View from Tranmere – Story behind the image

Rodney Street Birkenhead looking towards Liverpool
One of the themes of the Eyewitness blog is ‘secrets behind the image’. In this post I am going to write about the creative and technical questions underlying this photograph of Rodney Street, in Tranmere, near Birkenhead on the Wirral.

About the location
I love to photograph cities. To be frank I find the man-made environment more interesting than the natural environment. I was driving through Tranmere, close to Birkenhead town centre, and glimpsed the view down a long straight street looking towards Liverpool.

The street is Rodney Street, Birkenhead, not to be confused with Rodney Street, Liverpool. The view is similar to the one in the famous photograph of the Ark Royal by the photographer Edward Chambre Hardman (1898-1988). He lived on Rodney St Liverpool and his home is open to the public. If you’re interested in photography I definitely recommend it.

The view here looking roughly east north east towards the centre of Birkenhead, with north Liverpool in the distance. I love the effect of the long, straight street with the houses on either side and north Liverpool skyline in the distance.

We can see the ventilation shaft of the Queensway (Birkenhead) Tunnel centre right. It overlooks the River Mersey, which is hidden in this view. Just to its left is the Tobacco Warehouse on the Liverpool side of the river.

Technical info
The photo was taken with my new Canon 750D DSLR camera, using the Tamron 16-300mm zoom lens. (I’ll review this camera in another post).

I took the photograph in Program Auto mode, which I use in most situations. The camera chose the settings of 1/160s f/6.3 ISO100. This indicates the light level was plus two thirds of a stop. (If you’d like to find out more about light level and why it’s important, why not take a look at one of my walks or courses.)

The lens was at focal length 70mm so it is roughly mid-way in its range from 18mm wide angle to 300mm telephoto.

Previously I used the Tamron 18-270mm lens which was excellent. The newer 16-300mm Tamron is even better as it gives you slightly more wide angle and slightly more telephoto than the previous one.

In this case, I was able to frame or crop the view at 70mm. For comparison, here’s the view taken at 16mm wide angle. It’s clear that to get the best effect, you have to zoom in, but not too far. I zoomed in so the street and houses were visible, as well as the skyline at the top.

This photo was taken in the evening. The sun is shining from the west – off to the left – and lighting up the tops of the houses. The street was mostly in shadow. I lightened up the street slightly in Photoshop. I also rotated the image by about 1.5 degrees.

For the symmetry of the composition, it’s important to stand in the centre of the street.

In summary
It’s not a perfect image. Coming from the left, the light leaves the street partly in shadow – It would probably have been better to take the image earlier in the day with the sun directly behind. However I don’t take photos for the sake of technical perfection or to win competitions. I simply take photos to capture the striking views I see around me. Whether they are of interest to the viewer is up to them!

Here’s the same view taken at 18mm
Rodney Street, Tranmere, Wirral, Liverpool region / Merseyside

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The changing face of Whitworth St West

Whitworth Street West looking towards the Student Castle

Whitworth Street West looking towards the Student Castle

Hacienda Roundhouse before demolition

Hacienda Roundhouse before demolition

Whitworth Street West is a street that’s associated with the field of media, culture and nightlife.
It runs between two historic transport routes: the Rochdale Canal and the railway line from Oxford Rd Station.

It seems constantly to be in a state of change.

The Cornerhouse has gone, though the building remains. The facility has moved along Whitworth St West to HOME, part of a new leisure and arts complex that’s not yet complete.

Walking west from Oxford Rd we remember Cornerhouse Screen One, the Green Room Theatre, Counter Image Gorilla and the Hacienda.

The Ritz, the longest continuously used music venue in Manchester is going strong.

Deansgate Locks under construction 1999

Deansgate Locks under construction 1999

At the far end, Deansgate Locks transformed and reinvented the Rochdale Canal arches. The old buildings on the south side of the street remain to be brought back into use.

Looking east, the recently built Student Castle dominates the streetscape, and a new glass tower is set to appear next to Deansgate Locks.

Just south of the viaduct, HOME will soon be opening but what is going to happen to Oxford Road Corner and the station?

It’s difficult to keep track of all the changes.

New buildings on First St Manchester

New buildings on First St Manchester

Whatever happens, Whitworth Street West is likely to remain a place that’s synonymous with innovation, creativity and nightlife, fully in the spirit of the music industry maverick who lived close by and is commemorated in the name “Tony Wilson Place”.

Whitworth Street West sign and new apartments

Whitworth Street West sign and Hacienda apartments

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