Posted tagged ‘simple’

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

“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

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

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

Here’s to the next 10 years!

January 6, 2011

It’s my 10th anniversary!  On Jan 1st 2011 Gale Photography celebrated being in business for 10 whole years. Woo hoo!!!

It’s been great fun working with all the changes since 2001.  Back then it was hard to predict just how much the technology of photography would change in just a few short years.  The digital revolution was underway but many photographers still used film.  Today the default is digital, and there are very few users of film. 

When I went professional I used a Rolleiflex 2.8f medium format film camera.  It was, and is, a fabulous tool ( I still have it), but it only took 12 images on one film, so it meant that I had to change films quite often.  I shot colour on the Rollei, but as my wedding photography involved black and white images as well, I also had to have a 35mm film camera loaded with B&W film.  I also carried a 2 spare 35mm cameras loaded with colour film.  It was all very heavy, and all the wedding guests shot film too.

"It's a film camera!" by Derek Gale

Digital arrived in my professional photography life in the middle of 2001, and my first digital camera was a compact.  The Kodak DC4800 “Professional Digital Imaging System” was a 3 million pixel camera that cost an eye-watering £600.  The 128Mb compact flash card I needed for it cost an even more eye-watering £175!!  To put that into perspective, nowadays a typical 8Gb compact flash card, (64 times more capacity) is around £20. 

"3 mega pixels" by Derek Gale

I did use the Kodak the following week for an urgent commercial photography job and it was great.  This shot was done in camera with a colour-filtered Vivitar 283 flashgun on a long lead lighting the background, and another 283 on the camera lighting the bag in the foreground. What you can’t see is my assistant standing up a ladder out of shot pouring the grain into the sack.

2003 saw the really big change when I got my first digital SLR.   It was the oddly named Pentax *istD.  This 6Mp camera cost me £1200 just for the body, and would be considered to have a very low specification today.  From the first day of using it I was inspired!  I loved the freedom, the flexibility, and the “insurance”.  Insurance?  Well, with a film camera you send away the precious original negative to be processed/printed, and if it gets lost you’re in trouble. With a digital camera you only ever send a copy, so you increase your customers’ confidence.

"Ian & car" by Derek Gale

The really great thing about digital that I found so liberating was the ability to experiment and see the result immediately.  This portrait of a guy and his beloved Range Rover is an example.  I was able to slightly rearrange the composition and check it, then alter the exposure and check it again, to give the image I wanted.  With film this would have been much more difficult.  Digital makes the whole photographic experience much more interactive and much more fun.

"Dog portrait" by Derek Gale

In 2006 I moved from Pentax to Nikon as I wanted a wider range of lenses than Pentax offered, and I’ve stayed with Nikon since then.  The fast response and great lenses let me get candid images, of people or their pets, that would have been very hard in the Rollieflex days.

"Hands" by Derek Gale

That’s some of the technology changes over the last 10 years, but what’s stayed the same?  Well, the need to be as photographically creative as possible and to offer customers; the best possible images, the best customer experience, and the best value, have been constants.  Without offering these the equipment used is irrelevant.

I’ve met some fantastic people over the last 10 years, and it’s been a real pleasure to be part of your families’ lives, if only for a short time.  Thank you!

I’m looking forward to the next 10 years!

Cheers,

Derek    www.galephotography.co.uk

Same person: different look.

December 16, 2010

In creative portrait photography how an image looks is down to the photographer.  In the studio how you light your subject is critical, and for location images it’s critical to work properly with the natural light.  How you then modify the light can dramatically affect the look of an image. 

Once you have your lighting sorted, simple changes to the composition of the image can also change the look significantly.

"Split image" by Derek Gale

Take this image:  The lighting, a soft-box from the front, is quite simple.  The interest comes from having the subject’s face split by a sheet of muslin that was hung up to act as a diffuser/reflector.  I had taken a series without the muslin and then asked her to move slightly so that it was partly in front of her face.  It was far enough away from her to be nicely out of focus, and its translucency allowed the obscured part of her face to show through sufficiently.

"Hair!" by Derek Gale

We tried to get some shots  of her hair “in flight”. They were fine, but I wanted more structure to the image.  We spread her hair out on the studio floor and I shot from a step-ladder directly above her.   It was simple to light with a fairly directional light on her hair which gave a nice sharp shadow under her chin.  Even though her expression was similar to the previous image, the end result was very different!

"Poster girl" by Derek Gale

Away from the studio there’s less control of lighting direction, unless you carry remotely fired flash units, so you need to be careful with where you do your shoot.  This urban image was at an abandoned car repair centre and the fly posters had been  busy.  I made sure that enough of a poster was included to clearly show the type of area we were in, but not so much that the poster’s text was a distraction.  Her pose echoed the pose of the man on the poster.  I’ve punched up the background colour by “cross-processing” it in Photoshop.

"Wall supports" by Derek Gale

Same day, same shoot, completely different look.  The pipes in the image were supports for a wall near the Railway Village in Swindon and were at quite an acute angle.  By asking my model to lean on the pipes, and then tilting the camera so she looked more upright, her arms became much more elegant.  The background brickwork also became less distracting.  A crop to simplify the image, a bit of “diffuse glow”, and it was done.

"Estate portrait" by Derek Gale

Same day, same shoot and yet another look.  This final image shows how the most mundane of objects, an estate car, can be used for creative portraits.  My model is lying down on the load area floor.  The car’s open rear hatch screened the direct sun, which meant that the remaining light was beautifully diffused.  The grey carpet and shadow area from the rear seats acted as a perfect foil to her skin tones.  The black and white conversion simplified the image.

As you can see: one day, one model, many different looks.  Control your lighting and your composition to get variety into your images.

Cheers,

Derek                     www.galephotography.co.uk