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.

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.

Archers of Raunds Portsmouth Tournament Gallery

archers-of-raunds-220117I had another great day with Archers of Raunds capturing images from their Annual Open Portsmouth Archery Tournament last Sunday.

I’ll create a blog posting with a little more about the day, but this is a quick note to let everyone know that the Tournament Gallery has now been uploaded to the main Archers of Raunds gallery on www.m4photo.co.uk.

The tournament gallery is linked from the M4Photo.co.uk Home page in the usual manner.  The gallery is not password protected and the parents of all juniors under the age of 18 have given written consent for their child’s images to be included in the gallery.

Please contact martyn@m4photo.co.uk if you were one of the tournament attendees and you wish to acquire any of the images.

Eclipse Gymnastics Xmas Show 2016

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Firstly, to everyone that has been waiting, the show gallery is now online for viewing.  Go to www.m4photo.co.uk and click on one of the Eclipse icons on the home page to go to the Eclipse Gymnastics page.  Then click on either the rehersals picture to view the Friday night images or the picture of Terry and Shoney to see the full show gallery from Saturday.  As usual, you will need the username and password from a club member, I’m not permitted to give this out, so please don’t ask me.

A quick note about accessing the galleries on mobile phones.
I was fortunate to experience the issue on a customers Samsung at the show.  It would seems that if you click through from Facebook, the blog or even Google, the phone seems to try to circumvent the login and you get a 401 Unauthorised error.  This is as it should be to protect the kids.  Instead, you should open up your devices browser (Safari in most instances) and manually type in http://www.m4photo.co.uk.  You will then get the username and password prompts and then access to the gallery without any issues.  Laptops and desktop computers don’t appear to be affected.

Also, a quick note about the quality of some of the images.  Some images will be a little noisy (grainy) and this is because the gymnast was standing at the edges of the mat and in very poor light.  The image taken was therefore practically black in most instances and I have had to work on getting something reasonable.  I therefore apologise to any gymnast that i was unable to capture during the two days and to anyone who only has a noisy image.  I’ll try harder next time, I promise.

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Well what a longgggg weekend that was.  Friday saw me down at the Pemberton Centre for 18.00 for the Eclipse Gymnastics Xmas show rehearsals and the pressure of capturing photographs to sell at the actual show on the Saturday.  My nerves were growing throughout the day, so I was pleased to have had my camera gear ready on Wednesday evening, leaving a final check and battery charge for Thursday evening.

I arrived in good time and it was not long before the gymnasts began to arrive and many of them went straight into their warm ups.  This gave me the chance to grab a few casual shots and as the lights were dimmed for the lighting crew to begin their checks, I was then able to check my camera settings.  I’d already guessed at three settings which had been pre-programmed into the 5D MkIII and thankfully experience counted and I was pretty much spot on with my choices.

The evening began with some of the younger gymnasts, a wonderful 12 minute routine which all of the gymnasts took part in (150+ boys and girls) and then the remaining routines would be rehearsed leading up to around 9.00pm.  With around 700 shots in the bag, it was home to process them and get them onto the website for the parents, grandparents and friends to view before and at the show.  Once uploaded to the website at a little after 4.00am, I fell into bed for three hours sleep before showering and heading back for the full day.

eclipse-xmas-2016-2I was without my helper this morning owing to a good night out the night before but the stand went up well, the table was set and we were ready for business.  Today would be a case of catching some initial shots during a couple of additional routines being practised and then I’d settle into shooting the three two hour shows, one at 13.00, one at 16.00 and the last show 19.00.  With only a short time between shows,it was going to be busy.

Whilst interest at the show was steady, purchases were very slow but I have numerous expressions of interest.  I’m not concerned though because the parents know me now and they know that I like to process my images before selling them and they also wanted to choose the best of the best from the rehearsals and the shows.

With nearly 2,000 images currently uploading to the website, they’ll be in for a treat.

Why so many?  I usually over shoot on the assumption that I’ll deleted half to two thirds owing to poor framing, focus and other issues associated with this kind of frantic shoot.  However, I have found that I have deleted less than 5% of the images taken and this has lead to a massive number of images for the club and longer than expected post production phase.  Now that it is done, I’m really happy and I hope that the parents will as well.

I’ll be heading into the club on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evening for people to view and purchase prints.  I am also planning a very special offer for parents to buy a DVD with digital files with reproduction rights  (the benefit of using M4Photo) .  This DVD can be filled with images from any of the clubs galleries published on www.m4photo.co.uk.  I’ll create a flyer with more details for the club members and this will be given out at the club.

Anyway, the show itself was a massive success.  A 3 year old stole the show with her own take on the choreographed routines and the gymnasts of all ages showed what great talents we have here in Rushden.  I’ll be working on the DVD shortly and reliving the show just once or twice too many times, but I’m privileged to support the club and in my own small way, become part of this amazing family of like minded individuals.  I just hope that my images do the club, the gymnasts and their show justice.

eclipse-xmas-2016-4Ohh, and yes, I do tease the older gymnasts about some of their technique, lack of pointed toes, bloopers on the video and the like.  For that reason, here is one of my bloopers from the photo shoot.  I also have my own problems taking the photographs, as this image shows when I got my timing just a little out when capturing one of the tiny tots.

Hopefully the gymnasts will not be too hard on me and remember the good photographs and not this slightly amateurish attempt <rofl>.

Below are just a tiny taster of some of the images that are coming to the website over the next hour or so.  I was really pleased with my timing on some of the shots, not least the two with the gymnasts flying through the air.  The thumbs up from Shoney (Head Coach) summed up the success of the day and the coach in the black and white was not praying for a miracle, she was actually using hand gestures with great skill to help the youngest gymnasts through their routine with pom-poms.  To her credit, it worked really well for all of the shows.

Well done to everyone at Eclipse and role on next year.

 

Eclipse Xmas Show images online

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The images from Friday evening’s Eclipse Gymnastics Back To The Future Xmas show are now online for viewing.  You can find the link from www.m4photo.co.uk and the coaches at the show tomorrow will have the usual Username and Password which is required to access the private gallery.

All of these images will be available for purchase and printing at the show in either 6×9″ or 6×4″ formats.  Other formats, including the digital .jpg option will be available to order online (email) after the show.

In addition, I’ll be taking a lot more images at the three shows on Saturday and those will also be posted online in the gallery once they have been processed.  I hope to have these done sometime late Sunday.

Roll on the main event in just a few short hours.

Nerves, Nerves and more NERVES!!

Eclipse 2014 Festival Rehersals

So that’s another nights sleep lost to nerves and a totally restless night and this morning is not a lot better with butterfly’s growing as the day progresses and this evening’s shoot with Eclipse Gymnastics draws closer.

It is the clubs 10th anniversary and I’ve been invited back to photograph this years Christmas show and I’ll also be producing the annual show video again.  Goodness knows why I get so nervous though, I love photography, I adore making memories for people and supporting the club is just a privilege.  The kids have all the hard work to do during their performances and not one appears to show any nerves at all – it’s just not fair.

However, one this this week put everything into context.  I put a lot of pressure on myself throughout my daily life to do the best that I can and especially with my photography.  I want to get better and better and, above all, I want to get good results that capture that special moment for people and when you have just one chance and usually in a low light and manic environment with way too much going on, this can be a real challenge.  This results in huge anxiety on my part and, some say to me, needless pressure.

So what happened this week to put this into context.  Robbie Williams was on the television for his Icon Brit Award and he was talking about the tough times he had when young and how he gets hugely nervous to the point of being ill before going on stage.  He also indicated that one of his talents was the ability to turn those nerves into an amazing performance, something that he does in spades in my opinion every time he goes on stage.

For someone that feels the same before a live and unrehearsed photo shoot of the type I’m off to in a few hours time, I’m going to take heart from an truly professional icon and I’m going to use those nerves to produce some nice images for the parents over the weekend.

Let’s hope I can pull this out of the bag again and get some wonderfully positive comments like last year – The words of one guy walking away from my printer holding an image of his granddaughter and saying that it was “one of the best photographs of XXX that he’s seen” was enough to make what I do very, VERY worthwhile.

If all goes well, I’ll have a set of images available to purchase at the show tomorrow and then a more complete set following the show.  The full set should be on www.m4photo.co.uk sometime during Sunday afternoon/evening.

Finally, they will not need it but, I’d like to wish the whole of the Eclipse Gymnastics Club the very best of luck for another amazing performance.  Sitting in on one of the practice sessions last week, I was amazed to see some of the moves that the Elite Squad are now doing and which were the domain of Lucy, Ellie and just one or two others for the loongest time.  This is one club that raises the bar year on year on year.

Good luck guys.