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Introducing the Manchester Mega-Photo at Urbis

The Manchester Mega-Photo is a gigantic photocollage of Manchester city centre and the conurbation beyond to the north and north east.It was taken from the roof of the Beetham Hilton Tower and and consists of 285 overlapping poster size prints arranged in 'Hockneyesque' style.


The Manchester Mega-Photo is sponsored by

In terms of its dimensions and level of detail, I believe that it is the biggest photograph of Manchester or any British city ever taken.

It both massive in physical dimensions - 27 feet wide by 10 feet high (8.3 x 3m), and massive in detail. Each image was captured with a 12 megapixel Fuji Finepix S3 camera and 300mm Nikkor zoom lens (effectively 450mm).

Using Adobe Photoshop, each image of 4256 x 2848 pixels was enhanced, rotated to obtain exact verticals and cropped to 4000x2666. Each print is around 21.5 x 14 inches (54.8 x 36.5 cm), printed onto high quality matt paper by Manchester-based printers stroon.

The visible surface area presents an image equivalent to 1.2 gigapixels, or 60,000 x 22,200 pixels. Please note in its present form, it isn't a single digital image but 285 separate photographs which together form one single continous image.

The Manchester Mega-Photo will be displayed in the foyer of Urbis from 4 July 2008.

Visitors are invited to walk up to the image, study the fine detail and point to items of interest.

Each of the 285 prints contains a wealth of detail, from people on the street in the city centre to individual houses on the Pennines. Many of the main landmarks of the city centre can be seen, including the CIS Tower, the Wheel of Manchester, No 1 Deangsate and many others. In the distance, Heaton Hall, the Seven Sisters flats in Rochdale can clearly be seen.

To experience fully the visual impact of an image of this scale and detail, you have to go and see it.

Please note, a regular billboard ad is just a normal sized photo blown up larger dimensions. W|th a typical resolution of around 10 pixels per inch, it is designed to be viewed from a distance. The Manchester Mega-Photo has a resolution of 185 pixels per inch and can be viewed with a magnifying glass.

I took the photo from the roof of the Beetham Hilton Tower on Friday 10 February 2006, with the kind co-operation of Carillion Construction. I had been planning to capture a mega-size photo of Manchester for some time, and as the weather and visibility were very good on that day, I decided to go ahead with it.

I waited more than two years for the opportunity to exhibit the work. That opportunity was provided in summer 2008 by Urbis, Manchester's museum of the city.

My aim has always been to capture and celebrate the changing face of Manchester. Since I took the Mega-Photo, many changes have taken place. I invite people to look closely at the image and pick out the changes for themselves.

The Manchester Mega-Photo is a visual celebration of Manchester city centre, and provides a remarkable perspective on north Manchester and the north Greater Manchester region beyond. The area covered is around 150 square miles (370 square kilometres) covering parts of Salford, Bury, Rossendale, Rochdale and Oldham, as well as the City of Manchester.

The image will be displayed in the foyer of Urbis for at least six months. Sponsorship is being finalised. Opportunities may still be available.

With the Manchester Mega-Photo, I have tried to push back the boundaries of vision and scale to make a new kind of photographic art. It's the single most exciting photo project I've ever undertaken, and represents a landmark in the depiction and documentation of Manchester.

Written by Aidan O'Rourke
Posted/Updated 2008-06-30

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