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  • Mick Ryan

My homage to Denis Thorpe

This image of Hebden Bridge showing Stubbings school, Birchcliffe and the top-and-bottom, double decker, houses-over-houses, under-over houses, or up-and-over houses; take your pick, is my homage to the great photographer Denis Thorpe. Denis, now 89 and living in Stockport, is still a keen photographer. Denis, a photographer since a young boy, worked for the Daily Mail, then for the Guardian covering assignments all over the world, he won numerous awards and had several books published, including A View from the North and On Home Ground, his collection of photographs documenting life in the north of England from 1948 to the present day. Both highly recommended. His work makes me both sad and happy, happy to see a world I grew up in, sad that, except for glimpses, it really is no longer.

Sony A7R3, Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 at 81mm, ISO 200, 1/125s at f/8, Handheld. 18th March 2018.

© Mick Ryan (this image is available in my shop, here)

Below is Denis's image from 1978, fewer buildings and trees, but essentially not much has changed. © Denis Thorpe. Denis was shooting with 35mm film of course, probably Ilford HP5, which I used when I first got a camera.

This is the caption for this beautiful image in A View From The North (Bluecoat Press, Liverpool, 2019).

"The Yorkshire town of Hebden Bridge in 1978. It was a wintery day of grey skies and a recent fall of snow. Denis was there with a writer for a story about the difficulty in obtaining mortgages on the unusual terraced housing. From the road up to Heptonstall he saw the geometry in the whole townscape. It was perfect, but the light was impossible. There was no contrast in the scene. Denis rarely uses a tripod but set one up and waited, and after several hours was rewarded with a few seconds of weak evening sunlight. The Guardian had hundreds of requests from readers for prints. Some thought the view reminiscent of Bruegel's landscapes, others to L.S Lowry. A satisfying day."

During lockdown Denis shielded at home in Stockport taking pictures of his garden and its visitors. The images are to be published in a book, Birds in my Lockdown Garden and can be seen at this Guardian article.


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