Fake Blurry Skies… in 2 minutes

10 Stop Filters – All the Rage!

I’ve got one, have you?

Well no landscape or architecture photographer worth their salt goes out without one these days do they ? ūüėČ

It is the current fad – that surreal sky, those misty sea shores… you simply have to use them…

They are genuinely interesting to use, and I have on occasion used one commercially to make “people disappear” from photos.

So looking back at this photo of Clarence Dock, which it was called then, I wondered what it would have looked like with a 10-stopper.

Photoshop Stuff…

So here’s a very quick, purposely quick and dirty, way you can do the blurred sky thing.

It just uses…

  • Selections
  • Layers
  • Filters
  • Masks

Simple stuff really – as you’ll see when you watch it ūüôā


But what about the water?

Ten out of ten to Eva Pitt, who mentioned that the water should look different if it was a long exposure.

  • Well the main reason for it not being smooth in this instance is time – the video was supposed to be 2 minutes, it went on to 4… didn’t have time
  • having a smooth sky and choppy water is confusing – and confusion is a good thing, ask any NLP master
  • If you’ve understood the theory of how to do the sky, you could apply it to the water – so that part would be superfluous.


Bookings “go though the roof” with McFade Photos

A New Look Pays Off!

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Having recently opened an events space in Leeds, our client needed some fresh shots to promote it.

So we created some of our “special HDR¬†images” of Lambert’s Yard¬†–¬†using a mix of angles and styles to show the features, and sell the place as a modern,¬†warm, fun, city centre venue to hold your events.

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Since releasing¬†the photos their hit-rate on google has “gone through the roof”,¬†they have taken on an unprecedented 25 new bookings in a week.

We’re obviously delighted to have such a great impact on a new venture’s fortunes, and are looking forward to giving many¬†other venues the same treatment next week!

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What difference could new images have on your business?

You may not have cool city centre venues for hire, but most of us do have images on our websites and social media – ask yourself…

  • What are my¬†current images saying about my¬†business?
  • Do they have the right “message” to my¬†clients?
  • Are they just filling the site, or are the enhancing the site ?

The Main Event!

Photography can be so much more than a “website filler” – it can totally transform how people view your business and attract a whole new demographic; they are the main event on most websites!


If photos of you, your team or your business in general are looking dated – don’t hesitate to give us a call on 0776655 83 75 or drop us a line at smile@mcfade.co.uk – if we can help, we will!

Why you should “Shoot to the Right”

Shoot to the right… what’s that then?

It’s a technique to get better image quality… simple as that really.

Why¬†does the “shoot to the right” technique give you better image quality?

Well the science¬†is pretty¬†complicated and all to do with how a sensor captures light. Digital cameras sensors are more efficient at capturing the light in the “highlights”,¬†and less efficient at capturing “shadows”, so¬†by getting the exposure more to the highlight end, we are getting the best out of the sensor.

Obviously you need to shoot RAW files for this to work, as you will need to correct (usually lower) the exposure later in a RAW convertor. Shooting jpeg means you thrown the baby out with the bathwater and lost all that great exposure info.

How do you do it?

The main thing is to get the exposure “to the right” not “totally blown out.

You need to get good with histograms – which are really simple, honest. It’s just a graph which shows you how your photo is made up – in terms the brightness of your photos. The left end is the shadows and black, middle is mid tones, right is highlights and white.

Here is one way to do it:-

  1. First, as normal you need to compose your image and meter the exposure.
  2. Take the shot at the metered exposure and check the histogram – what you are aiming for is to most of the exposure on¬†the¬†right side of the histogram, but none of it clipping off the right side –¬†blowing the highlights.
  3. If most of your histogram is to the middle or left of the graph, then you just increase the exposure – doubling your shutter speed will move the graph along to the right a fair way.
  4. If the histogram is already off the right side, clipping the highlights and need to reduce the exposure to bring it back. You are aiming to have the highlights just inside the right side of the histogram.

Just keep taking photos and tweaking till you get it right – on a day with pretty consistent light, you probably only have to change the exposure when the sun goes behind a cloud.

A modern way…

If you have a camera with “live view” there is a good chance that it has a “live histogram” too. On a canon 5D mark 2, this is accessed by switching live view on – then pressing the “INFO” button over and over to cycle through the display settings. Eventually, you get to the little live graph.

All you need to do now is :-

  1. set your shot up as usual –
  2. maybe ISO100, F16 for a landscape –
  3. get the filters in place –
  4. Now just look at the graph and adjust the shutter speed till the right side of the graph touches the right end of the histogram.

It really is that simple

Why Bother?

Here’s a little video of 2 shots of the Humber Bridge – one is “over exposed”, the other “under exposed”

Both are not “correctly exposed” – but when you recover them ¬†– the results are quite different… as you will see!

Tips On Photographing Statues

I learned about flash by using statues as models… they’re more patient than real people, don’t get cold and available 24/7!

Just spotted this article about it here so thought I’d share

Gear Suggestions:

Unless you’re a particular fan of the carvings that decorate the tops of churches you’ll only need a standard zoom lens which means this is a project you can do with your DSLR or compact camera. If you want a little bit more stability take a tripod along but you can quite happily work hand-held.


As well as looking for the right angle to photograph the statue pay attention to the background as this can change the overall look of the image. A messy background’s distracting while a bright sky can affect the meter reading and leave you with a silhouetted statue. Metering from a darker part of the scene can wash the sky out completely so try using exposure compensation if you find metering to be a problem. If you’ve found an angle you just have to photograph but the background’s spoiling the shot, use a wider aperture to throw the background out of focus.


If your statue’s in a shaded area, such as under trees, make sure your flash is off as this will blast light into the scene and all the shadows which emphasis the statue’s shape will be lost. You may need to use a slightly longer shutter speed so make sure you hold your camera steady or pop it on a tripod to prevent camera shake.

6 Essential Steps to Hiring the Right Photographer

Choosing the right Photographer For Your Project

Let’s help you with a few simple steps:-

1 – Think about what you NEED


It’s worth having a think about the purpose of the photos before you start.

Go online and check out your competition’s websites, see what they are doing – or people in California doing the same thing. Ideas can come from anywhere.

So you just need headshots of everyone, or how about some action shots of them working – or each doing a presentation, or all standing around a table looking at some designs or…. 

Get the idea… have a little brainstorm to get the creative juices flowing, and collect photos in a folder if you can. Get a mental picture BEFORE you start, this will guide the process

2 – Check Photographers You Know First  


See if they’ve done the kind of thing you need, and the quality and “style” is what you want. You’ll know the style if you’ve done step 1!

If they have, meet for a coffee – have a catch-up – chat about the project, that’s probably all you need to do. 

3 – Ask for Recommendations_MG_9050

Asking on Linked IN  is the usual route but be specific on what you need or you will be flooded with hundreds of photographers, many of whom are not what you need!

Some things to clarify when you ask for a recommendation… 

  • Is it a people shoot or products?
  • Is it an event?  
  • Is it for press or marketing?
  • Do you need some property shots?
  • Are you photographing food or drinks?

The more specific, the better the recommendations will be – no point getting a specialist studio photographer to shoot a building site! 

You can go the GOOGLE route too – just remember that the page rank is based on their SEO, not the quality of their work… dig deep AND get specific on your keyword search. For example – “Leeds Photographer” will get you hundreds of wedding photographers. 


4 – Check Portfolios

We make it easy for you with our website – it’s a shop window which usually tells you what you need to know about what they shoot and how they make things look – their style. 

So pick through the LINKED IN recommendations and check out their portfolios to make a shortlist.

Don’t just go on recommendation alone. That obviously counts – a lot – but if their style is wrong for your needs, you’re not going to get the right images. 


5 – Ask for More Examples of Their Work

Once you’ve found photographers with a “style” you like, and they’ve been recommended to you – you’re nearly there. 

To choose between a few, maybe ask for some more examples of their work, things related to your project – a quick intro email asking if they’ve any similar examples is fine.

This does 2 things:-

  1. Shows how keen they are – if they reply with a few shots, they’ve “bothered” to help you out.
  2. Shows depth in their work – this may be obvious from their website, but reassurance is gained from seeing that they’ve done many projects, rather than just that one-off on the website!

The exception to this is when they’ve got a large portfolio to show – sometimes they’ve got everything on their site you need to know. 

The Trainee Issue…

Many people go on courses and workshops to learn about photography, especially wedding photography (or portraits, or whatever really). Here’s what happens….

  • They get to photograph beautiful models who know how to pose perfectly.
  • They use lighting set up by the course trainer – so everything is balanced and looks perfect.
  • They then edit the photo under the guidance of the tutor
  • The resultant photos are usually pretty amazing – and they should be in those circumstances. 
  • They then create a website and fill it full of photos from that day.… 

The Issue….

The “issue” is that these are shot in perfect conditions with expert guidance. 

There was no time pressure, annoying guests, crying brides or  vicars who don’t like photographers. The true test is to see their photos from real weddings… where there is no one to hold hands, set up lighting, organise the guests, photoshop the files etc. 

So be aware of these types of photographer – everyone has to start somewhere of course, but maybe you don’t want them starting with your wedding!

How to spot sites like this…

It’s easy really – just go through all the pages and see how many different brides and grooms you can see. Also, these courses will not usually have “families” to photograph – so if all the photos are just the couple, it’s probably from a course. 

Asking to see “more of their work” is, therefore, a great thing to do – you can then see how they perform in reality… 

It may be that they’ve not had time to update their website, so it looks like they’ve never shot a real wedding, when in reality they’ve done dozens and are fantastic! 


6 – Meet Up for a Coffee


Finally, ask to meet for a coffee if possible. A face-to-face or ZOOM meeting is the best way to find out if you “hit it off” – rapport is hugely important in people photography.

After an hour or so you can see how things develop and usually check out more photos with them. 



After all that, you’ve probably found a photographer who can do the job you want!





Lightroom Landscape Workflow – 3 Minute Mono!

Last Ditch Pitstop!

The Dales Experience workshop was somewhat spoiled by ice – the 3 roads to get to our favourite spots were impassible! So rather than panic, we grabbed loads of great shots elsewhere and on the way back to base, I remembered these trees on the side of the road near Airton

I don’t think anyone else really saw the potential – the sunset had come and gone, very little light and the tree was in the wrong direction for the last light anyway.

But the point of these workshops is to both show people how to get shots AND show potential locations – and this is one… so I stopped!

Under 3 Minutes to Cook!

This tutorial video (below) shows how I got from this unedited RAW file to the “MOODY MONO”¬†shot below in under 3 minutes using Lightroom – and that’s taking time to commentate in LIGHTROOM too!

Sure, you could do more, I think the tree trunks don’t stand out enough so you could get busy with the DODGE brush in Photoshop and make the grass brighter… but hopefully¬†you get some ideas for your future monos.

We go from this

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To this

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See our simple Lightroom Workflow – 3 Minutes!


3 Things You Never Think of When Hiring Photographers

I need some photos…. fast!

You need some photos, something which is going to make you look great for a press release, or your web developer needs something to fill that website..

Where do you start?

Be honest – do you¬†get a few photographer’s “day rates” and plump for the lowest?

Or do you just ask a few friends and go with what they say?

Well the second one of those is actually a good step Рbut just because they did a good job for your friend, will get the right shots for you?

The bad news…

Photographers are very distinct, creative types Рgiven the same brief they are likely to create vastly different images than other photographers. 

Not what you want to hear!

It’s like hiring a band….


If you’re into 70’s rock and a¬†friend¬†recommends¬†his “son’s mate’s band“, because they are “brilliant“.

They turn out to be a¬†Brit Pop act, play really well, but leave you and your¬†fellow “70’s rock lover” mates a little bit disappointed.

It’s the same with photographers.

You may throw a shout out on LINKED IN asking for a photographer to shoot some photographs for your new website.

How do you know that the ones recommended are right for you?


3 Vital Things to Consider


1 – Have they the “Ability”?


So you really need to know whether they can do the job

  • have they got the technical know – can they actually¬†take a photo
  • do they have the right equipment for the job, or will they turn up with an iPhone?
  • can they deliver when they say they will, or will you be waiting for weeks?
  • will they interpret the brief correctly, or go off at a tangent?


A photographer with experience and ability can usually adapt to most situations, dipping into that pool of knowledge when things “develop” differently to plan. They will know how to set up lights if they’re needed. They’ll know what they need to get “in the can” before they leave.


Less experience will (almost¬†inevitably)¬†take longer, you’ll be waiting for them to set up. Then waiting again for them to diagnose the usual issues by trial and error – rather than instinct. They may need to re-shoot if they get stuck. Everyone has to start somewhere – it’s how you learn.¬†But can you afford the extra time it may take? You will probably save a few quid though!


You can find much of¬†this out from their website testimonials page, asking people who’ve used them and just looking at their portfolio…


2 – Are they the “Right Person”



The biggest one is probably the one most people miss – are they the right person to photograph you?

  • Will they chat, engage, encourage you and create the right environment for you (and your team) to relax and enjoy the shoot?
  • Are they the quiet type who are great at shooting products and things which don’t move?

Think of it this way…


The best “widget photographer” in the world will be fantastic at setting up widgets and studio lights – their photos may be in every magazine in the world. They get recommended to you on this basis, you hire them to photograph you and your team….¬†

They turn up and are quiet, shy, never talk to anyone, are¬†constantly¬†tweaking their lights and looking at the camera back –¬†leaving everyone in your team¬†feeling¬†left out and bored.

A week later you’ll receive¬†perfectly lit, beautifully sharp photos of you and the team looking bored and ready to kill someone!¬†


Photographers are¬†all different…

Remember that photographers are all very different – you will get the:-

  • detail obsessed people who will make your latest phone look amazing,¬†or
  • the fun and outgoing, who will have you laughing and enjoying the shoot
  • the diligent type who will sit for days waiting for the perfect light to photograph your buildings
  • the arty type who will take photo then totally transform them in Photoshop
  • and many others…

All are fantastic at what they do, you just need to get the right one for your needs.


Meet them before you shoot – you’ll understand¬†their personality better, and see if you¬†get on with them.


3 – Do they have “Style”?


The quintessence of photography is “style”.

Style is¬†a consistent, recognisable feel to their portfolio. When you work through their website (or “book”), each photo belongs there – it will have a look honed by years of work.

Simply put –when you see a new photo and say “that looks like Fred’s work”, that’s style.¬†


Style Reassures….

When a photographer has a style, you know what you are buying – they will bring their style to your job, so you¬†don’t have to worry about the results, they will have the same “style” as those in their portfolio.

A Gamble…

Conversely, if their portfolio is seemingly random, with no consistency in lighting, processing, posing, feel or form, then how can you predict what you will receive? Which “photographer” is going to turn up – does it depend on the moon phase or how much coffee they’ve consumed? It is unpredictable – a gamble.¬†You may get the best photos ever, or you may get something totally inappropriate.


Glamour poses may¬†not be ideal¬†on your team page, so if all a photographer’s¬†portraits seem slightly risqu√©, they may well do the same with YOU!


It’s not “All About¬†The Money, Money, Money…”

So yes Рthere is a big difference between pricing, from the new person who will work for days for £100, to the £10K a day studio in London.

You photos are hugely important investment – they tell the world so much about your business.


Do all you can to stack the shoot in your favour,  find a photographer who you get on with and has the right style Рthe impact on how your business is perceived could be massive! 


Check out our Photography…

Go to McFade Photography Site…


HDR Without Using HDR?

Photography’s Most Divisive¬†Technique

Go on any photography forum or¬†facebook group and you’ll get a vocal majority who are not HDR fans. They may have a point in many cases as HDR can turn normal photographers into creatures who love “eye-popping” saturation and massive detail in every nook and cranny.

The thing is – HDR is a massively useful technique which overcomes so many issues, but can get abused and end up creating some monstrosities.

A Way Around HDR

So to avoid these issues, here’s a way of using just PHOTOSHOP, bracketed images and masks to reap the benefits of HDR, without¬†using HDR.

Here’s a quick video which¬†explains how to create¬†Luminosity Masks and apply them to your “not really HDR” photos.

Leeds is RUBBISH For Photography!

Who’d Want to do Photography in Leeds ?

I’ve heard this said many times – along with classics such as…

  • you’ve not got many great buildings,
  • you’ve not got any sky scrapers
  • costs a fortune to park and they charge you at night
  • its really rough and you’ll get mugged.

Ok… Parking is Terrible…

Well the one I agree with is the parking issue. It’s a pain to park in the city – it has to be said. Hugely over priced car parks, and hour of on-street parking costs more than a Bugatti Veyron…

To add insult to injury, the council, in their infinite wisdom, decided to charge for parking in the evenings too – which has certainly put me and lots of other photographers off “popping into town” for a few shots at sunset. A shame…

Here’s Why Leeds is Great for Photography…

Quirky hipsters and locals

The people are usually pretty interesting for starters – it’s a reasonably big city and everyone’s racing around doing their own thing, so capturing them is as good as anywhere!

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Carvings on buildings

Look up and you’ll find thousands of heads and faces looking back – no its not a horror movie, but the carvings on the banks and municipal buildings. The Financial and legal area are full of them – go take a look!

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Cool Architecture

Ok, it may not be as big as you get in London, Birmingham and Manchester, but there’s some really cool facades if you look. This is near the station and when the sun hits it right… looks great

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Trinity’s HUGE Glass Roof

It’s a lot of glass – it’s all around you – it doesn’t rain in there and the security are pretty cool about you taking photos! There’s also some bizare horse statue with a wool sack on its back

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The Victoria Quarter

Most places have arcades, but few as grand as County Arcade and Cross Arcade in the Vic Quarter… then there’s the HUGE ceiling with a massive stained glass roof! There’s loads in here, and again you’re cool to take photos if you don’t use a tripod… if you do, they burn you as witches!

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Leeds Market

Europe’s biggest covered market apparently – it goes on forever and ever. Its the top bit, on Vicar Lane, which is worth seeing though. The fish and butcher alleys too.

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The Corn Exchange

Big round buildings are ace – Manchester Library, Albert Hall in London… and Leeds has its Corn Exchange. An amazing building inside and out. It’s not really “round” but a slight egg shape really. But both from the outside and inside, this is amazing to photograph!

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Is it really RUBBISH for Photographers?

I don’t think so – it’s definitely no London or¬†New York, but there’s so much out there if you only LOOK and be AWARE of what’s going on…

  • Look for stuff which isn’t obvious, look reflections in puddles or up at buildings and you’ll find a whole new world you’ve walked past thousands of times
  • Be Aware of things going on – find a cool scene and wait for people to walk into it, then capture those. Or wait for a red¬†to come into your scene to add a splash of colour

All the photos….

AND FINALLY, All the photos....
….in this blog here were taken whilst teaching a workshop, to show everyone how you can find photos on a horribly cold, dull and windy January afternoon! Do not wait for perfect conditions, go out and do it NOW… then you’ll work out that Leeds isn’t RUBBISH for photography

10 Inspiring Tips for Better Landscape Photos

Landscape Video…

If you’re into landscapes, here are some cool tips in a short video – well medium, it’s 8 minutes long.


Photographer Antony Spencer teamed up with Phase One last year to share inspirational tips on how to shoot better landscape images. But these aren‚Äôt necessarily any ordinary tips that you‚Äôve heard before. While he mentions some of the essentials, he also lists some less noticeable and unheard tips. For example, he stresses that you remove the strap to prevent any sort of camera shake. This makes a lot fo sense since a strap flailing about in the wind is like the sail on a boat. Antony also states that you should look for unique shapes‚Äďwith specific emphasis on S shapes in the land.