Jonathan Schofield talks with Andy Mallins about his pictures taken from high above the city
Perspective's the thing. Getting up high, removing yourself from the heavy clay of earth, from its human pettiness.
Aside from dreams, or fleeting moments looking out from the inadequate windows of aeroplanes, the best we can do to ease the gravitational pull (a little) is climb a mountain or a large hill and have the ground fall away on each side.
Mallins' drone night-time images on this page lift one above the city to dizzying heights
Standing on the top of tall buildings can work too.
In this city I've been lucky to teeter on the roof of South Tower, Deansgate Square, the tallest building in the UK outside London, and on the roof of the CIS Tower which, when built in 1962, was the tallest commercial building in Europe.
Getting up high is all about the tease going on in your mind, that curious frisson, that odd thrill of avoiding the void. When standing at the edge of buildings or over mountain crags there is a quiet voice inside saying "jump"; you know you won't but it would only take one step.
Photographer Andy Mallins has managed to jump off the high places of Manchester but soar upwards. His night-time drone images on this page lift one above the city to dizzying heights. The pictures are night views which adds edge to the photographs, drama, the one below of Central Library is simply one of the most double-take pictures of Manchester in a long time. You go, what is that, what is it, oh yeah, it's Central Library.
Architect Vincent Harris' design, completed in 1934, looks unreal, no let's push that to surreal, as though it is some vast dial you can turn, a huge city thermostat. It's bewildering.
But view it a different way and it looks like an eye staring at the sky. This might be apt.
Harris based Central Library on Emperor Hadrian's Pantheon in Rome. Hadrian ordered that big Wall across the north of England to keep out Scottish football fans, or stop the ones from what would become England going North. Something like that.
With the Pantheon Hadrian wanted a temple of tolerance, a temple to all the gods.
When Manchester decided to build grander civic architecture for itself, between the world wars, rather than have a temple to all the gods, the city wanted a municipal temple to all human knowledge and learning. Thus as Central Library opened all of the city's schoolchildren were given a handkerchief embroidered with the phrase "Knowledge is Power".
One of the notable elements of the Pantheon is the "oculus" or eye in the centre of the dome, open to the elements, which allows light in. Central Library doesn't have an 'oculus' because that wouldn't work at 53 degrees north, but look at that picture, above, and say it doesn't look like an eye. Harris knew what he was doing even though he had no drone to view it.
It's fun, as well as impressive, to look at the other drone images on this page, picking things out. You can see how the city fits together.
So why does Andy Mallins do this?
He told Confidentials:
"My fascination with photography started over ten years ago when I got my first iPhone and setup my Instagram account, at some point in that Instagram journey, and from all the feedback and likes I received, I realised I had a natural eye for taking landscape shots and purchased a mirrorless camera.
"Whilst I loved taking ground shots I was also being heavily influenced with aerial images of the North West that others had been posting so decided to jump straight in and in 2019 I got my first drone.
"Throughout lockdown I studied aerial photography and various drone techniques in order to get the best results from my purchase. At the same time, I also started Andy Mallins Photography and got my Civil Aviation Authority accreditations."
"In late 2021 after all restrictions had been lifted, I decided to get out and about and shoot some of the locations I had seen others posting, but in light conditions, and whilst I loved the results, I felt something was missing. That all changed when I invested in another drone but this time a lot lighter, it meant I could fly in and around cities safely (where permitted) and that's where I started to experiment with night photography and haven't looked back since.
"Of course, night photography is more challenging than daylight, so the camera settings need to be right to capture the light and the detail, without it being too noisy, or over/under exposed. Once I get the shots its back home for light editing in Lightroom before publishing on social media."
These pictures give us perspective, lift us above terra firma.
Time to soar into the night.
You can view (and purchase) Andy's beautiful, dramatic and impressive photographs via his website.
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