VIVA CAS VEGAS!

Casvegas…. Pontecarlo….

West Yorkshire’s casino district?

Well maybe not, but between the 2 or them, they have a couple of real photographic gems.

The boating lake at Pontefract’s racecourse is fantastic for sunsets, and this bridge in Castleford is pretty spectacular after dark.

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So what brought me here…

Well 2 things really – I’m starting the huge McFade Winter Nights series of workshops, 17 in total, so wanted to get out there and do a little warm up shoot. It may not be obvious (intentionally) but there’s quite a bit of added torch light on some of these shots – which is what I’ll be teaching on the workshops.

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I think we’ll pop along and shoot the bridge at some point in the winter – it’s a pretty cool structure, with it’s mix of bright white light and surrounding warm “yellow” light, the weir itself is lit nicely and the way it curves offers loads of interesting views.

Secondly, a facebook group called Strictly Yorkshire, has had a lot images from here recently – I’d never been at night so went along with Suki to check it out. What we thought would be 30 minutes shooting turned into a couple of hours, and we met a guy from the facebook group too.

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Technique…

HIGH ISO

Well there’s a mixture here – initially it was raining so doing longer exposures put the camera at risk and the lens got wet… So I jacked the ISO up high and did 1-5 second exposures to minimise the damage!

HDR

When shooting the deck and surroundings, the tonal range of the shot suggested HDR – mainly because the water would burn out completely before the deck started to light up. So I shot my usual -2/0/+2 brackets then merged them later in Photomatix, using a pretty “out there” vibe to make the deck bright blue!

Torch and Long Exposures

As I got to the far end where the flour mill was,  I got the bright LED torch out and started to light the buildings – they’re pretty dark with only ambient light on. The torch brought out the lettering nicely and also managed to make the shot balance well – with the whole mill standing out from the dark sky. These shots were 30 seconds, slightly underexposing the sky so the torch work on the bricks would stand out.

 

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McFade Winter Nights

Just a very quick plug for the workshops which kick off in November 2013…

Check out the details on the training website –

It’s all about showing you how to create shots like these – both on the shoot, and later in processing.

There’s a lot of experience in photoshop/RAW editing goes into image creation these days – so I want to ensure you’re getting the best from the files you create so you can win those club competitions, sell prints or just wow your mates on Facebook – whatever motivates you to create images.


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40 Photos of Seville

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September’s travel photography trip included a surprise trip over to Seville, we were 2 hours away so it was well within range.

We’d been recommended by the car hire bloke AND a cab driver who said it was the “home of beautiful architecture – and women”.

SOLD!

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So we got there on Saturday afternoon when it was a mere 40 degrees, parked and went for a wonder around the city.

I’d taken the decision to use only the 5D2 with 17-40 lens, plus the Cokin Z-Pro filter kit which goes handily in the belt-bag you get with the kit. There was a polariser in there too – not sure I used it in the end though.

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We started walking down the river to the bull ring, this was close to insanity as there was no shelter from the burning sun – we soon headed inwards to the tall, narrow streets of the city.

 

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The biggest gothic cathedral of them all, and the 3rd biggest church of them all, was what I wanted to see – and when we got there it was truly amazing how much land the buildings covered… it was probably bigger than a football field! I’ve never seen great photos of the thing, usually seeing a door or a corner. I now know why… you just can’t see the whole thing from street level. It goes on and on, you see a corner at best. If you go to the next street, you can’t see anything – they are too narrow.

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The only disappointment was that there was a wedding going on and entrance was prohibited, so we never got into the place… gutted… but a reason to return!

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We went to the huge exhibition space called Plaza de España:-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plaza_de_Espa%C3%B1a_(Seville)

Wow – what a place, a bit like our Crystal Palace, but still standing. Surrounded by a lovely park with similarly beautiful buildings, it’s a must-see location for photographers.

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Walking back to the city, we witnessed a most amazing cloud formation a sunset – and popped into a food festival whilst it happened.

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The last photos of the day were pure “street” – capturing the city as we walked through the night air. People in their shorts and tee shirts at 10PM, performers, long shopping streets and the excitement of Hercules Square. This place is rammed full of parties, people drinking at bars or even their own booze on this massive square, we’d never seen the like in Europe! It’s massive, vibrant, full of beautiful people and doesn’t get quiet till 3AM. Go there, book a holiday now… it’s worth it.

These photos are in no particular order, just take a moment to check out the variety of architecture styles and the relaxed yet bustling style of the city.


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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 more “nature” based shoot than the stunning landscape we had in mind.

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First off – shooting with wider apertures across misty lakes made for a decent shot – here focussing on the tree in the foreground left, the background fades with mist and lens blur.

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Another shot on the same theme – this time the subject is a lot further away so the lens blurr is less pronounced.

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Ferns always look good – these were tired and brown, I knew a mono with the reds/oranges increased would make them stand out.

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Square crop of a bench… again with very wide aperture of F1.8

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Long shutter speed on a tiny stream which fed the lake – this was 30 seconds with a 10-stop ND filter on

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Still scenes and blurry people

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Not entirely sure why I like this bin, but I do!

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Lots and lots of fungi around at this time or year

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Strange little fern like plants – with Matt Netherwood in the background

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So there you go – when the light’s not playing ball, it’s often time to change tack and get creative with nature. Also, try shooting RAW but change your camera style to Black and White – that way you’ll concentrate more on the shape, light and dark areas than the lack of colour… which is the most important thing in most photos really.

 

Austria Workshop – Day 1

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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.

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So we headed out for a gorge, on the premise that it’d offer some both shelter and some great views – we got the latter, alas no shelter… a little wet! So onwards with a few pit stops to get some dramatic sky shots to a large church commune high in the hills.

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A beautiful building – offering shelter and a chance to spend time with each of the delegates, showing them how to get the exposure right and a few ideas on composition. It was pretty dark, so they were all on tripods taking longer exposures and shooting for HDR.

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Into the restaurant where we all seemed to get the schnitzel and wheat beers, though some had this Austrian wine concoction which tasted like pear juice…. Slurm or something like that!

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After lunch, we headed for a lovely lake where we got a wonderfully dramatic sky and green water – made for some pretty amazing shots from everyone. The little jetty was the perfect foreground – I made sure everyone got a go with that.

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After 2 pit stops there it was time to head back for some birthday drinks and a lovely 3 course meal of Pumpkin soup, weizsswurst and pretzel with potato salad, followed by a lovely cake baked freshly by Manu that day.

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As it was a birthday we headed into Ellmau to sample some of the local hopitality and wheat beers – before retiring for the evening.

Happy Customer… huge Leeds print

One of my Leeds prints has found its way on to a client’s mantelpiece – Laura’s just sent over this shot.

Love seeing them in place – you send them off not knowing where they’ll end up, so it’s a real buzz seeing them in place like this.

I think this one was about 45 inches wide – has a real sense of presence in the living room.

I’m thinking of doing some special offers for Xmas – would you be interested in getting a canvas or acrylic as a gift for someone this Xmas?

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