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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.

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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

Radiance, revisited…

Last spring I shot Hannah Nunn’s wonderful shop, Radiance, at night. The result was one of my favourite panoramas of last year: Hannah agreed, and featured it on the shop website. However this spring, Radiance moved to premises closer to the centre of Hebden Bridge: the move provided a great excuse to go back to the shop and reshoot. Rather handy as I’ve recently starting shooting more HDR subjects and have upgraded pretty much my whole rig since last year.

I love the new shop: the larger display area gives more breathing space to the designs of the many artists and craftspeople whose work grace the walls and ceilings. The new site is right in the middle of Market Street, so there’s lots more footfall from interested visitors to Hebden, especially during this 500th anniversary of the town.

It’s also the perfect subject for high dynamic photography, and a great challenge to capture the delicate details and colours. Last time I shot five exposures before enfusing and tone-mapping: this time I’ve shot nine exposures, which goes somewhat further towards eliminating burnout in the highlights and muddiness in the shadows. Of course that’s the geek in me talking, the aesthete simply loves the composition and variety within the scene… fabulous designs and such a range of shapes and colours!

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

Craft, design and wool…

This is the wonderful Manchester Craft and Design Centre, a creative jewel set in the centre of Manchester’s Northern Quarter. It’s one of my favourite places to look for unique gifts and goodies from a range of talented artists and craftspeople in the North West. The building’s a gem as well, formerly home to the Manchester Poultry and Fish Market.

Incidentally, the profusion of brightly-coloured woolen accoutrements along the balcony are part of an installation called Yarnbombing, by Salford-based collaborative project Art Yarn.

Click below for a fullscreen 360° view of the scene in Flash, or for more info in Google Earth.

Looking around Harry’s cycle shop in Tod

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They say smell is the most powerful sense for evoking memories: when I first popped into Harry’s Bikeshop the homely aromas transported me straight back to my childhood. The olfactory sensations of oils, rubber, steel, leather and stonework reminded me of old workshops and hours spent cleaning and maintaining my bikes; the randomly ordered bicycles and parts were equally appealling to the eye. I was only there to get my chain replaced, but the experience stayed fresh in my mind for some time. Obviously time to ask the owner’s permission to shoot a panorama…

There’s so much detail and history in this small shop: years of skill, knowledge, tradesmanship and, well… just stuff everywhere,  creating a delightful visual experience. Workshops and studios tend to reflect the trade and character of the people who work in them, creating a fascinating combination of the professional and personal. Thanks to Harry Ingham (and his cat, who seemed determined to get in all the shots). Finally, special mention must go to the ultimate 70s cult bike… a beautifully restored orange Chopper in the foreground of the shot… absolutely classic.

Click below for a fullscreen 360° view of the scene in Flash, or for more info in Google Earth.

Sheffield. Bleep. Techno.

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For three days only, the legendary Warp Records shop is back in Sheffield. Bleep and Warp have returned to their former hometown in the Steel City and taken over a unit in the Forum as part of the Warp 20 celebrations. The shop’s selling lots of exclusive goodies, showing various artifacts from the Warp archives (check the Aphex Twin mask in the glass cabinet) and acting as a focal point for the weekend’s events. There are also exclusive sets from Warp artists here throughout the weekend.

I got the chance to shot a couple of 360°s of the store when it opened on Friday; it’s a perfect space for panoramic photography. To quote Nightmares on Wax’s seminal track Aftermath, “there’s something going round inside my head; I think it’s something I feel. It’s something unreal…” This, however, is perfectly real. Explore the shop in 360° by clicking the Flash logo below.

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Thanks to the guys at Warp and Bleep for their support and collaboration, allowing me to capture this little moment of history.