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

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“steady your device”

I recently updated my phone to Pie, the latest version of Android.  It also updated my phone camera software, and the settings were all in different places!  It took a while to find one of my favourites which is the “Silky Water” light painting mode.  It’s designed to be used with the camera held still, but I love the effects you get when the camera is moved about during the exposure.  It’s called Intentional Camera Movement (ICM).

This week, whilst waiting for a friend at the Watermill Theatre near Newbury, I went for a walk.  The River Lambourn flows past the Watermill, and a short distance away it is bridged by the infamous A34 trunk road.  The bridge is very functional indeed, with large girders spanning the river.  Whilst it’s quite an oppressive thing to stand underneath, the structure is a great base to use with ICM.

The image you get depends very much on the place you start and how you move the camera.  They are unique images, in that it’s almost impossible to exactly reproduce the movement.  Here I concentrated on the girders and twisted the camera round so the effective viewpoint changed.  I’ve inverted it in post-processing so the river is now at the top as a band of mist.

Moving the camera only in one plane has allowed the bridge structure to be the main focus.  Once more I have inverted the image in post-processing so the lines in the composition work better. The ICM technique takes away detail leaving just the main elements.

I’m now trying a technique where I move the camera for part of the exposure and keep it still for part of the exposure.  In this image I kept it still in at least three places and then moved it so there was a central line splitting  the image in half.  It’s now an array of lines and angles, and looks a bit like an open book.

When I took these images the camera kept saying “steady your device”.  I think not!

Life’s a bit up and down at the moment

When we are out and about photographing the temptation is to keep our eyes looking at, well, eye level.  It does stop us bumping into people, but it means we miss so much. I reckon that if you visit a town and ask passing pedestrians what the best thing is about the tops of their local buildings very few will be able to describe any of them.  There are many interesting subjects to be found if you look up or down.  

Take this second-floor window for example.  There is a giant red plastic key leaning casually against one of the panes.  It raises questions such as; “Why is it there?”, “Where is the factory that makes giant keys” and “If that’s the key what on earth is the lock like?”   The key does make for good colour contrast against the blue-grey of the reflected sky.

Looking down can bring real surprises.  I was in Headington, Oxford recently and noticed these two avocados in the gutter.  One does get a better class of litter in Oxford!  They were in pristine condition, so I wondered how they had got there, and why they had been left.  I took the image on my Huawei mobile phone and added an HDR effect using Snapseed.

We do our best to cover our city streets with concrete, but nature has a way of getting back into the apparently uninviting spaces.  These small dandelion (?) plants have managed to find somewhere to live in a services cover.  Perhaps they misunderstood the word earth?

The moral?  Hunt high and low, then you might see something that makes you go, “A-Ha!”.

Merry Christmas!


I would like to wish all of you a phabulously photographic Christmas and a creative New Year!

Be careful if you have too much alcohol at your parties as your images may turn out a bit odd, like this one… Actually it’s an Olympus “Live Composite” portrait taken at an RPS workshop. The mode expects that you will keep the camera still, but you get interesting effects if you move the camera instead.

Have fun in 2019!




A “design for living”? Perhaps more for working?

I was in Manchester recently and had to drive into the heart of the city.  The one-way system seems designed to keep cars out, rather than helping traffic circulation but I got there in the end.  The (very nice) hotel I was in had windows that opened fully, which gave me a chance to continue my occasional series “view from my hotel bedroom window”.

The one-way system has had lots of changes recently and not all car sat-navs have up-to-date info.  This arrow, which has been turned through 180 degrees, is a good indicator of that.  I loved the symmetry of the elements and the little bit of newer yellow paint where a service trench had been cut and covered.  The empty parking space was astonishing!

In the glass-fronted office building opposite my room there were many stories to be seen about humanising the workspace.  There were potted plants and personal photos were placed on desks.  I preferred the unseen and accidental landscape found behind things.  This red tape was stuck on the back of a large cupboard pushed up against a window.  Isolating it has allowed the reflection of my hotel to become more visible.

Looking up, the large monolith of the 14-storey office building opposite was quite impressive.  Described as one of Manchester’s, “most prestigious office buildings”, it’s a vertical factory for making money, with workers in little cubicles.  Shooting upwards, and then correcting the converging verticals in Photoshop, made a regular pattern that has subtle differences in each rectangle.  If you got all the staff to co-operate you could make words or pictures with the blinds.  There’s a project for someone!

The modern world contains so much in the way of accidental graphic design.  It’s always worth getting higher so you can look down as well as up.

The light in the garden is bokehlicious!

I’m lucky enough to live in a house that has a south-facing garden.  That means that at this time of year the low angle of the sun compared to the summer brings fresh photographic perspectives.  An early season frost that’s lit by the sun soon melts into a myriad of little backlit water droplets.  A great time to break out the long focal length or wide-aperture lens and try for some bokeh circles.  The first lens I used was my Panasonic 100-300mm.  It’s the equivalent of a 600mm lens on full-frame.

Having a 4/3rds sensor it’s harder to get good bokeh than with a full-frame camera, but with the right technique it’s pretty good.  For this image, of water droplets on a weeping silver birch tree, I used the lens at its maximum focal length to get the most magnification, and of course, at its widest aperture to give round highlight circles.  The lens was focused at infinity.

The nature of the subject changes the overall feel of the image.  This is melted frost on a buddleia shrub, which explains the strong green colour.  There are just a few orange shapes to give a bit of colour contrast.  It’s like a crowd of Venn diagrams!

I swapped lenses for this final shot.  I used my Sigma 30mm f1.4 lens and got a backlit single water droplet on a branch very close to the front of the lens.  The background was a hedge in shadow.  The aperture was set to f1.4 and the bokeh circle is therefore very big.  There’s all manner of stuff going on in the highlight.  It’s like an astronomical image of a planet or moon rather than a drop of water.

Low angled light in the garden on a frosty, sunny morning = time for some delicious bokeh.