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 ūüôā

The Photos

Here are a few from the day…

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.

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 ūüôā

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

Nicola Paparazzo – Greek St. Shoot

You’ll never get an opportunity to photograph on Greek Street in Leeds like we did this January. The UK was in lockdown and this end of Leeds had virtually nobody there. We had the place to ourselves.

Greek Street is one of the busiest bar areas of the city centre, bustling with people eating and drinking, weekdays and weekends, with tables out on the street in the summer months.

Scroll to the end to see all the shots “large” – or read on for the story ūüôā

1 Middle of the street

I wanted to try shooting using my 24mm tilt Shift lens to get the background looking all very architectural, whilst Nicola was conventionally lit with 2 to flashes in the foreground. This was the not most creative (or easiest) technique I’ve ever done, because you have a totally static camera on the tripod. No ability to focus automatically, or zoom, so you really are just watching Nicola do her thing, and clicking the button now and then!

I did try three or four different tripod positions getting lower and closer with each iteration.

2 – Manhatta Bar Windows

I put the tripod away and put the 70 to 200mm lens on, which is pretty much my Standard fashion and portrait lens, and we found a black marbled building with great windows, called Manhatta bar. Behind this we also had lots of black marble on the Dakota Deluxe hotel. Double Marble… if that’s a thing.

Setting up a small softbox as of the front light and a gridded reflector as the rear light, we created loads of photos in this space.

3 – Big City Background

Next we moved a little bit away from the wall so we can see more of the street and buildings.

4 – Dakota Deluxe Garden

Dakota deluxe has an outdoor bar area which we used as a backdrop, it looks like you are in a green leaved garden! The backlight is pointing at the greenery because it’s very dark in there and just look like a black background without illumination.

5 – The Alchemist Steps

The final space was the steps up to The Alchemist bar steps and entrance.

This was metallic, the wall looks bronze, and very dark compared to the other spaces found. The light setup is very simple for this, the same small softbox I’ve been using all along at the front and the gridded reflector at the back, creating a spotlight with very little spread, so the background remains pretty dark.

We got loads of great shots at this point…. here are a few

And that was a wrap.

We created over 80 keepers from the shoot – which I think it a record for a McFade-Paparrazo shoot ūüėČ Or is that McPaparazzo!

All the photos

Using the Godox AD600 on My First Post-Lockdown Model Photoshoot!

First Outing In Ages

After what seems like a year, I finally met up with my old friend and model, Andy Taylor Boocock, for a photo shoot.  As usual, we debated where to go. Having photographed at most locations in Leeds so it’s never an easy one trying to work out what to do – all I did was pack my trusty Canon camera kit and GODOX AD600‘s (and an AD200) and went with an open mind. 

The last we visited this bridge over the a58m road, there were many tents and homeless people living there. so we couldn’t really do a shoot, without invading their privacy.  I had parked here a couple of weeks before, and due to the coronavirus, I think many of these homeless people had been given temporary accommodation so we had the place to ourselves. 

 

The photos of this blog are in chronological order.

We started with a  fairly simple Set up, with a softbox attached to a GODOX AD600 flash head lighting and the front right. Behind there was a GODOX ad200 with a blue GEL on it.  You can just about see it lighting the concrete and a bit on his shoulders.  To add a bit of interest, I walked behind a lot of weeds and shot through the growth with the 70-200 lens. As you can see, Andy was nice and sharp and the foliage blurred, this creates texture, quite a cool thing and adds interest to anything.

This next shot is in the same position but instead, I’d moved in closer with the 70-200 lens, and got crouched very low. The angle works really well because of the lines of the building and Bridge giving us different textures and brightness, also you get a decent view of the tattoos on Andy’s neck and chest from this angle.

These next two photos are in essentially the same position. The first was pointing towards the sun so I had to dial down the exposure to stop the background overexposing. I increased the power of the three flashes to keep andy bright.  I had two GODOX AD600 heads, and an ad200

Leaving Andy in the same position I move the flashes clockwise to get this area of blue sky behind his head,  using the  16 to 35 mm lens I could get a lot of background and most of Andy into the image.

 Next we moved below the bridge. The following photos just used one GODOX AD600 with hard light reflector, lighting Andy in the foreground,  and ad200 behind him. We ditched the 3rd light –  mainly to reduce the amount of Kit we needed to move between photos, and also no not to obstruct people passing by.

 So these first two, which I have toned blue in Lightroom, the front light was over my right shoulder as I photographed and the backlight was pointing directly at Andy. This gave the underside of the footpath a little splash of light which separates Andy from the background.

The next few photographs are at ground level inside the bridge, and very cinematic in style. I wanted to create some interesting light patterns by casting the Flash light through railings.  

As you can see, there is a pattern on the wall and across Andy’s body.  This was done by massively underexposing the ambient light and then upping the power on the GODOX AD600 to create shadow and bright lines

It was very hard to predict where the bright and the dark patches were going to occur because the light was at a strange angle, it was at around  2 o‚Äôclock, if you picture the scene as a clock face with Andy at the middle, and me at 6 p.m.

 On the last one, which I’ve turned slightly magenta, I zoomed out quite a bit to get some of the road in the background,  it was actually quite bright and sunny so you can see how low the ambient exposure was from this shot.

The next set has Andy at the first level of the bridge. He either sat or stood on the railings.  It‚Äôs always a bit scary as if anyone gets injured, you want a nurse with vast experience on hand to mend them if they fool,  not for the nurse with vast experience to be the one who falls!

With this setup I left the GODOX AD600 down below creating the same kind of ribbed light pattern. Then placed the 200 flash on the Walk way  to the left of Andy, just out of sight, so that was illuminating his head and body. 

From here we could quite easily get a lot of variety, just by me moving around. All the images in this section were taken with the 70-200 lens, you can see the variety you can achieve in this zoom range.

 The composition is all about Lines. That is why I enjoy photographing at this bizarre concrete monstrosity.  It is an over-engineered brutalist concrete structure, which is full of texture, lines, light and Shadow. 

You just need to put someone somewhere in the scene and light them, the structure takes care of everything else. A little bit brave of him to stand on top of the handrail but they did make for a good shot!

These 2 are on the Bridge over the motorway, I led flat on the bridge path, right in the middle,  so I could get the most interesting lead lines possible. We can use the railings, deck  and buildings for this. Also, getting low makes Andy’s head high in the frame, so it is in the clear Sky – free from obstruction.

With these next two,  we put the GODOX AD600 high up to camera left and the 200 behind Andy to the right. There is lots of room for me to move around with this setup, as I‚Äôm on a long foot path. That was great, but the sky just wasn’t the most exciting behind him from this position. Sure we got this dark brooding look, but there was better sky‚Ķ

 So to make use of the sky, where the sun was creating patterns in the Cloud, I moved Andy about 5 paces, got the two flashes setup up positioned myself in a less-roomy spot, but one where I could get the amazing Sky.  

As you can probably tell, the first shot was with the 70 to 200,  but in this position, I had no real room to manoeuvre with such a long zoom so swapped over to the 16 to 35 for the final four shots. The first 3 had both lights on, the final photo had the backlight switched OFF, as it would have shown in the photo. 

So that was my first model photoshoot since lockdown. Working with a familiar model in a familiar place may seem a bit predictable. However, we created something totally different to when we’ve been there before. 

It’s often amazing too to revisit locations, because the light is never the same twice, you will have learnt something new since the last visit and the model will usually have some new outfits which work differently in that environment. 

So yes, find new locations, but do revisit old ones too… you never know!

Wh0

DJ and production duo “Wh0” are a mysterious pair currently rocking the House dance floors around the UK – They’ve both been around in their regular DJ slots for years and have remixed some of the biggest acts around.

So after a gig in Leeds a few weeks back, we met up at this amazing graffiti rich location to get some shots for their promo, marketing and social media.

Must admit, i didn’t know about the hoods till they put them on – was a bit of a surprise!

Some great locations in this old brickworks – I’ve always liked this long corridor – it’s got so much depth to it.

Copright of McFade Photography

We also got some great closeups using the dark backgrounds and lighting to create some proper drama like this

Copright of McFade Photography

This location is avalable still near Halifax, it’s about 1/2 mile from the road and easily accessible – so if you’re a band, a brand or just someone who wants a gritty background to some photos – lets talk and get something arranged

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.

NEVER use direct flash

I know – sometimes it’s too dark to shoot and you don’t have any off-camera kit, so you have to use your flash “on camera”

But the light you get off a direct flash is horrible – there’s an example in the video below. It serves a purpose, but it creates a passport photo look rather than that creative look we’re all after as photographers

So what can you do?

Well with most Speedlites, you can point the head in almost any direction, so the light doesn’t go straight to the model – that way it looks a lot better, but you do need a reflective surface for the light to bounce off.

Most indoor locations have white ceilings, so you just point the flash straight up and it’s job done.

Some have white walls, so you can point them straight at the walls instead (we demonstrate this in the video too);

But when you’re out in the open, you’ve nothing to bounce off – hence we take reflector with us, get someone to hold it next to the model and then point the flash at it.

This short video shows photos from our workshop to illustrate exactly this point – we hope it’s helpful

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:-

9 Affordable Gadgets To Transform Your Photography

Photography Kit Which Doesn’t Cost The Earth

1 РAngle Finder Р£20 Р£200

If you shoot low down, maybe for landscapes or createive atchitecture shots, so see through your camera,¬†you’ll either have to lie fly on the floor or guess your compoisition. This is where your “angle finder” comes into play. It allows you to look “down” through your camera – so you don’t have to get quite so low. It saves your back, knees and I find it makes me more creative.

2 РCable Release Р£10 Р£170

Really useful for people doing exposures on tripods – the act of pressing the shutter will cause a little wobble on your camera, blurry shots result. So using a cable is one solution – allowing you to press a button on a lead rather than touching the camera. Ideal for landscape and architecture in the day, and pretty much anything at night. There are affordable “intervalometers” now available which let you do many timed “things”, e.g. wait 1 minute then take 5 photos, each one second apart, each being 5 seconds…. that’s is now do-able for about ¬£20!

3 РPolarising Filter Р£20- £200

One of the only filters you can’t “fake” in photoshop, the polariser changes the light before it hits the camera – the physics of how it changes isn’t really that important, but it affects reflections. Cars become a richer and less reflective, you can see straight through water to the river bed, reflections on food can be changed and blue skies go REALLY dark!

Get a “circular” polariser if you are shooting digital – they work with the Auto Focus systems better apparently.

4 – ND Grad Filters

Do you like photos with dramatic skies?

Pretty much every landscape photographer uses ND Grad Filters – the ND stands for “neutral density”. That just means they don’t change the colours in your photo – it doesn’t make it warmer, cooler or purple!

The “Grad” bit means that they change from “clear” to “dark” gradually – so the top bit is dark, you put that over the sky. The bottom bit is clear, you put that over the land.

To use these you will need to buy:-

  • Filter Holder – Cokin P/ZPRO/XPRO or Lee are popular
  • Adaptor rings – screw this into your¬†lens, then the filter slips on to it. One for each lens size you have, so a 77mm one would do for most canon L lenses, maybe a 58mm for the USM range etc.

5 РTripod Р£50 Р£1000

Tripods are used to reduce motion blur on your photos Рsoft, blurry shots happen when the shutter speeds get longer Рtypically in lower light or indoors.

SO we use tripods to keep the camera perfectly still whilst taking the shot.

But not only that – tripods also force you to take time, to compose the shot more carefully, think more about the photo, take shots lower down, use smaller apertures…. it’s far more than “just reducing blur”.

6 РBall Head Р£70 Р£1000

There are a few different head types for your tripod – the “tripod” are the “legs”, the head is the thing you put your camera on and move around.

Many use 3-way heads, which have 3 distinct levers to tweak and move around to compose your work.

I’ve always found these time consuming and restrictive – especially when the sun is setting and you have seconds to shoot before the sun goes down.

Ball heads have one “lock” knob/switch which you slacken off – the camera then becomes loose and you can move it to any angle you like. Portrait, landscape, pointing up or down, tilted…. you name it, you can do it. All this time you look through your camera and compose the shot.

Once you’re happy you just need to tighten that one switch and you’re done. It’s very very quick and easy compared to the alternative.

7 РYongnuo Flashes and Triggers Р£10 Р£100

If you are curious about adding flash to photos but are on a budget, these are idea.

There are 2 choices of flash:-

  • Manual – ideal for those using them “off camera” as they are really cheap, powerful and¬†really simple to use
  • ETTL – Lots of clever technology inside which works with your camera¬†to calculate how much power¬†the flash fires. More for “on camera flash”

If you are using manual off camera flashes, then got just ¬£10 get a 603 trigger – these “talk” to the flash and tell it to “flash” when you take a photo. The flash can be 100m away and it still flashes!

8 РFlash Bender Р£12 Р£30

Pointing your flash straight at a person is a sin – it makes them look terrible! So there are hundreds of “modifiers” available, from humble “stofen diffusers”, gary fong light spheres and little “snoots”.

Flash Benders are a square of vinyl with wire inside – and velcro to strap it to your flash head.

These can be used in so many ways – on camera you can use them as spot lights, diffusers, flags etc. Really handy. Off camera, get one on each flash to stop unwanted light entering the camera, creating spots of light on backgrounds etc. etc.

9 РFlash Gels Р£5-£20

Imagine a scene where the background would look amazing in red….

Well that’s where flash gels come in – these are transparent plastic oblongs which you fit over the end of your flash to colour the light which comes out.

They come in many many colours, the simplest¬†are fixed with velcro. You stick little “spots” of velcro on to the gel, and put a little belt of velcro over the flash head. They stick together and that’s it.

There are also colour correction gels – where you can make the flash the same colour as street lights (orange) or maybe fluorescent tubes.

 

Laura – Vintage Model Photography

Classic Vintage Model Photography

Laura’s got that vintage look – the Monroe-esque hair¬†leaves you in no doubt! She’s actually¬†considering working as a Marilyn Monroe Lookalike in future.

On this model portfolio shoot we went somewhere timeless, Saltaire. The park offered lots of props and backdrops for us to create that classic look. I also tried to create a slightly more dramatic lighting – the Hollywood look suits vintage model photography.

Techy Stuff…

  • The lighting was provided by 3 speedlites
  • Light modifiers were – 1 gridded beauty dish – 42cm diameter, and 2 snooted flashes (using Flash Benders folded into a tube)
  • Canon 5D mark 2
  • Canon 70-200 F2.8L IS

Laura’s great to work with, bubbly, chatty and has loads of classic poses in her repertoire – well worth looking up on Purple Port if you need that classic look.

The Photos…

Business Profile Shoot – Illiya the Presentation Designer

The Presentation Designer

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Illiya Vjestica¬†is a great designer – a strong typographic presence, uses powerful¬†images which leave the “message” in no doubt and also happens to be great bloke too.

His business takes these skills to the art of “presentation” – he creates slides for people to¬†transform how they present in pitches, talks and seminars.

In a nutshell – he creates Powerpoint images which make people go “wow”, rather than fall asleep.

A fantastic niche.

http://thepresentationdesigner.co.uk/

 

The Shoot

Being a fellow creative, the brief was wider than the usual profile shoot. The intention of the images was to appear not only on Linked IN, but in presentations too – so we needed:-

  • a set on white back grounds with different poses for different moods
  • shots of Illiya¬†“brainstorming” on post-it notes, rather like Will Self does!
  • photos of Illiya working at his Mac
  • photos of him presenting in a board room – with real slides in the background
  • photos of him in front of the amazing Yorkshire countryside where he lives

A fantastic brief, loads of variety and opportunity to get creative.

Huge thanks go to Darren and Louisa at Parkhilll Business Centre for the use of their stunning boardroom

Feedback from Illiya

“Adrian is simply the best photographer I’ve ever worked with. Being a creative myself I understand the value a great image can add to a project or business, the work Adrian has done for me and my clients has been of the highest quality. Simply hire this guy if you need any photos done for your business or website.”

The Photos

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Dr Lovelution

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Joe Cusimano

Founder of the Lovelution Movement, Joe Cusimano met for a shoot in Halifax – sheltering from the rain under a few of its viaducts!

What is Lovelution…

From his Viva La Lovelution Facebook page, Joe says…

Join the Lovelution: Follow your Heart, Shine your Light,Seek the Truth and Reunite! This is YOUR revolution! Lets Synergize our unity and change the world. 

Love unites all, with love there are no boundaries, no separations. We are all One. Get involved by Sharing this page with your friends and family ‚ô•

This is YOUR revolution! The world is changing, there is a shift upon us, a shift away from fear and hatred and towards Love and Unity. A shift that has been foretold by so many cultures around the world, for thousands of years. We can co-create the reality we want, we ARE the ones we have been waiting for.. 

Join forces in the name of Love. Spread hope and smiles, share knowledge, truth, creativity and ideas, awaken the masses! Bring your friends along for the ride, spread the love far and wide!

Free your mind.
Viva La Lovelution
Peace ūüėÄ xxx

 

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The Shoot

Joe’s a natural performer – he involves everyone who passes by, they pause and listen, walk over and join in…

To capture this, Joe just set up as normal – speaker, tunes, mic… GO!

Then I set up lights around him – up to 4 strobes on some of the later shots – and captured the action as it happened.

Location had to be under cover because of the horrible weather – pouring down as usual. It worked to our advantage later on as the blobs of rain were lit by the flashes – adding an ethereal texture to the photos.
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The Future

We’ve already got a car-photo project in the planning, and we’ll be running a some urban portrait workshops with Joe and the Lovelution guys.

We’re definitely looking forward to creating more great images and sharing ideas!

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5 – Flash Addicts – Strobists…

Light it at All Costs

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The Flash Addicts are driven to introduce their own light to everything – whether it needs it or not.

Their enjoyment is in adding that rim lighting, colouring backgrounds, and playing with the latest flash modifiers.

Stacks of Kit…

Armed with “poverty wizard” style radio triggers, light stands and a few Youngnuo speed-lite flashes, they head out literally “anywhere” and light stuff – usually people; anyone can model, usually unwilling mates will do… it’s the lighting which matters, that’s the enjoyment.

They use different coloured Gels in an attempt to atmosphere – reds, greens, blues are popular. They also have all the colour correction gels like CTO (orange) and CTB (blue) – or had – most of them have blown away in the wind on their last shoot.

They have a cupboard filled with light spheres, beauty dishes, flash benders, reflectors, flags, brollies and all kinds of sofboxes – most of which turned out to be useless, or they can’t use outside due to wind… and there’s the pile of broken flashes because of the wind blowing them over to their demise.

Dangerous Locations

 

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They have loads of locations in mind – though anywhere with Graffiti appeals most. Graffiti and dereliction are king.

Graffiti walls in dodgy areas – this adds to the fear of being mugged by a gang of youths… or chases from security guards in derelict buildings adds to the vibe.

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Creating “drama” is what motivates them – on camera flash isn’t interesting, it’s not creative or hard enough. Off camera is sufficiently hard to be interesting – a technical self flagellation. It totally transforms the look, dark brooding backgrounds and near-black skies with Film Noir rim lighting. Bright warm days are turned into dark cold nights.

They have no need for light meters, preferring to walk on the wild side of using their histogram. Chimping is their main reference – usually looking at the camera back more than the model.

Uniform

They probably use a 70-200 lens – it’s part of the uniform. It’s mainly for “appearance”, as even if clueless on how to set up the shots, the big lens makes everyone think they know what they are doing. It also helps when they want blurry backgrounds, their work is all about how cool their subject’s lit – not the background. Plus lighting a background is hard work, isn’t it?

The strobist type will worship David Hobby – by definition as he is the founder of Strobism. They have watched his videos and spend hours failing to recreate his images.

It’s All About YOU

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Your business is all about you

Not in an egotistical way, but any SME business owner knows that they are the “face” of their company. It’s unavoidable really – we create:-

  • the business idea,
  • the hard graft to get it going,
  • the risks you take,
  • the people you meet

These things are all down to you

So on their websites and print and social media, why do so many hide their “true” face away – when they could say so much with a great photo that shows them as they really are?

Hiding… ?

When I say “hiding”, it could be that they do have a photo, maybe even a professionally taken photo, but it’s not really doing them any favours.

Many are stuffy, awkward, uncomfortable, slightly scary and have the same appeal as a pass-port photo, whereas the “real person” may be warm, welcoming and great fun to be around.¬†

Damage….?

This portrait of me is an award winning selfie I took in 2007 – I won a canvas print of it, have it on my wall to scare off burglars!

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So when we’re looking at their “About us” or “Our Team” page, we see these scary photos and think seriously about whether we want to talk to them… maybe check the next company on your Google Search and see if they are any friendlier!

Would you call me if you thought this is how I really was?

That’s what happens – that’s the damage a bad photo can have on potential new clients.

 

The Real You…

Well I use this shot instead – I obviously prefer the dark, moody shot above, but this one’s more like the guy who turns up with camera and lights. I love the lighting on it, the brick texture in the background (on Dock St. in Leeds) is pretty cool but I hope it tells potential clients that there’s an element of fun working with me – which is very important, as that’s exactly how I work.

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You may actually be that stern, slightly scary person in your photo – and it may well work for you, it depends on your business and personality.

The chances are, in my experience of photographing many business owners, that you are nothing like this “old-fashioned-business-man” personality, but for whatever reason your photo just doesn’t do it justice.

It could be any of these reasons…¬†

  • not enough time on the shoot – you just weren’t comfortable
  • constantly distracted – happens if you shoot at your desk, people call, barge in… you never get settled
  • didn’t really like the photographer – perish the thought, but they may not have been the best “people person” and wound you up
  • no story or context – shooting on location can add a lot to your shots, tells the viewer more about what you do
  • poor photography skills – could be one of a thousand things, but it just doesn’t work as an image…
  • the most popular – you hate having your photo taken, and it shows!!!¬†

 

BiY Members We’ve Helped…

So how to get around these obstacles… ?

Well here are a few of the BiY Associates we’ve helped in 2013 – have a look at the video, it’s 3 minutes long and has music played by the Chicago Blues Brothers, so check your volume first!

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vV1ied_hju4&list=UUNt-MdklYRJZerUfAtuX10A&feature=share[/tube]

 

Prep for the shoot…

Each of these shoots were different – but have the same roots where we’d chat about:-

  • what business they were in – what made them different to everyone else, their niche if you like.
  • what their strap line or USP was – Paul’s the “ideas man”, Claire “keeps you out of jail” etc.
  • where to do the shoot – Gayle does “secret shopping”, so why not use a shopping area like Leeds’ Victoria Quarter
  • anything business-specific photos they are after – e.g. shots of them presenting, or meeting clients
  • the “look” they are after – usually suggesting something formal to wear, something less formal… maybe just a few different scarves or ties to add variety.

 

How effective shoots work…

So after we’ve come up with the location, look and general theme – it’s shoot time… and no one is a natural at this straight way… well except Claire Turner… and Louise Turner… must be the surname!

So here’s how to prepare…

  • Book enough time – we’re only talking a couple of hours, or maybe 1 if you’re really busy.
  • Don’t have a hugely busy day ahead occupying your mind – if your mind is elsewhere, it shows in the photos
  • Turn the phone off… if you can… great photography is all about “raport” and a call can break that in an instant.
  • Get a photographer who’s work you like – ask for recommendations, then check out their portfolios. Recommendations will filter out any “duds”, and portfolios will show you their skills
  • Ideas – if you’ve seen a shot you like, send a link to the photograph! We’re a creative breed, and love to share and develop your ideas!
  • Use a variety of locations – be prepared to move and change, it totally transforms the dynamics of the shoot and you get lots to choose from. A walk of 10 feet may be all that’s needed…
  • Chat a lot – about anything… preferably things what evoke nice thoughts, as that will reflect in your expression.

All that said, the “look” is down to how the photographer lights, shoots and processes the photo – and the “feel” is down to what he/she says to you!

End Result…

Firstly, hopefully you’ll enjoy the experience,¬†despite¬†your initial misgivings.

Then you’ll go away with :-

  • your own personal library of great photos
  • new shots to update Linked In, Facebook and Twitter with
  • pride of place on your website – remember, it’s all about you after all so show your face and make people WANT TO PHONE you
  • more people clicking on your linked in profile – great shots get more clicks
  • great shots to send to the press when they write articles on you
  • increased “perception” online – poor shots damage, great shots enhance.
  • your personality captured and seen by everyone
  • a visual story – if you’ve use locations and props cleverly, you can say so much in a photo

 

To finish – here’s a collection of photos of people just like you, business owners and directors, who all said “I hate having my photo taken” and felt unconfortable at first, but by the end of the shoot actually said they enjoyed it – and now use the photos to promote their business.

CLICK TO LINK TO GALLERY

Team Shoot for Ardent – York City Centre

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York based financial advisers, Ardent Financial Planning, are having a new website site and brand built by digital agency “Plump Digital” – Rob Colley invited McFade over to capture some great new shots of directors.

Being a York based company, I was keen to create some images with York in the background – it’s a stunning city; including the river and bridges would show to anyone viewing the website.
Before we hit the city, we needed some head-shots of each staff member and the office “in action”, which we did over an hour at Arden HQ – then headed into town.

The Hottest Shoot Ever….

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Did I mention how hot it was?

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It was one of those days when 30 degrees was seen and humidity stifling. It was also incredibly bright – so the challenge for any outside photos was was keeping the directors from squinting and over heating.

First off we captured each director looking over the river – a friendly “chilled out” look to the shots. Unfortunately, it was a little busy so they felt a little awkward at first, but a little coaxing and direction got their minds off the 30 Japanese tourists watching!

Moving inside… not the easiest location

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We went into City Screen and found the only table available – the one below the stair case. We got them all drinks to cool off and staged a few meeting type shots, using iPads and phones… we had one director missing – so we had to wait for him to arrive to get the complete team shots. The main issue with the location was access for me – I could only really shoot from 1 angle and the stairs above their heads prevented any creative lighting… such are the challenges of “location shooting”.

That said, a pint or 2 each made for some far more jovial and natural shots.

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Client Meeting Shots

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Rob and I were keen to have some shots for the guys meeting with clients – these show “potential clients” the directors in action. Rob is a real client of theirs, and another client popped in to talk with them – so we got some great shots – this time on a separate table with loads of room around, making life a LOT easier.

Final Headshots

Once we’d finished in the City Screen – I spotted an ancient wall which just looked like York’s famous city walls, so I quickly set up some lights and quickly got some “studio style” shots of all 4 of them – at this point they were totally comfortable with the camera and light – and it shows. Great shots – with that York city wall feel in the background.

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Business Profile Shoot – Mark Broscombe

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Mark’s been in the shipping game for 15 years – mainly sending containers around the world for clients. He’s just started a new role in a brand new business so needed some new shots to promote both him and the business.

Images of Shipping… in Leeds?

So the challenge of finding a suitable location began – we discussed the vibe of the shoot, and I always try to get a bit of a story in there… then I remembered there’s a huge container storage facility in Strourton, but not only that, there’s the canal and Aire flowing past there too.

So the story builds… I locate a suitable road with views of the containers on Google Earth, the photographer’s friend! We agree a time and place –¬†Thwaite Mill in Stourton. It’s quiet, lots of car parking space and well sign posted.

Meeting Up

Another blistering day, my 2013 shoots seem to involve a lot of heat, graft and sweat….

Driving down the little road to the Mill I spotted a huge stack of containers ¬†– we could do the whole shoot on this one location! So I get 3 lights set up, 2 with light benders, the other with a 1 meter softbox – and we’re raring to go.

The Shoot…

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Putting people at ease is the most important part of the shoot – for me anyway.

So before the camera gets pointed, you spend time getting to know them – I found out about how the “freight forwarding” business works, how big these ships really are, that Hull is actually quite a small port, Liverpool has a cracking nightlife associated with its port and that Felixstow was the biggest…

So we then set up with a cool “Sin City” feel to the lighting, and got a few shots in the shade – nice green backgrounds. From there we walked up the “island” between river and canal, taking shots of mark with the containers in the distance.

A little further is a huge lock and old bridge – so we used those as backdrops to get that “shipping” message in the background.

Then we left the canal and wandered back down to the car park, stopping 3 times – once with a grey building as backdrop, once with the containers right behind Mark and finally some more chilled out shots with his tie off… which apparently his mum wants a print of!

Delivery

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They needed the photos for a press release, so within 2 hours they had all the shots on Dropbox to choose from – then the chosen high res-shots with them the same day.

The Photos…

So here’s more of Mark

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Top Tip to Keep Your Portrait Sitters Happy….

This may seem a bit obvious, but having taught many people flash/portraits, it’s the number one reason why you get bored looks on your photos….

Don’t look at the back of your camera all the time

You need get the lights right and checking this on camera is fine.

But once you’ve got the lights right, try to take, say, 20 shots before you look at the camera again.

The reason for this is ‚Äúrapport‚ÄĚ. It‚Äôs a term used in NLP which basically means you are both ‚Äúin the zone‚ÄĚ, communicating on higher level.

This happens in Photography when you start to shoot ‚Äď talking, saying ‚Äúwow that looks amazing‚ÄĚ, moving around, looking through the lens‚Ķ building their confidence, making them laugh, get them saying ‚Äúprunes‚Ķ. whatever you do‚Ķ.

THEN BANG….

You look at the back of the camera, and the rapport balloon bursts…

Only do it when a natural end comes to that phase of the shoot. You hit rate will sky-rocket

For 4 more great top tips – CLICK HERE NOW

 

5 Portrait Tips…

I teach and demonstrate flash and portraiture so see a lot of different approaches, good and bad, from the delegates.

The main thing to remember about portraits is that the thing you are photographing is alive and can be “manipulated” by your actions.

So these 5 tips are not technical – but are about how to interact with the sitter. You can apply them to all people you photograph, though if you’re paying a model, it may be less important – but you will definitely get better results and have a great time if you follow these.

 

Talk to them – a lot!

Ever had an uncomfortable silence on a date?

Imagine how bad that silence is if you’re nervous and being photographed…

If you talk, talk about anything, you are taking their mind of the situation – you’re helping them relax.

 

Don’t look at the back of your camera all the time

You need get the lights right and checking this on camera is fine.

But once you’ve got the lights right, try to take, say, 20 shots before you look at the camera again.

The reason for this is “rapport”. It’s a term used in NLP which basically means you are both “in the zone”, communicating on different level.

This happens in Photography when you start to shoot – talking, saying “wow that looks amazing”, moving around, looking through the lens… building their confidence, making them laugh, get them saying “prunes…. whatever you do….

THEN BANG….

You look at the back of the camera, and the rapport baloon bursts…

Only do it when a natural end comes to that phase of the shoot. You hit rate will sky-rocket

 

Give/Get feedback constantly

You can plan outfits, locations, lights and everything else meticulously, I recommend you do, but if it’s not working you need to give feedback on how to change things. It maybe their seating position, stance etc.

That’s all part of “posing” and is on page 1 of ¬†“how to take portraits”

You can get a great 2-way feedback going if you show the sitter shots on camera – usually at the start of each “set up”, it’s good to follow this

  1. Set the lights up and test
  2. Take 2-3 test shots
  3. Show the sitter – get feedback and change
  4. Show sitter – thumbs up
  5. Shoot and don’t look at the camera back for a while

I’ve struggled to explain what’s wrong many times.

If you “show” them on camera what’s wrong, the message is 1000 times clearer.

So go over, say how amazing they are, then point out what’s wrong – maybe those shades look wrong, or their hair is out of place… showing them helps explain.

BUT

Even better, they can see themselves and tell you what they don’t like.

The answer is “Ah yeah, great point, what would you change?”

It takes the guess work out of it – get them to tell you, then you can get it right for them.

 

Ask open questions

Another soft skill to get people talking is the “open question”

Put simply, it’s any question without and “yes” or “no” answer.

Few examples

  • “What do you do?”
  • What’s your role in the company?
  • What’s your favourite shade of grey? – bit left field, but see the reaction ūüėČ
  • What’s your dream holiday location?

It’s a little like the things barbers ask you…

But asking questions can cause different facial expressions… and that’s what we’re capturing in a portrait session. If you want a serious face, then as something serious… sad, ask something sad… (not often you want that really).

When you ask the question, have the camera in position and focussed – you may only have 1/4 second to capture the reaction…

 

Read their body language

You get used to this after a while, looking for signs of what they are enjoying and what they are uncomfortable with is a make or break skill.

For example, I shoot on location a lot so get passers by looking in. With performers, dancers & musicians, you’ll see that they usually don’t really react negatively to this – but with a more shy person, you’ll see them tense up or even walk away.

Be mindful of this

You only get great shots when they relax… so move on if this happens.

Another thing with location is watching for when they’re getting bored. They’ll look down, not be so engaged and generally have a disconnected feel. What they’re telling you is that they’ve run out of ideas in that location, or are genuinely bored.

It signals that you either need to move to a new location to refuel their ideas tank, or it’s a wrap, and you pack up there and then – before they get really bored!

 

Conclusion

So there are a few tips to help you help your sitters relax and enjoy the experience

Photography is fun – and if your sitters are not enjoying it, then remember the 5 points above and get talking to them !

Business Profile Shoot with Claire Turner

Had a great shoot with Claire Turner, who’s tax partner at WGN accountants in Leeds.

As anyone will who knows her will tell you, Claire’s the polar opposite of the stereotypical tax accountant – but her current photos were not really getting this message across.

So we decided to make the most of the area around York Road in Leeds to create a mix of fun, creative, friendly, and the odd “very serious” looking shot too.

Here’s a few shots from the day – had a great time.

If you need your tax sorting this year, drop Claire a line at claire.turner@wgn.co.uk

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Hardeep Singh Kohli @ Keyhouse

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Hardeep @ Keyhouse Kitchen Opening

The World Curry Festival’s star, Hardeep Singh Kohli, came to the opening of the new training kitchen at Bradford’s Keyhouse – a venue which helps house and train the homeless of the area. The kitchen is a new project to help train the homeless grow and cook their own food.

A great event and a great cause, love shooting events like these.

The star of the weekend gave generously of his time, a very passionate and moving speech about his journey with food and how he’d always dreamed of opening such a venue to help the homeless. He certainly left a fantastic impression with everyone I spoke to after the event, and we’re looking forward to him returning in the future.

 
 
 
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Sleep Out

One of the main events Keyhouse runs to raise money is a “sleep out”, where people are given one the bags you see Hardeep in and spend one evening sleeping rough in Bradford. Festival organiser, Zulfi Karim, and Hardeep jumped into the bags and gave us some great shots to help promote the next sleep-out event – great sports.
 
 
 
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And then they were off to do more engagements in an action packed festival day.
 
 
 

Master Chef

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At about 7:30PM we went to see Hardeep cook a Lamb Bhuna live on stage at the festival. Very amusing and loads of great tips – if you saw him you’d know what I mean. Lots of anecdotes and banter with a long haired man in the front row!

A thoroughly enjoyable session from a charming and funny guy. Definitely recommend going to see him if he’s cooking/performing in your area.
 
 
 

PR Shoot – Andy Green

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Photographer “Directs” the Director

Andy Green of “Video Advert” spends his days directing and creating promotional videos for businesses around the UK – so the “directorial boot” was certainly on the other foot for our PR shoot. Used to showing people how to present and perform, Andy now was in front of the camera and, like me, obviously was far more at home behind it!

BiY Associates Working Together

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A fellow BiY Associate, we met at their HQ, Carwood Park and used the atrium and grounds as our backdrop. Starting off with a white background in a meeting room, then gradually progressing around using a sofa, stairs and the cool brushed steel banisters, we got some great “business” shots.

Take the Studio Outside

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Andy’s an “outdoors” kinda guy, so we headed out into the freezing Carrwood gardens (there was still about 4 inches of snow on the grass) and created some dramatic shots with brooding skies along with lots of “nature friendly” backgrounds.

By this stage we were having fun, all the earlier reservations had gone and ideas were flowing – got some great shots in the bright spring sun (which is technically quite challenging to light).

Most of the shots Andy chose were outside – once you are relaxed and enjoying the shoot, the photos become far more¬†engaging¬†and we see the “real you”.

Results

The shots speak for themselves really – a mixture of looks which can be used for every¬†conceivable¬†business purpose, from the reasonably serious “suited” shots, to the cool “sat on the stairs” look, the Outdoors Guy look to the “Chilling on a sofa”.

The lighting we used will make the shots stand out where ever they are used Рbe that on Linked IN, or in a flyer campaign, an article in a trade magazine or whatever Andy chooses to do with them.

It’s hard to emphasise power great photos of yourself add to your business presence…. until you get great shots of your own… then you’ll “get it”.

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CREATIVE Shoot – Dancer Shante Liburd

Location, Lights & Action!

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Shooting with dancers is as creative as it gets – they spend hours training, perfecting moves and poses you can never get “normal” people to do.

Spending the day with fellow lighting obsessive and photography trainer, Jayce Clarke, we took Shante and Daniella to an amazing derelict building to use the graffiti-rich walls as a backdrop. A little like being a kind in a sweet shop really Рthe perfect backdrop and the perfect models.

KIT…

Most of it was the basic strobist kit I use daily –

  • 3 manual Youngnuo flashes
  • Pixel Rook Trigger system
  • Small softbox
  • CTO and Blue Gels
  • Canon 5D Mark 2
  • Canon 70-200 F2.8 L IS

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With the light levels being relatively low inside the building, the flash powers were low and batteries lasted all day – a huge bonus and the fast flash-recharging times kept the shoot flowing.

Approach…

Where do you start in a location like this ?

We just picked backdrops with interesting patterns and lighting, set lights up and let Shante do her thing. Obviously the walls created an amazing textured backdrop, and also the old lift with its half open doors created a sense of depth. We also went into a collapsed building and used the girders as silhouettes Рwith the opening of many James Bond films in mind, Shante got making shapes with her arms.

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Manchester Uni Union

We captured the student exec a few weeks ago, it was now the turn of the entire staff of the union!

It’s always nostalgic going to the Union – I first walked into this building in October 1991, a fresher looking around for beer (which was 85p back then) and glasses… those lecture theatres were huge and I couldn’t read anything on the blackboard. So my first “round john lennon style” glasses came from this exact building

Anyway – when shooting the exec, we liked the colourful Union logo as a backdrop, so we set up 3 lights, put on “X” on the floor and shipped the staff through – all 47 of them!

I thought shooting in the main entrance may be daunting for the staff – but I think it had the opposite effect… the busy, bustling atmosphere, pockets of staff waiting for their turn to be “shot” and the lack of “waiting around” made for a pretty painless experience.

Anyway – here’s a load of preview shots from the day – enjoy!

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PR Shoot – Phil Allum

Telecoms expert, Phil Allum, helps people & business talk through his company TGE Solutions.

An urgent need for some new PR profile shots arose, so we got together to shoot at his offices in West Yorkshire.

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We created a wide variety of looks for all kinds of uses – the obvious shots of Phil using the phones he supplies, and some more generic out door shots along with a few “working at the PC” type images.

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The opening to the shoot was “I hate having my photo taken!”

It’s always a challenge to take this attitude and “flip” it – to make the experience fun, relaxed, informal and to leave them feeling that they’ve not had the usual “photographer experience” – but one they’d enjoyed.

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Once outside and we were chatting about the world and it’s problems; Phil had got into it. Occasionally I’d ask him to look at a tree or something – but other than that, it was simply 2 guys having a laugh.

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After we’d finished shooting, I returned to base and put the previews on DropBox straight away so Phil could choose the shots he needed – which again were delivered on DropBox as soon as he’d chosen.

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And all this done in the midst of a nasty bout of “man flu”!

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PR Shoot – Louise Lapish

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Louise Lapish runs Gatewood Consulting, training UK-wide in all aspects business from CV writing to sales.

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We’d met through Yorkshire’s most exciting new business support network, BiY. She needed some great new shots for her personal PR, so we went to meet at Regus near Elland Road and used the building around there to capture some new shots.

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Using small flashes means you can quickly and easily move around the¬†building to get a large variety of looks with minimum of fuss. Louise needed some colour and black and white, so we used flowers in the background for a few “warm”, and the metal architecture to vary the look with a “cool” background.

After a fun hour or so, we’d got about 150 shots from all over the building – these were all delivered on Dropbox later that day for Louise to choose from over the Easter weekend.

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Muay Thai Boxing Champion

Brad Stanton….

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

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

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

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

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

 

Flash Accessory Test

Flash Bender Accessories – New Toys!

Always on the look out for new “light modifiers” of “flash accessories” to advance my off camera flash photography – I’d seen these flash benders around before, so thought I’d take the plunge and get a couple.

I took them up to Temple Newsham with trombonist Chris Colbran and had a look at what they can do.

What are they?

First off, here’s¬†Chris¬†altering one – you can see that they strap on to the front of the flash with velcro and have a pretty large white area off which to bend your light. Inside the plastic are 3 metal rods which easily deform into any shape you like – including a “snoot”, or tube, which creates a spot light.

They’re really light compared to metal snoots, so no worries about breaking the flash with the extra weight.

The one in the shot is fitted side on, so you can use it as a “gobo” – a light blocker, a bit like one part of a Barn Door flash accessory… handy for stopping light spills on rim lights.

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On this next shot we can see the flash in action – the front one is camera right lighting Chris’ face – the rear creating a rim. I’ve for the flash pointing vertically and the bender curved towards Chris.

The surface is a bit rippled, so you get more spread of light than bouncing of a flash reflector would do.

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A bit closer in with this shot, you can see the bent reflector

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They’re not that big and don’t seem to catch the wind in the same way a brolly would do – or a softbox for that matter. Was on a hiding to nothing with this particular setup – but you get another shot of the bender in action… impaling a passing mother!

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So to some completed shots. Here’s my favourite from the shoot – used a 3-stop ND grad to kill the sky, ISO50 and 1/250th sec also helped. The front flash was incredibly close to Chris to light his face through the ND grad.

The back light subtly adds some sheen to the back of his jacket Рthe Bender was acting like a snoot at this point Рneeded the power of direct flash on this one.

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This had 2 snooted flashes pointing directly at Chris – with Chris standing exactly 1/2 way between them Note how small the lit area is – the snoots really do create a small pool of light so you need to direct them accurately and make sure your model dosn’t move far!

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Another with cross lighting – this time with chris playing almost straight into the light source. The bender softens the light quite a lot.

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Back light probably a little too powerful on this one, nice on his jacket, but causing a bright patch on his neck. The front light is really smooth, creating a shadowless effect.

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Pretty cool effect here too – lights in the same position as the last shot, just a better angle for the back light to do its thing

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And finally, that epic sky look…

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Would I recommend them???

So they cost about ¬£15 each from China… money well spent as they do seem to create a decent light, they are very convenient to carry around and double up as back-light gobos.

Well worth the money – will be showing them off at workshops in the future.

Claire’s Band Shoot…

Check out the amazing voice….¬†https://soundcloud.com/clairecolbran

Had a fun shoot with Claire Colbran, jazz singer in these 2 bands, backing singer in the Chicago Blues Brothers¬†and rather excellent on trombone too… a Colbran family thing apparently!

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The Photography Bit

So we had 3 lights – 2 behind at 45 degrees, one at the front at about 20 degrees. Rears were un-gelled with shoot through brollies, front was 1/2 CTO on a softbox.

Most shots were taken with the Canon 17-40 F4 L & 5D Mark 2 -with the occasional 70-200mm shot. Space dictated the lens choice.

The Shots

Claire now has colour versions of all these, and I also created some black and white shots too – which I really liked so here they are…

Radio Aire DJ Shoot

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

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

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

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Bonus Shots….

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

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Sam’s Big Band!

Band leader, arranger and sax supremo (is that bigging you up enough Sam ?? lol) asked for some shots of his big band – so we got everyone into an empty office in Leeds and started creating some shots.

Herding cats and musicians is never easy, though it didn’t stop us creating some cool shapes with the instruments and body parts!

The main breif was white background stuff – though being McFade, we had to create some extra odd shots too…

Here’s one where we added a little toning – unusual green tones..

Pretty useless for agent use, but if Sam ever needs to promote the band on Twitter, or make a flyer, these unusual shots are the ones which get noticed.

And then there’s the crazy green face look… not sure what inspired this, but imagine this on a bill board or flyer board… everyone would look!

 

Here’s a few more – and they’re available for hire at¬†www.avenue54.co.uk

How To Shoot Ice & Snow – With Flash

 

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A thick Hoar Frost looks amazing.

It only happens now and then, so you really need to make the most of it when it happens.

One of the downfalls of this frost is that the sky can be very dull on such days, so your usual landscapes can lack impact.

So how to add something a little different?

Get your strobes out

You can create something more interesting with flash – even “on camera” flash can create something slightly different.

The shots in this article are all taken with the flash “off camera”, triggered with radio triggers. More about those later

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Exposure settings

Try underexposing the background for starters – that’ll create a dark canvas on which to place your frosty plants.

Most of these used these settings

  1. ISO 100 – 400
  2. F8-F14
  3. 1/200th second

That gave a reasonable dark background – use your metering skills to work it out, set the white snow to -1 or 0.

_MG_4311Flash Kit

For this I used a very basic 1-flash set-up, including

  • Flash stand
  • Shoot-through umbrella
  • Flash head
  • Manual flash trigger and receiver
  • Manual flash (yongnuo)
  • CTO flash gel – orange
  • CTB flash gel – blue

It’s basically the “my first strobist” kit – you could of course introduce more flashes and coloured gels to add more light.

How to set it up

This is where you apply your strobist knowledge to judge flash power, distance, how to use the umbrella etc.

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Here’s a shot showing how I had the kit set up. The stand was pretty high and the umbrella very close to the twigs.

Gels….

The creative photographer may be interested in mixing the subject and background colour temperatures. In this shot I had a CTO (orange) gel on Рthis allows you to make the background look very cold.

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You can use a blue gel on the flash and create a relatively warm background.

This is best done by shooting in RAW mode, the colour correcting later – using your¬†RAW editor’s¬†the “eye dropper” tool to select the white ice.

Examples

Here are a few examples from an hour in a field near Bradford. All editing done in Lightroom 4.1 – very minimal.

 

 

Urban Photoshoot – Gateshead

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Never posed before?

Never had your photo taken before?

Nervous in front of the camera?

These 2 Cramlington girls answered yes to all of these – but that didn’t stop us having a great shoot with some cool results.

We’d got a location in mind with a bit of graffiti and in a reasonably quiet area, so all met up there and started to shoot. Alex and Kerry were both completely stuck for what to do, where to look, what expression to make… we’re used to this, unless you’ve got a model or someone with PR experience, it’s always the same.

After the lights were set up it was a case of chatting and getting to know them as we photographed them. As soon as  take their mind away from the camera, you start to get the more creative shots…. though we did get loads of “crying with laughter” type shots…

We offer this “urban portrait” service around the UK – anyone who fancies creating something a bit edgy, different to the usual “studio” feel need look no further.

 

Photographer Meets Celebrity Look Alikes in Leeds

Celebrity Look Alikes in Leeds

Had the great pleasure of meeting and photographing:-

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

Or at least I thought I did!

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

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

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

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

Twisted Theatre Photography in Leeds…

Theatre Rehearsal Photography in Leeds….

Destination Holbeck…

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

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

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

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

Aladdin’s Cave

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

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

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

Don’t stop for me folks…. ūüôā

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

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

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

5 Tips – To Pose, or not To Pose?

A few people mentioned to me that they’d like to know more about “posing” people, and in on of the McFade Training Taster workshops last year, I covered some ideas – maybe ones which surprised people.

The “by the book” posing techniques will produce just that – by the book, traditional shots of people. They remind me of those Victorian family portraits, everyone looking stiff and¬†uncomfortable.

With creative photography, the McFade approach, we’re after something a bit more interesting – wanting to reveal something about the person rather than duplicating tried and tested¬†formulae. ¬†So these tips will hopefully help reveal a few of our techniques….

1 – Be friendly, fun and open

When taking photographs of people, you need to bear in mind that they are sentient objects, ones which move, talk – yet more importantly, have feelings and react to how you behave around them probably more than anything else you do.

So Tip One is to be friendly, interested and try to establish some kind of “rapport” with your sitter.

2 – Give Positive Feedback

If someone does something which looks great, tell them; tell them they look amazing – this positive reinforcement will enourage them to do “more”.

If they are doing everything wrong and look terrible, don’t tell them – but make suggestions, point out something you “like” – usually hair, shoes, clothes… it should be obvious. One example was a girl who totally hated the camera, to the point she nearly ran away… she had amazing auburn hair. I said I liked it, and did she ever play with it – you see girls chewing the “twiddling” with it… she said yes, I told her to “twiddle away”… 5 great, fun shots straight away.

3 – Show them the pics

Add to the feedback by showing them the pic on the back of your camera – if you’re getting results they don’t like, you need to know ASAP – if they don’t like them, ask them “what specifically” they don’t like, or what they would change. It gets them away from just being negative, to making them think about what it is they don’t like – you can then change it!

The positive result is for them to love the shot, and this happens more often than the negative result. You get them on side – they start to trust you – you can start to tell them to do “stuff” and they do it!

4 – Get them acting

If you’re running out of ideas, then ask them what their favourite film is – or if they watch Corrie – or anything that gets a reaction. Get them to tell you which characters they like… then get them to pretend to be them!

I love Goodfellas and Taxi Driver for guys – everyone loved their “You lookin’ at Me” impersonation, or Joe Pesci’s “How am I Funny” monologue…

You’ll get people who react badly, that is a shot in itself – screwed up faces are fantastic! Then you’ll get those who just love it, get acting and make all kinds of gestures!

5 – Move regularly or change props

If you’re on location then you’ve got the beauty and challenge of infinitely varying backgrounds. When you exhaust the potential of one background, and it always happens, don’t soldier on pointlessly – move on to somewhere new. Even 10 paces can create something totally refreshing.

You can’t really do this in some studios, so the¬†equivalent¬†is to throw in new props – this is why you want to be getting them to bring a change of clothes – shades, cigars for props, hats etc.

A quick change is magical!

Conclusion…

So it’s not a list of “stand with your body at 45 degrees and look over your shoulder, hand on hip and chin up slightly tilt head to left…..” kind of instructions.

People are people – so it’s up to you to treat them as humans rather than maneqins. Given the right encouragement, you can develop a shoot pretty fast and get great results.

Standing in one position, in silence, twiddling with lights and your camera is going to leave your sitter cold and uninterested, so get stuck in with your worst jokes and best flattery…. it’ll transform how you shoot!

Learn more in August

If you want to know more, we’re running a Flash Portraiture session in August where we’ll offer more advice and tips – you can book here now!

Leeds Musician Photography Shoot

Leeds Musician Photography

Wind Farms are popular locations for landscape photographers – the moving turbine blades offer a dynamic feel to the shot, the rigid towers stand out of the ground like huge white trees…. but I’ve not really seen many musician photography shoots at them.

So we went up with Sam, a professional saxophonist, arranger and band leader, to create some new profile shots for him. The sky was initially pretty over cast and grey, which gave us a really moody look – using flash to create dramatic light on Sam and underexposing the background by a stop or 3.

Then it started to change – we initially did some silhouette photographs, followed by some 3-point lighting setups with the sun in the background.

All in all, a great location and proof that even in dull conditions, you can get magic location shots up there, and when the sun comes out… well it’s pretty magical.

 

Manchestaaaaaaaaar!

20 years ago, I was a fresher at UMIST, the highly regarded science and technology uni in Manchester – so when I was invited back by Trish to shoot some photos of the new Student Council, I jumped at the chance.

Proper nostalgia – I’d not actually stepped into the Union since 2005 when I graduated!

Anyway – here they are, all very excited to be photographed….. actually, nothing could be further from the truth ūüôā

We got a few group shots in the Union lobby, then did individual shots of them with a white background, for promo/flyer/twitter use, and some with different backgrounds from around the Union building.

For the camera nerds – 2 flashes, both with softboxes…. mostly with the 70-200 F2.8L IS on a Canon 5D…

 

 

5 ESSENTIALS every photographer MUST know before using Off Camera Flash

Off Camera Flash Essentials

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Off camera flash is a popular technique at the moment, taking speedlite flashes off the camera, onto light stands and using radio transmitters to trigger them. It’s getting easier and cheaper – with budget brands bringing flash to the masses

Technically, there and awful lot to understand to get fantastic results Рso here are 5 things you absolutely have to understand

 

1 – Understand manual exposure

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You need to understand how your camera works and “manual exposure”.

A challenge in itself if you’re not used to metering. To control the brightness of the background and the flash-lit areas, Manual Exposure is the most effective way to work.

2 РUnderstand where to put the light stands

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How near should they be, what angle should they point, should they be high or low… you can put them pretty much anywhere in the 3-dimensional space around your model… and they all have different effects!

3 –¬†Understand flash power

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You’ll need to put your flashes in Manual power output and give work out how much power they need – the power output is in fractions of “full power”, so you get 1/1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16 etc. usually down to 1/128

4 –¬†Understand¬†light colour

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The white balance question – if you’re shooting in sunlight, it’s a different “ambient light” to that of moon light, or street lights, or¬†fluorescent¬†tubes…. It’s a question of “white balance”, and we have ways to change the colour of flash light to whatever we need. Or use a mix of white balances to creative effect.

5 –¬†Understand Light “Quality”

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The “shape” or “Quality” of light from your flash can be manipulated using accessories such as umbrellas, snoots, barn doors, beauty dishes, grids…. there’s a lot out there. Basically these help control the direction of light, how much it spreads, whether it’s a “soft” light (creating smooth edged shadows) or “hard” light (harsh “mid day” like shadows) – the use of these can become your signature look.

So those are the 5 areas we cover in our 1-2-1 Strobist Training – it is a lot to take in if you’re new to it, so 1-2-1 time is the most effective way to boost your skills and transform your photography.

 

Example….

Here’s an example¬†set-up¬†from a recent 1-2-1¬†training¬†session in Leeds.

  1. Exposure set for a dark space –¬†low ambient light – so higher ISO, wide aperture etc.
  2. One light was “high to the left”, the other was “low to the right”
  3. Power was low as the scene was dark and didn’t need much power output
  4. Mixed light colour – Warm (CTO) to the left, cool to the right (CTB)
  5. Hard light all around – adds drama, the hard shadow under her nose shows this

Example 2

  1. Used a very wide aperture, F1.8, so needed ND filter to lessen the light flowing into the camera – need to keep the shutter speed to 1/200th to synch with the camera
  2. Simple single light at head height
  3. Power was extremely low as using F1.8 – 1/64th power.
  4. No colour added
  5. Soft light from a shoot-through umbrella

McFade Edits.. Phil Gledhill’s “Sam” shot

As part of the Lightroom 4 exploration, we‚Äôve been editing our student‚Äôs shots for fun ‚Äď using just Lightroom 4, no plugins or photoshop.

Here‚Äôs one from the Lyric of Sam chilling on the stair with his sax…

  1. Original Shot
  2. Lift shadows with Tone sliders
  3. slight toning with duotone sliders
  4. vignette to add atmosphere
  5. selective brushwork on Sam’s Face and slight darkening around him on the walls etc.

McFade Edits Phil Gledhill’s “Chris” playing

As part of the Lightroom 4 exploration, we‚Äôve been editing our student‚Äôs shots for fun ‚Äď using just Lightroom 4, no plugins or photoshop.

Here’s one from the Lyric of Chris with his trombone on the stairs.

  1. Original Shot
  2. This shot seemed to suit mono, so started off with a black and white pre-set Рwent through a few till I got one which looked nice.
  3. Selective brush work to bring out detail and add light to interesting areas of the shot
  4. Added vignette to see whether it worked… down to personal taste really.

McFade Edits Phil Gledhill’s “Chris in Window” shot

As part of the Lightroom 4 exploration, we’ve been editing our student’s shots for fun – using just Lightroom 4, no plugins or photoshop.

Here’s one from the Lyric of Chris playing his trombone.

The gallery feature isn’t in the right order, but each shot has a number after it;s name “brass-band-119-3” – that number is sequential :-

  1. Original
  2. Bleach bypass preset
  3. Crop, rotate a bit and some vignette
  4. Selective darken with brush tool
  5. Alternative crop to 4

McFade Edit of Dave Goodman’s “Sam” shot

As part of the Lightroom 4 exploration, we offered to edit some of our students workshop photos to show what can be done just in light room.

So this shot is from a McFade Taster shoot where we had Sam and Chris, the brass section from Sweet Soul Blues Brothers and many other bands.

Here are the basic steps in Lightroom – click on the photo to scroll through each step:-

  1. Original Shot
  2. Tone edits
  3. Presence
  4. Curves (very little difference here actually)
  5. Crop and slight Vignette added
  6. Selective changes with brush to make sax stand out and reduce colour in background
  7. Skin and eyes selectively edited – maybe a step too far here ūüėČ

 

Brass Musician – Training Shoot

McFade¬†Training’s Brass Night at the Lyric

April’s taster session saw delegates return to the amazing venue that is the Lyric Cinema.¬†This¬†month we ventured away from the main¬†auditorium¬†into the more abandoned looking areas¬†around the¬†projector rooms – the prefect backdrop.

Chris Colbran and Sam Houghton were the subjects this time, both professional musicians working in many bands in Yorkshire and beyond, so as well as looking very cool for the photos, they both entertained by playing their trombone and sax.

We shot with both bare flash and soft light, to show the difference in lighting you get from these sources. Also added in a second light to many setups to demonstrate how a back light can completely transform a shot.

Here’s a slideshow from the evening – photographs from Mark Searle, Phil Gledhill, Dave Goodman and Ade Wilson – click on the show to advance through the photos.

Photography in the Lyric, Leeds

Leeds Training at the Lyric!

Here’s a few shots from March’s McFade Training evening in the Lyric Theatre in Armley.

The subject was “an introduction to Off Camera Flash” and had people using our speedlite system to capture Rocco, Salman and Eleni in the dramatic setting of an old, disused cinema.

Have a go……

The idea of these evenings is less about “tuition” and more about “having a go” – and those wanting to know more can book onto a seminar or full workshop.

Anyway – here are a selection of Eleni, a fantastic dancer from Cyprus who added so much to the evening.

All the photos here were taken using one flash and one umbrella to diffuse the light – just a bit of techy stuff ūüôā

Rocco in the Woods

Leeds Model in Leeds Woods

We’re always on the look out for new locations for both training and shoots with models, families and business people.

So on this rekke shoot Rocco and I took to some woods in Leeds, armed with 2 flashes and a mix of lenses – and got some shots using the surroundings to create atmosphere and background interest.

So this shot uses the winter trees, without their leaves, to create a veil over his head

This was the last shot from the shoot, it was mainly a sky shot with Rocco peeking in, using a polariser to make the sky more interesting, and 2 flashes on Rocco to balance the light – without those he would have been a silhouette

This is a subtle use of the woods – the Canon 28 F1.8 lens was used to focus on Rocco’s face, leaving the rest blurred behind. No flash used

Here he is bouncing away like Zeberdy…. used the path as the lead in the foreground, tree to frame the right, he’s perhaps a bit close to the tree here, maybe a step right by me would get him away from it. Sunlight on the left, flash on the right.

Extreme angles and wide lenses… always make for something completely different to your normal portrait. Here we’ve made the most of the red jeans and the tree canopy by getting low down, lighting him with the sun and 2 lights and using a polariser

Same idea as the shot above, just really like the trees here!

And finally, a bit of colour play – making those blues and reds really jump out.

So venturing off the beaten path into the woods created a whole new “look” for us – off camera flash with speedlites is all about portability and the locations that enables… go out and try the woods for yourself!