Orbit / by Graham Dew

Orbit Panograph, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, 2012 © Graham Dew

Orbit Panograph, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, 2012 © Graham Dew

With the first heavy frosts of winter arriving this week it’s easy to forget that the London Olympics and Paralympics finished only a couple of months ago. For a few glorious weeks, the rain stopped and the country came together to cheer on the athletes of the world and enjoy the spectacle. Every time the Olympics come up in conversation, the abiding memory everyone shares is how good it was; how everything worked and worked well, and how much joy it brought to our country. There has been much said about the legacy of the games, of how the facilities and infrastructure will be of benefit in the future and how British sport has benefitted from the games. I hope one aspect of the legacy is that we will remember that Britain is a great place to live and that we can still achieve great things.

There was a fair amount of scepticism before the Olympics, including the sculpture/edifice/tower that is the Orbit. Designed by Anish Kapoor, this idiosyncratic structure suddenly seemed to fit into the rest of the Olympic landscape once the games were underway. Its twisting nature is easily seen from below but is best appreciated when walking down the spiral staircase when exiting the viewing platform at the top. It’s a fun, slightly ridiculous folly and so I thought I would try to reflect that in the way I photographed it.

Inspired by the energetic panographies of Mareen Fischinger I decided I would create an image made of many overlapping cells. With scarcely any vertical or horizontal lines in the Orbit, it seemed appropriate to turn the camera 45° and use square cells. I should have switched on the gridlines in my camera, because I managed to hold it at about 40° throughout the whole of the sequence of shots. At least I was consistent!

I have used transparency for all of the cells (set at 70%) to give some bleed through of overlapping cells. This means that the image needed to composited in Photoshop as the print module in Lightroom does not allow transparency of images. By pre-processing the cells down to 600 pixels square I managed to keep the overall file size down to realistic levels, but if LOCOG would like to buy a giant version I will be very happy to create a high resolution version…