Leeds, with its intricate tapestry of history, modernity, and raw urban life, beckoned to be captured through a distinctive vision. Equipped with my Canon R5 and the new Canon 16-35mm F4L IS lens, I ventured into the heart of Leeds, eager to blend the city’s vibrant stories with vintage aesthetics.
The Photography Technique
Delving into the technical, the 2-shot bracket technique was pivotal in capturing the dynamic essence of Leeds – the “normal” shot capturing the city, the dark shot, the sky. All hand held shots too. The R5 shoots at 20 frames a second, so this is not an issue any more!
With the Canon R5 and the Canon 16-35mm F4L IS lens, I endeavoured to encapsulate both the city’s vibrancy and the ethereal beauty of the skies.
A slightly different approach to processing these. I went for a pastel, light-toned look – with post-processing lifting shadows and blacks, culminating in a vintage tinted toning – adding a little magenta to the clouds and cool tones to the shadows.
Leeds Dock to Brewery Wharf
Meandering alongside the river Aire, I was struck by the juxtaposition of serene waterways against the bustling urban backdrop. Leeds Dock, a hub of commerce and recreation, offered a wonderful starting point.
The Calls and Corn Exchange
Moving on from the docks, the rhythmic echo of footsteps on cobbled streets led me to The Calls.
Built: Late 18th to early 19th century
Once the industrial heart of Leeds, The Calls boasts warehouses that have now been converted into apartments and chic boutiques.
Interesting Fact: Designed by renowned architect Cuthbert Brodrick, the Corn Exchange is one of the UK’s finest Victorian buildings and now houses boutique stores and eateries..
The palpable energy of Leeds Market, with traders announcing their wares and the tantalizing aroma of food, was an exhilarating scene to capture.
Built: 1822 (though the current structure dates from 1904)
Leeds Market is one of the largest covered markets in Europe, previously housing over 800 stalls, but now has converted large spaces into a food hall.
Briggate, County Arcade, and Broadgate
The pulsating heart of Leeds’ shopping scene, Briggate was a flurry of activity.
Briggate, Leeds Shopping Street
Built: As a street, its history traces back to at least the 1200s
Briggate means ‘Bridge Street’, and it has been a central commercial street for Leeds for centuries.
County Arcade, Leeds’ finest
Designed by theatre architect Frank Matcham, the County Arcade with its marble floors, intricate mosaics, and wrought ironwork is perhaps the grandest of Leeds’ shopping arcades.
Broadgate on the Headrow
Built: Broadgate’s history is intertwined with the development of The Headrow in the 20th century.
The Headrow, one of Leeds’ most iconic streets, was redeveloped in the 1930s, transforming it into a major thoroughfare.
The Light to the Leeds Town Hall
From the contemporary vibe of The Light to the historical gravitas of the Town Hall, this leg of the journey was filled with contrasts.
The Light, Leeds
Built: Early 2000s
The Light, a retail and leisure centre, is uniquely built around a central open courtyard, offering a blend of shopping, dining, and entertainment options.
Leeds Town Hall
The Town Hall was opened by Queen Victoria and was then the largest municipal building in Britain. Its design by architect Cuthbert Brodrick has made it one of Leeds’ most recognizable landmarks.
I’ve shot Leeds 100’s if not 1000’s of times now, but every time you see something new.
It was the first time I’d done this lens and body combination, and the first time I’d done this HDR technique in Leeds – and it’s the first time I’ve lifted the shadows/blacks to tive a more washed-out, vintage feel, and the first time I created a Lookup Table (LUT) to tone one image, then applied it to the rest of them. All a bit of a learning journey – and importantly, I did 12000 steps and 2.57 miles – which is one of the rewards of such a trip out.
Did it all work perfectly – no.
The light kept changing with the clouds obscuring the sun, so in the better shots, we have direct light on the buildings which seems to suit the low contrast look perfectly. On the shaded shots, it looks a little “muddy”.