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  • Welcome to Gale Photography

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

    If you are looking to improve your photographic creativity, skills or knowledge, check out the Photography Training pages.

    For beautiful Fine Art images that showcase my personal vision take a look at the Fine Art Photography pages.

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    Looking forward to hearing from you! In the meantime read my blog posts below. They're full of useful info...

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Less is more!

It’s tempting with photography to try and cram in as many things as possible into our images.  The argument goes: We’ve paid for those pixels so why not use them all?  I think there are times where less is definitely more.  The lack of complication gives space for the subject to “breathe”, and allows the viewers time to consider how the story might unfold.

Creative photography training with Derek Gale

“The Castle of Good Hope”

Take this “street photography” image from “The Castle of Good Hope” in Cape Town, South Africa.  Putting the main subject at the extreme left gives them lots of space to walk into, and lets them intersect with the white line to form an informal triangle.  The simplicity allows you to concentrate on them and notice; their bare feet, wonderfully long hair, and the fact that they are walking along the edge of the crazy paving path.

Creative photography training with Derek Gale

“Gower surfer”

More bare feet, but this time it’s a surfer on Rhossili Beach in Gower, South Wales.  On a sunny day the blue sky has reflected in the wet sand, giving a blue tone to most of the image.  The blue gives a great colour contrast with the red of the surfboard, and the reflection of the board makes an arrow pointing in the direction the surfer is walking.  The tiny figure relative to the vast expanse of blue shows how far the surfer has got to go to get to the sea.

Creative photography training with Derek Gale

“Tate cleaner”

This final image uses emptiness to show the scale of a job someone has to do – cleaning the turbine hall floor in London’s Tate Modern.  I waited carefully before I pressed the shutter in order to get the mop head pointing inwards.  It forms another “informal triangle” with the person and mop handle.  Her red top catches the eye nicely, and once more there’s a colour contrast between her top and the floor.

So, it’s more or less clear that less can be more!

Just what’s that image about?

Yesterday I was in the lovely village of Uffington a few miles from where I live.  The old village stores has closed down*, and the building it was in is now looking quite shabby.  I was wondering how much longer it’s going to be there, given it’s in a prime site in the village.  As a building plot it’s worth a fortune!

I though it worth spending a few minutes recording it.  Given that it’s not at my home it counts as travel photography!  As with all photography, I had to make decisions about what to include, and what story I was trying to tell.  I decided that one image wasn’t enough, so took a series.  I tried to give a sense of what the old stores was ABOUT, rather than just showing images OF it.

Creative photography training with Derek Gale

Uffington Stores facade

So here’s the facade of the stores.  I think it looks a bit as if it’s from an old western film.  Because it’s closed down people no longer pay it any attention; they don’t look at it or maintain it.  Villages like Uffington need shops and Post Offices, or they risk becoming dormitories where you need a car to do anything.

Creative photography training with Derek Gale

The parcel taped ventilator

The details of a building can tell a lot about its history.  This window on the front has cracked glass, peeling paint and a ventilator/fan housing closed off, unevenly, with parcel tape.  That’s a good material to use given that this was also the village Post Office.

Creative photography training with Derek Gale

Shop now closed sign

Once this was a sign saying the the shop had closed.  Another bit of parcel tape still holds it on to the window, but water has faded the words and damaged the paper.  There’s a sort of water damage “coastal outline” on the right hand corner of the sign.  The white horse head in the lower part of the frame gives some coarse location information.

Creative photography training with Derek Gale

Old Post Office hours

The Post Office opening hours sign was in much better condition, though it was of no use whatsoever. There’s cracked paint, and blossom in the cobwebs which helps tell the story.

Creative photography training with Derek Gale

New store this way

* You may have noticed that the first image that there’s a big sign that says “Uffington Stores Now Open”.  That is because there is a new stores near the Village Hall.  It opened in 2014 and is a much larger, and better, facility than the one that closed.  This marvellously decrepit arrow made of tape and red paint points the way to the new shop.  I think the blue tape is by way of an afterthought, because the black tape initially used to outline the arrow didn’t show up very well on the black background.  To me it sums up the whole building.

No smoking!! Well, perhaps a little bit…

Smoke’s a great thing to photograph, and getting interesting shapes against a black background is quite easy to do.  I set my camera up on a tripod and put an incense stick into some Blu-Tack on a table in front of the camera.  I put some black paper in the background, and put my flash on the floor behind the table so it backlit the smoke but didn’t flash on to the lens, which would give flare and reduce contrast.  The flash had a wireless trigger on it, but a simple trigger cable would do just as well.

Incense smoke

Incense smoke

I prefocused on the smoke, then sat very still and breathed very softly so I didn’t disturb the smoke’s flow too much.  Here’s a shot of a lovely swirling shape.  No-one will ever produce the same image, as the airflow is unique.

Creative photography by Derek Gale

Samurai warrior?

If you take a smoke image into Photoshop, copy it into another layer, and move one layer off to the side, you can make the image symmetrical.  Once it’s symmetrical you start seeing recognisable objects in the images.  It’s something the brain needs to make happen so you can understand the image.  Here there’s a samurai warrior.

Creative photography by Derek Gale

The skeleton?

This image, of a Roswell alien skeleton perhaps, is two of smoke images flipped and copied.  The top half and bottom half do go together well.  If you look you might also see a cat wearing the top half of Yoda’s head… !!!

Smoking is bad for you, but can be great for photography!

Put some fizz* into your images!!

I’m off to a wedding soon, as a guest.  It’s the first wedding I’ve been to for ages, but I used to go to lots; as the photographer.  As a wedding photographer I spent plenty of time with the bride and groom, but also tried to capture the details that made the day unique.  One detail was the celebration champagne they chose!

Fizzy photography with Derek Gale

“Ready to be opened”

Drinking champagne has various stages.  The first is the delicious anticipation as the row of chilled bottles is set up next to the elegant fluted glasses. Off-camera flash gave nice crisp highlights.

Fizzy photography with Derek Gale


The second stage is the Pop! as the cork is released, (no screw top bottles here), and the wine is poured into the glasses releasing the aroma of vanilla and yeast and biscuits. The characteristic bubbles form with a fizzing sound.  The trick is to get the timing right so the glass is full enough, with good bubbles, but not overfull.  Off-camera flash again.

Fizzy photography with Derek Gale

“Cool and refreshing”

The toasts are made.  The first sip is cool and refreshing, with the bubbles dancing on your tongue.  The chilled wine then causes condensation to form on the outside of the wine glass.  If it’s left in there long enough…  I used a long lens and a wide aperture to isolate the glass against the background.

Fizzy photography with Derek Gale

“The aftermath”

Finally, after much celebration, the empty bottles are set aside.  In this case, carefully, on a stone at Avebury Stone Circle in Wiltshire.  As with the previous image I used a long focal length lens and wide aperture to give a nice out-of-focus background

I was often offered champagne at the weddings I photographed, but was not able to accept because I was working.  Sadly, I won’t be enjoying any champagne at the forthcoming wedding, because I am the designated driver.  Well perhaps a tiny sip…

* Other sparkling wines are available.

It’s all show: Artweeks 2015!

It’s May (nearly), and that means it’s nearly Oxfordshire Artweeks again.  Artweeks is one of the premier regional art festivals, and takes place all over Oxfordshire in 3 stages: North Oxfordshire, Oxford City, and South Oxfordshire.  There is every type of art on show and it’s all free to attend.

I’m exhibiting my Fine Art photography as part of Artweeks in three places over three different time periods.  The first is a single piece as part of Didcot’s shiny new Cornerstone Gallery’s DRAW:SHOW exhibition.  This curated exhibition is taking place from 5th May to the 21st June.  They say: “This year the gallery will be filled work submitted by artists from across the region as we celebrate the practice and explore the concept of drawing.”  Cool to get a photograph accepted in a drawing exhibition…

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“Water #1”

Next, I’m part of Artweeks venue 199 in Oxford Library: “Looking West – Faringdon area artists come to Oxford”, (even though my name is not listed on the webpage!).  It’s on from the 4th to the 25th of May.  This is a taster exhibition for the main “Vale Artists” show in Faringdon.  Again I have one piece, and it’s a nicely ambiguous work where the sense of scale is obscured.

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“Bokeh #3”

The main exhibition is Artweeks venue 342 in The Rookery in Faringdon from the 15th to the 25th of May.  Please note: the gallery is not open Sundays, and the Artweeks venue 342 webpage dates are wrong.  I’ll have at least 6 works including some of my large “Invisible Beauty” images.  These highly abstract, but unmanipulated, photographs look like paintings with their swirling patterns of deep colour.

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“Invisible Beauty #48”

Some of the days I’ll be at the Rookery so we can chat about photography (or the weather).  Hope to see you there!  If you go and I’m not there, and you would like to talk about my work, do please get in touch by phone or e-mail.