New Gallery Online

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It was not my intention to upload the Dunstable Hang Gliding and Paragliding Club images from yesterday.  Afterall, they were only some test images to practice using my new backup camera and 18-135mm lens.  However, several of the pilots from yesterday quickly contacted me for copies of some of their pictures and for this reason I have now processed all of the images and uploaded just over 200 images to a special gallery for the club.

It can be found from http://www.m4photo.co.uk with a link from the home page or the Locate Gallery navigation menu item.

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.

 

Eclipse Gymnastics – Awards Evening 2017

eclipse-gymnastics-010317After a hard day in the office, it is always nice to get out and to do something worthwhile.  This evening, this was fulfilled by my latest visit to Eclipse Gymnastics in Rushden and the task – why, to photograph their annual awards evening, of course and to capture some more great memories for the kids, teenagers and their families.

With the normal tough lighting in the room and the zoom lens working overtime (I must get used to moving myself, but this was not overly easy this evening) my task was to keep my on-camera flash settings correctly adjusted to balance the light and match the variable zoom being used.  I think, and hope, that I got it about right and the lack of throw away images confirm that.

The evening began with balloons on the floor and these are always a huge temptation for kids to go just a little crazy and the guys at Eclipse are no exception.  With a brief to get the awards, the camera came out early and I captures just a few images from the pre-presentation part of the event.  It was then on to the presentations and then a mad dash home to get the images processed and online.

As I type this, the gallery is uploading and it should be live real soon.

Thank you to Eclipse Gymnastics for inviting me back for another of their great events celebrating a fantastic group of gymnasts and individuals.

The gallery is available on www.m4photo.co.uk and it’s open to all Eclipse Gymnastics members and their families with the usual username and password.

Getting from Point A to Point B

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As we headed out of Furnace Creek in Death Valley on Route 190 Paul Reiffer (our workshop host and professional photographer) pulled the car over to the side of the road.  I been looking out of the side window thinking about the challenges to come and had not thought of looking behind us.  Paul had and when we jumped out of the car it quickly became evident why.

This is a classic view looking back down the road and it is one that I have seen a hundred times.  The difference this time was that it was my chance to try to go one step further.  So, with each of us watching the traffic whilst we each took our turn at capturing this iconic image, I set about getting my interpretation between cars, trucks and those rolling 18 wheel monsters that were coming over the rise a few hundred yards in the opposite direction to the image.

Well, it looks like I was not the only person to like my interpretation of the view.  Gurushots must have hundreds, if not thousands, of images similar to this on their database, but it is my image (just one of 38) that has been used to provide an example of getting from point a to point b.  There are some wonderful images that have been used in the article and I’m proud to have yet another of my images used in this manner.

You can see the full article here.

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One of my most copied images :(

Hay Bales at Sunset

I was working with someone on a graphic design over the weekend and we were Googling around looking for image inspiration.  We found the perfect image on iStockphoto and subsequently got into the discussion about paying to license the image.  You guessed it, the conversation went loosely something like:

“It’s on the web so I can just use it, right?”
“No, someone has had to take the time and invest in gear to produce the image.”
“But everyone just uses pictures off of the internet, why can’t I?”
“Because it is immoral, you are effectively stealing ones time and definitely their Intellectual Property, you ‘must’ properly license the image if you are going to use it.”
“…..”

I paraphrase greatly, but you get the idea.

Too many people these days think that if an image is on the internet then it is fair game to simply use it for whatever purposes the individual needs.  There is no thought for the time that it took to get the image, the cost of the photographic gear to get the image, the cost of getting to the location, etc. etc.

This is something that, as a landscape photographer and also a software salesperson, irritates me considerably.  If we continue to simply use stuff without proper consideration of the author, inventor, whatever, those premium resources will surely disappear and we will be left without the creative vision, sub-standard work and products and worse.  Just consider some of the poor quality fake products on the market that are often downright dangerous.  Where will we be when the quality products are pushed out of the market.

Anyway, this is an old story that will run and run but it did prompt me to take a look at my Pixsy account.  This is a website that constantly trawls the internet looking for commercial and non-commercial uses of my landscape images and the results are sometimes quite interesting and often the root of some considerable frustration.  I am also trialing Copypants as well and both are finding the same results most of the time.

One of my most copies images is the Hay Bale that I took over looking Stanwick one summer’s evening when the sky went a deep red (the one copied above).  The image did OK on 500px and Flickr, but it did not set the world on fire by any stretch of the imagination, but it is really interesting to see how many people have used it for their profiles on personal sites like blogs, etc.  However, where it gets really interesting is to note how often my images are now being used on commercial websites as well.

pixsyI have already cleared out a number of images but the hay bale image has been used as far afield as Mexico and it’s even been used for artwork for a music track being offered on mix cloud and, yes, I have requested that it be removed.

Whilst it is a shame that people think that they can simply steal these images, it is nice to know that my work is appreciated enough to warrant reuse.  The question now, is whether I feel brave enough to challenge people and run the risk of the legal fee charge-back the sites like Pixsy charge if something goes wrong with the case and they have to back out – whatever happened to no win no fee for copyright?

The value of the M4Photo DVD

Because I have been working with a few clubs for several years, I have recently allowed some people to purchase DVDs crammed with their images, sometimes this can include a hundred or more image files and, as usual, these come with the normal M4Photo Reproduction Agreement.

However, a few people have questioned the cost with me and what they can do with the images on the disk.  During those discussions, I have mentioned about the countless Photobook opportunities that the photo labs are offering at the moment and at very reasonable prices.

These Photobooks can be used to create a lasting memory of a single event, such as my visit to Duxford for the Battle of Britain Memorial display last year and my photo trip to California (in the images above).  These books can also to form a wonderful timeline for parents where I might have captured photographs over several years, such as with Eclipse Gymnastics.

These Photolabs offer more than just Photobooks.  They include mugs, canvas prints, mousemats and a hundred other things, all of which the images on the disk can be used for.  ASDA in Rushden also have a new print lab which offer a good number of items that make great birthday presents using the images on the disk.

I used Photobox sometime ago and I’m constantly receiving discount vouchers via email for additional products.  I am not associated with, nor recommending Photobox, but you can see their Photobooks here.  Creating your Photobook is very easy.  You simply choose the type of book that you want and which fits your budget, choose a template and drop in the photographs and any text that you might wish to include.  The website will flag up any images that might have some printing issues (too dark, too light, etc.), but I found that my Photobooks were pretty close.

Anyway, this is just one reason why I made the DVD available and with so many options to use the images time and time again, it really is great value for money where I have caught a fair number of your images.  If you would like to know more please drop me an email via www.m4photo.co.uk with a brief note about your query and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.