John Ryland's Library revisited / by Neil Alexander

John Rylands Library, Manchester (Click for larger)

 As part of the reworking through my library I've found quite a few images of Manchester that I had initially discarded which looking at now, with a slightly older and more informed taste, I think are most definitely usable photographs. Both of these images were taken inside John Ryland's Library in Manchester on one of their occasional photographic tours. The top photograph is an HDR image made from 5 separate exposures. Unfortunately I made this in the days before I owned a tilt/shift or perspective control (in Nikon speak) lens so in order to return the pillars to their correct vertical position (a wide-angle lens will distort vertical elements), a little skewing in Photoshop was used. Below is the longest exposure of the sequence at 4 seconds - it's really quite dark in there. You can see that there is some motion blur in the centre which also had to be removed and you can also see how a wide angle lens causes all the vertical pillars to appear to be leaning outwards giving a slightly unnatural feel - this is not how your eyes see it. Well that's not true. They do, but your brain automatically corrects the information whilst processing the scene.


The bottom image was taken in the vaults of the library, where it's really dark. There are row upon row of very old books of all shapes and sizes, but I really liked these with the ribbon tied around them to hold them together. This one was processed in Nik's HDR Efex Pro to add an even more distressed feel.

Old books in the archive at John Rylands Library (Click for larger)

As a photographic tour, this one is well worth a punt. From memory you've only got an hour or two, but I highly recommend that you slow right down and take your time. Don't be like the others in my group who all just dashed off, grabbed a few frames here and there and were done.

Take a tripod and take your time.