The Gale Photography blog has moved. We now have a combined website/blog and it’s at…
Please have a look!
The Gale Photography blog has moved. We now have a combined website/blog and it’s at…
Please have a look!
I’m in a particularly busy, and varied, time at the moment. For a professional photographer and photographic trainer that’s just great. Perhaps it’s something to do with the run up to Christmas, but everything is happening at once.
I ran my “The Creative Eye” course last weekend, and I have another one this weekend. Last week’s was near Wantage, and this weekend I’m at the Royal Photographic Society in Bath tutoring a course for them. I really enjoy it, and it’s great helping people develop their photographic style.
On the course I show how you can get interesting images anywhere, even outside your local supermarket. This image is deceptively simple, but I put a lot of care into the framing and composition. There are lots of great patterns like this everywhere you look. If you know how to look…
I’m also busy with contemporary portrait shoots. I’ve just edited a set for some clients and prepared their sequence, and have another shoot tomorrow.
This portrait, like the trolleys image above, appears simple but there’s a lot going on. It’s taken with studio flash that’s set to give the same exposure as the outside ambient light. In terms of the composition, the amount of space the person takes up balances the space defined by the irises and poppies at the top of the image. During the image editing stage, the whole image has been “cross-processed”, which alters the colours, and the subject’s skin has then been corrected back to their normal colour. The image also breaks the “rule” that says the lighter areas should be at the top of the image and the darker areas at the bottom. Creative portrait photography is a complex thing!
As well as the venue-based photography training and portrait photography, I’m doing some 1-2-1 & 1-2-2 training at my photographic studio near Swindon.
The 1-2-1/1-2-2 training is bespoke, can cover any aspect of photography; technical or creative, and is tailored to the client’s camera model. These images, from some technical 1-2-1 training, show the effect of closing the lens aperture down to control the depth of field (DOF). The DOF of an image is the degree to which it is sharp all over. Small DOF gives little sharpness other than in one area. Images with a large DOF are sharp everywhere. Controlling the DOF can improve your images dramatically.
As an example, in this image of “Another Place” by Anthony Gormley, I needed to ensure that the boat and the figure were both sharp enough.
As well as all this, I’m also working on a very interesting image editing project for a client. It involves, among other things, an 84-image High Dynamic Range (HDR) panorama. The file size of the final panorama is about 2Gb!
As Christmas is coming, when I may take a rest from my multitasking, remember that we offer personalised photography gift vouchers. You can give someone a day or half a day 1-2-1 training, a contemporary portrait shoot, or a place on a photography training course. Just call on 01793 783859 to reserve yours. The last day for ordering photography gift vouchers in time for Christmas is Monday 13th December.
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, “there are times when you just can’t get everything in because your camera’s lens isn’t wide enough, or you just can’t get far enough away”. Under these circumstances you need to either; walk away and say, “It can’t be done”, or you can turn a problem into a solution by making a panoramic or a stitched image.
I call an image that is a long, thin, horizontal or vertical composition a “classic panorama”, and an image that has a squarer composition a “stitched image”.
Making this sort of image used to be hard, but now it’s much easier. There’s lots of programs available that do most of the hard work for you. I use Autostitch (the demo version is free), and the Photomerge facility in Photoshop.
What you do is take a series of images that cover the whole area you want in the final composite image, download them, run them through the software, and it’s done. Well, there’s a bit more to it than that of course, but you get the picture.
This stitched image of the keep at Dover Castle shows the sort of perspective distortion that you can get when you use a wide-angle lens. CS5 has tried to correct this during the merging of the images, but it’s still present. I like the effect, as it makes the building look even more imposing and powerful.
Finally, this classic panorama was made of 14 images taken from the Observatory at Greenwich, London. I used a Panasonic FZ-50 compact camera, and it’s extraordinary just how much detail can be seen in the image. It was perfect weather to take this type of image with a digital compact camera; clear and sunny. There’s no perspective distortion because I used a telephoto lens.
Here’s a detail from the centre of the image.
You can quite clearly see the banks’ signs on the skyscrapers. In other parts of the image you can see boats on the River Thames, and people getting a coffee!
I’ve been asked to do a talk, to a local photographic club, about creative photography using digital compact cameras. Whilst I was preparing the talk, I realised something. It was that lots of people have a digital compact camera, but call it something else; a mobile phone. To be sure of covering all possible questions in my talk, I thought I’d try some creative photography with my own mobile phone camera.
It was then that I discovered something wonderful …
… it’s that the camera takes a quite a while to read the image from the whole sensor.
So why is that so wonderful? Well, it means that if you move the phone camera during the exposure you get an interesting “shape” to the image. It’s because by the time the last bit of the sensor is read, the camera is looking at something different to what it was looking at when it started reading the sensor.
In this image of oilseed rape flowers, I moved the camera in a quarter circle as I pressed the shutter. The very curved horizon makes it look as if I’ve used a fisheye lens! It’s pretty hard to predict exactly what you’ll end up, but it’s easy to experiment, and take another image if the first one needs improvement.
Here, I’ve used an S-shaped movement, which has given a lovely wave to the fence. It took a few tries before the writing was sharp enough. I think it’s a really cool effect.
In this image, of an English country cottage window, the wide-angle lens on the mobile phone camera has given an exaggerated perspective which the creative use of camera movement has emphasised.
In this final image I’ve not used camera movement. I’ve used a small plastic optical toy (an insect eye kaleidoscope) to make an abstract image. The phone camera’s lens is very small and fitted nicely inside. You can’t do this with a digital SLR as the lenses are too big. Part of the image is of the inside of the toy, and part is through the insect eye lens. It’s a blank DVD in its case, but it looks completely unrecognisable.
So, be creative with your phone camera and have some photographic fun!
If this has inspired you to want to know more about creative photography, then why not come to one of my courses?
There’s lots of info on my website at www.galephotography.co.uk
I love filling the frame in my portrait images. I reckon that as I’ve paid for all those pixels I might as well use them all. However, there are times when you get a better image by leaving empty space in the frame.
Take this studio portrait of a child for example. I really liked the expression on his face, and the tilt of his head to the right, and thought that placing him in the left-hand side of the frame made for an interesting composition.
With this environmental portrait, the child’s head is in a similar place, with a similar amount of empty space, but the different expression and close-up treatment makes for a completely different effect. The dark area of background is balanced by the light area of his face.
Finally, with this outdoor portrait lit by studio flash, the relationship between the child in the foreground and the darker plants in the background was important. I placed him well down in the frame to allow us to see past him to the mysterious background.
This use of off-centre composition, and creative use of space, is covered in our photographic training course “The Creative Eye”. You can find details at www.lifestylephotos.co.uk
While I was becoming a more serious SLR photographer, I was obsessive about getting everything in focus. I think this came from having used box cameras that had small maximum apertures, and compact 35mm cameras that had wide-angle lenses. Small lens apertures and wide-angle lenses lead to what’s called a “large depth of field”. This means that everything from the foreground to the far background is in focus. As I improved, I realised that you can get much more creative images if you control the focus point carefully, and limit what’s in focus to a small area. It’s called a shallow depth of field. Here’s an example:
I’ve focussed on the foreground poppy, used a telephoto lens and a wide lens aperture, to throw the background wire fence out of focus. It makes for a much more evocative image, with a relevance to Remembrance Day.
You can also use control of the focus area to make images that are ambiguous, and open to many interpretations.
The warm-toned out-of-focus circles in the background mimic the patterns of the in-focus sequins in the foreground, but we’re not sure what their spatial relationship is, or even their sizes.
With portraits you need to focus on the subject’s eyes. If you let the rest of the image go soft, it allows the viewer to really concentrate on the “windows to the soul”, and gives great communication. Here I’ve taken it to another level by only focusing on the nearer eye, which gives even more impact to the image.
If you are inspired to try and take these sort of images, the best way is to use a telephoto lens, or zoom your compact camera’s lens out to its maximum, and use a wide lens aperture.
As from today I now have my own Fine Art Photography page on the Saatchi Gallery website! Yes, THAT Saatchi Gallery. You can find it at http://bit.ly/3oa4ov
It’s on “THE WORLD’S INTERACTIVE ART GALLERY” according to them. It would also appear from looking at other artists’ sites, that I’m a “lens-based artist” rather than being a photographer. Does sound rather more “artspeak” doesn’t it?
To celebrate, here’s a shot of a flying shoe. It’s in homage to an image I saw several years ago, where someone had thrown 4 balls in the air trying to get them into a perfect square in the sky. They didn’t succeed, and the image shown was the best of loads of attempts. This shoe shot was the best of one…
Anyway, it’s all good stuff, and I’m looking forward to the results of my increased exposure to the Fine Art world.