Wintery Leeds


Facebook was awash with “god it’s cold” comments yesterday – so a great day for some blue wintery sky shots.

Parking around Granary Wharf, taking a walk up through town, down past the market and back along the canal, these images were created. Was indeed nice light.

They are all HDR – that’s what I do! The idea is to get great looking buildings with great looking skies and HDR is the best way I’ve found of doing this. The alternative maybe to sit around wairing for the light levels to balance so the sky and ground are the same brightness, use ND grad filters to darken the sky (and probably the top of the buildings) or bracket shots and manually blend them later.

Anyway – enjoy the gallery below – It’s not that grim up north 😉

5 Post Shoot Tips

After a shoot:-

  1. Get your photos off your card straight away – do not leave over many shoots! Cards corrupt… you may loose ALL YOUR WORK!
  2. Create a folder structure which is easily searchable – maybe with keywords and dates in the folder name
  3. Make a backup on a second hard drive
  4. Import the photos into Lightroom – apply appropriate keywords to them at this stage (including meta data about you, your copyright etc)
  5. Go through each shot quickly and rate them out of 5 – easy in Lightoom (caps lock on – library mode – hit numbers to go through each shot)

It may seem a pain – but doing these steps up front makes managing much easier

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 talking serioulsy high ISO settings and wide apertures to capture the action – here’s one where the shuttle is sharp with the racket about to hit it.

Next was swimming – very humid and instantly had lenses steaming up, so had to wait for them to acclimatise – then got to work with the long lenses, trying to capture the emotion and spirit of the event through facial expressions.


So lots of swimming and diving later, the netball starts at Edge, so move along to the hall to capture that. Again, pretty fast moving – and rather than “gunning” 1000’s of photos of the action, I determined to shoot just 1 shot – the right shot – of each move, waiting for the perfect moment – just love the expression on the right-most Leeds player as the Met score….

Edge was finished, so headed up to Becketts Park for a variety of other sports…. starting with the 100m

Then inside to the Tennis matches

And the wonders of Netball

That was Beckett’s Park complete – so up to Weetwood for the Lacrosse, Hockey and Football

So most of the day was done – I spotted more Netball going on, headed down to the uni campus and captured that along with some of the squash… not a lot you can do with squash other than look down upon them!

Palpable tension in the audience!

Squash… not the king of photogenic sports really…

And so to Headingley Stadium – the finale, the cheer leaders, the trophies, the rugby union and the rain…


First up, the Met Cheerleaders


next, the rather acrobatic Uni Cheerleaders….

And then on to the game

One of the regular sports photographers warned me that it was “a bit dark” on pitch due to the low-ish powered floodlights. He wasn’t wrong – once they were in the corners, the light fell away so much that you were struggling to get anything useful… but the main action was in the middle, luckily. Using my trusty 500 F4.5l lens and the 70-200 occasionally, I knocked out about 400 shots over the 2 halves.

So the result….

It was 29-30 when the Rugby started – the Met had the lead, the Uni had to win to level the day.

Luckily, for my client anyway, the Uni came through strongly in the second half and won by a good margin – levelling the Varsity at 30 each.

A long hard day for the sports men and women, and pretty tiring and lots of exhilaration for the photographers.

Even better is that the University loved the photos and are looking to use McFade on a regular basis!

Urban Photoshoot – Gateshead


Never posed before?

Never had your photo taken before?

Nervous in front of the camera?

These 2 Cramlington girls answered yes to all of these – but that didn’t stop us having a great shoot with some cool results.

We’d got a location in mind with a bit of graffiti and in a reasonably quiet area, so all met up there and started to shoot. Alex and Kerry were both completely stuck for what to do, where to look, what expression to make… we’re used to this, unless you’ve got a model or someone with PR experience, it’s always the same.

After the lights were set up it was a case of chatting and getting to know them as we photographed them. As soon as  take their mind away from the camera, you start to get the more creative shots…. though we did get loads of “crying with laughter” type shots…

We offer this “urban portrait” service around the UK – anyone who fancies creating something a bit edgy, different to the usual “studio” feel need look no further.


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 is a quick loop around the river, view from a bridge and then up to the colleges around the back of the cathedral, with their distinctive cobbled streets.

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 – didn’t get a shot, just smiled and thought… who the hell is he… looks familiar 😉

2 hours later I got a reasonable set of images, given the conditions, and set off on my travels to Durham.

Here’s a selection – see if you can guess where they are…. should be easy, I told you above

View from the M62 – Light Trails

Night time means long exposures, things moving through your images, high contrast scenes, a new world of creativity with you camera, a change for your imagination to run wild.

To most, the M62 is a car park they traverse every morning and evening, a place of wasted time and torture.

To a photographer, it’s a scene packed with potential – from this vantage point there are around 10 lanes of traffic.

Add in the occasional blue light from an emergency vehicle, or the flashing yellow lights of the constructions vehicles on the hard shoulder – you get a real mix.

Processing these images in many different ways adds variety – go for ultra high contrast, low clarity for the softer focus, cool white balance for the blue tones, toned black and white…. options abound.

Also don’t assume that you just use your wide lenses – zooming in on a lane can create something pretty spectacular – and highlight the path vehicles take, with the direction the light trails go in