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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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Calling all Trekkies

On Saturday 8th the day dawned bright and sunny.  This boded well for our first Photo Trek at Buscot Park, near Faringdon.  Given what the weather on Thursday had been like, I was very relieved.  On Thursday I was photographing a group of people in a giant “conservatory”, and it was raining on to the roof so hard that they couldn’t hear me! 

Anyway, Saturday was fab; a great place, great weather, and a great group of people.  Thanks again to Lord Faringdon for allowing us to run Treks at Buscot.

Buscot gates

At 2pm the elegant gates to Buscot Park’s gardens were opened and our Photo Trek was underway.  We started the Photo Trek near the stables/tea rooms and experimented with use of wide-angle lenses for architecture, exposure compensation, and with long exposures to make interesting blur patterns and swirls.  From there we moved on to the Four Seasons Walled Garden, one of Buscot’s highlights.

Buscot Trekkies 1

The garden has beds that are absolutely full of plants in wide variety and interesting juxtaposition; yellow courgettes next to flowers, runner beans climbing up apple trees, and photographically it’s hard to know where to start.  One good rule is “Keep it Simple”, so we concentrated on simple compositions with one flower, but showing the mass of plants in the background in a nicely out of focus way.

Buscot sea holly & rose

In the walled gardens there is a circular fish/lily pond.  Whilst we were there someone found a white feather, and I demonstrated the use of a cobweb as a way to support it for photography.  Here it is shot in macro mode on a Lumix compact digital camera, and it works a treat!

Buscot feather

From the walled garden we made our way up the steps to the lawn in front of the house, and then down to one of Buscot’s other highlights, the Harold Peto Water Gardens.  It’s always worth trying different viewpoints for your images, and one participant dangled his camera by its strap to get a water’s eye image of the ponds.  As with the walled gardens the simple images were most successful, like this leaf floating on the pond.

Buscot leaf

All too soon we had to wend our way back to our Photo Trek starting point, pausing to shoot the very smug-looking frog in the pond at the back of Buscot House.

Buscot Trekkies 2

Buscot frog

The feedback from the group was excellent, and I had a great time too.  We’re planning lots of other Photo Treks next year, including more at Buscot, so do come along.  You can find out about our Photo Treks and other Photographic  Training on our website at www.lifestylephotos.co.uk/Training.htm

Looking forward to seeing you soon!

Showing my metal

You will have noticed from an earlier post that I’ve produced some new abstract Fine Art images using the “Bokeh” technique.  I’ve done some ruthless editing, and got it down to about just 50 or so of my favourites.  Working on the premise that the rest of the world has a right to know about these images, I’ve joined the Swindon Open Studios (SOS) weekend in September.  “Today Swindon, tomorrow the World!”

Invisible Beauty 36 for blog

SOS is run over the weekend of the 12th and 13th of September between 11am and 6pm each day, and is an Art exhibition with a difference; it’s interactive!  During the w/e you can visit a number of locations, see the work of  many artists, and perhaps even buy something.  At each location the artist(s) exhibiting there will be available to talk to about their work.  I’m going to be at Location 25; that’s Sculptor Pat Elmore’s house and studio at Nutford Lodge, Longcot in South Oxfordshire.  It’s easy to get to with lots of free parking.

Invisible Beauty 48 for blog

I’ll be exhibiting some large (over 1 metre wide) images from the “Invisible Beauty” series, that are printed directly on to aluminium, hence the terrible pun in the title of this post.  This type of printing really suits these  abstract images.  They are lightweight, durable, and even waterproof, which means you can hang them almost anywhere. 

Invisible Beauty 53 for blog

Do come along to have a chat about these images – or photography in general.  As well as Pat and me, there are three other artists exhibiting at Nutford Lodge, so there’s lots to see.  Pat’s also serving teas!

To find out more about SOS check out their website:

Visit the Swindon Open Studios website

See you in September!!

How low can you go!!

Imagine the scene…

You’re photographing a wedding, and the bridegroom produces a small trampoline; this happened to me recently.  The idea was to get some images of him jumping/bouncing.  One way I could have done this was to have used a telephoto lens from a reasonable distance away and captured him with no visible means of support, but with normal perspective.  In terms of being an interesting image, that would have been, “close, but no cigar”, so I thought of a better way to get a more creative image…

The Flying Bridegroom

I lay on the ground, very close to the edge of the trampoline, and used my 12-24mm wide angle zoom lens at its widest end.  I shot upwards, making sure the ground wasn’t visible, and caught him just as he started coming back down.  It was very disconcerting indeed having him land on the trampoline about 3 inches from my head!!   I reckon it was worth it though.

This low angle, wide angle, technique is very useful to help make images look different.  In this second example from a wedding I used a slightly less wide lens and was a bit further away.  One of the ushers had brought a rugby ball with him, as you do, and the guys were having a contest to see who could kick it the furthest, as you do…

low angle for blog Jul 09

It’s for taking shots like this where digital really comes into its own.  I was able to check the images straight away to see where the ball was, and to see the people’s expressions.  This image, where the ball is just in the top right hand corner, was the best one.

Finally, this technique can also be used for portrait photography as well.  It’s great for exaggerating leg length, and producing triangular compositions.

A&H low angle for blog Jul 09

So, that’s it.  Get wide and get low – it’s fun!

Shake, rattle and roll!

Many of you have got digital cameras.  

Given that almost every mobile phone now has a camera built into it, and also that everyone seems to have at least one digital compact camera in their household, I think there must be many more digital cameras in the UK now than there are people.  That’s a very interesting statistic.   It would be interesting to know how many of the people who have a digital camera have read the manual or been on a photographic training course…

creative camera movement blog image

The automatic focusing and exposure systems on newer cameras are simply extraordinary.  They can identify faces, allow you to choose which person is the most important in a group, and then follow that person around the frame as they move.  Some cameras even take two pictures in quick succession, compare them, and then tell you if the people in the pictures have blinked, thus giving you a chance to retake it.  10 years ago this would all have seemed like science fiction.

Despite all this marvellous technology there are still an awful lot of images out there that can be improved.  The main problem I see has been around for ages; it’s camera shake.  Camera shake gives you images that are not sharp, so you aren’t getting the benefit of all those shiny new pixels.  Here’s an example that I took for this post:

camera shake

So how can you stop camera shake?   The best way is to support the camera firmly during the exposure, and use the shortest shutter speed you can.  The trend for cameras to have a viewing screen on the back, and to not have an optical viewfinder hasn’t helped with supporting the camera.  Using the screen on the back forces you to hold the camera away from your body and this increases the risk of camera shake.  If you can, rest the camera on a wall, shelf, tree, or anything that will stop it from moving around as you take the picture.  I’ve even used the roof of my car – with the engine turned off of course. 

The second trend that increases the risk of camera shake is zooming the lens in order to get closer.  The more you zoom the more risk of shake there is.  If you can, it’s better to get closer to your subject by moving yourself and then using less zoom.   In these examples the first image shows shake, as I was further away and zoomed the lens as much as it would go.  Like the door and tiles image above, these two images were taken to deliberately to show how it can go wrong!

zoom shake 1

With this image I got closer to the flowers and used less zoom.  As you can see, the result is much sharper.

zoom shake 2

Digital cameras make it much easier to practice, so give it a try!

Once you have mastered the art of taking pictures without camera shake, you can move on to using it in a creative way, as shown in the first image of this post, and also below.

creative shake 1 watermarked

I’ll be writing more tips on improving your photography in future, so do keep checking the blog, or subscribe so you don’t miss any.