#476 – Telamon (Temple Hall) Shipwreck, Lanzarote 3

Last look at the Telamon, with a few in monochrome. I’d taken my ND filters to try some long exposures, as the weather forecast was for cloud. However it was a trifle windy and by the time I got there, the clouds had cleared but the wind hadn’t dropped, which didn’t make for ideal conditions for the long exposures I had in mind.

To get some ideas of what was there, I did some research on Flickr and Instagram before travelling. This gave me a few ideas for compositions (such as the one below), while with the others, I used the long end of my 18-55 lens to compress perspective and also get in close. 

I deliberately chopped the stern off the first image to emphasise the wedge shape of the ships remains, and the second image works equally well in colour or monochrome. That’s the beauty of monochrome, the entire nature of the image changes, as the colour is removed the emphasis becomes more one textures, lines, shapes and tones.

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#470 – Best of 2016 part 3

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So a (belated) third part to my 2016 retrospective continues with a quick look at Mutual Mills in Heywood – not an explore, more a drive by as I was in the area. I’ve a few more from the Manchester area that I’ve not yet got round to posting up – I’ll put these up some time this year (they’re also in this gallery on www.theviewfromthenorth.org)

I last visited Chatterley Whitfield in 2007, and not much has changed, except you can’t go in the bath house now, which is a shame.

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Gas holders are an increasingly rare sight in Britain now, and this one in Burnley was in the middle of demolition when I had a quick look.

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I was pleased to visit English Fine Cottons to have a look round their impressive mill. While the textile industry hasn’t died in manchester, it’s a fraction of the size it once was, so to see a spinning mill re-opening was a real treat.

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And finally the year ended with a trip back to Grove Rake, a place that unlike Chatterley Whitfield, had changed quite a lot since my first visit in 2008.

Finally, I published the second edition of Shadows of the North, on sale here if you are interested!

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So, quite a productive year, more so than the previous few! What will 2017 bring……?

#468 – Best of 2016 part 1

So, it’s a few years since I did this, but as 2016 has been a productive year photographically, I think it’s time for a retrospective.

I guess it’s down to the fact that over the past few years I’ve been busy with my career and family has meant that taking photographs has not been a priority, but a combination of opportunities, a change of job and my daughter becoming more independent has freed up a little more time to take pictures rather than just write about them and reprocessing old ones!

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Rossendale Mills – I spent some time looking at the remaining mills in Rossendale, nothing really stood out photographically, but I do like the fact that in an age of meaningless company names and branding, there is still a business called the Lancashire Sock Manufacturing Company.

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Next up was Albert Mill in Haslingden, which I wanted to photograph in the mist, but by the time I got there it had started to lift. I opted for a different look in post processing and made them very high contrast instead of the misty low contrast I had in mind if the weather had held.

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And then over to Brierfield for a mooch around Brierfield Mill, just before redevelopment work started. It’s not always easy to photograph a building that is totally stripped, and this was no exception – 400000 square feet of nowt, but I managed to get a few good ‘uns I think.

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Finally, a bit further up the road is Colne, another old declining mill town. 

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#465 – Shadows of the North Second Edition now on sale!!

I am pleased to announce that having sold out the first run of Shadows of The North, I have produced an expanded second edition, with many new photographs from 2016 including Brierfield Mill, Hope Mill, Ancoats and several others. I’ve also had a shuffle round of the existing images.

The book is now 94 pages (up from 70), and as such I’ve had to increase the cost slightly to £15.

While I was extremely proud of the first book, I think that the second edition is even better, and the book feels more complete and better structured, thanks to the addition of the new photographs and the lessons I’ve learnt in putting books together.

I hope you’ll take a look at the sample and if you like it, please buy a copy!

http://mechanicallandscapes.selz.com/

#457 – Scunthorpe steelworks revisited

DSC_3431While the photographs I present on my websites etc are often heavily processed, they are all ‘straight’ pictures. Recently though, I have been experimenting with textures to see if the addition of these to an image can bring something else to it.DSC_3529

For this experiment, I selected my images of the steelworks at Scunthorpe, a set I took on a tour of the works in 2009. I wondered if the addition of textures would enhance the surreal feeling that surrounds the site – certainly straight out of camera pictures didn’t do justice although the monochrome versions in high contrast were an improvement. I also wanted to give the feeling of a journey of sorts, as they were taken from a train that was moving round the works. I was loosely inspired by the opening sequences of modern TV drama series such as Homeland and Deutschland 83, although I had a fixed number of images and couldn’t go back and shoot more to fill in any gaps in the narrative that I wanted to establish.DSC_3473

Starting with a monochrome version of the original image, I downloaded a texture from the internet, and then created a layer in Photoshop. I then adjusted the opacity and layer type.DSC_3486

I’ve put them all together into a short slideshow on YouTube, but the main output has been a small handmade book of prints – I still prefer the physicality of printed matter!

#456 – Mutual Mills

In 1965, Mutual Mills had more than 1,000 people on the payroll and, as well as its textiles operation, had its own Adelaide Engineering division on site (who are still active on site as a sub-contract machining operation).

In the 1970s and early 1980s, Heywood’s textile mills were closing down at a rapid rate, blaming cheap foreign imports for their demise.

But Mutual Mills struggled on, though steadily reducing its workforce.

The death knell was sounded in 1986 when one of the four mills in the complex was sold off, followed by further job losses and the end of the town’s last surviving cotton spinning firm.

The mills appear to be in multiple occupation, but while there is interest in converting them into apartments, nothing appears to have got off the ground yet. The mills are listed and are one of the few complete remaining large complexes of mills left with most having been partially or completely demolished over the past half century.

http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/local-news/mill-site-flat-plans-1043221

Two of the mills are currently for sale for £1.6million

 

#462 – Book Review – The Rouge by Michael Kenna

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I’ve had a long fascination with the steel industry. Where this stems from I don’t know, possibly from my time at technical college learning metallurgy from a former British Steel metallurgist, and getting my head round such terms as Jominy End Quench, and other such stuff. The attraction of the photography of Michael Kenna is maybe easier to explain, it has a wonderful air of stillness about it, regardless of the subject matter. So I’ve been on the lookout for an affordably priced copy of his book ‘The Rouge’ for some years, a task not made easier by his relatively low profile in the UK, which is a shame because he is a Lancashire lad from Widnes (although he moved to the USA in the 1980’s).

The Rouge is a set of photographs taken around the Rouge steel plant in Detroit. Kenna was given the kind of access a mere mortal like myself could only dream of.

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Kenna’s style is all about stillness, and he carries this style into all his work, irrespective of the subject matter. To that end, he has chosen to capture predominantly external scenes rather than the controlled anarchy of the interior. It would have been interesting to have seen how he interpreted the dynamic, primal energy of the interior of the mills in his quiet, reflective style.

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I actually have two editions of this book. I’d been after a copy for a while, but the cost of his out of print books is scary. However, I sourced a copy in the USA for an almost palatable sum and bit the bullet. After a comedy of errors involving the postal services that resulted in the book making two transatlantic crossings, the book finally arrived for my enjoyment. And then less than two months later, I discovered that the book had been reprinted, with more pictures and a new essay. And for less than I’d paid for the 20 year old copy.

Naturally, I bought a copy of the new edition as well and was rewarded with not only a better book than the original, but one that I suspect was how the photographer wanted it first time round.

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One major change was the removal of the detailed captions from the side of the images in the original book. I was in two minds about this idea in the first edition. Does having a brief description of what the scene depicts take away some of the mystique? The manufacturing engineer in me (I have a degree in the subject) finds this hugely informative, but the photographer in me finds it a distraction that takes away not only the mystique but also the opportunity for the viewer to interpret the image. I suspect that this was a condition of access and cooperation from Ford, as none of his other books have similar captions. On balance, I prefer the new captionless approach.

The second edition also contains 50 more photographs, and has much improved reproduction. The first one wasn’t bad, but the new one has benefitted from advances in printing technology over the intervening period. A gallery of these photographs can be found here: http://www.michaelkenna.net/gallery.php?id=36

Finally, the new book also has a new opening essay by James Christen Steward, Director of the the Princeton University Art Museum, which is an interesting assessment of Kenna’s career, style and industrial landscape photography.

If I’d known that the book was going to be reprinted, I’d certainly not have bothered with the original. It’s still a good book, but the new version is a much better book and I’ve no qualms in recommending it to anyone who either has the original or doesn’t.

If you’re interested, I’d recommend buying a copy sooner rather than later, as Michael Kenna books can sell out and be very expensive second hand (as I’ve found out in the past). It can be bought on Amazon here.