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.

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.

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.

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!!

 

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.