60 second interview….

Just been asked to do one of these things… so thought I’d share!   Q. What do you do for a living? I help add personality to businesses by replacing tired, generic “stock library images” with stunning photos of their people, place, products, suppliers… to make their website tell their story.   Q. What makes you good at it? Infectious enthusiasm, lighting mastery, fun approach and my right eye…. it sees the photos for me   Q. If you could…

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So you want to be a pro photographer… what they don’t tell you

After running a workshop on Anglesey in the late Noughties, I got chatting to a professional photographer from Somerset. Great guy, had a few beers and his main comments on his 20 years in the photo business were stock photography wasn’t worth doing any more and assignment pay rates had dropped and not to even consider going into photography as a career – it’s “dead on its arse” At that time I was a reasonably well paid software engineer and…

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Can I Drill Your Teeth?

The answer is of course, yes. Give me a dentist’s drill and I’ll have a good go at it! Never done it before, but I used drills in Woodwork at school, and many times on the farm I worked as a kid.   Would you let me do it – based on that experience? I’m guessing not…. and really, you’d be wise to go elsewhere. Who would you trust? So who would you trust to take a spinning piece of…

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Fireworks Photography Tips

Here’s a selection of photos from Leeds’ Roundhay Park firework display on 5th December 2013, and a few tips on how we did them. Get a good place to watch them A good clear view is best, you get to watch the entire journey of all the fireworks. Too close and you may end up with some great explosion shots, but getting further away allows more options. Don’t expose for too long You need a long exposure, but not hugely…

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Austria Workshop – The Lake at Kufstein

The lakes in Austria tend to be green – a bluey, greeny Jade kine of colour. But on an overcast day, they weren’t really shouting “colour” at us – so I decided to create a series of black and white images from our morning walk around the lake on the German border. The passers by reassured us that the wind would clear the are of mist, but alas it never came. So we had to re-think our approach, doing a…

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Austria Workshop – Day 1

Waking to see rain was never what we wanted, but you just have to go with what you get… and what we started with was a hearty “Austrian farm” breakfast of yoghurt, meats, cheese, bread, butter, jam, orange juie and lots of coffee. Huge thanks to our hosts Keith and Manu for this each day – just the start you need. So we headed out for a gorge, on the premise that it’d offer some both shelter and some great…

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Photographic Therapy

Snow Blind? I’ve used the term “snow blind” a lot recently – it’s refers to that moment when you’ve been shooting the same thing over and over again, to try to get that “perfect” shot – usually for an art director or designer who’s looking on. You’ve tried all sorts, move the lights, changed the background, stood on a ladder, led on your stomach, added in all kinds of things…. and it’s still not quite working. That’s snow blind…. Doesn’t…

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30 Surreal Seconds in Leeds….

  It’s mid afternoon… The sun is bright There is a slight wind blowing the clouds There are people and cars around I’ve just left a meeting in Leeds… So do I take more bright day shots of Leeds Town Hall – or do I go home…. Then I remember I have one of these “10-stop filters” and the clouds are moving… so decide to get some long exposure shots of the city, something a little different. The Techy Bit……

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Team Shoot for Ardent – York City Centre

York based financial advisers, Ardent Financial Planning, are having a new website site and brand built by digital agency “Plump Digital” – Rob Colley invited McFade over to capture some great new shots of directors. Being a York based company, I was keen to create some images with York in the background – it’s a stunning city; including the river and bridges would show to anyone viewing the website. Before we hit the city, we needed some head-shots of each…

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Business Profile Shoot – Mark Broscombe

  Mark’s been in the shipping game for 15 years – mainly sending containers around the world for clients. He’s just started a new role in a brand new business so needed some new shots to promote both him and the business. Images of Shipping… in Leeds? So the challenge of finding a suitable location began – we discussed the vibe of the shoot, and I always try to get a bit of a story in there… then I remembered…

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5 Photos from Ribblesdale – the McFade Workshop

Coming from Ribblesdale, this is one I’d been looking forward to leading. The Ribble is around 70 miles long – we were at the source, I’m from about 35 miles downstream… so it wasn’t really “my hood” – but I’ve been around Horton, Settle and Ribblehead many times so knew a few gems to show the delegates. 1 – Catrigg Force – Starting at Stainforth Stainforth is about 3 miles out of Settle and has a handy car park in…

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Natural Light Portraits with Ann

No Flash? We thought it a little cheeky setting up lots of lights in the Doubletree Hilton’s cafe bar – so we did a few shots with natural light, well a mix of light from outside and the halogen bulbs inside. Fast Lens Most of these are taken with the Canon 85mm F1.8 lens, which is great in low light as it’s a very “bright” lens, but also allows decent working distance (so you’re no in your sitter’s face) and…

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5 Portrait Tips…

I teach and demonstrate flash and portraiture so see a lot of different approaches, good and bad, from the delegates. The main thing to remember about portraits is that the thing you are photographing is alive and can be “manipulated” by your actions. So these 5 tips are not technical – but are about how to interact with the sitter. You can apply them to all people you photograph, though if you’re paying a model, it may be less important…

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It’s All Good… Paul Dodd

The Ideas Man…     Paul’s business card really does say The Ideas Man, and it’s true – you’ll go along way before you meet someone with more ideas – on branding, marketing, web, life, music… you name it! His Design Agency, All Good,  is a one-stop solution for people needing innovative branding and marketing solutions… sure he can explain it a lot better than me, check out the website.             I’ve known Paul for…

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Business Profile Shoot with Gayle Partridge

Gayle is director of Boroughbridge’s IRYS Ltd, providing a wide range of services including training, coaching and mystery shopping. When we were planning the shoot, we quickly discounted the typical “corporate office style” shots  in favour of using Leeds’ Victoria Quarter – a place Gayle knows VERY well and is very at home in! Along with being a cool location, showing shops and boutiques is also appropriate for her mystery shopping business – it’s all about telling a story. We then popped…

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Make Your “Online First Impression” Count – BiY Talk, June 2013

You don’t HAVE to have a boring profile shot these days…. Had a great time talking to fellow business people at BiY today – part of a creative “trio” with Rob and Andy of Plump Digital and Video Advert. Just thought I’d note down my main points from the talk… The world has changed – people want to see “you” and your “everything” now, great photos “sell”, bad ones repel.  Get known as the “local go-to” person is helped with…

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small canon 500

Should I Buy? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself First

If you’re a “kit monkey” and have unlimited funds, you may as well stop reading this now. However, have financial limits, here are a few things to ask yourself when looking to buy a new gizmo for your collection. 1 – What “extra” will it enable me to do? This is the big one for me – what could I do with this kit that I can’t currently do? Lets take a “fast prime lens” as an example. This will allow:-…

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Leeds Couple Inspiring a Community to “Live Well”

Live Well Project – Chris and Anne One of the huge bonuses of running a photography business is meeting great people, and on Sunday I met Chris Jones and Anne-Louise Savery. They are starting a social enterprise in Holbeck to encourage and help people of all abilities, ages and backgrounds to improve health and build community spirit. Their motto is “We don’t see disability, only untapped potential”  You can read about their story at their website – . Looking forward to…

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Typical Exposure Settings

Exposure – Subject Cheat Sheet

Exposure is entirely dictated by the light conditions when you are shooting. There are no perfect settings – you need to use your light meter to “read” the light level, then set ISO, Aperture and Shutter speed accordingly. There are certain rules of thumb you can follow – generally landscape shots are sharp from front to back, so we use small apertures to achieve this. This simple info-graphic is a quick guide – it’s by no means conclusive and there…

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15 Photos of Kingsdale

Where in the Yorkshire Dales is Kingsdale? It’s that long valley which goes up the west side of Whernside, in the Yorkshire Dales. Why’ve I not heard of it? You’ve probably not heard of it, it’s not one of the main dales – it’s probably counted as part of the Ribblesdale region. What’s it like? It climbs steeply from Thornton In Lonsdale, with stunning views of Ingleborough to the right. It then levels off to become a flat-bottomed valley with…

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Lightroom Rescue in under 10 minutes…

Grim Day… Day 1 of the summer series of workshops and we get a winter night…. in may…. It wasn’t raining too much when  we got to the reservoir, so I showed a couple of new people how to expose using a meter. Here’s the shot I got – 4 seconds, histogram told me that the sky had not burned (I’d metered from the sky, so was expecting that!). It was also to show the effect of a polariser on the water…

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Yorkshire Photo Locations – 5 Great Dales

5 Dales – Perfect Yorkshire Photo Locations I’d been in Northumberland for a few days and had nothing major planned for the last day, so journey back to Leeds became a 10 hour epic, taking in 5 great Yorkshire Photo Locations, rather than 2 hours down the A1(M). I’m obsessed with Yorkshire Dales pass roads, the tiny roads which straddle the moors between each of the dales. So when I spotted one linking Teesdale with Arkengarthdale, I struck a path from…

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over the bridge

Commercial Photography – Made Easy

Rocket Science? Commercial Photography quotes can often be more complex than quantum mechanics, with so many variables to consider and charges for all kinds of things. We decided to make things a lot easier for clients by creating lots of new “packages” which are clearly defined and priced. Personalise… Our 2013 offering is Personalising Business – transforming your online and print presence from “generic” i-Stock type images, to stunning shots of you, your colleagues, your location, your local area, Yorkshire…. Many of…

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Trinity Leeds

It’s been a few years in the creation – at last the Trinity Leeds centre is open, so here are a few shots of the place for those who’ve not been yet. It’s full of well known brands, so no huge surprises to shoppers, and the architecture of the huge glass roof is remarkable and well worth a look if you’re into impressive structures. The name comes from the adjacent Trinity Church, an impressive building around which the shopping centre…

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McFade Blog in top 100 Photography Blogs

McFade’s Photography Blog has been included in the top 100 photography blogs to read in 2013 Here’s the list – fantastic to be recognised amongst such great company!   An infographic by the team at CouponAudit .

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5 Tips on “Daytime City” Long Exposures

Get Surreal! Long exposures are common place in landscape photography, where the shots are usually taken in low light at sunrise or sunset. You normally get shots with lots of colour, milky water and foam like seascapes. So I thought I’d try this technique in Leeds – just after mid day on a bright, sunny day… with clouds blowing past. Here are some tips on how to do it… Get an ND Filter It’s sunny, to get a long exposure…

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CREATIVE Shoot – Dancer Shante Liburd

Location, Lights & Action! Shooting with dancers is as creative as it gets – they spend hours training, perfecting moves and poses you can never get “normal” people to do. Spending the day with fellow lighting obsessive and photography trainer, Jayce Clarke, we took Shante and Daniella to an amazing derelict building to use the graffiti-rich walls as a backdrop. A little like being a kind in a sweet shop really – the perfect backdrop and the perfect models. KIT… Most…

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Manchester Uni Union

We captured the student exec a few weeks ago, it was now the turn of the entire staff of the union! It’s always nostalgic going to the Union – I first walked into this building in October 1991, a fresher looking around for beer (which was 85p back then) and glasses… those lecture theatres were huge and I couldn’t read anything on the blackboard. So my first “round john lennon style” glasses came from this exact building Anyway – when…

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Bradford From Above will Blow Your Mind

Don’t Look Down! When Richard Sara-Gray said that we may be able to get a decent view of Bradford, I never realised I’d be on top of the ice rink, looking down from over 150 feet onto the very heart of the city!       So up we went on a cold, windy but occasionally beautiful day – armed with everything from the 17-40 F4 to the 500mm L lens.   Here are the shots I created from up there –…

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Discover Wensleydale

McFade Training hits Wensleydale Our 2013 Landscape trips have been a cold affair so far – wensleydale was no exception with show and ice in just about every shot. Meeting near Skipton then traversing Wharfdale via Kilnsey Cragg and the waterfalls near Cray, we started at West Burton Force.  Its setting is as beautiful as the water itself – a small cliff with jewel like icicles all over it. From here we went to the main attraction – Aysgarth, where…

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Save Preston Bus Station!

Huge structures do it for me. Visually that is… I first saw Preston’s bus station in the 70’s, and it was probably the biggest thing I’d seen at that point – Clitheroe doesn’t have many huge buildings! Huge! It’s the shape and majesty of the thing – the curved edges, the ribbed reinforcement bars, the unchanging pattern along the length of the car park… On seeing the Culture Show’s report about proposed the closing and demolition of the building, I decided to…

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Sparks @ Kirkstall

Night Program Finale…. at Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds We spent 3 hours playing with torches, lighting the majestic ruins at the Abbey, then at the end, created these amazing sparks with wire wool. How did we do this then? There are lots of Youtube videos online, you just need a 9 volt battery, steel wool, whisk and a dog lead…. it’s very easy in theory, though the creativity comes in what you do… where you do it… how fast you…

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HDR Photography in Leeds… Armley

Famous for it’s monumental prison and a gyratory, Armley isn’t the first Leeds suburb you’d go shooting alone in – let alone on an incredibly dull February day. I took to the canal first first, to see how the graffiti artists are doing – these walls change regularly. Then down to the river Aire and over the footbridge for some more shots. All these are HDR shots – which means “High Dynamic Range”, where we take a few photos at different exposures…

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The 2 Poles of Photography

Why McFade Splits Beginners Workshops To total beginners, photography is a new, exciting pastime – but with a learning-curve as steep as Hardknott Pass! Where do you start? You can boil photography down to 2 things:- Finding interesting stuff to photograph Using camera settings to get an interesting shot This is the philosophy behind my Discover Leeds and Take Control workshops. Discover Leeds helps people think about “interesting stuff” Take Control teaches people about camera control To become a competent…

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Claire’s Band Shoot…

Check out the amazing voice…. Had a fun shoot with Claire Colbran, jazz singer in these 2 bands, backing singer in the Chicago Blues Brothers and rather excellent on trombone too… a Colbran family thing apparently! The Photography Bit So we had 3 lights – 2 behind at 45 degrees, one at the front at about 20 degrees. Rears were un-gelled with shoot through brollies, front was 1/2 CTO on a softbox. Most shots were taken with the Canon 17-40 F4…

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5 Fairground Photography Tips

Got a fair coming to town? They’re brilliant to shoot at night – all those moving lights create amazing patterns; so much for the eye to see. Here are 5 tips for making the most of your night there 1 Long exposures – so take a Tripod! Every night photographer will use a tripod, so best to take it. You can capture so much more with a tripod – this ride was just 2 long stick spinning around – with…

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Sam’s Big Band!

Band leader, arranger and sax supremo (is that bigging you up enough Sam ?? lol) asked for some shots of his big band – so we got everyone into an empty office in Leeds and started creating some shots. Herding cats and musicians is never easy, though it didn’t stop us creating some cool shapes with the instruments and body parts! The main breif was white background stuff – though being McFade, we had to create some extra odd shots…

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Yorkshire Landscape Locations

Malham Sneak Preview….

    Yorkshire photography – Wet, cold, miserable, overcast…. Today was all of the above, so time to head to a stream and make the most of the low light conditions. Luckily the river was abnormally high so lots of white water and unusual flow patterns. Ideal for creating a milky, surreal effect. We’ll be taking a group to this exact spot on the 20th January 2013, there are still places left, so get your booking in – or just…

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5 Tips on Cropping Photos

  Cropping a shot is a great exercise – you can find completely new images within an existing frame. Here’s a shot with lots going on, probably too much to be an effective shot on its own. We have a few rocks in the foreground and lots of lines and circles from the moving foamy water. It was taken on an overcast day, so no interesting light.     Crop 1 – Most of the shot…   So to start with, I’ve…

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The Photography “Kit Obsessive”

Photographers fall into many camps, but one that really stands out is the “kit obsessive”. These tend to:- Talk incessantly about kit – above anything else Buy novelty items they rarely use Are never happy with their current kit Motivated by numbers and specifications Can compare and quote reviews of competing kit items More interested in the tools than the photographic results Are first to hear “new kit speculation”  blogs and forums Always think “if only I had a….” rather…

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5 Post Shoot Tips

After a shoot:- Get your photos off your card straight away – do not leave over many shoots! Cards corrupt… you may loose ALL YOUR WORK! Create a folder structure which is easily searchable – maybe with keywords and dates in the folder name Make a backup on a second hard drive Import the photos into Lightroom – apply appropriate keywords to them at this stage (including meta data about you, your copyright etc) Go through each shot quickly and rate…

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Sports Photography at Leeds Varsity

The biggest Varsity showdown after Oxbridge is held annually in Leeds. I was commissioned by Leeds University to capture 10 hours of action at many different venue throughout the Uni and Met campuses. The breif was to capture as many events as possible – so took the huge list of sports, planned the day and set off to capture the events. First off was Badminton at Edge – a lot faster than you think and the lighting was pretty low, so we’re…

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Photos from Durham

  After a week shooting Scotland and Northumberland, a trip into Durham was just a quick detour on the way home. The cathedral and castle are on top of a huge rocky crag, around which curves the river Wear. One of the UK’s most spectacular combinations of nature and man made beauty. The weather wasn’t great – over cast yet not raining. This is good for autumn colours as the rich warm tones really stand out from the duller surroundings. The set here…

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Newcastle Revisited

The Return to Toon! Newcastle was home before Leeds – 16 months doing an MSc in computing science, then looking for a job. Always love going back and always seems to be really cold and over cast…. just how I remember it! Parked up at Eldon Gardens and had a walk around the top end of town – taking in the UNI, St. James park and Stowell St. Even saw Professor Green parked up in his black Merecedes SLS –…

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Austria Workshop 2012 – Bavarian Town

20 minutes before Minuch Airport is this little town – the name evades me sadly. We called in to capture the last shots of our weekend away. It’s got a delightful centre, lovely square, colourful houses and shops, stream and lots of sculptures. Also lots of shops for those last minute gifts… It’s another location to build variety into the images you take away from our workshop – a mix of both old and modern architecture, perfect for long and wide lenses. We…

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Austria Workshop 2012 – Bavarian Church

Homeward Bound – Church, Coffee and Cake Beautiful landscape is one part of out workshops, but we’re partial to a bit of architecture too, and when the weather is lacking, we can always pop into something interesting like this church. It’s on the way to Munich Airport so we pulled off the Autobahn and had a pleasant 45 minutes getting creative away from the rain. I was shooting for HDR mainly, interiors benefit from the extra data you capture from…

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McFade Photography in Blackpool

Blackpool – Vegas of the north! Friday night saw me playing with the Blues Brothers band at the Empire in Blackburn, so I stopped in the area for the weekend, calling into Blackpool for a few hours on Saturday afternoon. Interesting light – sunny in one direction, overcast in the other, so decided to get lots of HDR shots of the iconic, and less well known structures around the north pier area. I also got loads of silly “kiss me…

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Austrian Landscape Photography Workshop – Day 1 at The Gorge

Austrian Landscape Photography Holiday McFade Photography’s “Austrian Photography Holiday & Workshop” took 5 photographers over to the stunning Tirol area of Austria in the middle of October 2012, an area of outstanding mountains, lakes and gorges. A long weekend, from Thursday to Monday, with 3 full photography days in stunning locations, fantastic food and accommodation with Keith and Manu Holt on their traditional Austrian farm, with Keith being the perfect location guide, and Ade teaching you photography skills throughout. We also spend time in the…

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