Posted tagged ‘action’

A visit to Diagon Alley

February 17, 2011

In the Harry Potter wizard books, (that you may have heard about), there’s a place called Diagon Alley where wizards go to shop/bank and buy ice-creams.  It’s a magical and powerful place, and has a counterpart in creative photography; the diagonal composition line.  Think of it as your Diagonal Ally (groan).

Let me explain…

"Diagonal 1" by Derek Gale

Images with strong subject lines, in this case going from one corner to the opposite corner, help the viewer by giving them a lead into the image.  This aircraft image is an extreme example.  The diagonal line from bottom left to top right takes us straight up to the aircraft.  It looks as if it’s climbing steeply to fly off to a far away place.  The plane is almost at the corner of the frame, so we get an idea that it’s leaving our space.

"Diagonal Angel" by Derek Gale

Unlike a plane the “Angel of the North” is firmly rooted, but I’ve used the diagonal here as well.  The wings going from top right to bottom left give the image its basic shape, allowing me to use the sun as a balancing element.  I used a 20mm wide-angle lens in order to exaggerate the perspective. 

"Diagonal Pembroke" by Derek Gale

Wings again but on another aircraft rather than a statue.  This is a privately owned Percival Pembroke C-1 that’s preserved and gives flying displays.  As it passed along the display line it was banked to the left to give the spectators the best view.  I’ve cropped the image so that the wings go along a diagonal from top left to bottom right.  It makes the image much stronger.   Taken with a 400mm telephoto lens.

"Diagonal jump" by Derek Gale

Diagonal lines also work in creative portrait photography.  This portrait of someone jumping has a diagonal line made by his right arm and left leg.  It’s not as pronounced as the other images. It’s more of a Z-shape than a straight line, but it still adds to the impact of the image.  I’ve used a low viewpoint and a wide-angle lens so it’s hard to see just how high off the ground he is.

"Diagonal champagne" by Derek Gale

This final example, taken at Avebury, doesn’t have such an extreme diagonal line as the others.  It still shows just how much better the composition is with a diagonal.  The whole feel of the image is more relaxed than it would be if the bottle was vertical.  The torn foil, open bottle, and minimal contents let us know it was very relaxed.  I used a long lens and wide aperture to make the image as simple as possible.

Remember to visit Diagon Alley with your own images!

On a non-diagonal note, I’ve entered the Macallan Masters of Photography competition.  The theme is “Great Journeys”.  The prize winners will be decided by popular vote, then by expert judging.  There are some fantastic travel images well worth having a look at.  You need to be over 18 to enter the site, as it’s sponsored by a whisky company. Once you’ve entered your date of birth you can then click back on to my blog and vote for my images here, here, here and here.  If you would like to of course…




It’s all up in the air.

August 26, 2010
You may have noticed that I’m interested in cars.  Well, I’m also interested in aircraft as well, and they are great things to photograph creatively, both in the air and on the ground.

"Swiss Hunter" by Derek Gale

This privately owned Hawker Hunter of “Fliegerstaffel 15” was at an airshow at Kemble in the Cotswolds.  I used a long lens (ca. 600mm equivalent) to get the aircraft nice and large in the frame, and panned as it flew past.  I was lucky with the shape of the clouds in the background, as they formed an arrow going from right to left. 

"Red Arrows 5" by Derek Gale

On the subject of arrows, here’s a shot of the Hawks of the RAF’s famous Red Arrows aerobatic display team.  Their precision flying is a joy, and this near head-on shot of all nine aircraft has a good diagonal shape to it, from top left to bottom right.  The red aircraft contrast well with the blue sky. 

"Red Arrows 6" by Derek Gale

Did I mention precision?  Here’s a perfect example of just how good they are.  The aircraft are perfectly placed relative to each other, and look like they’ve been cloned there – they haven’t!  Once again I’ve used a long lens and panned as they flew past. 

"Miss Demeanour jet blur" by Derek Gale

As I said, aircraft on the ground also make good subjects.  This is another privately owned Hawker Hunter, “Miss Demeanour”.  It’s got a fabulous paint job, and I saw that another jet was running its engine in front of it.  The heat from the jet’s exhaust gave good “wobble” to the air, so the fuselage of the Hunter went all blurry.  The nose wheel was too low to be affected so it’s still sharp. 

"C-46 nose art" by Derek Gale

Long lenses can be useful to capture details of individual aircraft on the ground. I loved the very aggressive nose art on this 2nd World War Curtiss C-46 Commando transport plane at an air museum in the USA.  The lens has compressed the perspective, so it’s not clear any more that it’s an aircraft. 

"B-25 canopy" by Derek Gale

This image is a further extension of that  idea.  It’s a perspex canopy on a North American B-25 Mitchell bomber being used as a filming plane in the USA.  I  chose the right time of day, and made sure that the very bright sun was placed behind the canopy. It’s made for a strong, simple image with the outline highlit, and the scratches on the canopy adding interest. 

So, get out there and get some great images of aircraft!  There’s still lots airshows this year. 



Come and meet us at Coleshill Food Festival and Open Day on September 11th.  We’re in The Granary as part of the Arts & Craft displays. 

I’m just a regular guy: Part 3

May 20, 2010

Just before I write the next post I thought you might like to know about another creative photography award!  Well, I thought you might like to know, so here goes… 

I’ve just won an award at the MPA Great Western Regional Portrait Awards.  It was in the “Under 5’s ” category and was from a child’s portrait shoot.  The judge liked the creative lighting, the boy’s expression, the well-controlled background, and the off-centre composition.  Here’s the shot: 

The award winner!

To get back on track with my post… 

You will remember from previous “I’m just a regular guy” posts,  that I love doing shoots for people who I’ve shot in the past.  I’ve just enjoyed a studio portrait shoot for the family of a couple whose wedding I photographed a couple of years ago.  The shoot was great fun, and I got some really good individual images as well as the family groups. 

"Jumping" by Gale Photography

In this jumping image he’s got a great shape and a great expression.  It’s tough to get both at the same time.  This sort of action shot can really give “life” to an image. 

Candid portrait by Gale Photography

 This image shows that it’s possible to get candid images during a studio portrait shoot.  I was using white umbrellas which allow quite a bit of light to go away from the subject, as well as towards them.  This means that the people behind me waiting for their individual portraits were well lit.  Great portraits are about the person’s expression, and her expression is fab.  There’s a real communication between her and the person she was looking at. 

"Black background portrait" by Gale Photography

 Here, I’ve used the same “It’s behind you” technique to get a relaxed shot of Mum sitting on a chair.  I turned round, she realised what I was doing, smiled, and “click”.  It’s clear that she put a lot of thought into what she was going to wear, and I really like the way she chose her lipstick to match the colour of her chunky necklace. 

You could enjoy your own portrait shoot.  Just give me a call on 01793 783859 to book. 



Always carry a camera!

November 12, 2009

One of the things we suggest to people on our photographic training courses is that they should always carry a camera.  It’s much easier nowadays, as there are some very high quality compact digital cameras around, that hardly weigh anything. 

I’m often asked what the best camera is and my answer is, “The one you have with you.”   Here’s a series of images that illustrate why you should always carry a camera…

We were out walking at Rhossili, on the Gower Peninsular near Swansea, and we saw this female wheatear on top of a drystone wall.  It was very confident and wasn’t bothered about having its portrait taken with my Panasonic Lumix Fz-50 camera.

"Female wheatear" by Gale Photography

"Female wheatear" by Gale Photography

You could even say that it had posed for me!   It was a very different story when a kestrel flew over.


"Kestrel" by Gale Photography

The wheatear saw the characteristic falcon wing shape and pushed itself into the drystone wall in order to hide.

"Wheatear hiding" by Gale Photography

"Wheatear hiding" by Gale Photography

Once the bird of prey had passed, the wheatear resumed its confident perching on the wall.  If I hadn’t had my camera with me then I would still have seen this all happen, but wouldn’t have been able to capture a lovely little sequence of images.

It was obviously a day for interesting flying things.  A bit further round the coast we saw this plane flying very low, and as my camera was out and ready I took a shot as it flew over us.

"C-130J" by Gale Photography

"C-130J" by Gale Photography

It was a Lockheed C130-J “Super Hercules” transport, operated by the Royal Air Force, and probably based just up the road from us at RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire. 

So, these images sum up how important it is to always carry your camera (at the ready), know how to use it, and that you should try and get a series of images, so you can put them together to tell a story.

You can learn more on one of our training courses, or Photo Treks.  Check for details.

How low can you go!!

July 22, 2009

Imagine the scene…

You’re photographing a wedding, and the bridegroom produces a small trampoline; this happened to me recently.  The idea was to get some images of him jumping/bouncing.  One way I could have done this was to have used a telephoto lens from a reasonable distance away and captured him with no visible means of support, but with normal perspective.  In terms of being an interesting image, that would have been, “close, but no cigar”, so I thought of a better way to get a more creative image…

The Flying Bridegroom

I lay on the ground, very close to the edge of the trampoline, and used my 12-24mm wide angle zoom lens at its widest end.  I shot upwards, making sure the ground wasn’t visible, and caught him just as he started coming back down.  It was very disconcerting indeed having him land on the trampoline about 3 inches from my head!!   I reckon it was worth it though.

This low angle, wide angle, technique is very useful to help make images look different.  In this second example from a wedding I used a slightly less wide lens and was a bit further away.  One of the ushers had brought a rugby ball with him, as you do, and the guys were having a contest to see who could kick it the furthest, as you do…

low angle for blog Jul 09

It’s for taking shots like this where digital really comes into its own.  I was able to check the images straight away to see where the ball was, and to see the people’s expressions.  This image, where the ball is just in the top right hand corner, was the best one.

Finally, this technique can also be used for portrait photography as well.  It’s great for exaggerating leg length, and producing triangular compositions.

A&H low angle for blog Jul 09

So, that’s it.  Get wide and get low – it’s fun!