And that's all thanks to Manchester photographer Aidan O'Rourke who joins us this morning.
A very good morning to you. And you're the chap responsible for the rather stunning photograph we've
got in the Foyer here at the Urbis, the Manchester Megaphoto, we've got some pictures there.
It's wonderful. How did this come about then, Aidan?
Well, I was invited to go up the Beetham Tower while it was under construction and I took
the opportunity to do a project which I'd been planning for quite some years, because
I've been interested in digital photography since 1994, and I'd always had this idea of
taking a multiple digital photograph with huge amount of detail. I was looking for the
right subject and the view of the Manchester cityscape from the Beetham tower was the ideal
subject. So I went ahead and took one, and I say one, it was one photograph but it consisted
of 860 photographs. So 860 photographs taken with the zoom lens.
Right. So how do you do that? Are you very still then shot shot shot shot shot or...
Yes, that's basically it. I tried using the tripod first but I couldn't really set it
up properly, as I didn't have enough control over the camera, so I just got rid of the
tripod and just did it hand held. So, I started at the top left corner on the horizon, on
the hills above Bury and just went in columns down and then the next column and the next
column and so on until I'd completed a roughly 180 degree panorama. And for Urbis we used
a section of that, because if we'd actually done the whole panorama that I took, it would
be three times the width of what's there. There's a possibility, maybe in the future,
of doing the full width. What you're seeing is a 90 degree panorama.
Now, the fascinating thing about that picture and I suppose about Manchester as well is
that piccie was taken in 2006, and just having a look at it now it's interesting to see the
dramatic changes since, already, the ever changing face of the cityscape of Manchester.
It's frightening isn't it?
Yes, yes, one of the most obvious things on the right hand side is City Tower has since
been painted white, that's quite striking. Many of the buildings that were under construction
at the time have now been completed, like West Properties' Skyline Central, that's visible,
Tempus Tower on the left, the Great Northern Tower in the foreground, they've all been
completed. And then there are other things as well. And one of the most striking things
if you look at now at the same scene in the top left land corner on the hills is the wind
farm Scout Moor Wind Farm.
So have you plans to do another one then? Are you going to follow this over a couple
of years? Take the same again?
Yes, I think that would be a good idea, yes. I'd like to do different views as well. Yes.
I think it's a fantastic way of archiving Manchester's changing city scene, but I mean,
I love the view from Beetham Tower I think it's fantastic. It's just unfortunate that
the majority of people won't be able to get to see it because that bar area is not open until
the evening. So it's not until night time that they can get there and have a look.
This is the view from the roof of course, which you don't normally have access to and
it's such a shame that Manchester doesn't have a proper observation tower like Toronto
or New York or whatever, and I think that's something we really need, a place where you
can look at Manchester
Definitely, cause it's so beautiful, even though in a standard size photograph you'd
see it's a stunning view but the detail in which your photographs allows us to see things,
it's really fascinating.
You probably walk past it every day and little do you know how beautiful it is.
Is this your stock-in-trade Aidan, landscapes?
Well, I've photographed Manchester and other cities since 1996 and I'm mainly interested
in all aspects of the city, the architecture, street scenes, transport, everything that
you see out and about when you're walking through the city.
We've got some of your work here now on the screen.
It's like a film.
Yes, that's Mancunian Way at dusk
It actually looks glamorous!
It does, doesn't it? It could be Hong Kong or somewhere...
That's the River Irwell taken 1998.
That could be 1908!
It could, couldn't it?
Do you have a favourite or a favourite place around Manchester, Greater Manchester, to
take a photograph perhaps a hidden gem?
Well, my favourite place around the Greater Manchester area would be the city centre.
There's a large concentration of interesting things there and it's familiar to everybody,
but I also like taking landscapes as well.
Absolutely, I mean, Urbis there and then immediately opposite you've got Chetham's School of Music
which is ancient. We've got the John Rylands Library next to the brand new Bank of Scotland,
the juxtaposition is fantastic.
I like all that, I like the contrasts and the fact that it's changing, there's always
something new. And also lots of buildings disappearing unfortunately, and I try and
capture as many as I can, but don't always manage it
Well Aidan your Megaphoto's going to be here in the foyer of Urbis hopefully until January,
so people can come and see this any time they like, it's absolutely free to have a look at
and it's a fascinating view of our city. But what's the next for you? Nikki touched on it a little bit earlier.
Well, I'm hoping to do more megaphotos and basically continue what I've been doing, which
is photographing the ongoing development of Manchester.
Excellent, we've got your website on screen, for more information you can go and see the
rest of your work there.
Thank you very much for coming in.
Thanks very much for inviting me.
And thanks very much for the picture because it does make a very pleasant walk into work
in the morning.
It does indeed!
I'm glad to hear that!
Thank you very much.