Top Tips – Sunny Day Cities

Photography in bright sun is a bad thing…. right ?

Well it can be – it’s not ideal for landscapes,  can make a wedding dress impossible to shoot without blinding your self and creates really harsh shadows.

But like any light, it has its uses – so here are a series of shots from a few weeks back in Leeds. It was the day of the Manchester Riots oddly enough.

So first off… look for light and shadow – the top shot here is all about the light bricks and the dark areas under the balconies. It’s also about the repeated pattern and perspective – but without that strong light, it just wouldn’t have the impact.

This shot is the same – the dark brick buildings against a bright, blue sky. The light was catching the windows and hotel name, so I knew they’d really jump out at the viewer.

Also, notice I’m using a really wide lens. In cities, wide lenses are fantastic – rather than honing in on small details as you’d do with a long lens, these allow you to take in a complete picture of the surroundings.

Like in this shot, you get the wonderfully textured sky, some crazy flats and the Bridgewater Place building – all in one shot. Much more for the viewer to digest than just a shot of the tower?

Also, the strong light on the right of the tower gives a nice 3D effect you don’t get on dull days.

Abstract details like this crane take on an extra dimension in sunny conditions – here the windows were dark and in shade, but the crane was brightly lit. You get the clouds and crane really standing out from the lovely blue hues.

 

Don’t be afraid to look up – often a sunny day will cast a street into shadow, so looking up is the only way to take advantage of the magical light. This tower is on Albion Street in Leeds, a street that is in shadow virtually all day.

Look for patterns – here we have randomly fluffy clouds against a rigid zig-zag pattern. Also a really strong shadow line too. You only really get these on days where the sun is bright, so take advantage when you see them.

You can also look for people and the shadows they cast – in this case, I also used the steps and shadows cast by those  because with my ultra wide lens I couldn’t zoom in close enough to the people walking past to fill the frame, so improvised to build the picture. The steps actually point to the people’s shadows, leading your eye to them if you like.

Cloud reflections transform boring buildings into something far more spectacular on bright days.

And finally, here’s a shot taken in a tunnel in Leeds – really dark inside, really bright outside. Not a massive amount of interest in the people walking past as it’s so dark your exposure would have to be really bright to capture their expressions, making the rest of the scene look, well, washed out.

SO in this instance, I propped myself against the wall, focused on the interestingly textured mesh on the wall and used the bright lights from the cars and outside the tunnel to create something a little more abstract than a straight street scene. You can make out the people, especially the guy on the right, you can see a car or 2, but the only thing you really see clearly is the mesh… reminds my of the days before glasses and contact lenses!

 

Bright days are not the panacea for photographers, but with the right amount of imagination and a bit of knowledge on exposure, you can create something quite striking – especially if you just use one lens as I did in all these shots (canon 17-40 F4 L)

 

Past Power To the People…

 

I’m not sure where my fascination with cooling towers came from – maybe the few around Padiham when I was a kid caught my eye? They’re just so incredibly huge and un-natural looking that I’m quite drawn to them. So when I got to Leeds and started discovering the county of West Yorkshire (andy beyond), I’d end up photographing these things whilst my peers were on the piers at Whitby and Saltburn, or in the dales.

Ferrybridge, Eggborough and Drax are the big ones in Yorkshire, and they’re surrounded by large fields, so you can get some nice juxtaposition shots of lovely wheat fields with the towers looming over them!

Don’t get too close though, the security people are soon out to accuse you of being naughty and ask you to move on!

 This dis-used power station is a bit of a find really, you can find all sorts of photographic delights just walking around – the echos you get when stood inside the towers is a totally unique experience. Even a small pebble being kicked causes a long, lingering boom sound. Try singing Puccini in there!

There are 5 towers, each one seems to have a slightly different interior, be it full of wood, totally empty, got a bridge in there or even some kind of cat-walk.

The graffiti boys have been there too, so the grey drabness of 330 feet of concrete is broken by their colourful sprayings.

 They’re so dark inside, that any views outside tend to be just white, so I put an eye in the sky on this next one… just out of curiosity really.

 

There is a bit of greenery poking through… not a lot though!

You need an ultra wide lens to get floor-to-sky photos 

There is a lot of red brick littering the place – thought I’d bring out the reds in this next shot.

Not sure what the square thing is here, though we guessed it was a huge water tank

Audi A5 Sportback

Audi A5 Sport Back Photograph

Had a trip out to shoot the stunning new Audi A5 Sportback yesterday.

Must confess that I’ve never driven an automatic before, so I did hit the break thinking it was the clutch a few times – having massive brand new break discs, I can report that it does stop pretty darn fast!

Lovely car and a lovely day – perfect for those moody mono photographs really. For colour photographs to really sing, you need to be going out later in the day, preferably around sunset.

If you are in the market for a new or quality used Audi, please get in touch with Peter (peterbentnick@sytner.co.uk) and he’ll look after you.

And if you’re after a photograph of your new Audi, then get in touch at info@mcfade.co.uk!

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Leeds Band Photography on the Bridge

Leeds Band Photography by McFade Photography!

 

As well as photographing  everything and anything, I also play piano and keyboards in 2 bands – one being the Blues Brother’s tribute band “Sweet Home Chicago”.

The Band got a fantastic brass section comprising of Greg, Sam and Chris, and they seem to be in about 1000 bands between them. So they got most of the members together last week for a shoot with me. Where else but the darkest, moodiest place in Leeds – the Dark Arches… perfect.

Was quite a windy day to say the least, raining like hell too, so most of the photos were taken inside the arches, then we went to the new footbridge over the Aire for a few as well.

They’re all taken with 2 or 3 speedlite flashes, we needed 3 to create light on the musicians and also light the background, in many of the shots. To add variety, each “section” of the bands had a different backdrop, so I was effectively doing about 10 totally different lighting set-ups in 2 hours, quite a challenge!

Processing was mainly done using a cool portrait style I created, then a few were tweaked and meddled with in Photoshop.

All in all, a slightly mental but enjoyable shoot

Here’s a selection from the day – click on any image for a gallery page to pop up

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So if you are in a band and need some cool photographs, be it Leeds, Bradford or anywhere in the UK, give us a shout on info@mcfade.co.uk and we’ll get your profile raised!

McFade Training

 

Click here to see the McFade Training Promo

 

After teaching, coaching and running workshops on Photography for the last few years, we’ve created a new branch of the McFade Photography business called “McFade Training”.

Our philosophy is that to become a “creative” photographer, you really need to understand how you camera works, how to get the correct “exposure” for your photos and the basics of “composition” – then from this base you can apply this knowledge to whatever you love photographing.

We’ve got an open evening in Leeds on the 22nd of August 2011 to show you what’s on offer with McFade Training AND you get to photograph a model with some off-camera flash too!

This is up at the Heart Headingley – an arts and business centre with plenty of parking for you. Address it on the attached flyers. Click on them to enlarge.

 

 

Book now at training@mcfade.co.uk – places are limited so do it now to avoid disappointment.

Wow – You must have a great camera!!

There are some quite amusing things that people say to photographers from time to time, often when you show them their image on the back of the camera, or present a few prints or a recent book, or even just see the shots on the web. Things like :-

“Wow – that camera’s awesome”

or

“I wish I had a camera like that so I could get great photos too”

You just politely smile, or on occasion, give them the camera and say “have a go” (with a cheeky smile).  Oddly enough, the shots they take are often not pulitzer prize winners.

Its a bit like going up to Will Self and saying

“I love your work Will, what pen do you use? If I had that pen, I could create fantastic novels, just like yours!”

Or maybe meeting up with David Hockney and saying

“That painting of someone having just dived into the pool – that’s amazing, what brush did you use. If I had a that brush, I could come up with a ground breaking piece of art like that too”

Sure, a good camera and lens makes a difference, in the same way a good drill does to a tradesman. If you gave me the best drill in the world, I’d probably still end up with a door that doesn’t close properly or a sink that leaked. Owning a drill and set of tools does not make me a tradesman – even though I’m a tradesman’s son.

Maybe the reason a shot looks awesome on the back of the camera has something to do with the guy/gal who has spent years learning about camera control, exposure, composition, posing, lighting etc. etc.  ?

🙂

Just a thought anyway