History of Fashion Photography – Page 3 – Norman Parkinson, Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Erwin Blumenfeld, Richard Avedon

Photographs by Norman Parkinson, Lillian Bassman and Louise Dahl-Wolfe

Fig 9-12

Norman Parkinson, (born in 1913) a contemporary of Beaton, also photographed the beau monde during the twenties and thirties, but, as he explains, with certain differences:

“I was hardly aware of other photographers’ work until I went to Harper’s, when I learnt about Steichen, Hoyningen-Huene, Durst and Beaton. But the women in their photographs were a rarefied few, an elitist handful. My women behaved quite differently – they drove cars, went shopping, had children and kicked the dog. I wanted to capture that side of women. I wanted them out in the fields jumping over the haycocks – I did not think they needed their knees bolted together. There was always room in a magazine for the scent-laden marble-floored studios with lilies falling out of great bowls of flowers. but there was also room for my sort of photography.”

(Norman Parkinson Lifework, page 35).

A good example of this type of portrayal are the next two pictures, both taken by Norman Parkinson in 1937. The first one (Fig. 9) has an irresistible quality of exuberance, 1930s style and femininity about it, but why is the image so successful? It would have been difficult to pose the models carefully, though the photographer might have asked them to ‘act out’ seeing someone on another boat, and waving.

In any case, the three poses are complementary, the left hand model is holding her left arm vertically, the middle one holding her left arm horizontally, index finger pointing upwards, the right hand model has a relaxed, leaning pose. The outstretched leg of the left hand model reaches over to the far side, close to the leaning model. The effect of the wind, the sense of movement and shifting balance, gives the image great dynamism, added to by the swathe of foam stretching from the bottom right to near the top left. But by what means was the photographer able to attain this pleasing arrangement in such unpredictable circumstances? Perhaps the gift of the photographer is to click the shutter exactly the right time:

“I was using, on location, my by-now faithful Graflex quarter plate camera, and was trying to make moving pictures with a still camera. many photographers who attempt this technique have come to realize that if you see on the ground glass the image you are striving for, and it is a moving or air-borne image, you are too late. The secret is to direct the shot and to have the luck to anticipate it. It was discovering that I had the exceptional good fortune to be able to do so that convinced me and I was hooked for all time on photography.”

(Norman Parkinson Life Work page 28)
Interestingly, the eyes of the middle model are exactly level with the horizon, and this is also a characteristic of the second picture by Norman Parkinson, showing a woman walking along a country track. The eyes are level with the horizon, adding an extra element of horizontality to the image. Again, the converging diagonals of the lane, going out of focus as they stretch into the distance give a sense of movement, added to by the brisk walk of the model. The pose is full of confidence. She looks directly to her right, along the line of the horizon, striding forward towards the camera.

The movement of the body and the texture of the material act together to dynamically portray the clothes.

A familiar and recurring issue in fashion photography, and perhaps photography in general, is the dichotomy between ‘realism’ and ‘artificiality’. At any one time, both have been in currency. The outdoor shots of Norman Parkinson were being made at about the same time as the posed and stylised studio works of Hoyningen-Huene. One photographer whose work was more at the romantic and impressionistic end of the spectrum was Lillian Bassman, a protégee of the legendary Alexei Brodovitch at Harpers, New York.

This image, (above, lower left) dating from 1949, and entitled ‘New York’, is timeless, almost contemporary in its look. With the depiction of a corset, we can see a return to more traditional, romantic vision of femininity. The image looks as if it was exposed sharp in the camera, but given a soft-focus effect at printing. There is slight double exposure, with probable use of a diffusing filter, or possibly an additional exposure was made out of focus. The pose has a sweeping sense of movement, the face and upper body are tipping forwards, the arms are pulling the strings backwards and upwards. The waist is tightly, painfully drawn in, to the extent that it looks unnaturally narrow. The tightness is contrasted with the looseness of the four hanging straps.

A moment is caught in time by the camera, a fleeting glimpse echoed by the reflection in the mirror.

At first the image looks primarily decorative, but in addition to beauty of form, a powerful feeling of constriction is expressed. Perhaps the fact that the photographer is female made her better able to empathise with how it feels to wear a corset.

Like Lillian Bassman, Louise Dahl-Wolfe also worked for Harpers Bazaar, and not long after her arrival at the magazine in 1935, was one of the first to use one-shot Kodachrome, which had just been brought onto the market. Many of her pictures feature swimwear fashion, and have a relaxed and luxurious feel, with tall, slim models in elegant, outstretched poses.

This shot by Louise Dahl-Wolfe (Fig. 12, above, lower right), made in 1950, has an attractive period feel due to the combined effect of the early fifties swimsuit style, and the yellowness of the colour balance, typical of early colour film. A familiar hallmark of this photographer is the reclining female model, the repeated curves of her body, and of the swimsuit material, set against the screen.

A rough division into vertical and horizontal thirds is visible. The bowl of fruit with tumbling exotic flowers recalls a still life. As if to contrast with the image by Hoyningen-Huene of the chic couple in swimsuits in an imaginary and unspecified location, this one is taken in a real-life place, as indicated by the map of Tunisia. The point of the star appears to indicate the exact place, a nice, cryptic touch.

The one photographer who more than any other came to symbolise the new direction which fashion photography took after the Second World War is Richard Avedon, who was born in 1923. He has been a leading figure in the world of photography since 1945, and is still active. He gained his first professional photographic experience in the Merchant Marine, taking ID photos. It was the innovative, ‘in-and-out-of-focus’ style of his shots of merchant seamen twins that caught the eye of Harper’s Bazaar art director Alexei Brodovitch, and persuaded him to try some fashion photos for the magazine. Soon, Avedon came to be regarded as the number one young photographer, creator of the ‘NewVision’.

Junior Bazaar, a separate edition, aimed at young people, ran for 3 years up till 1948, and featured a new brand of fresh and innovative photography, much of it contributed by Avedon. In its use of movement, the ‘in-and-out-of-focus’ effect, motion blur, cropping and the plain white background, we can see in this picture, (Fig.13 above top left) shot using Kodachrome, a startling break with many of the basic principles of photographers like Hoynignen-Huene, who by the time this photo was published, had given up fashion photography altogether.

Despite the apparently casual nature of the arrangement of the figures, the effect is very pleasing, and has a strong sense of circular, dance-like motion, a theme alluded to in the text. The profile of the model on the left forms a dark, chevron-like shape, pointing to the right – (the line of the back and rear of the dress forms a perfect arrow shape). The model is leaning back, looking up and laughing, whilst standing still, meanwhile the model further away is leaning forward, looking down whilst moving. The background model is looking down at the same angle as the foreground model is looking up. To balance the composition on the page, two leaf-shaped areas of dark colour have been added, again fitting in with the text. All in all, it is an attractive, vibrant image, which, at least in the case of the foreground model, shows off the clothes very well.

His style is described succinctly by Cecil Beaton and Gail Buckland:

“His pictures showed young ladies enjoying life to the full as they preened and jumped with joy in their Paris confections. Avedon’s photographs did not perhaps have technical perfection, and they were all the better for this, for they created the statement that he wished to make-of movement caught forever by his lens.”

The Magic Image, page 252

Fashion photos by Richard Avedon, Erwin Blumenfeld and David Bailey


Dovima with Elephants (Fig. 14 above right) is one of his most celebrated pictures. The image is well-crafted, but its main appeal seems to be that it was the first time anyone had taken a high fashion model together with elephants. It had a certain shock value. Richard Avedon’s modernism, had sweeping effect on photography, and there was a consequent rejection of the earlier, more ‘classical’ style:

“By 1945, Hoynignen-Huene’s stiff, formal poses, perfectly attuned to the Neo-classicism of the 1930’s, suddenly seemed anachronistic…The most devastating critique of Hoyningen-Huene’s photography was delivered in 1944 by Dr Agha (formerly Hoyningen-Huene’s art director at Vogue) who described it as ‘a cross between stagecraft, interior decoration, ballet and society portrait painting done by camera.’ ”

Perhaps there is a parallel with the Post War Modernism in other areas of creativity, such as architecture, where older styles were thrown out, to be replaced by bold, but in hindsight unsuccessful creations. I personally have a very high regard for the ‘classical style’ of the 1930’s but I also like the exuberance of the post war period. Each style has its place. No successful artist or photographer should be rejected because of the dictates of fashion. In a Post Modern age, all styles of the past are available in the present to be drawn on.

Erwin Blumenfeld (1897-1969) was an experimenter in photography, who made creative use of colour and lighting. This picture (Fig. 15 above lower left) shows a remarkable use of texture and colour. A finished print appears to have been rephotographed with a series of coloured transparent bars placed on top of it. The effect is to play tricks on the eye, forcing us to look more closely in order to try and make sense of what we are seeing.

As if to confuse matters further, curled strips of cellophane have been added. The incorrect, but very attractive colour balance, typical of early Kodachrome, adds to the image’s appeal. Though the model’s face is cut into a series of distorted vertical strips, she still manages to look beautiful, at least, our eyes are able to reconstruct her beauty by applying our innate knowledge – maybe if this image was presented to a computer facial recognition system, it mightn’t be able to recognise a face there at all!

The combination of a familiar subject viewed in a jarring and unfamiliar way is, for me, like being a child again, discovering new textures and lighting effects for the first time – I remember being especially fascinated with coloured transparent materials, as well as metallic reflective surfaces.

Go back to page 2 | Continue to page 4

Top 50 best & worst modern buildings in Manchester

Please click here to subscribe to my channel and view more of my videos- Thank you!I made this video in July, 2018 and it presents my selection of 50 of the best and worst buildings in Manchester. I’ve been interested in the architecture of Manchester from my childhood onwards. Since I made this video, many new buildings have appeared. I may produce a new article on this subject. Here I present the transcript of the video.

Hello and welcome to Manchester. In this video I present my Top 50 best and worst buildings in Manchester and district.

We’ll start with the worst ones

Number 50. The Arndale Centre by Hugh Wilson and Lewis Womersley 1972-1979. – Ugly and far too big, but as a shopping centre, very successful.

Number 49. Library Walk Link Building SimpsonHaugh – 2015 – ruins the effect of the two heritage buildings and blocks the beautiful passageway between them.

Number 48. Piccadilly pavilion Tadao Ando – 2002
Simply ugly and reminded me immediately of the Berlin Wall.

In 47th place, Number One Piccadilly Gardens von Allies and Morrison – 2003 – It was built on a greenspace and blocks the view of the historic facades.

46. Northenden flats 2014
This apartment building appeared the suburb of Northenden. The design is not bad but here in a village its too big and dominating. The building is bigger than in the original plans.

and now on to the better ones

Piccadilly Plaza Manchester 05.01.2010

45. Piccadilly Plaza Covell Mathews and Partners – 1965
Many hate it but I find it exciting and futuristic.

44. Bernard House, Piccadilly Plaza 1965 a building with a very interesting roof. Sadly it was demolished in 2003.

43. The Beetham/Hilton Tower Ian Simpson – 2007

42. The Trafford Centre Chapman Taylor & Leach Rhodes Walker – 1998 Architects cricitise but millions of visitors seem to like it!

41. The Mathematics Tower Scherrer and Hicks 1968 A nice building but no longer compatible with a modern university and demolished 2005, and replaced by…

40. University Place John McAslan + Partners – 2008 – At the university they call it ‘the tin can’.

and now on to the good ones…

39. Wythenshawe Park Tennis & Bowls Pavilion by City Architect LC Howitt – 1960 – A tiny masterpiece of modern architecture.

38. No 1 Deansgate Ian Simpson – 2002
A nice place to live, but not so good if you value your privacy.

37. Furness House fmr Manchester Liners Leach, Rhodes and Walker – 1969
In the former Manchester docks, it reminds me of Liberty Hall in Dublin.

36. The 1962 terminal at Manchester Airport by LC Howitt and Besant Roberts As a child I found it exciting and futuristic. Here’s a photo of mine from 1973.

35. Manchester Airport ATC Tower by CPM Architects 2013
Impressive and similar to other towers all over the world.

34. Pall Mall Court Brett & Pollen -1969
A nice sixties building.

33. – 55 King Street Casson, Conder & Partners 1966, 1969
Was a bank, now it’s a boutique.

32. City of Manchester Stadium Arup – 2002

31. Owens Park Tower Building Design Partnership – 1968
A student hall of residence with fantastic views.

30. Peter House Ansell and Bailey – 1958
Its facade curves outwards and opposite…

Number One St Peters Square

Number One St Peters Square

29. No1 St Peters Square Glenn Howells Architects – 2015
An elegant modern building its facade curves inwards.

28. Granada TV building Ralph Tubbs – 1956
A monument to the golden era of British TV.

27. The Lowry Hotel Consarc Design Architects – 2001

26. Contact Theatre Alan Short and Associates – 1999
A beautiful, interesting and rather crazy building.

25. Islington Wharf Broadway Malyan – 2000
Futuristic with great views

24. Oxford Rd Station William Robert Headley and Max Clendinning – 1960
It’s made out of wood and reminiscent of the Sydney Opera House

23. The Royal Exchange Theatre Levitt Bernstein – 1976
A building within a building. It looks like a lunar module.

22. The Bridgewater Hall Renton Howard Wood Levin – 1996
The new home of the Halle Orchestra founded in 1854 by the German-British musician Sir Charles Hallé.

Former MMU Hollins Building 'The Toast Rack' 24.07.2006

21. Toast Rack Hollings Campus Leonard Cecil Howitt – 1960
Was a college for catering and so form represents function.

20. Manchester Cancer Research Centre Capita Symonds – 2015

19. National Graphene Institute Jestico + Whiles 2015
It has facets, like a jewel.

18. The Quay Bar Stephenson Bell- 1998 It won prizes but as a bar it wasn’t successful and it was demolished in 2007

17. MMU Business School and Student Hub FCB Studios – 2012
A very impressive building made out of glass.

16. Stockport Pyramid 1992
Now an icon of Stockport.

15. Manchester International Office Centre former Renold Chain – Cruikshank & Seward – 1955
Near the airport, a very early example of modern office architecture.

14. New Piccadilly Station BDP – 2002
in my opinion the best modern station building in the UK. I use it every day.

13. Gateway House Richard Seifert & Partners – 1969
Here in 1998 recently renovated, and today it looks great.

12. The Lowry Michael Wilford – 2000
With its metal façade and crazy shapes and colours, it’s unmistakable.

11. Maths and Social Sciences Building Cruikshank and Seward – 1968
For me as a child, this was a symbol of modernity.

10. Renold Building W.A.Gibbon of Cruikshank and Seward – 1962
A masterpiece of modern architecture.

09. Hexagon Tower Blackley Richard Seifert – 1973
This futuristic building looks astonishingly like the modern PC Tower.

08. Daily Express Building Sir Owen Williams – 1939
Visionary and progressive, unlike the paper which moved out years ago.

Home Manchester 15.05.2018

07 HOME by Mecanoo – 2015 a home for cinema, theatre and art. It looks great by day and by night.

06. Siemens Building Buttress Architects – 1989p
In south Manchester, influenced by the Bauhaus.

05. Imperial War Museum Daniel Libeskind – 2002
Represents a world shattered by war.

04. Civil Justice Centre by Denton Corker Marshall – 2008
Very big, very expensive but in my opinion a modern masterpiece.

03. Urbis Ian Simpson – 2001
A great building – exciting. My Manchester Megaphoto was displayed here. Since 2012 the National Football Museum.

02. One Angel Square by 3DReid – 2013
For many Manchester’s best modern building but my number one is…

01. The CIS Tower by Gordon Tait – 1962
Outside and inside superb, influenced by the Inland Steel Building, Chicago, by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. 1956. Since 2004, a huge solar project. I’ve taught in the CIS Tower.

Chicago Inland Steel Building and Manchester CIS Tower

The Inland Steel Building, Chicago (1 and 3) was an inspiration for the CIS Building, Manchester (2 and 4)

So what’s your favourite building (in Manchester?) Please write it in the comments below.

And please like and subscribe.

Many thanks for watching and see you again in Manchester.

This video was showcased on the I Love Manchester website – many thanks to them for featuring my work.

Interview with me on the I Love Manchester website

Top 50 der besten und schlechtesten Gebäude in Manchester

Please click here to subscribe to my channel and view more of my videos- Thank you!

Ich habe im Juli 2018 dieses Video gemacht. Es präsentiert meine Auswahl der fünfzig besten und schlechtesten Gebäude in Manchester. Ich interessiere mich seit meiner Kindheit für die Architektur von Manchester. Seit ich dieses Video gemacht habe, sind viele neue Gebäude entstanden. Vielleicht schreibe ich einen neuen Beitrag zu diesem Thema. Hier das Transkript des Videos.

Hallo und Willkommen in Manchester. In diesem Video präsentiere ich meine Top Fünfzig der besten und schlechtesten Gebäude in Manchester und Umgebung.

Zuerst die schlechten…

Manchester Arndale Market St facade 04.05.2003

Nummer 50, das Arndale Centre, von Hugh Wilson und Lewis Womersley 1972 bis 1979
Hässlich und viel zu groß, aber als Einkaufszentrum sehr erfolgreich.

49. Das Library Walk Link Building 2015
Zerstört das Effekt der beiden Klassik-Gebäude und blockiert die Fußgängerpassage.

48. Der Piccadilly-Gardens-Pavilion und die Piccadilly-Mauer von Tadao Ando, 2002
Einfach hässlich und erinnerte mich sofort an die Berliner Mauer.

47. Number One Piccadilly Gardens von Allies and Morrison 2003.
Es wurde auf einer Grünfläche gebaut und blockiert die Ansicht der historischen Gebäude.

46. Dieser Wohnblock entstand 2014 im Vorort Northenden
Das Design ist nicht schlecht aber hier im Dorf ist es zu groß und zu dominierend. Das Gebäude ist größer als in den ursprünglichen Plänen.

und jetzt zu den besseren…

45. Piccadilly Plaza von Covell Mathews and Partners, 1965
Viele hassen es aber für mich ist es spannend und futuristisch.

Bernard House Piccadilly Plaza

Bernard House Piccadilly Plaza

44. Bernard House, Piccadilly Plaza, 1965
Hatte ein sehr interessantes Dach. Leider wurde es 2001 abgerissen.

43. Der Beetham Hilton Tower von Ian Simpson Architects, 2007

42. Das Trafford Centre von Chapman Taylor and Leach Rhodes Walker, 1998
Architekten kritisieren es, aber Millionen Besucher finden es gut!

Nummer 41, der Maths Tower der Universität Manchester 1968
Schön aber nicht mehr mit einer modernen Universität kompatibel und 2005 abgerissen. An seiner Stelle entstand…

40. University Place von John McAslan + Partners, 2008
An der Uni heißt es ‘the tin can’ – die Blechdose.

und nun zu den guten…

39. Wythenshawe Park Tennis und Bowls Pavilion vom offiziellen Stadtarchitekten LC Howitt 1960
Ein kleines Meisterwerk der modernen Architektur.

38. Number One Deansgate von Ian Simpson, 2002
Schön aber, wenn Sie Ihre Privatsphäre schätzen, nicht so gut!

37. Furness House, auch Manchester Liners building – 1969
In den ehemaligen Manchester Docks, jetzt Salford Quays – erinnert mich an die Liberty Hall in Dublin

36. Das 1962 gebaute Terminal am Manchester Flughafen, von LC Howitt und Besant Roberts
War für mich als Kind spannend und futuristisch. Hier mein Foto aus dem Jahr 1973.

35. Manchester Airport ATC Tower by CPM Architects 2013
Beeindruckend und sieht ähnlich aus wie andere Tower überall in der Welt.

34. Pall Mall Court von Brett und Pollen 1969
Ein schönes Gebäude der sechziger Jahre.

33. 55 King Street von Casson, Conder & Partners. 1969
War eine Bank und ist jetzt eine Boutique.

32. Das City of Manchester Stadion von Arup, 2002

31. Owens Park Tower von Building Design Partership, BDP, 1968
Ein Studentenwohnheim mit schönen Aussichten.

30. Peter House von Ansell and Bailey – 1958
So alt wie ich und mit einer nach außen gewölbten Fassade. Gegenüber steht…

29. Number One St Peters Square von Glenn Howells Architects, 2015
Ein elegantes Gebäude mit einer nach innen gebogenen Fassade.

28. Das Granada TV Building von Ralph Tubbs, 1956,
Erinnert an die goldene Ära des britischen Fernsehens.

The Lowry Hotel Edge Apartments and River Irwell. Blackfriars Bridge and Manchester Cathedral can be seen straight ahead.

The Lowry Hotel Edge Apartments and River Irwell. Blackfriars Bridge

27. Das Lowry Hotel von Consarc Design Architects, 2001.

26. das Contact-Theatre von Alan Short and Associates, 1999
Ein schönes, interessantes und auch verrücktes Gebäude

Islington Wharf apartment building 27.07.2008

25. Islington Wharf von Broadway Malyan, 2000
Futuristisch mit schönen Aussichten.

24. Oxford Road Station von William Robert Headly and Max Clendinning, 1960.
Der Bahnhof ist aus Holz gebaut und erinnert an das Sydney-Opernhaus.

23. The Royal Exchange Theatre by Levitt Bernstein, 1976
Ein Gebäude in einem Gebäude. Sieht aus wie das Lunar Module.

22. Die Bridgewater Hall von Renton Howard Wood Levin, 1996.
Das neue Zuhause des Halle Orchesters, das vom deutsch-britischen Musiker Sir Charles Hallé 1854 gegründet wurde.

21. The Toast Rack – Hollings Campus von Leonard Cecil Howitt, 1960
War eine Cateringschule. Die Form repräsentiert die Funktion.

20. Manchester Cancer Research Centre von Capital Symonds – 2015

19. Das Nationale Graphene-Institut von Jestico + Whiles – 2015
Hat Facetten wie ein Juwel.

18. The Quay Bar von Stephenson Bell, 1998

hat Preise gewonnen, war aber als Bar nicht erfolgreich und wurde 2007 abgerissen.

17. MMU Business School & Student Hub von FCB Studios 2012
Ein sehr schönes Gebäude aus Glas.

16. Das Stockport Pyramid 1992, ein Wahrzeichen von Stockport.

15. Manchester International Office Centre former Renold Chain – Cruikshank & Seward, 1955
In der Nähe vom Flughafen, ein sehr frühes Beispiel der modernen Büroarchitektur. Ich unterrichte in diesem Gebäude.

14. Der neue Bahnhof Piccadilly von BDP 2002
Meiner Meinung nach, der schönste moderne Bahnhof von Großbritannien. Ich nutze diesen Bahnhof täglich.

13. Gateway House von Richard Seifert and Partners, 1969 wurde in den letzten Jahren renoviert und sieht jetzt sehr schön aus.

12. The Lowry von Michael Wilford, 2000
Mit seiner Fassade aus Metall und seinen verrückten Formen unverkennbar.

11. The Maths and Social Science Building von Cruikshank and Seward 1968
Für mich als Kind, ein Symbol der Moderne.

Manchester University (former UMIST) Renold Building 06.05.2018

10. The Renold Building von W.A. Gibbon des Architektenbüros Cruikshank and Seward, 1962
Ein Meisterwerk der modernen Architektur.

09. Der Hexagon Tower von Richard Seifert, 1973
Dieses futuristische Gebäude sieht wie der moderne PC-Tower aus.

08. Das Daily-Express-Building von Sir Owen Williams 1939
Visionär und zukunftsorientiert – im Gegensatz zur Zeitung, die vor vielen Jahren ausgezogen ist. Das Design beeinflusste Sir Norman Foster.

07. HOME von Mecanoo. 2015
Dieses Zuhause für Kino, Theater und Kunst sieht bei Tag und Nacht toll aus.

06. Das Siemens-Gebäude von Buttress Architects ,1989
In Süd-Manchester, vom Bauhaus-Stil beeinflusst.

05. Das Imperial War Museum North von Daniel Libeskind , 2002
Repräsentiert eine vom Krieg erschütterte Welt.

04. The Civil Justice Centre by Denton Corker Marshall, 2008
Sehr groß, sehr teuer, aber meiner Meinung nach ein Meisterwerk der modernen Architektur.

03. Urbis von Ian Simpson, 2001
Ein tolles, spannendes Gebäude. Mein Manchester-Megaphoto wurde hier ausgestellt. Seit 2012 ist es das Nationale Fußballmuseum

02. One Angel Square von 3DReid, 2013
Für viele Leute das beste moderne Gebäude von Manchester, aber meine Nummer Eins… ist…

01. The CIS Tower von Gordon Tait, 1962 beeinflusst vom Inland Steel Gebäude, Chicago von Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. 1956. Seit 2004 ein riesiges Solar-Projekt. Ich habe im CIS-Tower unterrichtet.

Chicago Inland Steel Building and Manchester CIS Tower

Und was ist dein Lieblingsgebäude? Bitte schreib es in die Kommentare unten.

Bitte liken und abonnieren, danke.

Vielen Dank fürs Zuschauen und auf Wiedersehen in Manchester.

Bitte liken und abonnieren.

909 Wörter

The Welsh influence in Liverpool, the Scouse accent and the Welsh Streets

Looking west along Althorp Street, Dingle, Liverpool with a view of the River Mersey, the Wirral and the Clwydian Hills in the distance

There are many connections between Liverpool and Wales. It’s said that Liverpool is regarded by many people in North Wales as their capital, not Cardiff. The Welsh accent has influenced the Liverpool accent, and the border with Wales is just twelve and a half miles down the road from Birkenhead. You can see the Clwydian hills from many parts of the city including Toxteth in the south.

The view over the Liverpool region from the A55 in Flintshire, North Wales, is magnificent.

Welsh people started to migrate to Liverpool in the 18th century. In 1813 around 8000 people or 10% of the residents of Liverpool were Welsh.

They created communities around the city and Welsh was the dominant language in those places.

As in other British cities there are streets named after places in Wales such as Denbigh Road in Walton und Barmouth Way in Vauxhall.

But the most important symbol of the Welsh influence in Liverpool is the area called the Welsh streets in Toxteth, next to Princes Park, about a 10 minute bus ride south of the city centre.

The street names, and I’ll try and say them Welsh-style, include Wynnstay Street, Voelas Street, Rhiwlas Street, Powis Street, Madryn Street, Kinmel Street, Gwydir Street, Pengwern Steet, Treborth Street, Dovey Street, Teilo Street and Elwy Street.

These streets were built by Welsh building workers during the 19th century. The houses were designed by Welsh architect Richard Owens, who also designed many terraced houses in Liverpool as well as churches in North Wales.

Over the years the area became became run down. In the 2000s, there was plans to demolish the Welsh Streets, including the house where Ringo Starr was born – 9 Madryn Street. Local residents were generally in favour of refurbishment rather than demolition. The houses were vacated and prepared for being pulled down.

9 Madryn Street before 06.05.2018 renovation

9 Madryn Street 06.05.2018 before renovation

Beatles tours continued to the area, fans wrote messages on the front of the boarded up house.

The organisations SAVE Britain’s Heritage and the National Trust campaigned for the area to be renovated, especially because of its significance in the story of the Beatles.

A new plan was drawn up by Placefirst, a company based in Manchester that designs, builds and refurbishes homes for rent. Around three quarters of the houses in the Welsh Streets have been retained and renovated. Today, Ringo Starr’s old house looks almost new.

In October 2019 the Transformation of Welsh Streets by Placefirst was named UK’s Best Residential Project in the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors awards.

The Welsh influence in Liverpool declined during the 20th century. According to the 2001 census, around 1.17% of the population were born in Wales, but there are plenty more people in the city who have Welsh ancestors.

For me the clearest evidence of the Welsh influence in Liverpool is the accent. The up-and-down intonation of the Scouse accent is similar to the Welsh accent in English or with the Welsh language, yr iaith Gymraeg. In the Scouse accent, we can literally hear the influence of all those people who migrated from Wales to Liverpool in past centuries.

There’s also an Irish influence on the Liverpool accent but that’s another story.

The patron saint of Wales is Saint David, or Dewi Sant in Welsh. Saint David’s Day is celebrated every year in Liverpool, in Wales and around the world, on 1 March.

View towards the Clwydian Hills from Liverpool

View towards the Clwydian Hills from Everton Park, north Liverpool

Der walisische Einfluss in Liverpool, der Scouse-Dialekt und die “Welsh Streets”

Althorp Street Liverpool with view of the Mersey and Welsh Hills

Althorp Street Liverpool with view of the Mersey and Welsh Hills

Es gibt viele Verbindungen zwischen Liverpool und Wales. Es wird gesagt, dass viele Menschen in Nordwales Liverpool als ihre Hauptstadt ansehen, nicht Cardiff. Der walisische Dialekt hat den Liverpooler Dialekt beeinflusst. Die Grenze zu Wales liegt nur 20 Kilometer von Birkenhead entfernt. Man kann die Hügel in Wales von vielen Teilen der Stadt sehen, auch von Toxteth im Süden.

Der Blick von der A55 in Flintshire, Nord-Wales auf die Region Liverpool ist großartig.

Einwanderer aus Wales begannen im frühen 18. Jahrhundert nach Liverpool zu kommen.

Im Jahre 1813 lebten ungefähr 8000 Menschen walisischer Herkunft in Liverpool, etwa 10 Prozent der Einwohner.

Sie gründeten Gemeinden überall in der Stadt. Walisisch war dort die dominierende Sprache.

Wie in anderen britischen Städten gibt es Straßen, die nach Orten in Wales benannt sind, zum Beispiel Denbigh Road in Walton und Barmouth Way in Vauxhall.

Das wichtigste Symbol des walisischen Einflusses in Liverpool ist jedoch das Viertel der Welsh Streets in Toxteth, in der Nähe des Princes Park. Sie liegt ungefähr 10 Minuten mit dem Bus südlich des Stadtzentrums.

Die Straßen sind nach Ortsnamen in Wales benannt. Ich versuche sie auf walisische Art zu sagen: Die Wynnstay Street, die Voelas Street, die Rhiwlas Street, die Powis Street, die Madryn Street, die Kinmel Street, die Gwydir Street, die Pengwern Srteet, die Treborth Street, die Dovey Street, die Teilo Street und die Elwy Street.

Diese Straßen wurden im 19. Jahrhundert von walisischen Bauarbeitern gebaut. Die Häuser wurden vom walisischen Architekten Richard Owens entworfen, der auch viele Reihenhäuser in Liverpool, sowie Kirchen in Nordwales entwarf.

9 Madryn Street before 06.05.2018 renovation

9 Madryn Street 06.05.2018 vor der Sanierung

Im Laufe der Jahre ist das Viertel heruntergekommen. In den 2000er Jahren gab es Pläne, die Welsh Streets komplett abzureißen, auch das Haus, in dem Ringo Starr geboren wurde, Madryn Street 9. Die Anwohner waren generell für die Sanierung und nicht für den Abriss, aber die Häuser wurden geräumt und für den Abbruch vorbereitet.Die Beatles-Touren haben die Madryn Street weiterbesucht. Die Fans schrieben Mitteilungen an die Fassade des kleinen Hauses.

Die Organisationen SAVE Britain’s Heritage und der National Trust setzten sich für die Renovierung des Viertels ein, insbesondere wegen seiner Bedeutung in der Geschichte der Beatles.

Ein neuer Plan wurde von Placefirst ausgearbeitet. Placefirst ist ein in Manchester ansässiges Unternehmen, das Mietwohnungen entwirft, baut und renoviert. Rund drei Viertel der Häuser in den Welsh Streets wurden erhalten und renoviert. Heute sieht das alte Haus von Ringo Starr fast neu aus.

Im Oktober 2019 wurde die Umgestaltung der Welsh Streets durch Placefirst zum besten Wohnprojekt Großbritanniens im Wettbewerb der Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors ernannt.

Der walisische Einfluss in Liverpool nahm im 20. Jahrhundert ab. Laut der Volkszählung von 2001 sind nur 1,17% der Bevölkerung in Wales geboren, aber es gibt noch viele andere Menschen, die walisische Vorfahren haben.

Für mich ist der Dialekt von Liverpool, der sogenannte Scouse, der deutlichste Beweis für den walisischen Einfluss in Liverpool. Seine Auf- und Ab-Intonation erinnert an den walisischen Dialekt auf Englisch oder an die walisische. Sprache – yr iaith Gymraeg – die man in. Beim Scouse-Dialekt können wir den Einfluss der walisischen Einwanderer aus vergangenen Jahrhunderten tatsächlich hören.

Es gibt auch einen irischen Einfluss auf den Scouse, aber das ist eine andere Geschichte.

Der Schutzpatron von Wales ist Sankt David oder Dewi Sant auf Walisisch. Der Tag des Heiligen David wird jedes Jahr am 1. März in Liverpool, in Wales und auf der ganzen Welt gefeiert.

Aussicht in Richtung Clwydian Hills von Liverpool Everton Park aus

Aussicht in Richtung Clwydian Hills von Liverpool Everton Park aus

George Best 1946-2005 – Article + Spoken word audio with hits from 6 decades


When we think about George Best, do we remember him for his football, or for his alcoholism? Many people have asked themselves this question both during his life and after his premature death. How will he be remembered?

George Best was born on 22 May, 1946 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. His father Dickie is a shipyard worker, his mother Annie a former hockey player. They are from a Presbyterian background and live in the residential district of Cregagh, south east Belfast, at number 16 Burren Way.

The Bests have six children, George is their first child. In every spare minute George plays football on the street and on the neighbouring sports field. At fifteen, he is discovered by Manchester United’s talent scout Bob Bishop.

At that time, the club were looking for new talent, because three years earlier, they had suffered a major blow. It happened on Thursday, 6 February, 1958 at Munich-Riem Airport. The team had played against Red Star Belgrade and were on their way back to Manchester.

Sir Matt Busby statue MUFCTheir plane, an Airspeed Ambassador, stopped at Munich to refuel. It was snowing and there were freezing temperatures. On the third attempt to take off, the plane came off the runway and exploded. Half the team died. Manager Matt Busby was seriously injured. His life hung in the balance. Nine team members survived. Matt Busby recovered and started building a new team.

And so, in 1961, talent scout Bob Bishop sends Matt Busby a telegram in which he says: “I think I’ve found you a genius“. Best comes to Manchester, but returns to Belfast after just one day. He doesn’t feel comfortable at the world-famous club and he’s homesick. Matt Busby writes to his father. His father writes back and Best returns to Manchester. Busby becomes a father figure to him.

George lives a small house on Aycliffe Avenue, Chorlton, South Manchester with Mrs Fullaway, a widow, and her son Steve, a Manchester United fan. She takes care of him as if he were her own son.

Soon his team mates start to notice his talents. “Sensational,” says Pat Crerand in the 2017 BBC documentary. He also remarks, what a nice and quiet lad Georg Best is. His first outing is on 14 September, 1963 in the game against West Bromwich Albion.

Manchester United’s main aim is to win the European Cup. In 1966 United plays Benfica in the quarter-final of the European Cup. It is 3 2 to United from the first leg. After Tony Dunne’s free kick, George Best scores the first goal with a header. Five minutes later, he dribbles past five Benfica players and scores for the second time. Manchester United win the game 5:1 but not the cup.

In the BBC documentary, goalkeeper Harry Gregg comments: “The night that George became a different person, was the night that George scored two goals against Benfica. On that night he became the legend that was George Best.”

George Best becomes the first football pop star with an extravagant lifestyle: parties, expensive cars, champagne, gambling, women. He owns two fashion boutiques, appears on tv shows and is called the ‘fifth `Beatle’.

Lisbon 1968, Best scores in the final of the European Championship against Benfica. United wins 4-1. Best is voted Footballer of the Year in Europe and England.

Ten years after the Munich Air Crash, Matt Busby has achieved his ambition. At 22, George Best has reached the peak of his career. But where to now? Unfortunately for George Best it downhill.

On the 26th of April 1969 Sir Matt Busby resigns as manager, but stays on as General Manager of the club. Several managers follow, but the good times are over for Manchester United.

Best’s alcohol escapades become more and more frequent. He turns up drunk for training or not at all. Everywhere he’s pursued by the press.

George commissions a dream house to be built on Blossoms Lane, in Bramhall south of Manchester. But the state-of-the-art bachelor pad only offers even more opportunities for parties, intimate rendezvous with attractive models and alcohol.

On one occasion, George goes missing for several days and is then found in London. Sir Matt stipulates that he must go back to live at Mrs. Fullaway’s house.

Due to his gambling addiction and unsuccessful business activities he starts to build up large debts.

In 1972 Best announces his resignation, but makes a comeback nine months later. He’s not successful. He is not fit enough and he doesn’t train enough not to mention the effects of alcohol.

After eleven years at Manchester United, he makes his final appearance on 1 January, 1974. He has scored 179 goals in 470 games but never has played in the World Cup or the European Cup

After that, George Best makes a series of appearances: for the Jewish Guild of Johannesburg, Dunstable Town, Stockport County, Cork Celtic and then Los Angeles Aztecks. At that time, Elton John was co-owner of the club.

There he becomes a cult star and is able to enjoy the California life style: soccer during the day, racquetball on the beach in the afternoon, pool and drinks with friends in the evening. In Hermosa Beach he meets model and former Playboy Bunny Angie MacDonald. In 1978 they get married in Las Vegas.

The stability does not last long. George opens a bar, Bestie’s Bar, and the alcohol problems return. Angie becomes pregnant, Calum is born in 1981.

Again he doesn’t show up for training. He is suspended, moves to Fort Lauderdale Strikers, plays for Fulham FC, Hibernian Edinburgh, then San Jose Earthquakes. There he undergoes alcohol therapy three times, but to no avail, and he finally returns to the UK.

George Best mural Blythe St Belfast

George Best mural Blythe St Belfast

Best plays 37 times for the Northern Ireland national team and scores nine goals. He declares he’s in favour a single north-south Irish national team. After appearing at AFC Bournemouth and Brisbane Lions in Australia, Best ends his career.

In 1984 he is found by a police officer to be drunk at the wheel of a car. After insulting another police officer, he goes to prison for two months.

In 1986 he gets divorced from Angie. In the late 80s he works for various newspapers and becomes a commentator for Sky Sports. He often talks openly about his alcohol problems. His escapades are reported almost every day in the British tabloid press.

In 1995 he marries the model Alex Pursey. In the BBC film, she tells how, free of alchool, he is the ideal husband but when under the influence, he becomes aggressive

In December 2001, he receives an Honorary Doctorate from Queens University Belfast. He undergoes a liver transplant in August 2002, but still he is unable to give up alcohol. In 2004, he loses his licence due to drink driving and his marriage to Alex ends in divorce.

In October 2005, he is admitted to Cromwell Hospital in London. The end comes on Friday the 25th of November 2005 at 1:00 p.m. His son Calum tells the press: “Not only have I lost my dad, we’ve all lost a wonderful man.”

100,000 people come to his funeral in his home city of Belfast. In 2007 the airport is renamed George Best Belfast City Airport. But the decision is controversial. In the referendum, 52% were in favour, 48% against.

Manchester United 'Trinity' statue, Old Trafford Ground

Manchester United ‘Trinity’ statue, Old Trafford Ground

So when we think of George Best, do we remember him for his football or for his alcoholism? Both, because they are the two sides of a tragic hero.

In his homeland, his name is still spoken with reverence by people in both communities there are George Best murals in many places. On YouTube, videos of his legendary dribbling skills have been viewed millions of times. The George Best Facebook page now has over 300,000 members, more than any other deceased football player.

In the end, what can you say about George Best? Genius on the pitch, most famous footballer of the beat generation, tragic hero. But for his fans, young and old, he remains the best football player of all time.

George Best 1946-2005 – German version written and spoken by Aidan O’Rourke

George Best DE version

Wenn wir an George Best denken, denken wir dann an seinen Fußball, oder an seinen Alkoholismus? Diese Frage haben sich viele Leute auch während seines allzu kurzen Lebens gestellt. Wie wird er in Erinnerung bleiben?

George Best wurde am 22. Mai 1946 in Belfast, Nordirland geboren. Sein Vater Dickie war Werftarbeiter, seine Mutter Annie ehemalige Hockeyspielerin. Sie haben presbyterianischen Hintergrund und wohnen im Wohnviertel Cregagh, Südost-Belfast, Burren Way Nummer 16.

Die Familie Best hat sechs Kinder und George ist ihr erstes Kind. In jeder freien Minute kickt er auf der Straße und auf dem benachbarten Sportplatz. Mit fünfzehn Jahren wird er vom Talentscout des Manchester United Bob Bishop entdeckt.

Sir Matt Busby statue MUFCDer Verein war auf der Suche nach neuem Talent, denn drei Jahre zuvor musste er einen schweren Schlag erleiden. Es geschah am Donnerstag den 6. Februar, 1958 am Flughafen München-Riem. Das Team hatte für den Europapokal gegen Roter Stern Belgrad gespielt und waren auf dem Rückweg nach Manchester.

Ihre Maschine, ein Airspeed Ambassador, machte zum Auftanken einen Zwischenstopp in München. Es schneite und war eisig kalt. Beim dritten Startversuch kam die Maschine von der Startbahn ab und explodierte. Die Hälfte der Mannschaft starb. Cheftrainer Matt Busby wurde schwer verletzt und schwebte in Lebensgefahr. Neun Mannschaftsmitglieder überlebten. Matt Busby erholte sich und begann ein neues Team aufzubauen.

1961 schreibt Talentscout Bob Bishop in einem Telegramm an Matt Busby: “Ich glaube, ich habe für Sie ein Genie entdeckt”. Best kommt nach Manchester, geht aber schon nach einem Tag wieder zurück nach Belfast. Er fühlt sich im weltberühmten Verein nicht wohl und hat Heimweh. Matt Busby schreibt an seinen Vater. Er spricht mit seinem Sohn, antwortet und Best kehrt nach Manchester zurück. Danach wird Busby zu einer Vaterfigur für ihn.

George wohnt in einem kleinen Haus in der Aycliffe Avenue, Chorlton, Süd-Manchester bei der Witwe Fullaway und ihrem Sohn Steve, einem Fan von Manchester United. Sie kümmert sich um ihn wie um ihren eigenen Sohn.

Bald werden seine Kameraden auf seine Talente aufmerksam. “Sensationell”, sagt Pat Crerand im BBC-Film von 2017 “aber auch ein sehr netter und ruhiger Junge”. Sein erster Einsatz ist am 14. September 1963 im Spiel gegen West Bromwich Albion.

Es ist das gemeinsame Ziel von Manchester United, den Europapokal zu gewinnen. 1966 spielt United gegen Benfica im Viertelfinale des Europapokals. Es steht 3 zu 2 vom Hinspiel. Nach dem Freistoß von Tony Dunne erzielt George Best mit einem Kopfstoß das erste Tor. Fünf Minuten später lässt er mehrere Benfica-Spieler aussteigen und trifft zum zweiten Mal. Manchester United gewinnt die Partie mit 5 zu 1 aber nicht den Pokal.

Im BBC-Dokumentar kommentiert Torwart Harry Gregg: “Der Abend, an dem George zu einer anderen Person wurde, war der Abend, an dem George zwei Tore gegen Benfica erzielte. An dem Abend wurde er zur Legende George Best.”

George Best wird zum ersten Fußball-Popstar mit extravagantem Lebensstil: Partys, teure Autos, Champagner, Glücksspiele, Frauen. Der Eigentümer von zwei Modeboutiquen tritt in Fernsehshows auf und wird ‘fünfter Beatle’ genannt.

Lissabon 1968, im Endspiel des europäischen Landesmeisterwettbewerbs gegen Benfica gelangt Best ein Treffer. United siegt mit 4:1. Best wird zum Fußballer des Jahres in Europa und in England gewählt.

Zehn Jahre nach der Luftkatastrophe hat Matt Busby sein Ziel erreicht. Mit 22 Jahren erreicht George Best den Höhepunkt seiner Karriere. Aber wohin kann es nun gehen? Für George Best geht es leider bergab.

Am 26. April 1969 tritt Sir Matt Busby als Cheftrainer zurück, bleibt aber als General Manager im Verein. Ihm folgen mehrere Trainer, aber bei Manchester United sind die großen Zeiten vorbei.

Bests Alkoholeskapaden werden immer häufiger. Er kommt betrunken oder überhaupt nicht zum Training. Überall wird er von der Presse gejagt.

George Best mural Blythe St Belfast

George-Best-Wandmalerei, Blythe Street, Belfast

George lässt ein Traumhaus in der Blossoms Lane südlich von Manchester bauen. Die hochmoderne Jungesellenbude bietet jedoch nur weitere Möglichkeiten für Partys, Rendezvous mit hübschen Fotomodellen und Alkohol. Einmal bleibt George mehrere Tage vermisst und wird dann in London aufgefunden. Sir Matt stipuliert, dass er zurück zu Frau Fullaway muss.

Wegen seiner Spielsucht und seiner erfolglosen Geschäftsaktivitäten hat er Schulden aufgebaut.

1972 erklärt Best seinen Rücktritt, macht aber neun Monate später ein Comeback, jedoch ohne Erfolg. Er ist nicht fit und trainiert nicht oft genug, geschweige denn die Effekte des Alkohols.

Nach elf Jahren bei Manchester United tritt er zum letzten Mal am 1. Januar 1974 auf. Er hatte in 470 Spielen 179 Tore geschossen, spielte aber weder eine WM oder EM.

Dann folgt eine Reihe von Auftritten: für die Jewish Guild of Johannesburg, Dunstable Town, Stockport County, Cork Celtic, Los Angeles Aztecks. Elton John war damals Miteigentümer des Vereins.

Dort wird er zum Kultstar und kann das Leben in Kalifornien genießen: Am Tag Fußball, dann Racquetball am Strand, am Abend Pool und Getränke mit Freunden. In Hermosa Beach lernt er das Fotomodell und ehemalige Playboy-Bunny Angie MacDonald kennen. 1978 heiraten sie in Las Vegas.

Die Stabilität dauert aber nicht lange. George eröffnet eine Bar, Bestie’s Bar und die Alkoholprobleme kehren zurück. Angie wird schwanger, Calum wird 1981 geboren.

Schon wieder erscheint er nicht zum Training. Er wird vom Verein gesperrt, wechselt zu Fort Lauderdale Strikers, spielt bei FC Fulham, Hibernian Edinburgh, dann San Jose Earthquakes. Dort dort macht er dreimal eine Alkoholtherapie, aber diese brachte nichts und er kehrt endlich zurück nach Großbritannien.

Manchester United 'Trinity' statue, Old Trafford Ground

Trinity-Statue, MUFC-Stadion, Old Trafford

Best spielt 37 Mal für die Nationalmannschaft Nordirlands und erzielt neun Tore. Er erklärt, dass er für ein vereinigtes irisches Nord-Süd-Nationalteam sei. Nach Auftritten bei AFC Bournemouth und den australischen Brisbane Lions, beendet Best seine Karriere.

Im Jahr 1984 wird er betrunken am Steuer von einem Polizisten erwischt. Weil er einen Polizisten auch beleidigt, muss er für zwei Monate ins Gefängnis.

Im Jahr 1986 lässt er sich von Angie scheiden. In den späten 80er Jahren arbeitet für verschiedene Zeitungen und wird Kommentator für Sky Sports. Er spricht offen über seine Alkoholprobleme. Über seine Eskapaden wird in der britischen Boulevardpresse fast jeden Tag berichtet.

1995 heiratet er das Fotomodell Alex Pursey. Im BBC-Film bekennt sie, er sei ohne Alkohol der ideale Ehemann. Unter Alkoholeinfluss werde er aber oft aggressiv.

Im Dezember 2001 bekommt er die Ehrendoktorwürde an der Queens University Belfast. Eine Lebertransplantation erfolgt im August 2002, aber er kommt vom Alkohol nicht weg. Im Jahr 2004 verliert er wegen Trunkenheit am Steuer den Führerschein und seine Ehe mit Alex endet in einer Scheidung.

Im Oktober 2005 wird er ins Londoner Cromwell Hospital eingeliefert. Das Ende kommt am 25. November 2005 um 13:00 Uhr. Vor dem Krankenhaus sagt sein Sohn Callum. Ich habe nicht nur meinen Vater verloren, sondern wir alle haben einen wunderbaren Menschen verloren.

In seiner Heimatstadt Belfast kommen 100.000 Menschen zur Beerdigung.

Im Jahre 2007 wird der Flughafen in George Best City Airport umbenannt. Aber die Entscheidung ist umstritten. Im Volksentscheid waren 52% dafür, 48% dagegen.

Wenn wir also an George Best denken, kommt sein Fußball oder sein Alkoholismus in den Sinn? Die Antwort ist beide, denn es sind die zwei Seiten eines tragischen Helden.

In seiner Heimat wird sein Name noch mit Ehrfurcht von Protestanten wie Katholiken ausgesprochen. In vielen Gegenden sieht man George-Best-Wandmalereien. Bei YouTube werden Videos seiner legendären Dribbel-Künste millionenmal angeschaut. Die George Best Facebook-Seite hat heute mehr als 300.000 Mitglieder, mehr als irgend ein anderer verstorbener Fußballer.

Was kann man letztendlich über George Best sagen? Genie auf dem Rasen, bekanntester Fußballer der Beat-Generation, tragischer Held. Doch für seine Fans, jung und alt, bleibt George Best der beste Fußballer aller Zeiten.

Remembering Kodachrome – Commentary by Aidan O’Rourke

I took this photograph in 1981 my final year at university. I was lucky enough to get a summer job at the CIEE student travel office in the YMCA West 34th Street New York.

With the money I saved, I bought my first SLR camera a Fujc STX-1 at a shop near Times Square. It cost $70 I was experimenting with the camera and decided to try out long shutter speeds.

This was my very first time exposure in the camera. I had a roll of Kodachrome 25. I propped the camera up on the window ledge of my tiny room and pointed it down at the street. I set the aperture to f-16 and the shutter to the bulb setting.

I tried different shutter speeds probably 2s, 10s and 30s. This one must have been 30 seconds. we can see the red light trails of cars heading downtown along 9th Avenue. There’s a blue police car parked on the left-hand side and further up, a yellow Caprice Classic taxi.

It really was like being in a movie. The façade is lit up by the intense red of the Market Diner neon signs. Both film and digital have difficulty with red and so there are very few details and the light seems very intense.

The diner and its surroundings have the look of an Edward Hopper painting and look how the tree branches are blurred because they’re blowing in the wind. On the right there’s a British Austin 1100.

In the upper left are the tracks and overhead cables from Penn Station. The sign says ‘park fast’ – typical New York. When the package from Kodak arrived in the post a couple of weeks later, I tore it open and looked at the slides.

This one was one of my favourites. Nothing can replace the excitement of your early experiments in photography, but I can’t help feeling at photography has lost something with the demise of Kodachrome.

Hidden facts about the Liver Building and the Liver birds

Hidden Facts about the Liver Building and the Liver Birds

The Royal Liver Building is the most famous building in Liverpool and it is admired and loved by both local people and visitors. It’s located on the Pier Head, overlooking the River Mersey. Its two clock towers, and the two iconic Liver birds standing on top of them, can be seen from all over the city. It was constructed between 1908 and 1911 and is one of the so-called Three Graces. The other two are the Cunard Building, built 1914-1917, and the Port of Liverpool building, 1904-1907.

The Liver Building is one of the most familiar sights in Liverpool and you’ll find plenty of information about it in tourist guides and on websites. But certain facts about the Liver Building are shrouded in mystery, and there are some questions to which I’ve not found any clear answers. I will list them at the end.

This is new and much longer version of an article I wrote in 2015, with new photos, two videos and a review of the Royal Liver 360 clocktower tour. We will get to that later on, but first let’s begin by looking at those hidden facts about the Liver Building, at least, hidden to most people.

1. The Liver Building is made out of reinforced concrete with a granite façade.

You’ll read that the Liver Building is made out of reinforced concrete. Its use of reinforced concrete for the structure of the building was ground-breaking at the time it was built. But it’s also important to know that the exterior is clad – or covered – in granite. The granite has a pale shade of brown, unlike the white Portland stone used on the Cunard and Port of Liverpool buildings. I’ve heard people say this colour is not very attractive but I don’t find that. It’s part of its unique character.

2. The Liver Building is built on one third of a filled-in dock.

I used to wonder, why is it that on Liverpool’s Pier Head, there are three magnificent buildings, rectangular in floor plan, standing side by side? And then I discovered that all three were constructed on what used to be St George’s Dock. It was drained and the site was prepared for new buildings.

Water Street and Brunswick Street were extended across the former dock, dividing it into three. Three buildings then appeared where ships used to moor. And here’s another hidden fact: if you turned the clock back a few centuries, and looked from St Nicholas church, the Three Graces would be out in the river. The entire Pier Head and dock system is built on reclaimed land.

3. The inner courtyard walls have been covered with a modern glass façade.

In 2011, I visited the Liver Building to take photographs for the book ‘Liverpool Then and Now’, and I was shocked to discover that the interior facade has been covered in a glass skin similar to a 1960s office block . I didn’t take a photograph of it, as I didn’t want to spoil the image I had in my mind. Since its completion in 1911 the Liver Building, like most commercial buildings, has been altered and renovated, but I’m not sure when the glass wall was added. That’s another one of my questions at the end.

4. The riverside clock tower has three faces, the landside tower has only one.

I’ve been looking at the Liver Building for many years but had never quite fully noticed that the four clock faces are split between the two clock towers. On the west tower, there are three clock faces looking north, west and south, respectively.

On the east tower, there is only one clock face, looking east over the city centre. And here’s another hidden fact: all four clocks are controlled by the same mechanism. I don’t quite understand how that works, so that’s another question, which I’ve added to the list at the end.

5. The clock faces are bigger than those on the clock tower of the Palace of Westminster in London.

The clock faces of the Liver Building are bigger then the ones on the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament, completed in 1859. These are 23 feet or seven metres wide but the Liver Building clock faces are 25 feet wide  or 7.6 m.

One information source stated that the the clock on Shell Mex House, further down the Thames is bigger. But it’s not a proper clock face, just a section of the façade onto which clock hands and hour markers have been fixed. The Liver Building clock faces are proper clock faces made of metal and opaque glass, and they are recognised as the biggest in the UK.

The Pier Head and Three Graces, Liverpool

The Wrigley Building, Chicago

6. It looks similar to some early skyscrapers in the United States.

The Liver Building is said to closely resemble the Allegheny Court House in  Pittsburgh, built in 1884 and Adler & Sullivan’s Schiller Theatre in Chicago, built in 1891 and demolished in 1961.

I think it looks very similar to the Wrigley Building in Chicago, but that building dates from 1924. Could the Liver Building have influenced architecture on the other side of the Atlantic, just as Birkenhead Park influenced Central Park in New York?

7. The clock faces are the largest electronically driven clocks in the UK.

The Liver Building clocks are the biggest electronically driven clocks in the UK and this is a reminder that the building brings together both traditional and modern elements. The ornamented clock tower conforms to classic architectural principles you’ll see in world architecture, including Islamic architecture, but the mechanism of the clock is pure 20th century.

Liver Building clock face at dusk 22.09.1999

Liver Building clock face at dusk 22.09.1999

8. There are no bells inside the towers of the Liver Building.

There are bell towers on town halls and cathedrals including Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, and you can often hear them ringing. But inside the clock towers of the Liver Building there are no bells. It made no sound at all until 1953, when a chiming mechanism was installed in memory of Royal Liver staff killed during two world wars.

The chimes were made using piano wires hit by hammers and the sound was amplified using a microphone, amplifier and speaker. This device gradually deteriorated and was out of operation for around four years. But in 2016, the chimes returned, thanks to the Cumbrian Clock Company, who are responsible for the maintenance of the clocks. They recorded the old chimes and saved the audio onto a hard drive. This sound is played throughout the day and the evening through a large speaker located under the cupola of the west tower.

It doesn’t sound quite like a real bell, but it’s better than no bell at all. I was intrigued to discover that when the building was under construction, there had been plans to put real bells in the tower and some space was set aside to accommodate them. But in the end, no bells were installed for fear that they would be too heavy for the new style of construction using reinforced concrete.

Composite image showing the tallest towers in NW England (05.05.2006)

Composite image showing the tallest towers in NW England (05.05.2006)

9. The Liver Birds were designed by a German.

This fact was remained hidden from many many years. It was only in recent years that the identity of the person who created the metal cormorant-like birds was revealed. He was Carl Bernard Bartels, a German emigré artist born in Stuttgart . He came to live in England in 1887 after falling in love with the country. A competition was held to design and build the two birds that would be placed on the roof of the Liver Building, and he won.

A few years after the Liver Building was completed, the First World War began and there was a strong anti-German feeling. Carl Bernard Bartels was interned on the Isle of Man as an enemy alien and deported in 1918. He returned to England in the mid-twenties and spent the rest of his life there. Carl Bernard Bartels created Liverpool’s most famous pair of icons, but this fact was kept hidden until the late 20th century, because he was German. Inside the Liver Building there is now a plaque in his honour.

So, those are what I believe to be the surprising facts – at least, they surprised me when I first found out about them. Let’s continue with more generally known facts.

10. The Liver Building was designed by local architect Walter Aubrey Thomas

The Royal Liver Building was designed by Walter Aubrey Thomas, a Liverpool-based architect who was born in New Brighton, Cheshire in 1864. He designed many buildings in Liverpool city centre. I was interested to discover he designed a listed building on Lord Street which has distinctive stripes and an arch.

The Liver Building and the Tower Building 22.05.2005

The Liver Building and the Tower Building 22.05.2005

I took a picture of the Liver Building from the corner of Water Street, zooming in on the clock tower. There’s another building to the right, a white building. That other building is the Tower Building, which pre-dates the Liver Building by several years. You can see it on old photos. It’s quite similar, with arches and those ‘curled’ motifs. In fact, the Tower Building was also designed by Walter Aubrey Thomas, something that is rarely mentioned, even though it stands directly opposite the Liver Building and could be seen as its precursor.

11. The Liver Building is a listed building, part of the UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Liver Building is a Grade 1 listed building (not Grade 1*, as one person mentioned. There is only Grade II*). A Grade 1 listed building is recognised as being of outstanding architectural merit and of national significance. That’s certainly true of the Liver Building.

It is also recognised as an important part of the UNESCO World Heritage site, the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City. That puts the area on a par with the Taj Mahal, the Pyramids and Angkor Wat. But on the UNESCO list, it’s marked in red, because its quality and uniqueness are under threat due to proposed construction projects nearby.

12. The clock faces have no numerals.

This may seem of little importance at first sight, but if we look at other historic clock towers, maybe ones that are slightly older, we find that most have numerals, either Arabic or Roman style, like the town halls of Birkenhead, Bradford, Rochdale and the Tower of Westminster (‘Big Ben’). With its plain clock faces, the Liver Building clocks look towards a more modern style.

13. The Liver Building clocks are called the George Clocks.

They’re called the George clocks because they were set in motion at 1.40pm on Thursday, 22 June, 1911, when George Frederick Ernest Albert Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, the Prince of Wales, officially became King George V. The clocks were made by Gent & Co of Leicester.

14. One of the clock faces was once used as a dinner table.

There is a photograph of one of the clock faces, which was turned into a huge banqueting table during the construction of the Liver Building. Sitting at the table are senior people from the Liver Assurance Group and Liverpool Corporation. The clock faces were later hauled up to the top of the building.

15. For many years it was the tallest building in Britain.

The Liver Building is said to be the UK’s first skyscraper, though at just 13 storeys, it doesn’t seem like much of a skyscraper. Already buildings in the United States were reaching much greater heights. But it remained the tallest building in Britain for many years. It’s 322 feet or 98.2 m to the top of the spires. It remains one of the tallest buildings in north west England.

Composite images of the tallest towers in NW England 05.05.2006

Composite images of the tallest towers in NW England 05.05.2006

16. Each of the two Liver Birds holds something in its beak, but what is it?

The birds on the Liver Building have a wing span of 24 feet or 7.3 metres and are 18 feet 5.5 metres high. If you look closely or zoom in with a camera, you will see that each Liver Bird is carrying something in its beak. It looks like a small twig or branch of a tree. It’s got four leaves. In most descriptions, this is identified as a piece of laver, or seaweed. The name ‘laver’ is a pun on the name ‘Liverpool’.

However, I’ve also read that it’s an olive branch. And the French language Wikipedia page states that the Liver bird holds in its beak a branch of genêt, the French word for broom, a type of bush with a yellow flower that appears in spring. Genêt is said to be a reference to the Plantagenet dynasty, who ruled England in the middle ages. Is this true? That’s another question to add to my list at the end! The Liver bird is a mythical bird, said to date back to 1207, when King John founded the borough of Liverpool by royal charter and used a bird on the seal.

17. It is named after the Royal Liver Assurance Company, but they are no longer in the building.

The building is named after the Royal Liver Assurance Company which was a friendly society.  Around the turn of the 20th century they decided to construct a new building for their 6000 staff. It remained the headquarters until Royal Liver Assurance merged with the Royal London Group in 2011. The group subsequently moved out of the building. In 2019 it’s reported to accommodate around 2000 staff working in a range of companies.

Luxembourg-based investment group, Corestate Capital, bought the building for £48 million in February 2017 along with Everton F.C. majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri. So, Liverpool’s most potent and best-loved symbol is a privately-owned office building. That’s an interesting fact. There must be very few other commercial office buildings with such an exalted status. Perhaps it’s symbolic, because Liverpool is a mercantile city whose wealth is built on business and trade (including, sadly, the slave trade).

18. The Liver Building was renovated in 2019 and also in the past.

In 2019, the Liver Building was renovated to bring it up to the standards required by today’s companies. Looking on the royalliverbuilding.com website, I see many changes have been carried out. There’s a photo of empty floor space with those semi-circular windows. But the building has not been preserved in its original state. That’s the way it is with working buildings, they have to be adapted for changing times, though seen from the outside, it looks as it did when it was first built.

Liverpool Liver Building and Pier Head with St Nicholas church

Liverpool Liver Building and Pier Head with St Nicholas church

And now we move from facts to popular legends.

19. The birds are called Bella and Bertie and if they fly away, Liverpool will cease to exist.

I’ve read from many sources, that the birds are called Bella and Bertie, but who exactly called them that? We are told that if they break away from their shackles and fly away, that will be the end of Liverpool. This story sounds like it was inspired by the ravens of the Tower of London. It’s said that if they leave the tower, the kingdom and the Tower of London will fall.

The difference is that the ravens are real birds, whereas the Liver Birds are copper sculptures weighing several tons and they’re tied down with cables. The birds face in opposite directions. It’s said that if they were facing each other, they might mate and break their moorings, causing the downfall of the city. According to another account, Bella watches over the ships and their crews while Bertie watches over the city and its people.

A variant of this is that Bella is on the lookout for handsome sailors on the arriving ships, while Bertie is checking that the pubs are open. What must he have been thinking during the 2020 Coronavirus crisis! A typically Scouse piece of humour is that the Liver Birds flap their wings every time a virgin walks along the Pier Head.

Panoramic view of Liverpool from Royal Liver 360 - 22.06.2019

Panoramic view of Liverpool from Royal Liver 360 – 22.06.2019

20. The views from the top of the Liver Building are fantastic!

There is no doubt that the views from the roof of the Liver Building are fantastic. When I wrote the previous version of this article in 2015, it wasn’t possible for the general public to enter the building and go up to the tower. Now it is! Read my review below to find out what I thought of the Royal Liver 360 visitor experience and why I was a little bit disappointed.

In 2019 Royal Liver 360 Tower Tours and Visitor Experience opened its doors. For the first time, visitors were able to go inside the building and ascend to the top of the tower. I did this in summer 2019 and I wasn’t disappointed, though I have one criticism! So here’s my quick review of the Royal Liver 360 tour and visit to the top of the building.

Liverpool City Centre seen from the top of the Liver Building-22.06.2019

Liverpool City Centre seen from the top of the Liver Building-22.06.2019

I booked in advance on the website. The ticket cost £16. The journey to the top of the building starts in the basement. The entrance is to the right of  the main entrance to the Liver Building. In the reception area there is a ticket desk and an exhibition, which is worthy of a visit in itself. There’s an impressive wooden model of the Liver Building. On the displays there’s information about the history of the building with many photos.

Soon it was time to start the tour. Visitors are assigned into groups and led by a friendly guide. At this point, we notice that the health and safety procedures are rigorous. There is a briefing, warning of potential hazards and telling us what to do in an emergency. This is quite different from other older attractions.

I realise it’s for our safety but it does impinge a little on the experience. The guide counts some of us into the lift and we go up. We wait for the others and then proceed out onto a balcony below the south clock face. Here we get our first glimpse of the cityscape and of one of the the Liver Birds – it’s Bertie, the one facing out over the city. We can’t see Bella, she stands hidden above the tower. Our guide provides information and plenty of humorous remarks.

Next it’s time to go up the stairs and into the interior of the clock tower, with its clock faces on three sides. In this room high above Liverpool, they’ve created an auditorium with speakers and digital projectors. Soon the lights go down.

What follows is a state-of-the-art presentation on the history of Liverpool and the Liver Building from its construction at the beginning of the century, through two world wars and up to the present day. The visuals are good, including animated 3D Liver Birds as well as many still and moving archive images. The sound is immersive and very loud. We hear the fog horns of the ships, the bombs of WW2 and finally, the song ‘Ferry Cross the Mersey’ by Gerry and the Pacemakers. It presents Liverpool perfectly and truly expresses the pride people have in the city.

View north from the Liver Building roof 22.06.2019

View north from the Liver Building roof 22.06.2019

Now, it’s time to go up to the top floor via a narrow staircase. Emerging into the daylight, we walk out onto the balconies and start to admire the panoramic views: the city centre to the east, the Pier Head, Albert Dock and River Mersey to the south, the view west across the river towards Birkenhead and the Welsh mountains and to the north and north west, the docks, New Brighton and the Irish Sea. We are standing below the dome with Bella standing on top. We still can’t see her, but we can see Bertie on the other tower, standing with his back to us. He’s not being rude, he’s got an important job to do.

Many times I’ve looked across to the Liver Building from all parts of the city and from across the river.  Now it is stunning to see the view in the other direction. I start to take photos and videos, moving around each balcony and back again. I’m about to start a video shot of the city when…

Liverpool city centre seen from the Liver Building

“The tour is finished now, can you make your way back down the stairs…”

And that’s my only criticism of the Royal Liver 360 tour. You are only allowed, I think it was around 10 to 15 minutes at the top before being asked to leave. I spent a whole evening on the Shard in London and a similar amount of time and spent a few hours at the top of the Rockefeller Center in New York.

Fifteen minutes at the top of the Liver Building just isn’t enough time. I realise there are space limitations as well as health and safety considerations, but I would pay extra to spend more time up here and I’m sure a lot of other people would too. Royal Liver 360 bosses, please take note!

A few minutes later I’m back down on the Pier Head again, looking up at the iconic clock tower and hoping for an opportunity to spend a longer period up there some time in the near future.

Looking up at the facade of the Liver Building

Blick nach oben auf die Fassade des Liver Building

Personal observations and reminiscences.

The Liver Building was begun in same year my father was born, 1908. He was christened Bertie, presumably after the popular name of George, who became King in 1911.

I remember visiting the Pier Head with my mother in the 1960s, and taking the ferry to Woodside. I was captivated by the Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool building. They had just been cleaned and looked as if they were made out of icing sugar. They seemed to ‘sing’, I can’t quite explain it. At that time, all the buildings in Manchester were still covered in black soot from the factories. I can’t remember much about the Liver Building, except that there were rows of green Liverpool Corporation buses parked in front of it.

Liver Building sketch by Aidan O'Rourke

Another memory from the sixties is the opening credits of the Liver Birds tv series, starring Nerys Hughes and Polly James. The grimy Liver Building can be seen from the ferry. There is an iconic shot looking up at the glamorous Nerys Hughes standing on the back of a bus, with the tower of the Liver Building behind.

In recent years I’ve followed all the changes on the Pier Head, I’ve taken photos and video of many festivals, including the Giants, I took ‘now’ shot of the building for the book ‘Liverpool Then and Now’ and went inside to capture the view of where the Liverpool Overhead Railway used to be. That’s when I saw the glass interior wall for the first time.

I’ve done some drawings too, which I am featuring on this page.

I love the Liver Building, its design, its location, the Liver Birds that stand on top of it, and all the associations it has with the history of Liverpool. I will go on admiring it and taking photos of it, like every local person and every visitor to the city. I hope to find out even more hidden facts about the Liver Building, which I will add to this page.

  • But I have some unanswered questions, some facts about the Liver Building that remain hidden, or at least not 100% clear. Can you provide any information?
  • Who exactly named the Liver Birds Bella and Bertie?
  • How are the four clocks, including one in a separate tower, controlled by one mechanism?
  • Exactly what type of branch are the Liver Birds holding in their beaks?
  • Which clock face was the one used as a dinner table?
  • Since when clock tower had an amber coloured light? I seem to remember that in the past, the light was white. Was it?
  • When was the earlier renovation carried out, during which the glass interior façade was added?
  • In what year were the Three Graces first cleaned? Was it in 1968?
  • What is the exact weight of each Liver Bird?

And here’s one extra fact: At around 11pm on the evening of Friday 26 June, 2020, while crowds celebrated Liverpool FC’s Premier League win, someone threw a firework at the Liver Building and it started a fire on the front of the building. Mobile phone images show a blaze in front of the semi-circular window below the west tower. The fire was put out by Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service. Comment: Setting fire to Liverpool’s most iconic building is not the best way to celebrate Liverpool FC’s win.

Video review: Miniatur Wunderland Hamburg – Why I love it and how it can be improved

Miniatur Wunderland is a model railway or in German – eine Modellbahn – in Hamburg. But it’s much more than a model railway. It’s a miniaturised version of the world, or at least a sample of it, realised in astonishing detail. It’s located in Hamburg in the Speicherstadt, the area of waterside warehouses, about five minutes walk from the Elbphilharmonie. Miniatur Wunderland takes up three floors in a former dockside warehouse.

Miniatur Wunderland has some remarkable statistics: 1040 locomotives run on 15,400 metres of tracks – that’s 15.4 kilometres or nine and a half miles. Like most model railways it uses the H0 or HO gauge of 1:87, so at Miniatur Wunderland scale, the length of track is equivalent to about 1,340 kilometres or 837 miles. The miniature cities and landscapes are populated by more than a quarter of a million tiny figurines, in German they’re called Preiserlein and are named after the firm that makes them – Preiser.

It’s the largest model railway in the world – Es ist die größte Modelleisenbahn der Welt! with an area of 1,499 square metres or  around 16,130 square feet. There is so much detail and variety, it’s overwhelming. There are 390,000 tiny LED lights, dreihundertneunzigtausend. This is truly a miniature world of superlatives – eine Miniaturwelt der Superlative.

We start on the third floor and in front of us, an astonishing recreation of Hamburg. Like all the models it’s not an exact representation. The main attractions are there, including the Landungsbrücken, the Hauptbahnhof or central station, Hamburg’s famous churches and the docks area. The Fernsehturm had to be reduced in height in order to fit under the ceiling. The Elbphilharmonie opens up to reveal the interior. There’s a magnificent view along Hamburg’s iconic but doomed Köhlbrandbrücke. Which crosses over water made of rippled glass. Alle 15 Minuten wird es dunkel – every fifteen minutes it goes dark – the lights on the bridge come on in spectacular fashion.

In nearby Skandinavien a ship makes its way along a stretch of real water and soon we are looking over a snowy scene. As in real-life Sweden, the trains run on the left – die Züge fahren auf der linken Seite – the trains, buildings and tracks are carefully made to be true to life in Sweden.

In Amerika we start at Key West and a couple of metres away is Las Vegas. As night falls the lights come on. Though only a tiny fraction of the size, it captures the essence of the real thing. We continue across the desert towards the Grand Canyon but theres no Chicago or New York – personally I’d like to have seen them.
Österreich – Austria is all mountains, valleys and ski slopes. The trains weave in and out of tunnels and across bridges and viaducts.

We can look down on a large railway station from above. Part of one floor has been removed so the mountains can extend up two storeys to the ceiling, where there are thundery clouds.
Trains make their way around tiny tracks everywhere you look, often passing each other in opposite directions.  It’s impossible to see where they have come from or where they are going . The mountainous theme is continued as we enter die Schweiz – Switzerland.

There’s one word that describes the experience so far – unglaublich! Unbelievable. But there’s a lot more to see yet.

We continue into Mitteldeutschland with its hills covered in trees, rivers and valleys one of them crossed by a new bridge carrying the ICE the Inter-City-Express. The trains move at the right speed according to the scale. Only when they stop suddenly is the illusion broken. Another slight departure from reality is that the pantograph doesn’t touch the overhead cables. Some aspects of reality are too difficult to recreate in miniature but it’s okay, our imagination does the rest.

As night falls again, the lights are bezaubernd – they’re magical or enchanting. Ab und zu fliegt ein UFO runter – from time to time a UFO flies down. A UFO hunter is waiting. There are many humorous references. A subterranean area contains some famous Verschwörungstheorien – conspiracy theories, including the one about the moon landings.

The most astonishing part of Miniatur Wunderland is the airport. Es ist wahrscheinlich der kleinste Verkehrsflughafen der WeltI – it’s probably the smallest commercial airport in the world! It has all the features of a real airport, including terminal buildings based on Hamburg Airport, tiny buses that move and more than over 40 aircraft. The most astonishing thing of all is that – die Flugzeuge landen und starten genau wie echte Flugzeuge – the planes land and take off just like real aircraft. I haven’t fully figured out how they do it, but it’s an amazing sight. There are some classic aircraft, such as the Constellation, and every so often, you’ll see a Star Wars spaceship or a stange, bee-like creature flying low along the runway before disappearing into the clouds.

Es ist atemberaubend! It’s breathtaking – and there’s still more.

Das Modell von Venedig wurde 2018 vollendet – The model of Venice was completed in 2018. Rome and the Vatican City are represented in incredible detail. The Trevi Fountain, the Coliseum, all reproduced magnificently.

The locomotives are manually controlled. There’s a huge variety of trains. We have Passagierzüge – passenger trains, Güterzüge – freight trains, Hochgeschwindigkeitszüge – high speed trains – Dampfzüge – steam trains and many more. They’re all operated by Miniatur Wunderland staff who sit in a control centre. A very cool feature is the train driver’s view seen via a tiny camera on the train.
If you’d like to watch how the models are made, you can see the workshops, and for an extra fee there’s a tour hinter die Kulissen – behind the scenes.

Die Attraktion ist 365 Tage im Jahr geöffnet. it’s open 365 days in the year. Millionen Menschen haben Miniatur Wunderland besucht. – Millions of people have visited Miniatur Wunderland since it was opened in 2001. It’s best to book online to avoid waiting times.

What’s in store? Monaco is under construction and Britain is set to arrive in 2020.

There’s no doubt that Miniatur Wunderland is one of the top attractions in Germany and in Europe but I have a challenge: I’d like to see moving traffic on highways.
Der Modellbau kostet viel Zeit – Building models requires a lot of time. In fact the entire exhibit is the product of over 790,000 hours of work – 790 Tausend Arbeitsstunden.

Miniatur Wunderland is an educational experience. the key word is Wunder – nowadays we are often jaded and have lost the childish ability to bewundern  – to look in wonder at things.

After visiting Miniatur Wunderland you will see the real world with new eyes – man sieht die Welt mit ganz neuen Augen.

And so here’s the summary – in German for the benefit of my students and others learning German:
Miniatur Wunderland Hamburg ist die größte Modelleisenbahnanlage der Welt!

Hier einige Statistiken.

Sie hat 1040 Lokomotiven, 280 fahrende Autos, 390.000 Lichter, 263.000 Miniaturfiguren, 15.400 Meter Gleislänge.

Die Anlage hat eine Fläche von mehr als 1.499 Quadratmeter, wird von 50 Computern gesteuert.

Sie ist in Abschnitte aufgeteilt: Hamburg, Skandinavien, Amerika, Österreich, die Schweiz, Mitteldeutschland, Italien, Venedig und der Flughafen.

Alle 15 Minuten wird es dunkel und Tausende von LEDs werden eingeschaltet. Sie sind bezaubernd.

Seit der Öffnung im Jahre 2001 haben Millionen Menschen Miniatur Wunderland besucht.

Die Attraktion ist 365 Tage im Jahr geöffnet.

Die Modellwelt so detailliert, so beeindruckend und so realistisch, dass man die reale Welt mit ganz neuen Augen ansieht.

If you’d like to learn German, please visit aidan.co.uk/german

Vielen Dank für’s Zuschauen und auf Wiedersehen in Hamburg!

Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon artwork at Liverpool Cathedral


I went to Liverpool Anglican Cathedral and inside, I saw the moon – not the one in the sky but a scaled down moon 1/500,000th the size of the real one.

It was on display at the north end of the cathedral. The effect as you enter is breathtaking. There, in front of you, is a faithful representation of the moon, with all its grandeur and hypnotic power.

I coudn’t take my eyes off it. The scores of visitors couldn’t either. They photographed it, had selfies taken with it, put their hands out and pretended to hold it while they had their photo taken. They sat on the steps on either side gazing at it, walked around it, lay on the floor staring up at it.

It’s an artwork created by the artist Luke Jerram, but for me, the fascinating thing about this representation of the moon is that it is a composite photograph, a three dimensional print. It’s basically a sphere with a large composite image of the moon’s surface printed on it.

Exhibition of the Moon at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral

You can find lots of information about Luke Jerram and his incredible moon on the Museum of the Moon website. I particularly recommend the Radio 4 documentary on the ‘Press’ page. It is presented as a video with still images of the artwork in the various locations it’s been on display. These include Tintern Abbey in Wales, a swimming pool in Rennes, France, the Commonwealth Games in Australia and many more.

It has a magical presence but basically it is a balloon, a similar one to a weather balloon, with artwork printed on it. Luke Jerram has used the technology that’s readily available to create and print this masterpiece.

The moon is made out of curved sections which are each printed with photographic images taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. They are then assembled into a sphere, which is inflated and hung from above. The sphere is lit up from inside.

For me, the moon looked best later on in the evening as the sunlight was fading. Then you can imagine you are in lunar orbit, observing it from hundreds of miles up.

It’s a remarkable experience to see the moon – or a copy of it – so close. It’s not possible to touch it as it’s suspended just above arm’s length.

It’s even more remarkable to see the hidden ‘dark side’ of the moon, the side we never see. This strange half of the moon is covered mostly with craters, while the familiar side has its distinctive darker ‘seas’ surrounded by countless craters and even craters within craters.

One of the ministers at the Cathedral provided information to visitors and he pointed out to me the exact location of the Apollo 11 landing site in the Sea of Tranquility. I looked hard but didn’t see the remains of the mission! They would of course be much too small.

Luke Jerram's Exhibition of the Moon artwork at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral seen through grand interior arch

By the way each centimetre represents five kilometres of the moon’s surface so if you could touch your thumb on the surface, it would cover an area as big as a medium-sized airport.

I had intended to spend maybe half an hour there, but I ended up staying around three hours. I felt reassured, inspired, comforted by the proximity of the moon.

It was wonderful to see the moon exhibited in a cathedral. The prayers offered in the cathedral seemed fitting.

Some observations: This moon is lit up from within with no dark areas, but at any one time, only about half of the real moon is in sunlight, the rest is in shadow.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter surveyed the moon’s surface from orbit and recorded the images at different times. For this reason some of the craters have the shadow on the left and others nearby have the shadows on the right.

This makes your eyes see them with the curious ‘bulging crater’ effect, where you see the crater in reverse because you think the shadows are from the left when they’re from the right, and vice versa. That’s not a criticism and probably not many people will have noticed it.

What would really improve the experience is if the sphere were continuous all round, as well as top and bottom, with no joins and no circle at the top and at the bottom.

It would also be great if the sphere floated – I believe Luke Jerram is working on this and I can’t wait to see the floating, helium-filled moon when it is ready.

It’s artistic, it’s educational, it’s scientific.

All in all it’s one of the best things I’ve seen in a long time and it presents many opportunities for photographic experiment.

The Exhibition of the Moon by Luke Jerram at Liverpool Cathedral

Stereoscopic image of the Moon by Luke Jerram

For now, let me just say that I found this artwork stunning. I grew up with the moon landings and have taken countless photos of the moon myself.

Whenever I look at it rising in the sky, it still has a powerful visual effect on me, probably dating back to those ‘moonshot’ times of my childhood.

I went back for another visit on Thursday night, the last night. I managed to get there for 9.45 – there was a long queue.

Soon we were inside and I savoured those final moments with the moon. At 10:30 the minister read a special prayer and we recited the Our Father. And then it was time to leave and the Cathedral security employees herded us towards the door.

At the front door I gazed back at the moon one last time and then walked out under the dusk sky of Liverpool. I couldn’t see the real moon, as there was too much cloud.

Actually there are several moons on tour around the world. Maybe one of the moons will be exhibited somewhere near you.

I hope you will have a chance to see and photograph this incredible, astonishing and mesmerising artwork. It is, in the truest sense of the word, awesome.


The Exhibition of the Moon by Luke Jerram at Liverpool Cathedral - with cathedral window



A journey through time and space into the World of Libraries

Libraries in Manchester

This bilingual video project is currently in pre-production. I am gathering the information and the photographs and hope to launch the video during October 2018

In this video I will focus on libraries and their many benefits but at the same time we’ll see why libraries are under threat.

The video will be in English embedded with German. It’s part of my mission in 2019 to help and encourage people to learn the German language, which I’ve taught for over 40 years. The video will useful to anyone with an interest in German language, from just a passing interest to high level competency. As part of the format, I highlight the connections between the German-speaking world and the English-speaking world.

Here is a list of the libraries I expect to feature in the video. More may be added:

Chethams Library Manchester
The Portico Library
The John Rylands Library
The Central Library
Cheetham Library
Stockport Carnegie Library
Edgeley Library
Liverpool Central Library
West Derby Carnegie Library
Everton Library (hilltop)
The Gladstone Library
Trinity College Library
Chester Beatty Library
Marsh’s Library
Bolton St Library
Dun Laoghaire DLR Lexicon Library
Aberdeen Sir Duncan Rice Library
The British Library
The London Library
The Library of Birmingham
Gedenkbibliothek Berlin

So here are some bullet points on the good aspects of libraries.

Libraries are free and they’re dedicated to helping you
Most of the time in life we are being persuaded to spend time and money on things that don’t really benefit us. At a library you can spend time on improving yourself and it doesn’t cost anything.

The course includes a cultural visit, for instance to one or more of these libraries

You can connect with past times
Many libraries have a history going back decades even centuries that can be very inspiring if you’re studying or simply looking for interesting places to visit.

Some libraries are exclusive and prestigious – and that can be good too
Some libraries are respected institutions open only to members, like the Portico Library in Manchester. If you are in a position to become a member, you can enjoy many advantages. It’s a further example of the good that libraries do.

Libraries have high ideals and principles
As you will see if you go into the main reading room at Manchester Central library there is an inscription on the ceiling which I’m going to photograph for the video. It celebrates the benefits of learning.

You can get information at libraries that is not available online
Some people say we don’t lead libraries because you can get all the information you need on your computer, tablet or smartphone but that’s not true! Libraries contain a huge amount of information that is not available online. If you researching a subject in depth, the chances are that the information you need is contained in a library somewhere.

Libraries are very good for local information and family history
One of the areas where libraries excel is local history and family history. Most libraries have large collections of books and photographs that you won’t find anywhere else.

Libraries celebrate books and learning
The John Rylands library in Manchester is not just a building that contains books but a place that celebrates books and learning. There are many exhibitions on the subject of old books and manuscripts down the ages. It’s also possible for researchers to gain access to very rare and precious books. It looks like a cathedral but it is not a place of worship. People call a cathedral to books. The Chester Beatty library in Dublin is not really a library, rather a museum about books and has many fascinating exhibitions based on its collections of books from Europe and Asia.

Libraries contain hidden treasure houses what you can discover something totally unique.
Libraries contain so much information a lot of of it is obscure and forgotten but you may well discover something quite unusual and quite astonishing in a library. Some libraries are themselves hidden and obscure. Marsh’s Library in Dublin is not very well-known but it is a tiny treasure house of books and knowledge.

Libraries can be social.
Studying can be a very solitary experience. As a library it feels more social and even though you’re not speaking to the people around you, you are not alone. However sometimes people do make contact with each other at a library. Some couples have even met that way so isnt’ that another reason for visiting one!

Libraries are the backbone of universities.
If you study at a university you will spend a lot of time in the library. Every university has one. Some are even open 24 hours a day for students.

Libraries can inspire children.
When I was a child I went to our local library in Edgeley, Stockport and I can remember feeling the excitement of taking books off the shelf and discovering new things. I loved the smell of the books, taking and flicking through the pages. My favourites were on astronomy, the moon landings and I remember borrowing a black and yellow book named  ‘Codes and ciphers’. My dad like to borrow westerns from our local library and probably read their entire collection of them.

A library provides a sanctuary from the modern world
In our noisy hectic modern day life, full of noise, it can be calming to go into a quiet space and just read. It’s almost like a place of worship. At the Gladstone Library reading room you will experience the true meaning of silence!

The Gladstone Library

Old bricks and mortar have power.
Many libraries have a long tradition, and simply going into these buildings will inspire you and will change your perspective on things. At Chetham’s library in Manchester you can sit in the exact spot where Friedrich Engels wrote books on the working classes which would go on to change the course of the 20th century.

Libraries are symbols of philanthropy.
Many libraries are the legacy of philanthropists, many of them wealthy individuals who decided to spend their money on libraries in order to help their community. John Rylands was one example and so was Andrew Carniegie. Thanks to his generosity hundreds of Carnegie libraries were built across the United States, Britain and Ireland and many of them are still in use today. I’ll be looking at some examples of Carnegie Libraries including rathmines library in Dublin, Didsbury Withington and and Chorlton Libraries in Manchester, and in Liverpool Toxteth and West Derby. There are hundreds more up and down the country.

Sir Duncan Rice Library, Aberdeen

Modern-day libraries are striking pieces of architecture.
Some of my favourite modern libraries are the library of Birmingham, the Sir Duncan Rice Library in Aberdeen and Liverpool Central Library which has a futuristic modern extension. In the video I’ll be looking especially at the Sir Duncan Rice library as well as three very interesting post-war libraries in Berlin.

Libraries offer lots of services and benefits not just books.
Today libraries have diversified what they offer: You can surf the Internet, get training, apply for a job gain new skills and qualifications, have things printed or take one to one tuition.

Libraries are under threat.
But despite all that they do and the benefits they offer, libraries are under threat in many parts of the UK. Due to the austerity policies of central government, local authorities are having to close libraries because of budget cuts. This is true in Greater Manchester, Liverpool and many other places around Britain.

Everton Library inscription

Everton Library, Liverpool

While millions  are being spent on new office and residential developments, I think it’s a scandal that beautiful old buildings such as Everton Library are standing empty and neglected. A friends group are doing what they can to save the building, but funding and support are needed. Surely it should be possible for even small percentage of the millions spent on these developments to help restore libraries. The closure of libraries reduces peoples opportunities and works exactly against what Andrew Carnegie, William Gladstone and others were trying to achieve. I’m sure they would be horrified if they could see what has happened to some libraries in recent years.

Libraries are being brought back to life.
But there are some examples of regeneration and renewal. In West Derby, Liverpool, Heritage lottery funding has been secured for the renovation of a unique and magnificent library originally funded by Andrew Carnegie. It will reopen as a centre providing services for the local community.

Please visit a library.
Many people take libraries are granted. Some people have never set foot inside one. I hope after watching this some people will make more use of libraries and and perhaps go and visit some of the libraries I’ve highlighted here. Do libraries have a future? Yes of course they do. And my closing words are: Long live libraries!

Currently in pre-production. Release date: 2020

Das atemberaubende „Museum of the Moon“ von Luke Jerram – German version

Museum des Mondes an der Liverpool Cathedral


Ich besuchte in Liverpool die Anglikanische Kathedrale und habe dort den Mond gesehen! Nicht den wirklichen, sondern einen verkleinerten Mond, der ein Fünfhunderttausendtel des echten Mondes ist.

Dieser Mond befand sich im Nordteil der Kathedrale. Beim Betreten der Kathedrale ist der Effekt atemberaubend. Da, vor dir, schwebt eine ziemlich genaue Repräsentation des Mondes, mit viel Anmut und einer hypnotischen Kraft.

Ich war gefesselt, genau so wie die vielen Besucher. Sie fotografierten und machten Selfies. Sie saßen auf den Stufen an beiden Seiten und schauten gebannt den Mond an. Sie bewegten sich um ihn herum, lagen auf dem Boden und schauten zu ihm hinauf.

Die „Exhibition of the Moon“ ist ein Kunstwerk von Luke Jerram. Für mich aber ist das Faszinierende an dieser Repräsentation des Mondes, dass es ein Foto ist, und zwar eine dreidimensionale Fotomontage. Grundsätzlich ist es eine Sphäre mit einer großen Fotomontage der Oberfläche des Mondes, die darauf gedruckt wurde.

Man kann viele Informationen über Luke Jerram und seinen erstaunlichen Mond auf der Webseite ‘Museum of the Moon’ finden. Ich würde die BBC-Dokumentarsendung besonders empfehlen. Der Mond wurde schon an vielen Orten ausgestellt: Tintern Abbey Wales, ein Schwimmbad in Rennes, Frankreich, die Commonwealth Games in Australien uvm.

Exhibition of the Moon at Liverpool Cathedral 30 May 2018

Dieser ‘Kunstmond’ hat eine magische Präsenz, aber eigentlich er ist nicht anders als ein Luftballon, ähnlich einem Wetterballon, aber mit gedruckten Bildern darauf. Luke Jerram hat die bestehende Technologie genutzt, um etwas ganz Einmaliges zu schaffen.

Der Mond besteht aus gebogenen Ausschnitten, die jeweils mit fotografischen Bildern vom Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter bedruckt sind. Die Teile wurden in eine Sphäre zusammengeknüpft und geklebt, die dann aufgeblasen und von oben aufgehängt wurde.  Die Sphäre ist von innen beleuchtet.

Für mich sieht die „Exhibition of the Moon“ am besten später am Abend aus, wenn das Licht der Sonne allmählich nachlässt.  Dann könnte man sich vorstellen, dass man in der Mondumlaufbahn hängt und die Mondoberfläche aus hunderten von Kilometern beobachtet.

Es ist interessant, die Oberfläche des Mondes aus der Nähe zu betrachten, obwohl es nicht möglich ist, ihn anzufassen. Er hängt so hoch, dass es nicht möglich ist, ihn mit der Hand zu berühren.

Es ist noch erstaunlicher, die sogenannte ‘dunkle Seite’ zu sehen, die Seite, die wir nicht sehen können. Diese fremde Seite ist fast ausschließlich mit Kratern übersät, während sich auf der vertrauten Seite die markanten dunkleren ‘Seen’ befinden. Daneben gibt es unzählige Krater und sogar Krater innerhalb von Kratern.

Einer der Pfarrer der Kathedrale zeigte den Besuchern die genaue Position des Apollo-11-Landeortes. Ich habe genau hingeguckt, aber ich habe die Überreste der Mission nicht gesehen! Sie wären natürlich viel zu klein.

Jeder Zentimeter repräsentiert fünf Kilometer auf der Mondoberfläche. Wenn man mit dem Daumen darauf drücken könnte, würde man eine Fläche decken, die so groß ist wie ein Flughafen mittlerer Größe.

Luke Jerram's Exhibition of the Moon artwork at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral with grand interior arch

Ich wollte nur etwa eine halbe Stunde dort verbringen, aber ich blieb drei Stunden lang. Es war wunderschön, den Mond in einem Dom ausgestellt zu sehen. Die Gebete in der Kathedrale schienen passend.

Einige Beobachtungen: Dieser Mond wird von innen ohne dunkle Bereiche beleuchtet, aber zu jeder Zeit befindet sich nur etwa die Hälfte des echten Mondes im Sonnenlicht. Der Rest ist im Schatten.

Der Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter untersuchte die Mondoberfläche aus der Umlaufbahn und zeichnete die Bilder zu verschiedenen Zeiten auf. Aus diesem Grund haben einige der Krater den Schatten auf der linken Seite und andere in der Nähe auf der rechten Seite.

Dadurch sehen wir die merkwürdigen Mondkrater-Illusion, bei der die Krater konvex statt konkav aussehen. Das ist keine Kritik und wahrscheinlich werden es nicht viele Leute bemerkt haben.

Was die Illusion wirklich verbessern würde, wäre, wenn die Kugel rundum, also auch oben und unten durchgehend wäre, ohne sichtbare Verbindungen.
Es wäre auch großartig, wenn die Kugel schweben würde – ich glaube, Luke Jerram arbeitet daran und ich kann es kaum erwarten, den schwebenden, mit Helium gefüllten Mond zu sehen, wenn er fertig ist.

Es ist künstlerisch, es ist lehrreich, es ist wissenschaftlich.

Alles in allem ist es eines der besten Dinge, die ich seit langem gesehen habe. Es bietet viele Möglichkeiten für fotografische Experimente.

The Exhibition of the Moon by Luke Jerram at Liverpool Cathedral - stereoscopic pair

Lassen Sie mich vorerst nur sagen, dass ich dieses Kunstwerk atemberaubend fand. Ich bin mit den Mondlandungen aufgewachsen und habe selbst unzählige Fotos vom Mond gemacht.

Immer wenn ich sehe, wie er am Himmel aufsteigt, hat er immer noch einen starken visuellen Effekt auf mich. Das kommt wahrscheinlich aus der Zeit der Mondschüsse während meiner Kindheit.

Ich ging am Donnerstagabend, der letzten Nacht, zu einem weiteren Besuch zurück. Ich habe es geschafft, um 9.45 Uhr dorthin zu gelangen – es gab eine lange Warteschlange.

Bald waren wir drinnen und ich genoss diese letzten Momente mit dem Mond. Um 10:30 las der Pfarrer ein besonderes Gebet und wir rezitierten das Vaterunser.

Und dann war es Zeit zu gehen und die Sicherheitsbeamten der Kathedrale trieben uns zur Tür.

An der Eingangstür schaute ich ein letztes Mal zum Mond zurück und ging dann unter den Dämmerungshimmel von Liverpool hinaus. Ich konnte den echten Mond nicht sehen, da es zu viele Wolken gab.

Es gibt eigentlich mehrere Monde, die in der Welt auf Tournee sind. Vielleicht kommt einer der Monde zu einem Ausstellungsort in der Nähe von Ihnen.

Ich hoffe, Sie haben die Gelegenheit dieses unglaubliche, erstaunliche und faszinierende Kunstwerk zu sehen und zu fotografieren. Es ist im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes „awesome“, das heißt: fantastisch, beeindruckend, Ehrfurcht gebietend.


The Exhibition of the Moon by Luke Jerram at Liverpool Cathedral - with cathedral window

Poppies in the UK – Remembrance, tradition and controversy – English version

Mohnblumen - poppies


Many people in the UK wear poppies as a symbol of remembrance for the victims of war, especially the fallen soldiers of both world wars.

In the weeks before the 11th November, poppies (small paper flowers) are sold in shops, shopping centres, stations and other public places. People take a poppy and give a donation. The money goes to charities like the Royal British Legion, who support war veterans

People wear poppies on their clothes. Larger poppies can also be seen on buildings and cars. The poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ was written by the Canadian Lieutenant John McCrae. In the poem, the poppy is a reminder of the blood that was shed by the soldiers.

On Remembrance Sunday (the second Sunday in November) poppy wreaths and wooden crosses are laid at cenotaphs all over the country. At 11 o’clock, two minutes silence is held. The eleventh day of the eleventh month is Armistice Day, the day of the cessation of hostilities. On this day at 11 o’clock, people also observe two minutes silence.

In 2014 thousands of ceramic poppies were placed at the Tower of London. The artwork was taken to other places including St George’s Hall in Liverpool.The poppy is recognised everywhere and is worn by many people, including famous personalities. There are controversies, however. Pacifists don’t want to wear the red poppy. For them, the red poppy is a symbol of militarisation. They prefer a white poppy.

Some organisations – for instance FIFA – have banned the wearing of poppies as they see it as a political statement. Footballers and fans have protested against this.Whether red or white, there’s no doubt that the poppy will continue to exist as a symbol of remembrance of war and conflict.

Poppies - Mohnblumen, Westminster Abbey


Mohnblumen in GB – Erinnerung, Tradition und Kontroverse – Deutsche Version

Mohnblumen - poppies


Viele Menschen in Großbritannien tragen Mohnblumen als Symbol des Gedenkens an die Opfer von Kriegen, besonders die gefallenen Soldaten der beiden Weltkriege.

In den Wochen vor dem 11. November werden Poppies (kleine Papierblumen) in Geschäften, Einkaufszentren, Bahnhöfen und anderen öffentlichen Orten verteilt.

Man nimmt eine Mohnblume und gibt eine Spende. Das Geld geht an Wohlfahrtsorganisationen wie z.B. der Royal British Legion, die Kriegsveteranen unterstützt.

Die Leute stecken sich die Mohnblume an die Kleider. Man sieht größere Mohnblumen auch auf Gebäuden und Autos.

Das Gedicht ‘In Flanders Fields’ wurde von dem kanadischen Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae geschrieben. Im Gedicht erinnert die Mohnblüte an das vergossene Blut der Soldaten.

Am Gedenksonntag (der zweite Sonntag im November) werden Mohnblumenkränze und Holzkreuze an Cenotaphs (Scheingräber) überall im Land niedergelegt.

Um 11 Uhr wird für zwei Minuten geschwiegen. Der elfte Tag des elften Monats ist Armistice Day, der Tag des Waffenstillstandes. Auch an diesem Tag gibt es überall eine zweiminütige Schweigepause.

Am Tower of London wurde 2014 als Kunstwerk tausende von Keramik-Poppies aufgestellt. Die Kunstaktion wurde auch an andere Orte gebracht, darunter St Georges Hall in Liverpool.

Die Mohnblume ist überall anerkannt und wird von vielen Leuten, auch berühmten Persönlichkeiten, getragen.

Es gibt jedoch Kontroversen. Pazifisten wollen die rote Mohnblume nicht tragen.

Für sie ist die rote Poppy ein Symbol der Militarisierung. Sie ziehen eine weiße Mohnblume vor.

Einige Organisationen – zum Beispiel die FIFA – haben das Tragen der Mohnblüte verboten, da sie das als politische Aussage ansehen.

Fußballer und Fans haben dagegen protestiert.

Ob rot oder weiß wird die Mohnblute ohne Zweifel als Symbol der Erinnerung an die Opfer von Kriegen und Konflikten weiterbestehen.

Poppies - Mohnblumen, Westminster Abbey


The German influence in Manchester

Manchester, a city in North West England – a British city with international and European influences, a city where migration has played a key role.

The German influence in Manchester is significant but often hidden. In this video, I look for the traces of German language and culture and some of the people from the German speaking countries who helped to make Manchester what it is today.

The name Albert is famous all over the UK. Streets, buildings and monuments are named after him. But how many people know where he came from?

Prinz Albert von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, to give him his correct title, was born in 1819. In English we say Prince Albert of Saxe Coburg and Gotha.

He married Queen Victoria and became Prince Consort. Sadly he died in 1861 at the age of 42. His birthplace, Schloss Rosenau, now in Bavaria near the former East German border, is open to the public and I intend to visit.

Round the corner – um die Ecke – from Albert Square you’ll find Alberts Schloss – a self-proclaimed palace of Bavarian and Bohemian-inspired food and drink. It’s on the ground floor of the Albert Hall on Peter Street.

Opposite Alberts Schloss is the Free Trade Hall, former home of the Hallé Orchestra founded by Sir Charles Hallé. Karl Halle was born in the town of Hagen, now in the federal state of Nordrhein-Westfalen. He came to England and changed his name to Hallé with an accent on the letter ‘e’ so people wouldn’t call him Mr ‘Hall’.

In 1858 he founded the Hallé Orchestra – Im Jahre 1858 gründete er das Hallé Orchester – and brought many German musicians over from Germany. He had a distinguished career. His gravestone is in Weaste Cemetery, Salford.

Friedrich Engels was born in Barmen, Wuppertal in 1820. He came to Manchester to work in the family textile business. He studied the English working class and wrote ‘die Lage der Arbeitenden Klasse in England’ – ‘The condition of the working class in England’. In 2017 a statue of Friedrich Engels was brought from Ukraine to Manchester. It stands in front of Manchester’s HOME arts centre.

In the 19th century German-speaking immigrants came to Manchester. Many went on to generate huge wealth and helped to make Manchester the city it is today. Hans Renold wurde 1852 in Aarau geboren – Hans Renold was born in 1852 in Aarau, west of Zürich in the German-speaking part of Switzerland He came to Manchester and founded Renold Chain. The Renold Building in Manchester University is named after his son Sir Charles Renold. Renold is a worldwide company and its head office is near Manchester Airport.

Siemens is a German company that is a major player in the UK. You’ll find the Siemens name in many places, such as on the doors of these trains.

Simon is a name familiar to people from Manchester. Henry Simon and Simon Carves are prominent local companies. In Wythenshawe you’ll find Simonsway and in Manchester city centre, Shena Simon Campus of the Manchester College. Where does the name come from? It doesn’t sound very German. Gustav Heinrich Victor Amandus Simon wurde 1835 geboren – He was born in 1835 in the Prussian town of Brieg, now Brzeg in Poland. He moved to Manchester, changed his name to Henry Simon and founded Simon Carves and Simon Engineering.

Henry Simon revolutionierte die britische Mehlindustrie – He revolutionised the British flour industry. His son Ernest Simon, 1st Baron Simon of Wythenshawe was a politician and former Lord Mayor of Manchester. His wife Lady Simon was a politician, feminist and educationalist.

He bought Wythenshawe Hall and donated it to the city in 1926. On the estate a new town was built, named Wythenshawe. With its wide roads and yellow trams it looks like Germany – es sieht aus wie in Deutschland.

In England we don’t explain our street names. I think the Simonsway sign should have information about Ernest Simon so I made a version in Photoshop.

Only a short distance away in West Didsbury are Marie Louise Gardens, given to the city by Mrs Silkenstadt, the widow of a wealthy German merchant, in memory of their daughter.

Die Gardens haben eine besondere Ambiente – the gardens have a special atmosphere, like other parts of West Didsbury. Many German musicians, industrialists and scientists lived here, the name Palatine Road recalls Rhineland-Pfalz, but it’s so called because it links the two palatinates of Lancashire and Cheshire across the river Mersey

The River Irwell has a Germanic name. In German ‘irre’ means ‘crazy’, or meandering. ’Welle’ means wave or water so the ‘Irre Welle’ the ‘crazy wave’ might be the origin of Irwell, though it’s not certain. Anglo-Saxon migrants brought their Germanic language to England from around the 5th century onwards and it eventually became the language I’m speaking now, English.

Die Spuren der deutschen – the traces of German people – can be seen around the conurbation. There is a large German community living in the Manchester area today and some of them attend the Martin-Luther-Kirche in Stretford.

In Stockport there is an intriguing sign on a row of cottages on the A6. Germans buildings. Woher kommt der Name? – Where does the name come from? I would love to know.

In the Edgeley district of Stockport where I grew up, there are streets named after European capitals including Berlin and Vienna. As a child I loved these street names, Berliner Straße und Wiener Straße.

In central Manchester there is an area called Brunswick – the anglicised name for the German city of Braunschweig in North Germany. Brunswick Street runs from Ardwick to Manchester University where it was turned into a park.

Woher kommt der Name? Where does the name come from? Caroline of Brunswick was Queen Caroline, Königin von Großbritannien, Irland und Hannover von 1820 bis 1821. She was Queen of Great Britain, Ireland and Hanover from 1820 to 1821. She has a remarkable story I intend to return to.

On Brunswick Street, now Brunswick Park on the Manchester University campus there is the Simon building, named after Henry Simon and the Schuster Building, named after Arthur Schuster, ein Physiker deutscher Abstammung – a physicist of German origin. He was born in Frankfurt in 1851 and became professor of Applied Physics at Manchester University.

Another German physicist was Hans Geiger. Er wurde 1882 in Neustadt an der Haardt geboren – he was born in Neustadt an der Haardt in 1882. He worked with Ernest Rutherford and gave his name to the Geiger Counter. He is not to be confused with the Austrian Kurt Geiger who founded the shop of the same name in London in 1963. There’s a branch in Manchester.

Other German-sounding high street names are Deichmann – der größte Schuhhändler in Europa – the biggest shoe retailer in Europe, founded by Heinrich Deichmann and based in Essen. schuh is a British company founded in 1981 in Scotland. They chose the German spelling for the name of their store.

Remember when you shop at Spar, they are telling you to save. Spar was founded in the Netherlands and the word spar in Dutch and in German means ‘save’.

Not far from Piccadilly Station is Elbe Street – Elbestraße, next to Raven Street – Raabestraße. The street is named after the wide magnificent river Elbe, which flows through Dresden and Hamburg. Elbe Street is neither wide nor magnificent, more Elbegasse than Elbestraße. The origin of the name is a mystery I would like to uncover.

Radium Street in Ancoats was originally called German Street – aber der Name wurde geändert – the name was changed. At the end of the First World War, many references to Germany were erased. The Royal Family changed their name from Saxe-Coburg Gotha to Windsor. Rutherford experimented with Radium at Manchester University and so German Street became Radium Street. I think the name German Street should be revived.

Not far away is Dantzic Street, named after the former German city of Danzig, now Gdansk in Poland. The spelling has been anglicised to give the correct pronunciation. The name probably arose from Manchester’s trading links with the Baltic area. I would love to know who chose the name and why.

Der deutsche Einfluss in Manchester ist kaum sichtbar, oft wird er sogar verschwiegen – the German influence in Manchester is mostly invisible and is often hidden, not spoken about.

Dantzic Street crosses Hanover Street. Das Haus Hannover produced five of Britain’s monarchs, from George the 1st to Queen Victoria.

Am Ende der Hannoverstraße – at the end of Hanover Street is Victoria Station where you’ll find a large nineteenth century map of the Lancashire and Yorkshire railway. In the far top right are the names of German cities across the North Sea – once called the German Ocean.

Stettin – now Szczecin in Poland, Hamburg and Bremen. In those days you could travel by train to Hull and by ship direct to Germany. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries many Jewish people came from Germany and central Europe to Manchester via this route.

They brought their customs, German-sounding names and Yiddish language, which is closely related to German. You can find out more about Jewish-German heritage at the Manchester Jewish Museum.

And at Manchester’s other station, Piccadilly, there are multilingual signs – The one in German says: Willkommen bei Metrolink – welcome to Metrolink. It continues: Fahrkarten sind nicht in der Bahn erhältlich – tickets are not available in the tram – Bitte kaufen Sie Ihre Fahrkarte auf dem Bahnsteig. Please buy your ticket on the platform. Vielen Dank. From here it’s just a short tram ride to the Christmas markets – die Weihnachtsmärkte – held in November and Dezember.

Auf den Weihnachtsmärkten kann man Essen und Trinken aus Deutschland genießen – at the Christmas Markets you can enjoy food and drink from Germany. You can try Bratwust, fried sausage, Bockwurst boiled sausage, deutsches Bier und vielleicht Bratkartoffeln – maybe fried potatoes. The prices are higher than in Germany but you can sample German culture and cuisine right in the heart of Manchester!

There’s plenty of Weihnachtsstimmung – Christmas atmosphere. And did you know the wooden tower with a rotor at the top is called a Weihnachtspyramide, a Christmas pyramid. The Christmas Markets are on St Peters Square and Albert Square, where we began.

And so to the Zusammenfassung…

Der deutsche Einfluss in Manchester ist bedeutend. Im 19. Jahrhundert kamen deutschsprachige Einwanderer nach Manchester. Der Ingenieur Henry Simon revolutionierte die britische Mehlindustrie. Der Musiker Charles Hallé gründete das Hallé Orchester. Friedrich Engels studierte die englische Arbeiterklasse. Es gibt zwar den Albert Square, die Dantzic Street und die Brunswick Street, aber der deutsche Einfluss in Manchester ist kaum sichtbar, oft wird er sogar verschwiegen. Auf den Weihnachtsmärkten kann man Essen und Trinken aus Deutschland genießen.

The German influence in Manchester is significant. In the 19th century German-speaking immigrants came to Manchester. The engineer Henry Simon revolutionised the British flour industry. The musician Charles Hallé founded the Hallé Orchestra. Friedrich Engels studied the English working class. There is Albert Square, Dantzic Street and Brunswick Street, but the German influence is hardly visible. It’s often hidden, not spoken about. At the Christmas markets you can enjoy food and drink from Germany.

If you’re interested in learning German, go to aidan.co.uk/german

Vielen Dank fürs Zuschauen und auf Wiedersehen in Manchester.

Stunning photos of Salford Quays in a free Salford Quays photo e-book.

Salford Quays is an area that has undergone huge transformation in recent decades. What was once the Manchester Docks is now a futuristic district where all kinds of striking modern buildings overlook wide stretches of water.

At MediaCityUK, you’ll find the studios of the BBC and ITV. The production centre for Coronation Street is located across the Manchester ship canal on the Trafford side, next to the Imperial War Museum with its crazy metallic fragmented shell.

The Lowry is a centre for art and performance and is also housed within in a shiny metallic structure full of strident angles, shapes and colours. The Lowry Outlet is a stylish shopping mall where you can buy discounted clothes and many other items. There’s a food court and a cinema there too.

Countless offices and apartments have been built all across Salford Quays. There are four impressive bridges two old and two new. Manchester United’s Old Trafford ground is very close. Manchester city centre is a 20 minute tram ride away.

I remember visiting the Manchester Docks as a child. It was exciting to see ocean-going ships floating on the water so close to the heart of the city. I once went with my mother to visit a Royal Navy submarine named Grampus. It was docked close to where the Millennium lift bridge is now.

A few years later, containerisation and the growth in the size of ships made the Docks redundant. By the early 80s, the area was mostly derelict and unused. But people at Salford City Council devised a plan. It has taken many years to bring that plan to reality and the development is still ongoing but I’m sure if the dockers and crews of the past could look into the future and see what’s there today, they would be astonished.

Just a quick note about place names, which can be confusing in this part of the world. Unlike other major cities, whose boroughs form one unit – I’m thinking of London, Berlin, New York and many others – the Manchester conurbation is divided up among a number of local authorities. Salford is a separate city and sees itself as having a strong identity that’s separate to Manchester.

The Manchester Docks were not located inside the City of Manchester – apart from a small section – but inside the City of Salford. The name of the conurbation is known as Manchester, or Greater Manchester and they were referred to as the Manchester Docks. Visitors often find the geography of the local area quite difficult to understand!

And the confusion continues: The area we think of as Salford Quays is actually split between Salford on the north side of the water and Trafford on the south side. For this reason the name ‘The Quays’ has been introduced as a unifying identity. The trouble with this name is that it has no place identifier. If you type ‘The Quays’ into a search engine, you may well stumble on other locations, for instance a shopping centre of that name in Newry, Northern Ireland.

There are other controversies. Not everyone is keen on the strident and outlandish designs of the Lowry and the Imperial War Museum. Others say the architecture of MediaCityUK is too bland and not adventurous enough.

There is a sentiment within Salford that Salford Quays has received the lion’s share of local funding, to the detriment of poorer areas. I’m not going to go into that controversy here, I will just approach Salford Quays from the point of view of a visual artist, with an eye on its history. And in Salford Quays I can find plenty of visually arresting scenes that demand to be captured. I’ve done this mostly through the medium of photography but I’ve also completed one drawing so far and hope to do more.

A major reason to visit Salford Quays is to see the paintings of LS Lowry, which are on display in the Lowry. His work should be an inspiration to everyone.

My Salford Quays e-book brings together around 30 of my best photos of Salford Quays mostly taken from around 2000 onwards. The cover photo shows the Lowry in early 2002, around the time it was completed, with no buildings around it . At that time it was possible to see the complete outline of the structure. Since then, more buildings have appeared all around, and new ones are under construction today.

I only have a couple of images from the eighties, both taken on Trafford Road Bridge, one of the bridge itself and one of the view along the canal before any of the development started.

I was at the opening of the Lowry in 2002 and managed to capture the view of the shiny new building from the top of the car park. Now there is an office development on the site next to the car park. It’s nice when there is open space to photograph buildings, but you have to act quickly. Things change quickly in this part of the world.

I love seeing the Mersey Ferry arriving in Salford Quays after its journey from Liverpool. I’ve done the six hour Manchester Ship Canal Cruise from Salford to Liverpool twice and I have to say it’s stunning.

I really wish there were more ships on the water in Salford Quays. It’s much quieter than the Thames. HMS Bronington was previously moored on Trafford Wharf, as well as the theatre ship Fitzcarraldo but they have both since moved on.

The WAXI water taxi is the only regular passenger service operating on the canal. I went on a tour to the city centre and back and it was a great experience to see the Quays, bridges and the area along the water from new angles.

On most stretches of lakes and waterways around Manchester and Salford, waterfowl are in residence and they often add an attractive element to photographs. Humans can also be seen on the water. Rowers from the watersports centre often do their training there and occasionally there are swimming events.

MediaCityUK appeared later years on the northern side of Salford Quays, when the studios of both the BBC and ITV migrated here from the city centre. The view of MediaCityUK from the Lowry is great, especially on a sunny day when the water is still. It can appear as smooth as a piece of glass.

I love to take the tram from the city centre. There are amazing panoramic views all the way from Deansgate-Castlefield to MediaCityUK.

I’ve selected a small number of my best photos for this e-book, which I’m giving away in order to showcase my photos and provide some information about this very interesting and photogenic area.

Feel free to pass on the link to anyone else who might be interested. If you like the photos, please post a comment on social media or e-mail me directly.

Salford Quays photo e-book by Aidan O'Rourke
Download the photo e-book to your device now by clicking on the image above.

32 of my best images of Stockport in a free photo e-book

As part of my photo e-book project, I’ve made a selection of my best photos of Stockport and presented them in a free photographic e-book. My aim is to present my entire portfolio on different places in a series of photo e-books. I decided to start with Stockport as it’s my home town.

I was born and grew up in Stockport and I’m based here today. My childhood memories of Stockport are of a grim northern town like the one featured in the film ‘A Taste of Honey’. It was smoky, industrial and predominantly working-class. We often view that era in black and white, but there were splashes of colour – the trees and flowers and the shiny red and cream buses.

In 1974 the local authority area was expanded to include surrounding villages and residential districts and suddenly, the place called ‘Stockport’ became a lot bigger and more diverse.

There isn’t a specific theme, I just chose from all the photos I’ve taken of Stockport over the years, including some very recent ones.  My favourite motifs in Stockport are:

The Market Place – in Germany this would be designated ‘Altstadt’ – old town. Still, it looks very attractive, parts of it have been restored and it has a wide variety of architectural styles. St Mary’s Church is interesting because of the stonework. When it was renovated, they inserted new stones. It reminds me of the reconstructed Frauenkirche in Dresden.  The Market Hall looks great. It has been restored and lovingly painted. The effect of the glass and colours is superb.

The feature I photograph the most is probably the railway viaduct. It dominates the town and is a masterpiece of Victorian engineering that is still in daily use. I travel over it normally a few times a week. There are great views of the town and looking west over Cheshire. I took some photos in the 80s of the viaduct, which at that time was in need of renovation. The renovation took place and today it looks good. The best time to photograph the viaduct from the town centre is in the morning and from the west of Stockport is in the afternoon. I have taken it pretty much from all angles. I also drew a sketch of it, based on my 1980s black and white photograph.

Click on the image above to download the e-book. If you would prefer it in epub format, click here

Another great feature of Stockport is the River Mersey. I often cycle along the river to the west of the town. I include one dusk photo of the river taken from Heaton Mersey at the very end of the book.

The town hall is a major landmark. I’ve been impressed with it since I was a child. The intricate stonework and the perfectly shaped clock tower are a marvel and completely different from buildings constructed today. Diagonally opposite the town hall is the War Memorial Art Gallery, which reminds me of civic buildings in Washington DC. When I was a child I had winning paintings displayed here two years running and I won a camera each year. I didn’t realise at the time that it was a foretaste of what was to come.

Another feature of Stockport I find visually captivating is the M60 motorway. I’ve taken lots of dusk and night photos with light trails. From Wellington Road North, the view along the motorway, under the railway viaduct, is stunning and you will see another major landmark of Stockport, The Pyramid, formerly occupied by the Co-operative Bank.

Stockport has countless parks, gardens and green spaces. The town is criss-crossed by all kinds of footpaths and wooded valleys, some only a short distance from residential districts. I’ve lived in cities with virtually no green spaces, so it’s great to live in a place with so much greenery. In my opinion, Stockport has some of the most desirable residential suburbs anywhere in the country. They have developed around villages, which still have a strong character of their own. These include Cheadle and Bramhall, which are featured in photos in the book.

I chose Bramall Hall for the front cover because it is Stockport’s oldest and possibly most famous landmark. It’s a half-timbered mansion begun in the 14th century and extended in the 16th and 19th. It is impressive even by today’s standards. We can only imagine what people thought of it in the Middle Ages. Also the photo of Bramall Hall has space for the title in the sky area at the top! Cover images have to have available space in the right places. There’s also some space underneath for the author’s name.

Why am I using the e-book format?

Because I love looking at photography books, both printed and electronic. I like putting together a cover design, I enjoy doing layout and it’s nice to package up my photos in a self-contained format that people can keep. It’s independent of any website and can be forwarded from one person to another. The layout is very simple but I may try more complex layout in future.

I’ve collaborated on some book projects in the past, including Liverpool Then and Now, Manchester Then and Now and Around the M60, Manchester’s Orbital Motorway. At present I prefer to concentrate on smaller e-book projects, like this one. The book can also be printed on demand.

I find it frustrating that many people don’t select their best photos, presenting them in a continuous, never-ending stream on social media or dumped on their computer with no curation or organisation. I like the idea of curating, which simply means to choose.

I also think it’s important to describe the photos, though in these e-books, the captions are brief. I am planning extended versions with a longer text.

The text is in three languages – English, German and French, my native language and my two foreign languages. I studied German and French at Trinity College Dublin, majoring in German and I’ve taught them for many years.

Through the e-book format I can bring together my two main areas – photography and languages. Actually, many photography books are presented in two or more languages. Photography is a medium that spans cultures and languages. I would like to promote the local area to an international audience.

I want to bring my languages as much as possible into my creative work. I can help my students to learn and I also learn myself when I am researching the titles. It helps me to know how to describe local landmarks, and I can use this linguistic knowledge if I’m giving a local photographic tour to German or French-speaking visitors. I’ve made a vocabulary sheet for language students. It’s called the Vocab Extractor sheet.

The photos were taken on a variety of cameras. The black and white photos of the viaduct were shot on my first camera, the Fujica STX-1, loaded with Ilford HP5 black and white film. The two townscapes were taken on a Nikon F50 film camera – I decided not to remove the dust and scratches! Other photos were taken on a variety of cameras, most recently the iPhone 8 Plus.

The Stockport e-book is the first in a series. Other titles include Manchester city centre views, The Liver Building, Monochrome Manchester and many more.

This photography e-book is free of charge. That’s because it is really a showcase of my photography and I’d like as many people to see it as possible.

I’m asking people to support me on Patreon, so I can continue my artistic and educational projects.

Click to download the PDF version or the EPUB version, which can be read in iBooks on the iPhone and other readers.

11 reasons to come on the Manchester or Liverpool Photo Walk

Manchester old fire station - Liverpool St George's Hall

1. Take your photography to a higher level
That’s the main reason people come on the Photo Walk in Liverpool and in Manchester – to improve their photography and most people find they learn new things that help them to take better photos than before. In a few hours I will share a large amount of information. If you’re a beginner you will probably learn a lot. If you’re more experienced, you can demonstrate your knowledge ‘peer-to-peer’ and you might find my approach to some aspects of photography different and refreshing.

2. Gain new and striking insights into Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO
I’ve developed a different and unique approach to learning about Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO, the three fundamental aspects photographic exposure. You will learn about and practice my simple but groundbreaking step-by-step method to adjust the camera and learn what happens when you adjust the aperture, shutter speed and ISO. This simple principle is often neglected by tutors and photography books. They seem to think it’s ‘not necessary’ as ‘modern cameras take care of all that stuff for you’. No! It’s essential knowledge for everyone, just like the ABC is to reading and writing and the times tables are to mathematics.

Aidan O'Rourke with his exposure crib card

Aidan O’Rourke with his exposure crib card

3. Receive a copy of my Exposure Crib Card.
I will give each person who comes on the walk a copy of my ‘should-be-patented’ photographic exposure crib card. It brings together all the numbers associated with the three main parameters of adjustment found on all cameras and photographic devices: Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO. By referring to the card, you will gain a much better understanding of this subject and you’ll discover that in essence, it’s very simple, but is made more confusing by the different sets of numbers.

4. Ask questions about anything you like.
I never quite know what questions people are going to ask me. Luckily I am able to answer most of them, but some questions – such as how to find a certain feature on the camera – can be difficult to find an answer for. On some cameras, features are found in obscure places, or in they end, they may lack this feature. I’m able to answer most questions and if I can’t, I’ll refer you to a place where you can get the information! I don’t pretend to be an expert user of all cameras and 100% familiar with the most obscure features. I have a thorough knowledge of the basic features of all cameras and for the more obscure ones, I’m not afraid to look on my iPhone for the answer!

5. Learn other important things like Exposure Compensation.
What’s the next most important feature on the camera, after Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO and perhaps the shutter button (which actually triggers three different things, I’ll tell you what they are) – It’s Exposure Compensation, a feature that many people are not aware of. Certain auto modes don’t allow you to control Exposure Compensation, which I find surprising. It’s one of the most essential features on the camera and I use it all the time. We will carry out exercises to try out this and other features on your camera.

6. Learn surprising things about your camera.
Many people are suprised to discover what Exposure Compensation can do, and there are other features you may not be aware of, buttons on the exterior whose purpose you weren’t sure of, items on the menu you didn’t know exist. We don’t have time to go through all menu items in detail, but often I’m able to point out features that are not obvious. For instance, on Nikon cameras, how to switch on more display screens, so you can find out more information about the photos you have taken.

7. See different types of camera, some unusual.
I may bring along a more unusual type of camera to show you – for instance my Fujifilm W3 stereoscopic camera. Most are amazed at the 3D stereo effect. Many have never seen it before. I may bring along a film camera, which is useful for showing the aperture mechanism and how it opens and closes. I also get to see different types of cameras which people bring along on the walk, something I find very interesting.

8. Gain constructive feedback about your photos.
One of the most important reasons to take part in the Photo Walk is to gain positive feedback on your photographs, when I look at them on the back of the camera. I look for positive aspects and will give praise where praise is due. I will also pick out things that could be improved – for instance ‘The photo is leaning half a degree to the right!’ I am very keen on exact horizontal and vertical alignment, perhaps too keen! When you’re taking photos, it can be valuable to have the feedback of someone experienced, who can give thoughtful and supportive commentary. For those using film cameras (actually, very few) it’s not possible for me to comment on the walk, but you can e-mail me copies of your photos after the walk and I will comment on them.

9. Find out a little about the history of the city.
I am also quite knowledgeable about the history of the city and the buildings we will look at, in both Manchester and Liverpool. I include a lot of information for instance about the style of architecture, the architect and how the city looked in past times. If you go into a bookstore or art gallery shop, you might find books featuring my photos: Manchester Then and Now and Liverpool Then and Now, not to mention Glasgow Then and Now and Birmingham Then and Now, if you happen to be in those cities.

10. Receive copies of tip sheets on photography.
In addition to the photography crib card, I give all people who come on the walk printouts of a few of my photography tip sheets, such as ‘Tips on Taking Better Photos’ or ‘Tips on taking dusk to night city photos’ or maybe ‘Tips on taking better portraits’. These tips sheets only take a minute or so to read but sum up important aspects of photography in the style of a checklist. I only give copies of my tip sheets to my students or people who support me on Patreon.

11. Go home with some good photos.
We will take test shots to try out the camera, but it’s also important for people to go home with some memorable and well-composed photos. That’s what photography is all about! If the weather is cloudy, it may not be possible to take the best photographs of buildings, but there are other types of photo we can take, which may be more suited to cloudy or rainy weather. I try to pick out each person’s ‘star photo of the day’ and if it’s particularly good, I might ask you to e-mail me a copy. I hope you’ll be able to do something with the photos you’ve taken, such as posting on social media, inclusion in your portfolio or you could even print it out and frame it!

There’s more information on the Manchester Photo Walk and Liverpool Photo Walk pages. To book, simply get in touch. You can either come on a scheduled walk or arrange a bespoke walk. It’s also possible to give the walk as a birthday or Christmas present. I will e-mail you a personalised letter which you can give to the person as a gift.

Liverpool and Manchester photo walk publicity cards

Photographing the Dublin Bowie Festival 2020 using an iPhone 8 Plus

DublinBowieFest-Tony Visconti Woody Woodmansey

Dublin Bowie Festival – Tony Visconti and Woody Woodmansey in conversation

In Jan 2020 I went to the Dublin Bowie Festival and I was capturing the people, sights and sounds of the event imusing my iPhone 8 Plus.

I had planned to bring my Panasonic TZ70 travel zoom compact but a few days before departure, it developed a fault (for the second time). I didn’t want to bring either of my DSLRs so I headed for the airport on 6 Jan with just the iPhone in my trouser pocket.

I wondered how I would get on with only a smartphone. All in all I wasn’t disappointed, despite the limitations, which I already knew about.

Here are the plus points of the iPhone, which will also apply to other types of smartphone.

It’s extremely compact. It slips into your pocket and is always available.

Its picture quality is extremely good, in some respects superior to most DSLRs

It handles contrasty scenes better than most conventional digital cameras, as it can adjust exposure in different areas of the image.

The Live View feature is revolutionary, as you can choose the moment of capture after you have taken the picture. This is great for photographing live music.

Its portrait mode can work very well indeed when photographing people. In fact I got to take several portraits of David Bowie, though sadly not the real David.

It can also shoot high quality video, rendering colours very well indeed.

The quality of the microphone is remarkably good, and it’s also possible to connect an even better quality microphone.

There are of course some disadvantages:

The lens on the 8 Plus is a standard iPhone lens with a wide field of view. If you want to zoom in you have to use digital zoom. It’s possible to use clip-on telephoto lenses, which I intend to try soon.The picture quality is of course not as good as the DSLR camera like the one used by the official photographer of the event, and you don’t get the benefit of a variety of high quality lenses.

Still the iPhone is very versatile and the most recent iPhones are even better.

So let’s take a look at what I did with the iPhone at the festival.

This video presents a short sample of the in conversation event with Bowie associates Tony Visconti and Woody Woodmansey. I shot the video from the front of the auditorium about 6 metres or 20 feet away from them. The sound and picture quality are good and it’s possible to zoom in by a moderate amount without loss of picture quality.

The London Boys in concert at the Dublin Bowie Festival 2020

The London Boys performing Bowie songs from the 1960s at the Dublin Bowie Festival 2020

The London Boys are a Dublin band who play David Bowie’s early music, from around the mid-sixties. By chance I got a seat directly in front of the band and was able to take some great close up images with the iPhone. Red light often poses a problem for cameras but the iPhone has coped well. They are a great band, by the way, giving an Irish spin on David Bowie’s very London-centric songs from this period.

The London Boys performing at BowieFest 2020

Panoramic photo of the London Boys made of 5 iPhone images merged in Photoshop

Another shot of The London Boys is a panorama. I took a series of overlapping shots from left to right and then combined them by hand using Photoshop. If you look closely you can see the joins.

I recorded this interview with Sara Captain, London-based artist who specialises in producing paintings and illustrations of David Bowie. I was so impressed with her work that I wanted to interview her to find out more about the paintings. I recorded this short interview on the iPhone 8 Plus, and edited it on the phone using iMovie. I used still photographs I took of her paintings and used the Ken Burns feature to zoom in on each picture. It took me about 10 minutes to edit the entire video and another 5 minutes or so to upload. It’s liberating to be able to produce videos without having to use a computer.

DavidBowie by MariaPrimolan-2-K111

David Bowie sculpture by Maria Primolan, iPhone 8 Plus Portrait Mode

The images above and below are of sculptures of David Bowie, both made by Italian artist Maria Primolan. They’re incredibly lifelike and capture the subject perfectly. Though they don’t depict a real person, it’s possible to used the iPhone 8 Plus Portrait Mode to great effect.

DavidBowie by MariaPrimolan-2-K111

Sculpture of David Bowie by Maria Primolan photographed using the iPhone 8 Plus

By the use of software it finds the areas of the picture behind the subject which are slightly out of focus and defocuses them further, simulating the effect of a prime lens at a wide aperture. The effect is not quite as good as a real lens but it’s still effective. The iPhone was able to cope well with the different types of light source.

The Dublin Bowie Festival was an amazing experience and I was glad to be able to capture it using the amazing iPhone 8 Plus. I’m already looking forward to next year’s festival and hope by then to have the newest available iPhone.

For more information go to www.dublinbowiefestival.ie

Dublin BowieFest-Sara Rena-Hine

Portrait of Sara Rena-Hine, close friend of David Bowie, taken with the iPhone 8 Plus

Why it’s still important to understand Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO

It’s important to understand the information the camera is giving you.

As part of every photo walk I do and every private tuition session in photography I give, I deliver my ‘should-be-patented’ one-hour lesson in Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO.

Many photography manuals and tutors completely ignore this fundamental aspect of photography because, they say “you don’t need to understand it” or perhaps “today’s cameras make it unnecessary” or perhaps “it’s a bit too technical for most people, so not worth bothering with.”

I have just one word to say to that, and I won’t use it here! If you want to progress in photography and achieve the results you desire, then you have to understand what is going on when light enters the camera and how the camera deals with the light.

The only way you can understand this properly is to take some time to focus, use your mind, think and make sense of this important principle of photography.

Actually, it is not difficult, rather it’s confusing, because there are confusing and often counter-intuitive sets of numbers. Many people are put off by numbers and other aspects of maths. I had a problem with maths when I was a child, but through my interest in photography, I appreciate it’s not so difficult and it is very relevant to day to day life and especially to photography.

I’ve been teaching photography on a regular basis since around 2009, when I was asked to do an evening class in photography. I needed a diagram or chart to help me explain the basic principles of photography and I came up with the photography crib card which I have used countless times. I give people free copies of the card in in my photo walks and one-to-one photography sessions.

I use it as part of my one-hour lesson in photography and people find it very useful.

I don’t have enough time in this blog post to explain the card in detail. For that you would need to attend a photo walk or course. However I will set out some bullet points about why it’s important to understand Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO.

  • The camera gives you information on the back of the screen. You need to understand this information, just as you need to understand your car’s speedometer and rev counter.
  • Photographic exposure is a fundamental principle of photography. Every person who takes photographs should try to understand it better.
  • The principle of exposure is not difficult, it’s just confusing. By going through my chart step by step, it’s possible for people to gain a much better understanding in a short space of time.
  • Learning Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO is similar to learning to spell in your native language, or learning the times tables in Maths. Yes, we have apps and calculators, but better to try and get it right in your head.
  • It requires some mental effort and a bit of self-discipline to learn this basic principle but it’s worth it. The insight you will gain will give you a sense of satisfaction. Even if it wasn’t helpful to photography, it’s a worthwhile thing to do.
  • The fact is that many professional photographer and people tutoring in photography have a poor understanding of exposure don’t realise how important it is. That’s the only reason I can think of, why it is omitted in photography manuals and courses.
  • As well as learning an interesting and essential principle of photography, you will also learn my unique approach to using the camera in Manual Mode. I use this approach whenever I am working in unusual lighting conditions. It’s easy to learn and of immediate practical use.
  • Even experienced photographers find the crib card, my explanation of Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO as well as my unique approach to using the camera in Manual Mode to be very useful as it approaches a familiar subject from a different angle.

My 6×4 inch exposure crib card

My Exposure Crib Card is an item from my Mediathek – (pronounced ‘media – teck’, like discotheque) that’s the word I use to refer my Media Library, which contains a growing collection of material on the subjects I teach, including photography.

I am developing an online course on understanding Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO and I hope to have it ready soon.

You can support what I’m doing and gain access to exclusive materials from my media library by sponsoring me on Patreon. It’s possible to receive a printed copy of the Exposure crib card in the mail, with a personalised welcome message from me. Go to http://www.patreon.com/aidanorourke to find out more.

Photos of Edgeley and Cheadle Heath, Stockport from my portfolio

On this page I present photographs of Edgeley and Cheadle Heath from my portfolio of photographs. I have a special interest in the area as this is where I grew up as a child. Click on the images to view the pictures at larger size, with captions.
I grew up in the neighbouring suburbs of Cheadle Heath and Edgeley in Stockport, just south of Manchester.

I lived on Edgeley Road Stockport and went to Our Lady’s primary school, Edgeley.

As a small child, I played in Alexandra Park with its bowling greens – some now fenced off, its pavilion, children’s playground and woods.

Sykes reservoirs, to the south of Alexandra Park are one of the most striking features of the area. They belonged to Sykes Bleach works, which was later closed and demolished. The reservoirs were then opened for public use.

They are overlooked by rows of terraced houses. There are footpaths around and between these small stretches of water, which at various times of the year are populated by birds.

On the south side of the reservoirs are residential streets with interesting names – Vienna Road, Berlin Road, Stockholm Road and Petersburg Road. As a child I never imagined I would eventually live in Berlin.

Then, as today, Edgeley seems a long way from Berlin. Planes to and from Berlin and other destinations fly directly above Edgeley on their way to Manchester Airport.

The area has a quiet nostalgia about it with streetscapes that have not changed much since the 19th century.

Unlike Cheadle, Chorlton or Didsbury, Edgeley is not regarded as a fashionable or sought after place to live, For some, it’s a just stepping stone onto the property ladder, as there are usually inexpensive terraced houses for sale.

The photos I present here are taken over many years. When taking the photo I am often trying to recapture my childhood. The grainy view over Cheadle Heath is what I saw as I walked home from school. The trees and footpaths of Alexandra Park are mostly the same as they were when I was a child.

As for the reservoirs, I could only look at them through the fence, but I imagined them to be a remote coastline or lake in some far off country, maybe the United States, where I also lived.

A few years ago I was inspired to make a short film drama set in Edgeley. It is available to view by invitation.

All photos are copyright Aidan O’Rourke. Some of them may be suitable for licencing or as prints. Please contact to order.

Portfolio of sketches by Aidan O’Rourke – Dublin, Liverpool, Manchester, Salzburg, Berlin and other locations

In this post I present my portfolio of illustrations, done in various locations and at various times.

I was good at drawing as a child and enjoyed art at primary school. In fact I won an art competition two years running.

The first was a poster for an anti-crime campaign by the police. I designed a poster with a sports car and the slogan ‘Flashy or not, lock it!’.

I won a Kodak Brownie camera, which I remember picking up as a very excited 8 year old from the police station in Stockport.

The second year I did a drawing of Tom Thumb standing on a giant hand. For that I won a Kodak Instamatic camera, which I also collected from the duty desk at the police station.

Both works were exhibited at Stockport Art Gallery.

Unfortunately, I don’t have these pictures today.

At grammar school I wasn’t able to study Art due to a timetable clash with Music. I drew from time to time and finally started to experiment with photography more seriously at university in Dublin. I turned to photography as I had grown impatient when doing drawings and found it difficult to draw faces.

For me, photography and art are complimentary. I’ve done mostly photography but occasionally, when I’m in the mood, I’ve done drawings.

I attend life drawing classes, but drawing the human figure is difficult. The face is even more difficult. But with sketches of buildings, it doesn’t seem to matter if the proportions are not quite accurate. My style is sketchy and scribbly but it seems to work.

When I do quick drawings, the results are often good. People seem to rate art higher than photography due to the talent and skill that goes into a drawing or painting, although photography also requires lots of talent and skill.

I prefer drawing to painting and I especially like to do line drawings.

I’m inspired by art and often go to art galleries such as the Walker in Liverpool, Manchester Art Gallery and the Tate Britain in London.

I love Japanese woodblock ukuyo-e prints by artists including Hiroshige (1797-1858) , Hokusai (1760-1849) and Utamaro (1753-1806).

I’m very interested in fashion illustration from around 1900s to the 1920s, which was actually quite Japanese-influenced.

I love the illustrations of Georges Barbier (1882-1932), the Russian emigré fashion illustrator Erté (1892-1990) and the Czech artist Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939), all three part of the Art Deco movement.

David Hockney’s (b. 1937) line drawings are fantastic and some are quite risqué!

Talking of risqué, Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898) is another artist I like.

I really appreciate the illustrations of Patrick Nagel (1945-1984) who designed that famous album cover for Duran Duran.

The drawings of Swedish artist Carl Larsson (1853-1919) are amazing.

I have lots of ideas, which I intend to explore and I’ll share my work my on Facebook and social media.

Many thanks to my friends on Facebook for their positive feedback and encouragement.

The beauty of the baths captured on the Victoria Baths Photo Workshop

Angel at Victoria Baths by Chris Currie
I’ve been running the Victoria Baths Photography Workshop for a few years now and have welcomed a large number of people, ranging from complete beginners in photography to highly experienced professional photographers. The age range is very wide as well, from teenagers to octogenarians.

Every time I run the workshop, I see something in the Baths that I’ve not seen before – not with my own eyes but through the camera viewfinders of the people on the workshop.

The aim of the workshop is to give people the opportunity to photograph this amazing building. I’m on hand to chat to people, giving tips where needed and also asking questions. There’s no formal instruction due to the widely differing levels of the participants.

I normally chat individually to each person on the workshop for ten minutes or so. There are normally between 7 and 10 people attending.

I always look through the photos on each person’s camera screen to gain an idea of what they have been photographing. I give positive feedback and suggestions for improvement. I also look at photos and say things like: ‘Wow, I wish I’d taken that!’ and ‘You’re very talented, aren’t you?’ or perhaps ‘That’s incredible, look at this everybody!’

I’ll also give them a task to complete, for instance making use of exposure compensation and asking them to do a series of bracketed shots to show me later.

The workshop that took place on Sunday 9 June followed the usual format: Start at 10am in the Turkish Baths rest area, by the magnificent stained glass window. Participants then go and explore the building. I chat to each one individually. We then meet at 12pm to go up the ‘secret’ staircase to the abandoned rooms at the top of the building. After 30-40 minutes we return to the ground floor and go to the canteen to chat.

This time I found some of the photos taken by the participants to be so impressive, I decided to do a write-up and showcase their photographs.

So here is a selection of images, sent in by people. I asked them to pick out three of their best images, particularly the ones I had praised on the day. I chose two images for each photographer who got back to me, and what follows is my critique of the photos.

Victoria Baths light switch by Emily PIckering 9.6.2019

This photo by Emily Pickering of a light switch and torn wallpaper really captures the atmosphere of the abandoned rooms on the top floor, which we always visit on the Victoria Baths Photography Workshop. She has caught the textures and details very well. She has placed the switch in the lower right of the frame, leaving room to display the wallpaper layers, patterns and colours at the top of the image.

Victoria Baths stained glass windows by Emily Pickering 9.6.2019

Emily Pickering has captured the stained glass windows superbly in this image. Very often, with stained glass, you have to underexpose the image in order to make sure the colours look saturated. The camera’s exposure meter will often photograph coloured stained glass wrongly. Often it makes the glass too light.  By making use of the Exposure Compensation setting on the camera, Emily has achieved the ideal exposure – not too dark and not too light. The viewpoint, from slightly to one side, gives a hint of spontaneity.

Victoria Baths stained glass window on the stairs by Maggie Malyszko

Maggie Malyszko took this excellent shot of the ‘sunrise’ window on the stairs. She has adopted a different viewpoint from most. She is looking from behind the staircase through the gap, giving a sense of an observer. This viewpoint creates an unusual pattern and composition in the image. The strong verticals and dark tones give a sense of mystery and atmosphere.

Victoria Baths corridor by Maggie Malyszko - 9.6.2019

Maggie Malyszko’s photo of the door and corridor is another superbly composed image. She has placed the part-open door in just the right position so that we can see through it, and so that the door at the far end of the corridor falls inside the middle pane of glass. Having a foreground element like this placed at the front gives a sense of depth. The textures of the wood, the shiny tiles and the marks on the out of focus windows give extra visual interest. She has placed the light on the wall in the upper left exactly inside the curve in the door. Great composition!

Victoria Baths abandoned rooms by Richard Waldock 6.9.2019

Richard Waldock created this very enigmatic image in the abandoned rooms at the top of the building. Eventually these rooms will be converted into apartments though at the time of writing – June 2019 – this is still a long way off. In the meantime the peeling ceilings and torn wallpaper will continue to fascinate visiting photographers on the Victoria Baths Photography Workshop. What’s disturbing about the image is that it looks almost as if there is a human form under the dark blanket. Lighting and composition are very good.

Victoria Baths bathtub by Richard Wadock 9.6.2019

Chris Currie has adopted an unusual viewpoint for this shot of the bath in the abandoned rooms. He has reduced the composition down to two areas of grey wall at the top and the white of the bath in the lower part, with taps, holes and stained sides. The wide angle lens has magnified the edges of the bath. It’s as if we are sitting in it ourselves, (though thankfully no legs are visible, unlike in those ‘me on the beach’ photos!). Of all the photos taken of that bath I’ve never seen one quite like this! All credit is due to the photographer!

Angel at Victoria Baths by Chris Currie

This image by Chris Currie shows that simply by adopting a different viewpoint, you can create an image that’s unique and with a lot of visual impact. He has re-interpreted the angel in the stained glass windows by moving to a low position and looking upwards. The shallow depth of field has made the stained glass out of focus in the upper and lower parts of the image. This works well as it adds a sense of depth, and the out of focus effect is visually pleasing.

Victoria Baths stairs and tiles - Richard Waldock

Richard Waldock took this photograph on the stairs near the main entrance. In any other building, the question in the viewer’s mind might be: ‘What made him take that photo?’ but in the Victoria Baths, every inch of the building is photogenic. The hand rail takes a zig zag path from top left to bottom right, and the reflections in the shiny green tiles are pleasing to the eye.

Victoria Baths sunlight and shadow, 9.6.2019

Laura Gritti took this photo in the abandoned rooms on the top floor. In this part of the building, objects lie on the floor for no apparent reason and can be used as subject matter for photography. Here a section of pipe and a meter provide an interesting focus, lit up by the direct sunlight through the windows, which cast a pattern on the floor. It’s a well composed image and quite enigmatic.

Victoria Baths main pool motion blue by Laura Gritti - 9.6.2019

Laura Gritti took this shot of the Gala pool, looking across towards the changing cubicles and the balcony above.  She has placed the ‘water 4 and a half feet deep’ sign on the left and just passing underneath, a man walking towards the right. She has used a slow shutter speed – I would estimate about one quarter of a second. The image is well composed with almost perfect horizontals. The picture is mostly static, but the moving figure provides a dynamic element. She pressed the shutter at just the right moment, when the guy was just in front of one of the red and white striped curtains.  A great example of  ‘le moment juste’ – the right moment – to press the shutter.

All in all I was very impressed with the photographs taken by this group. Every photographer who enters the Victoria Baths comes away with something unique, something memorable. This is a building that likes having its photo taken!

If you’d like to come on the Victoria Baths Photography Workshop, just get in contact with me directly and I will reserve a place for you.

Please visit my information page on the Victoria Baths Photography Workshop.

How I chose the winners in the Sale Festival 2019 photo competition

SalePS-TheLivingCity-J608 What goes through the mind of a photo competition judge when he or she is choosing which photos to select? Are there any tips or guidelines you can follow if you’re submitting photos? Is it just a matter of personal taste or are the best photos always selected?

In June 2019 I was very honoured to be asked to judge a photography competition organised by Sale Photographic Society, part of Sale Festival 2019. Previous judges included BBC personalities Phil Trow, the late Dianne Oxberry and Eamonn O’Neill, Deputy Lieutenant of Greater Manchester. Gerry Yeung, also a Deputy Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, has judged the competition too.


The first thing I needed to do, one week before the awards ceremony, was to go to the venue, Waterside Arts Centre in Sale town centre, 20 minutes by tram from Manchester city centre, and select the photos. The prize-giving event took place on Friday 7 June, 2019. I was to talk about the photos, giving the reasons why I chose them, and meet the winners.

They always say it’s difficult to choose from competition entries. There’s some truth in that, but at the same time, some photos stand out more than others.

But before starting to select, there is one very important factor that you always have to keep in mind as a judge, and that’s the brief, and for this competition, the title was: “The living city”

I therefore decided that, for images to fulfil the brief, they would have to show life, human or otherwise, set against the backdrop of the city. I wanted to see both people – or maybe not people, doing things, engaging in some activity, and also I wanted to see the city in which they were located.

Just on this principle alone I was able to rule out many images. There was nothing wrong with them, many were excellent and I might have taken them myself, but they didn’t answer the challenge. For instance some were cityscapes with no people visible. Others depicted people but the city wasn’t visible.

Immediately one photo jumped out at me. That was the one I awarded the first prize. It’s this image, which, at first, I couldn’t make out. What was it? Some kind of abstract pattern with circles and rectangles? A firework display? And what’s that red blob at the bottom?

Quickly I recognised the subject – it was Manchester’s Albert Square with the Christmas Markets. The red blob was Father Christmas. The photographer had photographed the square from the clock tower of Manchester town hall after dark. Chatting to him after the event he told me he had deliberately booked the last clock tower tour so that he could take this photograph.

This is a good example of how the best images often result from good planning so that you can be in the right place at the right time. The image is well composed and the brightness is just right. The people thronging the square provide an abundance of visible life. They almost look like tiny insects. We can see some of the buildings on the opposite side of the square, which gives us a sense of the city. It is a very good photograph and a great example of low light photography.

OK, let’s continue looking at the winning photos, now moving to number two (senior category), taken in Bangkok. As soon as I saw this image, I felt that it deserved to win a prize. That’s because it’s a very high quality image, well composed and executed. It also fulfils the brief very well. The swarm of motorbikes moving down and to the left provides life and movement. The flyover above also gives a great sense of diagonal movement. Diagonals of course tend to give a dynamic effect while verticals and horizontals have a more static effect.

As I looked more closely I began to find interesting details – like the bus numbers and the indecipherable Thai language destinations. On the left is an elephant and there are more details hidden in the image. And the backdrop is a typical Asian cityscape of tall buildings. A great image.


I awarded third prize to this photo of the Bridgewater Canal in Sale, not far from the exhibition venue. Various things struck me about this photograph. First, it is in portrait orientation. I would probably have taken it landscape. The main emphasis is in the middle of the photograph, the people – and one dog – walking along the canal, with one person visible on the right watching them.

What’s interesting is that the point of focus is under the tree. The people in the distance are left out of focus. This gives a painterly effect, similar to reminiscent of 19th century painter Seurat, who used the pointillist style. Typically he painted groups of people on the banks of the Seine having a picnic. Here the people are are walking by the canal.

I wondered aloud whether the focus on an empty spot under the tree was deliberate. The photographer told me after the award ceremony that it was. Focusing on an empty spot made me think that perhaps the subject is invisible, they are not there, but still present in some way.

The next image was the junior entry. What I liked about this photograph of the bee painting in Stevenson Square Manchester, is that the photographer took it at an angle. I’ve often photographed these paintings – which are part of an arts scheme and are always painted over after a period of time.

I generally photograph them straight on, excluding the background and trying not to crop the painting. But here, the photographer broke some rules. She took it at an angle, cropped part of the painting and also included some details you wouldn’t consider photogenic – some scaffolding and a couple of façades. But these details are interesting and they place the subject in its context.

The bee symbolises Manchester, its industry and the hard working character of its people, so the picture exactly fulfils the brief, whilst disobeying many so-called ‘rules’ of composition. As I often say it’s important to know the rules – or more exactly, guidelines – but they are there to be broken.

After the prize giving, the photographer told me she took it on a school trip and it was taken spontaneously. She told me she had just received her GCSE photography results and received an A*. I’m always very keen to give encourangement and support to young photographers,. I hope she will take her photography further.

In addition to these four prize winners there were four images selected for special recommendation.

This one of guys doing parkour stood out, partly because of the photographer’s excellent timing. Using a very fast shutter speed, they managed to catch the guy jumping at just the right moment – le moment juste – as I often like to say. Another thing I liked was that a woman in the background was photographing the performance on a mobile phone. The setting is the former UMIST campus, now Manchester University.


I liked the photograph of four figures – dog, human, human, dog – walking through a park. It’s actually Longford Park, not far from Sale. The vista reminds me of 19th century French painters such as Corot.

As I mentioned in my presentation, I often find inspiration for photography by going to art galleries and looking at paintings. Every photographer should do this, as you can learn so much about composition and lighting.

I liked the fact that the right hand figure – the small dog – was off the footpath. All four expressed a sense of gentle movement away from the viewpoint. The lines of perspective are striking. The splash of colour from the hats, scarf and boots are also pleasing.


I was happy to be able to include in my selection a very impactful black and white image. Two people walk across the tracks at the top of Mosley Street in Manchester city centre. The sun is coming from behind and casts shadows on the ground.

The figures and their shadows form a V-shape that gives a pleasing composition. Again, we see the skill of the photographer in choosing ‘le moment juste’ – the right moment to press the shutter, capturing the movement at just the right point. Further along the street, another person crosses in the opposite direction and they are placed between the two figures in the foreground.

In the distance are the new residential towers under construction south of the city centre, so this image is up to date and topical. The person on the right is looking at a mobile phone. This image captures a very familiar subject and location in a new and visually captivating way.


This photograph of a man sitting on a canal boat, with Manchester’s Castlefield basin and bridges in the background. I felt that this image also illustrated life, though in a more restful state – the man is reading Canal Boat magazine. The saddle of a bike is also visible as well as the usual paraphernalia of boats, including ropes, with a glimpse of the interior of the cabin.

On the outside we can see people, cyclists and walkers who have just crossed the bridge. Maybe a tram or train crossing one of the bridges would have been nice but it’s not necessary. That was the scene when the photographer pressed the shutter. I don’t like the phrase ‘should have had’ or ‘should have been’. I once heard a picture was rejected because the door of beach hut ‘should have been’ a particular colour.

I like the composition – the photographer has placed the right hand side of the boat parallel with the edge of the image, leaving a vertical strip of water on the right. It highlights an important and often overlooked aspect of life in Manchester: that some people live on boats or at least they are visiting from other parts of the country by canal boat.

All in all, judging the competition was a very interesting experience and I enjoyed explaining my reasons to the people at the awards event, alongside the Mayor of Trafford and members of Sale Photographic Society.

I was happy to see the photographers receive their prizes. The junior entrant won £50.


I have to say the framed photos looked great on the display board. They will remain there during June 2019.

Chris Boyes
Manchester Christmas Markets
Winner Senior Competition
Cheque for £100

Roy Grindrod
Bangkok traffic
Second Senior Competition
Cheque for £50

Tom Chadwick
Third Senior Section
Cheque for £25

Erin Kelly
Bee in the City
Winner Junior Section
Cheque for £50

and the Commended authors were:

Andy Carpenter
Relaxing In The City

Lesley Heptinstall
Crossing The Tracks

Therese Lee
Parkour Training in Manchester

Aamir Sabzwari
Dog Walker Longford Park

So finally: some advice for people entering a photography competition, which I’ll formlate as questions:

  1. Have I fulfilled the brief? Have I thought carefully about the title and tried to respond to the challenge it sets?
  2. Have I depicted the subject in a new and unique way that few other photographers might have chosen?
  3. Is the picture technically competent, in focus where you want it to be in focus, with good image and print quality
  4. Does your photo look like it is the kind of picture that deserves to win a prize? Be honest with yourself here!

And one last note: If your photo wasn’t chosen for a prize, it doesn’t mean it is without merit! Photography judging is still partly a subjective thing. Some competitions are judged by several people, but as John Earnshaw of Sale PS remarked, the cream still has a tendency to rise to the top.

Video: Around the Manchester Airport Orbital Cycleway by electric bike

I made this video in May 2019 and it’s a milestone as it’s the first medium-length video (around 9 minutes) I’ve made shooting and editing on the iPhone 8 Plus. On this page I present the video script as a blog post. There have been some changes since I made the video, listed at the end.

We’re going to go around the Manchester Airport Orbital Cycleway. This is our starting point, one mile east of the terminal. This is our mode of transport, an electric bike and we’re going to head West olong the A555 Manchester Airport Link Road.

We’ll be stopping along the route at places where you can watch and photograph or video the planes.

Here by the northern perimeter on Ringway road and Shadowmoss Road we are right underneath the final approach path.

I came here as a child and wished I lived in one of those houses. They were demolished in recent years for safety reasons this is the scene today.

The name Shadowmoss Road makes me think of the Shadowmoss air crash in 1957, when a BEA Viscount crashed into a row of houses. It’s Manchester’s forgotten air disaster.

Today there are more than 500 aircraft movements per day. Planes have reached a high level of sophistication and safety.

The planes land from the north east and take off towards the south west. When the wind is from the east they take off towards the north east.

Aer Lingus plane taking off at dusk

The Airport Hotel on Ringway Road is a pub with a garden at the back, which has great views of the planes taking off, but be careful, parking is restricted. Here’s my photo of an Aer Lingus Airbus 320 taken in 2007.

Next to Terminal three you can see the planes through the fence. It’s too narrow for a DSLR lens but the iPhone lens is so tiny it can peep through the wire netting.

Terminal 3 has no public viewing facilities, and please note, there’s a charge to drop off in front of the terminal. Better to use the free drop off point, from where there are free buses to the terminals.

Manchester Airport 1971 photo by Aidan

This is the only part of the original 1962 terminal building still visible. The air traffic controllers moved to a new control tower in 2013. I came here is the child and went on to the viewing terraces where I took this photograph and included it in a school project. The terraces were closed due to increasing security threats.

In 1981 I worked at Manchester Airport on the Information Desk and got to know the airport quite well. It was a great job.

The airport grew and grew, and today arriving passengers are welcomed by the sight of a multistorey car park. But a new terminal is planned. The remains of the old one will disappear.

The Radisson Blu hotel is an impressive building, with great views from the business class lounge at the top. And just nearby, beyond the hedge, a taste of the exotic, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner of Ethiopian airways.

This is the station, bringing together trains, trams and buses. The Skylink leads to terminals one and three. It has moving walkways that are not always working!

This part of the Skylink goes to Terminal 2, which is currently being extended as part of the airport’s one billion pound expansion plan. The drop off point is now further away from the terminal building and there’s a three pound charge. Best to use the free drop off point.

This is the interior of Terminal 2. Soon it will be much bigger and will become the main terminal of the airport and it’s set for completion in 2020.

When I worked at Manchester Airport, this area was just empty fields.

But just a few feet away from all this construction, an old timber-framed house that was here centuries before the airport appeared.

We continue along the lane to the south west of the airport and there’s an amusing road sign and we are at the World Freigh Terminal on the west side of the airport. We can see the new control tower which opened in 2013.

Close to here the Romper pub in Ringway. For many years the airport was called Ringway, a name which goes back the middle ages and before. Strange that the name Ringway is similar to the word ‘runway’. This is Ringway Chapel now the Ringway Life Centre. The name ‘Ringway’ always reminded me of the ringing sound of the turboprop engines of the planes.

Further along Wilmslow old Road is Runway visitor park. A Trident and a Nimrod are on display, Concorde is in its own building. Book in advance to visit. Here’s my photo of Concorde on its final journey on 22 Oct, 2003, taken from the viewing park. The viewing park is fairly close to the runways and taxiways and the views are quite good. Entry is free to people on foot and by bike but car drivers pay a hefty parking charge. The upmarket PremiAir private terminal is located directly in front of the viewing area.

We’ll move on from Runway Visitor Park and onto the A538 towards Wilmslow, passing a brand new petrol station. Using the shared pedestrian and cycle path head towards the tunnel under the south west end of the airport. While I was working at the Airport I had a Trumph Spitfire, my first car and it ran out of petrol at this spot!

We are between the old tunnel and the new tunnel which passes under the second runway. If we’re lucky we might see a plane taking off but not at the moment. We continue through the new tunnel to the roundabout by the River Bollin and this spot always reminds me of the 2nd Runway protestors who camped out in the trees near here.

The old Altrincham Road was closed when the second runway was built but we can continue through the National Trust property. The airport is just beyond the trees and soon we are riding along the path next to the perimeter fence and here we can stop to watch the planes.

We can see the Ethiopian Boeing 787 Dreamliner about to take off for Addis Ababa. Here are a few of my archive photos taken from this viewpoint. The BMI A330. BMI sadly finished in 2019. And American Airlines Boeing 767 in the old livery, the Virgin Atlantic 747, and today still operating, same livery, but with a different font!

The big crowd-puller is the Emirates A380, with two arrivals and departures every day. Please note, this viewing area is not approved by the National Trust. In fact there was an interesting sign which has long since disappeared. My photo of it is on my Patreon blog.

And now we’re back on the orbital cycleway by the perimiter fence, looking over towards the 2013 control tower and an easyJet Airbus. We continue along the old Altrincham Road. It’s semi-rural with farms and houses now on both sides.

Let’s go down this narrow footpath and what do we find? A field with horses, providing an idyllic sunset scene, just a stone’s throw from the busy airport. We’d better continue, there’s still plenty of power in the battery and after passing an emergency gate, it’s the Manchester Airport mockup aircraft used for fire training.

Now we’re on the home stretch heading towards Styal Road, where we turn left and soon we are back at our starting point. We’ve covered a distance of around 7.5 miles.

The video was captured mostly on the iPhone and I also used a Panasonic TZ70. The video was entirely edited on the iPhone and it’s an iPhone 8 Plus. If you found this video interesting, then please like it and please post a comment, hit the bell button for notifications and most importantly, please subscribe – I have two channels – This one aidanorourke for my photo and video projects and my other channel AidanExplorer, exploring Europe and the world through languages.

We’ll finish with a sunset captured here a few weeks ago.

1. My sole active YouTube Channel is now www.youtube.com/aidanorourke, where this video is posted.
2. Virgin Atlantic have permanently withdrawn their Boeing 747s.
3. My Connect folding electric bike has been, shall we say, withdrawn from service, and I now use the non-electric Brompton B75 folding bike.
4. The coronavirus crisis of early to mid 2020 almost completely shut down Manchester and other airports – watch my short video of a silent Terminal 3. By mid 2020 it was starting to recover.
5. I am not updating my Patreon page, though it remains active.
6. The German version of this video is in preparation.

Video: 7 reasons to use ‘analogue’ photography – Editorial style video presented in two languages

In 2018 I made a video entitled ‘Is it time to go back to film?”

In 2019 I decided to do a new version of the video using my new bilingual format, presented in English and German. The ratio is roughly 90% English and 10% German. This is part of my Campaign for Languages initiative. I want to promote language learning and incorporate foreign languages into my videos so that a wide range of people get to see them and experience them. The video is fully accessible to English speakers. 

So here is the exact wording of the voiceover. All photos are by me, Aidan O’Rourke and were captured on film from around 1980 to the present.

In this video we look at Seven reasons to try analog photography and as part of my campaign for languages the headings are in German

Reason number one,
Film has a particular ‘look’.
Film hat einen besonderen ‘Look’

I first became interested in photography in my final year at TCD. I wanted the best picture quality, so I used Kodachrome because of its rich, saturated colours.

The positive image is captured within the emulsion of the transparency – das Diapositiv. There’s no print, you needed a viewer or projector to view them. But in the digital age, a scanner – ein Scanner – or even a smartphone – ein Smartphone – can be used to import them into the digital medium.

With a film camera, the depth of field – die Tiefenschärfe – is fantastic giving a background that’s nicely out of focus.

I continued my photographic explorations in New York. I taught myself photography from the book ‘The Complete Photographer’ by Andreas Feininger, (1906-1999) his father was the German-American artist Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956).

My first long exposure photo – meine erste Langzeitbelichtung – was of 9th Avenue, taken on the Fujica camera I bought in New York.

My first long exposure photograph, taken using my first roll of Kodachrome 25 film

Number two

Film photography can make you into a better photographer.
Filmfotografie kann dich zu einem besseren Fotografen machen.

I continued taking photogaphs on visits to Berlin, east and West. When you use a film camera you have to be patient and selective. It forces you to think carefully before you press the shutter – den Auslöser drücken.

In England I photographed my home region of north west England and wanted an element of nostalgia. That’s why I used Ilford HP5 with its grainy, atmospheric quality. Black and white film still has that effect.

It was exciting to scan the photos and open them in Photoshop and transform them using digital enhancement. Film and digital can be used together. They are not mutually exclusive. They are complimentary.

The Manchester Ship Canal and Trafford Wharf before the Imperial War Museum was built.

Number three
You can experience how photography used to be
Du kannst erleben, wie die Fotografie früher war.

It’s great to use similar equipment and materials to those used by the great photographers such as Lord Lichfield, Helmut Newton, David Bailey, Ellen von Unwerth and many others.

Whilst working in the Middle East, I used Kodak Ektrachrome as I was able to develop it at home and I used 35mm and medium format cameras.

Number four
A film camera will set you apart from others
Eine Filmkamera hebt dich von anderen ab.

Film will give your photos a different look – and a film camera is a talking point.

When I started photographing Manchester in the mid-90s, film was still the only affordable medium. I took literally thousands of photos on film, had them developed – or developed them myself, scanned the film and enhanced them.

It was a hybrid form of photography – capture on film, enhancement in digital. I went over to digital around 2000.

Number five
Good film cameras are inexpensive
Gute Filmkameras sind kostengünstig.

Today it’s possible to buy film cameras that used to cost hundreds or even thousands. In Manchester I went to the Real Camera Company where I got an Olympus OM30.

Number six
it’s fun to use a film camera
Es macht Spaß, eine Filmkamera zu benutzen.

Putting in the film – den Film einlegen – can be difficult at first. You’ll learn about the lens – das Objektiv – the aperture – die Blende and the shutter der Verschluss.

The large, bright viewfinder, the stunning depth of field, the ability of good quality film – such as Kodak Ektar – to capture subtle shades, these are some of the many plus points of using a film camera.

No 7
Developing and scanning are inexpensive
Entwickeln und Scannen sind kostengünstig.

There are plenty of places where you can have film developed. I used the online service Photo Hippo, based in Burnley in NW England. Or with a tank and some chemicals you can develop the film yourself – du kannst den Film selber entwickeln.

For my website Eyewitness in Manchester (1998-2005) took literally thousands of photographs . Many of the places and people – such as the Hacienda and Tony Wilson – are sadly gone.

In the early days of digital enhancement, scanning was slow and computers couldn’t cope with large file sizes, so I have many photos only at small size.

Dusk view of Manchester from Werneth Low, captured on grainy colour negative film

As digital photography became more established after 2000, I used film less and less. but recently I’ve partially gone back to film. I still like to take photos with a nostalgic quality, and for that, film is ideal – dafür ist der Film ideal.

There are Photoshop filters that emulate grain and the look of certain films, but I think in this age of fake news and digital dishonesty, it’s better to use the real thing. Oh, and I can’t stand the term ‘analog’ photography, for me, it’s film.

Not all film photos are technically perfect. There are spots, colour casts, but those imperfections can make the pictures unique.

I’m glad I had the opportunity to use film photography and I think everyone who is seriously intereted in photgraphy today should use it.

It’s not for professionals – in fact most professional photographers don’t use film any more – film is for everyone an additional format alongside digital.

So here again are seven reasons to use film photography
Sieben Gründe, Filmfotografie zu benutzen.

this time only in German!

Film hat einen besonderen ‘Look’

Filmfotografie kann dich zu einem besseren Fotografen machen.

Du kannst erleben, wie die Fotografie früher war.

Eine Filmkamera hebt dich von anderen ab.

Gute Filmkameras sind kostengünstig.

Es macht Spaß, eine Filmkamera zu benutzen.

Entwickeln und Scannen sind kostengünstig.

If you found this video interesting, please don’t forget to subscribe, hit the ‘like’ button, post a comment and click the ‘bell’ to receive updates.

Vielen Dank fürs Zuschauen – Many thanks for watching and Auf Wiedersehen.


On the Kings Road 1986, showing the out of focus background it’s possible to achieve using a 35mm film camera


What does the EU do? Information video in English and German

London, capital of the UK. A great world city. A great European city. In early 2019 MPs here in Westminster had an important decision to take. To help them I made a list of 24 things made possible through European cooperation which we the people of Britain, the people of Europe, benefit from.

My name is Aidan O’Rourke and I’m a photographer video maker and language coach. This video is bilingual 90% English 10% German to facilitate language learning, cross-cultural exchange and knowledge.

Please play the video to the end to hear an intriguing story from the dark final years of the Second World War that’s still relevant to us today.

1. In the single market – im Binnenmarkt – companies can trade with 500 million potential customers without restrictions.

2. Through free trade agreements – Freihandelsabkommen – they can enjoy free access to additional markets all over the world.

3. We have minimum rights in the workplace Mindestrechte am Arbeitsplatz.

4. We can use a stable currency across Europe, the euro – der Euro.

5. We can travel in the Schengen zone and there are no border checks keine Grenzkontrollen.

6. There’s an open border in Ireland – eine offene Grenze – in Irland.

7. We can find a job – einen Job finden – in our neighbouring countries with the minimum of formalities.

8. We can take pets across borders more easily using the pet passport or Heimtierausweis.

9. We can enjoy cheap flights – Billigflüge.

10. We can use our mobile phones outside the home network and there are no roaming charges keine Roaminggebühren.

11. We can buy a house or a flat – ein Haus oder eine Wohnung – in one of our neighbouring countries.

12. Disadvantaged regions can receive financial support – Fördermittel – through the ERDF.

13. Billions of euros are paid out through the Horizon 2020 program for science and research Wissenschaft und Forschung.

14. We can enjoy high food standards – hohe Lebensmittelstandards – higher than in the US.

15. We can buy products from Europe – Produkte aus Europa – at lower prices because there are no tariffs.

16. Car manufacturers can import and export parts without formalities for just-in-time delivery – Just-in-time-Lieferung.

17. It’s possible to drive in mainland Europe using your national driving license – mit dem nationalen Führerschein.

18. We can enjoy clean beaches – saubere Strände.

19. We can use credit cards without extra fees Kreditkarten ohne Extragebühren.

20. Whenever we are on the continent we can feel at home – Wir können uns zu Hause fühlen.

21. Employers can bring in the best workers – die besten Arbeiter.

22. Young people can do an Erasmus exchange – einen Erasmus-Austasuch – and improve their languages.

23. Europeans turning 18 can apply for a free Interrail ticket – ein kostenloses Interrail-Ticket.

24. We can all enjoy peace in Europe – Wir können alle in Europa den Frieden genießen – European cooperation makes it possible die europäische Zusammenarbeit macht es möglich.

And the cost to each UK citizen? Around 37 pence per day – zirka siebenunddreißig pence pro Tag.

I’ll finish with a story from history. This is Gedenkstätte Plötzensee – Plötzensee Memorial Berlin, a grim time capsule of the final years of the Second World War – der zweite Weltkrieg – where resistance fighters were executed by the Nazi regime.

Their crimes? They distributed leaflets criticising the regime, they saved the lives of Jewish people and they supported each other. They dreamed of a new Europe. They called themselves die Europäische Union – the European Union.

Thank you very much for watching, please like, comment and subscribe and I’ll see you in the next video. Auf Wiedersehen.

For more information do a search for Madeleina Kay’s excellent book 24 Reasons to Remain.

If you’re interested in learning German go to aidan.co.uk/german

Video: A Very Insecure Exhibition – with Karen McBride and Shari Denson

A VERY INSECURE EXHIBITION was an exhibition that took place on Friday, 22 February, 2019 in a skate park under the Mancunian Way flyover in Manchester.

It featured the photography of music photographers Karen McBride and Shari Denson, who joined forces to create this remarkable event.

A Very Insecure Exhibition was a very unconventional exhibition, in fact it was totally different to any exhibition I’ve ever been to.

I travel on or under the Mancunian Way almost every day and have walked past the skate park on numerous occasions. Never would I have imagined a photography exhibition taking place there.

The choice of venue was kept secret until the week of the event, when it was first announced on Radio Manchester’s Mike Sweeney Show.

The Mancunian Way is a by-pass road in central Manchester that was first built in the 1960s. This flyover was a later addition, opened in the 1990s. It carries the A57(M) urban motorway over the A6, where it continues as the A635(M) for a few hundred yards. I include these nerdy details as they are important in setting the scene and I know a bit about the history of Manchester.

This is the first time a photo exhibition has taken place underneath a motorway, at least in Manchester. The skate park with its walls of see-through wire netting has an air of New York.

It took about four hours to set up the exhibition. Shari and Karen worked with a team of assistants to place the photos on the sloping and curved surfaces of the skate park. Some of the pictures were cut out to fit into the available space.  The photos were printed out at large format in black and white. Some were printed on conventional photographic paper at smaller size.

“Wow, they look great!” I thought as I peered through the wire netting into the skate park, transformed into an exhibition space. We waited in the hut that serves as a cafe and reception area for users. More and more people arrived, including John Robb, Badly Drawn Boy and others from Manchester’s music scene.

At 8pm we were allowed through into the exhibition space. It was great to walk around and explore all the photos – some photos familiar to me, others unfamiliar photos of famous people.

A lot of people came – more than 350. A mobile bar was set up and it provided an air of glamour and a focus. I thought the air might be cold but it was quite mild. It was surreal, looking at photographs while cars whizzed by along the slip road outside, and above, evening traffic moved in both directions on the flyover, drivers unaware of the art event going on underneath.

The music went quiet and John Robb started his In Conversation with both photographers. He asked the right questions, and we learned a lot about their respective interests, shooting techniques and preferences. At the end the crowd clapped, just like a gig. And then there was a surprise.

All attendees were invited to take away the photographs. But there was one condition: People had to put the photos up all around Manchester and beyond and take photos of them for social media.

We managed to find some superb prints which now adorn our walls. That’s not something you can do at the National Portrait Gallery – rip the pictures off the walls!

But this was more of a ‘punk’ event than a photography exhibition. It was meant to be like a gig, and people could walk off with photographs just like the set list at a gig.

Songwriter and guitarist Dave Fidler performed some of his songs. It was great to see a real life artist performing amongst the many images of performers.

The book of the exhibition was on sale and both photographers signed copies.

All I can say is – it was a fantastic event and totally unique. Karen and Shari truly did something new and amazing. Congratulations to them! And thanks for the great photos now taking pride of place on our wall!

A Very Insecure Exhibition was held at Projekts MCR Skatepark (The Pump Cage) · Manchester.

The PA and furniture were provided by James Casper-Mason and The Worx

Photos were printed by Entwhistle.

Video: Eleven reasons to learn German from job finding to brain jogging.

This article is adapted from the script I wrote for this video for my Explore Learn German YouTube channel, launched 9.1.2019. Using bilingual headings I outline 11 reasons why it’s a good idea to learn the German language.

1. Viele Leute sprechen Deutsch! – Many people speak German.

In fact German is the most widely spoken language in the EU. Over 100 million people speak German as their first language in Germany, Austria Switzerland, Liechtenstein, in the east of Belgium, in the north of Italy and in Luxembourg. German will take you from the border with Denmark in the north, down to Vienna in the east of Austria, or from the border with France in the south west to Berlin, Leipzig and Dresden next to Poland and the Czech Republic. That’s a large part of Europe.

2. Deutschland ist ein fantastisches Land – Germany is a fantastic country.
Here’s my photo of Dresden on the River Elbe. And this is the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg. Here’s Köln – Cologne, the magnificent view across the Rhine to the Kölner Dom – Cologne Cathedral. This is an attractive corner of Leipzig and here’s the skyline of Nürnberg, Nuremberg with its cathedral and this is Schloss Neuschwanstein – Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria. Germany has many amazing attractions you probably don’t know about, like Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg or the Einstein Tower in Potsdam. It’s all there to discover and your knowledge of the language will help you to discover it.

3. Man kann einen Job finden – You can find a job with German. For most jobs in the country, a good knowledge of German is essential. There are some areas, for example IT and Travel where you might be able to get by with just English, but it’s much better if you know the language. Ihre Karrere startet hier! Your career will take off here. This advert says Wir suchen Verkäufer und Verkäuferinnen in voll- und Teilzeit – We’re looking for sales people, male and female, full and part time. For these jobs, German is essential. Startbahn für Ihre Laufbahn – runway for your career. This leaflet has informaiton about jobs and training at Hamburg Airport. In general people who know Fremdsprachen – foreign languages – have better job prospects.

Die Deutsche Sprache ist eine wichtige Sprache – The German language is an important language for art music culture philosophy science. Here is a list of some famous German scientists. Alois Alzheimer, who identified the disease called Alzheimers, Emil von Behring, the Nobel prize-winning physiologist saved children from diphtheria and Melitta Bentz, who invented the coffee filter and Albert Einstein, who needs no introduction. And by the way, this music is by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart born in Salzburg, Austria. It’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik – a little night music or a small evening serenade. This plaque commemorates Werner von Siemens, inventor of the electric railway. Germany and the other German-speaking countries have played a very positive role in the development of Europe and the world. There is a large but often hidden German influence in the UK and the United States. That’s one of the themes of this channel.

Man kann die deutschen Medien erkunden – You can explore the German media, like these magazines and newspapers. The German media are in many ways superior to the media in the English-speaking countries, with greater choice and better quality – but that’s just my opinion – das ist nur meine Meinung. Nowadays thanks to the Internet its possible to access these media in a way that was impossible before. The more German you know the more you’ll be able to appreciate them.

Englisch ist eine germanische Sprache – English is a germanic language, alongside Dutch, Frisian, Icelandic, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and of course German. That means that you will know many German words already. For instance Haus, muss, Traum, Mann, gehen, Schwester, Wunder and many more.

Die deutsche Sprache ist eine schöne Sprache – German is a beautiful language.
I love the architecture of the German language, how the sentences are built as well as the sound of the words. The spelling is regular, it’s easy to work out the pronunciation, nouns have a capital letter, and there are many wonderful compound words. But there is a prejudice against German. Many believe it is not as beautiful as other languages, aber das istfalsch! Thats wrong! To me German is like the Kölner Dom – ancient, solid, dominating and with many secrets. The more German you learn, the more you will appreciate its unique quality.

Deutsch lernen ist Gehirnjogging – Learning German is brainjogging. Like learning any other language, it promotes brain power, and studies suggest it can help against Alzheimer’s disease. There are many fascinating studies on how knowing a second language improves your thinking and even your ability to take decisions. You also get a feeling of achievement when you make progress in the language. Learning a language is a form of mental exercise that can benefit you in a similar way that physical exercise helps your body.

Man kann neue Freunde finden und vielleicht auch die Liebe – You can make new friends and even find love, if that’s what you’re looking for. It’s great to make friends with people from a different culture and language and to be able to speak to them in their own language. You can start practicing in your home country. There are local groups with a mixture of German and English speakers who like to meet up and speak German. Many of my students are in mixed relationships. And being with a German-speaking partner will help you learn the language even faster.

Man kann über die eigene Kultur und Sprache lernen. – You can learn about your own culture and language. Another very important benefit of knowing a foreign language is that you can look at your own culture from a different point of view. People who only know English are often less aware of aspects of their culture and language. It’s fascinating to see your own culture through through different eyes. The only way you can really get to experience this fully is to make progress in the language until you start to see things from the point of view of the foreign culture. In fact, it’s no longer is foreign, it becomes part of who you are.

Machen Sie mehr aus Ihren Reisen – Get more out of your trips to the German-speaking countries. Even a small amount of German will make a big difference to your trip, for example to read important signs, ordering things in shops and when travelling by bus or train. Knowing some German can make your trip go a lot more smoothly and help avoid problems. You get so much more out of your visit when you can understand and appreciate the cultural background. A vocabuary of just a hundred words will help you a lot. Thousand will take you a lot further.

And so we come to the Zusammenfassung – the summary

  1. Viele Leute sprechen Deutsch!
  2. Deutschland ist ein fantastisches Land.
  3. Man kann einen Job finden.
  4. Deutsch ist eine wichtige Sprache.
  5. Man kann die deutschen Medien erkunden.
  6. Englisch ist eine germanische Sprache.
  7. Die deutsche Sprache ist eine schöne Sprache.
  8. Deutsch lernen ist Gehirnjogging.
  9. Man kann neue Freunde finden und vielleicht die Liebe!
  10. Man kann über die eigene Kultur und Sprache lernen.
  11. Machen Sie mehr aus Ihren Reisen.

If you’re interested in learning German, go to www.aidan.co.uk/german

Music side show video: ‘Vergehen’ by Urbanstrasse – 80s-style electronica music and slide show video

Vergehen was first recorded in 1985 as a demo tape, and re-recorded 20 years later, in 2005. Words and music by Aidan O’Rourke, who played keyboards, guitar, programmed the drums and did the vocals.

The track is credited to Urbanstrasse, the musical identity or band name used by Aidan O’Rourke (who is not to be confused with Scottish fiddle player of the same name!)

The lyrics are in German and present a collage of images from the 1920s and 30s, touching on war, totalitarian regimes, the inevitability of downfall and more. The verb ‘vergehen’ means passing away or fading away.

In 2018 Aidan moved increasingly into the medium of video, making slide show videos using images from his photography archive, as well as new photos and videoclips.

This format, mixing images and music, presented an ideal opportunity to present ‘Vergehen’ and ‘Berlin Berlin’ to the public as it combines his three areas of creativity and expertise: visuals, i.e. photography and illustration, music and German language

And so ‘Vergehen’ was uploaded to the Explore Learn German YouTube channel on 16th of January 2019. It was the second video to be added to the channel.

Like other videos on the channel, ‘Vergehen’ is intended to help and encourage people to learn German.

There are some intriguing aspects to the song, which uncannily predicted the future. For those interested in finding out more about this, as well as the meaning of the lyrics and images, Aidan will present a special feature on his Patreon page, for subscribers only!

‘Vergehen’ is credited to Urbanstrasse featuring Aidan O’Rourke
Music and words © Aidan O’Rourke
All photos and illustrations ©Aidan O’Rourke
Keyboards, drum programming and vocals by Aidan O’Rourke

Original 1985 recording made at Cavalier Studios, Stockport. Produced by Lol Cooper.
2005 re-recording made in Vienna, engineered and produced by Rick Turner, with creative input from Isabella Turner.

Video: Beatles locations in Liverpool and Wirral

This video is on the subject of Beatles locations in and around Liverpool and Wirral. The Beatles legacy is a huge reason for tourists to visit Liverpool. For me personally, I love visiting the locations connected with the Beatles as it helps me to discover more about Liverpool and I can relive the excitement and fascination of growing up with the music of the Beatles in the 1960s.

Liverpool Beatles Video Yellow Submarine J108

The video is narrated by me in English with German subtitles. I am using German because from 2019, the main focus of my main YouTube channel is German language. The subtitles will be of use to my students of German and those on my mailing list. I also hope to reach people in Germany who are interested in the Beatles, and who will find the German subtitles helpful and welcoming.

Liverpool Beatles Video St Peters Church

From 2019 all my videos will have a bilingual narration in English and German. I enjoy occasionally featuring other languages as well and in this Beatles video, I’m excited to be doing a Japanese version. A teaching colleague has helped with the translation into Japanese. I’ve given the video a Japanese look with Japan-influenced music by the talented young musician Bad Snacks, featured on the YouTube Audio Library.

To make the video I  travelled all over the Liverpool region on various trips and photoshoots and I’ve been to nearly all the places connected with the Beatles where tourists like to go.

The Casbah Coffee Club Liverpool

Of the many places I’ve listed so far, one of my favourites is the Casbah Coffee Club, which I visited for the first time in mid-2018. It’s an excellent place to visit as you can really experience what it was like to see John, Paul, George and Pete play in their early days.

I also love the Beatles’ childhood homes 20 Forthlin Road, home of the McCartney family,and Mendips,  where John lived with his aunt Mimi. They’re fascinating to visit as they are both time capsules of the late fifties and early sixties. It’s not possible to take photos inside the houses, so I have only exterior photos.

Just before publishing the final version of the video in January 2019, I found out that there is going to be a new Beatles attraction on the grounds of Strawberry Field. The gates will finally open and fans will be able to find out about John and the other Beatles in a visitors centre. It looks great.

Liverpool Beatles Video John Lennon

It was perhaps a controversial choice to include this Japanese-style background music in a video about a famous British band from the early sixties. However I wanted to highlight the Japanese perspective. The Beatles are very popular in Japan and many Japanese fans visit Liverpool. One of my goals is to build bridges and overcome barriers of language and culture. This is my way of doing it!

The background music is by an artist who calls herself ‘Bad Snacks’. Her work is available on the YouTube audio library and I think it is superb. I loved these two tracks when I first heard them. in fact some of the content of the video was inspired by this music.

The first track we hear is called Mizuki and has a bright, upbeat character with its Oriental style memory played using the sound of an Eastern instrument, perhaps a koto.

The second track is ‘Shibuya’ and it ‘interrupts’ the narrative in two places. The first time we jump to the little known Japanese garden in Calderstones Park. I wanted to emphasise aspects of Japanese culture in Liverpool. To be honest, there aren’t that many! When I first heard ‘Shibuya’ I immediately wanted to include images of the wonderful Japanese garden.

Liverpool Beatles Video Train to New Brighton

The second time we jump to ‘Shibuya’ we see the train to New Brighton. I got the idea of using an image of a train because in ‘Shibuya’ there is a hissing sound, perhaps from a train in Tokyo. That image and concept were taken directly from the track by the supremely talented artist Bad Snacks, or whatever her real name is. She is based in Los Angeles and I think she is destined for a very successful career as a musician. Try doing a search on YouTube to find her. She is a very talented young musician.

I hope this video will be seen and enjoyed by people in Germany and Japan as well as those living closer to home. It’s been great fun making this video, though it has taken a long time from its inception to final upload and publication on 8 January, 2018. Co-incidentally, 8 January 1947 is the birthday of David Bowie, another musician I am very keen on.

I love the Beatles music. I grew up with it as a child and two of my favourite songs or theirs are Penny Lane and Strawberry Field. They had a profound effect on me as a child and I’m glad I am able to pay tribute to them in this video.

On my Patreon page I plan to provide more background information and some interesting anecdotes that I don’t share with the wider public.

If you’d like to support what I’m doing, please visit www.patreon.com/aidanorourke

My review of Ed Glinert’s Friedrich Engels walking tour in Manchester

Statue of Friedrich Engels, Manchester

I’ve been interested in the history of Manchester for many years and as a full time coach in German, I’m very interested in the German influence in Manchester. One of the most famous emigré Germans who lived in Manchester was Friedrich Engels and I wanted to find out more about him.

After a search online, I found the Engels walking tour, organised by New Manchester Walks, founded by tour guide and writer Ed Glinert.

We met by the statue of Friedrich Engels outside the HOME arts centre, in the south of Manchester city centre. The statue is unique because it originated in Ukraine and was brought to Manchester by artist Phil Collins (not the singer!) in 2017. It’s an old Soviet-era statue of which thousands were put up all over the Communist bloc. After the fall of Communism, most ended up on rubbish tips, but this one was saved.

This location is appropriate because close to here was the area known as Little Ireland, which in the 19th century had some of the worst poverty in the UK. Friedrich Engels used to walk around this area, observing the terrible living conditions of the poor at that time.

One very interesting fact I learned was that he was accompanied by his Irish companion, Mary Burns. He was in a relationship with her and they were not married, something which the wife of Karl Marx found scandalous.

Friedrich Engels was born in the town of Barmen, now part of Wuppertal, on 7 June 1835. He came into Manchester to work in the factory of his father, Friedrich Engels Senior. He had already been interested in radical politics and it was hoped that working in England would cure him of his radicalism. Instead he became even more committed to radical politics, and went on to write one of the most politically influential books of all time.

He first came to Manchester in 1842 and spent various periods in the city, finally departing for London in 1869, aged 49. His book, Die Lage der arbeitenden Klasse in England, was published in Leipzig in 1845 but didn’t appear in English until 1887 in New York and 1892 in London.

Here are some of the locations we went to along the route which took us from HOME in the south of the city centre to Victoria Station in the north.

Manchester - Peterloo PlaqueOne of the most interesting places was the site of the Peterloo Massacre near to what is now Manchester Central and not far from the Free Trade Hall. The Peterloo Massacre took place on 16 August 1819, a long time before Engels arrived, but the event was a milestone in the social and political development of nineteenth century Britain.

Ed Glinert explained very well the complexities and self-contradictions of the politics at that time – the Prussian spies, the cotton barons, the anti-Corn Law League, the reformers, the upper classes, the middle classes and why the Tree of Liberty was found only in Scotland and not in England.

Another interesting location was the Abercrombie pub, the only surviving building from the time of the Peterloo Massacre. Footballers Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville had planned to demolish the pub as part of their hotel development on the adjacent site, but after a public outcry, the pub was saved. One frustrating aspect of a tour like this is the fact that most of the locations have been demolished, either recently or in the nineteenth century.

Ed frequently read quotations from the writings of Engels, some on the subject of alcohol consumption in Manchester, a big problem then, as now!

Another interesting location was the site of the offices of the company Ermen and Engels, where Engels worked. The address is number 7, Southgate, which is at the back of the department store now called House of Fraser, but still known by many local people as Kendals.

Inside the huge Royal Exchange Theatre lobby, we were able to sit down for a while. There we learned about the Cotton Exchange and the importance of Manchester in the world cotton trade.

It was interesting to find out about some of the incorrect information that circulates about Friedrich Engels. We learned that the Communist Manifesto wasn’t written in Chetham’s Library, but somewhere else!

We stopped by the entrance to Chetham’s Library. It is well known that Friedrich Engels studied at the table next to the stained-glass window. Ed quoted an excerpt in which he expressed his preference for this location, which I’ll be visiting in preparation for my video, The Power of Libraries – die Kraft der Bibliotheken.

We concluded the walk in another appropriate location: Victoria Station, which was built on the site of a burial ground where thousands of the poor people of Manchester were laid to rest.

Friedrich Engels died in London on 5 August 1895 and his ashes were scattered off Beachy Head, near Eastbourne.

It’s amazing how you find out new things about a familiar place, when you go on a walking tour like this. There are plenty of new topics and places to explore right on your doorstep!

For more information about the Friedrich Engels walking tour just do a search for new Manchester Walks and Friedrich Engels Tour or go to the page on New Manchester Walks website.

Manchester, Chethams Library

Berlin Berlin slide show music video: Geschichte – history – in an 80s’ style pop song

In this video I present some of my best photographs of Berlin from around 1982 up to 2018 against the backdrop of a song I first created and recorded in 1985, in association with some other musicians.

The song is in the style of the 1980s and has overtones of bands like Vienna, Heaven 17 and The Human League. The influence of David Bowie can also be heard. It is a history lesson in a pop song, telling the story of the division and the reunification of Berlin – die Teilung und die Wiedervereinigung von Berlin. The lyrics allude to the devastation of World War 2, the construction of the Wall – die Mauer – in 1961 and look into the future to the fall of the Berlin Wall – die Wende.

The original song was written and recorded as a demo in 1985, along with my other song ‘Vergehen’, which means ‘passing’ with an English version ‘In Silence’ but as the original sound quality wasn’t very good, I re-recorded both songs in Vienna in 2005. I finally waited another 13 years before finally releasing them as part of my Aidan O’Rourke Productions YouTube channel.

Some of the words seem premonitionary. Before each chorus, we hear ‘it will not be long’. In reality it was not long after I wrote the song before the Wall came down – almost exactly four years. But there is another shocking event that the words seem to predict. I will write about this in more detail on my Patreon blog.

The photographs were taken on a wide variety of different cameras at different times in Berlin. I lived there from 1979 to 1980 but sadly I have very few photos from that period. When I returned in 1982 I started to take photos, including the wide panorama of Potsdamer Platz that can be seen at the very beginning.

Other images were taken on black and white film and on colour negative and slide film. Some of the slides lay forgotten in an old briefcase until I scanned them when compiling the slide show video in late 2018. The video presents a total of 75 photos and videoclips – enough to fill a book, though the video is five minutes long and the lyrics amount to just 324 words (excluding repeated choruses at the end).

Berlin Berlin song and video will be posted on YouTube in 2019.

60 great places to visit in Manchester in 120 sec video

I’ve chosen 60 great places to visit in the Manchester area. Here I present them in 120 seconds. I aim to attract people from outside the area and encourage those from inside the area to go out and explore.

  1. Manchester Town Hall
  2. Manchester Central
  3. Palace Theatre
  4. Band on the Wall
  5. MediaCityUK Salford Quays
  6. The Manchester Apollo
  7. Manchester Airport Runway Viewing Park
  8. Manchester Arndale shopping centre
  9. Ashton Market
  10. Manchester Cathedral
  11. The Manchester Bees #beeinthecity
  12. Manchester Art Gallery
  13. Fog Lane Park
  14. The Transport Museum
  15. Canal Street
  16. The Manchester Jewish Museum
  17. Bruntwood Park, Cheadle
  18. Cheetham Hill Road
  19. Chinatown Manchester
  20. Clayton Hall
  21. Heaton Hall
  22. Tatton Hall
  23. The Curry Mile
  24. Didsbury village
  25. Fletcher Moss Park
  26. Chetham’s Library
  27. The John Rylands Library
  28. The Portico Library
  29. The Central Library
  30. The Museum of Science and Industry
  31. Liverpool Rd railway station (MOSI)
  32. The Baby Computer (MOSI)
  33. London Road Fire Station
  34. Oldham Street
  35. The Opera House
  36. Platt Hall
  37. The Peveril of the Peak
  38. The Greater Manchester Police Museum
  39. The Printworks
  40. The Victoria Baths
  41. Wythenshawe Hall
  42. The Museum of the Manchester, Ashton
  43. Wythenshawe Forum
  44. The Whitworth Art Gallery
  45. The East Lancashire Railway
  46. Platt Fields Park
  47. The Octagon Theatre Bolton
  48. The Trafford Centre
  49. Tandle Hill Woods
  50. Lyme Hall
  51. Crime Lake
  52. Ordsall hall
  53. Beech Road Chorlton
  54. Rochdale Town Hall
  55. The National Football Museum, Urbis
  56. The Bridgewater Hall
  57. Afflecks Palace
  58. Market Street
  59. The Christmas Markets
  60. The view from Werneth Low

60 great places to visit in Liverpool – 120 second video online

I wanted to present 60 of the best places to visit in Liverpool in a short video and here it is. These are some of my favourite attractions but there are many more!

As part of my research for the video I wrote descriptions of some of the locations but in the end, the descriptions weren’t used in the video.

    1. St George’s Hall this magnificent neo-classical building contains a breathtaking hall and a prison museum. It’s one of my favourite buildings in Liverpool.
    2. Sefton Park is a very special place to people in Liverpool, with a special atmosphere. The lake the palm house, the paths, fountains and pavilion give Sefton Park its unique character.
    3. Birkenhead Park inspired the designer of  New York’s Central Park, Frederick Law Olmsted. It has been restored and has beautiful open spaces. The Swiss Bridge and  Roman Boathouse have been restored.
    4. Newsham Park is one of Liverpool’s lesser known parks but it has an idyllic character. It has two lakes and you can often watch model boats on the water.
    5. The ‘Dome of Home’  – The Basilica of Saints Peter and Saint Paul is situated on the hill above New Brighton. Returning crewmembers always knew they were home when they saw its dome.
    6. The Bluecoat is an arts centre in the centre of Liverpool. It was formerly a school. It’s one of the oldest buildings in Liverpool and also has a beautiful garden.
    7. The Liver Building  is the most famous building in Liverpool. It’s a proud symbol of the city along with its two liver birds, designed by German emigré sculptor Carl Bernard Barthels.
    8. The Cunard Building is the middle of the three graces and was once the luxurious terminal for passengers travelling by ocean liner. The Mayor of Liverpool has offices in this building.
    9. The British Music Experience is housed inside the Cunard building and tells the story of British pop music.
    10. The Port of Liverpool Building  is a stunning building both on the exterior and inside, with its balconies and interior atrium. There are many stained glass windows on the theme of Liverpool’s maritime history
    11. The Museum of Liverpool. is housed in a controversial modern building and contains a fascinating collection that tells the detailed and fascinating story of Liverpool.
    12. The Albert Dock once earmarked for demolition, this 19th century dock complex has become Liverpool’s most popular tourist attraction.
    13. Bold Street is one of Liverpool’s most liveliest streets, with its bars, cafes, restaurants and shops. At the top of the street is St Luke’s, the Bombed Out Church,
    14. The Mersey Ferry is perhaps Liverpool’s most famous tourist attraction. It still functions as a daily means of transport for commuters but only on weekday mornings and afternoons. The tour on the Mersey is a must for all visitors
    15. The Cavern Club is where the Beatles played their early gigs, but today’s cavern club is not the original but a faithfully reconstructed one. Still, it looks and feels similar to the original.
    16. The Beatles Statues on the Pier Head were created by artist Andy Edwards. Since their installation in December 2015 they have been visited every day by thousands of people who love to have their photo taken next to Paul, George, Ringo and John
    17. Liverpool One is a shopping district in Liverpool city centre that was created from existing streets and buildings, with the addition of many new buildings.
    18. The Philharmonic Hall is a stunning concert hall in a 1930s design. Here you can go to orchestral concerts as well as performances by legendary pop artists. The style and ornamentation are stuperb.
    19. The view from Everton Park is stunning as you can see over the rootops of the city centre across the Mersey to the Wirral, with the Clwydian Hills across the Dee in North Wales. Everton Park is built on the site of a former residential district.
    20. The view from Seacombe gives you perhaps the best angle on Liverpool waterfront. You can reach it on the Mersey Ferries river cruise or drive through the Kingsway Tunnel.
    21. The view from Woodside ferry terminal is also magnificent and is closer to the waterfront. You can admire all the buildings along the Liverpool waterfront and watch cruise ships arriving and leaving.
    22. The view from Port Sunlight Riverside Park is a relatively new viewpoing point as the park was created from a gigantic landfill site. From here the waterfront is to the north.
    23. Lady Lever Art Gallery is my favourite art gallery in the North West as it presents a uniquely personal collection reflecting the tastes of founder Lord Leverhulme. There are many paintings and sculptures, some ancient, as well as furniture and ceramics.
    24. Port Sunlight is a village with houses in a variety of traditional English styles. It was built by Lord Leverhulme to provide housing for workers in his nearby factory.
    25. Birkenhead Priory is an ancient religious site that pre-dates virtually everything around it. The visitors center we can learn about the early history of this area and from the tower, look across the river and into the neighbouring ship repair docks.

Is it time to go back to film? 7 reasons to use analog photography

I made my Back to Film video (above) in 2018 in response to a comment I received an earlier video feature I did 2014 on the subject of Kodachrome (see below).

Set against a slide show of my favourite film photos from 1981 to 2018, I explore the reasons why film is still an important and viable photographic medium.

I urge people to try using film because of its special qualities and because it’s important to gain experience with the old technology if you want to fully experience photography.

I make the important point that it’s not a choice between digital and ‘analog’ (I’m not keen on this word, hence the quotation marks!). In fact the two can be used together. I don’t advocate going back exclusively to film and ditching digital altogether.

A film camera can be an extra means of capturing photographs in addition to your digital cameras.

Here’s the script as well as a selection of the film photos I featured in the video.

I first discovered the power of photography in my final year at university in Dublin, when a friend lent me an Olympus Trip and I went on my first early morning city photoshoot. In the camera was a roll of Kodachrome 64 film. It was a magical experience.

I chose Kodachrome slide film because of its rich colours and fine grain and because I wanted to take more than just snapshots.

inspired by the classic photographers of the past, I wanted to capture the city in all its colours and shades. I became fascinated by the glamour of photography, cameras and the magic of film.

It’s amazing how much detail can be caught within the emulsion of that tiny 36x24mm film transparency.

I continued my photographic journey in New York, where I bought my first camera – a Fujica STX-1 – in a camera shop near Times Square. It cost me 70 dollars.

I started to experiment with exposure and composition. I taught myself photography from this book, the Complete Photographer by Andreas Feininger.

In 2009 Kodachrome ceased production and I made a video about it, featuring this photo. Someone replied and said ‘ Why don’t you try using film again and make a video about it?’. And so in this video I’m going to ask the question:

Is it time to go back to film?

7 reasons to use analogue photography.

And by the way I don’t like the word ‘analogue’.

And so my first reason to use film is…

1 – Film has a special quality.
There is something about the quality of the colours graininess that’s quite different from digital. There are filters that try to emulate film, some digital cameras are designed to look like film cameras, but why not use the real thing?

Reason number 2 – Film and digital work well together.
You can capture on film, scan the film and enhance in digital. I did that for six years before going mainly digital in 2000. It’s fun to transform film images in Photoshop, easy to correct colour casts and there are filters to remove dust and scratches.

3 – You can become a better photographer by using film
Using a film camera encourages discipline, patience and self-confidence. The pleasure of viewing is delayed. There’s no instant gratification. With 12, 24 or 36 frames, each photo is precious.

Reason to use film number 4 – You will set yourself apart from most other photographers.
Your pictures won’t have that ‘digital’ look. And your film camera will attract attention. It’s a talking point. By using a film camera you are helping to keep our photographic heritage alive.

Reason number 5 – Film cameras are inexpensive.
It’s tragic but equipment that used to cost a fortune is now available at a very cheap price. Manchester I went to the Real Camera Company in and got an excellent quality Olympus OM10.

6) You will learn a lot about photography.
You’ll see the aperture, f numbers and the shallow depth of field. The viewfinder is big and bright with split image focusing. You might find loading the film is difficult at first, but you’ll get the hang of it. Taking photographs with a film camera has a purity and simplicity about it and you’ll love the sound of the shutter. I always look at the back of the camera and realise this is a film camera. Today’s digital cameras are a hybrid, they use digital technology to capture and store the images, but everything else is inherited from film.

Reason number 7 – It’s cheap and easy to have the film developed and scanned.
I used a mail order service. The scans are available to download in a day or two. You’ll receive the film strips and prints, which are more secure than images stored on a hard drive.

So is it time to ditch digital and go back to film? No, of course not. Digital is today’s technology. The quality is good, the cost per image is very low.

But if you’re really want to experience photography to the full, then you need to try film. Really it’s just alternative form of image capture and storage.

If you’d like to learn photography, film or digital I’d love to help you. Take a look at my one-to-one tuition, photo walks and other resources. I’m proud to say, many people give them as a present.

So thanks very much for watching and I’ll see you again soon.