Where did I learn my photography skills?

Karl Taylor Photography's online DSLR Training Course.

(C) Karl Taylor Photography – This webpage includes sound.

I am fairly frequently asked where I learned about photography, what camera settings to use and how to frame an image. For years I simply did what came naturally to me using the automatic camera settings. As I got more into what I was doing, the results from using full auto often fell short of my expectations and I finally moved to the other settings and full manual.

After deciding to invest in my new camera and explore the world of commercial event photography, I thought it best to learn more about the skills involved. There was the usual visit to my local bookshop and a couple of good book purchases and, of course, YouTube has been invaluable.

It was on YouTube that I first came across Karl Taylor Photography. Karl is a professional commercial photographer with a full studio, a great team and access to some of the leading equipment. Whilst he puts that to great use commercially, he has also branched out into education. He has a relaxed, informative and understandable approach to all this photographic teaching and best of all he publishes a number of videos that touch on numerous aspects of photography and which are both FREE and packed with useful information.

Karl Taylor Photography's exploding paint image.

(C) Karl Taylor Photography Exploding Paint Image.

He also attends many of the big photographic shows and undertakes some truly inspirational demonstrations to packed crowds. Just recently he was at ShootLDN and produced some amazing very high speed images smashing whiskey glasses together and wonderful paint effect images using several colours of paint and a balloon. His Facebook Page has more details about these demonstrations and it is well worth a look.

Anyway, we digress slightly. Whilst looking for photography tutorials online, I came across Karl’s Free DSLR Photography Course (Beware, this URL opens to a page with sound) and promptly sat down and watched each lesson, one after the other. I began to put into practice some of what I had learned and I have a long list of things to try in the Spring when I have some new bits and pieces (more on that in another blog posting). If you have a new DSLR and want to know how to make it sing, then I would suggest checking out Karl’s free videos as a first step.

These free videos are simply a taster of what Karl offers. I later went on to take up one of Karl’s special offers and I bought one of his entry level DVD sets which includes an Introduction to Photography, a look at Travel and Landscape and two DVDs entitled Advanced Digital SLR Photography. All of these build on the free videos and they are well worth purchasing, especially if you can catch one of the offers.  I have watched them all several times and will no doubt watch them again and again over the winter.

Watch out for more from Karl and the people that inspire me on this blog over the coming months. Oh, and please like my Facebook Page and Karl Taylor Photography’s Facebook Page.


#M4Photo #KarlTaylorPhotography #ShootLDN #DSLR #PhotographyTraining


What My i Sees

Bradwell Mill in Milton Keynes

Bradwell Mill in Milton Keynes

“What is the best camera to own?  Well, the one that you have in your pocket of course.” I often hear this and had always thought that I would not beat my DSLR with it countless options and opportunities.  But people are right, if your DSLR is at home, then the best camera really is the one in your pocket, especially when a photo opportunity presents itself unexpectedly.

I travel around a fair bit and all too often I either don’t have the time to set up a shot with my DSLR or I just don’t have it with me, especially if I am on a business trip.  However, like most of us, I always have my iPhone in my pocket or close to hand and you can get some reasonable images at times.  Whilst the resolution is hopeless for large printed images, they are great for publishing online.

I therefore plan to include some impromptu taken images using my iPhone or iPad as and when.  There is often a story behind the image or reason for me being where I am, or for taking the image and I’ll include that in the postings for a little additional interest as well.

I’m also planning on using two hashtags for those of you that wish to follow these postings.  The first will be #whatmyiphonesees purely because a lot of people use this already and I also plan to use #whatmyisees for those of you that just wish to follow my postings of this type.

Why the second of the two hashtags?  Well it is a play on words with the ‘i’ representing my eye (what I see) and also the ‘i’ in iPad and iPhone because I’ll be using one or the other.

Bradwell Mill viewed from beneath on the Redway.

Bradwell Mill viewed from beneath on the cycle Redway.

So to kick off the series, and where this idea came from, I’ve chosen Bradwell Mill.  Bradwell Mill is located in Milton Keynes and when I was much younger I recall taking bike rides across Milton Keynes from Bletchley (where I lived) to Newport Pagnell (the then home of the glorious Aston Martin), Stony Stratford (the home of the Cock and Bull stories) and Wolverton, with the railway works and Queen’s carriages in those days.

Today, the route would be made by road or on the countless Redways that work their way all over the city, in and around the housing estates.  There is still plenty of green areas with something like a quarter of the city being given over to parkland and other green areas and there are in the region to 22 million trees. However, in those days the Redways were only just being laid and they meandered around the countryside at best or ended up in a dead end in a field at worst – but that was the fun of using them – plus they were really safe for a young teenager on a bike.

I recall one afternoon ending up in what is now Bradville, a dense housing estate in the north of the city.  I also recall standing on the bottom bar of a five bar gate, looking out over the canal and open fields towards Wolverton railway station.  In the field in front of me and just off to the right, Bradwell Mill stood alone and proud in the open.

Bradwell Mill nestled in a housing estate.

Bradwell Mill – a little bit of history nestled in a modern city housing estate.

In her working days of grinding grain, she stood atop a slope that stretched about 2 miles over open fields to Wolverton.  The view from the front door would have been unhindered and it would have given spectacular views during sundown.  Now, the sun sets over the city and the view is spoiled by the cities rooftops, the mill itself is even nestled in amongst plush modern houses and alongside a sports field.

Anyway, I thought that I’d simply try looking out the old mill during a visit last weekend to Milton Keynes and to see if it was still there.  Thankfully the answer is yes and as I got there the sky cleared to a deep blue and the sun began to drop lower in the sky, casting a lovely late afternoon shade of golden yellow across the city.  The mill is still raised up above road level and there is a clearing from the road right up to the mill.  The sun therefore has a clear view right to the front door during late afternoon.  There is a house directly behind the windmill, so the opportunity for an early morning sunrise shot might not be such a sure bet.  I might give that a try sometime though.

The light on the mill and her sprawling sails, was wonderful and it quickly had me reaching for the iPhone and therein the reason for these crude snaps (images) and this post.

I’ll be back in Milton Keynes in a couple of weeks time.  If the autumn air is as clear and crisp as this day and the sun is working it’s magic again, I might just take a few images using the 5D, watch this space. 😉

Eclipse Halloween Party Photographs

Eclipse Gymnastics Halloween Party

Eclipse Gymnastics Halloween Party

OK, OK, so I had enough kids ask to see the photographs, so I sat up till way too late and they will be online by the time you wake up and read this blog posting.

Seriously, I had a fabulous evening with the kids and parents at this evenings Halloween Party.  The whole event was superbly organised as usual and there were nothing but happy faces of the kids having fun.  For once, the dance floor seemed to always be busy and that was probably more down to a really good choice of music by the DJ.

Helped by Lauren (who was not feeling too well, so a huge thank you to her), we arrived at 6.00pm, unloaded the car crammed with gear and set about putting up the new mobile studio.  With some lessons learned, we had the black background setup and the lights.  A couple of test shots and we were good to go.

The doors officially opened at 7.00pm, but we were snapping the kids a few minutes before and we had a queue of people within minutes.  It was going to prove to be a long and tiring evening, but everything appeared to go well and I was pretty happy with some of the results for a first time out.

As it was Halloween, I chose a black background and deliberately opted for darker more sinister mood to the pictures.  Some needed a little post production manipulation, but on the whole most were OK and just an hour later they were (are being) uploaded to the website.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Eclipse Gymnastics for another great evening and for being so immaculately behaved around the equipment.  It really is a joy to work with the team at the club.

The gallery should be uploaded by the time you read this posting, so please head over to http://tinyurl.com/pu96sk4, enter the unique username and password (available from Terry or one of the coaches at the club) and enjoy the memories from the evening.

This was my first outing with the studio and I would welcome your comments on the images produced.  This will help me to prepare for the Christmas show, when I hope to be back with the studio again.

Eclipse Halloween Party

Halloween PumpkinNone of the Eclipse Gymnasts will need reminding that tomorrow evening is the clubs Halloween Party and if the party goes like most Eclipse events, it sure will be a good one.

M4Photo will be there and we’ll be there with something a little different.  I’m usually up close and personal, throwing the camera around to capture photographs of the gymnasts tumbling, balancing on each other and the like.  However, tomorrow night will be different.

For the first time the mobile studio will be out in public.  I have a large black paper background on a lovely Lastolite stand to set the mood and the two Elinchrom Softboxed lamps.  It’ll be a learning curve for me, but I know that the gymnasts will be kind and patient as usual, so it’ll be fingers crossed for some good photographs.

We will not have the printer on site on this occasion because I want to concentrate on the lighting setup.  The photographs will therefore be processed overnight and they should be on the M4Photo website in the Eclipse Gymnastics gallery sometime on Thursday.  As usual, the low resolution watermarked photographs on the website will be available to view and to publish to Facebook pages and the like.  Digital .jpg files and prints will be available to order in the usual way and I’ll bring prints to the club when they are ready.

Finally, I hope that everyone has a great time at the party.

#M4Photo #Elinchrom # Lastolite #EclipseGymnastics #Halloween

Landscape Photography Training Workshop

If you want to learn how to take amazing landscape photographs in some of the best locations that West Coast USA has to offer, and with the help of an awesome award winning landscape photographer, read on…

As well as news and information about M4Photo in support of the main website, I would like to begin to include postings about some of the people and resources that have inspired me and which continue to do so.  I hope that these postings will become a refreshing addition to the blog and a welcome addition to the content.

I would like to start with a link to a blog posting from Paul Reiffer, an award winning landscape and commercial photographer.  Paul helped me to make one of my most important decisions when looking to purchase my new camera.   His advice was invaluable, it was absolutely spot on and I have been grateful for his time and advice ever since.  Furthermore, I have become a fan of his landscape work from around the world and I regularly follow his active blog.

This afternoon, I received an automated email from Paul’s blog with regards to his latest posting.  If you are interested in landscape photography and you can afford to get yourself to the west coast USA for a couple of weeks next May, then Paul has an offer to die for.

Paul has just announced a 12 day high end shooting workshop in and around California.  Beginning in Las Vegas, he’ll be taking people into Death Valley, then on to Mono Lake, Bodie, Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, Napa and finishing up in San Francisco, with some fabulous sights along the way.  With Paul’s expert guidance throughout the trip, those lucky enough to get to join him will do doubt capture some amazing sunrises, sun sets and he even talks about a possible night shoot in skies devoid of any light pollution.

Please click here for more details about this wonderful photographic holiday/workshop with one of the best landscape photographers around.

#PaulReiffer #LandscapePhotography #M4Photo


Eclipse Festival Rehearsal Images

Eclipse 2014 Festival Rehersals

Eclipse 2014 Festival Rehearsals

This is just a quick reminder to all of the #Eclipse Gymnastics guys and girls who were at the Festival rehearsals last week, that the images are now available to view on the M4Photo website.

I have received a couple of requests and a set will be created for the clubs use.  I usually only process those images that are requested, but on this occasion I have created .jpg files of all of the photographs taken.  These are all roughly A4 in size and there are four that are wide and short, like the one above.  These files will be available for FREE until the Eclipse Halloween Party, after which time the processed files will be deleted.

If you would like copies for yourself, your family or friends, please email me with the photograph numbers that you would like.  These image files are fully copyright free and you can upload them to your Facebook page and other social media channels as you wish.  I only ask that the #M4Photo logo remains in the image online.

Otherwise, I look forward to seeing you all again next Wednesday for the Eclipse Halloween Party where I hope to have my background and light setup in action, to capture some really scarey portraits which will be posted online for purchase after the party.

Eclipse Gymnastics – 2014 Festival Squad

Eclipse 2014 Festival Squad

Eclipse 2014 Festival Squad

I do like a challenge and #Eclipse Gymnastics really do throw me some challenges at times.  Tonight’s task was to capture a decent squad shot of the guys that will be heading off to London in a week or so to perform at the Annual #Gymnastics Festival.

Sounds easy enough until you throw in the fact that there are 32 kids who all need to be smiling (sort of) and looking in the (rough) direction of the camera.  Then throw in the low light of the training room and on top of that have the guys balancing five high – yes you heard right, there are five tiers in the show stopping pyramid that forms the finale to the busy routine.

Anyway, this is Eclipse and I am learning that almost anything is possible.  Not only did the kids perform the move brilliantly several times for me, but they also held the move for a good half a minute so that I was able to take countless shots in the hope of getting everyone looking the right way and smiling.  I ‘think’ we got an image in the bag though.

The routine itself is busy, busy, busy with something going on somewhere all of the time.  This was the fist time that I had been at the club to watch this new routine and I could not resist getting in amongst the gymnasts whilst rehearsing their routine to get some additional shots.  I am sorry to anyone that was put off by me getting right into the middle of the routine and it amazes me how all the kids carry on as if there was no camera being waved around in front of them. Again all credit to a really professional squad.

The photographs are now uploaded and available from the Eclipse Gymnastics gallery on the M4Photo.co.uk website.  Please contact Terry or one of the coaches if you are one of the gymnasts and you need the password.