Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Don Gale 1952-2010

It is with our deepest regrets that we are letting you know of the recent passing of Don Gale. To many of you, he was a photographer, teacher and friend. He was also a loving husband, father, grandfather, son and brother. Some of you may have only met Don in passing, at one of his presentations or trade show appearances, but to those that knew Don at all, his passing is sad news. His passions included a love of photographing nature and the outdoors and he especially enjoyed sharing that passion with his students. Early in 2010 he was diagnosed with cancer and fought it bravely to the very end. While this was never kept secret, it was something that Don did not broadcast because he approached this situation as he did all others, with a positive attitude and a love for living in the moment.

The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the "Don Gale Memorial Fund", the proceeds of which will be donated to the charities that had impacted his life and were dear to his heart. He started his love of the outdoors and photography on a trip he took to the Eastern Sierra Nevada Range through the El Monte Boys & Girls Club and it's so typical that Don would want to "pay back" to this and similar organizations that help others to see the beauty around us. Checks can be made to the "Don Gale Memorial Fund" and sent to the studio address below.

Thank you for being a part of the journey that Don loved -

Photography by Don
4511 Santa Anita
El Monte, CA 91731

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Scenic Images / Slideshow

Monday, January 18, 2010

Early Morning session in the Snow


My wife and I spent New Year’ visiting my Dad in Eastern Washington state.
We got up early one morning, before sunrise, and went for a walk in the snow.
Just took the tripod and the 18-270 zoom lens, and went looking around.
Had the white balance on the “cloudy” preset, and it was pretty close.  Still had to remove some blue from the final RAW files.  In my haste, forgot to take the Expo Disc



Here's a portrait of my Dad's neighbors, in the home that they built.  Available light from the front, with a slaved strobe directly behind them.  Camera on tripod, f4 at 1/4 second.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Death Valley Flash Fill at Dusk

A couple weeks ago, at a photo workshop we ran at Death Valley, our group was hanging out after the sunset session. About ready to call it a day, I figured I'd try messing around with some off-camera flash, and get some shots of the guys.

The unusual photo at the top shows my wife, Sue, an I testing out the lights for the images below.
We're using 2 radio controlled flash units with Lumiquest modifiers attached.

For all the shots shown here, the triggering was done with the Elinchrom Skyport system....a very small transmitter sits on the camera's hot shoe. And the equally small receiver hooks easily onto the bottom of each flash unit. It doesn't matter what brand of camera, or flash for this stuff. I'm not doing TTL or eTTl.....there's no communication between the camera and flash, other than the simple signal which fires the flash. For teaching, I like to use all the units on manual power, so we can accurately determine the amount of power for each shot. Full power, half power, quarter, etc....all adjustable up or down in 1/3rd stop increments. It makes the learning much faster for the students, and the repeatability accuracy is dead on. Once you find a balance desired, it never varies. With the flash and camera talking to each other, as occurs with TTL, etc, there can be big differences in flash output, from shot to shot.

Here's Mary and Peter Andrade standing, silhouetted, next to their cameras....just minutes before total darkness. But with a pretty long shutter speed, and a couple strategically placed flash units, we came up with a real nice portrait. Playing the part of the light stands in tonite's performance....Kathy Lucas, and Mike Meisinger...our studio manager.

For these dusk images, the metering technique is pretty straight forward. Without using any flash, simply pick the desired aperture, and using the camera's meter, adjust for the proper shutter speed. Take a test shot, and see how the background looks. In this case, the sky.

The image above shows a non-flash-filled Lauren Polizzi, who actually works on the other side of the camera, as a set designer on major productions.

Once this base exposure is determined, then simply add as much flash as needed for the balance you're looking for. Simple.

After a couple pretty standard sessions, a second flash was added as a kick light from the back. And, for no good reason, it was covered with a red Lee gel to add some color to that source, only.

The images at the top show the Lumiquest modifiers which were velcro attached to the small heads. This makes a huge difference in light quality. And, when used in pretty tight to the subject, it rivals studio lighting.

Our grand finale was a group shot of the hat wearing ladies in the group.

Left to right Sue ( my wife) Kay ( Mike's wife ) Lauren ( no one's wife, yet ) and Mary ( Peter's wife)

Click on any of the photos above to see the full size version...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Slide Show From Lone Pine and Death Valley

We've recently been out in the Eastern Sierra and Death Valley. Here are a few images, shown using a new video format, that we found on the Animoto website. The images were taken on two recent visits, over Thanksgiving and again for our Lone Pine/Death Valley Workshop at the beginning of this month.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Workshop at Lone Pine & Death Valley

Winter shooting in the deserts is always pretty cool. And, last week was no exception. The low angle of the light and mild temperatures make the experience even better.

Well, MILD may not be exactly accurate......but, it sure beats the sweltering 100 degree plus days of summer. We has a couple early mornings that dipped into the 20's; but, the great scenery made it well worthwhile, even for the softest city slickers.

We began our trip in the sierra nevada foothill town of Lone Pine, California. Known primarily now for being at the trailhead for the hike to Mt Whitney, the tallest peak in the lower 48.

After getting to shoot two sunrise sessions here, our group migrated about 80 miles east into Death Valley to our base camp at Stovepipe Wells for a couple more days of great light and pristine sand dunes. And, by describing the dunes this way, I'm referring to the fact that there wasn't a single footprint to be found....except our own. Due, in fact to the heavy winds the night before, which cleaned and groomed the several mile long sand pile to perfection.

At these particular dunes, the best light is normally in the morning, right as the first rays of sun crosslight the ripples and abstract shapes. The same situation holds true in Lone Pine, too. Once the sun gets behind the mountains at around 4pm, it can be tough shooting in the soft light....unless there's some cooperative clouds to bounce some light around, and add some colors.

We'll be heading back out there again, between Christmas and New Years....my third trip in less than 5 weeks. And, still.....every time there it's always new conditions for great photography.

If you'd like to see a larger version of any of these photos, just click on the image.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Photo Expo West / San Diego November 09

Last weekend, at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, just north of San Diego, was an amazing photo conference. I did several seminars on both days, and there's a video clip attached below which was shown on a big screen, as the intro to the session......


Monday, October 12, 2009

Fall Color in Upstate New York

I just got back from a great weekend in Rochester, New York.

The Tamron Road Series had us scheduled to take a group of photographers to Letchworth State Park, for a full day's shooting in the incredible river canyon that was filled with fog and some great color change happening with the leaves.

We met the group at Rowe's Camera store on Friday nite for a 3 hour seminar, and then took off in a bus, before sunrise to beat the crowds at the park.

In the past, when we traveled to the New England area for the autumn color show, New Hampshire and Vermont were the favorite destinations. But, honestly, after getting a short glimpse of what the Rochester area has to offer, this will be my spot for next season. Even over the popular Columbus Day holiday weekend, the crowds were certainly smaller, and the photographic variety was on par with anything I'd seen.

Just click on any of these photos, to see a full size image.

One of the interesting situations that presented itself in this region was the slate bottomed river canyons, filled with almost continuous small, cascading waterfalls with foliage immediately at the creekside. Easy access and lots of trails made for a shooter's paradise, without feeling you had to stand shoulder-to-shoulder to get the perfect angle. And, if it's the big, majestic falls you're after, this is the place for you. Several monsters are nearby....not to mention the iconic Niagara Falls about 90 minutes from where we stayed.

Early morning fog lifted and presented a very nice sunny afternoon, with big puffy clouds everywhere. The deep canyons provide the soft, shadow-free light needed for shooting those waterfalls. And, man, they're all over the place ! According to the locals, there are lots of other excellent shooting locations, just a short drive from Letchworth.

Other recommended areas that were impossible due to time constraints on this quick trip, are the Finger Lakes region and Watkin's Glen State Park, along with a local favorite, Stony Brook State Park.

During one of the breaks, someone spotted a couple insects hiding from the rain. This was the perfect chance for me to put on the new Tamron 60mm macro lens. And, equipped with the Metz Macro flash set-up, this made for a perfect lighting system for the otherwise flat light.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Expect The Unexpected

On a recent trip to the Boston area, we took off in the rental car for a morning of shooting along the famous route of Paul Revere.....along Battle Road.

The continuous rain almost was reason to abandon the mission.....but, knowing that these wet, cloudy conditions can provide some wonderful light, we plugged away.

Arriving at the historical landmark, Hartwell Tavern, we were caught in a downpour....forcing us inside to protect the camera gear.

Once inside, we discovered that the period accurate, costumed staff were also inside for a break from the musket shooting demonstrations. Good luck for us, however. I was able to get one of these guys to cooperate for a few minutes, and pose by some incredible window light. The surprisingly dark conditions outdoors had caused a tremendous drop in the light coming in thru the window. The ISO was set to 400, and the shutter speed was one second.....even though shooting wide open at 2.8 with the Tamron 90mm macro lens.

The wet conditions continued to provide me with a stream of portrait subjects. Their cooperation was partly due to the fact that it was simply too wet outside to attempt the walk back to the cars.

So, with the tripod already set up, I asked if a couple of the semi-bored folks would act as models. It always drives me nuts to have wonderful light, a great backdrop, but nothing as a main foreground subject.

Enter the unsuspecting tourists.

Our next volunteer was an attractive teenage girl, from the bay area, with her family on a 3 week vacation. After securing permission from her parents, I quickly shot off a barrage of long-exposure images....trying to maintain sharpness at this wide open and extremely long shutter speed always provides a challenge. And, the unstable 200 year old wooden floor didn't help.

The weather briefly cleared up, and we headed outdoors to see what was shootable.....The wooden frames of the antique windows were pretty interesting, so I asked Jeff Allen, the Tamron tech rep, to go inside and stick his head out the window for an available light portrait. As I suspected, it looked pretty good....but, as I was taking his images, I noticed movement at the window to my left. A young boy was mimicking Jeff, and had posed in the opening....this looked like a carefully planned commercial session. Perfect setting. Great subject. Classic light. All I had to do was frame it up and shoot. Jeff had served as a test subject for the REAL shot.

After seeing this little guy in the window, I quickly went inside to talk with his folks, and try and get a few more images before they took off.

I kept the same 90 mm lens on the camera and asked him to pose in the window light. But, a one second exposure of an active kid is tough. Propping his head on his hands seemed the only way to keep him still enough for a sharp image.

Overall, this was a very productive couple hours.....and, our main objective was to shoot macro photos of the Dogwoods in the rain...with water drops.

Being prepared for anything that comes at you always pays off.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Macro Techniques...Portrait and Flowers

On a recent trip to Boston, I ran into some pretty nice light and some photogenic folks who volunteered as portrait subjects

Check out this video.......

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