Photobox – Unboxing my new photo books.

Photobox1A year ago I was extremely fortunate to find myself in Las Vegas, California and waiting to meet three new friends, one of which had quickly become my idol in the photographic world. Paul Reiffer had helped me to make the ‘right’ choice when buying a new camera system and during this road trip and with his guidance, I was going to take some of my best landscape images yet.

Paul’s partner, Victoria looked after us (and our gear whilst on location) throughout the workshop, which enabled us to concentrate on the job in hand. Also on the workshop was Mark who I would be sharing a room with and thankfully we got on really well, challenged each other and worked together throughout the two week gig.

Jump forward nearly twelve months and I finally took the plunge to have those images brought together in a private book. Taking advantage of an offer by Photobox, I arranged to have, not one, but two A3 boxed books created and this video shows the quality of the books and the packaging that they came in.

I was very dubious about how the images would look in the book and whether the colours would be close to what I have on screen and they have got very, very close. There are plenty of options for book styles and then plenty of page layouts with the ability to resize and move things around to get exactly what you want. This video looks at some of the numerous layouts that I opted for.

Would I use them again, definitely and I do intend to have a 2016 book created. I just need to get out and take some more images and another gig with Paul and Victoria should result in some more stunning images.

My only criticism was the deadline for the offer that I wanted to take advantage of. It put me under more time pressure than I would normally have liked for a task such as this and yes I did miss one of my favourite images from the 2015 Photo Book. If it had been from the US trip I would have been gutted, but the missing image will make it into my 2016 book. What really annoyed me though was, after sitting up late and hitting their offer deadline with just 50 minutes to spare, they ‘EXTENDED’ the deadline by another two days. No need for me to have rushed and not a sales tactic that I appreciate.

Anyway, they made up for it in the quality of the finished product, so I’m only slightly miffed and I’ll know for next time.

You can see my un-boxing video here and I have also been asked for a more close-up video of the books and that will follow very soon.

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Eclipse Awards Evening

eclipse-gymnastics-240216Tonight I was back at Eclipse and this time covering their annual awards evening.  This is an annual event during which the club recognises and awards gymnasts who have improved the most throughout the past twelve months.  With around 200 gymnasts in the club, gaining the attention of the coaches and getting an accolade is an achievement indeed.

Anyway, I would like to firstly congratulate everyone at Eclipse for another amazing year. Not just the award winners who were recognised this evening, but all of the gymnasts, coaches and helpers that make these club events and performances go so well.

The show was amazing this year and it was a pleasure to sit for far too many hours studying the performances. It was just too hard to pick the best routines for the DVD and thank you to my Ellie for spending so much time with me picking the right routines.

This evening was great as well and I am pleased to announce that the photographs from the evening are now on-line – www.m4photo.co.uk. You will need the usual login details from the club if you don’t have them already.

The photographs are available to order by email (martyn@m4photo.co.uk). Just let me know the image number/s from the large preview and I’ll email you further details. As usual, 15% from the total sale will be donated to the club.

Terry, please let me know (by email) which images numbers you want for club use and I’ll email them over to you ASAP.

How to really annoy me – Grrrrrrr

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For quite some time, I have been considering creating a photo book of the images that I captured during my photographic workshop with Paul Reiffer in California nearly a year ago.  I had not decided on a supplier and for this reason and because of a lack of time, had put the idea on hold.

Enter Photobox and an email that I received a couple of days ago about their latest “FLASH SALE”.  With the option to save 30% or up to 50% on their product orders, this seemed like the ideal time to take the plunge and see what these guys can produce for me.

With the website counting down the time left, I gave up nearly all of Sunday (Valentines day of all days) to put together two books and this spilled over to last night as well, working from just after 6.30, right through to just after 11.00pm.  I won’t admit to what time I finished on the Sunday (well Monday morning), mostly owing to issues uploading the images to Photobox, but let’s just say that I felt it was better to put the time in and to beat that dreaded time that was steadily ticking down.

Anyway, two books done, proof read and proof read again and I finally clicked the order button before collapsing into bed to catch up on some sleep.

Now this morning has been a good one at work.  Looking forward to receiving my books, I’m in a good mood, the sun is shining on a cold frosty morning and some deals that I have been working on at work have closed.  I even got an email from Photobox to confirm receipt of my order and to let me know that someone is personally taking care of my precious order.  What could be better?

Then they do the worst thing possible.  Because I have been on their website a lot over the last few days, Chrome is now displaying a thumbnail of their website when I launch the browser.  Nothing wrong with that, except I notice that the offer graphic is still displaying.  Although I’d opened up Chrome for work reasons, curiosity got the better of me and I just had to click on the link.

YOU GUESSED IT – They have only gone and extended the offer by TWO days.  This means that there was absolutely no need for me to stay up till the wee small hours working on my books and no need to rush to complete them in good time.

This might be a nice move for those people that missed the offer deadline, but it sure annoys me when I’ve inconvenienced my family and burned the midnight oil (and later) to complete my books in good time.

Why, Oh Why, do companies undermine their time limited offers in this way?

Why, Oh Why, would a company want to put their clients under this sort of pressure only to smack them in the face and extend the offer?

Why, JUST WHY!!!!!!!

All I can say, is that I now really hope that the two A3 photo books that I have ordered arrive undamaged and that they meet my expectations and that I have NOT missed a single typo or misalignment through rushing needlessly.

If I have missed something or either of the books are not in A1 condition on arrival, then I will definitely think twice in the future before using a company that makes a time limited, high pressure offer, only to blatantly extend it.

Count to three Martyn and back to work.  You have invoices to raise and calls to make.

Well that was a surprise!!!

mainFor some time I have been considering creating a  photo book of my images from my Californian road trip earlier this year and some of the other images that I have captured in my first year following the tuition from Paul Reiffer.  I still have a huge amount to learn and only practice will help me to apply what I have learned both with Paul and following the workshop.  Anyway, with a special offer on this weekend, I decided to short list my images and take the plunge.

Part of this exercise has been to further process the images, after all these books are not cheap to get produced, even with a 50% discount offer.  I therefore decided to review them on my television because it is much bigger than my laptop screen and the resolution is also a lot better.  This has enabled me to zoom in much further and to remove some of the blemishes in the image from dust and marks on the sensor or lens.

Anyway, whilst working on the image above I had quite a surprise when zooming in to remove a small white blemish.  You can barely see it in the image above – If you look at the top of the yellow biplane’s wings and follow their line to the right, you’ll see the tiny white blemish just after the clouds flatten out.  It’s pretty much centre of the image in line with the biplane’s wings.

Zooming in, I found that the blemish is actually another aircraft, a commercial jet which has probably recently left Stansted Airport with a host of people off on their holidays.

zoomedIt really is amazing what you can find in your images when you have a good camera like my Canon 5D Mk III and you zoom in really closely.  Maybe I’ll take some time to see what else I have hidden away in some of my images 😉

Now this laborious job is complete, I’m really looking forward to receiving both of my books.  I have created one which is solely for the California road trip and one which will have other images from throughout 2015.

Revisiting An Old Image Library

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I had always seen online challenges and competitions like ViewBug and Gurushots simply as an inexpensive way of assessing how good (or bad) an image is.  I use 500px and Flickr in a similar way.  However, it is the challenges that are often useful in pushing photographers to think outside of the box and, in my case, to actually get out there and see what the world has to offer based on a specific subject.  This is something that I want to do more of this year.

However, sometimes these challenges have you rooting through old photograph folders and catalogues and today was no exception.  One of Gurushots’ latest challenge is entitled ‘Abandoned Places’ and this had me heading straight back to my Bodie photographs that were taken during my Californian road trip early in 2015.

I had already published a couple of images from that collection but felt that they were nothing overly special.  Needing a few more images to make up the full complement of four needed for the challenge, I took another look at what was on my hard drive.  1P7A9711aI did not really expect to find too much, but I was really surprised and pleased to find six brand new images to process slightly and then to choose from.

They were published a couple of hours ago and they have already launched me from the lower ranks up to the Premier tier and to position 149th out of 2,238 positions currently occupied.  I hope that I’ll climb much higher overnight and I’ll be watching with interest.

I just goes to show, that revisiting your old photographs is something that we should all do from time to time.  Not only does it remind you of distant memories and to bring you right make into that moment, but you just might find a gem that you over looked the first time.

Click here to see more of my images from my 2015 California road trip.