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Yet more cooling tower views

I couldn’t resist the chance to revisit the iconic cooling towers for a third time in early May, this time with another friend who’s also a photographer. I spent a lot of time onsite capturing HDRs and backplates for a separate sIBL project I’m working on, but I also managed to shoot a couple of panoramas inside the towers themselves.

The greatest challenge on the day was the wind: with the landscape so flat, and the towers themselves acting as giant chimneys, it was often hard to keep the tripod steady for long enough to shoot the exposure ranges. Meanwhile the clouds scudded across the sky, occluding the sun right in the midle of my exposures, creating massive changes in light levels. And finally it was distinctly chilly after the warmth of April. Lots of fun. Never the less, I was more than happy to spend the afternoon capturing some of the details and nuances of this site. There were a lot of changes from time I’d visited in January, and I’ve heard the site may be cleared soon. Glad we got another chance to explore while we could.

HTML5 version

Click the icons above to view a fullscreen 360° view of the scene with Flash (for desktop) or HTML5 (for mobile). You can also view the location in Google Earth. Happy viewing!

HTML5 version

Click the icons above to view a fullscreen 360° view of the scene with Flash (for desktop) or HTML5 (for mobile). You can also view the location in Google Earth. Happy viewing!

More views of the cooling towers

I went back to the site of the wonderful Thorpe Marsh Power Station near Doncaster this weekend with my friend English Electric: he to sample the colossal reverb inside the cooling towers, and I to take more photos. I’d only had a cursory visit in October, which barely whet my appetite, so I’ve being eager to go back ever since.

I got a lot of great stills, and also snapped a couple of panos. All are multiple exposure shots, but I’ve gone back to using Enfuse for these, rather than a ‘true’ HDR workflow, as I feel it works better for the subject matter.

Anyway, enough of the technical stuff. If you can visit this site, do so. It’s a photographer’s dream…

Click below for a full screen 360° view of the scene with Flash, to read more on Wikipedia, to see the location in Google Earth, or to view an iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch compatible version.

Click below for a full screen 360° view of the scene with Flash, to read more on Wikipedia, to see the location in Google Earth, or to view an iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch compatible version.

Hyperboloid Towers of Dub

I’ve always wanted to get inside a cooling tower: those curved iconic structures indelibly associated with power stations. The nearest I got was a couple of years ago when I shot the soon-to-be destroyed towers near Meadowhall from the viaduct nearby. I sadly discounted ever being able to climb inside one of these giant structures, assuming that health & safety and security concerns would rule out any exploratory access…

So you can probably imagine my excitement when a few months ago I read there was a disused and decommissioned power station near Doncaster – Thorpe Marsh – where almost everything bar the six cooling towers had been demolished. These remained due to concerns that demolition could threaten the safety of nearby canal walls. More recently I happened to be driving up the A1 and as I neared the turn-off for Doncaster the rainclouds parted, and provided the opportunity for a little exploration. Fortune smiled, so I turned off and headed to Thorpe Marsh.

The site itself is rather eerie: these towers are truly massive and you you approach they loom up and over you almost impossibly. Getting inside wasn’t hard, but was very spooky. Every noise, from the klaxons on the nearby level crossing, to the crackle of what I presume was heat-proof lining blowing slowly around the floor, echoed and swirled around me. I was convinced somebody was walking behind me at one point. You’ve never heard echoes and reverberations like it: the sound fades and then seems to almost be amplified again as it circles back towards you. Even the click of the camera shutter sounded like a pebble being thrown down a well, amplified and exaggerated dramatically.

I love looking up in this shot, eyes drawn inexorably to the darkening skies above, framed by the aperture of the tower opening. As you’d expect there’s a vast dynamic light range between inside and out: this was shot with a six exposure bracketed sequence and tweaked in post to give some idea of the drama of the scene. Amazing place!

Click below for a full screen 360° view of the scene with Flash, to read more on Wikipedia, to see the location in Google Earth, or to view an iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch compatible version.

Sunshine at the top of Cragg Vale; England’s longest continuous gradient

Perfect driving (or riding) conditions on the top of the Pennines…  magic light over the moors on a gorgeous warm evening. The heather caught the sun, the clouds added just enough contrast for drama, and bumblebees hummed around, enjoying the late start to springtime this year.

This is where Blackstone Edge Road becomes Turvin Road at the top of Cragg Vale on the boundaries of West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester: this stretch of road is England’s longest continuous gradient. I’ve yet to freewheel down it on my bike, but on an evening like this I’m sure it’d be glorious… and much more enjoyable than the long, slow slog it’d be to climb it!

OakleyView for iPad and iPhone

I chose this location to capture a commission for an iOS app by Oakley, OakleyView, showing off the high-end eyewear manufacturer’s products for different sports and conditions. As this is one of the best country roads around for cycling or motorbiking it was a perfect candidate for the job.

(Update 2014) It was serendipitous to choose this spot to represent a great cycling route; in July 2014 this was one of the climbs on the second stage of the Tour de France. You can see a panorama of all the action further down the road in Ripponden on the day by clicking here…

Snow flurries, working class heritage

I’d previously shot part of this street for an album in 2007, and had been perversely fascinated by the soulessness of the metal grills covering the windows and doors. It saddens me that so many streets like this, in the working class districts of proud cities like Manchester, Salford and Liverpool, now lie abandoned and neglected.

This is partly due to the preference of local councils to claim valuable funds from central government to promote new developments, rather than renew and renovate existing areas. The trouble is that these streets, and the communities within them, have survived for generations: providing succour, security and shelter close to the city centre. They weren’t perfect, but have the potential to be updated and reinvigorated much more cost-effectively than new developments, and without disrupting the social fabric of these areas.

This meek snow flurry heralded the start of a heavy week of snow … captured in the snapshot of a flash just as the natural light disappeared behind the gloom.

Click below for a fullscreen 360° view of the scene in Flash or QuickTime format, or locate the scene in Google Earth.