Digital Splash Awards Portrait

The Story Behind Mike Martin – Digital Splash Awards Runner-Up 2018

As the 2019 Digital Splash Awards are in full swing, we thought you might like a little more inspiration from another of our past winners.  So if you’re looking for a little encouragement to enter this year’s competition, read on!

 

 

Mike Martin won the Portrait award in our monthly competitions, plus went on to secure 3rd place in the overall Digital Splash Photographer of the Year awards.

 

 

We caught up with Mike to find out more about is photography, what drives him, his creativity and his prolific competition spirit!

 

How did you first get into photography?

I’ve had a camera since I was a kid for holidays and the like.  Whilst at University I relied upon photography to share my then love of potholing; it was the only means of sharing the experience with my parents.  Fast forward to 1991 on relocating to Bristol, I joined a camera club and that started me on my photographic journey.

 

 

What was your first camera and what were you first interests in photography?

My first camera was a Boots Beiretta, followed by a Fuji SLR.  This was soon followed by a succession of Pentax cameras until I switched to Olympus in 2016. Photography started with the usual holiday snaps, then a bit of cave photography followed by the obligatory family shots when the kids came along.  However, my first serious interest came when I joined a local camera club and started entering competitions.  About the same time I had the opportunity to photograph farms, farm animals and equipment for an agricultural agency and that covered some of my costs as far as buying gear and film.

 

 

How have your photographic interests & style developed over time?

From my first contact with camera clubs I’ve been exposed to a wide variety of image subjects and styles; this encouraged me to experiment with different approaches and techniques.  From the early days I used Photoshop creatively, scanning 35mm slides.

I’ll give anything a go really, or as I say “if it moves, shoot it, if it doesn’t, shoot it anyway”.

I love wildlife, though struggle with that genre (other than macro insects) and enjoy fantastic landscapes – though I lack the patience to wait for the right light.  I’m not a fan of travelling to a specific location on the off chance that the light may be OK.  Photographing people is much easier in that respect as they come to you or vice versa. Additionally, I used to do a lot of street photography; commuting to London frequently, I always carried a camera (even if just a simple compact) and would often take photos walking between the station and the office.  This also spurred my interest in architecture and night photography.

Whilst I take and make images for myself, I do enjoy entering competitions and find they are a great way to gauge how good you are and provide the impetus to think and try something new. Similarly, workshops are a great way to develop your skills.

 

 

You won the Portraits category of DSA and obviously celebrating 3rd in the overall DSA annual awards – with a fabulous portrait image – are portraits your main interest these days?

My main interest: photography!  Whilst many specialise in a particular style or genre, I enjoy looking at most subjects and even those that I don’t particularly like, I can appreciate the skill demonstrated by the photographer.

I do take a lot of people photos – but I’d say the key driver for me is the creativity…. my portraits provide an opportunity to shape an image.  When I’m lecturing, I say to people, every time you press the shutter, there must have been something that motivated you to do so.  Sometimes you have to work harder to “find” the picture, the mood, the concept, that inspired you to take it and that’s where my creativity comes in.

 

 

There’s a strong creative/art theme in your work – how does this manifest itself – do you visualise what you want to create, so you have a theme, or how to you start your projects/shoots?

There’s no single answer to this.  Sometimes I have an idea or concept in mind, either my own or that of the make-up artist or model, and although that is a start point, all of my images are a collaboration by everyone involved.  Some are very elaborate requiring planning outfits, location, accessories, though these still rely upon me to interpret and capture the mood, others are entirely freestyle, winging it on the day so to speak and relying upon a bit of luck to be successful.  Because I shoot for myself rather than clients, I’m not afraid to fail so don’t have to play it safe and am free to experiment.  That said, I do believe in stacking the odds in my favour, so regularly take a random selection of bits and pieces in case they may be useful.

 

 

Your ‘created images’ gallery has some really interesting images and themes – what do you use to create these?  In camera features, photoshop, a particular App?  Always a camera, or phone too?

I always use the best camera I can – the one I have with me!  Then, I’ll use any or all the tools available to me whether in camera features (image stacking, intentional camera movement, long exposure), specific lenses, natural and/or artificial lighting, etc.  I’ll then play with the images, using Lightroom, Photoshop, OnOne perfect suite, Nik Silver Efex depending upon what I’m trying to achieve, be it to simplify the image, make the most of what you’ve got or adding bits from my vast library of images (over 90 thousand images in my main catalogue).

 

 

How did your winning image come to be?  It’s technically excellent and beautifully lit.  Tell us more!!  Did you have this image in your mind and make it happen?

Paul (the model) and I have worked together many times – I’m not sure really where the idea came from.  He asked Bridget (the make-up artist) and we got together with the studio owner and two other models and just messed about with some ideas; loads of ideas.  For the shoot, Paul was painted black and the girls painted white. We took it in turn shooting them individually, in groups, etc – not sure where the idea of the white hand-print came from – but the “wreath” was a simple Christmas decoration lying in the studio that we just wrapped around him, look carefully and you’ll see the LEDs too.   For those interested, its lit with a single beauty dish above then processed in Lightroom / Photoshop / Silver Efex. Kit wise it was shot on: Olympus EM1 Mark II, 40-150mm f/2.8pro, at 55mm (110mm equiv) 1/200th sec at f/13.

 

 

What do you find as your biggest challenges?  What are the most difficult aspects of photography for you?

The biggest challenge…. people – they are busy, they have lives and finding time can be difficult.  The most difficult… trying to photograph birds in flight – I rarely get them in the viewfinder let alone in focus!

What would be your next ‘dream’ shoot (any genre, any location!)

Something monumental like an extravagant over the top designer fashion shoot with top models across a number of epic locations in Iceland… Miss Aniela hosted one three or four years ago and I still get fired up every time I see the behind the scenes video.  Going to have to keep fingers crossed for the EuroMillions win for that one though!

 

 

How did you hear about the Digital Splash Awards and what made you enter?  

A friend suggested I give it a try.  Why did I enter, because I thought I could win!

Competitions & awards are obviously a big interest for you (See this page on Mike Martin’s website)! Does this kind of recognition drive you – does it inspire you to do more?  Tell us more, as you’re quite prolific!

Competitions are a big part of my photography, I am competitive and I like winning.  But it’s also about stretching myself, trying something new, trying to be better. The best way of learning is to surround yourself with people who are better than you.  And, it’s about giving back too – sharing how you did something and trying to encourage others to give it a go, trying to inspire others.

 

 

Learning is a big part of the Wilki ethos – is there anything new you’d like to try – kit, genre, technique etc?  

Given the chance – I’d like to have a go at underwater fashion shots.  Somewhat more realistically, I’d like to finally nail bird photography!

If you could shoot with any other photographer for a day, who would you spend your day with & why?

Von Wong… he does so much over the top photography!   Everything is 100% adrenaline fuelled.    In total contrast, perhaps a day with Tesni Ward photographing hares?  Or, a day with Lindsay Adler on a high fashion shoot (she was inspirational with her global Creative photo challenges in 2016 – it was awesome to be shortlisted in seven of the eight challenges and to win one!)

 

 

You have recently retired, which must allow you much more time to enjoy photography?

After graduating I joined Lloyds Bank… after 34 years, 30+ commuting to/from London I thought it was time to give it a break when offered early retirement.  Yes it does give me more time for photography, and more time for the family too (although grown up).  Photographing people is still constrained by their availability too. And, the reduced pension has diminished my spending capability.

However, it has given me time to join and get involved in another camera club, give time to volunteering assisting photographer with disabilities, do a spot of judging and top of the list, time to give some photography talks to camera clubs….

I’ve already visited quite a number of clubs, approaching 20 bookings for 2019-20.  I get a real buzz from these, inspiring people to have a go and sharing how easy it is to create some of the images.  (See link below if you’re interested in booking Mike for a camera club talk)

 

 

Any big plans going forward?  

Big plans – to have my own studio – but got to keep buying the Euromillions tickets and crossing my fingers for that one!

Slightly smaller plans – see how the summer workshops go!

I’ve still got some dates available for camera club (or other group) talks on creative portraiture so it would be good to fill those slots.

 

 

Thank you Mike for your time and for allowing us such a fascinating peek behind the scenes!

 

Find out more:

Mike has a huge collection of very inspirational mages, a selection of which can be seen (together with contact details) on his website Mike Martin Photography, or you can follow Mike on Photocrowd (community members only) or on Instagram @mikemartin247!

 

Could you be next years Digital Splash Awards winner? Visit the Digital Splash Awards website to find more information and enter the monthly competitions!

 

All images featured Copyright Mike Martin Photography.

The Story Behind Richard Adams – Digital Splash Awards Runner-Up 2018

As the Digital Splash Awards 2019 are now in full swing, the Wilki team have been finding out more about last year’s winners. 

 

Scooping a well deserved (and very close) second place, was Richard Adams with his enchanting picture of a harvest mouse, enjoying a rain shower amongst the autumn blackberries. A difficult image to capture, and one, which got us all wondering ‘how did he do that?’

 

We spoke to Richard, to find out more about his photography and how he managed to capture that mysterious ‘rearing’ mouse!

 

Let’s get started with how did you get into photography?

I bought my first Camera approximately 4-5 years ago after deciding I needed a hobby/distraction to help take control of my PTSD.

 

 

Your winning photograph – tell us a bit more about the story behind it and how you managed to capture such a great image. Those are some pretty good mouse stalking skills!

 

I was told of a nest/re-population program, so decided to get there before sunrise and set up my hide.  I was there around 6-8 hours and encountered every form of weather in that time.

 

The Harvest Mouse is a British born rodent that has near enough become extinct in the wild. Now there are small dedicated teams up and down the country breeding them to release once they reach a certain age.

 

Due to the Harvest Mouse being very small, the trick is to frame the image and then patiently wait for them to come into shot. I now believe that the mouse reared up because of my hearing aids whistling due to the damp air.

 

 

Is wildlife your main photographic interest?

I seem to have fallen into wildlife as it allows me to escaped from the daily grind. That said, I’m always up for trying any genre of photography.

 

What’s your dream photographic location/bucket list trip?

 

Now, that is a very easy question to answer!

 

I served 19 years of a 22 year contract in the RAF, but I was medically discharged after being diagnosed with Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome and Pelligrini Steida Syndrom, I was later diagnosed with PTSD from my Cat 6 repair work (recovering and repairing crashed aircrafts). I also have binaural hearing loss.

 

Some may find it surprising, but I would dearly love to return to the Falkland Islands.  Unfortunately I wasn’t interested in photography when I was posted there, but it has everything a photographer would want to shoot and I’d love to go back.

 

To put it simply, it’s such a beautiful, peaceful place (if you overlook the large airbase!). Wildlife comes up close to you without any sign of fear (though it is wise to give the Elephant Seals a wide berth!) and you soon forget the madness of the UK. These days, photography also helps to calm my mind as I sometimes get very anxious when I’m around people.

 

 

How did you hear about Digital Splash Awards?

 

It was an off-chance Facebook advert that took me to the Digital Splash Awards, I entered without any though of such an amazing result. Thank goodness I did!

 

 

Thank you Richard for your time and allowing us such a fascinating peak behind the scenes.

 

Find out more:

Richard has a huge collection of inspirational images that you can see by following Richard on Instagram @captured_moments_photographyuk!

 

Could you be next years Digital Splash Awards winner? Visit the Digital Splash Awards website to find more information and enter the monthly competitions!

 

All images featured Copyright Richard Adams Photography.

The Story Behind James Rushforth – Digital Splash Photographer of the Year 2018

Last year saw a fabulous selection of photography entered into our Digital Splash Awards, with the quality of images higher then ever, both technically and in terms of overall inspiration!

 

We thought it would be interesting to find out a bit more about our 2018 award winners, starting with the overall Digital Splash Photographer of the Year winner, James Rushforth.

 

Splitting his time between the UK and the Italian Dolomites (and often spotted in his converted Fiat Ducato, called Max), we managed to catch up with James between adventures, to find out more background on his amazing images, his adventures and the challenges faced by an award winning adventure photographer, author and tutor.

 

How did you first get into photography, was it through your love of extreme sports? What was the journey?

It all happened very much by accident, I left university not really knowing what I wanted to do and ended up climbing in the Alps. I wrote several articles on my experiences and was contacted by a publisher who was looking to produce a guidebook to the region. Without really knowing what I was getting myself into I began work on my first book – a climbing guide to the Italian Dolomites.

As I began putting it together I wanted to convey how the region had captivated me not only with its exceptional climbing but also the stunning nature of the surrounding scenery. I bought a camera (a little Canon G12 – I recall shuddering at the thought of spending £380, were photographers all mad?) and never looked back. Since then I’ve published books about skiing, mountaineering, climbing, via ferrata and photography. I now divide my time between writing guidebooks and running workshops all over the world.

 

 

Tell us a bit more about your sporting background – as an accomplished skier, climber & mountaineer, this must be a huge advantage?

Learning to rock climb was a natural progression from an enjoyable childhood spent exploring North Wales and the Lake District with my family. I worked at several indoor climbing walls whilst at university which stood me in good stead for the big walls of the Dolomites. Rapid progression was quickly slowed by the yearly snowfall and this naturally lead to a ski touring apprenticeship, first on gentle slopes and then ever more serious terrain. The next decade was spent in search of the perfect line, both in ascent and descent.

The climbing and mountaineering provided an excellent springboard into the photography world, allowing me to tap into a smaller niche market to get established. Not only were there some unique opportunities for extreme sports shoots, the climbing and mountaineering also allowed me to access some very remote landscape locations that were inaccessible to most photographers.

 

 

Travel is obviously in your blood and with four books on the Dolomites under your belt – why the particular interest in that specific area?

I fell in love with the Dolomites when I first visited shortly after finishing university. I’ve seen many of the world’s mountain ranges and they are still by far my favourite. The Dolomite rock forms impossibly steep faces that rise like precipitous monoliths (if you’ll excuse the melodrama) straight out of the alpine meadows. You can walk through the flowers and go and put your hands straight on a rock face that then rises up for a vertical kilometre. There’s a lifetime’s worth of climbing, skiing and photography to be done. One project led into another as I explored the region more and more, alternating between working for outdoor companies and living out of a van. I made some great friends and loved the local culture (and pizza).

I’m currently hoping to buy a house in Lienz (Brexit pending) which is perfectly situated between the Austrian Alps and the Dolomites.

 

 

Tell us about the lifestyle, is it all as good as it sounds?

I quite frequently get emails telling me I ‘live the dream’ and how envious people are of the lifestyle. But like any job where you only see the finished product, it’s easy to overly romanticise the work. I quite frequently spend six months away on my own in the van for a particular project and it can get quite lonely. I’ve just spent the last year exploring some of the remotest parts of Iceland and Greenland and it’s not unusual to go a couple of weeks without seeing another person. I’ve found audio books are the key, it’s nice to hear another voice!

For every successful photo that makes it into the book, there are three or four failed attempts that do not. People looking at the finished images don’t see all the times you got up at 3am, ascended 800m up a mountain in the dark with 5 kilos of camera kit, got nothing and came back down.

But, all that said, it is lovely work and I wouldn’t change it. You just have to accept there are some sacrifices that have to be made.

 

 

What are the biggest challenges you face shooting this kind of photography? Particularly in capturing your breathtaking adventure images.

With adventure photography, the greatest challenge is invariably one of logistics. For example, the winning image of Lynne traversing on Via Myriam required some careful planning and forethought. We had to climb with an extra rope, additional gear for anchors and abseiling as well as camera equipment. I had to climb this particular pitch first and then abseil back down for the photo. I really wanted some background light which required the right weather, but I didn’t want the scene backlit which necessitated a late start. If the light doesn’t play ball you have to come back and do it all again. Not to mention you have to find a sportsperson up to the task as well as having a third member to belay.

The same applies for ski mountaineering when you often have a very narrow window of opportunity with regards to suitable conditions for skiing the steeper lines. It requires a lot of patience and persistence.

 

 

What’s ‘the shot’ you’d most love to bag?

I’m not sure if there’s a particular shot that stands out, but I love chasing all things ephemeral; be it a receding ice cave, a particularly impressive showing of the northern lights, wolves in the Dolomites (they’re so hard to find) or that breaching Humpback Whale shot I’ve been after for so long. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), as with climbing and skiing as soon as you accomplish one goal you instantly go in search of another.

How did you hear about the Digital Splash Awards and what made you enter?

I actually didn’t know about the Digital Splash awards until a friend made the finals of last year’s competition. I made a mental note to check back the following year and enter some images.  I was already aware of Wilkinson Cameras, having purchased several lenses in the past.

 

 

Your workshops:  Iceland, Greenland, Dolomites. These are some of the most popular photography locations worldwide, what do you offer clients – what are you aims for these trips and your guests?

I work closely with a small family run company, ‘Wild Photography Holidays’, to offer small and personalised workshops. Everyone who works for the company knows the areas intricately, has written guidebooks or lives in the area themselves, giving the staff excellent local knowledge. The aim is to ensure guests get a good strong set of diverse images, learn something new and ultimately have a great holiday.

 

 

Where/what’s next?

I’ve spent the last few years exploring and photographing Iceland which has been a fantastic experience from start to finish. I’m currently in the process of assembling an Icelandic photography guide for publisher fotoVUE, which we hope to have on the shelves by the end of this year. The content is largely finished which unfortunately means the next nine months are going to be largely office based.

 

 

What advice would you give to someone just getting into photography – and what’s been your biggest ‘learn’?

My usual advice is just ‘relax and enjoy it’.

So many people make photography far more complicated than it needs to be, or have very strict ideas on how something should be achieved. If it works for you and you like it, then keep doing it; don’t be afraid to experiment and ignore the ‘rules’.

I often recommend photography as a hobby as it gets people out of the house, makes people look much more closely at the world around them and also provides them with something tangible to show for their efforts.

I think my own personal breakthrough came when I discovered how little you actually need to use a tripod with modern cameras. This gave me a lot more freedom both in terms of weight saving and logistics, allowing me to shoot from a variety of different vantage points much faster.

 

 

The one photographer or extreme sports person – dead or alive – you’d like to meet and why?

I’ve always had a fascination with Emilio Comici (Nicknamed the ‘Angel of the Dolomites’), an Italian climber from the Val Gardena who put up many new climbing routes throughout the Dolomites during the early 1900s. He was famous for promoting ‘direttissima’ routes, or as he described it, following the route a drop of water would take down the mountain. Having cursed my way up many of his routes with modern climbing shoes, ropes and equipment I can only imagine what it was like with a hemp rope and hobnailed boots, not knowing if the climb they’d set out on was even possible.

 

 

And finally, what’s your favourite/must have piece of kit or photo accessory?

It sounds like brand advertising (and I guess it is) but I’m currently in love with the new Circular Magnetic Filters from Breakthrough Photography. No light leakage and they just snap on and off making them wonderfully convenient, especially in the Arctic when you’ve always got cold hands.

What gear do you use?  (We also asked to take a peek inside James’s camera bag, as we’re nosey like that!!)

Cameras:  

  • Nikon D810 with Kirk BL-D800 L-Bracket
  • Nikon D850 with Kirk BL-D850 L-Bracket

Lenses:

  • Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 G AF-S ED Lens
  • Nikon 20mm f1.8 G AF-S ED Lens
  • Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 G AF-S ED Lens
  • Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 II AF-S VR ED G Lens
  • Nikon 300mm f2.8 G ED VR II AF-S Nikkor Lens

Converters:

  • Nikon TC-14E AF-S Teleconverter III
  • Nikon TC-20E AF-S Teleconverter III

Tripod:         

  • Gitzo GT3542LS Series 3 6X Systematic Tripod
  • Induro BHL1 Ball Head

Filters:     

  • Breakthrough Photography 77mm Magnetic Adapter Wheel
  • Breakthrough Photography X4 ND Filter (6 stop)
  • Breakthrough Photography X4 ND Filter (10 stop)
  • Breakthrough Photography X4 UV Filter (x3)

 

 

Thank you James for your time and for allowing us such a fascinating peek behind the scenes!

 

Enjoyed this feature?  To find out more about James, his work, books and workshops then why not pop along to:

 

Website:      www.JamesRushforth.com

Facebook:      @JamesRushforthPhotography 

Instagram:    @james.rushforth

 

Could you be next years Digital Splash Awards winner? Visit the Digital Splash Awards website to find more information and enter the monthly competitions!

 

All images featured Copyright James Rushforth Photography.