Martyn Lewis Photography

Yorkshire based photographer - Weddings, Automotive, Landscape, Portrait & Studio Photography

Dreaming of Winter Olympic Gold

clock December 30, 2013 18:01 by author Martyn
Dreaming of Winter Olympic Gold by Martyn Lewis on 500px.com


So here he is - the reason my photographic exploits have been so quiet of late! The obligatory shot of Finley entwined in some of my old ski racing equipment - it follows the shot of Oscar I did as a newborn, ensconced in my old race ski boot (See further back in my timeline, April 2012... )

Well, it would be rude not to, wouldn't it?!

The title for this one? "Dreaming of Winter Olympic Victory." (...check out his right hand! V for victory!)

I'm dedicating this one to our British Winter Olympic Competitors: Good Luck at Sochi 2014!


From one side of the lens to the other.

clock February 6, 2013 14:12 by author Martyn

 

On the 2nd of February, my wife Kelly, 10 month old son Oscar and I had the pleasure of meeting up with photographer Rosie Hardy, for a mini photoshoot.

Rosie is regarded as one of the brightest young UK photographic talents - her ever growing client list already includes the US band Maroon 5, Samsung (UK), Immersion Creative and Canon Camera Buzz (UK), with magazine features in Elle (SA), Amateur Photographer, The Telegraph, Sun and Metro (UK). Recent output from Rosie includes shooting the "I'm A Celebrity" and ex-Coronation Street star, Helen Flanagan; producing the stunning "Swan Lake". She also photographed X-Factor finalist, Janet Devlin for her website and upcoming album to be released in the very near future!


Janet Devlin, by Rosie Hardy.


Swan Lake, by Rosie Hardy.


Maroon 5: "Hands All Over" album artwork,

by Rosie Hardy.

 

Rosie became infamous during her 365 project back in 2008/9. She inspired many photographers to step in front of the lens, including myself.  Along with Natalie Dybisz aka "Miss Aniela" she provided inspiration for one or two of my own self portraits...


7/365 - I Did it!, by Rosie Hardy.


Supermart, by Martyn Lewis.

 

Her global following and photographic appeal is undeniable. Coupled with the success of her portrait and wedding photography Rosie also has a huge social media following, via flickrtwitter, facebook and her blog

Recently, Kelly visited a popular commercial studio in Manchester that specialises in 'Makeovers' and 'Photoshoots' - the target audience being young ladies who've never been in front of the camera before.  She was recommended by a friend and contacted via the studio with an unbelievably cheap offer of a makeover and shoot.  I couldn't believe how a viable business could charge such low prices (£10!?), and still be turning a profit, so I went along on the day to feed my curiosity regarding their business model.  It all became apparent after the shoot, with the reveal of the photo package prices... That's where the profit comes from.  In the pressured environment of the image preview session, we ended up buying 3 images, for a not inconsequential ammount of money, albeit significantly cheaper than the initial offer. We walked away feeling a little bit deflated at the experience.  Closer inspection of the images on my Mac, showed the quick and dirty image processing, and a lack of attention to detail that you can expect from a 'proper' professional shoot. On the plus side, Kelly got a half decent makeover, and we shot our own high quality shots in the 'home studio' that afternoon. We ended up with some beautiful images of her and Oscar, but we were still lacking some really nice family shots  that included me! I'm always behind the lens!

When I read that Rosie was offering her time for a series of fundraising mini shoots, Kelly and I jumped at the chance!  We had a wonderful morning and ended up with some simply stunning images to savour forever. I can highly recommend Rosie to anybody!  It's not often you get to have your own 'famous photographer' for a shoot!  

Upon recieving the images, we were filled with what can only be described as a "warm fuzzy feeling" - the images are beautiful: I think I fell a little bit more in love with Kelly, right there and then.

 




 



Star Trails, with a twist!

clock January 31, 2013 20:12 by author Martyn

I'm a big fan of star trail images... Shooting multiple 30 second exposures, and stacking them in Photoshop to create some truly amazing looking images.  I've a few scattered throughout my photostream over on flickr, and a couple here in my galleries.

I'm by no means the first to be shooting star trails like this - there are hundreds of photographers out there who are shooting some absolutely amazing images, and have been for many, many years.  One such photographer that came to my attention last year was a guy called Lincoln Harrison - a.k.a. Hakka, or Hakka69.  Lincoln shoots some truly inspirational images in the wilds of Australia.  Take a look at his amazing images over on 500px, or over on his Flickr photostream. One Word: "Wow!"

I'd been tinkering with different processing techniques for star trails at the end of last year - Initially, trying to boost the trail effect to give them more of a 'wow factor'. After many hours of photoshop adjustments, I found that changing the layer opacity on each individual stacked image, gave a faded effect across the duration of the trail length - it gave some great, different to the norm, results.

There was one small problem though - the task of stacking 200+ images in 'epic' trails, and manually adjusting the layer opacity on each and every one, was far too labour intensive.  You could literally spend 4 or 5 hours on a single image. What I needed was a script, similar to my exisitng stacking action, but more versatile.  I set about writing a Photshop action...

It soon became apparent that the need for input parameters, and the inability of a simple set of script steps to achieve a quick solution, was holding me back. Manual calculations of EV increments, counting files to be stacked... it was almost as difficult as doing it all manually. I needed a way to have a more user friendly way of achieving the same - something that would take my input EV's and as Nike would say "Just do it!".  An so, a fledgling Photoshop script was born...

Midway through, I saw Lincoln post an image with a similar style to those that I'd been experimenting with - You can see that image here on his 500px stream. 225 x 30 Second exposures...

*** by Lincoln Harrison (Hakka)) on 500px.com
*** by Lincoln Harrison

I immediately dropped him a quick message, not expecting a reply - He has an affection rating of over 44,000 on 500px, and around 900 followers on flickr... I figured he must get a great deal of correspondance every day, and probably wouldn't have time to reply to every individual who randomly dropped him a message from the miriad of photography sites out there.  To my surprise, and delight, a response came almost immediately - he discussed the technique he'd used on that image, and let me in on a few other secrets he used to achieve such stuning imagery. I'd not share that here - I'd leave that to Lincoln to explain, should he ever wish too... He employed pretty much the same technique as I had, with the exception of using an exposure adjustment to batches of images, rather than a layer opacity adjustment on individual images.  I saw straight away the advantage of doing that - you could actually add some 'gain' to the stars too, and make the ends of trails brighter... Lincoln's reason for adjusting batches of images, was probably down to the time it takes to apply an EV change to each image... even when a custom action is recorded for each 'batch'.


So: What next? Well, I set about updating the script, with the help of a Russian programmer who knows PS inside out - Evgeny Trefilov - If you need any PS scripting or customisations, he's your man - truly outstanding work, in no time at all.


A few tweaks later, and I had a fully working script that takes a Start EV, an End EV, and processes all of the images in a chosen directory, stacking each one with the appropriate EV adjustment... The only pre-requisite being an open, blank document (black backgound...)  with the same dimensions as the images you want to process. Click ok, and a lovely progress bar tells you how long it's going to take!

Here's a comparison of two simple stacked images, snipped from a longer duration shot I took back in 2009. This version contans 20 images of 30 seconds in duration (ISO:100, f5.6 18mm on the old Samsung GX-20!): On the left, you can see a traditional star trail - consistent across it's exposure... On the rightRe-edited with the Tapered trails script, with the 'comet like' effect...

 

Normal trail shot Normal trail shot


Here's a crop from my recent post-wedding shoot up at Newby Bridge, Cumbria:  One processed with a classic stacking script, the other, with my Tapered Trails script...

Traditional Trail Tapered Trail

 

There's a Demonstration version available to download and give a try if you like the effect, and would like to try processing some of your own star trails to give them something a little different, and make them stand out from the crowd!

The demo version is limitted to stacking 10 images. If you like the results you see, you can download the full version, with unlimitted image stacking capability, from the link on that page.

Full instructions on how to install and run the script can be found there too.

 

Have fun! Let me know of any images you create, and I'll feature them in a follow up post here on my blog, along with links to your portfolio / website / 

(Email me: martyn@martynlewisphotgraphy.com)

Cheers!

Martyn.

Newby Bridge Crop



Isle of Mull: Not-a-lotta-Otter Spotting?

clock July 20, 2012 10:32 by author Martyn

Here's the best shot that never was, of an elusive otter...

Nothing!

Let me explain...!

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of enjoying a week on the Isle of Mull. While it was to be a break with both family and friends, I was excited at the prospect of shooting some of the abundant wildlife to be found there.  There was one main subject that I wanted to capture: Enhydra lutris -  the Sea Otter.

When we booked the cottage we were to stay in, I had no idea it would be so close to an area that was perfect Sea Otter habitat.  I didn't find this out, until mid way through my week on Mull!

We were spoiled with the weather for the duration of our stay - I managed to take some stunning sunset landscapes as the last rays of light spread across the Sound of Mull, and the sun dipped behind Ardnamurchan on the mainland. It was only on the Wednesday, with only two days left of our stay, that we stumbled upon a Sea Otter playing in the shallows, at Fishnish.  The signs were all there - crustacean shells, otter droppings, a perfect habitat; and yet it had taken us all week to come across our first Otter. Camera in hand, and with the light failing fast, I could only manage a few long distance shots: Even with the 70-200 IS f2.8 and a 2x Mk3 extender on, at 400mm, it was still, just a little too far away.  I fired off a few frames, but before we knew it, it was aware of our presence, and slipped back into the deeper water, not to be seen again that evening.  It really amazes me how stealthy these animals are, when they need to be.

Otter in shallows 1  Otter in shallows 2

So that was that... we retired to the cottage and enjoyed the rest of the evening, happy that we'd witnessed one of these elusive creatures in it's natural environment.

The next night, we did the same - drawing a blank for the first 15 mins, we only managed a fleeting glimpse of the local otter population - 2 mins in the distance, and far out of range of the 400mm...

That was that - it was Friday night and we were due to leave early the next morning. My chance to capture the otter had evaded me. Well... until my 3 month old son decided to wake us at 5 am the following morning - my last few hours on Mull. Awake, and unable to get back to sleep, I decided a quick foray down to the shoreline at Fishnish (without 4 noisey friends in tow), would be the ideal way to try and capture this elusive Sea Otter!

After half an hour. Nothing. Conditions were too perfect. The sun was peeping through the clouds in the East, casting a warm orange glow over the Sound of Mull. The water was almost flat calm, with just a few ripples on an otherwise smooth surface. Even the midges weren't biting - an ever so gentle breeze seemed to keep them at bay.  This was it, I thought - if ever I'm going to capture Enhydra lutris, this was it.

I waited.

...and waited.

Nothing.

The cloud came in and it seemed to get darker. The wind speed rose and I though that my chance was over.

I crept from my hidden vantage point, and moved further along the shoreline, covering about 1/2 a mile.  Suddenly, the water surface broke and up popped a large, rich brown shape that I immediatley recognised as my target for the morning. Just out of range!  I fired off a couple of shots, just to prove to myself that it was infact, what I'd come to see.  A quick review on the back of the camera revealed all. An otter: a juggling otter: Juggling a small clam, and lying on it's back.  Now, if I could only get closer, I might have a chance of getting that shot I was after...

Otter bobbing

Otter bobbing 2

The next 20 mins were a game of cat and mouse. I stayed back from the shoreline near to the trees, to try and evade his alert glances. Knowing that we'd scared it off too easily on previous encounters, I was in full stealth mode, as I crept along the bank.  Every time the otter submerged, I moved. As quickly as possible. The aim was to get ahead of it. Every time it surfaced, I froze. Usually, in some contorted crouch, thighs burning as I waited for him to dive again. A regular pattern emerged - 30 seconds beneath the surface, followed by 15 seconds bobbing around...  slowly, moving 10 meters at a time along the shore.  I kept my patience, and moved ahead of him, firing off a couple of long range shots, to reassure myself that when the opportunity arose, my camera was set up correctly to capture the perfect image. 

Otter spotting interlude.

Between me and the otter, on the horizon of the rocky shore, a small dark, sleek shaped head popped up. "Baby Otter!" I thought to myself! How exciting - could this be the moment I was waiting for!?  It dipped behind the rocks and I made my move towards the shore. I got into a perfect position, with a large rock to my back, hidden and waited.  The Sea Otter that was feeding off shore surfaced again several times, edging closer with each minute.  Reluctant to scare it off, I held back from opening the shutter, for fear of him hearing me, and the chance to miss out on a perfect opportunity as he came closer.

To my right, something caught my eye. The "baby otter" reappeared. Only, it wasn't a "baby otter", it was what I later found out to be: a Mink.  He popped his head above some rocks, a few meters along the shore, and knew exactly that I was there. It didn't seem to bother him, and in a brazen display of curiosity, he crept closer and closer, darting behind rocks, and poking his nose in the air getting a feel for what I was all about... Here's the sequence of images I fired off as he approached: Wonderful.

Mink   Mink   Mink

Mink Mink   Mink  

Mink

As the cheeky little fella worked out that I posed no threat, or rather, had no fish for him, he bounded back off along the shore, and swam across some shallows, foraging for food. Meanwhile, I'd been distracted from my primary target. Turning the camera back out to sea, he was close. Much closer than before and as I fired of a few frames, all I caught was his back and tail, as he dived once again. 

Dive, Dive, Dive!

This close to the shore, and with such a regular pattern of movement, I could predict exactly where he was going to surface. I decided to move again, a little further and just around a small rocky outcrop, ready  and waiting.  It was moments away.

On cue he emerged where I'd thought he would. Eel in mouth, but was only for a fraction of a second. Predicting his next move, I panned right... finger hovering over the shutter, primed for the PERFECT shot. 

Only this time he didn't appear where I thought. Oh no, this time, he was almost by my feet, peering round a rock a little over a metre away! Aaargh! My camera was pointing at 90 degrees to him.  We shared a moment that seemed to last an hour - he looked at me, I looked at him. Who was going to be quickest? In the milliseconds I took to decide if i should swing quickly and shoot, or stay still and pray for him to go about his business, he'd already made his mind up.  The world seemed to slow down, and as I panned my camera, his decision had already been made. Off he went.

And so, that brings me a full circle to the image at the top of this blog entry: What could have been - a millisecond after he'd lept out of sight..

Nothing!

I never saw him again. Only a line of bubbles a few meters off shore, tracing a path away from me.  I'd been surprised at just how large he was - I guess when you see them off shore, the perspective is somewhat lost and you don't really appreciate what a large animal they are.

I was happy to have had such a close encounter though, packed up my equipment and headed back to the cottage. Time to pack and catch the ferry. What a fantastic morning, even if I had missed out on that perfect image. I guess that sums up a lot of wildlife photography - making those opportunities count when you get the chance, and just being plain lucky, when the moment comes. Sadly, this time, lady luck wasn't on my side!

Mr. Otter: I'll be back!
(...next time, with an 800mm and some more dedication to a few more early mornings!)

 

 

 



Welcome to the world, Oscar Harry Lewis.

clock May 17, 2012 09:00 by author Martyn

Welcome to the World, Oscar Harry Lewis

I've been far too busy to do much in the way of photography recently, and I haven't realy had that much time to update the blog... Well, I say I've not done much photography - In reality, I must have about a thousand shots of the new subject in our life! I've just had no time to edit and post them yet - of the few I have done, friends and family will have seen them posted to my flickr and facebook accounts - but for those of you who only stay in touch here, may I introduce you to Oscar Harry Lewis. 5lb 4Oz's, born at 9:52am on the 29th March 2012. We're all doing great! :-)

Little Feet

New World

Smirk

I'm sure you'll be seeing more of him round here ;-)



About the author

Martyn Lewis grew up in Weardale, Durham, spoilt by the wonderful surroundings of the North Pennines.  He graduated from Newcastle University, before completing an MSc at Durham University in 2001.

 

 

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