369 steps above Halifax: atop Wainhouse Tower

Enjoying a bird’s eye view from the top of the Wainhouse Tower at Skircoat Moor on the outskirts of Halifax this Bank Holiday Monday. 

Click/tap the image above to view a panoramic 360° view of the scene in your browser. Pressing the fullscreen button is highly recommended for maximum viewing pleasure!

astride_wainhouse_towerThis iconic building is maintained by Calderdale Council, and is open to the public on ‘high days and holidays‘. It affords a fantastic viewpoint across the local area, and is rightly popular with thrill-seekers and those with a sense of historical curiosity. There are 369 steps in order to reach the public gallery which encircles the tower near the top.

wainhouse_details-1I originally climbed the tower almost exactly five years ago, on a previous May Bank Holiday, and shot a series of panoramas. At the time I was pretty pleased with the results: however I’ve gained a lot more experience, and use much better kit since those days. Also I’ve wanted for a while to try out a nifty technique to ‘hide’ the building from the final 360°.

So when I got the chance to take up some friends who were visiting, I thought it’d be the perfect opportunity to revisit the view. I travelled light this time too – no tripod or panoramic head was needed to make this photograph – as I’d learned the hard way climbing all those steps with a full pack of kit is hard work!

The result of ascending the tower once again is this high resolution panorama, which allows the viewer to look all across Halifax, the lower Calder Valley and beyond. Zoom in, look around, and have fun checking out all sorts of places which might catch your eye as you peek about…

You can also view this panorama on 360cities_logo

Technical info: photographed using Canon EOS 5D Mark III and Canon EF 8-15mm f4 fisheye zoom lens; RAW shot as dual ISO using Magic Lantern firmware, then processed with LR CR2HDR, Lightroom 5.4. Stitched with PTGui Pro 5.2.0, output using Pano2VR Pro 4.5

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Massive Attack v Adam Curtis at MIF13, Mayfield Depot, Manchester

Look around the panorama above to explore a series of panoramic 360° views around Mayfield Depot. Toggle between a view showing the show layout, and the depot as it was before rigging, by click the button on the top right. Click/tap the red hotspots to jump from viewpoint to viewpoint.

Massive Attack v Adam Curtis, the much-anticipated event from Robert Del Naja, Adam Curtis and UVA opened last week as one of the headline attractions at this year’s Manchester International Festival. I was there in Mayfield Depot on the day before the show opened, just as the crew were testing video and audio. I have to admit, I had high expectations when this gig was announced: I’ve admired Adam Curtis’ documentaries for the last decade or more, and I last saw Massive Attack play in Manchester in 1998, when guests Horace Andy & Elizabeth Fraser (appearing here at MIF) provided outstanding performances. Expectations were raised further after spending an afternoon shooting the venue before it was cleaned and rigged out, trying to second-guess how it’d be used for the event.

Shooting this was… challenging and complicated. Capturing a 360° panorama requires shooting a series of images, in this case looking around every 90°. And shooting another series of different exposures to capture the wide dynamic range of light. Try doing that in a dark room where the video screens are constantly playing a huge range of different coloured, contrasting content; cycling rapidly and changing the light levels and reflections.

360° panorama of Massive Attack v Adam Curtis at MIF13

When I originally shot the venue back in May there was less light, but I had the luxury of several hours to capture the series of HDR panoramas at my own pace, largely undisturbed. Not this time… I had a brief window before full rehearsals commenced. All while crew members are frantically criss-crossing the floor, and visitors in high-viz vests are milling about. Definitely a shoot to keep me on my toes.

So a combination of patience, luck, determination, and a well-honed post-production routine resulted in the final image, which manages to capture the structure and feel of the newly-repurposed Mayfield Depot, but also gives a flavour of the intensity of the visual content (see the trailer below). It’s an incredible venue and a hell of an AV setup, and this should give an indication of standing the centre of such an immersive space.

360° panorama of Massive Attack v Adam Curtis at MIF13

Disclaimer: When I wrote this I’d not yet seen the full show… just some of the footage during the AV tests, and hearing a little of Liz Fraser singing a cappella on stage (which was pretty special). I saw it the following evening: it was overwhelming, disconcerting, thought-provoking and challenging… exactly what I’d expect from Adam Curtis, Massive Attack and UVA!

Panoramic camera rig in Mayfield Depot

Inside Hulme Hippodrome, Manchester

As part of RIBA’s Love Architecture Festival, the Manchester Society of Architects organised an open day, arranging access to a diverse range of spaces and places normally not open to the public. Due to prior engagements that day I had to (begrudgingly) choose just a single location for a whistle-stop visit. Top of my list was the Grade II listed Hulme Hippodrome, somewhere I’d been curious about since living nearby in the late 90s. As with Mayfield Depot and Victoria Baths, I’m drawn to neglected places in the city with rich cultural and historical depths, and had previously seen photos of the delights within.

360° panorama of Hulme Hippodrome interior by Joby Catto of Anti Limited

The nondescript facade of the building gives little clue of what’s inside, but the interior itself is stunning: riotously bright colours, ornate plaster mouldings and grandiose details abound. The richness and detailing in the auditorium is tempered by years of weather damage and dereliction. Neither time nor the elements have been been kind to the building; dilapidation has taken a toll on the furniture and fittings; the roof’s badly damaged, exposing the interior to Manchester’s delightful climate; and multiple pigeons have occupied most parts of the building, leaving fecal streaks everywhere.

360° panorama of Hulme Hippodrome interior by Joby Catto of Anti Limited

Luckily the Hippodrome has many admirers and supporters who recognise both the historical importance of the building, and the potential it has as a community resource. One man in particular is leading the drive to restore the former music hall and theatre to its former glory.

I chatted to Tony Wright, the operations manager for social enterprise The Youth Village, who’s worked tirelessly to raise funds and awareness since they occupied the building in 2011. His passion for the project is infectious. It needs to be; he estimates a full refurbishment will cost a cool £20 million, with initial work to fix the roof and guttering around £50,000. It’s an incredible space though… and through hard work, smart investment and strategic partnerships, that might be achievable. Spread the word about the anonymous building with the incredible secret hidden inside, and how you might be able to help…

Look around the image above to explore the Hippodrome in two different panoramic 360° views. Click/tap the white hotspot marker to jump from viewpoint to viewpoint.

Mayfield Depot before MIF13: inside and unwrapped in 360°

Look around the panorama above to explore a series of four panoramic 360° views around Mayfield Depot. Click/tap the red hotspots to jump from viewpoint to viewpoint.

Every photographer has a wish-list of places they’d like to explore – there are quite a few in Manchester I’ve always been curious about for years – and Mayfield Depot has always been pretty close to the top for me.

So when this year’s Manchester International Festival announced Mayfield Depot was one of their headline venues, my excitement levels mounted. I’m delighted to be working on a series of 360° panoramas for MIF13, working again with Toasted Productions as we did during MIF11. As such, I finally got inside Mayfield Depot to capture it in all its decaying detail before it’s rigged out for gigs and exhibitions. Above is a panoramic tour of four views, below are unwrapped versions.

As these are now being featured on the MIF, Manchester Evening News and Guardian Culture websites I can share some previews of the interiors of Mayfield Depot, before its transformation for performances by Massive Attack v Adam Curtis and much more. Enjoy looking around one of the most evocative hidden spaces in Manchester…

Update: you can now see a before and after view of the set here, showing the Massive Attack vs Adam Curtis set build.

Happy 30th Birthday, Manchester Craft and Design Centre!

Click/tap the image above to view a panoramic 360° view of the scene in your browser

This weekend the marvellous Manchester Craft and Design Centre marks the start of their 30th anniversary celebrations and activities with the launch of ‘Collecting History‘.

It promises to be a great launch, with 1982-flavoured food and music; family-friendly activities; an inspiring range of wonderful products on sale; and  English Electric and  Thomas Thorp joining the musical dots from the last thirty years. If you’re in the Northern Quarter in Manchester on Saturday it’ll be a grand afternoon out, so pop in and check it out…

I’ve had a soft spot for the Craft Centre since I first came to Manchester in the 90s… to me it’s the best place to look for inspiration, original gifts and craft pieces. Plus Oak Street Café’s food is wonderful as well…

Anti Limited shot a virtual tour of the Craft Centre last summer (we tried our best to catch the summer sun, but to no avail!) To preface tomorrow’s launch, here’s one of the views: an aerial shot from the centre of the ground floor, just outside the café. Check out the mouth-watering array of food on the serving hatch. We’ll put more views online next week, so be sure to check back and see more. Or follow antilimited on Twitter or subscribe to our RSS feed to ensure you don’t miss out…

And if you’d like to see more in the meantime, here’s another panorama I shot just over just over two years ago, showing off the Yarnbombing exhibition at the time…