Drone Virtual Tours…

An Accidental Find

So I was looking for a way to host and view 360-degree photos taken with my DJI mini 2 drone found this virtual tours software which allows you to upload many 360-degree photographs and then navigate around from photo to photo.

How it’s done

The way I created this was to let the drone do it’s 360° thing on its own, which creates 26 raw files. I then import all the raw files into Lightroom and use that to merge all the raw files into one huge file. Doing it this way allows you to have more control over the brightness than you would do using JPEGs.

Once you have all the big files ready to rock I export them as and just upload them to this site, KLAPTY, within a new “Virtual Tour”

Leeds University

Here is an example around Leeds – including a couple of bonus shots I accidentally uploaded from Clarence Dock!

Hot Spots

Along with most other virtual tours products, you can add hotspot anywhere on the photos which the viewer can click. This takes them to different parts of the tour. With the drone it’s quite handy to pick big iconic buildings which people are drawn to.

Or if you are from a tiny little village like the one I came from, you just pick a few spots like in this photo tour from Lancashire

Pendleton Lancashire

Going Commercial

Luckily on my recent trip to Chesterfield I decided to take a few 360-degree photographs of the site we were doing, the main purpose was to capture some video and normal aerial photos, but by chance decided to get a few of these.

And hey presto. a few minutes of processing later and we can have for 360-degree views all linked together with a few hotspots.

This tour technology can be added pretty quickly to any website by just copying and pasting some code into a blog post or a web page.

That is all I did with the two tours above.

So if you are a business which has a big location which could look cool viewed from the sky, then I would definitely be interested in creating a few 360 panoramic and and creating a new tour for you. It will be simple and like the ones above but hopefully Add A Little Bit of Magic to your website that the competition doesn’t have yet.

Leeds Pubs in Lockdown

Leeds always had a thriving hospitality sector packed with innovative bars, traditional boozers and amazing restaurants. I’ve been part of the scene by probably drinking a little bit too much in many of these places, and also photographing quite a lot of food and drinks for bars, restaurants and hotels over the years. I even made a brand called shoot the chef for the food photography side of my business.

So as well as as being gutted that we cannot go out socialising in my favourite pubs during lockdown, I’m also well aware of many amazing people I’ve worked with who are seeing their businesses going through hell at the moment. Several clients have already closed the doors permanently. But with a little luck, the funding from the government will save the vast majority and hospitality will bounce back stronger than ever before.

The New Saturday

Having nothing to do on a Saturday these days, other than go for a walk, I decided to to take the camera into the city centre and photograph pubs as I walk past, to record this strange moment where living through. These are taken in the late afternoon when when things are starting to warm up on a Saturday, so it’s really strange to see places like Greek Street and Call Lane totally empty.

So here you go. A lot of photographs of Leeds hospitality in hibernation.

Temple – Leeds – The New Holbeck!

A new name for Holbeck

Here is a video version, with the words spoken… or carry on to see the photos and read it for yourself. 

The area south of Leeds station has been rebranded “Temple Leeds”,  probably because of “Temple works”, an iconic Mill building in the style of an Egyptian temple.  Previously this area was just called Holbeck – which is a district of Leeds. 

 I went for a sunset photoshoot, to capture the Architecture and also record the masses of new building going on in the Temple Leeds area. 

I first knew of Holbeck around the year 2000, when I worked in Marshalls Mill. There was very little to report down there, other than a red light district and an annoying 15-minute walk into the city through quite a scary dark Arches area.

This has completely changed now, with a totally new Skyline in the area. The South entrance to the train station transformed The Fortunes of the dark Arches. General gentrification of the Holbeck area is taking place

Copyright of McFade Photography

I managed to park next to the midnight Bell and Crosskeys pubs, so the Temple Leeds journey starts here with a view over the stream that gives Holbeck its name.

Copyright of McFade Photography

 

Most of these photos are taken with a Canon 5D Mark IV,  with a 24mm tilt Shift lens. 

Copyright of McFade Photography

Copyright of McFade Photography

Copyright of McFade Photography

Copyright of McFade Photography

With it being such a lovely calm day I managed to get great reflections in the “Leeds Liverpool canal”, all these photos are on the south side of the train station, you can see the bridge over the canal. 

On the Far Side of the train viaduct, there is a small, white curved Footbridge from which you can get this classic Temple Leeds view over the city. The trees on either side of the bank really are taking hold now, so it feels a little like you are in the countryside, Looking In. 

Copyright of McFade Photography

 

Over the bridge, I joined Whitehall Road. 

Copyright of McFade Photography

Copyright of McFade Photography

 This is a mixed residential and commercial area, with a brand new development called Riverside West, and an almost-complete complex called Wellington Place. Both have gone up recently and seem to be pretty busy. 

Next to Riverside West both the Leeds Liverpool canal and the River Aire pass under some large Bridges. From the bridge, I took this photograph of the canal as it enters the centre.  The old brick viaduct is no longer in use but was part of the old Leeds central station apparently. 

Copyright of McFade Photography

 The building you can see just to the left of this photograph is known as “No 1”, “26 Whitehall Rd” –  it is one of the regional developments down there and has a very distinctive box-like quality.  

Copyright of McFade Photography

Copyright of McFade Photography

Copyright of McFade Photography

As you can see, I was on the wrong side for the sunset,  so had to settle for some detailed photographs with the colourful clouds to one side.

For the final leg of the journey I swapped to the 70 to 200 lens so I could get some “detail images”, there wasn’t a lot going on with the sunset by this point, so it was worth changing.

These last few images are from Globe Road, which links you to the Water Lane area, following the path of the canal. 

It’s definitely an area worth visiting with a camera. Maybe do it in pairs because you occasionally do get some “interesting” characters milling around.  As you can see there is a mix of old Victorian architecture and brand new. You also have train and Canal transport to throw into the mix. A bit of something for everyone

When to go….

 I would suggest that the light is better in winter because the sun sets in a very different position! 

 

Storm Brewing in Leeds

Having I watched the most amazing spring from my garden during lockdown it seems a little bit unfair that the weather in June is dreadful for photography…. 

But one day last week the sky look like it was about to erupt at any second so I took the gamble of going into Leeds to see if I could get any decent moody sky shots. 

Luckily for about an hour, the sky did looks like something from a 1950s Dracula movie, with ridges of Darkness and light patches making wonderful textures. 

All of these photos are taken using the 24mm tilt Shift lens from Canon attached to the 5D Mark IV body, they are all handheld rather than using a tripod for Speed and I didn’t really want a tripod to act as a lightning rod if we did get a storm! 

To make sure I get enough light and dark eye bracketed two photos, One at around 0 or 1-EV and the other at plus 2 – helping me get enough information to have a good sky and a foreground you can work with. 

10 “Must SEE” Leeds Areas for Photographers

If you are planning a trip to photograph Leeds, where should you go?

Like most cities, Leeds Centre and shopping areas are largely bland (with a few exceptions…) and many shopping centres actually ban you from taking photographs inside. If you have a tripod they will definitely ask you to move along.

Having photographs Leeds since 2003 here are some of the highlights I would recommend to every photographer visiting.

All of these photos are from my own archives built up over fast approaching 20 years! The time of day and the weather when you arrive will dictate whether any of the buildings look like any of the following, these are my favourites from probably several hundred trips into town!

Also, please note that these are all copyright to McFade and available to licence if you get in touch via the contact form at the bottom of the page.

1 The Canal and River Aire

Like every city in the UK, the river and is always a great place to start and in Leeds we have, have the River Aire and the Leeds Liverpool canal meeting right in the centre next to the train station – then flowing out east where where it becomes another canal which heads out towards Hull.

The first of these photos is the canal in the west of the city centre, the second is is a Footbridge at Brewery Wharf which is very picturesque and the final on is is on the east of the city just passed the Royal Armouries.

2 Park Square

This is quite an unexpected thing to find in amongst all the streets near the city centre, but you have a wonderfully kept grassy Square surrounded by lovely buildings, the most striking being St Paul’s building which has a Moorish architecture Style.

3 -Leeds City Markets

One of the finest buildings in the city has to be the front Facade of the markets on Vicar Lane. Incredibly decorative Victorian architecture with domes on each corner, little cherubs above the doors and a real feast for the eyes.

4 The Corn Exchange

London has the Albert Hall, Manchester has its majestic library and Leeds has its Corn Exchange.

There’s something about these round buildings which just looks cool, this one was designed by architect Cuthbert Broderick in the Victorian era and now contains lots of shops and food options.

Definitely go all the way around the building on the outside because each angle has a different feel and the light will vary throughout the day so you want to pick an angle where you have have some light and Shadow.

At the time of writing the security staff are more welcoming than anywhere else in the city allowing you to freely wander around with your camera and in most cases you can use your tripod, though it is very bright in there so you probably don’t need to

5 Leeds Museum

Following on from one Cuthbert Broderick masterpiece two another one which started out life as Leeds Mechanics Institute, then in recent years has become the Museum. They do allow you to go indoors with your camera and if you get caught short there is a toilet you can use for free.

The most interesting thing to photograph are the Majestic outdoor reviews of the building, it’s pretty imposing and you can get some really great angles if you move around.

6 – The Royal Armouries & New Dock

Just off to the city centre down the canal, you will find a little city called new dock – it was once called Clarence Dock but they have rebranded recently.

This is home to the Royal Armouries collection in a majestic building called the Royal Armouries, but it’s also a lovely watery dock area with interesting architecture down both sides. It’s probably the best place in Leeds for modern architecture and on a windless day you get perfect reflections in the water.

The security staff will probably approach you if you have a tripod and look professional, but so long as you are sure of them that you are doing it just For Fun, which I’m sure you will be, they leave you to get on with enjoying the area.

7 – Granary Wharf and the Dark Arches

Literally beneath the train station is a rabbit Warren of tunnels which are called the dark Arches, though they are not very dark these days because they have lit them up into a spectacular light show of colour.

When you walk down the tunnel you pass the brand new South entrance to the train station which is a gold bronze colour and a real space age thing to look at, then you finally arrived at the wash where there is a wooden looking building a hotel and a massive cylinder called candle Tower.

You also have two locks and a view of the train lines, so it is a bit of a feast for the photographer.

8 – Victoria Quarter and Shopping Area

The shopping areas are not the best to photograph mainly because overzealous security guards and hordes of people getting in your way.

But the Victoria Quarter is well worth a look if you are prepared to hand hold your camera and move reasonably quickly so as not to become a problem for the security guards.

It is a beautiful arcade on one side cold County Arcade, then there is a second one Cold Cross arcade which runs perpendicular through a covered Street. This used to be a normal Road but they put a massive window across the top which some say is the biggest stained glass window in the world.

The area is full of shops selling fine shoes watches clothing and food.

9 – University Area

The University area is on Otley Road and and is pretty expensive, with a mix of architectural styles from the ultra-modern broadcasting house which uses the same metal colour and Preservation style as the Angel of the North, a Car Park which resembles a cheese grater, traditional neoclassical old building, some concrete brutalist structures and lots more.

You’ve also got ponds in which to reflect things and staircases where you can put models, so it’s a great location away from the masses of shoppers and tourists.

10 – Leeds Town Hall

The Jewel In The Crown of Cuthbert trio of amazing buildings has to be the Stirling Town Hall with it’s neoclassical Pillars at the front and massive clock tower which dominates the skyline in this part of the city.

I’ve convinced the best view of this is from the Mr Foley’s Ale House, if you shoot from here sunset the light comes in from the left-hand side illuminating the front of the building leaving the right hand side In Darkness, giving the whole photograph of 3D appeal.

If it is dark you can set your tripod up there and wait for cars to rush by leaving the light trails in the foreground of your photo.

I hope that’s giving you some ideas and inspiration for your next visit in to Leeds city centre.

We do run workshops around the area so if you do fancy a guided to a please check on our workshops website whether there is anything happening around your visit – or even plan your visit to coincide with the workshop.

Our workshops are all at

www.photographycourses.eu

And if you want to make any enquiries at all just fill in the form at the bottom of the page and we’ll get back to you straight away

Locked Down Leeds

9 weeks into lockdown and I finally decided to take my daily allocated exercise by walking around the city centre of Leeds. I had been putting it off because I didn’t really want to upset and overstretched police force or get a fine!

I expected in the early lock-down weeks, it’d be desolate, 9 weeks in getting back to normal…

Far from it

There were a few people on the streets, but not many, the crowds of shoppers and workers starting their weekend we’re not there – these photos were taken between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on a Friday, the busiest weekday.

What I found were:-

  • random people sat on benches,
  • occasional couples walking past
  • very few people in bus-stops
  • construction workers everywhere
  • and an incredible amount of Red and White construction barriers.

The council have clearly seen the opportunity to do all the repair and improvement work they’ve had planned for years whilst Leeds is locked down.

Every shop and every bar I’ve ever been to was closed with my apology notice in the window.

Whilst I’m a bit sad that I missed the opportunity to photograph the city centre completely desolate in the early weeks, I’m glad I managed to get out to record, for my memories and yours, just how big an impact coronavirus had on one of the major cities of England

Briggate Empty

Victoria Gate – Desolate

The Markets Abandoned

The Full Gallery

Here is a slideshow of around 100 images from the city – quite amazing how quiet it is compared to normal

Leeds 2019

Leeds Architecture in 2019

Winter’s a great time for Leeds architecture photography.

The sun is low in the sky and sets around 5PM, so you’re not out waiting for ages in the evening. We’ve done this before of course, here are some shots from 2014 and some from the shopping areas in 2014

On the 7th February, I decided to capture the sunset in Leeds city centre. Sadly the sky didn’t go bright red at sunset, but we did get some clouds and a little texture to play with.

All of these photos are taken with the:-

Many are HDR, most are vertical panoramic photos using the SHIFT function of the lens – so what you see are 6-9 images blended.

All processing in LIGHTROOM, Including HDR and panoramic merging.

Crown Point Bridge

Brewery Wharf

Leeds Water Taxi

Corn Exchange Area

Call Lane

Vicar Lane

Shopping Area

Shopping Area

Shopping Area

The Victoria Quarter 

County Arcade Leeds

Victoria Quarter

Vicar Lane and Headrow

Victoria Gate

Grand Arcade

The Lounge

The Merrion Centre

The Merrion Centre

The Merrion Centre

The Merrion Centre

The Premier Inn and Student Accomodation

Leeds Arena

Millennium Square

The Light and Radisson Blu

Park Row

Dakota Deluxe

The Black House

Infirmary St Bus Station

Granary Wharf – Leeds

Granary Wharf and Wellington Street in Leeds

Just a quick post with some shots from the train station/canal area of Leeds.

Again these were all taken in the early days of testing the Tilt Shift lens we invested in for the architecture photography business.

Here’s what we used to make theseClick to see the 17mm TSe Lens

There is so much you can do with these lenses, it’s a game changer. The main thing with this set is that it’s the first time we’ve shot these things perfectly vertically. Usually, it can’t be done easily with a normal lens.

So there they are….

Wellington street

Bridge over the river Aire

6 photos – 2 sets of 3 in effect – to capture the top and bottom of this.

Inside the Dark Arches

2 Photos – one low down, one high up, stitched together

Aire Bridge – the other side

This is 6 photos blended together!

New entrance to the Train Station

Definitely one of the bolder entrances to a train station, and a brave bit of architecture for Leeds!

Wellington Street

Love the detail on this old brick building in the city. The sun came out just at the right moment too

Tilt Shift Lens in Hunslet, South leeds

What is Tilt Shift?

If you don’t know what a Tilt Shift lens is, this chap explains it well. So take a look at this first if you’re interested.

South Leeds Architecture

There are some interesting new buildings in the south of Leeds these days – this first one is the Leeds College of buildings, created by Fuse Architects. For this shot I went to the middle of the road island ans use the 17mm tillt shift lens. I took 3 photos – one with the lens shifted up, one in the middle and one down. So the view here is actually incredibly wide – and notice that all the vertical lines are – well…. vertical!

This next building is Indigo – taken just meters away from the college shot. It’s a HDR of 3 images, each 2-stops apart.

This building is incredibly angular and the 17mm TS lens makes the most of this. I’ve left  part of the image pretty empty as I’m sure in the future this area will fill with new buildings, so this will become a unique shot over time

Indigo again – from the same place as the previous shot, just rotated the camera through 20-30 degrees to the left to get both lanes of traffic and the traffic island in shot. The processing on this is very cool to compliment the “indigo” name 🙂

New Dock, formerly Clarence Dock, has lots of linear architecture – here we have the armouries to the left, flats to the right and tower at the end. To get this view I took 2 HDR shots, one low down to get the boat and water, the other high up for the sky and buildings.

They were blended in Photomatix with the exact same settings and then a pano created in LIGHTROOM – as that does the job and is INCREDIBLY easy to use. 

A different view of the college of building, I really like those green frames around the windows

A straight shot from the middle of the road – shadows lifted in LIGHTROOM, but other than that very little processing

Indigo again – from the safety of the pavement this time! I saw this fella walking across the road – as the lights turned green, he started to run, so had to get him mid-sprint! 

Outside New Dock – this is where I was parked actually, just loved the light reflecting off the top window.

It’s 6 shots HDR – 2 sets of 3 – made by shifting the 17mm lens up to get the building tops.

Indigo from the other side – this is the view most will see of it, it’s at the crossing which goes to Crown Point Retail Park. The road to the left heads into town, so most traffic heads down there. You can see more of the building from this side, the overhang and the glass lower floors. 

Indigo Closeup portrait shot – you can do portrait shots with the tilt shift, just :-

  • put the camera into a portrait position,
  • roughly compose the image
  • get the camera level
  • shift till you get the whole building in there
  • shoot!

Another New Dock shot – again with a shift to get both the foreground water in, and the tops of the buildings in. 

Loved the light on this one – taken from the pelican crossing with a mother and baby looking on behind me

And finally, a panoramic using the tripod head’s ability to rotate. It’s just a case of start at the left, take a shot – rotate the camera a bit, then take another, then repeat till you get to the end. 

Super-Fast Spot Colouring in LIGHTROOM

Learn Spot Colour in Seconds

Using Adobe Lightroom

Spot Colouring is where you make a black and white photo but leave a part of it coloured. You may see it in wedding photography, and most famously in the film, Schindler’s List – a girl in a red coat dominates one scene.

The technique used to involve masks and photoshop – and a certain level of understanding for it to work.

However, with a few seconds tweaking, you can create the same effect without opening Photoshop or learning about layers and masks

Here’s the example of spot colouring

In this street scene the red coat really stands out, but the shot it pretty ordinary – so to try to make it more interesting, we made a spot colour with just the red coat

Here’s how we did it – in 3 minutes!

The spot colouring technique is very easy for this shot where the coat is bright red. It may be a bit more involved for different colours…. but hopefully, this 3 minutes will show you the basics of spot colouring so you can try it yourself.

Summer Nights Workshop – 2016 Review

McFade Summer Nights Workshops 2016

A look back over 12 fantastic evenings – but first some background

Where did the idea of Summer Nights Workshops come from?

Ever since I took Photography seriously I’ve regularly gone out for smaller outings – usually with 1 or 2 friends. We’d find places to go, new things to try out and gradually get loads of ideas and locations to return to.

I found that it broke the weekend up and gave us something to look forward to. Gets you out of the “office mindset” too.

But also, if you just do “a bit” at a time, then built on it regularly – your skills just blossomed and grew.

What are McFade Summer Nights Then?

When I started McFade Training I did lots of weekend trips, bigger outings which cost more and were less frequent. This is probably what most trainers do – more people are free on weekends and you do make more money!

But I’d find that if you saw people every few months, they’d probably not have had reason to go out and practice what they’d learned at the last workshop. In fact, you’d be going over the same ground again to refresh their memories.

So it gave me the idea of re-creating what I’d done with John and Dave in the “noughties” :-

  • a regular evening to look forward to
  • a different location for each session
  • a load of different skills – from towns to landscapes, people to porches.
  • a gradual build up of skills and confidence in the regulars who came

How do you get the most from these nights?

Both financially and in learning, the people who booked the whole series got the most. The evenings were over 33% less – meaning that even if you missed a few, you were still “quids in”.

Also I get to know where people’s skills lie if I see them regularly – I can introduce new things each session which build on the last session.

It also gets people out regularly – people may not go out on their own, but if they’ve got a group session each fortnight, it’s in the diary and they turn.

Obviously, those who just “dip in” to the odd workshop that appeals have a great time too – it’s just they don’t get all the benefits of regular training.

It’s a bit like a personal training session for your creative side! 

In 2017, we’re seriously considering offering this just as a “12 workshop series” – with no individual bookings. We’d love your feedback on that.

What do we do on these nights?

It’s relaxed and fun – that’s the main thing.

There are no egos or know it alls – no competitions or kit envy. It is usually people with basic DSLR cameras who just want to get better at taking photos. We’ve had a 15 year old and a few in their 70’s – there’s no age restrictions.

We try to cover a lot of ground between May and September, a comprehensive series giving people exposure to many topics, each building on the basics of photography – we usually start in towns in May, this year it was York.

Towns

We usually start in towns in May, this year it was York. Towns offer a bit of cover if it’s raining, some cool places for sunsets and they’re easy to get to and park. Also I think people rarely photograph towns – it’s a bit scary on your own – so going in group really helps people relax.

It’s dark by 10PM in May too – so you get your first taste of low light photography, which usually is a paradigm shift for most.

We also went to Saltaire – terrible weather meant we stood under a bridge for a while, but a series of creative challenges kept everyone motivated till we could shoot the weirs.

People

In June we did portraits. All in Leeds, all on location and with a mix of flash and natural light.

Portrait is tricky to get right when you’re new – you have someone rather than an inanimate object to photograph. Do you talk to them or what?

Well the main emphasis on the first one was using long lenses and wide apertures to avoid really busy backgrounds. That’s often the main issue with portrait – the person has all kinds of stuff going on behind them. So stand back, zoom in and blur the background was a great start.

Next was The Blues Brothers – Brian, Chris and Gareth were fantastic but the weather was appalling. We retreated to the Dark Arches and got flashes out – which wasn’t at all planned, but was “real”. Stuff like that really happens – a lot.

The group had a fantastic few hours whilst I changed batteries in the flashes as they faded!

Landscapes

We are in Yorkshire so Landscape is all around us – it made sense to do lots of Landscape workshops. We went to :-

  • Harewood and Almcliffe
  • Burley and Ilkley Moor
  • Pontefract, Ferrybridge and the A1 Bridge
  • Beal and Eggborough

It’s fair to say the weather was mixed for these – and Landscape really does depend on good light.

The Ferrybridge and A1 Workshop

These are all locations the people can return to on better days – but even on a grey night we got 3 great locations and proved that even a fading blue hour sky can look amazing when you know how. The pond shot below was taken on a virtually pitch black lake side!

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Beal and Eggborough

Another location roadtrip which I first did in about 2005 – this was about fields, crops and their interaction with the canals and power station.

Again, not the greatest light for it – we learned about foreground interest, balance in composition, reflections and a cool trick at sunset where you make anything you can find into a silhouette with the sky colours blurred behind it – see the thistle below.

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Harewood and Almscliffe

At last a sunny night – though it was cold on the boulders later on.

A 2 stop workshop where we showed everyone a bridge and weir we found by accident in 2008, then up to some iconic boulders near Harrogate.

Here we looked at the 10 Stop Filter, using boulders foreground interest, finding names and pools rocks and exposing for bright sun

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Burley and Ilkley Moor

This was a very unusual evening – where the sun actually created lots of problems by the weir. The sky was cloudless and therefore boring, and the sun was going stright into people’s lenses creating all kinds of flare.

A nice problem in a way I guess – a little patience and it became less of an issue. Everyone got to try the 10-stop filter for themselves, getting a very smooth water flow over 30 seconds.

The cow and calf was pretty windy and cold – we showed the team how to create great sunset silhouettes again – this time with huge boulders rather than thistles. On top of the rocks are lots of names carved into the rock so we showed how to capture those with ultra wide lenses.

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Cars

We met at a lovely golf club to take photos of the TVR club’s wonderful cars – but it poured down, a washout.

Tricky suggested we rescue the night by going to the IKEA car park – so over we went, only 10 minutes away. Unfortunately it was pretty busy in there – so I had to get everyone a safe distance away with long lenses.

Gradually the customers disappeared and we got more and more space – the cars spread out and we had a final hour of sci-fi magic. The curvy cars and ultra austere concrete of the car park made for some of the best shots we’ve made over the years.

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Bonus at Brimham Rocks

A final landscape workshop up at Brimham rocks followed. We went armed with all the night painting equipment as it’d be dark by 8:30PM.

It was a good job as the sunset never happened and the rocks were not hugely inspiring as the sky went grey. But as soon as it went dark we found our stride and introduced everone to light painting, sparks and light graffiti.

It was great fun getting everyone involved – we had red boulders, stick men and all kinds of ideas flowing.

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2 Towns to Finish Off

Knaresborough

It’s most famous for Mother Shipton’s Cave and the railway viaduct – we photographed the latter, the cave was shut!

The Nidd was perfectly stil that night, so giving fantastic reflections for everyone. The start was at a road bridge where we had lots of boats for foreground – so the challenge was to use the boats in the composition.

After that we captured street scenes and the viaduct before climbing up to the castle – a very steep stairway which was pretty tiring, but we all got great photos of the bridge and its mirror reflection.

To end the night we had an hour of Pixel Stick fun – some Pac Man ghosts on the bridge then lots of other interactive stuff, with silhouettes and rainbows!

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Salford Quays and Media City

To finish off is a place went to photograph first in 2004 – The Lowry as it was then, but it’s graduated into Media City now.

A pastel sunset gave a lovely salmon sky as the sun set, then we were into night photography of all the amazing structures and rainbows of colour.

We actually finished at 11:20, an hour and 20 later than usual, as there was so much to shoot – a few left earlier – no one’s obliged to stay till the end!

So That’s All Folks

Summer is now over – we’ll be running weekend workshops over the winter in 2016-2017 and rebooting the Summer Nights again next year – so keep your eye out for them.

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 ? 😉

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 🙂

 

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.

 

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

13 Photos of New (Clarence) Dock – Leeds

Clarence Dock or New Dock Leeds?

I’ve always referred to it as Clarence Dock, but the area was rebranded “New Dock Leeds” in 2012 according to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarence_Dock_(Leeds)).

Either way, the blend of architecture and water makes for a great place to photograph – even on dull days, dusk photos look great once the lights come on.

New Dock Leeds through a Sigma 12-24mm Lens

The purpose of this shoot was to try out a Sigma 12-14mm lens – I’ve shot with the Canon 17-40 dozens of times, would the extra 5mm make much difference?

Here’s a shot with the 17-40 at 17mm

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And here is the 12-24 at 12 mm

leeds-clarence-dock-evening-april-2014_0103_4_5So as you can see, it does make a big difference – you can see all of the Armouries building on the left and all of the roundish building on the right.

It does open up a world of new possibility for city shooters.

The biggest issue with the lens is that you can’t really fit a polariser of filter system – it comes with a filter ring “thing” which slides on to the front of the lens. However, you get round photos if you use it… vignette is an understatement… it’s properly round.

So it’s HDR all the way – and here are 13 photos taken last night, all bracketed images (-2/0/+2 EV)

13 HDR Photos of New Dock

 

 

Leeds Shopping – 9 Photos from Briggate and Beyond

Leeds Shopping – Knightsbridge of the North?

Leeds does seem to have its fair share of shops. Posh shops. Harvey Nichols. Designer stuff.

I like the shop in the Victoria Quarter with Panerai watches best – often found lusting after the PAM 372, a huge watch which looks just about perfect on my wrist… shame it’s £6000.

20mm HDR

So trialling my trusty new 20mm prime lens, I took the tripod around Briggate and the shopping area – weird light meant HDR, just to eek out a bit more detail in the clouds and dark areas.

Bracketing at -2/0/+2 EV was enough for the light conditions – no need to go silly and do 7 shots or anything like that.

Then to processing – in a nutshell…

  • Lightroom – basic tweaks – output 16-bit TIFFs
  • Photomatix – blend a few and create a preset which works
  • Photomatix – batch process the lot to 16-bit TIFFs
  • Lightroom – tweaks to colour, verticals etc.
  • Photoshop – more specific edits on a few of them

 

No ghosts!

One thing I’ve noticed with the new Photomatix 5 is that it’s better at auto-de-ghosting.

Ghosting happens a lot in HDR – if something moves between your 3 shots, you get ghosts when you blend. Think of a moving car… on shot 1 it would be on the left of the frame. Shot 2 in the middle. Shot 3 on the right. When you blend you’d normally get 3 ghost cars.

It just seems a lot better than it used to be – not perfect, but on the shots below take a look at the people.

 

The Photos

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Trinity Church

 

 

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Commercial Street

 

 

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Albion Place

 

 

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Albion Place

 

 

 

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Albion Place

 

 

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Briggate

 

 

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Smoking Old Lady of Briggate

 

 

 

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County Arcade

 

 

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Upper Briggate

 

7 HDR Photos of Leeds

7 HDR Photos of Leeds – Swinegate & Calls

In Leeds, where the canal and Aire merge, there’s The Calls and Swinegate. Streets on the inner ring road with some fantastic brick buildings to photograph, especially great for HDR photos of Leeds, as you can pull lots of detail out of those walls.

Maybe not the obvious place to go shooting!

Along with the Brick, there are some new buildings going up down there – nice to see cranes back in Leeds, recession finally over ? A fantastic sign – both for the economy and the architecture enthusiast.

Sigma 20mm F1.8 Lens

Anyway – I was down there testing out a Sigma 20mm F1.8 Lens, one I’d got for architecture shooting and low light events. It’s not the fastest thing to operate, having a slow focus system, but its very bright and easy to use, not bad for HDR photos of Leeds.

The light wasn’t great – the sky overcast for most of the shoot. This often results in slightly surreal images – as you’ll see below.

The Photos…

All these photos were taken with my Trusty Canon 5D and the sigma 20mm lens, I have them automatically set at two stops apart using auto exposure bracketing. This makes shooting HDR photos a breeze. The photos were then merged using Photomatix, a HDR program which allow us to do batch processing very quickly

leeds-yorkshire-swinegate-hdr-photography-mcfade001Roomzzzz Hotel – Swinegateleeds-yorkshire-swinegate-hdr-photography-mcfade010The Elbow Room – Calls

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Malmaison

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Blayds Yard

 

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Heaton’s Court

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Heaton’s Court

Fireworks Photography Tips

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Here’s a selection of photos from Leeds’ Roundhay Park firework display on 5th December 2013, and a few tips on how we did them.

Get a good place to watch them

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A good clear view is best, you get to watch the entire journey of all the fireworks. Too close and you may end up with some great explosion shots, but getting further away allows more options.

Don’t expose for too long

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You need a long exposure, but not hugely long, because the additive effect of lots of explosions will be a burned out photo. Most of these image were 8-10 seconds, this gave them ong enough to explode to their full extent, yet not blow out. 30 second shots can end up being very busy and lose all shape.

Control the ambient light

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We don’t want a bright orange sky – so it’s well worth sorting your exposure out in advance – take some photos of the sky, using ISO

100 and 10 seconds – then meter to get an aperture which leaves the sky where the fireworks appear looking dark

Pre Focus – then switch Autofocus off

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Don’t risk missing an opportunity by having the camera focus system start searching when you hit the shutter. In advance, find something to focus on – a light near the firework start point is ideal. Focus on this, using Auto Focus. Now switch it off. Periodically check the focus hasn’t changed – you may knock the ring.

Use a cable release

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It well worth using, your camera will move slighly if you press the shutter – so a cable stops this happening.

Enjoy the rest of the photos….

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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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30 Surreal Seconds in Leeds….

Surreal Leeds!

You’d not normally bother with the camera on a day like this was, but here’s what I tried, making a surreal Leeds….

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It’s mid-afternoon…

  • The sun is bright
  • There is a slight wind blowing the clouds
  • There are people and cars around
  • I’ve just left a meeting in Leeds…
  • So do I take more bright day shots of Leeds Town Hall – or do I go home….

Then I remember I have one of these “10-stop filters” and the clouds are moving… so decide to get some long exposure shots of the city, something a little different.

The Techy Bit…

A 10 stop filter is to the eye, a piece of black glass you can’t see through – a bit like a welding mask glass.

Its purpose is to reduce the flow of light into a camera. Here’s how it works:-

  • A 1 stop filter stops 1/2 the light entering the camera – so you need to double how long you expose your photo
  • A 2 stop filter stops another 1/2 the light entering the camera (so 1/4 of the unfiltered light) – so you need to quardruple how long you expose your photo
  • So if we go on, the 10 stop needs 2^10 times the exposure – which is 1024 times more exposure time

So if you’re shooting at 1/100th without the filter, you’d need to shoot at 10 seconds with the filter on. 

What they are used for…

So you can shoot really long exposures in bright light – what does this mean?

  • Water becomes smooth and waveless
  • Passing cars disappear
  • Shopping centres look odd – only people who stand perfectly still appear
  • Streets look empty
  • Skies look surreal – the clouds slur across the picture leaving totally alien patterns

So I didn’t stray too far from the Town Hall – just popping around Millennium Square and back

The Photos

 

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Leeds town hall

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Leeds town hall

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Leeds town hall

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Sunny Holbeck

I’d just put an exhibition in the Midnight Bell pub and had the camera with me… so decided to get all nostalgic for 15 minutes and capture the end of town I worked in for 2 years – Holbeck.

It’s had one hell of a face lift since 2000, now housing lots of businesses, 2 new bars and lots of eateries – a long shot from the red-light district reputation of old.

So here’s my nostalgia set for August 2013 – Water Lane and Marshall Street in Holbeck.

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How I did This…. 5 Photoshop Steps

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So you can do most things in Lightroom these days.

I thought I’d meddle with this shot of the Royal Armouries to show a few things you can’t do in Lightroom…. yet!

Start point

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So to get to this point, you could probably have used Lightroom. Its been through these steps…

  • Capture – 1 minute exposure
  • RAW Conversion using ACR in Photoshop
  • Vertical correction using Lens Correction Filter
  • Conversion to black and white using Silver EFEX 2
  • Selective sharpen – High Pass Filter method, using masks
  • Selective Contrast – curves adjustment layers (6 of) using masks

So you can get this far with Lightroom, but here are 5 things I then did in Photoshop…

1 Add writing

I don’t often do this, but it seems popular, so I did a Google for “handwriting brush” and found some free brush presets which had writing.

Created a new blank layer – set the foreground to white and flow/opacity to 100% and just clicked on the scene a few times with different brushes. One’s full of maths…

2 Cracked Texture

I added a photo of some old paint which was falling off a wall – its a great texture I captured in an abandoned bank. This went on top of the writing and photo, with the blend mode set to Soft Light to give a softer effect. I faded it in and out with Opacity Slider and came up with about 80% opacity

3 Coloured Texture 1

I thought a bit of colour may add an extra dimension, so found a texture layer with a flare like set of colours. This added a too much colour and darkened the image a lot. So I used a Hide All mask to get rid of it, then painted in lightly to get a minor effect.

4 Coloured Texture 2

So the right had a slight hint of colour and extra texture, but the left was looking a little bare. So I duplicated the layer in step 3, flipped it horizontally and then painted in the effect on the left side too. Obviously a lot more colour on the left, due to the main focal point being on the right.

5 Frame Action

The little frame you see on there – I just play an “action” and up it pops… I clearly forgot to change the “title” in my enthusiasm to write this blog! But that’s the only manual part of the process. With Photoshop you can record complex or simple actions to play back at any time.

 

And here it is… you may well prefer the clean original shot, but it’s always interesting to see where you can take an image with a bit of meddling in Photoshop.

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Trinity Leeds – The New Shopping Centre Goes LIVE!

TRINITY LEEDS goes live!

It’s been a few years in the creation – at last, the Trinity Leeds centre is open, so here are a few shots of the place for those who’ve not been yet.

It’s full of well-known brands, so no huge surprises to shoppers and the architecture of the huge glass roof is remarkable and well worth a look if you’re into impressive structures.

The name comes from the adjacent Trinity Church, an impressive building around which the shopping centre was built. The tall tower can be seen through the impressive glass roof, creating a huge monolithic shadow in the sky.

Trinity Leeds on 3 Levels

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Trinity Leeds – before it was the trinity

If you want to see what the centre looked like BEFORE it was complete, there’s a great blog by JOHN HOWE on it at My Life in Leeds -> Click Here

 

According to the Wikipedia entry….

"Trinity Leeds is a shopping and leisure centre in Leeds, England, named after the adjacent 18th-century Holy Trinity Church. It opened on 21 March 2013, with over 130,000 recorded visitors on opening day.[1] The development is in two parts: Trinity East, a new build development on the site of the former Trinity and Burton Arcades, and Trinity West, the redeveloped Leeds Shopping Plaza. The development has a catchment of 5.5 million people offering a spend of £1.93 billion annually.[2] It will lift Leeds from seventh to fourth in the CACI UK retail rankings[3] and create over 3000 jobs.
The combined scheme has 93,000 m2 (1,000,000 sq ft) of retail floor space for 120 stores anchored by the flagship Marks & Spencer and Topshop/Topman stores. These units exist as standalone stores and are being expanded and remodelled into Trinity Leeds. Other retailers signed up are H&M, River Island, Next and new names to the city such as Apple, Hollister, Cult and Mango.
The shopping centre has a food court in Trinity West. In Trinity East, YO! Sushi, Carluccio's, Giraffe and Handmade Burger Co. opened. D&D London opened two restaurants, their first in the UK outside London. Everyman Cinemas opened its first premises outside London, a 3,700 m2 (40,000 sq ft) four screen art-house cinema.
Trinity has attracted ten international retailers new to the UK market whose names are yet to be released. A 9,900 m2 (107,000 sq ft) Primark will open in Trinity West in Summer 2013. Costing Land Securities £350m,[5] the development was 66% let a year before opening. It is the only major retail development under construction in the United Kingdom and the only new retail development to be completed in 2013. The Lead Architect for Trinity Leeds is Chapman Taylor."

5 Tips on “Daytime City” Long Exposures Using a 10 Stop Filter

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Get Surreal with a 10 STOP ND Filter!

Can you use a 10 stop filter do to long exposures in cities? They are commonplace in landscape photography, where the shots are usually taken in low light at sunrise or sunset. 

You normally get shots with lots of colours, milky water and foam-like seascapes.

So I thought I’d try this 10 stop filter technique in Leeds – just after midday on a bright, sunny day… with clouds blowing past.

Here are some tips on how to do it…

First step – Get a 10 stop filter 

It’s sunny, to get a long exposure you need to stop the light flooding in so fast. There are lots of “ND” filters around these days, right up to the 10-Stop ND – sometimes called 1000x, ND3.0 or the Big Stoppa. They’re not the cheapest things out there, but are essential.

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Use a polariser with your 10 stop filter

 

Second to the ND really, polarisers help you darken the blue areas of the sky and control reflections on water, and also take away 2 extra stops of light. The main cost is that you may see the corners vignette slightly and if you have cheaper filters, they may affect the clarity of the shot.

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Cable Release and Bulb Exposure Mode

Most cameras have a maximum of 30 seconds exposure time; to extend this you’ll need to use the “BULB” setting, and use a cable release. This allows you to go as long as you like – the shots from today were all 59 seconds.

If you have more modern cameras like the Canon 90d or the 5D Mark IV then they do have an internal intervalometer and bulb setting which can be set to as long as you like. This can usually be found in the red menu on a Canon system.

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Use “Live View”

You just can’t see through the camera when you 10-stop ND is on there – so I was fully expecting to have to take the thing off to compose and focus every shot. But I tried putting on Live View and was amazed to see that I could see everything brightly enough to compose AND use autofocus! So if you’ve got it, give it a try.

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Shoot the “bright” side of buildings

And finally, I found that shooting the brighter edges of buildings was far more effective than the darker sides – a bright building to contrasts against the sky. It’s up to you of course, but if you shoot at 90 degrees to the sun, you’ll get maximum polarisation (so a dark sky) and hopefully a nicely lit building. 

 

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We hope you found this useful 

Muay Thai Boxing Champion

Brad Stanton….

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At just 19, Brad has conquered the UK and Commonwealth – just turned 20, he’s now headlining stadiums with his amazing Thai Boxing skills.

He’s based at Leeds premier gym, Edge (www.edgegyms.co.uk), and needed some great shots to help lift his profile – so we did a shoot in the actual gym.

To say he’s quick is like saying the sun’s warm… I asked him to do some jumps and round house kicks – up he went, nearly hitting the cieling, then round he went – so fast I couldn’t always hit the shutter in time!

So these shots are a mix of flash lit shots, some designed to freeze his motion, others were as low as 1/10 second to add a little motion blur – give that impression of movement.

Anyway – here are a few of the shots, we’ll be trying to get him along to a McFade Training evening soon…. see how you get on capturing him in action!

 

HDR Photography in Leeds… Armley

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Famous for it’s monumental prison and a gyratory, Armley isn’t the first Leeds suburb you’d go shooting alone in – let alone on an incredibly dull February day.

I took to the canal first first, to see how the graffiti artists are doing – these walls change regularly.

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Then down to the river Aire and over the footbridge for some more shots.

All these are HDR shots – which means “High Dynamic Range”, where we take a few photos at different exposures (brightnesses) the blend them into one. We run workshops on this – check out the next one here… http://www.mcfade.co.uk/training/leeds-photography-workshops-coming-soon/

Oloneo and Lightroom 4

The shots were processed using Oloneo and Lightroom – Oloneo is a specialist HDR program, and Lightroom is a version of Photoshop aimed at photographers.

The rest of the shots here are not “edited” as such – but “synched” in Lightroom to show you that editing photos got a whole lot easier.

Basically they all have the same settings – same colour, brightness, contrast, vignette…

The only thing that’s wrong are the dust spots – so you’ll see blobs on the shots below. Dust tends to be the biggest pain these days – even on self-cleaning sensors like the 5D2.

 

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Radio Aire DJ Shoot

Michael Blades broadcasts live from Leeds every Saturday and Sunday night, jetting over to Rock FM in Preston for saturday afternoon…

Having found McFade Urban Shoots on Google, he’d spotted the style of images he was after – so we met outside Leeds Town Hall and had a great couple of hours shooting and chatting about life on the radio. He’s a keen photographer so showed him a few tips too.

Here are a few of the shots we created – using city centre locations, lighting (mainly 2 lights – different coloured gels to add vibrance) and a bit of imagination.

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Bonus Shots….

And as a bit of a bonus, I did a few “unusual edits” – which I sometimes do for clients.

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5 Light Painting Shots

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Since I wrote an 8-page article for Digital SLR User magazine in 2008, I’ve loved shooting at night. Once the unreliable ambient light has gone, you are in control. Photographers are control freaks….

Also since then, LED torches have massively improved, to the point where for as little as £50 you can buy a Cree torch which can light an abbey – which is how all the images here were created.

I bought a CREE with 3 LED “bulbs” and a claimed power of 3800 lumens. Always take this number with a pinch of salt – it’s probably never going to be THAT strong, but it is incredibly powerful and has opened an entirely new avenue for the night photographer.

Previously, the best solution was to use your flashgun to light subjects – you walk into the scene and mask the flash with your body. Then use the “pilot” button to trigger the flash; lighting what ever you like with a powerful brst of light.

Torches were only really useful for seeing where you’re going, and maybe light graffiti – like childhood sparklers, using them to write your name!

With 3000+ lumens, all that has changed.

Standing by your camera, you can light dark subjects 50-100 meters away. You can also use coloured “gels” – applying greens, yellows, blues etc. to the subject.

These are all taken in a 30 minute spell at Kirkstall Abbey, just outside Leeds – a pre-gym pit stop!

1 – The Main Tower (Above)

One of the first shots – bare torch at full power, just passed the beam over the dark abbey stone to light it. Even the high tower has detail in the stone!


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2 – Interior Lighting

This shot was again a bare torch pointed into the abbey through a side door. You can see a slash of light where I was stood. Quite spooky shoving your arm through a gate in a dark abbey, but need to do that to spread the light around the place. It gives the impression that someone’s home….

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3 – Creepy Trees

So this one has me hidden behind one of the trees, shining the light from one spot in a hemispherical shape. It creates the light on the grass and that shadow in the foreground, and also the sinister look to the inner side of the branches hanging over me head

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4 – Red & Purple Gels

The sky was clear so made the most of the stars – 1 minute exposure doesn’t give much “movement” but makes them bright. The red and purple gels are pretty “thick”, they’d take 3-4 stops of light off a flash. So I’ve never been able to light anything with previous torches. Here we see that they both created some light. It does tail off near the top of the towers – they are pretty dark so would need a longer pass of light on future shoots.

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Moving clouds are your friend – we see the orange clouds, from city light pollution, have left a blurred pattern on this shot. They were moving pretty fast, and over the 1-minute exposure created this amazing sky.

Plain torch was used on the abbey itself, and the foreground had a blue gel.

Conclusions

These torches are pretty amazing really – you can stand with you camera and light most things within 100 meters. You can walk into the scene and light individual things. You can work far faster if you like – no need to do 5 minutes of walking around in the dangerous dark, flashing a speedlite.

Evening’s are dark for a few months, so if you’re looking for inspiration this winter, maybe worth getting yourself one and seeing what you can paint.

 

Wintery Leeds

leeds_winter_hdr_-190-hdr

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 😉

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!

Night Photography Programme Starts

Just a few shots from the first Night Photography session.

We used Leeds as a base to learn the theory behind taking long exposures at night – how things like Aperture have more unusual effects than you’d think at night!

We’ll be meeting to discuss each others images in a fortnight and share ideas on how to process them

If you’d like to be a part of the Night Programme, it’s running over the whole of winter, 2nd and 4th tuesday nights of each month. Just inbox us at info@mcfade.co.uk to book your place

Photographer Meets Celebrity Look Alikes in Leeds

Celebrity Look Alikes in Leeds

Had the great pleasure of meeting and photographing:-

  • David Beckham
  • Mr T
  • Austin Powers
  • Simon Cowell
  • Britney Spears
  • Will Smith

Or at least I thought I did!

These were a great bunch of actors who make a career from looking like the actual celebrity – and it is uncanny when you meet them and they adopt the “celebrity pose”.

The day was a pop music video shoot in Leeds which I was documenting – I’d taken the lights with me and set them up in the back garden to get some shots of Simon Cowell (aka Andy).

As the day progressed, all of the look alikes came along and had a shoot and chat. At first, its totally surreal talking to Will Smith – he looks, acts and when he does the voice, sounds just like him.

Anyway – here’s a few shots from the day.

Light Trail Photography

Light Trails

I was looking for a few example light trail shots to promote the Night Photography Programme’s first session, which was on Tuesday 9th October, back in 2012.

I ended up looking in my 2006 folders and got these shots from a bridge over the M621 between Morley and Gildersome.

So for the first session, we’ll be showing you how to do this in leeds – using the A58(M) as the road form a good few vantage points around the city.

Once you have understood how to do light trails, you have the foundations to build on to create other night images.

Here are a few taken in 2020 – with a 5D mark 4 and 24mm TS lens

Twisted Theatre Photography in Leeds…

Theatre Rehearsal Photography in Leeds….

Destination Holbeck…

Driving around Holbeck (Leeds) slowly caused a few long, suspicious looks…  parts used to be the red light district and it’s not improved much in the last few years.

The road I was after didn’t seem to have a name on it… there were just lock ups and arches with mechanics tinkering away.

Eventually caving in and asking directions, I find myself outside the venue after all, it just doesn’t look like I expected – HUB it’s called, Holbeck Urban Ballroom I think.

The job was to get some shots of rehearsals for Chelle and Katie, who run production company Twisted Avenue” – so went in armed with the strobist kit and camera, not knowing what to expect.

Aladdin’s Cave

A labyrinthine array of tunnels – with fat, soft sofas, a piano, speakers, costumes, trinkets and a strange little chandelier. Very odd. I like it.

So to the play rehearsals… quick look around the room  – white walls, black drapes around the ceiling, speakers and pipes on the walls, heater on (in the summer – it was boiling!!!), actors in their civvies with the scripts in hand and a few people watching. So it’s just a case of set up and do what the hell you like really – my kinda job; fly on the wall… the decisive moment…. unposed…. candid….

So set the lights up in a few positions through the night, used about every lens in the bag, all pretty much wide open to blur away the muddled backgrounds – mixed lighting temperatures giving nice blue rim lighting from one angle, edgy cool faces from another…

Don’t stop for me folks…. 🙂

At first you’ve no idea what they’re doing, talking about or where they’re going to look – just as you’re about to get the shot and arm gets in the way, a head turns, a laugh breaks the moment…

Then you get the jist – you know how the action unfolds as the hone their lines. Get into position for Ellen’s crazed Italian Mama character, quickly move to get Tom and Simon’s scene – change the lights around for Susan’s bits as she’s always looking stage left….

Sorted – 345 shots in the bag, lots of colour/contrast/clarity in lightroom – job done!

Discovering Morley

Near Leeds

Morley is a large town in the shadow of near-by Leeds, yet had it’s day as a wealthy wool town in the past.

This is illustrated by The Town Hall, it is very impressive, similar to Leeds Town Hall in style; it steals the lime light away from the rest of the centre.

In 2012, pound shops, charity shops and empty buildings line the main shopping street, making it a place I rarely frequent.

Rediscovery….

However, yesterday was a sunny day, so decided to “Discover” Morley again – taking with me a 28mm and 85mm fixed lens on the Canon 5D.

The 28 was excellent at capturing whole buildings, and as I walked towards the Post Office I got a good selection of images of the shops.

Getting the detail

It was when I changed to the 85mm lens that I started to notice more of the architectural detail on the main street. Features which have been there all along, but never noticed as they are above eye level.

Daily life dictates that we rush between appointments without taking time to take in our environment. Hardly surprising that I never saw the detail above.

Different Effects of Lenses

The images in the gallery below start with the 28mm, then move to the 85mm – note how the 28mm draws attention to the modern shops and pubs, but the 85mm are more “timeless”. The detail shots could be anywhere in the UK, it shows that though the centre may not be the most impressive today, it was once great.

Note also that using a fast (F1.8) lens means you can choose to focus on some parts of the building, and blur the rest – this can guide the viewer to the focal points, and hide the “gremlins” in the shot.

Positive outcome

All in all, it’s a set of photographs I never knew existed in Morley – even after nearly 10 years of living in the city, I’d never captured anything I’d blog or publish. But taking time on a bright day, using a longer lens and shallow depth of field, and ignoring all the funny looks from the natives, I came away with a set that documents the town in a positive light

 

Tetley Brewery – The End of an Era

Leeds Iconic TETLEY BREWERY – Demolished!

 

Tetley was a huge brewery on the edge of the city centre, one of a dying breed of city centre breweries, most of which fall to demolition sooner or later.

Wikipedia says… .

 

The original brewery was opened on the current site in 1822. Parts of the original buildings still stand and extensions have been built as late as 2006. The Brewery opened a museum on the 19 March 1994.The attraction proved popular; however, redevelopment of the land surrounding the brewery led to the attraction’s closure on 7 April 2000. The building is now bars and restaurants which are part of the Brewery Wharf development.
All fermenting now takes place in stainless steel Yorkshire squares and conical vessels; the slate Yorkshire squares, dating from about the 1880s, were broken up and removed in autumn 2008.
 
 

So nearly 200 years of making beer came to an end in 2011, and the demolition is well under way. The giant arms of demolition cranes are seen pulling down walls and tearing up metal like paper.

McFade Photography @ Tetley Brewery

Gaining access is imposlible for health and safety reasons, but you can see quite a lot of the rubble and scrap from outside the grounds, so we captured some images to mark its passing on a sunny evening on March 1st 2012.

LEEDS PHOTOS – Jan 2012

New Leeds Photos for 2012

We’ve taken advantage of the amazing sunny January days by getting a new set of images of Leeds for you to enjoy.

Here’s a pretty extensive selection from the new set – there will be more to come!

 

 

Buy a copy for your home!

They will all available for purchase on Photobox very soon.

My shop is http://www.photoboxgallery.com/mcfade and I will create a new gallery there ASAP.

They’re also available to liscence for use on print/web, and in large format prints to give your office environment a boost!

 

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Free “Street Photography” Action

It’s true, here’s a FREE Street Photography Action…

Here’s what it does

Transforms a street candid from this…

To this with one click…

 

“Street” is photography in one of the purest forms. We capture the environment as-is; people going about their business is the subject, rather than moody hills, the relentless sea, colourful birds or clever lighting and posed models.

Candid or Interaction?

We can interact with the people or shoot candidly.

Candid is more random, and because the people are unaware of being photographed you capture them completely naturally.

If you interact, it may just be a smile and wave, or a long conversation, you will get a “connection” with the person – usually eye contact and a smile. It’s still “street” as you still capture people in their usual environment.

Many street photographers present images as black and white – it releases the viewer from the distraction of colour, leaving the story bare for all to see. Hence the creation of this action… to create a consistent black and white look and feel to my street photos.

 

 

 

 

The McFade-Street action

There are so many ways to go “black and white”.

I’ve created a “Street Action” which I’d like to share with my readers. It takes in a colour photo and gives a quite “punchy” mono version a look which suits many street scenes.

It was created with Photoshop CS5 using standard filters and adjustments, so hopefully it’ll work on all versions (apologies for those for whom it doesn’t work).

 

Install the Street Action

To get and install it, do the following:-

  1. Send an email to training@mcfade.co.uk asking for the Street Mono Action
  2. When you get a reply, we’ll send you “MCFADE-STREET.atn” – a photoshop action file
  3. Open Photoshop and drag MCFADE-STREET.atn into the Actions panel – it should be on the right of your screen
  4. MCFADE-STREET will now appear in your Actions panel

Ok it’s ready to use now… or should be!

 

Use the Street Action

Now you can give it a go on a photo – so:-

  1. load a photo into Photoshop
  2. open up the MCFADE-STREET folder
  3. highlight the STREET_MONO action
  4. Hit the Play button

 

IMPORTANT – READ THIS!

  • The action flattens your image, so DO NOT USE it on files where you need layer information
  • It works best with unedited, single layer images – straight out of the camera
  • Use the photos created where ever you like, but please credit the action to mcfade photography 

 

Here are some more before and after shots…

Night Photography in the City

Don’t put your camera away in the dark!

Too many people put their cameras away for the winter – night photography is one of the most creative forms there is. Amaze your friends with long exposures, light trails, wierd shapes etc.

Here are 5 Photography ideas to do at night which would be impossible during the day – all in a city near you.

1 – Light Trail Photography

As traffic passes, they leave lines across your photos

2 – Tripod zoom burst Photography

If you zoom whilst taking a photo, points of light turn into lines like these – on a tripod these are straight lines.

3 – Hand held zoom burst Photography

 

If you hold your camera and zoom, you get a more random pattern, a little like fireworks

4 – “moving” characters Photography

By moving the camera at the last moment of an exposure you can make Xmas figures like these look like they’re flying across the photo

5 – Exploding windows Photography

And finally, if you can see ceiling lights in an office block, you can get this “exploding windows” look by doing a zoom burst

All of the above were done “in camera”, not using photoshop at all – it’s a case of using a little imagination and technical know-how with the camera.

McFade Photography Training showed a group how this was done at the end of November – if you’d like to know more, get in touch and we can organise 1-2-1 Photography training for you, or a group event anywhere you like.

 

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)

 

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!

Sari Shoot at Kirkstall

My friend Hash Parmar recently started up a beauty treatments business in Leeds.

We did a few shots of Kat, who’d had a Hash make over, down by the Aire at Kirkstall Abbey. A lovely location, leafy and green, with the added bonus of a 12th century abbey in the background.

The shots here are just a few “experimentally processed” shots, to show a few different looks we can achieve from what was essentially the same looking shots.

 

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Leeds street photography

I don’t know about you, but with the prices of parking in Leeds and Manchester going up and up, I always want to make the most of my daytime trips there. One of my favourite ways is to wander around the centres capturing life as it goes by.

Both cities are in a state of flux, so a scene which seems trivial today may have huge significance 20 years hence, so it’s a worthwhile documentation exercise as well as an artistic challenge.

I’d been doing my bit for charity and the amazing CoHearantVision, centre for the blind and deaf, and had an hour to spare so decided to do a lap of the city, see what was going on.

The first choice was what to take; go minimal, or take a kit bag… the former won. Grabbed a 50mm F1.4 prime lens – they’re small so you don’t get hassled too much and also let in a lot of light on these dark Feb days. The other huge advantage of the “fast” lens (or bright lens) is that yu can make most things in a shot blurry other than what you want sharp – using a thing called “depth of field”. You’ll see it in many of these shots, some things are sharp and jump out, other just blur to nothingness. In  this shot I’d focussed on the words and left the art gallery to go “SOFT FOCUS”

It also helps force the viewer to look at what you want them to in a way a shot where “everything is sharp” can’t quite do..

I’m only guessing, but I’d expect you’re seeing “pagan body piercing” jump out here!

Now the problem with this shallow focus, or “narrow depth of field”, is that you’ve got to be quick and accurate with your focussing. If you’re out by a few inches, your shot is soft and blurry. So you need to be on the ball and practice lots – and needless to say, “take” lots of photos. Street is a bit of a numbers game in many scenarios. You can prep all you like, but life doesn’t stop and pose for you, its there and gone in the blink of an eye.

When I get these shots home, it just seems right to make them black and white, also to give them dark edges, known as a “vignette”. Adds a bit of mood to them.

Anyway – here’s a selection of shots from Leeds, taken last Thursday, a gritty and real February day

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