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Manchester: The Really Really Big Picture

Aidan O’Rourke’s massive new picture of Manchester at Urbis puts us all in focus

Published on June 30th 2008.

Manchester: The Really Really Big Picture

Aidan O’Rourke’s seems to have been visualising Manchester since the Jurassic Age, around 150m years in fact. He’s a grand fella and a dab hand with a camera.

"You get all the city centre landmarks as well as the surrounding hills and details from the surrounding towns. Here’s a nice little game: see if you can identify Manchester Central Library, the CIS Tower, No 1 Deansgate, Strangeways Prison and the Wheel of Manchester."

Now, from Friday 4 July, his biggest work is about to adorn Urbis. It’s about the size of...Belgium. Maybe Luxembourg.

Called reasonably enough the Manchester Mega-Photo, it’s an over-developed (not photographically, of course) monster at 10ft high by 27ft wide, made up of a hyper-active 285 single, overlapping poster prints, presented in a Hockney-esque style, with each individual print measuring 14 by 21.5 inches..

The clarity and detail is amazing, showing not only buildings but bus stops, pedestrians and builders. You can even see one of our food reviewers, Gordo, reading recipes, naked on his balcony. Well, maybe not. Thank God.

The pics were taken a couple of years ago at the topmost tip of Beetham Tower from 520ft - which means it misses the wonderful refurb of City Tower (nee Sunley Tower of Piccadilly Plaza). The view opens to the north and north east across the city centre and covers an area of around 150 sq miles.

You get all the city centre landmarks, Greater Manchester towns such as Oldham, and the surrounding hills.

Here’s a nice little game: see if you can identify Manchester Central Library, the CIS Tower, No 1 Deansgate, Strangeways Prison and the Wheel of Manchester. For a bigger challenge try and spot the domes of the Barton Arcade, the portico of Manchester Art Gallery and the Temple of the Winds at Heaton Park.

Click to enlarge

One major part of the view has changed. The 300ft mega wind farm turbines on Scout Moor, the hills to the left background of the pic, have now been built. The hills they bother have looked pretty much the same as they do on this montage – wild in other words - for hundreds of years. Now we have a power station in the sky for the sake of a few light bulbs in Bury.

We’re going to publish an article very soon on Confidential about Scout Moor, weighing the positives and the negatives, the energy produced, the energy needed to build and operate the turbines, their potential life and their visual and physical impact on the landscape.

But back to the picture.

Here are the technicals - look away now if this sort of thing bores you. Aidan took the hand-held pictures on a Fuji Finepix S3 digital SLR and a Nikkor 75-300mm zoom lens. Both items are available for under £1500 in any High Street or internet camera store. No specialist equipment was used. The visible surface area represents an image equivalent to around 1200 million pixels in size, approximately 120 times the power and resolution of a standard 10 megapixel digital camera. Each print has a resolution of 185 pixels per inch. A typical billboard advert has a resolution of around 10 pixels per inch.

In other words loads of detail. Get thee along to Urbis and enjoy.

Urbis is at Cathedral Gardens in the city centre. Call them on 0161 605 8200 or look them up at www.urbis.org.uk

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