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.

Bluebells in the woods: springtime comes to Hardcastle Crags

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

After the short, grey days of winter, springtime percolates slowly through Calderdale, injecting life and colour into the valley once again. Muted monotones turn into verdant hues, flowers and buds appear, and the hills echo to the sounds of bleating lambs and birdsong.

This year it feels as if spring’s come later than ever: the wild garlic is still here, coexisting alongside bluebells and daffodils almost a month later than when I shot this panorama last year. It all feels a bit messed up, and I can hear hailstones hitting the windowpanes outside as I write this. So when there’s a window of good weather, it’s worth taking advantage… such as when I caught the setting sun light up this

Hardcastle Crags is an oasis of calm for me, an outpost of tranquillity and a place to escape the hectic nature of working life. It’s by no means an unspoilt landscape, but despite hundreds of years of man’s influence it’s a treasure trove of flora and fauna, and a great place to explore.

Technical info: shot with Canon EOS 5D Mark III, shaved Sigma 10mm f2.8 fisheye lens, Nodal Ninja RS-1, Promote Remote Control. 10 exposures, 1.7EV apart; HDR tonemapped with Photomatix Pro & HDR Efex 2.

 

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

I first shot the bluebells in the Crags during my first spring in the valley, back in 2007 as I was just starting to embrace panoramic photography. It was the first panorama I shot bracketed in RAW… 3x exposures of 39 views. I stitched three separate panoramas (one for each exposure) overnight using the long-departed Realviz Stitcher. Seems an eon ago.  Six years, and thousands of panoramas later, it was great to revisit the theme once more, applying more rigorous technical and artistic experience to the subject.

It’s prompted me to dig out the original RAWs from 2007 and restitch this scene, which you can view above. It’s by no means perfect, but it acts as a good comparison to this year’s version. And you can never have too many bluebells on on page…

Technical info: shot with Canon EOS 400D, Canon 18-55mm, Panosaurus head. 3 exposures, 2EV apart; HDR tonemapped with Photomatix Pro

Large format print: a gigapixel view inside a studio at Islington Mill

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

A test piece, shot in Maurice Carlin’s studio in Islington Mill, comprising a 1.33 gigapixel, HDR panorama. My first attempt at a gigapixel HDR pano, using 721 x 24 megapixel photos.

Great for highlighting small detail (check out the plant growing on the inside of the window, amongst other features) but slow and challenging to work on, with some visual quality issues. Definitely a technique I’ll continue to progress…

Technical info: shot with Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon 50mm f1.4 lens, Nodal Ninja 5, Promote Remote Control. 7 bracketed exposures per image.

Inside Fūlbæchop, Bacup

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

A view inside the ‘Chop… Rossendale’s best* record shop and another south Pennine gem. Established in 2012 by artist, DJ, musical encyclopaedia and all-round nice chap Michael Holland, Fūlbæchop is a unique and personal space: part studio, part exhibition area, part record shop. Its curious moniker comes from the Old English name for Bacup, and the shop itself reflects some of the historical and cultural influences on this part of the country, as well as Michael’s broad musical tastes and heritage. Obscure vinyl, limited fanzines and CDs sit cheek by jowl with hand-crafted artworks, firewood and textiles.

Bacup lies towards the top of Rossendale in Lancashire, almost at the head of the River Irwell which flows south to separate Manchester from Salford. It sits of the hinterland between urban and rural: a gateway to wild, raw and evocative moorland landscapes. Bacup’s sometimes described as the best preserved cotton mill town in England, and it has a faded, quirky character and an uneasy relationship with its industrial past: cotton mills and coal mining were the major employers until a couple of generations ago, and their loss has left a physical and psychological scar in the town’s fabric. It’s also left a rich legacy of beautiful buildings, interesting customs and a proud sense of identity.

Fulbaechop flyers

So perhaps it makes sense for a local lad to return to his roots and set up shop here, tapping into the past and trying to create something sustainable and innovative for the future. If Fulbaechop existed in a city, it’d be full of trendy trainspotters, earnest eccentrics and cool creatives; digging through crates, sharing stories and planning collaborations. In Bacup, it’s a hidden gem, adding a welcome splash of cosmopolitan outlook and progressive inspiration. Michael’s a one-man ideas factory, bubbling with enthusiasm and pride in his local area, and keen to share his diverse knowledge of music, and showcase his own and other artist’s work.

There’s not much passing trade on Yorkshire Street, but hopefully seeing Fulbaechop in 360° will pique some people’s interest and inspire them to take a trip across the hills from Calderdale, or on a short trip from Manchester and beyond. Well worth a visit in person, or online… chop chop!

*well, only record shop… but it’s a cracker

Sylvia Plath’s grave at Heptonstall

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

The American-born poet, Sylvia Plath, was buried at Heptonstall, near Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, in 1963 after a short and troubled life. In the past she was perhaps better known for her marriage to the former Poet Laurate Ted Hughes (originally from Mytholmroyd, a short distance away) but in recent years her creative impact and ability has been positively reappraised, based on a wider body of her work being discovered.

Her grave lies in the new graveyard: the headstone carries a simple inscription from Hughes, and has been defaced several times (if you look closely the name ‘Hughes’ is typeset slightly differently as the text has been replaced: a certain strand of more radical feminists is alleged have attempted to remove his surname repeatedly, in response to the abusive relationship in life and revisionist way he managed her creative legacy after death).

Sylvia Plath's headstone

On previous visits (see photo above from August 2012) the grave has been marked with stones, pens and other trophies and tributes from fans and well-wishers. On this occasion, fifty years after her death, the grave had been tidied up, just displaying floral tributes. During the time I was photographing this pano there was a steady stream of visitors to the site…

I shot this panorama on the same afternoon as a short and impromptu photoshoot with the excellent and highly tipped Merseyside band Bird, in and around the old and new church of St Thomas at Heptonstall.

Adele and Sian from Bird

I shot the band shortly before the second date on their current UK tour, when they played at the Puzzle Hall Inn in Sowerby Bridge. We had a short window of opportunity to take a few shots on a cold February afternoon, in the sombre surroundings of this ancient Yorkshire hilltop village under leaden skies. The weather matched their enigmatic, emotional and intimate music… given extra resonance as we viewed Sylvia Plath’s grave.

Thanks to Adele, Sian, Lex, Emma and Jack for their patience and good spirits: sitting in front of an open fire in the pub after an hour’s shooting in the raw winter’s air has rarely felt as rewarding!

Bird’s fourth release, Ophelia, is out now on Jack to Phono Records.