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Buy Art Fair / The Manchester Contemporary, Spinningfields

The North’s biggest art fairs return to Manchester! Thursday evening saw preview evenings at both Buy Art Fair, and The Manchester Contemporary: their busiest and best ever.

Despite a rainy day, the weather behaved itself properly as guests streamed into the bespoke marquee set up in Manchester’s Spinningfields, and Quay House, to view the biggest selection of contemporary art either exhibition has yet displayed. Both events ran until Sunday 30th September.

We captured a range of 360° panoramic views of the opening evening and over the weekend: whether you were there with us, or if you couldn’t make it in person, you can now experience the thrill of both exhibitions virtually.

[Update] The organisers have revealed the whole weekend was a colossal success: the number of visitors, and the volume of art sales to those visitors, was up significantly on any previous year. Over 7000 unique visitors across four days… another example to suggest Manchester can claim to be second only to London in terms of both audience receptiveness and cultural significance.

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

Exterior aerial view of the Buy Art Fair marquee, showing the last rays of sunset lighting the sky above Spinningfields

The entrance area of Buy Art Fair 2012 marquee in Spinningfields

Buy Art Fair marquee – rear of marquee with photographer Bill Ward and a selection of his work, as well as the band

The Manchester Contemporary – busy scenes in Room 1 on the opening night

The Manchester Contemporary – Ceri Hand Gallery, Conway, Anne-Marie Ros Projects – NL in Room 3 on the opening night

The Manchester Contemporary – Rokeby in Room 2 on the opening night

The Manchester Contemporary – The International 3 in Room 2 on the opening night

Exterior aerial view of the Buy Art Fair marquee on Saturday, with sun breaking out over Spinningfields

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The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee beacon on Stoodley Pike near Todmorden

Click/tap the image above to view a panoramic 360° view of the scene in your browser. Select the icon on the beacon itself to toggle between a lit and unlit scene. Enjoy the view!

It’s been an especially long weekend in the UK, with two extra days holiday to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and it seems as if most of the country’s taken it to heart as an excuse for an extended party. Me too, but the crowning glory for me was seeing our local Jubilee beacon lit at dusk on the hills above Todmorden.

I only found out by chance on the day that the nearest Jubilee beacon would be at Stoodley Pike, a favourite vantage point overlooking the Calder Valley. As I read the details a couple of hours before it was due to be lit, there was a slight drizzle outside, so I was unsure if I’d be rewarded with a spectacular view if I climbed up to the monument.

However by 8pm the evening sun was glorious – a perfect example of the photographer’s golden hour  – and I decided it’d be well worth a drive and climb to capture a couple of my 360° panoramas as the beacon was set alight. I’d already had a busy day in Todmorden, photographing the Pollination Parade, and thought it’d be perfect to round everything with a bit of exercise and a stunning view over the South Pennines.

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Sunset, snow… and the ‘Rude Stone’

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I only found out about this old stone cross last year when I was researching for another project. It stands on the hills between Todmorden and Cliviger, near the Lancashire/Yorkshire border. There’s some debate about how old Mount Cross actually is, with locals suggesting it may originally date from the 7th century, although other estimates date it from the 11th or 12th century. Either way, it’s the most ancient religious monument in the area, and may have stood weatherbeaten and resolute looking down the valley for close to a millenium. Pre-Schism, pre-enclosure, pre-industrial – there were still wild boar and wolves around back then – I imagine even in those days the silhouette of this priapic religious feature may’ve raised a smile or two, earning it the nickname of the ‘Rude Stone’.

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

Since shooting the video below (a short HDR timelapse of the sun setting here last year) I’ve harboured the desire to get back and capture a really stunning sky. One late Saturday afternoon, as the sun set quicker than the temperature, I grabbed a couple of DSLRs and set off up the hill. First I shot some bracketed stills, then, just as the sun dropped over the hills, captured this HDR 360° panorama.

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Spiegel: two views of a sculpture by Jaume Plensa

I shot a panorama of acclaimed Spanish artist Jaume Plensa’s ‘Dream’ in September 2009… the elegant, elongated girl’s head peering over the trees at the old colliery site at Sutton Manor captured my imagination, much as it does with thousands of drivers passing along the M62 everyday.

Two years later a major exhibition of his work opened at the ever-wonderful Yorkshire Sculpture Park: visiting it had been on my agenda for some time but I was waiting for the right kind of weather, and an appropriate window in my diary. Finally, just a few weeks before the exhibition ended, a wintery Saturday in January brought the kind of clear, cold calm which I’d craved. It’s hard to ignore the beauty which the light in the afternoon imbues on a cold landscape on a day like this… temporarily lighting up the landscape before fading, leaving only a hint of its former self smeared on the horizon.Perfect for shooting man-made artworks in an outdoor environment.

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

Pano ysp spiegel1 little planet

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

Evidently many others had the same idea… the park at West Bretton was heaving when we arrived, with hundreds of people enjoying the rolling parkland and interior exhibitions. The Plensa exhibition itself was revelatory: a good selection of new and existing piece spread throughout the grounds, and filling the underground gallery. The underground pieces were superb, but popular and therefore packed… so it was a relief to break into the crisp air again and stretch our legs, walking around the spacious parkland. After several hours wandering through the grounds, basking in the setting sun and shooting some wonderful HDR sequences (see the gallery below), we made our way back over the pastures in the almost-inky darkness towards the car park.

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Setting sun, rising stars… an HDR timelapse over Manchester

This dramatic timelapse was commissioned as part of the highlights video production for the recent Manchester International Festival. We’ve been working on extremely high-resolution timelapse footage for many years, specialising in capturing the subtleties and richness which conventional techniques cannot do justice to.

Working with long-term film partners Toasted Productions, Anti Limited shot this piece across the Manchester skyline, which you can watch as part of the MIF 2011 highlights film on the link below.

I’m pleased to announce it’s also been chosen to be incorporated into a regular broadcast feature on the digital ‘Community Channel’ in the UK, starting in November 2011. This, alongside some of Anti Limited’s other cutting-edge high dynamic range timelapse material, will feature in the credits for ‘UK360’, a news programme covering the whole country. Obviously we’re more than happy to be helping to represent the North West!

Special thanks to MIF for allowing this piece to be licensed by the non-for-profit Media Trust, so it will be seen by an even wider audience.