Eclipse Xmas Show 2017

Ismae playing Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz

Ismae playing Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz

Well the plan for the weekend was thrown out slightly on Friday and the usual Eclipse Xmas Show dress rehearsal was regretfully missed but I arrived bright and early at the Pemberton Centre in Rushden, East Northants on Saturday.  I’d been invited back to photograph their latest show and it would prove to be a massive hit.

Now that Ellie is not part of the Acro squad and only gets to the club when she can, and under her own steam (Dad’s taxi service is no longer required), I don’t get to see the practice sessions so learning that the format this year would be brand new was a surprise.

There would be no breaks between squads performing, no breaks in the audio track, just one track for part one and another for the second half of the show.  So, no chance to rethink camera settings, no chance to check memory cards, it was just a full on session x 3.

Anyway, the show was a massive success and congratulations to everyone that helped to prepare and stage the show and a huge well done to all of the gymnasts who put on a wonderful show yet again.  I only hope that I have done the club justice in the photographs captured during the three performances.

All of the photographs are now available on www.m4photo.co.uk in the Eclipse Gymnastics club photo gallery.  You’ll need the username and password which is only available from the club’s officials.  Sorry, but my own child protection policy does not  permit me to supply the login details to anyone.  If you are associated with the club, you’ll know who and where to ask for the details.

I hope that you all enjoy the images.

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Jill and Dave’s 70th Birthday Party

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Saturday evening, around 200 guests and double 70th Birthday Party for Jill and Dave Edwards saw me preparing and heading over to The Bedford Golf  Club and a remit to document the evening.

Finding the venue was easy and my first task was to find some suitable locations for the group shots that Jill had requested.  The course was surrounded on two sides by trees and I was lucky to find one where the grass was not too wet and not at all muddy or soggy.  With two locations chosen, I headed inside to capture some images of the birthday couple meeting some of their guests.

As always, the entrance doorway was cramped and busy and shrouded in deep shade, only a small amount of light from one window.  This was going to be fun trying to get faces and enough natural light falling on the gusts as they arrived.  This was one time when I did not want to use flash because it can be so imposing and I wanted to leave Jill and Dave to meet their guests without the usual flashes going off every two seconds.

Half an hour after the party start time, I caught up with Jill and we got the Bliss family together for their family shot on the grass outside.  The natural light was pretty nice but the clouds we gathering and there was moisture in the air already.  With one family shot in the bag we turned to the Edwards and the second of the four or five shots that Jill had lined up.

This is where things took a change because a few people were missing and getting people gathered together whilst still meeting late arrivals was always going to be troublesome.  Thankfully, Jill saw the logistical difficulties, especially getting two sets of 60 bowlers together and who were simply ready to party and she decided to call off the idea and concentrate on the party and enjoying herself.

So, with official shots done it was back to what I like best and seeking out the casual shots.  This started with me moving between four vantage points and picking up images of as many people as I could and some room wide shots for the record.  Following which the entertainment for the night was to be courtesy of Deja Vu, a three person group with a guitarist and two singers covering songs from the 1940’s right through to today.

As the dance floor began to fill, I turned my attention to capturing images of people dancing and also people enjoying themselves at the tables.  This filled my time up to the buffet opening and a few minutes to catch a few shots before putting the camera away for a quick bite to eat and a much needed Coke.

jill-edwards-70th-partyThe rest of the evening was spent in and around the dance floor with official shots of the speeches, the cake and then the cutting of the cake.  Soon after the band got a Conga train going, well one for the ladies and one for the gents and I just had enough time to reach my high vantage point before there were two growing in length trains threading their way through the hall.  The band then also helped with my final shot that I wanted to get.  Whilst Jill had been on the dance floor, Dave had been in the main hall.  The band brought the two together for a dance towards the end of the evening and my work was done.  Just a few last shots of Deja Vu and few people on the dance floor and I was done.

A little later than I had planned but just after midnight I was homeward bound and looking forward to processing and uploading the images.

With the images processed, I have published two galleries to www.m4photo.co.uk.  They include the images from the party and also some of the images of Deja Vu in a separate gallery.

If you are a family member or guest, I hope that you like the images and your comments are always most welcome.

M.

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.

 

New Gallery Online

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After a relatively quiet period, this week has seen my second outing to photograph a local club event.  Tonight I was back at Eclipse Gymnastics and this time for something a little different.

There is no doubt that the gymnasts are all very talented in their sport, but this evening proved that they also have talents in other areas and we were treated to singers, dancers, musicians and a comedy magic trick routine that had everyone in stitches.  Have you ever tried taking photographs in very low light whilst giggling – it’s hard.

All of the participants did really well but it was Henry playing the violin that stole the show and one the accolade for best performance.  His piece which was accompanied by backing music was wonderful and he played it entirely from memory.  It was a joy to listen to and watch. He was, in my mind, a very worthy winner.

As usual the light was atrocious in the club’s hall, in fact it was lower than usual.  This meant me pushing the camera and my skills to the absolute limit.  Some of the images are a little grainy and soft but the gallery is now being uploaded to www.m4photo.co.uk for all of the club members to view and purchase .jpg files and prints.  The usual commission will be paid to the club for all photographs bought over the next 90 days.

Finally, well done to everyone at Eclipse Gymnastics who were involved with organizing yet another flawless and great evening of entertainment.

M4Photo Supporting a New Local Club

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A few weeks ago, I was approached by AFC Rushden and Diamonds with regards to a possible sponsorship deal. This local club is growing fast and it now needs some additional funds to invest in more equipment and to enable it to grow and bring football to young boys and girls from Rushden and the surrounding area.

Because I continue to run M4Photo as a not for profit entity, I don’t have profits to share in this manner.  However, supporting local clubs is ‘exactly’ what M4Photo is all about and I’m really pleased to begin supporting AFC Rusdhen and Diamonds.

My first photographic opportunity was to cover their Fun Day this weekend.  Held over at Bozeat, the event was within my catchment area and because the games would all be played in house – different age groups within the club playing each other, there was no concern about gaining permission from visiting clubs.

So early Saturday, I found myself parking up in Bozeat and making my way up to the playing field.  I thought that I would only be photographing one small group, but the club is a lot bigger than I had thought and the coaches are bring football to a very large number of local kids.

Very quickly I found myself checking my anticipated camera settings whilst the players warmed up.  This would be my first outing shooting football, so I knew that I’d be on another steep learning curve.  It’s not just the camera settings, but more about the action, how best to capture it and mostly how to anticipate it.  All in all, I think that I did OK, but a little more practice will result in better action shots, better timing and a little more use of depth of field to make the players really stand out.  For today, it was a case of playing safe.

Thankfully the weather held fine and I got to work capturing some images from an initial couple of games.  It was then over to the awards table to capture some of the many awards being given out to the kids.  There is some real talent in the club and many of the lads wore their medals and held their trophies with pride and huge smiles.

All in all I had a great morning with the players and coaches and I hope that I will have caught some good photographs for the players and parents.  As always, a percentage of every .jpg file and print sold will be donated to the club and, in some small way, I hope that the cash raised will help the club to grow and bring football to more and more of our local community.

So, for those of you who are associated with the club and interested in seeing the images, the gallery is now available from www.m4photo.co.uk.  As usual, there is a link from the Home Page and this will prompt you for a username and password which is available from Gary at the club – please don’t email or ask me for the login details because my Child Protection Policy does not permit me to share the details and I’m very strict on only giving the login details to club officials that I am authorized to give them to and who I have personally met.

Fun evening on Dunstable Downs

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Well today was a little unusual to say the least.  It began with a journey across from Rushden to Tring and my Sat Nav took me along the bottom of Dunstable Downs, out passed Ivinghoe Beacon and on to Tring.  I’m getting in the habit of having the camera in the car these days and luckily I’d decided to throw my jeans, polo shirt and some boots in the back of the car before leaving.

Following the meeting, I headed over to Ivinghoe and parked up just above the beacon in the designated car park.  I’ve not been up there for getting on for 30 years, so I set off along the ridge, briefing the office of my earlier meeting before heading to the steep uphill section.  At the top of the beacon were a number of model glider pilots and I watched for a while and spoke to one of them about my days ridge soaring my models, some 30+ years ago – was it really that long ago :(.

I’d spent a little more than my lunch break on the beacon, so I headed over to the Downs above London Gliding Club to see what was in the air over there.  There were a handful of gliders running the ridge and a number of paragliders.  Checking my phone, I found that I had 4G and brilliant reception on my phone, so I parked up, bought a ticket and settled into work mode from the back of the car – I love being able to work anywhere.

IMG_0126With my work completed and the afternoon wearing on, I grabbed the camera before the light faded too much and headed over to catch some of the paragliders.  This would be the first outing for the new Canon 7D with the small and inexpensive 18-135mm kit lens.  The setup cannot touch my 5D with the 70-200 2.8 and I really wished that I’d had that camera, especially with some of the paragliders buzzing really low over head.  With the light getting worse and worse, it was a case of fighting the settings just to get some half decent images, but I think that some were worthwhile and I certainly enjoyed the challenge.

With the sun falling below a bank of thick cloud, it cast a golden glow along the horizon but only for a few minutes before it sank below another equally dense bank of cloud sitting on the horizon.  With the light too bad, I turned back to the car and set off for home with some reminders of some great 30 year old memories.

Just in case any of the paragliders should find this blog page, I’ve added a handful of the images below.  There were nearly 200 taken on the downs, but only a few have been processed.

Now, I’ll just have to wait for some better weather and then head over to the downs again with the 5D MkIII and the longer lens.

Reduction in keeping images for 90 days only.

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A number of people have recently questionned me about my change in policy with regards to keeping the original images from events that I have covered over the last three years.  I therefore thought that I’d write this blog article to outline my decisions.

I continue to support local clubs and other organisations through a ‘free to attend service’ that is based on my ability to capture good images that people want to purchase.  Whilst many professional event photographers have now resorted to charging to attend events owing to the advances in mobile phone (iphone and iPad especially) and low end DSLR camera technology, I continue to resist this growing trend.  As it is for many other event photographers, the ability for anyone to get good images using these readily available devices has resulted in a fairly large drop in purchased images and I continue to run M4Photo at a loss, even though I don’t take a wage from M4Photo – it is more about making memories for people than paying the mortgage.

The above means that I have to watch my costs in running M4Photo.  This includes costs to host the website, insurance, gear purchases and maintaining that gear.  With nearly two terabytes of images spread over numerous drives, one of my biggest costs that I can remove is the cost of drives.  With the need to have a main drive, a backup drive and then third off-site backup drive, the costs of drives and other disk space is not insignificant.

I have also been monitoring when people purchase images and the drop off following an event.  It has become very clear that 90 days is a decisive period of time, after which people very rarely purchase images.

There is also the child protection aspect of keeping images from events.  Many of my events include photographs of children that I really don’t need on my drives.  They have zero personal value and next to zero commercial value.  It therefore makes sense for these images to be deleted once it is clear that they are unlikely to be wanted by the children themselves, their parents and families.

So, based on the need to reduce my costs, the hassle of managing multiple drives and in the interests of child protection, I will now only keep event photographs for a period of 90 days following any event.

As of March 31st 2017 (my year end, give or take a day or two) I will begin clearing out my drives and deleting images from events that are 90 days and older.  I will then continue this policy and delete the images and pay club commissions 90 days (or just after) following the event completion.

I anyone wishes to purchase any images before I begin clearing the drives, please email me as soon as possible.  I can then prepare the required images and keep them in a separate folder whilst payment is arranged.