Sunday, 27 February 2011

The Old and the New - Manchester Photography Walk

To buck the trend of recent posts, this one is bang up to date! Yesterday I went for a wander round Manchester on an organised photographic walk. And it was a real mixture, from the new chic canal-side apartments to the derelict factories of a bye-gone era. But this gave some fantastic opportunities to show the juxtaposition of old and new ....

I've not done an organised walk like this before, but when Paul Turri, a photographer I met at Bright Lights Studio, posted this event on his Facebook page I thought 'why not?'. So, a quick drive up to Manchester (through rain, fog and more rain - this is going to be a fun day I thought!) I arrived at Paul's to see blue skies (the forecasters got it right!!). What should have been a short tram ride, but was in fact a long replacement bus service ride, into Manchester, we met the other members of our party at our start point - Dukes 92.

Ready for the off
And quite a group it was - I think there were twelve of us (but there could have been more) and I was introduced to them all - I forgot most of the names straight away but I do remember there being a few Pauls!! So, watered and welcomed we set off.

We started along the canal towpath, heading from Dukes in towards Manchester City Centre. Paul T had done his homework and gave us a 'tour guide' commentary as we progressed, though others we equally knowledgeable (I doubt I could say as much about Birmingham!). Anyway, along the canal we saw the long gone past life of Manchester through the derelict and decaying buildings, and we saw the new life springing from the apartment blocks, bars and cafes taking their place.

Through the middle of it all runs the canal; the locks gave an opportunity to shoot some of those long exposure 'silky water' shots - I used ND filters to give 10 second exposure times. While doing this I found a useful, unexpected feature with the EOS 7D - focusing in low light with the ND filters fitted is tricky to say the least, so I tend to remove them (I use the square slot-in rather than screw on type so they're quick to remove) - but I found by chance that putting the camera into video mode meant I could autofocus easier then switch back to stills mode for the shot (don't forget to switch to manual focus first).

Continuing along the towpath it was hard to imagine the hustle of the City Centre was only a short hop away - it really was very tranquil.  Eventually we emerged onto Canal Street (wonder where they got that name from) for a quick break in one of the bars in the Gay Village. 

It was here the statue celebrating the life of Alan Mathison Turing was situated, the mathematician and computer scientist who was highly influential in the development of computer science, and who worked for the war time Government devising techniques for breaking German ciphers including the Enigma machine.  Turing admitted to being homosexual which resulted in a criminal prosecution in 1952, and died in 1954 from cyanide poisoning, several weeks before his 42nd birthday. He was found with a half-eaten apple beside his bed, and the statue shows him holding an apple (it is speculated that this was the means by which a fatal dose of cyanide was delivered, his cause of death determined as suicide).

Alan Mathison Turing

Continuing along Canal Street we rejoined the canal itself heading underground at one point, reflections making interesting patterns along the roof of the canal, before emerging in Piccadilly basin.

Over ground now we made our way to Piccadilly Gardens, encountering a Hen Party starting very early for a good night out.  Our party scattered throughout the area for a bit of people watching, before calling it a day as the light began to fade. 


We found respite in a bar for a quick drink before I grabbed a taxi back to Paul's (I couldn't face another hour-long bus journey) and made the journey home.  All in all a good day, though progress was slow as we stopped and 'smelt the coffee' (and then drank it) while taking in the views at almost every opportunity – but this made you look around rather than just walking by.

I look forward to the next one.