Posted tagged ‘abstract’

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

A right Royal event: Part 2

March 31, 2011

OK, let me state at the start that this blog post is not about the Royal Wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton.  No, it’s about the Royal Academy of Arts’ Summer Exhibition, in London from 7th June to 15th August 2011.

Their website says, “The Royal Academy’s annual Summer Exhibition is the world’s largest open submission contemporary art exhibition. Now in its 242nd year, the exhibition continues the tradition of showcasing work by both emerging and established artists in all media including painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, architecture and film.”     Note the word “photography“.

To have work accepted by the Royal Academy for their Summer Exhibition is a real achievement, as they get over 10,ooo works submitted.  As they say, “Nothing ventured…” 

"Bokeh 073" by Derek Gale

I decided to enter two of my Fine Art Photography “Invisible Beauty” Bokeh series.  I’ve mentioned these before, and they don’t look like photographs at all.  As you can see from the image above, they are much more like abstract paintings.  The images I am entering are printed on aluminium laminate and are 1 metre wide, and there’s the complication…  Works have to be delivered to the Academy in an unwrapped/unpackaged condition, which rules out most couriers, so I’m taking them myself.

"Bokeh 048" by Derek Gale

It was interesting deciding what category they were, as different types of works need to be delivered on different days.  After some discussion with the RA it we agreed that they were, as unframed images mounted on aluminium, best categorised as “Unglazed works”. 

To keep them in great condition I’ve had to get some corner protectors and side protection foam.  With the foam on, the two works just fit into my exhibition board carrying case; it might have been made for them.  There’s no parking at the RA so it’s down to public transport. I’ve sorted out a route which involves no changes of Tube line, which will be useful with a large bag to lug around.

So off to the RA I go, and I’ll keep you posted as to how I get on.  Wish me luck!

Cheers,

Derek      www.galephotography.co.uk

PS   Once the works are safely delivered, I’ll be free to spend some time in London doing some street photography with my Panasonic GF1 and 20mm lens.  It’s a perfect combination for that.

“Water, water, everywhere.”

February 10, 2011

In Coleridge’s epic poem, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, one verse goes…

“Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.”

Well, there is water everywhere, and it’s a great source for creative photography.  It can be still, moving slowly, moving rapidly, or frozen solid.  It can be creative or destructive, and it’s effect on light is fantastic.

"Grand Canyon puddle" by Derek Gale

This image is my favourite from a series I took of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.  There had been a huge rain shower, and it was just clearing away.  The reflection of the dead tree in the newly-formed puddle was broken up by the ripples from the raindrops.  To me it summed up the way the Grand Canyon was made, and so the actual canyon didn’t need to be in the shot.

"Window condensation" by Derek Gale

Condensation is another form of still water, and the effect of surface tension on the window has caused these water droplets to stay separate.  It’s produced a beautiful pattern image.  Each droplet acts as a lens, and each gives their own view of the world outside the window.  As with many pattern images it’s hard to get an idea of the scale of the droplets. 

"Christchurch fountain" by Derek Gale

Once water starts moving it really comes to life.  This is a close up of the famous dandelion fountain by the banks of the river Avon in Christchurch, New Zealand.  It looks like an explosion of water, and the highlights off the moving surface are lovely.  The 135mm lens has given a bit of perspective compression which adds to the drama.

"Stream waterfall" by Derek Gale

Longer shutter speeds give a wonderful blur to fast-moving water.  This image is of just a small part of a stream waterfall, and was taken at 1/8 of a second. A little pop of flash gave highlights “like the stars of the night sky” off some of the water drops.

"Watering a poppy head" by Derek Gale

We think of watering the garden as a gentle pursuit.  As you can see, what happens when water droplets hit a flower head is anything but gentle!   The drop has splashed on the poppy head like a small explosion, and you can imagine the pressure the water exerts on its surface.  The shutter speed was 1/100th of a second, and the water was moving so fast that it hasn’t stopped the movement at all.  The use of a 600mm long telephoto lens has isolated the seed head to make the image nice and simple.

As you can see water is everywhere, vital for life, and great for creative photography. 

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

Autumn: Season of colour & movement.

September 30, 2010

It’s now officially autumn here in the UK, and I for one am looking forward to the fabulous colours that the season can offer.  The brightest colours in autumn come from the Acers (maples), so a while ago I went to Westonbirt Arboretum which has a fabulous collection of them. 

On my arrival the weather was horrible!  The sky was grey, it was very windy, and it was raining.  The thick clouds made it very dark, which I thought wasn’t going to help with my creative photography.  However, in this case I was wrong… 

I realised that I would not be able to take hand-held images, as the light level was too low, so I set up my trusty Uniloc tripod.  It’s perfect for an uneven ground surface as its legs are independently adjustable.  The wind was causing the trees to move about, so I decided to use that movement creatively.   Selecting a red maple as my subject, I used a small aperture to give a shutter speed of a few seconds, and during the exposure gave a pop of flash from a hand-held flash gun. 

"Blurry maple 1" by Derek Gale

 As you can see, the movement during some of the long exposure gave a misty red feel to the leaves.  The pop of flash helped give some sharpness, and stopped a falling leaf in mid-drop! 

I liked the effect of the movement so I chose another maple, an orange one this time, to see just how misty I could get it. 

"Blurry maple 2" by Derek Gale

 This exposure, of about 5 seconds, gave a sort of “time -average” of where the leaves were as they moved.  The tree’s trunk is nice and sharp – it didn’t move – but the leaves have become very abstract.  It looks more like the smoke from a coloured flare than a tree.  What this type of image shows is that photographs aren’t just about a “moment in time”, they’re also about the effect of time. 

In the first image I used a pop of flash to give a little bit of sharpness along with the movement blur.  In the next image the flash is more important. 

"Blurry maple 3" by Derek Gale

 Having removed the camera from the tripod, I tried a number of images where I moved the camera around during the exposure, and fired the on-camera flash.  This image is of lots of different coloured maple leaves at my feet.  I didn’t want a really long exposures, so I opened up the lens aperture and set the shutter speed to about 1/15 of  a second.  I quickly moved the camera in a semi-circle during the exposure. The camera movement has given a fabulous shape, and the flash has recorded a sharp image of the leaves underneath the blur. 

"Blurry maple 4" by Derek Gale

 Selecting some different leaves, and moving the camera up and down instead of in a semi-circle, gave an even more abstract image. The wet leaves lit by the flash shone back and gave a bit more contrast.  Here the fact that it was raining really helped! 

So, despite my initial misgivings about the weather, and how it might compromise my creative photography, I was pleased with my images.  Next time I go to Westonbirt I’ll make sure it’s raining!
 
We’re currently putting together the programme for next year’s Photo Treks and Photography Training, where you can learn photographic techniques like these.  Do subscribe to our e-mail newsletter to be kept up to date with developments.
Cheers,
Derek

30-minute challenge: Part 2

July 29, 2010

A few weeks ago, I set myself a little challenge.  It was to take as many creative images as I could in just 30 minutes.  As I said before, I restricted myself to a fixed focal length/prime lens, that was still very versatile; a Sigma 50mm f2.8 EX macro. 

I’ve already posted the first set of images from that creative half-hour, and here are some more…

"Against all the odds" by Derek Gale

This is taken at ground level.  It’s a little viola plant on the edge of the road outside the pub in our street. It’s in a tiny little crack in the tarmac next to the kerb, and it gets almost flattened every time a car parks there – but it’s still going strong.  I’m pretty sure that nearly everyone that goes past doesn’t see it, but there is beauty in the most unlikely places.  I had to lie down in the road to take it, so I was very careful about the traffic!

"Feather macro" by Derek Gale

Whilst I was getting up I spotted a feather, probably from a jackdaw.  I held it up to the light and focused by moving the feather backwards and forwards slightly.  Result?  A cool pattern picture.  The strong diagonal line from the main quill of the feather breaks the pattern and stops it being too repetitive.

"Close up scabious" by Derek Gale

Another flower image.  This time it’s a blue scabious flower in the garden.  These flowers are, as you can see, very popular with pollen beetles.  There was quite a number crawling across the pollen-bearing parts of the flower.  This is the sort of thing that the Sigma macro lens is perfect for.  It’s performance close up is fantastic.

"A cherry on the table" by Derek Gale

I recently made a “rustic” table for the garden.  It was used today, as a prop for a family portrait shoot.  The top is made of decking wood, and we store the table under a cherry tree.  During my 30-minute Creative Photography Challenge, I noticed that a cherry had fallen on to the table top.  I liked how the lines of the decking wood gave a great perspective and an interesting background.  The highlights are only on the cherry, which helps draw your eye to it.

"Lily spadix" by Derek Gale

Finally, here’s an image taken inside rather than outside.  The spadix of this Peace Lily plant was in a very shady place on the window sill.  I spot metered just for the spadix, and allowed the background, which was much brighter, to become over-exposed.  It simplifies the image, and that allows us to concentrate on the complex structure of the spadix.

So, there’s the final selection of my 30-minute challenge images.  As I said previously, why not set yourself a challenge, and see what you can produce?  It’s great fun, and improves your photography.

I’ve noticed that there is a common feature in all these images – except one.  What’s the common feature, and which is the odd one out?  No prizes – but I will blog to say who got it right! 

Cheers, 

Derek 

www.galephotography.co.uk

PS   There are places on my Savernake Forest Photo Trek on September 4th.  You can book online here.

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