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.


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!


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.


Best way to photograph in fog

Fog is what hooked me to photography. I remember vividly over two decades ago at my school trip we got struck with fog. Everyone thought it was bad thing to happen as it obstruct views we suppose to be having and made difficult for drivers. I was surprised of how much fear it had conjured upon our teachers who were afraid of pupils to get lost in it. However for me it felt good, having this feeling of mystery and awe.  I know it can be very dangerous to travel by car or bout in foggy day but each time I encounter those unique weather conditions I cannot stay home. I grab my camera and go out to shoot.

So what causes it? Fog is a visible aerosol consisting of tiny water droplets or ice crystals suspended in the air at or near the Earth’s surface. Fog can be considered a type of low-lying cloud, usually resembling stratus, and is heavily influenced by nearby bodies of water, topography, and wind conditions. In turn, fog has affected many human activities, such as shipping, travel, and warfare.

 

Fog acts like a giant diffuser spreading colors and often creating an eerie glow around bright light sources. Therefore some cameras might be having trouble to focus and manual mode can be good way to get sharp images.

Few tips I to photograph in fog:

  • Always shoot in RAW. It can be detrimental in post processing having possibility to adjust few settings like exposure or white balance
  • Use manual lens focusing. It can be very helpful in situations when camera struggles to do it automatically
  • Having tripod with you it’s always nice especially that fog often appears during the night
  • It’s good idea to increase exposure compensation +1 EV
  • Bringing speed light with radio triggers might be good idea however with color gels for extra creativity. I have not tried it yet myself but its definitely something I will do in future
  • Shoot at least 3 exposures (HDR) for extra options in post production.
  • Avoid polarizing filters. They don’t work well in fog
  • Bring fiber cloth to wipe condensation from your lens to avoid blurry images

 

Here are some of my favorite images taken during foggy days. Mostly Manchester.


Lightopia Manchester

When I found out about lantern festival happening in Manchester in my favourite Heaton Park I knew I want to be part of it. Those who follow my work are probably aware I really like night photography, combining artificial lights into natural especially during blue hour. Therefore I was very exited then Lighopia accepted me as their official photographer for their Manchester launch event.

Unfortunately due to timing I was unable to capture all these amazing lanterns during the dusk when light is most appealing for this type of photography however I’ll already arranged to come back and re-shoot some of installations whilst more convenient time of a day.

See below few of my favourite images from launch event but look out for another post with another set  from my second visit.

Big thanks to organisers:

Lightopia

Manchester City Council 

Transport for Greater Manchester 

Outreachcreative


Best of Manchester (update)

Hello,  Just a quick update with recently captured photos of ever growing city landscapes.




Corporation street Victoria view

This week I had visit another great location in Manchester city center for night and long exposure photography. This time was M.A.N arena car park what offers nice view on Victoria station and corporation street. Idea was to capture light streaks from ring road along with trains coming in and out from the station. I’ve show up early blue hour to get my base image keeping camera on tripod and shooting all the way until late blue hour to get rest of components.

Area on left side of the frame is currently under heavy development with several buildings been added to ever growing Manchester skyline. Once work is complete spot will offer excellent composition with all new N.O.M.A scrapers and bridge in the foreground.

This time I also brought second camera that I placed on other side to capture north bound of the station. It’s not a great image but I decide to share it anyway.

Also before and after of main photo can be seen below:


Best of Manchester Vol3

Simple post update with my recent works focused around Manchester. You can find all those images as usual on my Instagram. However I would want to post them one by one on this blog therefore I decided to make periodic updates containing batch, share worthy images gathered throughout recent trips and assignments.