Two Years and Still Going Strong

Mono Lake Rainstorm

Mono Lake Rainstorm – Rain teems down form the heavens over the mountains alongside Mono Lake, Mammouth Lakes, CA, USA – Copyright 2015 Martyn Phillips, M4Photo.

Two years ago, I was extremely fortunate to find myself in California for what was to be the photographic trip of my lifetime.  Under the guidance of professional landscape photographer Paul Reiffer, we visited a number of locations, with Mono Lake being one of my favorites.

Mono Lake Rainstorm has consistently been one of my most successful images.  Now two years old, I was amazed to see in my email that Gurushots have once again picked up one of my images.  This time Mono Lake Rainstorm has made number one in the list of 36 landscape images that will “knock your socks off”.

See the full list of 36 images here.



More Recognition


As many of you will know, I occasionally put some of my images onto Gurushots, mostly  just to gauge how well they are received. Gurushots is an online resource where photographers can upload their images to different challenges, people then vote on their favourite images and as you get votes you climb the rankings.  I usually wind up somewhere in the top 5% and I have been in the top 1 and 2% on a few occasions.

However, what I really like is when the Guru selects one of my images as worthy of their vote.  The Guru being the person who set the challenge and who naturally has their own idea about what makes a good photograph within the definition of the challenge.

I have had a couple of my images that have been voted for but the current cityscape challenge is one that has some great images.  There are some great city skylines around the world and some amazing photographers capturing them.

This morning was one of those special days.  Overnight I have received notification that one of my Bay Bridge shots from my road trip with Paul Reiffer has made the grade, got noticed and it has been awarded a vote by the Guru.  In the images above, that accolade is noted by the star.

Paul advised and educated me throughout the two week long road trip and this was one of the last locations that we shot together.  I was able to bring everything that I had learned together and his workshop style tuition definitely paid off on this occasion.

Paul is running more workshops all around the world and you can find out more about his amazing work and these special workshops on his website using the two links.

You can see more of my work from the road trip on my website here.

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.



How to really annoy me – Grrrrrrr


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.

Revisiting An Old Image Library


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.


Lonely Isle

Lonely Isle – Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, CA, USA – Copyright 2015 Martyn Phillips, M4Photo


Hmmmmm, hmmmmmm and hmmmmmm a little more.

Launching my email this morning I have a nice surprise, nestled amongst the mass of email that I get every day was one from Viewbug, an on-line photo contest site that I uploaded a few of my images to when I was trying to gauge whether they were good enough or not.

The email proudly announced that I had won an award for Emerald Bay.  The award being “Won Staff Winter Selection 2015“.  Look carefully down the left side of the page linked above and you’ll see a one line notice of the award.

Whilst this is really nice to receive and wonderful that one of my images should be noticed and acknowledged in this manner, I was a little perplexed because I could not remember entering it for any competition on the site.

Like all inquisitive people, I reached for Google and searched the award. Nothing much came back from Viewbug itself, but I did find a small handful of other photographers celebrating their award.

Like i said, it is really nice to get noticed and to be amongst a handful of photographers, but I might just ask Viewbug a little more about this award and who the ultimate winner is, after-all, they do use the word ‘Won’ in the award notice.

Hopefully, I won;t get kicked from their website for this posting :).

A nice surprise on Gurushots

Mono Lake Rainstorm  – Rain teems down form the heavens over the mountains alongside Mono Lake, Mammouth Lakes, CA, USA - Copyright 2015 Martyn Phillips, M4Photo.

For a while now I have been submitting some of my images to online website that give people and photographers the opportunity to vote and comment on my images.  These sites primarily include 500px which is mostly other photographers, Flickr which is more mainstream with anyone viewing the files and GuruShots which the most photographer centric of the three in my opinion.

These submissions were initially to gain some feedback on whether my landscape images are worthy of anything, or whether I should just stick to event photography.  I am pleased to confirm that the response has been over whelming with great results across the three sites.

With regards to Gurushots.  This site is based on photographers uploading images to certain challenges.  These challenges are set by the Gurus and they cover a multitude of subjects.  Other photographers that are registered on then have the opportunity to vote blind on a selection of images in each challenge.  Your images (or images) begin in the Popular category and then as you get more votes your placement progresses through Skilled, into Premier and then into Elite.  It is Elite where I have been fortunate to find most of my images (or image sets) climbing the ranks and into.

However, I was really excited to learn that one of my image sets that have been entering into “The Vast Outdoors” challenge has made it passed the Elite category and into the All Star category, being the highest level possible.  At the time of writing there are still a number of days of voting to go, but I’m sitting 40th out of around 2500 people and 8674 images.

If that was not good enough, one of my images (Mono Lake Rainstorm) has been picked by the Guru himself, placing a star on the image and qualifying it for a bonus to the vote count.

It is great to finally make the All Star rating, but getting an acknowledgement by the Guru himself really puts the icing on the cake and it really made me smile today.

Maybe, just maybe, I’ll keep taking photographs and see what other successes I have over the coming months.