Buscot Park Photo Trek wasn’t as good as it has been previously.  The relatively bright sky made the exposure compensation exercise even more important.  With this image of the garden entrance I tried to get as little of the sky in the shot as possible.  Even though I did that, I had to use some positive Exposure Compensation to get the details right in the stonework.  

"Dramatic Buscot sky" by Derek Gale

Moving through to the walled garden, the sky was looking very threatening.  It was great for photography, as the light was changing all the time.  We had a really good discussion about exposure, and one delegate was dressed perfectly, in white and black, to demonstrate the fact that meters always want to turn things mid-grey. 

"Buscot Trekkies" by Derek Gale

The delegates loved the terracotta warriors.   The sun came out as we reached them and it gave a really good range of light angles on the faces of the warriors.  They are very easy to photograph; they don’t move and never get bored with modelling! 

"Dramatic Buscot House" by Derek Gale

The clouds got even more threatening as we reached the house itself.  The angling sunlight across the front of the house, with the dark rainclouds behind, made for a stunning image.  There was an almost machine gun sound of shutters firing, and then, as quickly as it had come out, the sun went in.  You must always take your photographic chances… 

…and then it rained.  Luckily it was nearly the end of the Trek, so we sheltered under a handy tree and looked at everyone’s project images.  There were some stunning shots, and everyone had produced something they were pleased with. 

"Rainy Buscot water garden" by Derek Gale

A quick look back down the famous water garden, and another Buscot Photo Trek was over.  It was our last Trek there for this year, but we hope to run some more next year, so keep checking our website for details, or sign up to our e-mail newsletter and we’ll keep you informed. 

Cheers, 

Derek 

www.galephotography.co.uk

Calling all Trekkies – once again

July 15, 2010

It was easy to choose a subject for this week’s blog post; last week’s Photo Trek at Buscot Park.  We were at Buscot Park near Faringdon again, courtesy of Lord Faringdon, and it all came together very well.  The weather, the location, and most importantly the Trek delegates, were excellent.  They had a wide range of camera types, and a wide range of photographic experience.  

"Wobbly glass abstract" by Derek Gale

Just before the Trek started I found a nice bit of wobbly glass and took an abstract image with my trusty Panasonic Lumix FX-500.  To find out where it was taken you’ll have to visit Buscot Park for yourselves. 

We started our Photo Trek near the Ticket Office, assigned the delegates their photographic projects for the afternoon, and moved on to a clump of trees nearby.  Even on a bright sunny day like last Saturday it’s a great place to learn about the use of long shutter speeds and camera movement.  It’s also chance for the delegates to gain the confidence to move the camera off the fully automatic settings.  We had great fun with camera movement, subject movement and combining them with flash. 

"Invisible arms" by Derek Gale

Here’s one of the delegates with invisible arms!  It was taken with a long shutter speed as he was waving his arms up and down.  There’s a little pop of flash as well to give some light in his eyes. 

Our next port of call was the Four Seasons Walled Garden.  It was full of colour and texture, and the sea hollies were a particular feature. 

"Sea Holly circle" by Derek Gale

The wind was quite strong which helped the delegates to learn about the challenges of close-up plant photography, as a lot of the plants were moving around quite a lot.  The sea  hollies are very useful to show the changes that occur as a subject is viewed with the light falling directly onto it, or shining from behind it. 

A new feature of the gardens at Buscot this year is the small army of terracotta warriors.  They were a real hit with the group, as they allow practice at portrait photography, pattern pictures, and control of the depth of field. 

"Leica compact warrior" by Derek Gale

Here’s a delegate hard at work with his Leica compact… 

"Face to face" by Derek Gale

.. and here’s another delegate getting “up close and personal” with another terracotta warrior. 

"Buscot Warriors" by Derek Gale

This what I meant about pattern pictures, and control of the depth of field.  The front warrior is nicely sharp, and the others in the background are becoming less and less sharp. 

"Close-up shooting" by Derek Gale

As mentioned previously, the delegates each had a photographic project during the afternoon.   The project here was “Red”.   It really shows just how close some digital compact cameras will focus – there is a red leaf on the wooden bench.  This macro focusing ability opens up a wealth of creative photography opportunities.  You can see the image being taken here, and other images taken by the Buscot Park Photo Trek delegates on my website. 

All too soon we had to return to the start point as our time at Buscot was up.  I’d had a great afternoon, and so, according to their feedback, had the delegates.  

We’re back at Buscot Park for another Photo Trek on Aug 14th. It’s fully booked, but there’s space on our 1-day Photo Trek on the Ridgeway near Wantage on July 31st.  Loads of chances for great landscape images. 

Cheers, 

Derek 

www.galephotography.co.uk

30-minute challenge

July 8, 2010

I’m running a Photo Trek at Buscot Park this weekend, so this morning, to get into the swing of things, I set myself a little challenge.  It was to take as many creative images as I could in just 30 minutes.  To give myself the best chance I chose a very versatile lens; a Sigma 50mm f2.8 EX macro.  This lens focuses really closely, and at its maximum aperture it has a very shallow depth of field, allowing you to be very selective about which part of the image is in focus.  It’s great for the simple images that I love taking. 

"Dandelion macro" by Derek Gale

This shot of a dandelion shows that very well.  Just part of the flower is sharp and the rest, including the background, is nicely out of focus.  The sky was cloudy when I took the image, with a lovely diffuse light, making it easy to keep the highlights under control.   

"Painted wind turbine" by Derek Gale

This image is highly relevant to the village I live in, as there’s a wind farm here.  What it seems to show is a child’s drawing of a wind turbine, in a yellow field, against a blue sky.  It’s actually some cracked paint on the yellow arrow of a “Footpath” sign.  I loved the contrast of the colours, and the fact that there’s some little tiny pieces of lichen growing in the cracks. 

"Your number's up" by Derek Gale

This image is a bit more complicated.  I’m amazed at just how much information telegraph poles have on them these days.  There are labels all over them, and as this one is shared with the electricity supply there’s also a big “Danger of Death” sign.  I loved the way the nail in the top sign was bent over when it was put in, the fact that nothing quite lines up, and the decaying state of the letter and number labels in the bottom half of the frame.  What do all these labels mean? 

"Reflector" by Derek Gale

This shot tells a story.  At the end of the street there’s a black and white post with red and white reflectors on it.  It’s to protect a household gas pressure-reduction valve which is in a big green box.  A few years ago someone drove over the box, and broke the valve completely off.  The resulting gas leak was very noisy, and they were lucky it didn’t catch fire.  The post is there to stop it happening again.  The image, of the red reflector, shows just how much control over the in-focus areas the macro lens gives you, and how getting in close can produce great pattern images.  

"Abstract clematis" by Derek Gale

With this final image, of a clematis “Montana” plant with lovely purple flowers, I used a long shutter speed (1/5 of a second), and moved the camera during the exposure.  The blurry mixture of purple and green has given a sort of “Wimbledon” feel to this abstract image. 

So, there’s a selection of my 30-minute challenge images; I took lots more.  Why not set yourself a challenge, and see what you can produce? 

Cheers, 

Derek 

www.galephotography.co.uk

PS   There’s a few places left on my Buscot Park Photo Trek on July 10th.  Call me on 01793 783859 to book.

Calling all Trekkies: Part 2

May 27, 2010

Last Saturday we had the first Photo Trek of the season down at Buscot Weir, near Faringdon in Oxfordshire.  It’s a great location on the River Thames, and not too far from my photographic studio near Swindon.  

When I’d researched the Buscot Weir Photo Trek I’d planned for all sorts of weather conditions, and I was delighted that the day dawned sunny, bright, and warm. 

"Buscot Weir panorama" by Gale Photography

 The weir pool looked peaceful in the morning light, so I shot a 6-image classic panorama, complete with swan.  I used my Lumix Fx-500 digital compact, and stitched it together in Photoshop PS5.  As with other Photo Treks, I took a selection of cameras; a compact, a superzoom compact, and a DSLR.  Most of the time I ended up using the two compacts, as they both have full manual control, and are great for demonstrating techniques.  

The trek attendees were an excellent group, with a range of photographic experience, and a range of equipment. What they had in common was a willingness to learn how to improve their photography, and they all had some great ideas during the day. 

The Buscot Weir Photo Trek has an emphasis on water.  The Thames splits into 3 parts at Buscot; one part going to the lock, one to a sluice, and one to the weir.  There’s a lot of dramatic moving water, and it makes for great images. 

"Buscot water 1" by Gale Photography

This water shot was taken using my Panasonic Lumix FZ-50 superzoom compact.  I chose a shutter speed of 1/50 of a second and an equivalent focal length of 420mm.  The long shutter speed has given a nice blur to the water.  We had to find a part of the weir out of direct sunlight, as the brightness was making selection of a long shutter speed difficult. 

"Buscot Weir sluice" by Gale Photography

With this image, of water rushing under one of the sluice gates, I’ve used the bright sunshine to my advantage.  The light was shining deeply into the water from the other side of the sluice, and it’s given a fantastic luminosity and colour.  Shot with the FZ-50. 

"Buscot pebbles 2" by Gale Photography

This image is of some rather more peaceful water.  In a field near the river there’s a cattle trough.  It was full to the brim with nice clean water, and for some reason it had a load of pebbles at the bottom.  The sunlight playing through the water onto the  pebbles made for a stunning semi-abstract image.  An ideal subject for my FX-500. 

Away from the weir we found a field full of grasses, buttercups, and seeded dandelions.   It was hard to do the field justice by trying to photograph it all at once, so we concentrated on details.  It was a perfect place to show the difference that changing your lens focal length can make. 

"Wide-angle grasses" by Gale Photography

"Telephoto grasses" by Gale Photography

The first image used an equivalent focal length of 24mm, and the second an equivalent focal length of 420mm.  The first image gives a better idea  of the relationship between the different types of plant. The second has a more abstract feel, due to the out of focus background.  Which do you prefer? 

"Swallow music" by Gale Photography

This final image is of a swallow resting on electric cables at St John’s Lock which is upstream from Buscot.  I loved the simple composition of one bird, the cables, and that wonderful blue sky. 

So, an excellent day.  The weather was great, the people were great, and it was a great learning experience. 

There’s still some places on our other Photo Treks this year, so if you would like some photography tuition, ” al fresco”, why not come along? 

See you soon, 

Derek 

www.galephotography.co.uk

It’s the Photo Trek season

April 15, 2010
Now that the weather here in Oxfordshire is thinking of becoming spring-like, it’s time to update you with news about my programme of half-day and day Photo Treks. 

What’s a Photo Trek I hear you cry?   Well, it’s a fun way to have “al fresco” photography training from a professional photographer (me!), whilst enjoying a walk in a beautiful place.  

"Buscot Park feet" by Gale Photography

On a Photo Trek I’ll show you how to see the photographic potential in the world around you, and teach you the camera techniques to get the great images you want. 

So where do we go?  Treks planned for this year cover such diverse areas as; Buscot Park, Savernake Forest, Lechlade & Buscot Weir, and the Ridgeway near Wantage.  

Buscot Park, near Faringdon, is the home of Lord Faringdon. It has beautiful gardens and parkland, and a famous water garden designed by Harold Peto.   The first Trek there for 2010 is on May 15th. 

"Buscot Park tulips" by Gale Photography

Savernake Forest, near Marlborough, is the largest privately-owned woodland in the UK.  It has a collection of famous oak trees, and remnants of its role in WW2 as an ammunition store. 

"Savernake ruin" by Gale Photopgraphy

Lechlade and Buscot Weir show the relaxed face, and also the powerful face of the River Thames.  There are lots of opportunities for photographing water, fast or slow, at Buscot Weir as there’s 2 weirs, a lock and deep pools. 

"Buscot Weir" by Gale Photography

The last location is on the Ridgeway above the town of Wantage.  The views from the Ridgeway are spectacular, and the chalk landscape of the Marlborough Downs has its own beauty. 

"Ridgeway tree" by Gale Photography

You don’t need to have a complicated camera to benefit from a Photo Trek.  You can still get great shots with a simple compact digital camera; I use one a lot.  Of course, if you do have a complicated camera you’re still welcome to come along! 

All Buscot Park Photo Treks are half-day, in the afternoon.  The Savernake, Lechlade & Buscot Weir, and Ridgeway Photo Treks are all-day.  We’ve recently revised our programe, so please check  our website to see the current dates and availability.

Do contact me if you have any questions.

Hope to see you on a Trek soon!

Cheers,

Derek.

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