Blackpool – the beach, prom and Cleveleys

Blackpool – the beach, prom and Cleveleys

Its got a bad press, Blackpool. 

It’s glory years are long gone, there is a drug problem which I’ve never seen, for myself, but you hear about it… 

But despite all that, you can get a great set of photos on the right day. We went over on a sunny winters day, so very few people around other than dog walkers and the occasional drunk. 

Our main foci were the piers and a spiral thing at Cleveleys which we shot at sunset. There’s always the tower to put in the background, gives the place context and identity 

Here’s what we got on the day – many are taken with the Canon 17mm TSe and stitched into squares. 


Media City and Salford Quays

Salford Quays Architecture

If anyone wants to learn about shooting architecture “up north”, I can think of not better place than Media City at Salford Quays.

This trip was a 1-2-1 with a fellow professional photographer who shoots gigs for a living – he wanted to spend an evening learning about architecture and tilt-shift lenses. So we met around 4:30 and worked through till well after sunset, taking in all kinds of views and angles.

Kit Used on this trip

Click on any of these pictures to learn more or purchase

Canon 5D Mark 4

Canon 70-200 F2.8 IS


Canon 17mm TSe

Canon 90mm TS

Manfrotto 055 Tripod



Waiting for the sunset

So to start we captured these flats – I’ve shot them many times before, but never with the Canon 17mm TSe lens. To get them in I had to take 2 portrait photos – one shifted low, the other high – and stitch them together to get this final shot.

It’s a far more architectural look than the stretched versions I did with the 17-40 back in 2006!

Not quite a sunset


As it got darker, we didn’t really get the dreamy orange sky, but a nice pattern in the clouds formed over the BBC buildings.



Looking the other way, east towards Old Trafford, was a bit more ominous. Here we used the railings to give a dramatic lead into the shot.



As the sun was going down, the red light in the imperial war museum came on, so grabbed this shot with the 70-200.


The Lift Bridge

Back in the 2000’s this was the main feature and still a great thing to shoot. It’s a lift bridge, the deck’s pretty long, 100 yards maybe, and lit beautifully all the way across.

We got a few shots of it – this one is a pano of 2 shifted shots, taken later on when the sky had darkened.



This is a HDR pano – so 6 photos in total, blended to 2 HDR photos – then the 2 HDR photos blended to a panoramic. It meant the bright sky could be retained along with detail in the deck and structure.



This is right at the side of the bridge, a shift panoramic of 3 vertical photos. It’s REALLY wide!


Imperial War Museum

This is a really boiring building in dull light, but after dark, it takes on a totally different feel. The lighting is cool, almost blue, with the red “eye” peering out at you.

This is 2 shots blended to a panoramic – taking in the little lights on the steps. A nice touch.



You get a great reflected view of it from across the water, outside the Blue Peter studio.



This is a 90mm Tilt Shift lens photo – with this I was using tilt to increase depth of field, so tilted towards the building. It is a bit fiddly to do, but the lot does seem quite sharp!



This is the opposite effect – with the tilt away from the building to make the near parts more blurry than you’d get from most lenses.


Classic Reflections

The main draw of this location has to be the reflections after dark – colours and shapes in the architecture double up when you have water, and there are acres of the stuff here.

This first shot is from the BBC looking over to the Lowry


This is from below the new cafe looking down media city to the swing bridge



This is from the water’s edge near to the tram stop, the golden thing is the restaurant, the blue the Lowry




Media City from near the Lowry Tower – this is HDR of 3 photos s0 I could keep all the light detail AND get some sky glow



6 shot HDR of a little sculpture by the water’s edge



This is a photo using the Lensbaby – a cool little lens from a few years back which you can bend and squeeze to make really strange shots… works well with lights

This is a replication of a shot Dave described of Canary Wharf – the 90mm was tilted on a vertical plane, so the BBC tower was sharp, and things left and right of it were blurry. Hard to get right, you had to use focus, tilt and aperture to control the width of the sharp area!

The Lowry to finish

And finally… the original reason I went to Salford Quays back in the early 2000’s – the lowry itself.

This is a 6 shot HDR pano using the black line of brick on the pavement as a lead into the photo

Castlefield Manchester – Canals and Viaducts

Water and Rail Meet at Castlefield Manchester

Castlefield is incredibly central in Manchester, a stone’s throw away from the massive Beetham Tower and Deansgate Station. It’s a stunning place for every photographer to enjoy, be that shooting the architecture reflected in still waters, taking a model down there and using the industrial backdrops or shooting a car down there – with girders and bricks reflected in its shiny bodywork.

Great on a Dull Day

Castlefield Manchester is one of those places where you don’t really need bright sun to enjoy it – when you’re below a bridge, the sky can be flat and boring and will create a fantastic shot. It may be worth bracketing your photos to create an HDR later – a with this first photo.

Practice your HDR

The dynamic range between the sky and the arch to the right was pretty huge, so I did need 2 shots – each 2 stops apart.

Other stuff, like bikes on walls, are all over the place.

The canal leaves the basin and heads into the City

A perfectly placed Peroni!

A bright red boat outside the basin… and a friendly mallard

Just about managed to frame the background with the arches using a 16mm lens!

The industrial museum is a gem of a buildings

Below the foot bridge over one of the docks


Massive girders! 

Footbridge and 2 railway lines

There is a road way through the area too – you can see the size of these grey columns with the cars to the right

Old beer barrels behind an abandoned pub

Fantastic place for reflections

HDR detail of the cobbles

Mix of new architecture around the dock area

Manchester Can Be Sunny – Occasionally

Manchester Looking Fantastic

Manchester, the UK’s second city, is famous for its rain, grey skies and grim climate!

I should know, I lived there for 4 years in 1990’s and rarely saw the sun. You just needed some waterproof clothes and boots – it wasn’t a problem, but the buildings never really looked great.

Roll on 25 years and I was back to photograph my old University for a job – after which I popped into the centre for a stroll. Here is a set of images from that walk:-

  • they’re all HDR,
  • hand held with the Canon 5D mark 3
  • 16-35mm lens
  • prepped in LIGHTROOM
  • blended in PHOTOMATIX
  • Finished off in LIGHTROOM

See how many Manchester locations you recognise!

Pendleton, Lancashire – High(ish) Water

Pendleton High Waters

Pendleton, on the edge of Pendle Hill near Clitheroe, has didn’t quite flood like the rest of the valley, but the water was pretty high – after lunch on Boxing day we went out for a look around the place – see what damage had happened!

Luckily it didn’t break the banks but the fields were flooded and there was a fair old river pouring down the Lidget, a little lane that goes to Wiswell.

Water from the lidget went down East View to the middle bridge, then over the bridge – creating this little waterfall effect!



Here’s the view up the village, the water had dropped a foot by this stage – but that is definitely as high as I’d ever seen it.


Here are some more shots from around the place