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.



Getting from Point A to Point B

Fractured Highway

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.


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!!


A weekend in Dorset.


Where has this week gone? This time last week I was down in Dorset with Paul Reiffer, Vic and a number of other photographers standing on a cliff overlooking Durdle Door in Dorset.

I had driven down on the Thursday night in thick fog, which reduced me to 20mph in places, and doing battle with closed road – yes, no less than four road closures and diversions on the major roads from Northamptonshire to Dorset. It turned a leisurely 3 hour run into a little over six hours. Never mind, the planned snooze before dawn was forgotten about and I headed over to capture a shot of the famous Portland Bill lighthouse just before the sun rose above the horizon. I also headed over to Pulpit Rock, but the sky was not going to play ball and I gave up and headed over to the meeting point for the workshop.

We met Paul at the Sailing Academy and following the usual introductions Paul took us through the fundamentals of how a camera and lens work, the all-important triangle which would need to balance over the weekend and more. I knew a lot of this from previous workshops with Paul, but he still managed to have me talking notes with some handy new bits of information – the best being a new way of looking at the depth of field for landscapes and one that I would put to the test and come to use the whole weekend.

Following our first classroom session, we headed over to check into the hotel and then out to Durdle Door for a sunset shoot. The weather was not playing ball and we decided to ditch the beach and head over the cliffs to a nice vantage point that overlooks the beach towards the famous arch. It really does help to have a professional who knows the best shooting spots and Paul was spot on this evening. My chosen view was a look along the beach with the arch set off to the left of the frame and taking in what was becoming a fairly interesting sky. Although fairly featureless, I was hoping for a somewhat serene image from this location.

Back at the hotel, the group of photographers on the workshop settled down for dinner in the restaurant and we swapped successes and failures from the day and we all got to know each other a little more. Then, early to bed because the following morning was going to be another early start. I’d been on go for nearly 48 hours, so I alone was ready for some sleep.

3Saturday morning had us heading over to Durdle Door again and squinting through the patchy fog at times. The fog lifted when we got to the location and parking up the cars, we could see some stars in the sky. This was looking promising. On the cliff top we gathered around for a quick briefing from Paul and some recommendations. Three of us decided to capture the view overlooking Man O’War Cove looking towards Man O’War Beach. The rest of the group headed up onto the cliffs again with Paul and this was a lesson to follow the professional. I got one or two interesting shots from our vantage point, but the better location was higher where the group took advantage of the red sky which formed above my location and they had a better view of the sun popping up over the headland. This is a location that I hope to return to and to do it more justice with a better dawn.

We then headed back to the hotel for some much needed breakfast and a hour or two of extra sleep. Then into the classroom for the main reason why I was on this workshop. Today, we would be looking at Lightroom and Paul shared some very useful workflow tips with us.

Saturday evening was given over to Portland Bill and Pulpit Rock initially and then the lighthouse after the sun had dropped from view. The sky did not really play ball and the sun was well round to the right. It was therefore an opportunity to put into practice the theory and to play with different settings without worrying about spoiling a perfect sky. The result is a number of images from the location with a myriad of settings which I can analyse and work through at a later date. Note to self, I really do need to work on the lighthouse to get the best of the location and the low light, especially for larger prints. This is something that I will work on at home and be more ready for my next trip to Dorset.

With the weather looking less and less favourable, Paul spent much of dinner studying the various useful location planning applications that we had learned about on day one and the location for the morning changed a number of times. The lesson learned here, was that advanced planning is key and can help to lessen the chance of a grotty location. The plan was to head out to Old Harry Rocks.

This was a brilliant call on Paul’s part and again it demonstrated the value in attending one of him workshops with his in depth knowledge and advance planning. The sky was fairly featureless throughout the shoot, but it did take an interesting turn mid-way through the session. The location also allowed for a number of different viewpoints and everyone made good use of those. Lesson learned here is to always keep an eye on what is going on behind you, I learned this lesson whilst with Paul in California and this was another location where the advice paid off.

The afternoon class session was given over to Photoshop and this is where I really got the most value from this workshop. We learned about removing items from images the easiest and best way, about subtly pulling details out and the reason why the histogram is so important when photographing landscapes. It was also useful to see how the tools can be used to straighten light houses and to add negative space to images and warp out unsightly edges. Something hat I will need for one or two of my images.

Rob had to leave us to travel home, but I decided to stay the course and we headed back down to Portland Bill and another shot at the lighthouse. We were presented with our best sky of the weekend and this session quickly became a lesson in how the light can change. Note to self (well a reminder of Pauls tip) the light drops quickly and roughly one stop every ten minutes during sunset. It really is a case of watching the settings, watching the histogram and being quick with the filters.

With the course done, it was time to hit the road and the long drive home.

2In conclusion, I found this workshop hugely useful and informative. I liked the pace that Paul has set for his workshops and the delivery of the classroom elements was perfect and not too burdensome and overbearing. It was easy to take in the information that was given and to apply that in the field. As always, Paul was constantly on hand to answer questions and he constantly keeps an eye on what everyone is doing and offers advice that takes your images to the next step.

These are great workshops and with options coming up that include Dorset, Iceland, New Zealand and the USA, there really is something for everyone.

More Recognition


As many of you will know, I occasionally put some of my images onto Gurushots, mostly  just to gauge how well they are received. Gurushots is an online resource where photographers can upload their images to different challenges, people then vote on their favourite images and as you get votes you climb the rankings.  I usually wind up somewhere in the top 5% and I have been in the top 1 and 2% on a few occasions.

However, what I really like is when the Guru selects one of my images as worthy of their vote.  The Guru being the person who set the challenge and who naturally has their own idea about what makes a good photograph within the definition of the challenge.

I have had a couple of my images that have been voted for but the current cityscape challenge is one that has some great images.  There are some great city skylines around the world and some amazing photographers capturing them.

This morning was one of those special days.  Overnight I have received notification that one of my Bay Bridge shots from my road trip with Paul Reiffer has made the grade, got noticed and it has been awarded a vote by the Guru.  In the images above, that accolade is noted by the star.

Paul advised and educated me throughout the two week long road trip and this was one of the last locations that we shot together.  I was able to bring everything that I had learned together and his workshop style tuition definitely paid off on this occasion.

Paul is running more workshops all around the world and you can find out more about his amazing work and these special workshops on his website using the two links.

You can see more of my work from the road trip on my website here.

Well that was a surprise!!!

mainFor some time I have been considering creating a  photo book of my images from my Californian road trip earlier this year and some of the other images that I have captured in my first year following the tuition from Paul Reiffer.  I still have a huge amount to learn and only practice will help me to apply what I have learned both with Paul and following the workshop.  Anyway, with a special offer on this weekend, I decided to short list my images and take the plunge.

Part of this exercise has been to further process the images, after all these books are not cheap to get produced, even with a 50% discount offer.  I therefore decided to review them on my television because it is much bigger than my laptop screen and the resolution is also a lot better.  This has enabled me to zoom in much further and to remove some of the blemishes in the image from dust and marks on the sensor or lens.

Anyway, whilst working on the image above I had quite a surprise when zooming in to remove a small white blemish.  You can barely see it in the image above – If you look at the top of the yellow biplane’s wings and follow their line to the right, you’ll see the tiny white blemish just after the clouds flatten out.  It’s pretty much centre of the image in line with the biplane’s wings.

Zooming in, I found that the blemish is actually another aircraft, a commercial jet which has probably recently left Stansted Airport with a host of people off on their holidays.

zoomedIt really is amazing what you can find in your images when you have a good camera like my Canon 5D Mk III and you zoom in really closely.  Maybe I’ll take some time to see what else I have hidden away in some of my images 😉

Now this laborious job is complete, I’m really looking forward to receiving both of my books.  I have created one which is solely for the California road trip and one which will have other images from throughout 2015.