Posted tagged ‘B&W’

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

Taking images that sell.

January 14, 2011

I’m a subscriber to a stock image library called Alamy Images.  A stock library is a source of images for book publishers, website designers, magazines, newspapers, in fact anyone who needs images for their publications.  Alamy is a large stock library, and it now has over 21 million (!) images for sale.  The deal is simple: I take the images. I upload the images to Alamy. Someone searches for and then buys an image.  They pay Alamy and use the image.  Alamy take a commission and pays me the balance.

So what is it that people buy? 

"Whirling Hygrometer" by Derek Gale

This image is my best-seller.  It’s of a whirling hygrometer that’s used to measure the humidity of the air.  It was great fun taking the image whilst holding the camera one-handed and whirling the hygrometer with the other.  Not usually a good recipe for a sharp image!  It’s been used in various textbooks in a number of countries round the world.

"Fly tipping" by Derek Gale

This image was my first ever sale on Alamy.  It’s of some fly tipping just off the A420 near Swindon in Wiltshire.  I was passing, and as always was carrying a camera.  I stopped and took some shots.  It’s not exactly very pretty, and it’s not a very creative image, but earned me a $250 sale, so I wasn’t complaining!  This is a really good example of something that most people would walk past producing a saleable image.

"The Sage, Gateshead" by Derek Gale

This image, of the Sage Arts Centre in Gateshead, has also sold several times.  I was on my way to a friend’s wedding in Scotland, and stopped off in Newcastle overnight.  The weather the next day was great so I wandered around taking some stock images.  This image was taken from the Newcastle side of the River Tyne, and it’s probably so successful because it’s a very simple clear image of a landmark building in sunny weather.

"Kit's Coty" by Derek Gale

This is another wedding-related image.  It’s of “Kit’s Coty” which is a Neolithic chambered long barrow near the Medway valley in Kent.  It was taken whilst I was photographing a wedding reception in an appropriately named venue nearby.  The blue colour comes from the use of a blue filter in front of the flash.  The flash was on the ground just inside the railings and was fired remotely.  This shot was used in a Halloween-related publication in October 2010.  They clearly liked the spooky blueness.

"Westmill wind farm" by Derek Gale

This image is my most recent sale, I only found out about it today!  It’s of the wind farm at Westmill near Watchfield, in Oxfordshire.  It took most of a day to find the best place to take the shot.  On another day, with the wind and light in different directions, somewhere else would be the best place.  The image was used in a UK national newspaper this week (11th/12th Jan 2011).  With Alamy you aren’t told where your images have been used, just that a sale has been made.  If you are lucky someone sees it, and posts a report on the Alamy forum.  So if you’ve seen it please let me know!

I’ve just had another batch of images accepted by Alamy’s Quality Control department, so I now need to do the keywording that will enable the images to be found, and then hopefully be bought.  The great thing about stock libraries like Alamy is that you can earn money while you are sleeping!

Cheers,

Derek   www.galephotography.co.uk

They’re not all there…

October 7, 2010

One question that’s come up in discussions about portrait photography, is whether it’s necessary for a portrait to show the whole of a person’s face, or even to show their face at all?  In a previous blog post I explored the use of shadows and out of focus areas in creative portrait photography, and I’d like to develop that a bit more. 

"Part portrait 3" by Derek Gale

In this outdoor portrait I’ve cropped the image at the centre of the subject’s nose.  It helps to contrast their skin tones with the tones of the rusty corrugated metal behind them.  It also puts the person in a more interesting place in the frame, with much more space above them than the space they take up. 

"Part portrait 2" by Derek Gale

This is a horizontal treatment of the same compositional technique.  Here the empty space was black, so it was better to convert the image into black and white rather than leaving it in colour.  You get a real idea of the boy’s character even though you can’t see all of his face. 

"Part portrait 1" by Derek Gale

This is an even tighter crop on a girl’s face.  It’s said that the eyes are the “windows to the soul”, so I’ve really concentrated on a single eye.  As it was so strikingly blue, I left the eye in colour and converted the rest of the image to B&W.  This splash of colour helps to draw your eye to the girl’s eye. 

"Part portrait 6" by Derek Gale

So how small a part of a person can we show and still show their character?  This shot of an eye, taken with a macro lens, shows a good line of communication between the subject and the viewer.  The fact that the person’s “laughter lines” aren’t creased tells you that they aren’t smiling.  The direct gaze, with a large pupil, shows confidence. 

So what if we don’t show their face at all? 

"Part portrait 4" by Derek Gale

To me this is still a portrait even though the child’s face isn’t visible.  There’s a delightful contrast between the girl’s dress and the chunky boots; a contrast between smartness; “I’m being photographed”, and practicality; “It’s raining”.  Her parents would immediately recognise it as her. 

So, it’s clear to me that you can show a person’s character in a portrait without showing the whole face.  Set yourself a project to take a person’s portrait without showing their face at all! 

You can learn how to look for images like this, and learn creative compositional techniques, on my “The Creative Eye” course on November 13th at the Court Hill Centre near Wantage.  You can book your place here

Cheers, 

Derek 

www.galephotography.co.uk

A trip to deepest Surrey

September 9, 2010

For portrait photography most people come to our photographic studio in Oxfordshire.  However, on a recent family portrait shoot I travelled to deepest Surrey.  The shoot was for a family with three kids, and they were easy to work with; great fun, enthusiastic, and happy to be photographed. 

The family’s house had a verandah/porch with fabulous light. 

"Surrey 3" by Derek Gale

  The light in the verandah was mostly quite diffuse, but with a soft directionality in places.  This image of the older girl shows that to perfection.  I used a focal length of 75mm, equivalent to 112mm on a full-frame camera, which gives a very flattering look to portraits and helps throw the background out of focus. 

"Surrey 4" by Derek Gale

 I used the same location and camera settings for this portrait of the younger girl.  Her expression was great; not quite smiling, and not quite not smiling.  Because the image is a bit more complex, it works better in B&W rather than colour.  The choice between B&W and colour is always interesting, and there are definitely some images that work better in colour than B&W, and vice versa. 

"Surrey 2" by Derek Gale

 The youngest child, a boy, was very excited to be photographed, but here I’ve caught him in a quieter mood by the main support pillar of the verandah.  The garden beyond him gives good context, and frames his head nicely.  There was a roof light which lit him from directly above, and acted just like a hair light in the studio.  The crack in the pillar divides up the white area very effectively. 

"Surrey 5" by Derek Gale

 In this final image, I popped the kids down on to the doorstep into the house.  The unlit room behind them gave a good dark background, and the front door had a fabulous texture.  They were happily laughing and looking at each other, and the image really shows their relationship well.  I had to increase the ISO a bit to keep the shutter speed fast enough, as it had clouded over, and I didn’t want to use flash.  This is another image that works much better in B&W rather than colour. 

So, a successful photographic trip to the wilds of Surrey, to work with a really interesting family. 

To book your own portrait shoot ; family, couple or individual, just give me a call on 01793 783859. 

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

Tripping the light fantastic: Part 2

July 22, 2010

In an earlier post I talked about light, and how altering it, or using it to the best advantage, can make images more dramatic.  In this post I’ll continue the discussion, and give you some more examples. 

If you think about it, the fundamental state of nature, or a photographic studio, is darkness.  You have to add light to be able to see or to take photographs.  Most of the time, the things we see are illuminated by a combination of direct light and reflected light coming from a number of directions. Interesting things happen if you restrict the light to just one direction. 

"Silhouette 1" by Derek Gale

In this creative portrait there’s no light reaching the side of the person that’s facing the camera.  The background has been carefully lit so that it comes out plain white, and the person comes out as a plain black silhouette; the ultimate black and white image!  It’s a modern take on the classic cut out paper technique developed in 18th century France. 

"Silhouette 2" by Derek. Gale

This image uses a similar method, but has a completely different end result.  Here the black background isn’t lit, and the single light is turned to point towards the subject from behind.  It gives a fantastic light outline to the person’s hair and face, but shows no other facial detail.  It’s a great look, and pretty difficult to achieve by cutting paper! 

"Portrait with attitude" by Derek Gale

In this image the light is still coming from one direction (high to the left), but it’s now lighting the person’s face.  It’s quite a focused light, so the background hasn’t been lit very much, and the person’s hair makes a good background to the profile of their face.  The position of their arm and hand, and their direct expression, gives this individual portrait quite a bit of “attitude”. 

Once you get out of the studio there’s generally quite a bit more light around.  It’s harder to get the light coming from the direction you want unless you bring your own light along in the form of a portable electronic flash.  

"Jumping boy" by Derek Gale

With this jumping boy image, I used a wireless off-camera flash low to the right to give the look I wanted.  He’s lit mostly by the flash, which is strongly directional.  I’ve set the exposure so that the background, lit by ambient light, comes out quite dark.  To get him high in the frame I’ve used a wide-angle lens and a low viewpoint, and there’s just a bit of movement blur, which gives more dynamism to the image. 

"Stylish portrait" by Derek Gale

Sometimes you don’t have access to portable flash, and you have to use the flash on the camera to give you the directional light you want.  This image was taken with a compact digital camera, a Panasonic Lumix FX-500, which has a very small built-in flash unit.  It’s part of my continuing  project to see just what sort of creative images you can take with these cameras.  I chose a dark barn to give me enough chance for the small flash to be effective, and moved the camera during the exposure.  It’s given an image with a really good mix of blur and sharpness, and excellent separation of the subject and background.  The flash catchlights in her stylish sunglasses make it look like a paparazzi shot of a film star. 

So, control of the light direction gives you better images.  To give me even more control I’ve recently bought some radio flash triggers.  These will allow me to fire my flash units from much further away, even in daylight.  I’ll be posting some example images soon, so why not subscribe to my blog so you’re the first to know? 

Cheers, 

Derek 

www.galephotography.co.uk

Family fun!

March 25, 2010
Had a really fun family (Mum, Dad, 2 children &  their dog) for a studio portrait shoot recently.  The shoot was mostly in our studio in South Oxfordshire, as it was pretty cold outside – although the light outside was soft and flattering.

The children had loads of energy, and their daughter was especially good at jumping. 

"High jump" by Gale Photography

The curved background makes it hard to see where the floor ends and the wall begins, so it makes her look really high off the ground. 

Their son is very keen on badminton, and he had brought along his racquet and a shuttlecock to use as props for some action shots.  Here I’ve thrown the shuttlecock with one hand, whilst firing the camera with the other hand.  

"Badminton action" by Gale Photography

It was pure chance that in this shot the shuttlecock was right in front of his face, and between his eyes.  It has not been put on afterwards in Adobe Photoshop; sometimes you just get lucky! 

We also tried some more serious shots with the racquet. 

"Differential focus" by Gale Photography

Here I’ve set a wide lens aperture to use what’s called “differential focus” in a creative way.  The boy is nice and sharp against the dark background, whilst the racquet strings are well out of focus and give an attractive graduated pattern down the image. 

With this dark background image of the girl, I used simple lighting from one main light, and used her hair and hands to frame her face.  With the image converted to B&W, her expression made for a nice moody shot. 

"B&W moody portrait" by Gale Photography

Finally, when we were back outside, I couldn’t resist taking a portrait of their dog “Tigger”.  She was a real bundle of energy (like her namesake), but I managed to get her still enough to get a few shots. 

"Tigger" by Gale Photography

The dark background (a hedge in shadow) makes it look as if she’s been lit by flash, but it’s a natural light image.  Her alert expression is due to the fact she was being offered a treat to encourage her to sit still. 

As I said, it was a fun shoot (with lots of laughter), and they loved the images. 

If you would like to experience a shoot with Gale Photography for yourself  just get in touch to arrange the date! 

Cheers, 

Derek 

www.galephotography.co.uk