An Immersive Tour of the Burleigh Pottery Factory – A Documentary Approach

I have always had an interest in manufacturing industry, it probably stems from my grandfather who was a pattern maker and an amazing craftsman. A few years ago I was given the opportunity to photograph at the Burleigh pottery factory in Stoke on Trent.

Burleigh is a rare success story in Stoke. Whilst most pottery manufacturing has been moved to the far East, production still takes place on site.

On entering the factory I was amazed by how everything just looked like it would have done in Victorian times. The only concession to modern manufacturing methods seemed to be the kilns, which are now gas fired. It really was like stepping back in time.

Burleigh Pottery – Transfer Department Click for bigger image.

For the next few hours I took stills, using black and white film in my Leica. I have to admit after processing the film I was really disappointed with the results. They did the job, but just didn’t capture the wonders or atmosphere of what I was seeing.

A few weeks earlier I had been approached by a web design who wanted me to do a 360 virtual tour for one of his clients. The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced that this would be a great way to capture some of the atmosphere of what I was seeing. Whilst shooting real estate or architectural pictures is pretty easy with a VR rig, trying to capture people who were moving, was a lot more challenging. To create a full 360 degree panorama, I had to shoot four images using an 8mm lens and then stitch them together using software. My approach was to get an action shot of someone working, and then, just fill in the other 270 degrees around them. I put the images online a few years ago, but soon took them down because of issues with the Flash plug in. Having now discovered a simple HTML solution, I have now posted the VR 360 tour again.

The tour can be viewed in any browser. However with a phone or a tablet you can use the built in accelerometer to ‘move’ around the images. To get the best experience try using VR Goggles. I tried it with the Samsung VR Headset, using the Oculus browser. Unlike 360 video you can really get high resolution images, so they look great. Give it a go!

Kit used: Canon 20D – Sigma 8mm Lens – PTGUI Pro – KR Pano – Affinity Photo.

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