I must get out more


I am not usually one for New Year’s Resolutions, but this year I really must get out and shoot a little more, and that means both photography and archery, but mostly the former.

Many of my shots on Viewbug that got me noticed will have been those captured on Paul Reiffer‘s workshops and I really must get out on my own and put into practice what he taught me during our shoots in California and down in Dorset.  Afterall,  if I don’t practice I won’t get better and what I learned will quickly be forgotten.

I consider myself told off 🙂


Getting noticed


I’ll be honest, things were a little slow for M4Photo during 2016.  I’ve continued to work with Eclipse Gymnastics and Archers of Raunds and I had a great three days shooting with the Barbara Hooton School of Dancing.  Otherwise, it was pretty slow.


It’s not all been doom and glom though.  The brand new Archers of Raunds website features a lot of my images as key eye candy on each of the websites pages and the images really make the site pop.  I also managed to capture a good number of great photographs at the recent Eclipse Gymnastics Xmas show and the feedback this year has been wonderful.  The dance school shoot had me utilising some long forgotten knowledge to get some good posed shots and the whole shoot was a great success.

However, a website that I was working on for a brand new start up business has fallen flat for the moment owing to things beyond my control and I really did not find the time to get out and explore my landscape photography, let alone attempt to put together a couple of landscape related projects that I’ve been thinking about.

So, with three acknowledgements in as many weeks from photographic websites and people that know what they are talking about, I guess that someone is trying to tell me something for 2017.

Gurushots is a website where photographers can upload their images and submit them to challenges.  Other photographers are then able to vote for their favourites and I always seems to do pretty well.  I was therefore pleased to find one of my images of Bodie selected from thousands of black and white images for an article entitled 30 Stunning Black And White Photos Proving That Colour Is Not Always That ImportantTo be selected for one of the top 30 images was really nice.

Then today, Gurushots picked up another of my images for one of just 34 lakeside images for an article entitled SPALOOSH! 34 Photographers that were Willing to Get Wet for Our Viewing Pleasure.  Featuring my image called Mono Lake Rainfall (shown above and which is one of my favourites in my portfolio) it quickly became my most successful image of 2016 with two Guru Picks during the year.  Whilst the votes are nice and it’s great to break into the top ten, it is the recognition from the guy that set the challenge that I really value.

Viewbug is another portfolio based photograph website where photographers can post their images and enter them into paid and free competitions.  My image looking across the Bay View Bridge towards San Francisco was recently place pretty high in the rankings.

It is interesting to acknowledge that all three of these images were captured on one of my workshops with Paul Reiffer.  I was lucky to spend two full weeks with him in California and he took us to some amazing locations and taught us how to get the best from each location.  The accolades mentioned above and linked on my Facebook page, really do show the value in Paul’s knowledge of photography and his unique ability to educate his students in a relaxed and informative way, whilst also letting them explore their own style of photography.

Maybe during 2017, I’ll get out a little more, work on some of these projects that are bubbling away in my mind and maybe, just maybe, I’ll have another crack at the local clubs to help to make some new memories for people.

Watch this space!!


Followed by a good, good day

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

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

Had a good week at work and I have been out scouting for some photographic landscape sites near to home and I have found a few already.  Now I just need to get permission to park on the reserve overnight.

Then, I checked my results in three online free to enter photography competitions to find that I achieved 77th out of 1305 images, 44th out of 1236 and 46th out of 1836.  No finalist places but I’m happy enough to consistently be in the top 6% and to make the top 2.5% in one of the competitions.  All of these were images from my recent road trip around California.

Paul Reiffer, you are one hell of a tutor my friend :D.

A sad, sad day.

Prate ShipNo, as much as some of you might like to entertain the idea, I have not given up on photography just yet.  However, I am sad to say that the last of my chosen images from my trip to California in May has now been uploaded to Flickr and 500px and I guess this finally puts that amazing time with some great new friends behind me for the moment.

Back in May, I was immensely grateful to find myself packing for Las Vegas and a photography road trip being run by Paul Reiffer.  I’d be on the road with The Vig and Mark Hayden and it very quickly became obvious that the trip would consist of long days at some amazingly beautiful places.  The plan was to capture one or two good images each day and, under Paul’s expert guidance, I was pleased to secure at least one good image from every location that we visited.

Yes I made some mistakes and yes I would like to return to correct those mistakes, but for now I will have to settle for finding locations around my home and in the UK more widely.  Time is my enemy right now, but a two hour walk with the dog last night resulted in a few interesting sites that I hope to try to capture over the coming weeks.  I’ll be putting into practice what Paul taught me and hopefully I will have another series of images to accompany those online at the present time.

The feedback from friends and family was always going to be pretty good, well it always is for all of us.  However, the views and comments that I have received online and from complete strangers have been motivating to say the least.  I have tentatively entered a few of the images for some online competitions and made the top 10% in a few of them – with a little more work I hope to one day place a finalist image.

If you wish to review the complete showcase form my Californian road trip, it can now be seen on Flickr.

Finally a huge thank you to the person that enabled me to take this trip and just as big a thank you to Paul Reiffer for his brilliant pre-trip advice, his expert tuition and his motivation that has taken my landscape photography to new heights.

Broncolor Siros lighting kit review and Giveaway!

Karl Taylor and the Broncolor Siros Lighting set.

Karl Taylor and the Broncolor Siros Lighting set.

As much as I would love to get my hands on a set of these lights, I don’t yet have a set to review myself.  However, Karl Taylor from Karl Taylor Photography has been given a set of the top of the Siros range from Broncolor to test, review and to give away.

I would put these lights at the top end of the budget market and they are ideal for any professional photographer looking for a mobile setup.

Karl as recorded four videos that look at what you get in the box and you get to see just how portable they are when packed away in their wheel trolley bags.  Whilst many people then run a few tests on a model, Karl how us how to use the two light setup in various scenarios.  He begins with a standard portrait using the kitchen area in his wonderful new studio and then they move to a more relaxed seating scenario where he compliments the natural light from a window, using the lights to fill the scene and he also moves outside.  Finally, he moves upstairs into one of his new offices to show how a professional business portrait can be captured.

Best of all, we all have the opportunity to win a set of these amazing lights – I guess that I’ll have to have a go then :).

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.


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