CASE STUDY: CQR Cables Factory Photoshoot – Wirral

CQR Factory Photoshoot Case Study 

This project was commissioned to make new marketing images for CQR, a company making certified security, alarm and network cables, on the Wirral peninsula.

Here is the blog as a video, if you prefer watching to reading

August 2021 – Blue skies!

On a beautiful summers day, I met up with the head of marketing, Dan Casey, and we had a guided tour around the factory to learn about all the processes. There are far more than you’d expect – as you’ll see in the photos. 

Unleashed on the Factory!

Then we were unleashed on the factory with lights and cameras, shooting each stage of the process and getting to know the team as we went along. Most were camera shy, as usual, but we won a few around!

The story of a humble cable

The images tell the story of a single length of wire as it gets its new coat, gets to meet other wired then gets an overcoat, before finally getting wound onto spools ready to be sold to the public. 

Bare wire being tested

Multicoloured cables

We start with wire cables, getting coated in coloured plastic, and then going on to huge spools. 

Getting a blue coat

Capturing quality control

At all stages, the wires are all tested for faults by automatic detectors.

And eventually, they get wound into larger cables and coated with a white plastic finish.

Many wires become a cable

What the photos will be used for

The purpose of the shoot is to make images that illustrate to the processes and people involved in creating these cables. These can then be used for brochures, websites, exhibition stands and social media – and anywhere else they can think of.

I’ve never really put too much thought into how those wires get their coatings, there’s a lot more goes into it than you may have guessed!

We also did the “raiders of the lost arc” corridor of high shelves of storage photographs, which always look great. 

Where’s the Lost Arc?

Switch Assembly Line

There was a second side to the business where they were assembling switches.

This was a more hands-on process, so we had lots of smiley faces to capture.

For the shy, we did close-ups of their hands instead – because, in factories, hand photos always show, expertise, skill and nimbleness – whilst protecting the anonymity of those who prefer not to be photographed.

 

And the final product

It’s great to see the product go from its raw cable form to the packaged product stacks on pallets. 

Cables ready for sale!

A drone photo to show the site

At the end of the shoot, as it was a beautiful day, we also took the drone out and got a few photos from way up above, showing the end of the Wirral 

CASE STUDY: Clearsite Solutions New Brand Photography

https://youtu.be/OerDMZkhlX4

I don’t know how marketing people do it, but they do come up with Amazing straplines than just sum up a business instantly. 

Fliss Lee, from “Honest Folk” in Morley, describes Marc’s business, Clearsite Solutions, perfectly in one sentence

Providing the blank canvas you need to create your unique standout spaces. 

Marc’s business goes into offices, buildings, shopping centres, units or anywhere that business happens, and removes all trace of the old business, ready for the new one to move in and make their own mark. 

Fliss was creating a new brand and website for Marc and needed photos of what they do to illustrate the website and fuel their future marketing. A suitable project arose in Bristol in one of the largest shopping, centres in the city back and these teams had been stripping out this shopping unit.

Our challenge was to create some engaging photos, which showed professionalism, health and safety, the team in action and the tools involved in such a project, from what was essentially a site of carnage and destruction! LOVE a challenge 🙂

So the first thing was to meet the team, who were busy grinding things from the ceiling. Anything that involves sparks will look great in photographs, so this was the first setup. 

I set up the tripod and a couple of lights and put the camera on long exposure to capture the sparks flying across the room – this would create little orange lines of light – a bit like a firework. 

We then had the team demonstrate a lot of the different tools and processes they use to pull things down. Big boys toys if you like – but all tools for specific tasks to make things quick and safe.

Another part of the brief was to get some relaxed photographs of Marc for his personal brand. So we organised a quick meeting downstairs where he could chat to the team and relax a little.

A bit like most business owners, Marc isn’t keen of being photographed. So shooting these candidly, like a “fly on the wall”, worked really well and we got some great shots. 

Also, we needed a couple of solo shots, an industrial setting and used one of the tunnels underneath the shopping centre. He just walked up and down the tunnel twice and we got lots of options for him. 

Another thing we needed to illustrate was Marc managing the project. So we got him working on the laptop, using a seat by the window overlooking the mall to hint at locations they work in. Actually, we captured a couple of team shots out in the shopping mall so you can see brands like New Look and KFC and the background. 

Marc had seen some “creative” team photos I’d created using coloured lighting, each holding different tools. So we got the guys involved and used some coloured flush to create a few  🙂

The final idea was to capture a few images of the new marketing materials with the brand on – so the phone case, business cards and helmets. These images can be cropped to any size for any marketing or advertising use where you need a hint of the logo to add a splash of colour.

We’re looking forward to updating Marc’s imagery periodically over the next few years as his business goes from strength to strength.

Supercharge your Editing with new LIGHTROOM MASKS

Lightroom just changed its selective editing tools into one new mega-powerful suite, called “masking”.

It’s hard to sum up how powerful this change will be for editing in future, so instead I’ve created a short video showing you to colour a specific area of a photo using two of the controls.

Sounds easy?

Well, it is now – but it’s something which may have taken hours of pain with the old tools!

Is DXO the ultimate RAW Editor?

For years I’ve read about this mythical software called DxO and its magical ability to create superbly detailed, best-in-class photos from your camera raw files. Like most people I know, I’m a happy Lightroom user and love its workflow, and have an intimate knowledge of what every slider does, so was never looking for something to replace it.

The Problem(s) With Lightroom

I may be accused of heresy here, but sometimes I despair at what Lightroom sharpening does when I want to pull detail out of shadow areas (and sometimes even in those bright areas).

Also, the noise reduction can get a little bit mushy, so in a shadow region, if you apply my Luminosity noise reduction, all the detail disappears and you get a block of pastel colour – rather than detail in those pixels.

I’ve used most raw editors and never really found a workflow that would fit into my Lightroom world…. But now with dxo maybe, just maybe, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

What a lightroom add-on would do – in a perfect world

What I want is something to take care of the noise reduction, lens optic corrections and sharpening, so I can switch those off in Lightroom. That is exactly what the DXO have created. PureRAW and photolab can both create enhanced raw files from your cameras raw file.

So what?

Well, it means you can import those into Lightroom as raw files and edit them in any way you can tweak a normal raw file but the best-in-class noise reduction and sharpening has already been applied so you can switch those off in Lightroom.

Here is a very short video where I talk about it and show an example

I’ll do a future video showing my new workflow

Save it for “best” photos only

I will add that although this is a fantastic way to pull out detail, there are two things that mean that I won’t be using it for absolutely everything

Processing Time

First is is the time it takes to generate these files. I do have a pretty powerful computer and each 5D Mark 4 file takes around a minute to process. This is not such a big issue if you are editing maybe 10 photos from a landscape day, but I unknowingly started a batch going from an event I photographed with 700 photos in and it took all day to chew through them! That is with its best noise reduction setting I will hasten to add – lower settings are far quicker.

File size

Secondly, the enhancer of files are significantly bigger – 3 times bigger in my experience, so the same size as a TIFF file of the same photo. You can pretty quickly fill your hard drive with duplicate raw files if you decide to.run absolutely everything through this program. So be selective

Andy at Eggborough

If you set up a camera tripod and flashes outside an operational power station, it wouldn’t be long before security along asking you to move on, I know because it’s happened to me a few times. If you ask them whether terrorists often turn up with a model, 3 tripods and flashes, they are not amused – a sense of humour bypass is part of the job, maybe?

These massive cooling towers make a huge impact on any portrait shoot, so now that Eggborough near Selby has been decommissioned I decided to bite the bullet and take and the over there for a shoot.

Obviously got to go as dramatic as possible with such a skyline, and the clouds on the day really added to the Vibe.

Photography Bit…

If you are into kit here is what we used…

Camera…

The lights were all GODOX

  • Rim lights – Godox AD200 at around 45 degrees on either side of Andy, simple reflectors
  • Key light – Godox AD600 with 60cm beauty dish
  • Trigger – Godox X-Pro

It was a really bright day so you can imagine that the camera aperture needed to be small (around F11-f16) to kill the ambient, and flash power settings are pretty high – 1/2 or full power on most.

Another option was to do High-Speed Synch to kill the ambient and shot at 1/2000th – rather than shooting at 1/200th – I just seem to err towards high power and small aperture, the force of habit I guess 🙂

The Photos

Here are a few from the day…

6 Ways to Bring Industrial Processes to Life with Creative Imagery

If you’re in the business of manufacturing, chances are you’re looking for new ways to show off your processes. Whether it’s for internal or external use, seeing your process in action can be an effective way to communicate what makes your company tick. There are some basic things you can do before getting started to ensure that you know what you’re shooting and why. We’ve put together a few tips for anyone who wants to take pictures of industrial processes.

A few tips

Rotherham’s “Owen Springs” have been creating Leaf Springs for road vehicles and trains for over 30 years, the photos in this article are all of their amazingly skilled team, processes and hot bits of metal.

1. Why take pictures?

Photographs uniquely show the viewer your processes instantly and can be used both online and in print.

2. Before you shoot

First, think about what you are going to use the images for and who the audience is. That should guide you towards what kind of images are needed.

Maybe you need lots of wide shots to show off the buildings in an editorial piece, or it could be the close-ups of your processes, testing rig and team in action.

You know best what is important to show, so it’s a step well worth doing.

3. The basics of industrial photography

At McFade, the basics are to tell stories with our images. We document your processes as we see them, take your guidance on what’s important as you describe them on shoot day, and add in a bit of light and lens magic to bring it all to life.

4. Taking the perfect picture

We always bring our lighting, a huge range of lenses and even a drone to give us as many options as possible. We’ll try whatever is safe and legal to get that shot for you.

5. Editing your photos so they pop!

Industrial processes can be incredibly photogenic and striking, our post-processing is designed to maximize the Visual Impact so so you stand out above the crowd in any Google search or Social Media platform.

6. Sharing your photos with the world

Once we have delivered the photographs, make sure you have a content marketing plan in place ready to unleash all your new images on the world. We would recommend drip-feeding images slowly Over The Long Haul rather than posting 50 in one go though!!!

In Conclusion

Industrial photography can help you communicate a lot about your business quickly and effectively, but it can be a little tricky to get right without experience – I hope these tips for taking great pictures of your industrial processes is helpful

Stretch and Burn – Lifestyle Shoot

Fitness Photography in the Pennines

We helped an amazing local brand who create sustainable, limited edition fitness clothing with their lifestyle photography – the owners, Clare and Rick, started Stretch and Burn in the lockdown.

Sustainability is at the heart of what we do, limited edition pieces designed for real people, not mass produced and focused on longevity so we don’t add to the clothing mountain. earth. limited edition

Read more on the Stretch and Burn Website

Creating images to get you noticed

The biggest challenge for any product, service, or business is getting noticed. With so much information out there, consumers are overwhelmed. You need to understand that your customers experience your brand in the same way you experience your favourite brands.

The Pennines are some of the most incredible natural landscapes in the UK, and the perfect setting for a fitness photography shoot. The region’s terrain is both challenging and thrilling — so it’s no surprise that many runners and cyclists have been inspired to train here, particularly on a route known as Holme Moss – which featured in the Tour de France.

Armed with a few photoshoot essentials, a team of assistants (Rick and the kids!) and 4 amazing models, we spent our day shooting in the gorgeous scenery.

How to Get Started as a Model – The Test Shoot

How do you get started in this industry?

I’m sure you’ve seen some of the amazing photos gracing magazine covers and advertisements. You might even have a few friends who’ve modelled for various modelling sites and agencies. But what do you really need to know about getting started?

The first step to getting started is to create a portfolio

This means taking those first steps, getting some great photos with great photographers. Have a look locally for creatives, use Instagram and social media to see who’s working near you. Politely approach them.

Once you have your portfolio, you need to be selective about who you shoot for

Think about the style of images you’d like – match that to the photographer’s portfolio. Mix it up, some photographers do great natural light shots – others, like me, prefer dramatic lighting. Shooting for a completely new photographer is great fun and usually free, but you may end up with shots you can’t use, so just be wary of wasting time.

You can’t just shoot anywhere. In fact, you should only shoot at the best photographic locations

Be aware of this – a studio is usually a safe bet, and using a great location like the tunnel we did Ngary’s test shot in was pretty epic. If you use your back garden, it may not work so well…

Relax

The most important part of this is to relax, have fun, and be natural. You can’t force creativity! Happy shooting!

Ngary

Here’s a test shoot and rekke I did with Ngary in a tunnel beneath the M1 – such an exciting location, with the corrugated, curved walls creating all kinds of patterns.

A tour of the Yorkshire Dales

The yorkshire dales are pretty stunning – rolling green hills with limestone edges and pavements, waterfalls and woodlands, sheep and cattle and of course, lots of lovely walls making patterns throughout the landscape.

Here we have 5 360-degree pano tours linked in Klapty, they are:-

Arncliffe

Taking in the lovely littondale and the road which climbs out of the valley to Malham.

Road to Malham

This is 1/2 way up the climb out of littondale so you get more of the cliffs in the shot

Settle

Just near to the Scalebar Force, there are a few craggy hills on the edge of ribblesdale. I flew the drone to 400 feet and a bit closer to them and all 3 of the 3 Peaks can be seen in the distance!

Gordale Scar

High above this most iconic of limestone features of teh dale, an amazing view of the topology of the area

Malham Cove

The 250+feet tall dry waterfall that defines the area, taken from very high above and far away to ensure no wildlife was disturbed. This shows us the green fields towards Lancashire and the rocky outcrops if you look into the dales.

Saltaire, Bradford – A Virtual Drone Tour

Saltaire Bradford – A World Heritage Site

A World Heritage Site in Bradford, Saltaire is is the creation of of a Victorian entrepreneur sir Titus Salt. It’s a small village built to house and serve the people who worked in his gigantic Mill on the Leeds Liverpool canal. He built facilities in Saltaire like the victoria Hall for functions, a Methodist chapel, a hospital and a school so everything the workers could need, was to hand and readily available.

UNESCO designated Saltaire Bradford a World Heritage site and have guaranteed it’s preservation as a memorial, orbea a living memorial, to the Victorian era of will working.

DJI MINI 2

So armed with my DJI mini to I visit a few weeks ago and found a few quiet places where I could send it up and capture some photos of Saltaire. Whilst the little quadcopter was my I would occasionally grab a 360-degree photosphere, something it does as an automatic setting.

Accidental Photo Tour!

Little did I know a few weeks later whilst investigating how to to show 360-degree photos on Facebook and the like, that I would land upon some software which was able to create virtual tours in a fairly rapid and enjoyable way.

So I hope you enjoy having a little look around the area and do click upon the flashing dots because they take you to the next photos. You will notice that most of the images are from three spots which I’ve found that very few people around. Although the mini allows you to to fly near people it’s always a politeness to keep your distance because not everybody knows the rules and some may get a little upset.

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.

Drone Photos for Civil Engineering

Aarsleff’s Project in Chesterfield

Ground engineering specialists, Aarsleff, have created this huge retaining wall for a new build in Chesterfield – it’s included lots of piling, steelwork and concrete, and we were invited along at the start and end of the project to capture some images and movie drone footage for them.

360 Degree Views

Here we have a couple of completed project shots. Both taken as 26 individual RAW photos by the DJI Mini 2 drone, then stitched together

This first one is done using LIGHTROOM – the resolution is extremely high and we are able to use all out experience of photo editing to enhance the image if needed. You can see the detail in the wall if you zoom in

This second one is from the DJI Phone app – so completely bended and uploaded from the phone. It’s a better 360 result, if you move around the image (with a mouse on a computer, or finger on the phone) you can see straight down and below the drone better – but the resolution isn’t as crisp as the lightroom edit.

The good thing is we can create both from the files, so whichever you prefer we can do.

Aerial Photos

We also shot a lot of straight shots – the Mini shoots at 12 mega pixels, which is more than enough for any website. You could easily have full-screen images on a retina display.

Using the Mini 2 has huge advantages due to the size and weight, allowing us to plot routes larger drones cannot do without lots of time and investment gaining permissions. So along with the elevated closer photos, we are able to fly further away from the site and capture some distant shots showing the site in context of the city.

Video

I captured and dropbox-ed over lots of video clips on both trips so marketing team have plenty of footage.

I don’t usually edit video for people as it’s still a “development area” for me, but for the purposes of this blog I’ve put about 8 clips together with some jaunty free library track….

We’re going to be shooting another few sites with them this year, hopefully we’ll get a decent day for one, though even these duller days bore some great shots and footage.

How could our drone help you?

The drones are an exciting additional service we can now offer, and with the new laws in 2021, an A2 C of C qualification, light weight drones (A1-Transitional compliant) and commercial insurance, we’re fully legal to shoot almost anywhere.

The main limitations are 400 feet in the air and not near “no fly zones” without permission – so football grounds, jails and airports are all require a few phone calls to arrange.

Using tiny drones, both below 500g, means all the old rules on distances from people no longer apply, so we can fly legally in all kinds of places:-

  • your garden to get photos of your house,
  • on your building site to show progress or the layout
  • inside your factory to show size
  • over your golf course to show each hole
  • from 15 feet in the air to get a great team photo of everyone looking up at the drone
  • from almost any angle you can think of which I can get the drone to safely!

Most of this would need expensive planning, qualifications and permissions to organise, but with the A1 Transitional Category of DRONES, which both of ours are, we just have to avoid flying over “uninvolved people” – hence the unprecedented flexibility and affordability we can offer now.

Drop me a note – ade@mcfade.co.uk – if you want to know more

A Simple Tip For Everyone!

I am a huge fan of experimentation when learning something and photography is the perfect subject to get out into the field and just try things to see what happens.

Most of us end up taking the same photograph over and over again…

This is great in the field, but very boring when you get back to the computer and have to look at the same thing over and over again. Plus you only get 1 possible photo, even if you’ve taken 50 shots.

So my tip is ridiculously simple.

Take a photo and then move the camera somehow to recompose a new shot, before you take your next photo. Even if it is just rotating the camera slightly or zooming in – these little movements allow you to keep on experimenting and learning, but also give you you variety and potentially many useful photos – instead of one photo repeated over and over.

Your old work should be embarrassing!

How do you know whether you are progressing at photography? 

Well, There are many ways to look at this, it could be 

  • how successful you are with competitions in your local camera club
  • or whether you get more likes and praise on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram or Flickr 
  • or more sales and new clients

But that’s all secondary really, and external factors like popularity and your own activity (marketing, “liking” others work) come into play. 

The Cringe Factor

Now the best way of telling whether you’ve progressed is whether when you look back a year or two, or even 10, and see the work you were producing then, you are slightly embarrassed by it – there’s a cringe factor! 

You know what you did wrong and how you would do it better now. 

I saw an interview with Pink Floyd’s guitarist, Dave Gilmour, where he said he wished he’d done a better job of the intro to “Wish You Were Here” – something millions of guitarists have laboured over to copy exactly. I guess he has very high standards 🙂

A cringe factor is a sure sign of progress. It shows growth in:- 

  • how you compose an image, 
  • how you light it, if you use lighting, 
  • or increased location knowledge, when you walked to the perfect position for the perfect light on a sunset landscape image. 
  • Or maybe it’s how you organize your food and light that for a restaurant shoot
  • how you process an image – did you use toning, or straight? High contrast or muted?
  • techniques you used and abandoned or maintained

All these factors come into play photography, it’s not about how you click the button, but all the little details you learn from experience and especially from working with other people. 

The Flaws are obvious to you

So when you take a look back 5 or 10 years, you should be able to point out lots of flaws in those photos, in 10 years you can go from a complete novice to professional. 

But what about a year ago when you look back at a year at some work you were doing? 

How do you feel when you go back just 12 months? 

With my work realised that I made the rear “rim” lights on my portraits a bit too bright, so they burnt out on the back and sides of people’s heads. There would be no detail left. So now I’m very conscious now of lowering the power and keep checking it’s not too bright. People move and a random step back can easily blow out that rim light. 

Oh, and I almost always use a grid on the backlight too – just to control flare and where the light falls. 

When you look on the camera during the shoot, you don’t really notice it – but when you get back to Lightroom Photoshop, all of a sudden you realize that there’s no detail in the rim-lit areas, and you can’t do much about it. 

So there are literally hundreds of little things which add up to your style today. Looking back is a great way of working out what you’ve changed, and why. 

It’s also a great reason to update your portfolio, keep it current with your best work – to get rid of all the old stuff as frequently as you can. It’s ok to keep some of the old classics of course – think of it like a gig, if you went to see, say, Paul McCartney in concert, it’s fine for him to play a few Beatles tunes after all 🙂

Lencarta Beauty Dish Test Shoot

I recently bought the “MOD048 | 60cm Folding Beauty Dish Silver Mk.2” as a small, portable light modifier. These are available (or will be when stock arrives) on their website (https://www.lencarta.com/all-products/light-shapers/studio-beauty-dishes) or if you’re in West Yorkshire, you can order on line and pick it up in Bradford, which is what I did.

Folding Beauty Dish | Silver | Lencarta / Bowens Fitting | 100cm

Couple of things to note about this particular mod.

  • Silver – so potentially a bit more sparkly than the white version
  • 60cm – so in the middle, you can get tiny or huge, this is hopefully going to work outside without catching too much wind
  • Comes with velcro softbox/grid adaptors – so you can make it pretty directional.

Andy Taylor Boocock

The man in the photos is Andy – a top muse at McFade, always great fun to shoot with, a great look of course and always patient and excited to see the photos when we’re testing new bits of kit!

Scene 1 – Grey Wall

First up, this was a grey painted wall next to Clarence Dock, the Beauty Dish had no modifiers added – so the GODOX AD200 flash was hitting the beauty dish bounce disc, then into the silver reflector and straight out on to Andy.

I’ve included this shot to show the edge of the light on the wall – in this mode, there actually is quite a sharp edge so you can control what is by changing the angle of the flash. In this case the flash is around 4 o’clock and just above head height. If we put one of the diffusers onto the front of the dish, that edge would be diffused and softer.

For the next one, I’d added the grid, a fabric set of squares which reduces spread of the light width-ways, this one’s to show you the reflection in shades – it’s not quite as appealing as a lovely round disc or square reflection, so be aware of this. If your model is wearing shades, maybe it’s time to put the white diffuser on.

Here we have a back light on Andy’s hat/shoulders, GODOX AD200 through a gridded reflector.

Scene 2 – Round Tower Background

50m away we used these round mill things as a background, attempting to frame Andy between the lamp post and the building.

Same lights as above – this time, andy’s looking in the general direction of the beauty dish. Gone for a fairly dark, dramatic background (for a change!) and fairly flat light on Andy – because he was looking at the light.

He’s looking away from the Beauty Dish on this one, so you get a lot of hard rim light on the side of his head.

Scene 3 – Shooting into the Sun

I love a dark, moody sky as a background, so for these we just stayed in the same spot and shot with the sun in the background – upped the power of the flashes A LOT and moved the lights in pretty close.

So with this gridded beauty dish, you can see the reflections in the shades – the dish was pretty close. But you can also see the way the light falls on the face a bit more, the angle was a bit more contrasty than the previous shot. Under chin, by the nose and the near-side cheek are all in shadow, with the rim light adding a little sparkle on the shoulder and hat.

So you can get a nice shadow look from these dishes.

A closer look – soft-edged shadows under the shades/chin. The silver reflector looks quite vibrant too.

Scene 4 – Against the Corrugated Steel Wall

We were not adventurous – I think this involved picking the kit up and walking 10 paces.

The first shots were straight on to the wall with a 70-200mm lens – the beauty dish is at around 4-5 o’clock and just above head height. The grid is on.

One thing you can see is the 2 distinct lines to the right of the shot – that’s where the light edge occurs – you get 2 lines because of the grid I assume. Again, I assume if you wanted to get rid of this, you’d put the diffuser panel over the front and that’d soften things.

Other than that, pretty unremarkable lighting on this one. The dish did it’s job 🙂

Leaving everything in the same place, I moved 90 degrees (to 3 o’clock) and shot along the metal wall instead. Created a more dynamic image – you can see the shadow on the right of andy’s face, not a huge amount but enough. There’s also the rim light on this, which causes a hard shadow in the bottom right of the shot.

Scene 5 – The Gate

Just past the brick walls in the shot above, there’s a gate, that’s where these shots are from.

Swapping over from the 70-200, I put the 85mm F1.8 on – and set it to f1.8 for that milky background. I focussed on Andy and exposed the camera for the background – think it was around 1/5000th sec – then used High Speed Synch on the flashes.

Aware of the reflections on the shades, I had Andy look to my right which worked, nice black shades. The light was pretty close – maybe 1m – so the shadow was quite soft as you can see on his cheek

A slight head movement and you can see the grid reflected.

This one has a rim light added, I’d also darkened it down a little with a faster shutter speed.

Scene 6 – Black Brick Wall

The final scene was a black wall with light cement between the bricks, they looked like a potential source of lead lines, and they proved to be pretty useful in this final set up.

Again we have the 85mm F1.8 fully open, I’ve added the front panel over the grid so we get the directional beauty dish light, with a bit of diffusion. The reflection in his shades is a bit less messy!

The light is at around 4 o’clock in this one, you can see the edge of is mid-left.

We’ve got split lighting on this shot – Andy’s turned to face me, the light is still around 3-4 o’clock. Really dramatic look when you get contrast like this – maybe 3-4 stops difference between sides of his face.

This shows the rim light – we’d been shooting at high power for ages and the main AD200 needed a battery refresh – but thought this one showed what was happening quite well.

The very next shot – we got both flashing.

Conclusion…

I do like the quality of light this produces, most of my kit has white reflectors so nice to have something silver, which just feels edgier.

The build quality seems superior to some pop up beauty dishes I’ve used in this price range – there are 16 springy rods rather than the usual 8, so it is rounder, rather than octagonal.

The reflections from the open or gridded beauty dish are not attractive – so be aware of that it you can see reflections and put the diffuser panel over it to get a nicer round disc.

I’ll be using this on commercial and fashion shoots to see how it performs, so watch this space!

More Photos

Social media content creation in Lockdown

How can you create new images and social media content, safely, whilst we are still operating under bizarre lockdown circumstances?

The good news…

Luckily, the government guidance states that people should work from home unless they “absolutely cannot do so” – which most photographers can’t.

So this means we can still travel to create images for businesses. That was a huge relief for content creators around the UK!

Business As Usual for photography? Well no, it isn’t quite…

Whilst we can work, our clients are experiencing huge disruption. Many teams are working from home, businesses are closed and people are on furlough, so are not allowed to do “work”, even if that is a photoshoot.

So what can we/you do to generate new social media content? Especially in these weeks before Lockdown starts to be lifted and we need to ramp up our output.

Here are a few ideas – and things we’ve been helping with.

All the photos were taken between November 2020 and February 2021

Shoot at Home

Sarah De Wit at home
Mark Westaby – Chef who delivers to your door!

So consider asking your photographer to come to your home if that’s appropriate,  maybe home office, or if you are a chef,  your home kitchen could work perfectly. We’ve done a few of these and they worked brilliantly – meeting the families and pets is a bonus and it’s really easy for you to get changed and relax in your own home.

Shoot Outdoors

Phil Storey from Glow

How about using the great outdoors, as this is the lowest risk and possibly the most creative way of doing a shoot. Outside we have so many options available. It’s a chance to put you in front of iconic buildings and associate your brand and to your city. Or we could find a variety of walls to vary the background,  big glass buildings give you that city look or red brick walls and more rustic feel. Maybe green fields and countryside fit your brand better, we can go there too.

Sarah De Wit – Founder of the Virtual Cheese Awards

All our lights and cameras are battery powered these days, so we can get that studio-lit look in the local park just as easily as anywhere else – so long as it’s not blowing a gale or poring down!

Gemma and Chris, from Loaded PR

Meet up with colleagues

Nick and Catherine from Rockwood met for the first time in months for this shoot in Pudsey

We have met in parks around Leeds and created team photos for businesses who haven’t met colleagues in person for months,  it becomes  quite an exciting event. It’s a great excuse to spend an hour or 2 catching up, safely in the open, whilst creating some new shots.

Shoot those products

Pro Balm- the active skin restorer that athletes love

 If you are moving your business online, then photograph your products ready for websites and print. This can be done by going online and buying “light-cube” and putting a few lamps around it –  that way you’ll get a lovely clean, white background to your products, shooting on your kitchen table. If you don’t have time, then we can help of course – we have a table for small products or can come to you for anything bigger.

https://stretchburn.com/

Get your bar/restaurant ready for relaunch

If you are a bar it’s been a REALLY tough year. But we’ll be back eating and drinking in them before too long, so it’s really important to drip feed content on social to keep front of mind.

Now is the time so update your drink and food menu marketing photos – and you whilst the location is empty, we are not in the way of your customers. Fingers crossed, by the summer, things will be open and those who’ve kept their customers updated with great content will be top of everyone’s list.

Learn how to make your own images

Model Rachel Peru on location at Baildon Moor

If you do have time on your hands, it’s a great opportunity to practice photography with your phone or a camera. 

Social media thrives on photography and still images and they don’t be highly polished professional marketing photographs. Create more personalised “memes” and visuals using your own photographs as background, with some large text on top. 

Why share other people’s memes when you can make your own?

Do it quickly and easily with free software on your phone. Snapseed is a great free photo editor that allows you to add text which we recommend for both iPhone and Android.

We can help…

Firstly – if you want to learn more about photo editing with the SNAPSEED Phone App – we’ve created a powerful series of videos taking you through the process, explaining both HOW and WHY you do things – it’s available right now :-

GO TO PHONE EDITING COURSE

We’ve also made our Personal Brand photoshoots simpler to book than ever, using a new shop on the website which you can find here

Go to Personal Branding Photoshoots

Some more Lockdown photos

Tilt shift lens for portraits of Andy Taylor Boocock

Who on earth uses a tilt shift lens for portraits?

A nurse by day, a fashion model by – well any time he’s not being a nurse really – on this winters day we had a go at using my tilt shift lens for a portrait/fashion shoot…

We met up for a walk this sunny winters day – I’d “really” come armed with the 24mm tilt shift lens as was going to do some architecture shooting, but decided to keep it on for the portrait session. Try something a bit different.

About Tilt Shift

If you want to know more about Tilt Shift, I’ve done this explainer blog – also this one shows some of the effects on depth of field using TILT – this one has lots of architecture using “SHIFT”.

If you want to see more about the lens, or by one, here it is on WEX.

Here’s what happened

Using TILT in portraits

The first 2 images in this blog use the “TILT” function, so you’ll see a different kind of blur to a normal lens. Shot 1 has a diagonal plane of sharpness, so the top left and bottom right are particularly blurry. The second and third ones are similar. It’s not an effect I’d use too often, but does give a pretty cool new look – and if you’ve got it…

Using SHIFT in portraits

Most of the other images use the “SHIFT” function. In a nutshell, this allows you to keep anything vertical in the shot, correctly vertical. You keep the camera perfectly level when framing a shot – with a normal lens, this would mean I’d probably be chopping off Andy’s feet. However with the shift function, you can move the whole lens up or down – shifting what’s in the frame up or down… so everything’s still perfectly level AND you get the stuff in the shot which you want!

Anyway, it’s harder to explain than use 🙂

The Light…

You may notice that these are NOT lit by flash… Very unusual for me, but we were on a walk (our lockdown walk) and kept kit to a minimum. Many of these shots are made of 2 bracketed photos – each 2 stops apart. The darker looked after the sky – an amazing blue with clouds – and the bright shot, which was 2 stops brighter, was an insurance as it got Andy exposed about right in most shots.

So to frame the vast majority, we had Andy in the shade with a really bright background.

We did get some sunlight on Andy too – for these I carefully angled him so the sun was a powerful rim light. You’ll see the last 4 shots are examples of this. I’d swapped to the 70-200 for this too.

Remember – use the direct sun as you would a flash – it’s like a small light source you can’t move… so you need to move your model and yourself instead.

Anyway – something totally different for me, hopefully a few useful tips in there for your next natural light shoot, with a tilt shift lens 🙂

Here are the photos

How to get Maximum Sharpness with Focus Stacking

Sometimes you just cannot get everything in Focus in one shot…

This happens a lot when you are photographing landscapes with a very close foreground, the background becomes blurry if you focus on the foreground, and vice versa.

In this tutorial I show you two photos I took of the exact same scene, all the settings were absolutely identical except in one photo I focussed On The Rock in the foreground, and the second photo was focused on the end of the rock a little bit further away.

This tutorial takes you through the process of blending the two to images, using Lightroom as your start Point and Photoshop to do all the clever blending.

All the editing before the tutorial starts was standard Lightroom tweaks, and and the tutorial leaves you in a position to do whatever you like with the image in Photoshop or Lightroom.

Affinity Photo for Businesses

After talking with the Yorkshire Garden Designer, Sally Tierney, I learned that business owners occasionally need to do stuff a photo editor or designer would do. Clearly, they would benefit from an affordable photo editing package, which allows you to add text to things like PDF documents and photographs or brighten a dark shot up a bit.

Adobe Photoshop or InDesign would be fantastic tools to do this. They are subscription services which most people don’t need or want to pay for (never mind the learning curve!!) so I demonstrated Affinity Photo as an alternative.

For the current price, £49, this is a fully-featured photography suite which can do pretty much anything Photoshop can do – and it also has a really nice way of handling text which I will show you in the video below.

It will handle most file formats you throw at it and you can export the final result in all the major formats ready for delivery to clients or uploading to your websites.

So in this 5-minute video, all I’m going to do is is show you how to open a PDF file and use the text till to write some words on top of the PDF. It’s pretty simple and we show you the concept of layers whilst doing it.

If you think you would be interested in learning more about affinity photo I can help over ZOOM to get you going. Just drop me a note in the form below.

Here’s the video!

So that shows a very simple example of adding a layer and some text.

To add value, Sally could also photograph the garden she is designing from all angles, the then add the photos to the PDF as illustrations. THis may help the client or the contractor visualise what they are seeing on the plan.

Hopefully, small all additions like this can make a big difference to the final product.

CASE STUDY – Fundamentals First

Fundamentals First

Fundamentals First an IT company based in Leeds,  formed by software experts Phil, Hamish, Chris and another Phil. 

The purpose of this photoshoot was to create images for the personal Brand, marketing, PR and new website. 

CLICK TO SEE THEIR WEBSITE

For this project we follow our usual process of:-

Discover

This included few phone calls with Phil to discover who their target audience is and how they would want to be perceived. Also, we had previously run a Photoshoot at Nexus, at Leeds University campus, where Fundamentals First are based. So we could show them example images from that to help visualise the venue’s potential. 

Define

We decided to create a formal look, with suits, and a more relaxed look you’d expect of a tech-company.

The team would wear suits to start, then change into their usual t-shirts more casual clothes halfway. We also chose to use one of the meeting rooms and re-create a brainstorming session and board meeting, then use the building’s impressive atrium for headshot backgrounds. 

A second set of headshots would have the Nexus logo in the background, and finally we’d  create a few group photos. 

This formed our shot list and a plan for the session. We were going to deliver 2-hours on site and 25 edited photos for them to use in their marketing and promotion and quoted on that basis. 

Shoot

The shoot was from 10 till 12,  starting with the suits on in the meeting room.  Hamish had provided a few more example images he really liked so we recreated those. We tried a brain-storming shot with suits, but it looks a little bit unrealistic to be that formal!  With a bit of clever camera work and seating, we managed to make them all look close together yet be safely distanced – just briefly coming a little closer together for a couple of the group photos.

Next, we did the formal headshots and formal seated shots. After this, the guys got changed into their casual gear. 

After that we went back into the meeting room to get the brainstorming shots, downstairs to get the Casual headshots, a few casual group photos indoors – finally as it wasn’t raining, one outside to finish off. 

It was a fantastic shoot,  all the team were great sports, took direction and ideas really well,  including many silly things I asked them to do to get them relaxed and smiling for the camera – and it shows on the photos. 

Choose

After I returned to base, I created the 400+ previews straight away and put them on Dropbox for them to view that very afternoon. 

I don’t always do this because I like to take time I’m to sift out the best shots, but the team was very keen to see the results whilst they were together that afternoon. 

They went on to choose 25 great shots, plus a few extras.

Style and Deliver

As part of the previews phase, I often supply a few different colour toning options. 

So a :-

  • Straight edit – no tone
  • warm version,  
  • cool version,  
  • very colourful version 
  • low colour version
  • and black and white version 

They went for the straight edit without toning

We got the images edited at the first opportunity and delivered them on Dropbox straight away,  giving them the following formats

  • High res –  perfect for print  
  • Web-sized –  smaller versions which can be directly uploaded to most social media sites

They’re ready to be used for the new website, linked in and everywhere else in their marketing. 

Outside shot to finish off!

Feedback

Having spoken with Phil Jeffries,  he said that the guys really enjoyed the whole experience.  Especially the photoshoot itself, where we managed to make everybody relaxed and laughing for most of it, which is totally different to photo shoots they have had in the past. They were spoiled for choice with the previews and love the final results. 

Are AI voiceovers a godsend, or hell?

I learn more through audio than text….

I don’t know about you but I definitely take more information in through my ears than through reading! Which is kind of ironic, because I’m writing this using words which you will be reading….

Anyway, having searched for the most realistic, affordable text to voice converter on the internet, I have started to add voiceovers to my info-promotional videos.

Saves LOADS of time

I tried using my own voice I realised that I say “umm”, “err” and “so” constantly and it takes ages to edit out… hours of cutting – it was painful.

The program I use is called Speechelo, the Secret is out! I can have various accents like an Irish, Welsh, Indian, English or American man or woman.

Just use text you’d already written…

I just write the info for the workshop as normal, paste it into the workshop webpage as normal, and then generate an audio version of it using the software.

Aussies Rule!?

My current favourite is the Australian lady, she seems to have a very natural sound as well as being very upbeat and modern.

So far I have made a few you for my workshops, have a look and see what you think.

Are you most likely to read the text or watch the video?

Example Videos

Ribblesdale workshop

This Ribblesdale video is the longest one, I have run this workshop a few times and have lots of photos of all the locations so I had more to say.

York workshop

This York workshop is a little trickier because I have only ever walked around the walls whilst visiting lots of hostelries… So you may appreciate that I don’t have so many photographs from the actual wall. I do however have lots of photos of the classic scenes to pad the video out.

Newcastle workshop

And finally another brand new workshop I’ve created from my trips to the northeast. Blend of seascape with the Lighthouse up near Whitley Bay and City shooting down of the Iconic Tyne Bridge. A classic case of not being able to find any photos of the middle section which is Tynemouth.

So what do you think?

These videos do take a couple of hours to put together because you have to make the photos move around and link with the soundtrack, is it worth doing to capture an audience who may not bother Reading?

Try these 3 Things RIGHT NOW to improve your phone photos

You can definitely take great phone photos these days. The technology has moved on massively since the early days, and the app software is truly amazing. 

 There are probably dozens of phone photos tips you could give, but realistically these three things will make the biggest difference.

 1 – Where is the light

photo – Setting sunlight

This may seem a bit of an odd question but have a look around you right now.

What is the main source of light where you are right now?

Where is it coming from?

photo – Sunlight!

I would guess that you’ve either got 

  1. the cloudy sky above you if it’s overcast,  
  2. at the sun if it’s a bright day,  
  3. a window if you are inside 
  4. or a ceiling-light if it’s dark outside
photo – window lighting

Here is a secret,  switch off the flash on your camera phone because it is always rubbish and unflattering….  Use the ambient light instead, point 2 tells you how. 

2 – Move whatever you are shooting to the light… 

photo – Light falling on Arthur – dark background

 I’m guessing you are probably photographing either 

  • something you can put on a table or 
  • a person. 

So get them to move so that the light (from the sky, sun, window or light)  is now falling upon  their face,  or maybe so they are at a slight angle so you get a small shadow across their face. 

If you want to photograph a plate of food,  then choose a table by a window to put the plate on

If you want to shoot pretty much anything with which to create a meme, just move it towards a window and you will get lovely soft light falling over it, creating a beautiful photo

What you are doing is what Rembrandt used to do, and use the natural light available, wherever he was, to light his subjects. 

But we are not quite there yet…. 

3 – What is in the background

This is usually how you can differentiate snapshots and crafted photographs. 

Snapshots may have busy distracting backgrounds, whereas, proper photographs will have backgrounds which have little influence or enhance the subject. 

photo – Clear background

For the phone photographer the easiest thing is to look for a plane background. Now this does not mean we take our subject away from the light source we found because we can’t find a plain background.  keep the subject there but move the camera around. Try these

  • move the camera lower –  if you are shooting upwards the background tends to be the ceiling or Sky which is almost always pretty featureless and a good background
  • move the camera higher –  if you point down,  this is often very flattering for portraits and why the Instagram generation always hold the camera up high for selfies.  But also floors tend to be dark and fairly featureless so could be an option
  • Move around the subject from left to right –  leave your person or plate where it is and you do the lead work,   hold your camera phone in position to take a photograph and then just walk around them looking at the back of the phone all the time to find the best background. 

 

photo – Low angle – puts Andy’s head in a plain background – the sky
photo – High angle – just gets a concrete background, not the railings at the beach

For the vast majority of photos the best background is one which you don’t notice.  So as soon as you find the blandest background take a shot,  stay in that position and get them to pose or do whatever you like. 

Try it RIGHT NOW

There you go, 3 things you can try right now, grab a person, walk them to the window and give it a go!

Make your photos SHINE with the LIGHTROOM Brush Tool

The Lightroom Brush Tool

Stand out with Selective Editing

Some images really stand out when you see them on Instagram or Facebook, parts of the shot just look so much better than you could ever achieve using normal Lightroom techniques. The secret to creating these kinds of images is to get selective using the Lightroom Brush Tool

All that means is that you apply settings to small parts of the photograph rather than everything at once. Is so you may want to just brighten somebody’s eyes, or perhaps make some rocks stand out in the foreground of Your Landscape image, this is where the Lightroom Brush Tool comes in.

In this tutorial video, we show you how to to use the Lightroom Brush Tool on a photograph taken in the Yorkshire Dales. Also, I show you how to save the settings away for another day – Lightroom allows you to keep settings safe in presets.

Have a go with the Brush yourself…

This technique is used widely in photography editing especially when using Photoshop, you can now do some really powerful things with the Lightroom brush tool so so we recommend you you reopen some old favourite photographs and give it a go. 

One example would be the sky on this photographic shoot around Leeds – it was a genuinely dramatic day but I have used the power of brush techniques to make the sky look even more impressive

FREE Luminosity Mask Extension in Photoshop

Photoshop now comes with lots of “extensions” you can install – either paid or for free – you get to them from this menu item
 
 
That opens up a web browser – you need to be logged in to your Adobe account if you’re not on Creative Cloud this may not work. 
 
 
So if type in “luminosity mask” like I’ve done in the screen shot – it’ll do a search… the results are like this:-
 
 
The one I’ve got is – Luminosity Masking Panel by Greg Benz
 
You click on that and can install it – I can’t do to screenshot it as it’s already installed, but here’s the extension info page.
 
 
Once you’ve got it installed – to use it you need to click the following menu item:-
 
And a small box will open up with just a few buttons – you click on “create masks” to start.
 
 
then open your CHANNELS panel to find about 20 new channels all named “lights”, “darks” and “midtones”. 
 
To select a dark area, hold down your CTRL key and click on one of the dark channels – you’ll get that mask selected as you can just about see here
 
Now you can open up any Adjustment layer you like and the mask will be automatically applied – so if you wanted to make the “darks” darker, you can use curves/exposure/levels, for example. Look at the Curves 1 layer, the mask is a black and white representation of the selection. So if you do anything with the layer, the effect will only happen to the white parts, leaving the black alone. 
 
That’s how to install and use it. 
 
For example, if you wanted to lighten the mid-tones a bring out some detail, then you can control-click on the mid-tone channel, create a curved line and then pull the curve up in the middle of a little bit. You’ll see just the mids changing – the lights and darks stay the same. 
 
It’s really useful and something you can’t really do so well with Lightroom. 

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

Get the most from your photos during LOCKDOWN

Like many businesses, we deal directly with clients in person, so have taken quite a hit with this lockdown. We can’t really leave the house to do any new work – and if we could, we can’t get close to people so it’d be awkward.

Here are a few things you can do remotely, and we can help you with, to keep your marketing images relevant

1 Use archives for your marketing

So the first one is that I have got literally hundreds of thousands of images from all over Europe, India, the UK and the People’s Republic of Yorkshire on my hard drives which could be used to help with your:-

  • Blogs
  • Websites
  • Newsletters
  • Social media
  • Flyers
  • Articles in the press
  • Etc. 

 If you need some eye-catching images to make your marketing stand out whilst we are all working from home and checking social media constantly,  ping me a message if you need an image and I will create a Dropbox folder with a selection of images for you to choose from. 

 I will base prices on HALF of what the ALAMY stock photography website’s usage calculator says.

2 Additional photos from old shoots

If we have done a photoshoot in the past you will have chosen a small selection from a larger library of images to use

The good news is that these will almost certainly still exist on my hard drive, and your preview files will still be in Dropbox (unless you’ve deleted them yourself).

We can reopen your project and edit as many of the photos you didn’t choose as you like, so you will have something, maybe not brand new, but different to use online.

3 A new look to existing photos

 A little bit like number 3,  if your existing portraits are the ones you really love and you don’t need anything new,  then maybe a little refresh in the processing could help get you noticed. We can reopen the project and have a look at a different vibe to the images. 

It may be as simple as doing a black and white version,  or making a previously soft and warm photo look cool and edgy, or adding in some creative light flare and textures…. 

Essentially we can have a think about what you are using them for and come up with some ideas on how we can differently process them for you.

4 Shoot new photos without people in them

If you have a property,  product, food or a drink,  car or anything which I can drive to and photograph without breaking the 2 m rule of social distancing,  then I will be able to help. 

  •  for small things, I can take delivery and photograph them at my humble abode
  •  for property exteriors, I think I should be ok legally to photograph them from the street
  •  for property interiors we could meet  at a safe distance, then let me go in and shoot the interior hello must you have a coffee
  •  cars may be doable at a showroom or on somebody’s drive but I don’t think we can take them anywhere pretty with the current lockdown rules

5 Help with WordPress websites

I have a background in software engineering (which I try my best to hide) and it comes in handy when I need to deal with websites. 

Whilst I don’t get embroiled in massively detailed websites with dozens of mission-critical pages,  I have lots of experience of using WordPress to craft image-driven websites. I use a popular, beautiful visual theme to create my own websites and a few others.

So if you do need an online presence which needs to look good,  I can help by 

  • setting you up with a web hosting account and email – I use Krystal, they seem a great UK company
  • showing you how to get your domain name (e.g www.mywebsite.com
  • Installing WordPress for you
  • adding the theme I use which has a lovely page Builder – I use Oshine as it’s great for images
  • creating 3 to 5 pages and adding your content
  • advice on sizing images for your web pages
  • importing video to your site etc.
  • help you learn how to manage it yourself over ZOOM

It could be any of those steps, or the whole thing. Many just need the site installation doing, then they can do the rest.

6 Teaching photo editing over ZOOM

The last one in today’s list is probably the most obvious,  with ZOOM we can share each other’s computer screens so I can walk you through the process of taking a photograph from it’s raw form to something far more eye-catching. 

The beauty of doing it this way is :-

  • it’s totally remote and safe from the dreaded virus – you stay at home
  • it will be 1 to 1 so you can ask any questions you like
  • we can pace the session to you
  • we can record the session so you can play it back as many times as you like

I have helped people learn an effective workflow from taking the card out of a camera through to producing images you could give to clients. Or you may just want to learn how to spice up your landscape photographs…

Maybe you’ve never used Lightroom before and quite fancy a go, or have you always wondered what layers and masks were in Photoshop?

Now is probably the best time I’m to get some help with these things,  because during lockdown you are limited in what you can actually do. So you may as well get active learning something ready for when you can get back out with the camera.

Just drop us a note…

If any of those could be useful, or you want a catch-up, or anything else during this lockdown – I’m here at ade@mcfade.co.uk or use my new capture form below

Photos only work when you use them

How many things in life do we buy & not use?

Most kitchen gadgets I use once or twice, and then stash away neatly in the cupboard never to see the light of day again,  All that money spent, all that good intent to make a change and no return.

 The same can be said for photography –  you can spend an absolute fortune hiring a photographer to create a library of amazing images for you, but if you’re not actively using them to promote your business, your return will be negligible. 

Photos for EVERYTHING!

 The massive bonus with photography is that there are so many uses you can put them to. The only equivalent thing would be your logo, in the diversity of use. 

In the discovery phase of a project, I like to understand your business processes, walk around your office/factory/site and meet people to come up with ideas for useful images for the company. It is all about creating a library of relevant “personal stock” images to future-proof your marketing for the next year or two. 

Saving you time

 Imagine not having to search for hours on stock library websites for an image to spice up a report or support a blog. And imagine how much more credible your blog or report would have if it contains real images of your team rather than a model from California smiling in a fake boardroom.

Infinite Uses (almost!)

 Our images have been used for so many things it’s hard to remember them all,  all but I have seen them on:-

  • billboards,  
  • websites,  
  • Twitter,  
  • Facebook,  
  • Instagram,  
  • LinkedIn,  
  • YouTube,  
  • magazines,  
  • newspapers,  
  • at the back of buses,  
  • hoardings on building sites,  
  • in meeting rooms,  
  • on business cards,  
  • decorating long corridors,  
  • in lifts,  
  • on keyrings,  
  • on menus,  
  • on hotels.com,  
  • booking.com,  
  • Airbnb,  
  • the Leeds list,  
  • and lots more….

How many are YOU using – and do they have personalised images?

How often do YOU refresh those images?

 You can certainly strengthen your marketing in all of the above areas by simply adding your photographs to them

Tripple J use this on frequently social media

Keep things interesting

Better still you can update these on a regular basis,  either monthly or quarterly or annually and these will always appear in people’s timelines and bring you the briefly to the front of their minds. 

If you are posting regular content to LinkedIn,  what better way to draw attention to it than to always include a relevant,  professional photograph of you or your team in Action to support the article?  This is especially useful for manufacturers, builders, the construction trade generally, maintenance companies and anything where people physically do things. 

 For office-based businesses, there are still lots of opportunities to capture images of people in business scenarios, people on phones smiling, Branded mugs and stationery, cool interiors, outside the building and anything else we can find.

Also, some fun images are really useful for blogs and memes…

Copright of McFade Photography

How we work

 We usually spend a day or half a day creating this kind of imagery for our clients,  giving them a library of images which works out to be far more cost-effective than buying stock images. It is usually hard to believe because the quote can look a lot, but when you work it out as an investment per image, it will usually be below the £20 mark. 

If you cleverly use these images in rotation on all your channels,  you will be amazed by the enhanced perception of your brand and extra visibility it affords you – resulting in more bookings, clients, covers… whatever it is you sell.

Ready to get started?

For these personal stock photography photoshoots, I always try why to visit and come up with a plan of images to create. 

So if you are ready to push your marketing materials to the next level, let’s meet for a brew and tell me all about your business.

Leeds Architecture 2020

There’s a lot of new building going on in Leeds, so on a rare sunny February day I decided to take the 5D Mark IV and the 24mm tilt Shift lens out and going capture some of the new and classic architectural delights.

Wellington Place

 I decided to start at the new Wellington Place developments which is immediately west of the train station.  This is a new village-style development of interestingly shaped office blocks with tall vertical windows. I managed to catch a lot of images from the outside pavements but when when I went into the complex itself, I found that you needed permission to take photographs on site,  so I decided to move onto somewhere a little more positive towards photographers.

Next to the station

From here I went up to the riverbank to the station, via this really tall new building which was beautifully lit. Past the new Channel 4 HQ at The Majestic and into City Square. Nothing particularly new here but some nice buildings including the 1 with a tent on top. I think it’s called one City Square.

City Square

After the I’d spotted a lot of new student accommodation being built near to the arena,  so headed up that direction how to find my old workplace, Fairfax House. , and you things being put up next to the Merrion Centre.

Fairfax House

By this time the light was getting nice and low creating a lot of shadow on the street and beautifully lit buildings, 

New build by the Merrion Centre

And then the inevitable happened,  the sun dropped behind a cloud leaving all the buildings in  Shadows. a typical grey Leeds day. so I decided to get a couple of shots of the town hall and Civic Hall before heading home

Here are a few more shots from the day

Medusa Shoot

What do you do on a wet day in Sheffield?

Well if you’re Clare Jane Garret, you get a dancer called Sarah Hobson and paint her green, then get a milliner called Hannah Gray to create a fantastic headpiece and create a real-life Medusa!

This was all done in a dance studio near the university – the walls were white paint or mirrors – we’d hoped to go outside but it really was pouring down,  not just a little bit of rain but proper torrential like we’ve seen this last week with the 2020 storms. 

When I arrived, it was one huge wow factor seeing Sarah painted head-to-toe in these amazing colours and designs. It’s the first time seen one of Claire’s Creations in the flesh, literally, and it’s staggering the amount of detail time and effort goes into it. 

Whilst the team finished off, I went to a large dance rehearsal studio to set up some light, brought my big softboxes, which are 1.5 and 1.8 m respectively – so big that they very rarely get an outing. It was pretty obvious from the start that we were not going to both light the model and keep the background dark, the mirrors and white walls just bounced light around like a ricocheting bullet. Without anything to help, we’d have all kinds of crap in the background!. 

What we did find was a crash mat, one of those you used to have in in the school gym when you were vaulting. We managed to put this on its end and lean it against the wall, though it was not black we got a very dark, usable blue instead. 

The only other issue was that we couldn’t really do wide arm photos, where Sarah puts her arms out left and right, because the mat was tall and thin, the arms just went off the edge and would have been a pain to edit in post. 

The amazing thing about working with dancers they have spent years learning how to do amazing things with their legs, arms and bodies, You really don’t need to direct all do anything other than photograph what they do. We had about five little sessions with the end one being everybody’s favourites. 

For this one, I’d move the lights closer, more dramatic angles and turned the power right down so the background went black and the light was very soft – yet created quite a lot of Shadow. 

After we’d finished, I’m not sure what happened to all the paint…. I got a lift with kit downstairs from Medusa herself – I told her to go shopping in ASDA and see what the local thoughts but I bet it didn’t happen!

Here are a few of the shots – all edited differently for the hell of it, but you get the idea.

The Madness of Share the Shoot…

What’s it all about?

About a year ago I came up with an idea,  it was based on years of photographing companies and what had worked best. It offered individuals who may be just starting out (or ready for a new set of images) 5 photos of them for a bargain price… and other people to act in their shots.

I called it ​”​profile shoots​”​ to begin with​, this soon evolved into the catchier “share the shoot

The idea was that everybody needs a decent headshot, but there are many other Powerful images a small business owner could use, if only they had other people available to be in the photos.  Quite often in the past when shooting 121, I would get people to bring a friend along to act as a client so they could use them in a photo.

So in February 2019 I pulled together 6 friends from my network and got a room at Croft Myl Halifax and gave it a go. 

The first session

I produced some worksheets with questions ranging from “​what do you do​”​ to ​”are you in favour of Brexit​” – all designed to stimulate reactions and conversation, then essentially played musical chairs with the six people, giving them different seats and a turn at the head of the table. 
This turned out to be ​a​ natural networking environment, where everybody just chatted and we ended up​ not ​needing the worksheet​. They were all animated and relaxing without any input from me​ – I could just concentrate on the lights and photographing each person. ​
We let everybody stand in front of a flip chart to get some nice presentation photos, which I see popping up daily in LinkedIn, so they proved to be really useful photos. 

After that we found a space upstairs where people could do a one-to-one chat with one of the other delegates, these prove really useful because a photograph of you listening to a client conveys a very positive message. 

Finally, we arrived at the headshot section and everybody is laughing and joking with each other and totally relaxed, so the headshots are massively easier to do than usual. Most people when you first meet them for a headshot are nervous and it takes a while to get a decent photo. All that work has been done in the first half of the session.

The fantastic thing about doing this at Croft Myl is the variety of backgrounds Vicky and the team have created around the building, we have a yellow, purple, grey, blue, brick and even a roof garden to use as your background.

By the end of it, I have usually taken between 500 and 1000 photos, totally knackered and rather red in the face. I have set up about 8 different lighting scenarios and entertained 6 people for 2-hours – I love it it’s a real buzz, a performance almost, and it’s great to see people making connections, exchanging contact details and hopefully doing a little bit of business in the future. 

Why do I only charge a fraction of normal headshot for this?

I keep seeing competitors in the local area doing headshot days where they charge £100 or £150 for just 1 headshot and wonder if I’ve gone mad doing this…  

Well, the main reason is that this is really a “taster session” or a “lead magnet”, where I’m giving true value to a wide range of people. Over a year this will hopefully raise awareness of McFade and introduce me to lots of people I’d possibly not meet

If each month 6 people update their LinkedIn profile and mention me, it’s 6 new LINKED IN networks who may click on my page and who knows where that will lead. 

I also like meeting and helping new businesses, many of whom could not afford a one-to-one session, so this is a way to to get them looking “the business” without breaking the bank. 

If I do get a full 6 people, the combined fee does add up to my usual rate anyway – so whilst everyone is getting great value, I’m still remunerated fairly. Sure, if all 6 did a 1-2-1 shoot it’d be better financially, but that’s not really the point.

It’s more about planting seeds for the future and awareness than out and out money making.

The pitfalls…

I guess one risk that people who were prepared to spend £££ on a bespoke photoshoot may opt for this and I miss out on that. The only other thing is people sometimes don’t understand what is included and what is extra, despite there being a big list of it on the website and a video. 

I have been asked to do all kinds of editing above and beyond what is included so have to have that awkward chat about it. 

Pro retouching of a photo can cost more than the shoot if they need a lot of work – this is definitely not included!

There’s more on this in the “Who it’s not for” section below.

What’s in it for people who come…

Why they booked…

I did a survey at the start of 2020,  and obviously the biggest reason for coming was the price –  I live in Yorkshire they are careful with money here! But with most headshots costing at least £100 each, and you get 5 for under £100, it should be a no brainer to book

A close second was having other scenarios than headshots in the photographs –  this means that people working on their own can have pretend clients or even pretend board meetings in their marketing images at no extra cost.

​Many thought it looked like fun from the marketing ​I had put out on the website and LinkedIn too.

Most Useful photos

The most useful photos are the headshots and many have found the “one-to-one chat” and a mix of other photos really useful too. We’ll keep going with the board room as that’s where people relax and get to know each other – plus we do get some great shots in there.

We are constantly evolving and trying to to get different photos for people, which weirdly means asking people not to talk when they are facing the camera… you are talking your face can look a little unusual in a photo. The more animated you are, the stranger it can look – so we’ve changed how that section works now after feedback.

Who is it “not” for?

​With 6 people and limited time available, and being in one building for the whole session, there are obviously limitations which we cannot avoid​. This is an entry-level taster product, not the fully-fledged McFade photoshoot you get in a 1-2-1 session.

You can only shoot a limited amount of scenarios and cannot spend too long creating specific shots for one person, at the expense of other people’s time. So if you do have a detailed and specific list of images you need, but they don’t really fit into the boardroom, one-to-one meeting or a headshot scene, then when we would recommend doing a one-to-one shoot. We can then dedicate the time you need and get the right location for you. 

If you accept that the photos you get are going to look pretty similar to the ones on the website and the videos we have created, then when you should be fine. If you need a different background or something unique – then a 1-2-1 is for you.

We aim to make the best possible photos for 6 people in 2 hours, which means that we can’t deviate too much from The Script. If you are in any doubt just drop us a note before booking and we will help go to you towards the correct shoot for you

The Future of Share the Shoot

Copright of McFade Photography

So profile shoots evolved into share the shoot, it was essentially a lead magnet, but it now seems to have become a popular product in its own right. Initially, there was a challenge each month to get enough people through the door to make it work, but hopefully, with enough word-of-mouth and a few Facebook Ads, we can keep this going throughout 2020 and help lots more people.

All but 1 in the survey thought the shoot was hugely underpriced for what you get, so I’d book soon as I’ll be acting on this feedback 😉

How to choose a photographer from the 1000's recommended on LINKED IN

Recommendations are King

The best way to source most products and services these days is to ask for recommendations based on people’s experience.

It can certainly filter out solutions, products and providers who have given a good experience. I’m pretty sure everybody who is buying a new pair of headphones will read the Amazon reviews or checkout What Hi-Fi reviews before buying them. 

Photography Recommendations

When hiring a photographer it can be a little bit different – what is a good result for one person may be entirely wrong for another person. This could be in terms of style of image, or the photoshoot experience. When you put a call out for photography recommendations everybody will recommend the photographer in their BNI/4N/Networking group, or someone they know, which is what you would expect. 

Do some digging…

The great thing about photography is that being an entirely visual medium, you can pretty quickly go to their websites to check out the style and standard of their work. You can do this with designers and musicians as well of course – so it’s a step you should always take

When you put your next call out for a photographer on LinkedIn and get the 1000 recommendations, you already know that they are “probably” decent people because they have been recommended. But do take that second step of checking their work. 

Why?

Photography can have three effects

  • firstly it can damage your brand if it is of a poor standard or gives the wrong impression
  • secondly it can be a good filler for a website, like magnolia paint in a house you are trying to sell – its safe but doesn’t really “wow” anyone. This is probably most common.
  • Thirdly it can look outstanding, imaginative, delicious, dramatic, beautiful, majestic – whatever your brand needs and creates a massive impact on your marketing and website. 

You can pretty quickly find this out when you go to their website and see previous projects. Are you looking at the images you’d want on your own website? Are you settling for something safe and predictable when you could get something disruptive and exciting?

Photography is all about getting noticed amongst the noise of modern life – it has to have an instant impact or your’ll be swiped past in under a second. People don’t have time or the attention span to look at bland things when a cool thing may be one scroll down in the browser

You may as well invest your money in something that is outstanding rather than just a magnolia filler for your website.

Jaeda Sharman 2

A second shoot with this Morley based star of the future – a model and competition diver at 12!

This was at a ruin in a Morley golf club on a cold January day….

It’s an exposed bit of land, the lights were blowing around, Jaeda had a cold starting – it had all the hall marks of a disaster

But we battled on and created some great images – the dark, rainy skies created drama, the wind made her scarf blow horizontally… everything negative turned into a positive – well except the cold!

Click the shots on the gallery to see them really big on your screen.

Don't Forget About Photography!

Everything is video these days, we are all told to do Facebook lives or record things from the seats of our cars, in car parks, before meetings to engage with our audience.

I’ve spent the last year creating video content, be that behind the scenes footage of a photoshoot, close-ups of food or even photoshop editing videos. It’s been great fun and amazing learning curve. I really enjoy going through YouTube’s free music library to find the right tune for my videos and synching the cuts in the video to fit music…

Behind the scenes video of a food shoot in Leeds

I’m sure you’re the same, but having done all that are we forgetting the power of the humble photograph.

I like to think in terms of metaphors, so if marketing is going fishing, then the photograph is a lovely eye-catching fly you craft to attract the fish in the first place. 

I’m sure that the vast majority of videos that pop up on social media go unplayed, yet every single photograph that appears on social media is “seen” every time. The photo has done its job in under 1 second – hopefully, the right photo entices people to look further into your offering. (Bad photos lose you business by the way – give us a call if your images aren’t great!)

I found this with promoting my share the shoot events. I sometimes spend an afternoon editing behind-the-scenes video footage captured on my spare camera, making some cool movies. I’ll then plaster it over LinkedIn and Facebook and wait for all the bookings to roll in…

It doesn’t always work, why?

I often I have looked at my video metrics and many people will only watch the first two or 3 seconds of the video. Gutted!

A typical short video about SHARE THE SHOOT

But worse, all the messages I want them to see are totally missed. The call to action, the key benefits…

Video relies on people actually taking the time to watch it – and you can’t guarantee the right people WILL actually click play.

Conversely, when I have uploaded a still image from the shoots, usually with a little bit of text on top of it (a meme) I know that everybody, on whose wall the photos arrives, sees both the image and text – AND it works instantly. The above image was a success, with 12 previous clients smiling and a simple message – people “see” this and get what the deal is. They click on the link to find a web page full of videos, examples FAQ and booking links…

Still images work instantly and don’t rely on people taking the time to view them.

So whilst there are colossal benefits to doing videos, especially getting a lot of information out in the short period, let’s not forget that the humble photograph. Is the shiny bling which attracts people in the first place.

Think of the photograph as a way of getting your message headline out there like a fly attracts a fish – then when you’ve hooked a someone, you can use your video and copy to do the sale.

BusinesS Headshots – it ain't what you do…

It’s the way that you do it…

Franco Demori

“It ain’t WHAT you do, it’s the WAY that you do it” – As the Bananarama song goes.

That’s probably true in most businesses but it’s certainly the case with photography. It’s not just the end product which counts, but how you get to it.

I’ve been shooting business folks for almost a decade now and with the odd exception, no one really likes the idea of it. We are second only to dental root canal work to many!

It’s totally different from shooting models like Andy Taylor Boocock here.

Models are trained, they know what looks good, they can turn it on instantly and look like a Vogue front cover, then turn it off and start talking about their pet bulldog. They don’t have the usual hang-ups about a lazy eye or double chin like we mortals.

So what have I learned in all these years?

  • Talk a lot
  • Set lights up and keep chatting
  • Be friendly and patient
  • Show them the photos on the camera back (or laptop) regularly
  • Have fun
  • Give people stuff to do – or get them to use their imagination
  • Don’t get hung up on perfect poses
  • Take LOTS of photos to give LOTS of options

Talk a lot

I’ve always treated my shoots almost like a 1-2-1 chat with a new business connection. Grab a coffee, chat about their business, find out more about what they do and where they’re going. You’ll be amazed at who they know, where they’ve been and all sorts – just like any 1-2-1, so it’s a great way to start.

Set lights up and keep chatting

This helps take their mind off the camera and lights and you avoid all those long silences whilst you’re setting up. You should be able to set lights up on auto-pilot really.

Be friendly and patient

This is really important, keep things light and enjoyable. If things take a bit of getting going, let them take as much time as needed – it’s not their expert area, so lots of encouragement and positive messages helps build confidence. If something’s really not working, then move elsewhere, a change is far better than persevering with a bad idea.

Show them the photos on the camera back (or laptop) regularly

I do this all the time. It works brilliantly – your client can take a look and instantly see whether

  • the outfit is working,
  • they like the background,
  • they like their hair, makeup and anything else they want to check
  • they need to smile more, or look a bit more serious!

It also means that you’re getting feedback on whether the look, lighting and locations are right, so you can change things. The end result is that you should have got shots that the client likes and avoid any issues down the line with them hating all the shots!

Have fun

This is the #1 key to my shoots really.

I’ve been photographed and know what it’s like if you’re faced with a quiet photographer who just doesn’t say anything. It’s painful and you really want the ground to open up and eat you.

So on my shoots, it’s more about creating an air of levity and really interacting with people – especially if you’ve got groups of people.

If they’re all having fun, you’ll get far better photographs.

Give people stuff to do – or get them to use their imagination

This follows on from the “fun” comment – if you expect a business person to just pose amazingly first time in front of your camera, you’re probably going to have a hard time!

They need something to do, think about or look at to get them going. For me it could be anything from asking “what does a fairy do?” or “can you pull a face like Pob?”, to “how high can you jump?” or “look at that door…. imagine #appropriate celebrity# is winking at you”.

Sure they’re strange things to ask someone who runs an SME, but they’ll certainly stop thinking about the photo shoot and give you a new expression to capture!

If you’ve got a few people in the photo, then just think of things you can get them all doing – could be all looking at one of the group, looking at their watches and yawning, opening their eyes as wide as they can (a personal favourite that) or all jumping at the same time.

Giving people weird stuff to do lightens the atmosphere, makes them all forget about the camera and hopefully gets a lot of laughter!

From that, warm, friendly photos follow…

Don’t get hung up on perfect poses

I bought books on portraits when I set out.

They were usually American and had “senior” photos – people leaving their high school – and they all followed a really strict formula. Hand positions and head positions were discussed, sitting and standing debated… and they all looked very “cheesy”. Many of them make great twitter memes.

There is definitely a need for a little helpful guidance. The body angle is often worth sorting straight off, get their feet to point at 45 degrees to you and them looking slightly over a shoulder.

But if you venture into too many instructions, you lose the client. They get concerned about the hand and chin positions you’ve given them and start looking really confused. That smile goes and they start feeling self-conscious.

Think in terms of “micro prompts” – little easy things they can do, I often look around me for something they can look at – “look at the clock as if it’s the best thing you’ve ever seen” – they look the right direction and you may just get a “Wow” expression.

But a little “try lifting your chin a little” is easy for them to do – whereas the 50 things you need think about in my old posing books would really flummox them!

Take LOTS of photos to give LOTS of options

And finally…

I now take LOTS of photos when shooting clients, this is so you can let the best moments happen naturally. You have the lens to your eye and are talking away to them, expressions come and go fast – get them, get as many as you can and keep going.

I used to take a few shots and then move – take a few more – which was fine, but I found there was more energy and flow if you just kept going and encouraging them all the time.

It costs the virtually same to take 100 shots as it does 1000 – there’s more hard drive space needed and more time to filter the good ones out, but you don’t need to develop/edit all of them.

Zap the duff shots quickly, then you’ve got a raft of proofs for the client to choose from.

So that’s kinda how I do it

The best thing I can hear on my shoots is someone who started out saying “I hate having my photo taking” tell me they “really enjoyed it” at the end of it.

Fancy a Try….?

If you’re reading this thinking I’m mad, then you’re probably right!

But if you run a business and fancy this experience for a change, then get in touch with me at ade@mcfade.co.uk

If you’re brand new, a solopreneur and need photos of you with other people or just like networkfing and need some shots of yourself… I’ve got a new event called SHARE THE SHOOT which embodies everything in this blog at an amazing price… follow this link for more details

How to organise your photos like a pro

Finding old photos can be a pain – if someone asks if you’ve got photos of Liverpool (or something like that) in future, how quickly could you locate them in your file system?

Or if you’re looking to create a print of Ingleborough, could you find all your photos of the hill and quickly make a decision on which to use?

Well if you’re ever in this situation, this video may help.

If not, it’s useful anyway to see how others work – and this is my workflow from getting photos off the memory card through to importing and giving the files meaningful, findable names.

A Beach Wedding

We love working with creatives – one day after a fashion shoot in Leeds we discussed what we could do for our next project. I wanted to do it over in Liverpool for a change and to help Denise with travel, and it grew from there into a wedding.

So the team on the day were:-

  • Me – photographer, lighting, gofer and taxi driver
  • Andy – Groom and gofer
  • Andi – Vicar, lighting and gofer
  • Denise – bride and gofer
  • Rick – film maker and yes gofer!

(gofer – someone who carries stuff around on a shoot/stage)

Lighting Kit Used

It was windy as hell, so we couldn’t use any diffusers – so the flashes just had reflectors on them.

  • Godox AD600BM * 2
  • Godox AD200 * 1

So most of the images use 3-point lighting, 2 behind ar roughly 45 degrees, and one at the front usually at 30 degrees to Denise’s face.

We had the AD600’s in bags with cables to the flash head so they didn’t smash if they blew over – and 5KG weights as well! Can’t be too careful

Camera Kit Used

With it being wet, sandy, windy and pretty cold, I wanted to keep the lens changes to a minimum, so in the bag had :-

  • Canon 5D mark 4
  • Canon 70-200 F2.8L IS
  • Canon 16-35 F4L IS
  • Canon 24-70 F4L IS

The vast majority of the shots were with the 16-35 so I could put the flashes close to the models (it was a brightish day) to get a lot of flash without needing full flash power.

There was a 3-Stop ND Grad filter on most of the wide shots – no grad on the long shots.

Rick was there shooting away on his massive film camera, so hopefully get some moving footage to share as well

So here’s a gallery of the shots!

A LIGHTROOM Dream Come True

HDR used to be painful in LIGHTROOM

If you’d shot 300 shots of a house, you’d need to merge them down to 100 photos – that’d have you anchored to the computer manually selecting and merging photos for AGES. In fact, if I’d done more than 10 shots, I’d use something like PHOTOMATIX to blend instead, it was just too ineffieient in Lightoom to do when time is money.

My Wish Came TRUE!

This has all changed with the latest release of CC- something they just snook in without any fanfare, as I bet most users don’t even do HDR.

You can now stack and merge photos, on mass, like Batch processing in many other programs – it’s changed my life completely! I hope you see the benefit of this.

So to share my joy, I’ve done a little video to show you exactly how to do it.

Love to hear what you think

How to create a Panoramic in Lightroom

1 Shot from 2 parts

This is one of the many beautiful waterfalls in Iceland – not often seen as it’s on a 4×4 route and well-hidden. It’s called Fagrifoss – they’re all fosses!

In this tutorial I show you how I took the shot with the 24mm TSe lens, taking 2 photos ready to blend

This is the top half

This is the bottom half

These are the 2 merged and edited

In the video I show the following:-

How to use

  • Panoramic merge and its options
  • Dehaze
  • Clarity
  • Basic settings – highlights, shadows etc.
  • Black and white clipping
  • Square cropping
  • Colour temperature (White balance)
  • Sharpening
  • Vignetting

It’s really just a workflow video I hope you find useful 🙂

Goodnight Kris

Imposter syndrome, self doubt, feelings of doom, am I doing the right thing… everyone who has taken the plunge to leave employment and go it alone will have had all of these in varying degrees. 

In 2010 when I finally got my redundancy from “the job” I hated, I just started telling everyone I was a photographer, no longer a software engineer. Nothing actually changed other than my job title in the first few weeks. That’s when you have all those doubts about whether you’re doing the right thing. I didn’t really have sleepless nights, rather LONG days of nothing – literally nothing to do, unless you invent things to do. During those long days, you look at others doing your thing and wonder whether your good enough – and then often conclude that you’re not. 

This is the time when you really do need a lot of help and encouragement. Help in working out what to fill your time with to get things moving. Encouragement to avoid falling into a whirlpool of self doubt and introspection. 

I was lucky to meet some great people early on, especially people running their own businesses and going through the same thing. I’m still friends with most of them now.

One very random phone call just stands out though, and I was reminded of it today when I read some sad news on Facebook. 

I’d known Kris Dutson on a website called EPhotozine for many years – just a happy looking hairy guy with a wicked sense of humour. Great landscape photos and some lovely product shots. He was doing pretty much what I would go on to do – make a living doing a mix of photography “stuff”. 

The phone rang and I’d no idea who it was, so answered and got this south western accent saying “Hello Ade”. 

“Hello…. ?” I replied. 

“It’s Kris off Ephotozine – remember me?” 

We’d never met, spoken or really done anything other than enjoy banter on internet forums (remember those?) – so was really weird to actually hear his voice. 

Not to go into too much detail, he told me how pleased he was that I’d taken the plunge and gave me lots of tips and encouragement – right at the time I needed it most. You’re never really sure if you’re getting it right, so to randomly hear from someone you look up to, from 300 miles away was amazing – and to hear that what I was doing all looked good was even better.

I think we must have chatted about life, photography, business, Ephotozine and stuff for a good hour before we bid each other farewell. I’m sure you’ve all had those calls where you feel amazing after and it puts you right back on track; this was one of those. 

Whenever I’ve seen him on Facebook I always remembered that chat with great fondness and thought what a top, thoughtful bloke he was. 

So to hear he’s lost his battle with cancer today is incredibly sad. I never met him but I’ll never forget him. 

Sleep well Kris. 


Abi the Ballerina – in some woods

Abi In The Woods

Abi’s a talented dancer from west yorkshire and got her dream to pursue dance at ballet school this summer

We took her and family to some woods near Bingley to get some photos next to a folly – then to end we used this long woodland track as a background.

Thanks go to Ben Gwynne for organising the day and Abi for going “on point” in some ridiculous woodland conditions!

Our Group Photoshoots – Mike Doing a Presentation

APOGII’s MD – Mike Munt

This is MD of design and illustration agency Apogii – Mike Munt.

He came on our 3th Share the Shoot day – which was early 2019. Watch the live action and some of the great photos we created for Mike.

The whole creative process should be fun and it’s all down to the dynamic of the group in our “Share the shoot” sessions

5 Days in Austria – It’s Magical

In 2018 we had out 7th trip to Austria and got images on all 5 days of the trip – this video contains some of my favourite moments from the holiday.

It’s well worth a look if you’re pondering coming

All Creatures Great and Small

Do you recognise this ford?

Here’s the ford you see the old car go through at the start of All Creatures Great and small, a BBC TV show through out my childhood.

It was compulsive viewing in my village as a child, with everyone either being a farmer or working on them. this is a little sketch of the place I took with the Mavic Air drone whilst I was up there on a very quiet day.

Ever since I started photographing the dales in 2003, I had wondered where this ford was, I’d seen a few but this was at the bottom of a big “dip”.

So here it is, my little ode to the road between Langthwaite and Low Row

A Fast Website Refresh

A new look without a new site

Websites can be a stressful thing to create, write and update – you’ve got to think of all that functionality, the copy and layout – it’s usually the first victim of procrastination!

So how do you give your existing site a brand new look, with minimum impact to your life?

Get some new images of you and your team and update your “About us” page

It’s pretty easy really – replace your old photos

Your website will have lots of images which can be swapped in or out pretty quickly and easily, either by you or your web developer. All you need to do is get a photographer around for a few hours to create you a new set of marketing images, then when you get the shots, just chop them to the right size and swap them out. A trivial task in WordPress websites, and probably easy in most.

If you can’t afford a photographer to come around then you can ask them for some of their stock images – most of us have thousands of images we take in our spare time, my library is jammed full of the Dales, Leeds, The Lakes, Rome, Prague… you name it!

We have lots of stock shots like this which can be used on anyone’s website to give it a new feel – all for far less than a new website build

We are always more than happy to licence images for you to use – it may only cost you a few tens or hundreds of pounds to totally transform how your website looks if you go down this route. We have an image library with a taste of what you can liscence here:-


http://www.mcfade.co.uk/stockphotos/

Either way – getting us in for a few hours or getting some of our library images will transform your old website’s appearance for a fraction of the cost of a new site.

Winter 2019 Workshops

As spring begons we say good bye to another winter, and what a fantastic winter is was for workshops at McFade photography.

We had a series of weekend workshops, places like Liverpool, the Yorkshire coast and lots of bits in-between. Then we had some night workshops which took us around famous landmarks in the dark, then we lit them with torches.

Here we have a 5 minute video taking you through the workshops in chronological order

We’re planning the Summer now, so go over to our workshop site and see what’s coming up – it’s

www.photographycourses.eu

Jaeda Sharman – Future Superstar Model!

Leafy November Shoot

This November I did a shoot with young Jaeda, a star of the future who’s not only a great model but a competition diver too! 

A portfolio shoot around our mutual hometown, Morley, hair and styling by her mum, makeup artist and skincare consultant, Michelle Sharman – who also did the art direction, helping Jeada with her poses. Dad 

We started at Dartmouth Park, where we tried to blow some leaves into the photos with a leaf blower, but they were all too wet and sticky to move off the ground! 

A couple more locations then off to a more industrial setting for the final change of clothes

Here are a few of the shots:-

Summer Night Photography Workshops – 2018 Review

Another series of Photography Workshops drew to an end in Manchester on the 26th September. It seems like ages since we started on our beginners evening in Leeds, which turned out to be the only evening where it rained! 2018 was amazingly dry and hot – it made the whole 10 workshops a joy. 

So here’s a quick review of what we covered in our Photography Workshops – I’d designed them for absolute beginners to gradually learn technical and creative skills over the months. 

Photography Workshop 1 – Leeds

“Creative camera control”

Leeds was a wet night – we met around the corn exchange and used the arches as cover. The night was all about how F-stops and focal lengths can be used creatively – blurry backgrounds and crazy close up photos were the theme! We even went into a pub for shelter – Aire Bar. 

Here are a few shots from the evening. 

Photography Workshop 2 – Bradford

“Seeing like a photographer”

Session 2 was about looking – we walk around in our daily lives and pass by literally millions of potential photos each day. So in Little Germany, we took our time – we found things like bollards and thought about how they could be used in an image. Would you use a long lens and stand back, or a wide lens and get very close? 

Seeing images is something which comes with practice, time and patience – it’s not an easy one to teach, other than to find things myself, then show them the photo I’d just taken!

Low shots from the floor, wide shots with lots of stuff in, zoomed in shots with just 1 focal point… a real eye-opener of a workshop.

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Photography Workshop 3 – Burley and Ilkley

“Landscape photography – Filters”

Landscape is popular and if you’re in a decent location, you can get some fantastic shots with basic skills. So on this workshop, we built on the first 2 workshops by showing the group how Filters work. 

I demonstrated the polariser effect on water – making the reflected sky appear and disappear as you rotate it. Also ND grad filters and how they darken the sky, leaving the land alone. I even got the 10-stop filter out and showed them a 30 second shot in daylight.

The wier at burley is great – you’ve got the curved steps for starters, plus the stepping stones to use. 

Half way through we went to the Cow and Calf on Ilkley moor – the sun was going down fast so we made silhouette photos of the famous rocks, with bold red skies behind. The ball of the sun became a great focal point.

To end we went on to the rocks to find carvings – they make great foregrounds for a landscape

Photography Workshop 4 – Almscliffe Crag

“More water and boulders”

The second landscape evening started near Harewood House in at a wier on the river wharf. Here we created long exposure photos of the bubbles as they spiralled around – these leave trails and spirals, so quite surreal. 

We concentrated more and more on metering and how to use manual exposure on this workshop – quite a baffling process at first, so best to introduce it slowly over the weeks! 

After the river we went to another famous Yorkshire Crag at Almscliffe – we were treated to the best sunset of the summer to that point, it was amazing how red the sky went – right past 10PM! 

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Photography Workshop 5 – Location Portraits

“How to photograph people outside – and use the location creatively”

We’d not done any portrait workshops for a few years, so invited along 5 friends to model for us around the Royal Armouries area of Leeds. We had the best turnout of the summer for this one – so split the group in to 5 pairs, each with a model. 

The main thing I wanted to share was that the easiest way to get a decent portrait is to use a long lens, zoom right in and then walk back to get the framing right – this cuts out all the background distractions you don’t want and blurs things beautifully. 

Another beautiful summers evening meant we could shoot till 10PM – so we got hundreds of great shots between us

 

Photography Workshop 6 – Location Portraits 2

“2 very different locations…” 

For the second portrait session, we had Nicola and Chloe doing their thing – and a little later, Andy Blue Maclaren joined in. Location 1 was park square, a sea of flowers and green – so very soft and pastoral look. In here we used trees and benches to start with – then moved on to the old police station building which was a couple of minutes away. 

The building has lots of graffiti over it, so great for a grungey background to the portraits. We did narrow depth of field portraits, looking along a wall to Chloe peeking around a corner. 

We finished off with a flash photo demonstration at the old swimming pool car park – a little taster of what you can do with speedlites

 

 

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Photography Workshop 7 – Cars

“Wide shots, detail shots and flash shots… “

After 6 workshops, everyone was getting to grips with camera settings so it’s the perfect time to do the car workshop so they can try their new skills out on something totally different. 

Our friends at WY TVR Club had their meeting at the Manor Golf Club, so we met there at 7 and shot through till about 9:15 – then i got a pair of flashes out to show what you can do with 2 lights.

 

Photography Workshop 8 – Saltaire

“World Heritage Site – Landscape and Architecture in the same night!”

Saltaire is a real mix for the photographer. You have the river and canal for the landscape guys, the mill and chapel for the architecture people and the model village for the urban photographer. 

This workshop was a little wet at the start so we took shelter on the tow path under a bridge for a while. Here we had great refelctions of the mill in the water, so all wasn’t lost! 

After that we crossed the foot bridge over to the wier, this leads the eye to one of the mills, so its a great setup. Lots of trees have grown there recently, so the space to shoot is getting smaller each year. 

To finish off we went to the cobbled streets and captured reflections in the watery lanes. 

 

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Photography Workshop 9 – York

“Old walls and a shambles”

By this stage, 8 workshops done, things are starting to click – exposure makes sense, composition seems easier and it’s an evening of putting it all toghether. We met near the train station this year and went to the walls for the classic view of the Minster. This gave us options to use the wall in our composition, and gradually as the sun went down, we could do longer and longer exposures to add in car light trails. 

The Minster area was closed, unfortunately, so we spent more time on the Shambles and just trying different techniques. When we got to the Shambles, we had Nicola Papperazzo on hand to do some great poses for us – we tried this both with ambient light, which was VERY low, and with a couple of bare SPEEDLITE flashes which we sat on door frames and steps! A lesson in improvisation and being flexible. 

 

Photography Workshop 10 – Media City

“Sunset, blue hour and night photography in the north’s canary wharf”

And the final one… the sunset and night shoot at Salford Quays. 

This was about coping with the changing light – we showed the delegates how to use LIVE VIEW and the live histogram to constantly check the exposure. 

It was also about composition. It’s an area full of features, lights and structures. So to make the most of it, you need to remember right back to lesson 2  in Bradford and use the Rule of Thirds and Lead Lines to piece together your images. 

Once it was dark, the sky became too dark for most images, so we included less and less of it as it really was wasted space. And as usual, we stayed an fair bit after 10PM – it really is that absorbing down there!

 

All Done

So that’s the summer in a nutshell – we’ve taken beginners and shown them the basics first, then introduced new subjects to try them on, week after week, until they leave with a firm platform from which to take their photography forward. 

We’ll be doing a similar series over the winter, maybe one per month, where we start in the cities and then take groups in to parks and maybe even moors and landscape locations to shoot at night with torches!

Watch this space

Mavic Air Drones for Photography

3 Weeks with a Drone…. 

So I got one – I saw just how small the “mavic air” is on Youtube and thought the time had come! 

Reasons why I got one… 

  • It really does fit in your hand
  • Has a 12Megapixel camera which shoots RAW
  • 4K movies
  • Simple to use for a beginner 
  • Masses of functionality – things like following a moving object, or “tap fly” means the drone takes great footage without you driving!
  • Manual camera settings – you set the exposure
  • Panoramic photos – it can do 360, 180 or around 70-degree panoramics – the 180-degree shots take 21 RAW files which Lightroom happily blends
  • You can fit a polariser! 
  • Something “new” to challenge my creativity

This was a 180 Degree pano – cropped in a little 

This is a “Horizontal pano” with 9 photos

Taking Photos

It’s really like having a massive tripod

One you can put anywhere in 3D space! The drone is pretty easy to control once you have a few hours practice – it just stays where it is until you move it.

  • the controller has 2 joysticks, one moves it up and down, and rotates it on the spot
  • the other “drives” it forwards, backwards or side to side.
  • there’s also the “gimbal”, the camera by any other name. You can rotate this 90 degrees to point straight down or straight ahead. There’s a wheel on the controller for this
  • You use your phone or Tablet to view what’s going on – a powerful app

So that’s the basic controls in a nutshell

Composing photos is just like on land – you use the rules as normal, looking for streams, roads and paths for “lead lines”, using the “rule of thirds” to make things balanced. 

My process (so far!)

  1. find somewhere legal and interesting to shoot – it’s mainly fields and moors at the moment
  2. get near to the thing – so reservoir dam, tree, stream, waterfall… 
  3. send the done up vertically to be higher than trees and overhead cables – 70 feet is usually ample
  4. drive it over to the “thing” and have a look around – just like you’d do on the ground. 
  5. get the drone facing the thing – then use the “high or lower” and “move left/right” controls to help with composition – you can use the gimbal too, but I usually shoot “straight” – see why in step 7
  6. now set the exposure – the phone shows clipping of highlights, so in M metering, just increase the shutter speed till the clipping disappears
  7. I choose “panoramic” from the stills menu – this means you get the choice of a few panoramic views – the horizontal one is very useful, takes 9 shots and looks great. 
  8. Once it’s finished that shot – move! Don’t keep taking the same shot over and over…. 

 

A few from the Lake District

I took it to the lakes this weekend – forgot to charge the controller so didn’t get as much as I wanted to, but managed some on Newlands and Crummock Water

 

Saddleworth Moor Panoramics

I’ve photographed these reservoirs many times, just not from 200 feet in the air so was keen to go try it

Pontefract Racecourse Panoramics

A park location with lake – I just like water shots… 

 

Issues I’ve Faced

Finding interesting stuff that’s legal

The laws prevent you from getting close to property and people – so you can’t just pop into Leeds and shoot the town hall from above – which is gutting as that’d be awesome! So you have to find open spaces with things in – that probably means a fair drive out from the city you live in before you get something exciting. Add to that you only get 20 minutes per battery (I’ve got 3) you are a little reluctant to drive 1 hour – shoot for an hour – then drive an hour back! I’ve just ordered a car charger though so that may change! 

Worrying about other people

I’m new to this so having dog walkers and ramblers nearby when you’re doing it seems a bit wrong… what if something goes wrong? And will they moan about the noise? The actual truth is most people are “interested” and enjoy looking at your phone if you show them. So I’m gradually getting closer to them, though never within 50m of anyone as that’s illegal

Communications between the controller and drone

This is usually fine if you use the controller you get in the box – though at Crummock Water, it did lose comms mid flight… thankfully the drone just came home and landed itself. That’s a godsend. I then had to use the phone on its own – the drone has wifi and can talk directly to the phone. I attempted this twice, following the instructions to the letter – on both occasions it took over 30 minutes of struggle and worse, it wasted 1/2 the drone battery whilst it sat on the ground. I’m sure this is a learning curve, the main lesson being has a micro USB charger in the car for the controller…. 

Lighting and sky burnout

This is a pain for any landscaper really – you expose for the sky, you get dark land – and vice versa with a white sky… The land-based photographer can use ND Grad filters to darken the sky, leaving the land normal. You can’t do this with the drone and do panos…. It DOES do HDR, and saves the braceted images for you – and the files are RAW so you can do a fair bit with them. if you’re used to a Full frame RAW file though, you’ll be amazed how like a 2006 camera these files are… not great with noise. 

 

Should you get one…. 

Like anything, they’re getting smaller and cheaper with time. The Mavic Pro 2 is around £1500 – the Air is £1000 with 3 batteries and DJI have a Spark which is cheaper still. They are surprisingly easy to use and safety is built in – they have sensors to stop them crashing – though you can switch them off and trash if it you like. 

It’s great fun but you do need to find places to do it – so if you’re not adventurous then it’s probably not for you. 

If you’ve fallen out of love with photography, it does give you a new angle on the hobby – literally! 

However – you may need to register and pay for a licence in 2019…. be ready for that.