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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.

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Are you simple or complex?

When it comes to photographic composition, are you a simple photographer or a complex one?  By that I mean do you like your compositions to have many layers of shape and colour with interest all over them, or do you deliberately produce simple images that lead the viewer in, and let them create their own complexity?  Each approach has its own merits.

"The effect of gravity" by Derek Gale

This simple image of grass, with an out of focus background, could be anywhere.  The main stem grows from corner to corner, and the lower leaf bends towards the bottom right corner.  It’s a sort of meditative image that allows the viewer freedom to add their own memories.

"Beach pebbles" by Derek Gale

This image is much more complex.  Although it has a simple diagonally breaking wavelet, there’s loads more shapes and colours and textures.  It invites closer inspection of the wonderful diffraction patterns in the moving water, and the fact that the water is invisible until it mixes with air as the wavelet breaks. A mineralogist could spend time guessing the makeup of the pebbles, and everyone can imagine the sound of the water on the stones.  Here the complexity adds to the image.

"Beach figure" by Derek Gale

And what do you think about colour?  Do you use it sparingly, such as with this image of a man on a beach?  He’s the only real point of colour, and he’s wearing red, the colour that really catches our eye.  The lack of other colours makes him stand out and emphasizes his solitude.  It’s an image that definitely shows solitude rather than loneliness.  In black and white it might feel different.

"Doorway colours" by Derek Gale

Do you use colour so that the image wouldn’t work without it?  This doorway is painted in strong bright colours that can’t help but cheer you up.  It tells you something about the person who lives there, and invites you to ask if they ran out of the purple paint on the left hand side.

There’s an optical illusion happening with this image.  Because the doorway and door aren’t quite straight we try and make it straight in our head.  This makes the text above the image look crooked – well it does to me anyway!

So, as I asked at the start, are you simple or complex??

Whatever your style of photography, have a phabulously photographic 2012!!

Happy New Year!

Yesterday I was on my first family portrait shoot of the New Year.  It was outdoors, on location, and the family had a couple of little dogs that were very interested in what was going on.

"The portrait shoot audience 1" by Derek Gale

Here’s the first dog.  I dropped down to get a view that fully showed his sturdiness, and included all four nicely muddy paws.  He’s got a very 4-square “don’t mess with me” look.

"The portrait shoot audience 2" by Derek Gale

The other dog was a bit smaller, and by taking a slightly higher viewpoint I was able to emphasise that, and make him even more appealing.

They weren’t just spectators in the shoot and they both got in on the act, and were included in some of the full family group images.

My next portrait shoot is tomorrow, but this time it’s animal free.

Happy Christmas!!!!

The title says it all really.  Have a great Christmas and a phabulously photographic New Year!!  We’ll be back in 2012…

"Tinsel curtains" by Derek Gale

These “curtains” are of red tinsel.  The streakiness comes from moving the camera downwards during the exposure.  It could be that the image symbolises the closing of one year and opening of another, or it could be just an attractive pattern!  You choose.

Lights, camera, action!

OK, so we’ve got our Christmas tree up, (in the unused fireplace as usual), and after admiring its beauty and the way the lights looked, I got to wondering, “Just how can I photograph the lights in a creative way?”   Well, the first thing to do was to establish a reference point by photographing it as it looked “naturally”.

"Natural lights" by Derek Gale

I switched off the room lights, put the camera on a tripod, set the White Balance to “tungsten”, and used a little bit of exposure compensation to lift the mid-tones a little.  Because the exposure was quite long, about 1.5 seconds, I used the camera’s self-timer (set on 2 seconds), to avoid wobbling the tripod as I fired the shutter.  It’s got a nice, warm, Christmassy glow to it.

"Zoom lights" by Derek Gale

Next, I used the classic, “zooming the lens during the exposure” technique.  It gave a great set of dynamic lines going from the corners  towards the centre.  The lines taper a little as the focal length changes because the lights are being magnified a bit.

"Bokeh lights" by Derek Gale

For this image I set the focus to manual, the lens aperture to maximum, and defocussed the lens to give these lovely “bokeh” circles.  I’m sure an expert on optical science could explain why some circles aren’t quite perfect, and why some have little round marks in them.  It doesn’t matter though, they’re just lovely.

"Moving camera lights" by Derek Gale

Taking the camera off the tripod, and waving it around during the exposure (about 1/2 a second), gave these candle flame shaped lines.  It’s a creative use of camera shake.  It took quite a few tries to get the lines the right shape, but one benefit of digital is the fact that you can try again until it’s dead right.  They sort of look a bit Christmas tree shaped as well (ish).

"Reflected lights" by Derek Gale

Finally I looked for reflections of the lights.  We’ve got a shiny brass dimmer switch which is highly reflective and gives a very distorted image.  I got really close, and focused on the reflection, not on the switch.  The result was this very abstract pattern of clouds, or fireworks, or melted wax crayons…. or Christmas tree lights!

Just a small tree with some Christmas lights on, but so much to offer by way of photographic inspiration.


Icy the snow.

It’s now well and truly winter, with snow in Scotland, frosts down south, and strong winds all over the UK.

The winter weather brings another dimension to photography; frost.  It’s just a bit of frozen water but it’s beautiful.

"Frosty plants" by Derek Gale

These grasses covered with hoar frost on a very cold winter morning look almost monochromatic.  They’ve got that blue shadow look from the clear blue sky above.  I chose an angle so the plants were strongly lit from one side, and slightly from behind, to really pick out the ice crystals.  The long lens has compressed the perspective somewhat, but the dark background is still nicely separate.

"Snowy post box" by Derek Gale

Christmas brings with it the delights of postal deadlines.  If you would like to order reprints and presentation DVDs of images from your portrait shoot to give as Christmas gifts, today (Dec 8th) is the last day for guaranteed pre-Christmas delivery.  You can order by e-mail ( and then simply call 01793 783859 to pay by debit or credit card.