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    Hello, and welcome to my website! I'm Derek Gale, photography trainer and Fine Art photographer.

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A post of note…

My recent Oxfordshire Artweeks show was at The Piano Gallery* in Faringdon.  I learnt a lot about pianos whilst I was there, and they are interesting things to photograph too.


Grand pianos have nice open tops so you can see the arrangement of the strings.  The engineering is amazing, and there are lots of patterns.  For this image I used a fisheye lens to exaggerate the perspective.


Getting a little closer, I used a lens with a perspective more like our eyes to show the curve of the bridge and the lines of the strings.


Finally I used a wide lens aperture to make the string patterns more abstract.  I got really close to the strings and focused on the layer of strings below the low note strings, in order to show points of focus through an out-of-focus foreground.

I’ve managed to indicate the key points without making a piano-based pun.  Ooops!

* Although my Artweeks show is over, you can still see my Fine Art images at The Piano Gallery, so why not pop in?

Come and see me at Oxfordshire Artweeks.

Just a quick blog post today, as I am getting my artworks ready for Oxfordshire Artweeks.

Oxfordshire Artweeks is a huge county-wide art festival, and runs in South Oxfordshire from 14th May to the 21st May.  There are hundreds of artists for you to visit.  Naturally, I would love you to come and see my show at The Piano Gallery in Faringdon.  It’s Venue 292 in the Artweeks catalogue and website.

"Vaucluse #2" HD metal print. £335. An edition of 10I’ll be there as many days as I can during the week, so why not pop along and have a chat? The Piano Gallery isn’t open on Sundays so bear that in mind before you travel.

There’s a group of artists exhibiting in the Faringdon area, including photography (not just me!), sculpture, painting, ceramics, and textiles, so why not make a day of it?

The image is one of my Artweeks works.  It’s called “Vaucluse #2” and is a 26-inch high-definition print on solid aluminium.  It’s in a Limited Edition of just 10 priced at £350.

Mr Beckford’s Tower

William Beckford (1760-1844) was a man who had amassed a huge fortune from sugar production.  He said, “So, I am growing rich, and mean to build towers.”  He built a very famous one at Fonthill Abbey, which fell down soon after he sold the house (good timing!).  One which remains is “Lansdown Tower” near Bath, which is also known as “Beckford’s Tower”.


It’s a fascinating building, not the least for its wonderful spiral (or helical) staircase leading up to a room, with great views, called the Belvidere.  The walls have a lovely pink hue which gets brighter towards the lantern at the top.  There wasn’t much light in the stairwell, so I put my camera, (a Lumix TZ-70 travel zoom compact), on a stone platform at the base of the staircase to avoid camera movement during the exposure.


Looking down from the top of the staircase you lose most of the pink colour, so I thought it would look better as a black and white image.  It’s now about shape, tone, light and shade.  Because the tops of the stairs are visible it’s a more complicated image than the view looking up.


Back at the bottom I tried for a combination of light, shade, shadow and the pink wall tones.  I selected just a few steps with the light coming from right to left.  There are some very subtle colours, tones and textures there.

It’s a very interesting place to visit, and part of the building is a self-catering flat managed by The Landmark Trust.  You can climb the tower after the day visitors have left and enjoy the view from the Belvidere.

Thanks Mr Beckford.

It’s all done with mirrors…

It’s officially spring here in the UK.  The flowers are just emerging, and looking fabulous.  One of my favourite flowers is the tulip, and our first of the year has just come into flower.  It’s in a shady spot that only gets afternoon sun.  This morning was a lovely sunny one, so I thought I would show how a shaving mirror can change everything…

Blog-tulip-#1I popped my longest zoom lens (Panasonic 45-150mm) on to my E-M10, popped the E-M10 on to a tripod, and focused on the flower.  There’s nothing immediately behind it, so with the lens wide open the background is nicely out of focus.  As the flower is in the shade the light is very soft and diffuse, with some very subtle colour rendition.


I wanted to change the light, so fired my camera’s built-in flash.  It’s filled in the shadow areas a little bit, and has reduced the contrast on the flower.  It’s made the flower a bit brighter so it’s a little bit more separated from the background.  The effect is still quite subtle though.


I wanted a much bigger difference in the lighting, and couldn’t wait till the afternoon sun was on the flower, so I got a shaving mirror.  I went and stood in a sunny spot and reflected the sunlight back on to the flower.  I had to use 1.7 stops of negative exposure compensation as the light was so much brighter.  I also had to use the self-timer as I couldn’t press the shutter and hold the mirror at the same time.  The image is now much more contrasty, with more separation of the foreground flower and the background.

Do you want the light subtle or contrasty?   You have control, just use your shaving mirror.