Celebrating the bicentennial of Stoodley Pike monument

A gathering to celebrate the bicentennial of Stoodley Pike monument, on the highest part of Langfield Common, overlooking Todmorden. The original monument was inspired by the Treaty of Paris in 1814, and as such it (or at least the stone monument which now stands in its place) is listed as one of the oldest towers in the world dedicated to peace. You can view one of my previous panoramas from the monument, during the lighting of a beacon for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, here.

This celebration included music from Todmorden Community Brass Band and the Handmade Samba band; giant puppets from Thingumajig, and a mayoral speech. There was a great party atmosphere, and the weather was uncharacteristically sunny. The celebration was especially apposite for Anglo-French relations because, as well as the monument standing testament to almost two centuries of peace between Britain and France, the party included a gathering of visitors from Todmorden’s twin town, Ronq in France; and all this occurs in the same year as the world’s most famous cycle race comes to Yorkshire, with the Tour de France Grand Départ 2014. Vive l’entente cordiale!

The finale of the celebration was the release of two hundred homing pigeons from the parapet of the monument… this panorama captures the moment they flew away into the distance over the crowd.


Pace Egg play performance at Heptonstall

One of the Calder Valley’s most popular folk attractions is the annual Pace Egg Play. Its origins are now lost in the mists of time, but it continues delight generation after generation with a delightfully haphazard mix of performance, audience interaction and comedy. Revived in 1979 after a brief hiatus, the roots of Pace Egging hark back to before the 1500s, and are quite different across the north of England. In many towns the tradition has died out, but it’s still performed in the upper valley by players from Hepstonstall, and Calder Valley High at Mytholmroyd…

Clog-wearing players perform well-trodden routines and well-loved lines to an appreciative (and increasingly merry) audience in Weaver’s Square, Heptonstall, on the hill above Hebden Bridge in Calderdale. The central theme is a bit hazy, but involves St George and a host of others; a degree of pantomime theatre; some swordplay; and a healthy amount of ale-swigging.

It’s always a bonus when the sun’s out on Good Friday, and the audience numbers were swollen for this, the final performance of the day. As the players tend to retire to one or other of Heptonstall’s hostelries between stagings for some well-earned liquid refreshment, this was a glorious mix of ad-libbed responses, fluid moves and the occasional flubbed line, all being embraced and egged on by the audience. “Mince pies hot, mince pies cold; mince pies in the jar, nine days old…”

There’s much more information on the Pace Egg play here


Keeping it local… Made in Tod

Keeping it local, I managed to make the most of a brief window in the weather and shoot a couple of panoramas on my doorstep in Todmorden this weekend.

Panoramic view of Todmorden outdoor market

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

Firstly, the outdoor market under some welcome blue skies. We’re lucky to still have an active indoor and outdoor market, unlike many similar-sized towns nearby. Although it faces increased competition from faceless supermarkets encroaching on the area, Tod market provides a great selection of goods & foodstuffs for local consumers. Campaigns such as Incredible Edible Todmorden have proudly promoted locally produced and sourced products, tying this in with greater awareness and action about the welfare and sustainability of foodstuffs.

The panorama below shows four traders, all of whom sell superb fresh local and regional produce. In the marquee you can see local free range pork farmers Porcus serving up one of their amazing rare breed hog roasts, and as you pan around you’ll see Paul the fishmonger (bringing fish direct from Fleetwood), Christine from CN Produce (who sells Porcus bacon and sausages amongst other regional delights) and Hazelwood’s greengrocers. Definitely the best place to shop in the town… totally local, and great value!

Incidentally, here’s a timelapse video I shot of a previous Porcus hog roast in Rawtenstall last year…

Secondly, inside Todmorden’s glorious Victorian Town Hall (which I originally shot back in 2008), was the annual Made in Tod show, organised by Todmorden Business Association to showcase local companies and producers. The event was well attended, and I decided to take capture this panorama from high above the exhibitors, using an aerial pole rig. I particularly like the ‘mirrorball’ view below, which provides a unique perspective on the event…

Panoramic view of the Made in Tod show 2012, inside Todmorden Town Hall

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


Mirrorball panoramic view of the Made in Tod 2012 show



Sunset, snow… and the ‘Rude Stone’


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.

Read more

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.

Read more