Media City and Salford Quays

Salford Quays Architecture

If anyone wants to learn about shooting architecture “up north”, I can think of not better place than Media City at Salford Quays.

This trip was a 1-2-1 with a fellow professional photographer who shoots gigs for a living – he wanted to spend an evening learning about architecture and tilt-shift lenses. So we met around 4:30 and worked through till well after sunset, taking in all kinds of views and angles.

Kit Used on this trip

Click on any of these pictures to learn more or purchase

Canon 5D Mark 4

Canon 70-200 F2.8 IS

 

Canon 17mm TSe

Canon 90mm TS

Manfrotto 055 Tripod

 

 

Waiting for the sunset

So to start we captured these flats – I’ve shot them many times before, but never with the Canon 17mm TSe lens. To get them in I had to take 2 portrait photos – one shifted low, the other high – and stitch them together to get this final shot.

It’s a far more architectural look than the stretched versions I did with the 17-40 back in 2006!

Not quite a sunset

 

As it got darker, we didn’t really get the dreamy orange sky, but a nice pattern in the clouds formed over the BBC buildings.

 

 

Looking the other way, east towards Old Trafford, was a bit more ominous. Here we used the railings to give a dramatic lead into the shot.

 

 

As the sun was going down, the red light in the imperial war museum came on, so grabbed this shot with the 70-200.

 

The Lift Bridge

Back in the 2000’s this was the main feature and still a great thing to shoot. It’s a lift bridge, the deck’s pretty long, 100 yards maybe, and lit beautifully all the way across.

We got a few shots of it – this one is a pano of 2 shifted shots, taken later on when the sky had darkened.

 

 

This is a HDR pano – so 6 photos in total, blended to 2 HDR photos – then the 2 HDR photos blended to a panoramic. It meant the bright sky could be retained along with detail in the deck and structure.

 

 

This is right at the side of the bridge, a shift panoramic of 3 vertical photos. It’s REALLY wide!

 

Imperial War Museum

This is a really boiring building in dull light, but after dark, it takes on a totally different feel. The lighting is cool, almost blue, with the red “eye” peering out at you.

This is 2 shots blended to a panoramic – taking in the little lights on the steps. A nice touch.

 

 

You get a great reflected view of it from across the water, outside the Blue Peter studio.

 

 

This is a 90mm Tilt Shift lens photo – with this I was using tilt to increase depth of field, so tilted towards the building. It is a bit fiddly to do, but the lot does seem quite sharp!

 

 

This is the opposite effect – with the tilt away from the building to make the near parts more blurry than you’d get from most lenses.

 

Classic Reflections

The main draw of this location has to be the reflections after dark – colours and shapes in the architecture double up when you have water, and there are acres of the stuff here.

This first shot is from the BBC looking over to the Lowry

 

This is from below the new cafe looking down media city to the swing bridge

 

 

This is from the water’s edge near to the tram stop, the golden thing is the restaurant, the blue the Lowry

 

 

 

Media City from near the Lowry Tower – this is HDR of 3 photos s0 I could keep all the light detail AND get some sky glow

 

 

6 shot HDR of a little sculpture by the water’s edge

 

Experiments…

This is a photo using the Lensbaby – a cool little lens from a few years back which you can bend and squeeze to make really strange shots… works well with lights

This is a replication of a shot Dave described of Canary Wharf – the 90mm was tilted on a vertical plane, so the BBC tower was sharp, and things left and right of it were blurry. Hard to get right, you had to use focus, tilt and aperture to control the width of the sharp area!

The Lowry to finish

And finally… the original reason I went to Salford Quays back in the early 2000’s – the lowry itself.

This is a 6 shot HDR pano using the black line of brick on the pavement as a lead into the photo

A Stunning Yorkshire Dales Day – Ribblesdale and Malham

A 1-2-1 Workshop on a Perfect Yorkshire Dales Day

You always book workshops in the Yorkshire Dales with a sense of trepidation, and prepare yourself to explain what each location looks like “when it’s not grey, raining and grim”. No such worries for this 1-2-1 session with Jonathan – perfect weather for afternoon landscapes.

Perfect for me is a breezy day where sparse clouds pass in front of the sun making patches of light and dark. We got that in spades, so instead of starting at Gordale Scar, I decided to go to Winskill instead.

This is high above the Ribble Valley, a bit of a mecca for landscape photographers these days and has:-

  • fantastic views over the valley bottom
  • limestone pavements (small ones)
  • lots of interestingly shaped walls
  • a cattle grid
  • sheep pens
  • trees and bushes

So lots of elements to play with.

Winskill Photos

These show the changing light, shot with the 70-200mm, 90mm TSe and 16-35mm lenses.

From Winskill, we headed on towards Yorkshire Dales gem Malham Tarn, a lovely drive of a couple of miles – we stopped to capture a long straight on the road. It just reminded us of the shots of American desert roads, long straights. The clouds helped too of course

 

To the left, was a long wall which led to a farm and tree, so we got a shot of that.

Then changing lenses to the 16-35, I used the wall to lead the eye to a shadowy Pen Y Gent in the distance

Malham Tarn

Yorkshire’s second largest lake – of 3 apparently – is Malham Tarn, it’s a barren place with a cold, windy feel to it, and can be really dramatic with the right sky.

We got a decent sky alright, and really strong sun. This is where I showed Jonathan how to use the 10 stop filter. I use a Haida 10 stop – it’s a really thin screw in filter which allows me to add on top of it my Cokin Z-pro ND Grad system, without too much vignetting even at 16mm.

Anyway – here are a couple of shots with the 10-stop

This one is with the tripod almost in the water

This is further up the bank, so you don’t get too muddy!

Also around the Tarn we got some shots of rocks which were being lit by the low sun, and a couple passing by…

This as shot at F2.8 with the 70-200, just to do something a little different to most landscapes, where you’re getting everything sharp. You can still see the second rock and wall in the distance, but the main thing is the sharp foreground.

These 2 were just walking along to the lakeside – there was a decent sky – so got this at 70mm, then converted to black and white in Lightroom

Malham Rakes

It’s definitely the most photographed tree in the dales, maybe the UK or even the world!

But it is a great place to teach people who’ve never been – so I keep going back.

The sun was perfect as we walked across the field – low, bright, orange, it was going paint one side of the rocks a lovely warm tone…. We missed it by about 30 seconds. A bank of clouds engulfed the sun leaving the scene totally in the shade. Absolutely gutted and regretting eating that sandwich earlier, we kept going anyway.

Here’s proof that the light was amazing as we approached – this is looking down the valley from the tree we were going to shoot – but you can see the light.

The classic view, where the sun is to the right and should have been lighting the right sides of the rocks… alas it’d had gone.

This was my first tilt shift shot from here – so this is 2 landscape shots stithced together. The lower one got the rocks, the upper the tree and sky.

This is from the other side – with the sun on the left of the photo. I’ve used a bit of a coloured effect on the sky for a hint of warmth…

This is the shot above without any colouring – and a tripod leg

This photo is taken facing into the sky where the sun should be – you did get a bit of warmth in the sky. I’d got bored editing it though, so put it rhough Nik Ananlog EFEX and added a warm light flare to get the misty look!

This is the natural look from the usual side – again, tilt-shift lens creating a square shot with 2 landscape shots.

End of a perfect day

We ended at the rocks as the light had abandoned us, it really was a great day and the shots in this blog are just a few of the great variations the light gave us

Do you want a day out with McFade

If you want a similar day of learning in the Yorkshire Dales, we’re always delighted to take you out for a drive around our favourite locations.

During the day we can show you everything we do, give tips on everything from using your tripod to bracketing images for HDR. It’s definitely the best way to learn if you want to get to the next level with your photography.

Just drop us a line at training@mcfade.co.uk and we’ll organise a great 1/2 or full day out for you. 

Dock Street Shoot with Andy Taylor Boocock

A Very Inky Man in a very cool Leeds street

I’ve always loved Dock Street as a portrait location – a classic thin street, cobbles, high mills and a wide variety of looks to be had. So when I met up with Andy for the first time, it was the first location that came to mind. We’d met at Leeds Arena a few weeks before – at a Hacienda Classical gig of all things.

The Photography Bit

So they were all taken using :-

Lighting was 3 strobes (Speedlite) on stands – 2 were bare and used as rim lighting and a small beauty dish for the key lighting.

Lighting conditions were good for this work – over cast, but not dark. The sun wasn’t interfering too much.

So here are some shots from the first shoot.

Analog EFEX film vibe on these 2

All done in LIGHTROOM here – definitely not short of drama – I was very low down for the shot.

Swapped to the 16-35mm lens for this one – hence the wider view behind Andy

A handy wind for this scarf – filled it up and made most of the print visible

Really bright processing and a bit of double exposure to fill the gap on the right of this

Love the mix of orange and green on the scarf and jacket

This is in the car park where Tetley Brewery once was. Very bright skies meant using bare flash to get sufficient power of the strobes.

Ramped up Clarity on this to make the image pop

Bare rim lights really liked his leather jacket!

Again – just 3 lights, 1 at the front pumping out a lot of light

16mm shot this one – a bit of meddling with textures for a film effect

 

 

 

You get the idea!

A great shoot and the start of many other projects – the next one may need your eyes testing…. 😉

Andy can be found on INSTAGRAM if you click this headline

Though it wasn’t a photo shoot for a specific brand, most of the clothes were from Bolongaro Trevor in Thornton’s Arcade Leeds – a great shop with original British design

How to fake an ND Grad filter with LIGHTROOM

Flash of inspiration

This technique came to me one night – just watching sunset on a road bridge and thought about it. It applies to Tilt Shif lenses mainly – but I’m sure you can do it with a normal lens, or telephoto. Maybe not an ultrawide 16mm though.

The Problem

So you invest £2000 on a 17mm TS lens and realise you can NEVER use an ND grad on it… the end of the lens is like a tennis ball, you just can’t fit the darn things on.

So you have to use HDR to get balanced shots, which can mean using 6 or 9 shots once you’ve done your shifting. The problems are, when shooting with a 5D4…

  • Masses of hard drive space – 6 or 9 40Meg RAW files, ouch
  • Need to use HDR – can introduce problems if you don’t know what you’re doing
  • Time… wow, even on a powerful computer you’re waiting around

But yeah – I’d been doing this ever since I got the 17mm TSe

The Idea….

It’s far from genius really.

But I found this whilst shooting light trails over the M62 – the camera levelled on a tripod.

  • I could get the whole scene in 2 shots – a low shot and a high shot
  • The low shot was dark mainly – had the road in it
  • The high shot was bright mainly – had the sky in it.
  • I WAS taking HDR brackets at the time then thought…

Would LIGHTROOM stitch 2 shifted shots at different exposures… and would there be a tide mark?

The source files

The first shot is the lower one – this is 30 seconds, so you get long light trails – and lots of them

LIGHTROOM Grad - how to fake it using 2 photos in lightroom

Next, I shifted the camera up to get mainly the sky – but leaving a bit of road for Lightroom to blend with. This was just 6 seconds long so we got a nice dramatic sky.

So here goes – highlighted them both and did a Panoramic Blend.

I’ve obviously done a few tweaks with lightroom to get it a bit brighter.

So here is the unedited blend

As you can see – lightroom just did its thing and got it right!

A video on how it’s done

Moody Bradford City Centre

You can’t always get the weather you want on a test shoot – but somehow, bradford suits this kind of sky.

It’s got this old yortkshire stone architedtue going on – yellow stones stacked up to make mills and shops. Pair that with blubous grey clouds and you have an appropriate look… maybe not the one the tourist industry were after!

This was all done with a brand new Canon 17mm Tilt Shift lens, you can read more about it and buy one if you click on its picture

 

Bradford done with the canon 17 mm

Canon 17 mm TSe lens

So I started out on Sunbridge Road, where you can park for free if you’re lucky. Cobbles and Yorkshire stone everywhere.

A spot of renovation going on here – a building of 2 halves

The famous TJ Hughes store on the hill here – maybe the shift effect is a bit severe on this – it needed another frame to make more room at the top and bottom. You shoot and learn

Same buildings but a little lower on the street

The world famous Alhambra Theatre

Again – but from the other side

A place I always visit, the media museum. Often got some great exhibitions on in here.

The best investment they made to the city centre, this pond is a fantastic focal point for everyone in the summer… just not this day

Here we have a stitched HDR shot – 6 photos – 3 shots low down, 3 high up – then all blended together using LIGHTOOM and Photomatix

A bit of olde worlde effect here with Split Toning in lightroom 

The City Vaults – a traditional boozer with bands and decent beer.

I actually started up here – Lister Mills. The sun was out for a good 10 minutes. 

See – sun out on this one too

Sunbridge Road again for these 3

Here’s where you can park for nowt – Yorkshire people like that

Done a good job of cleaning this one up

And finally, a HDR stitch of the city hall – 6 frames all mushed up together to make this one.