Archive for the ‘Studio Photography’ category

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

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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

Same person: different look.

December 16, 2010

In creative portrait photography how an image looks is down to the photographer.  In the studio how you light your subject is critical, and for location images it’s critical to work properly with the natural light.  How you then modify the light can dramatically affect the look of an image. 

Once you have your lighting sorted, simple changes to the composition of the image can also change the look significantly.

"Split image" by Derek Gale

Take this image:  The lighting, a soft-box from the front, is quite simple.  The interest comes from having the subject’s face split by a sheet of muslin that was hung up to act as a diffuser/reflector.  I had taken a series without the muslin and then asked her to move slightly so that it was partly in front of her face.  It was far enough away from her to be nicely out of focus, and its translucency allowed the obscured part of her face to show through sufficiently.

"Hair!" by Derek Gale

We tried to get some shots  of her hair “in flight”. They were fine, but I wanted more structure to the image.  We spread her hair out on the studio floor and I shot from a step-ladder directly above her.   It was simple to light with a fairly directional light on her hair which gave a nice sharp shadow under her chin.  Even though her expression was similar to the previous image, the end result was very different!

"Poster girl" by Derek Gale

Away from the studio there’s less control of lighting direction, unless you carry remotely fired flash units, so you need to be careful with where you do your shoot.  This urban image was at an abandoned car repair centre and the fly posters had been  busy.  I made sure that enough of a poster was included to clearly show the type of area we were in, but not so much that the poster’s text was a distraction.  Her pose echoed the pose of the man on the poster.  I’ve punched up the background colour by “cross-processing” it in Photoshop.

"Wall supports" by Derek Gale

Same day, same shoot, completely different look.  The pipes in the image were supports for a wall near the Railway Village in Swindon and were at quite an acute angle.  By asking my model to lean on the pipes, and then tilting the camera so she looked more upright, her arms became much more elegant.  The background brickwork also became less distracting.  A crop to simplify the image, a bit of “diffuse glow”, and it was done.

"Estate portrait" by Derek Gale

Same day, same shoot and yet another look.  This final image shows how the most mundane of objects, an estate car, can be used for creative portraits.  My model is lying down on the load area floor.  The car’s open rear hatch screened the direct sun, which meant that the remaining light was beautifully diffused.  The grey carpet and shadow area from the rear seats acted as a perfect foil to her skin tones.  The black and white conversion simplified the image.

As you can see: one day, one model, many different looks.  Control your lighting and your composition to get variety into your images.

Cheers,

Derek                     www.galephotography.co.uk

One light portraits

October 28, 2010

It’s quite common for people to ask me about studio lighting.  Typically they’ll ask about the minimum photographic kit they need to get great portraits.  My reply is simple, “One light and a camera”.  After all, the sun is only one light…

Here’s a selection of images taken using just one light.  Most are in my portrait photography studio near Swindon, and the last one is taken on location using the “strobist” off-camera flash technique.

"One light #1" by Derek Gale

Here the single studio light is slightly below the subject’s eye line, and this gives a great edge light to her neck and face.  There’s enough light reaching her right eye to give a good catch light, which lifts her eye nicely out of the shadow.  The light was set up so nothing reached the background, hence it’s completely black.

"One light #2" by Derek Gale

This is using the same light but with a red gel on it.  I asked the subject to turn her head a bit towards me.  As a result of that very small movement, we now concentrate on her left eye instead.  As with the previous image I’ve cropped it to a vertical letterbox shape.  This gives a better line across the image frame.

"One light #3" by Derek Gale

I’ve moved my viewpoint so that I am looking straight down on her hair.  It’s being lit in a glancing way so that the texture has been picked out very clearly.  The vertical letterbox crop and off-centre composition with lots of dark space add mystery to the image.

"One light #4" by Derek Gale

This studio shot uses one light fitted with soft box, which acts as a light diffuser.  The diffused light directly on her face gives even areas of light and shade, with very soft shadows  It’s a completely different treatment to the previous images.  I’ve reduced the colour saturation in Photoshop to give the right mood.

"One light #5"

This final image is from a location portrait shoot in a disused quarry in the Forest of Dean.  The light is coming from a single remotely-triggered flash off to the left.  It’s going straight down the subject’s nose line.   The unlit side of the large block of stone makes a great background to her face.  The flash was quite close, and the area was fairly dark, so there’s no contribution to the exposure from the daylight.

So, you just need one light!

If you want to learn how to take more creative images, and to learn the composition techniques I’ve used here, why not book on to my “The Creative Eye” course near Wantage, Oxfordshire on Saturday 13th November?

Cheers,

Derek

www.galephotography.co.uk

symmetry + yrtemmys.

September 16, 2010

You may have noticed from previous blog posts that I like creative photographic compositions that are quite off-centre and asymmetrical.  Although that is the case, you can make very interesting images that are completely symmetrical. 

This is how I do it. First, using some backlit studio shots of smoke from a burning incense stick… 

"Smoke Nazgul" by Derek Gale

I opened the smoke image in Adobe Photoshop and cloned out all of the little dust particles that you get when smoke is produced.  Doing the cloning at this stage saves having to do it all over again after the next stage!  I made another layer that was a copy of the background layer, then reversed it using Edit/Flip horizontal.  I then changed the Blending Mode of the top layer so that both images could be seen.  The right Blending Mode depends on the image but I find that either Lighten or Overlay gives good results.  I think this image looks like  a scary creature from Tolkien, such as one of the nazgul. 

"Aircraft Turbulence" by Derek Gale

This image, produced using the same technique, looks to me like an aircraft flying towards us, and its vapour trails & turbulence. 

"Glass mirror" by Derek Gale

This image was also taken in the studio, and is of some glass objects on a light box.  The only light is coming from underneath the objects.  The glass things overlapped so the patterns formed were already interesting.  Doing the copy/reverse/blend process gave a composition that has many interpretations.  I can see tartan, eyes, a robot, masonic symbols, etc. 

"Blue cross" by Derek Gale

This image is of a single wave coming in to a beach on the Gower Peninsular.   I took the original image with the wave going from one corner to the other, so when it was copied, reversed and blended it formed a blue cross, a bit like the St Andrew’s cross of Scotland.  As if by magic I turned Wales into Scotland! 

"Sea stripes" by Derek Gale

This final image is of a series of waves coming in to the same beach on the Gower Peninsular.  Here, as well as copy/reverse/blend, I rotated the final image by 90 degrees, which has produced a water pattern image that looks much more man-made than natural. 

Making these images is great fun, and it’s always surprising just what you get.  Why not give it a go? 

Want to know more?  We’re exhibiting at The Royal Berkshire County Show (also known as Newbury Show), on Saturday and Sunday (18th/19th September).  Do come over to the Shopping Pavillion and say hello! 

Cheers, 

Derek 

www.galephotography.co.uk

I’m just a regular guy: Part 4.

August 12, 2010

It’s the “regular guy” thing again!  

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s a real privilege to photograph the same people over a period of time, especially kids.  You see how they’ve grown and changed, and the shoot is easier, because you’ve photographed them before.  

At a recent portrait shoot, two brothers and their respective families, came along.  I’d photographed the family of one of the brothers twice before.  With the other brother’s family it was the first time I’d met them. 

"Looking up 1" by Derek Gale

On their previous shoots I’d gone for a natural style, with diffused lighting, so to keep the  same look and feel as the previous images, I did the same for this shoot.  Here I’ve concentrated on the girl’s eyes, which were slightly accentuated by the angle I chose.  

"Looking up 2" by Derek Gale

This image of her brother uses a similar technique.  With this sort of image the conversion to black & white really helps simplify the image, and in each case I’ve used a long(ish) lens (80 mm equivalent) to throw the background out of focus. 

"Looking up 3" by Derek Gale

I didn’t need a black and white conversion here.  The boy’s skin tones were fantastic, and it would have lost too much of the colour contrast with his blond hair.  Again I’ve used a long(ish) lens to simplify the image.  He was great to photograph, with a really good “resting face”. 

"Looking left" by Derek Gale

Here you can see the difference between looking down on a subject and being at their eye level.  In this image I dropped down to his level, and to me he looks a bit older because of that.  It’s much more of a “moment observed”, as he seems unaware of the camera.  Once again the black and white conversion helps to make the image stronger. I didn’t need the colour contrast, and didn’t want the green foliage in the background to distract. 

"Looking right" by Derek Gale

His brother was really fun to work with.  He was asking “Why?” to everything, and was very lively.  He had a very expressive “active face”, and a great grin.  This image, of him looking off camera, caught his personality well. 

So, all in all it was a great shoot.  I look forward to the next one! 

Cheers, 

Derek 

www.galephotography.co.uk