Posted tagged ‘details’

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

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The Car’s the Star: Part 2

January 27, 2011

If, like me, you love cars especially classic cars, you will have probably got frustrated trying to photograph them at car shows.  They aren’t always parked in the best place, you have little control over the lighting, and there always seems to be other people in the way!

"Pininfarina Spider in Bristol" by Derek Gale

Here’s an example.  It’s a very nice Pininfarina spidereuropa 2000i (mine!) at last’s year’s Bristol Italian Auto Moto Festival.  It was taken in a brief moment when there was no-one walking past or looking at it.  The Festival is held on the street in the old part of Bristol, so there are often distracting buildings in the background, as can be seen here.  In case you were wondering, the roads and the bank were closed, so I wasn’t parked illegally!

Under these circumstances, instead of trying to get the whole car, it’s better to capture the details that are often missed.  These little details, such as badges, are often works of art in themselves.  Getting in close allows you to hide (or creatively use) the background, lose people, and control the light a bit more.

"Lamborghini Espada badge" by Derek Gale

This is the badge of a fabulous Lamborghini Espada in classic Italian red.   The Espada was Lamborghini’s 4-seat supercar, and was made between 1968 and 1978.  The badge shows the bull that they adopted as their symbol.  Some say it’s a dig at Ferrari, whose badge symbol is a prancing horse, because bulls are more powerful than horses!  The badge and strake on the bonnet are like an arrow pointing forwards. 

"Vignale coachbuilder's badge" by Derek Gale

As well as the badge of a car’s manufacturer, you may also find the badge of the coachbuilder.  Coachbuilders are the people who build bodies for cars/coaches/lorries etc.  This is a Vignale badge on a very rare Triumph Italia 2000.  The car was designed by Michelotti, and built in Turin by Vignale on Triumph TR3 running gear.  The badge is a lovely piece of enamelling featuring the Mole Antoelliana, a famous Turin landmark, and the “V”  shape reflects the shape of the Turin coat of arms.

"Triumph Italia badge" by Derek Gale

The badge denoting the car model is another beautiful bit of design and engineering.  It’s delightful how the stroke of the “t” lines up with the “2” of 2000, and how the zeros get smaller towards the right.  This level of detailing helps make the car look as if it’s moving even when it’s standing still.  The reflected building in this image gives a good curved zigzag line which adds to the sense of movement.

"Superleggera badge" by Derek Gale

This badge denotes the method that’s been used to construct the car’s body.  “Superleggera” means “Super lightweight”, and is a system of steel tubes covered with aluminium panels to give the final shape of the car.  The system was developed by the coachbuilder Carrozzeria Touring in Milan.  Their own badge is also in the shot.  This image of the badge and panel gap really benefitted from a diagonal composition.  I was careful to ensure that the reflection in the background didn’t break the line of the Touring badge.

"VT badge" by Derek Gale

This final badge is on the back of a supercar.  It’s only when you look closely at the badges that you see the tiny little features that the designer has put in.  On the bottom left of each letter there’s a small stroke off to the left that gives the impression of speed; it’s a very clever bit of iconography.  Any ideas as to what car it’s on?  Obviously it’s Italian, as it was at an Italian car show.

You don’t need a DSLR to be a creative photographer.  All of these images were taken with a Panasonic Lumix FX-500 compact digital camera set on wide-angle and macro.  It’s all down to the photographer.

Cheers,

Derek.                           www.galephotography.co.uk

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. 

Cheers, 

Derek. 

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. 

The Car’s the Star!

August 5, 2010

You may have noticed from previous blog posts that I am a bit of a fan of cars.  I own a classic Pininfarina Spidereuropa.  It sounds glamorous, but it’s really just an old FIAT in a party dress.  

The shapes of cars are fascinating subjects for creative photography, and I love the little details. 

"Jaguar C-type bonnet" by Derek Gale

This is the bonnet of a Jaguar C-type Le Mans racing car from the 1950’s.  I was attracted to the louvres – cut into the bonnet to help engine cooling – and the way that the highlights in the background made a complementary pattern.  I used a long lens and a wide aperture to give great bokeh

"Le Mans Audi grime" by Derek Gale

Often, selecting just a part of a car can tell a story.  Take this image for example.  It’s part of the front/side bodywork of the modern Le Mans 24 Hour Race-winning Audi R8.  You can see just how effective the aerodynamics of the car were, because the oil from other cars has spread in perfect lines on the Audi’s curves.  Not really pretty, but it tells us so much more about the car than completely clean bodywork. 

"Maserati Birdcage reflection" by Derek Gale

This car, the Maserati Birdcage concept car, does have completely clean bodywork.  It’s very shiny, and reflecting the chequered flag pattern of the marquee the car was under.  It’s made a great pattern/abstract shot, which also reflects the fabulous racing history of the original Maserati Birdcage. 

"Mercedes star" by Derek Gale

Bonnet/radiator badges on cars are a perfect example of branding.  This 1930’s Mercedes badge really sums up everything about the car; quality engineering, style without (too much) ostentation, and exclusiveness.  I don’t need to show the rest of the car.  You get enough of an idea of how it is from the out of focus bonnet hinges, and the split windscreen in the background. 

"American car tail light" by Derek Gale

This car did have style with a lot of ostentation.  It’s a 1950’s Cadillac, and was made in the era where cars looked a lot like jet fighters or rockets.  These tail lights have it all; lots of chrome, space-age design, and they are “loud and proud”.  I used a long telephoto lens to throw the second light in the background out of focus.  This lets us concentrate on the foreground light. 

"Bentley Mk VI bonnet" by Derek Gale

Lest we forget, cars are made for driving, and not just for admiring their design.  This image is of my view from the passenger seat of a friend’s early 1950’s Bentley Mark VI Park Ward convertible.  It shows an empty open road, the sheen of the coachbuilt bonnet reflecting the sky, and the proud Bentley “Flying B” pointing the way. You can follow the line of the bonnet, and that of the road, to that magical place called “just around the corner”, that makes you want to keep on driving. 

Cars and photography; the perfect partners. 

Cheers, 

Derek 

www.galephotography.co.uk

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.

30-minute challenge

July 8, 2010

I’m running a Photo Trek at Buscot Park this weekend, so this morning, to get into the swing of things, I set myself a little challenge.  It was to take as many creative images as I could in just 30 minutes.  To give myself the best chance I chose a very versatile lens; a Sigma 50mm f2.8 EX macro.  This lens focuses really closely, and at its maximum aperture it has a very shallow depth of field, allowing you to be very selective about which part of the image is in focus.  It’s great for the simple images that I love taking. 

"Dandelion macro" by Derek Gale

This shot of a dandelion shows that very well.  Just part of the flower is sharp and the rest, including the background, is nicely out of focus.  The sky was cloudy when I took the image, with a lovely diffuse light, making it easy to keep the highlights under control.   

"Painted wind turbine" by Derek Gale

This image is highly relevant to the village I live in, as there’s a wind farm here.  What it seems to show is a child’s drawing of a wind turbine, in a yellow field, against a blue sky.  It’s actually some cracked paint on the yellow arrow of a “Footpath” sign.  I loved the contrast of the colours, and the fact that there’s some little tiny pieces of lichen growing in the cracks. 

"Your number's up" by Derek Gale

This image is a bit more complicated.  I’m amazed at just how much information telegraph poles have on them these days.  There are labels all over them, and as this one is shared with the electricity supply there’s also a big “Danger of Death” sign.  I loved the way the nail in the top sign was bent over when it was put in, the fact that nothing quite lines up, and the decaying state of the letter and number labels in the bottom half of the frame.  What do all these labels mean? 

"Reflector" by Derek Gale

This shot tells a story.  At the end of the street there’s a black and white post with red and white reflectors on it.  It’s to protect a household gas pressure-reduction valve which is in a big green box.  A few years ago someone drove over the box, and broke the valve completely off.  The resulting gas leak was very noisy, and they were lucky it didn’t catch fire.  The post is there to stop it happening again.  The image, of the red reflector, shows just how much control over the in-focus areas the macro lens gives you, and how getting in close can produce great pattern images.  

"Abstract clematis" by Derek Gale

With this final image, of a clematis “Montana” plant with lovely purple flowers, I used a long shutter speed (1/5 of a second), and moved the camera during the exposure.  The blurry mixture of purple and green has given a sort of “Wimbledon” feel to this abstract image. 

So, there’s a selection of my 30-minute challenge images; I took lots more.  Why not set yourself a challenge, and see what you can produce? 

Cheers, 

Derek 

www.galephotography.co.uk

PS   There’s a few places left on my Buscot Park Photo Trek on July 10th.  Call me on 01793 783859 to book.

Use the right angle.

June 3, 2010

It’s a lovely summer’s day here at Gale Photography HQ, and looking through the office window at the plants outside, I couldn’t help noticing just how much difference the angle of the light makes to their appearance.  

If we just look at one leaf to see what I mean.. 

"Kolomikta leaf 1" by Gale Photography

 This Kolomikta leaf has direct sunlight on it, coming from over my shoulder.  This direct lighting is great for showing what the leaf looks like, and would be good for a plant recognition book.  The leaf does look a bit flat however. 

"Kolomikta leaf 2" by Gale Photography

In this image I’ve turned the leaf so that the light is now glancing across its surface at an angle.  Shadows have appeared, and the leaf looks much more 3-dimensional.  There’s much more of an idea of its structure than the previous image.  

"Kolomikta leaf 3" by Gale Photography

In this image, still of the same leaf, I’ve shot through the leaf with the sun directly behind it.  There’s now a lovely luminosity to the leaf, the structure is clear to see, and it’s much more than a simple record of how it looks.  The “contre-jour” lighting has really lifted the image.  We’re now seeing the leaf by transmitted light instead of reflected light. 

If we look at some leaves on a Japanese maple tree, there’s even more of a difference.  For those who want to know such things it’s an acer palmatum dissectum “Red Dragon”. 

"Japanese maple 1" by Gale Photography

Here the leaves all look much the same, with little image contrast, and once again it would be a useful shot for a text book.  Where the leaves cross you just see more of the same colour.  It was easier to take than the next shot, as I had to lie on the ground to get the sun at the right angle. 

"Japanese maple 2" by Gale Photography

The sun shining through the leaves gives a much greater contrast, because where the leaves cross gives areas of darker red.  You can now see why the plant is called “Red Dragon”; the red leaf colour is much more fiery. 

Finally, here’s a studio image creatively using transmitted light, and shadow.  

"Lily flower" by Gale Photography

I set up an Nikon SB-800 remote flash behind the flower; a Peace Lily.  The shadow of the spadix is clearly picked out against the white spathe.  There’s great texture and structure as the light shines through the spathe.  Because the only light source is the flash behind the flower, there’s no light on the background, so it has come out black, giving excellent image contrast. 

So, next time you’re out photographing plants on a sunny day, think about where you want the light to be coming from, and you’ll get better images. 

Looking for the best angle for the light is covered on my Photo Treks.  Why not come along to one? 

Cheers, 

Derek