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

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A right Royal event!

Avid readers of the blog will know that I was due to run a “Creative Eye” photographic workshop at the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) HQ in Bath.  Well, it’s happened and was very enjoyable!

We had a full group of 10, and they had a good range of photographic skill and experience.  All came with a willingness to learn, and have fun while they did it.  Here they are, photographed during the “creative use of camera shake” exercise…

RPS camera shake exercise

Fenton House, the RPS HQ, has an excellent range of spaces, and lots of photographic opportunities.  One of the training course exercises involved looking for textures and patterns, and we were spoilt for choice.

RPS pattern 2

This shot of a Venetian blind is an optical illusion.  It is rectangular, with parallel sides, but your eyes keep wanting to make the diagonal lines straighter, so the image edges start to look crooked.  Try looking at it for a minute!

One of the exercises involved the group taking a “creative group photo”; this was hilarious.  They arranged themselves on the floor of Fenton House’s exhibition space, and let their feet do the talking.

RPS group exercise

All in all I, and more importantly the delegates, thought the “Creative Eye” workshop went really well.  We are planning to run this photographic workshop with the RPS again next year, so keep your eyes on the RPS website, or on our Training and Treks pages.

The more the merrier?

It’s fascinating to me that the first question anyone ever asks me about my digital camera is, “How many megapixels has it got?”.  To me this proves the power of marketing. Cameras are sold on the basis that “more pixels = better quality pictures”.   True??   Not necessarily, but we don’t have time for that discussion today.  Perhaps it’s more to do with the person behind the camera…

3 mega pixels

Let me give you some examples.  The image above was shot with a 3 megapixel camera, in the days when a 3 megapixel camera wasn’t a kid’s toy!   Times soon changed, and the “next big thing” was a 6 megapixel camera.

6 megapixels

6 megapixels was enough for me to print images up to at least 36 x 24 inches.  Most folks don’t want anything much bigger than that, even for family portraits.  Nowadays a typical digital camera is something like 10 megapixels.  That’s more than enough for most people!

10 megapixels

You should have noticed the the style of the images is similar, because they were all taken by the same photographer – me! 

Whatever the megapixels of your camera, the most important thing to remember is to use all the pixels you’ve got.  Fill the frame with your chosen subject, so you don’t have to crop the image very much to get the final print size you want.  It’s also worth remembering that photographic training is much more about the person than the camera, so you can benefit from a creative photography course or Photo Trek, regardless of what sort of camera you  have.

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

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!