Magic hour in Cheshire

At the beginning of the summer I was given an assignment from prominate estate agent to create blue hour, long exposure style images of some most popular villages in Cheshire. Idea was to look for a perfect moments during twilight hour and capture still present natural light and combine it with artificial lights of streets along with passing traffic. This project gave me a great opportunity to explore Cheshire a little bit more and I had a lot of fun doing so.

Alderley Edge – This village is located at the base of sandstone escarpment that separates two relatively level areas with different elevation. It’s also where you can snapp one of the best skyline photos of Manchester or simply come to watch a spectacular sunsets. This village is also part of Cheshire’s “golden triangle” where most expensive houses and designer shops are located. Unfortunately I spent the least amount of time capturing Alderley Edge but despite the project is now complete I’m planning to return on my own volition to get a few more pictures of this village.

Prestbury – Most of the buildings in the center of the village are painted white therefore it contrasted very well with the blue color of the twilight sky. I was also very lucky in terms of the weather. Very little cloud cover enabled me to shoot for much longer and gave me plenty of time to carefully choose my compositions.

Bramhall – Next on the list was Bramhall. Upon visiting this location a had a chance to check out famous timber-framed, 14th century Town Hall building located in parkland area with lakes, woodland and gardens. It mostly serves as a museum these days. Hopefully I’ll be able to explore it from inside once renovation work is complete. After that I head off to the center of the village to capture a few long exposure shots during the dusk.

Wilmslow -Part of previously mentioned “golden triangle” and probably biggest of all visited places during this project. However the town was quite empty perhaps due to ongoing school holidays. I had to wait quite a bit for cars to pass by in order to capture the light trail images I came here to do.

Nantwich – Last place I visited was this lovely village located furthest south of them all. This time I arrived during golden hour and the weather once again didn’t disappoint and treated me to a stunning sunset. I met many friendly people who stopped by my tripod and asked me questions about what I was doing and seemed genuinely interested when I explained what the assignment was about.

For the first time in my life I gotta do what I truly love. Photography and travel is a dream that hopefully will come true one day.


Creating beautiful interior photos

I’ve been professionally editing property photos for quite some time however I’ve only recently been given a chance to start shooting homes myself. I have learned what needs to be done to make sure they look as good as possible. It is easy to simply blend HDR photos by using any of available automatic software and call it done. But it is another thing to spend extra time with each photo to take care with all important details to create a beautiful interior photos. In this post I’ll list some of the things I always do to each of my photos to make sure they shine and look much better than my competition.

  1. Flambient technique – This is the biggest differential from local competition as I have not seen too many using this technique yet. Basically it’s a blend of ambient exposure with multiple flash strobes which allows me to control colors, shadows and highlights in the best possible way. It creates disting 3d look of any given interior space I photograph.  When done right, it will make a world of a difference to regular HDR used as standard in real estate photography these days. Only downside is that it takes more time to shoot and edit images done with this method.

2. Whitening the ceilings – Not every ceiling is nice and bright therefore it is important to take care of it in post production whitening without making it look unrealistic. It is one of those small details that make a big difference in the final result.

3. Constant colors – Making sure every image has consistent colors across the space is often overlooked. Nothing worse than yellow corners or dirty looking furniture. Equalizing it without making it washed and de-saturated is something I always make sure is done in my edits.

4. Perfect windows – As property photographers we want to show the beauty of interior spaces we photograph. By showing beautiful scenery (if there is one) outside the window can be crucial to attract potential buyers. I always make sure to take care of this important detail even by replacing the sky where necessary.

5. Fixing TV reflection – Nothing more distracting than ugly reflection on a TV screen. Fixing it in post production makes the image look clean and more appealing to the eye.

Please view my portfolio and let me know what you think either on comments below or drop me a line at my social media.


Another 8 Manchester skyline photo locations

 

Last year I created a little guide with top hill views. I was thrilled and extremely grateful when "The Manc" published story based on my post. This bit of recognition encourage me to explore even more in order to find better locations than in my previous post. It felt so good when people had written or said to me that my work inspired them to get out more or that I helped them to become better photographers. This is why I kept looking for new places to go and what led me to find another 8 Manchester skyline photo sports.

 

1. Merton avenue playing fields – I spent most of last year looking for the best place to capture cityscape of Manchester. I have found a few interesting locations that led me to create my top 7 best hilltop spots described in my previous post. At that time however I was not aware about one spot that instantly became my favorite. This place is not only great for capturing amazing skyline photos but also nice for portrait shoots or even an engagement session especially for those who enjoy playing football.

2. Scout Moor wind farm – It is the second largest on shore green energy provider in England. Supplies electricity to 40 000 homes across Manchester. It’s a perfect place to cycle on a mountain bike or simply to walk around to enjoy a good view of the city. Most of the presented images are captured with a telephoto lens at about 200mm.

3. Heaton park – It was the first park where I was taken by my friend when I arrived in Manchester all those years ago. I immediately fell in love with this place and I even moved my house to be closer to it. You can get really good shots of the town from the Temple area located at the north side of the park.

4. Tandle Hill – This place is not only a perfect spot for snapping the great cityscape of Manchester but also a great to have quality time with your family at one of nearby picnic areas or a unique playground with a sand pit and long slide for kids.

5. Snake pass – It a gateway road to Peak District National park some of the best areas such as Derwent Dam or Ladybower Reservoir. It is one of most picturesque roads to drive though that offers some stunning views including this perfect sport for cityscape. You are going to need at least a 100mm lens to enjoy this view.

6. The Edge at Alderley Edge – As I was scouting for my new assignment I found this great place at Alderley Edge with a unique perspective on Manchester skyline. Unlike other locations recently visited this one offers a very clean foreground full of greenery perfectly highlighted with setting sun and Scout Moor wind farm visible in the background. I will definitely be going back there for sunrise photos in the near future.

7. Greenbooth Reservoir – One of best walks you can find and very underrated with great views over the city with only one caveat… There are power lines obstructing the view of the city but it is possible to climb a bit higher on the north side to get a clean shot.

8. River Irwell and Pomona
If you have never walked along River Irwell from Manchester to Salford quays or you are just going to visit Manchester there are certainly some of the best views on the city skyline worth checking out. Although you’re never gonna get a good view of the entire city due to low altitude like you could have with spots mentioned earlier, I decided to include this location nonetheless because it’s such a good walk for anyone who is visiting town or those who are not aware of this walk. Best way you can enter on the path is either from Lowry hotel or the cross of Trinity way and Regent road. You can get both reflections on the river as well as for those who enjoy long exposure photography as much as I do there are metrolink trams constantly passing by leaving plenty of light to capture.

 


Snake Woodlands - Peak District

We are truly blessed to be living in Manchester when the weather is right. 1h drive and we have a beautiful Peak District national park to explore. 1h drive other way and we can bask at the sea side. Who needs holidays abroad? This time I went to what is probably one of the best walks in the entire Peak District; Snake woodlands. I spend half of the day enjoying the nature and beauty this area can offer. I fully recommend visiting this place if you haven’t already!


Alderley Edge viewpoint

As I was scouting for my new assignment I found this great place at Alderley Edge with a unique perspective on Manchester skyline. Unlike other locations recently visited this one offers a very clean foreground full of greenery perfectly highlighted with setting sun and my favorite Scout Moore windfarm visible in the background. I will definitely be going back there for sunrise photos in near future.

Here are a few photos taken during my short visit.


Top 10 locations in Manchester for long exposure photography

So why go outside and get battered by rain or freeze your limbs by horrible wind? To do all this in for few long exposure photos? Process is simple; I show up at previously scouted location, setup my tripod and wait for perfect moment at the only time in a day where artificial light balance perfectly with still present in the sky natural light. That moment in time feels special and it allows me to capture unique images. I’m not here to teach you about technicality of entire process making twilight photos, there are plenty amazing guides already out there. All I want is to show some of my favorite locations perfect for this type of photography. Hopefully this will encourage you to go out and explore our wonderful city or try presented light painting technique to learn something new.

  1. Media city Uk – Salford – This area offers multiple compositions from various angles. Newly build Metrolink line to Trafford Centre provides excellent opportunity to capture lights of passing trams along Trafford Wharf road where Imperial War Museum is located. With its impressive architecture this structure give us perfect subject to photograph from both sides of the road. Another attractive spots is one at Trafford bridge from where you have great view on Salford Quays and Media city with train tracks on the left side. It gives us another chance to capture light from passing trams with Salford’s most famous area in the background.

2. Victoria station – Shooting there might be at bit challenging sometimes as at few occasions I was told I could not use tripod inside station therefore bringing Gorillapod it’s always good idea. You can also get good images outside of the station with lights from Metrolink trams on both sides and station as the background.

3. M60 – There many locations along ring road to choose from but I’m going to show you two spots located near Whitefield. First two photos are taken from pedestrian bridge at Bury new road whilst third is taken from bridge to lesser known entry to Philips park.

4. Piccadilly station – There are few compositions to be captured around Piccadilly station and my favorite is taken from bridge just outside the station. Watch out for camera shake as you shoot at this bridge because it can be very wobbly when people passing by.

5. Castlefiled – This is one of most photogenic locations in entire Manchester. It’s industrial feel with many old bridges and constantly passing trams offers some of the best compositions you can get.

6. Scamendon Bridge – Human eye is drawn into curves and S shapes therefore this spot is working so well with this type of photography. Lights left by passing cars are creating atmospheric image very enjoyable to look at. There is also very enjoyable walk in the area where you can find different composition to shoot.

7. Stockpot Viaduct – Even though I only have one picture to show today from that spot I decided to include into my list anyway. I encourage anyone to explore this location more than I did so far since there are multiple compositions to be discovered out there. I took this photo from bridge at Wellington road.

8. Charles Street car park – Although you can only find one or maybe two compositions at this place it’s still worth visiting as it offers very unique look at the town.

9. Albert Square – Once again Metrolink trams will be leaving plenty of light for you to capture at this location. You can combine these lights with unique architecture of Central Library to create memorable photographs.

10. Green Gate Square – This area is under constant development in recent years and it’s becoming one of my favorite places to go at night. This time you’ll be waiting for buses to give to long exposure effect in combination with beautify lighted fountain located at the square.

I hope my short list will encourage you to try light painting techniques in your photography whether you do it with digital camera or your phone (with manual exposure) I leave that to you. Remember all you need is a bit o patience and a tripod.

Follow me @kozakphoto at Instagram for regular photo content updates.

Have a great light!


Simplicity

Sometimes simplicity is the answer. Photo taken during my trip to Cumbria in summer 2013. Minimalist composition of three fishing boats heading into unknown with Isle of Man in the background . I was only starting with photography back then but few shots from that trip still belong to some of my favorite. This is re-edit of photo I already posted some time ago.


Merton Avenue Playing fields

I spend most of last year looking for perfect place to capture cityscape of Manchester. I have found few interesting locations what led me to to create my top 7 best hilltop spots described in my previous guide. At that time however I was not aware about one spot that instantly became one of my favourite. Merton avenue playing fields. Here are few photos captured from this amazing spot.


Full moon at Peel Tower

Cloudless sky's we've been recently experiencing was an excellent opportunity to capture moonscape photo. We are still in lockdown so I couldn't travel very far therefore Peel Tower was perfect place to go since it's within allowed mile range from my house. This time I only brought one, panoramic photo of moon rising over Scout Moor wind farm.


Haslingden Halo

This large sculpture is one of four Panopticons structures we can find across East Lancashire. Its part of art project that create 21st century landmarks as symbols of the renaissance of the area. I can’t remember how I discovered this location but from first look I knew it was good spot to shoot. As a huge fan on sci-fi books and movies I wanted to make photo reflecting that vibe. Here are few of my favorite images.