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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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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.

I’m a hip photographer.

I’m involved in a photographic project, about which more will follow in time, and was out recently taking some images for it.  I was on a bridge over the M4 and saw this cyclist coming towards me.  I didn’t have time to raise my DSLR to my eye, so I shot from hip level with my arm outstretched.

"Shot from the hip" by Derek Gale

I gave the image a bit of a crop in Photoshop, so the lines of the bridge’s structure came out of the corners, and did a contrasty black and white conversion.  I reckon for a “guessed” composition it’s pretty good; the low viewpoint and slight off-perpendicular angle really help. It wasn’t guessed really, I would say instead that I used my skill and experience to compose the image without needing to look through the viewfinder.  It’s a useful technique, and it’s less obvious that you’re photographing as well, which can help.

If you would like to learn this, and other techniques, why not book some One-to-One training, or buy a One-to-One training gift voucher for Christmas?

A photographic tip – literally!

At the beginning of my “The Creative Eye” photography training course we discuss the creative use of photographic mistakes.  As part of that there’s an exercise where the delegates deliberately take images with common mistakes.  It’s a great ice-breaker, and is an important lesson, as it shows the importance of pre-visualising the image.

Here my mistake was accidental rather than deliberate…

"Hospital streaks" by Derek Gale

I was on Liddington Hill shooting a series of long exposure images of the Great Western Hospital in Swindon, and my camera was on a tripod.  I thought that the exposure had finished, so tipped the tripod head forwards to review the image on the rear screen.  As I tipped it the camera’s shutter then closed, so the exposure hadn’t finished after all.  Where the camera was moving the lights have produced delightful trails.  The streaky effect of the lights, with the sharp base image behind them, is really appealing.  It’s a bit like a TV advert for something (BT Infinity?).

They say we should learn from our mistakes; I have!  I’m going to try this technique again, but this time deliberately…