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The pool in Brueton Park Woods

When the snow first fell the skies were overcast and whilst there was a some beautiful snow scenes, I longed for a blue sky to provide some colour. The next day the sun shone and there were no clouds in the sky. I planned my walk to take me over fields to Widney Road allowing me to approach Brueton park and the nature reserve from the west.

Lea Wood in the snow
Lea Wood in the snow

My first stop was Lea Wood nature reserve which I had not visited before on my travels. The wood used to be a tree nursery and the trees now fully grown are aligned in lines. This creates many leading lines along the paths in the wood. There were several walkers in the wood so I was able to compose some eye-catching pictures with leading lines towards the silhouettes of people . The low level of the sun also produced lovely light that I was able to shoot towards the sun with the trees as a backdrop. I hung around for some time fascinated by the trees and the patterns caused by the light.

Sunlight in the woods
Sunlight in the woods
Sunlight on the tree branches
Sunlight on the tree branches
A leaning tree
A leaning tree
Snow on the trees
Snow on the trees
Trees on the way to Breuton Park
Trees on the way to Breuton Park

Finally I moved onto Brueton Park proper. It was very muddy despite the frozen ground. When I got to the river Blythe, I made the decision to go into the old Wood on the west bank to the River Blythe. The place was deserted and following the muddy path, I threaded my way deep into the wood. I arrived at the north end of the water pool which interestingly is unnamed on the map. The sun was shining brightly but the thick canopy of the trees diffused the rays. The path led around to the south side and here I was able to get close to the water’s edge. With the light low, bright and just right a beautiful scene opened up. I was so pleased with the pictures of the water and the framing from the trees. It was a richly rewarding photo walk with many different variations of the snow lying on the ground reflecting the sun. It was a much different day than yesterday and very productive.

The river Blythe
The river Blythe
Path around the pool
Path around the pool
The pool in Brueton Park Woods
The pool in Brueton Park Woods

Photo tip. Don’t be hasty in taking your pictures and try and slow down. I was very excited at first especially in Lea Wood. Then with time I started to enjoy myself in the woods and came away with many different pictures. I had my iPhone, large Canon camera with lenses plus my Fujifilm x100v. Yes it was a bit over the top in terms of photographic equipment but I was glad that I had all of them with me.

More pictures of local parks can be found on my blog
The photographic delights of Umberslade Park
Coombe Abbey Country Park during the Golden Hour
Watching the sun go down by Bracebridge pool, Sutton Park

More information
Brueton Park and its sister, Malvern is on the Solihull Council Website
Malvern and Brueton Parks
or check out Trip Advisor



Ever since the Government eased the strict lockdown then I cleaned up my bike and started to go out on bike rides.  I throw my Canon 5D camera into a bag with both the EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM and EF70-200mm f/4L IS USM.  Both lenses are excellent in covering most situations where I want to take pictures.  With the bright sunlight, I do use my polaroid lens fileter on the 24-70mm lens.  

Bluebells at Hay Wood

My first ride was to Hay Wood and then followed that up with going to Lapworth and the picturesque Kingswood junction. It did take some time to rest my stiff muscles before I was able to get going again.  After the short rest, I started to become more adventurous and went down to Lowsenford and back through Lapworth.  Following this,  I pushed myself further by going to Tanworth in Arden via Earlswood lakes.  This ride was challenging as it was a very windy day and there was a definite disadvantage as you cycled into the wind.  My next adventure was to Meriden and the centre of England.  The miles were being stacked up and I felt confident of my next ride to Kenilworth which was 24 miles there and back.  It was great to see the castle at Kenilworth even though one could only peer over the walls. 

The lockmaster’s cottage owned by the Landmark Trust at Lowsenford.

Doing these bike rides makes me realise how beautiful the Warwickshire countryside is and I hope you agree when you see this set of pictures.

Meriden Duck Pond
Brook Meadow in Darley Green near Dorridge
Field of Barley, near Temple Balsall
Kenilworth Castle

Keeping motivated under a lockdown does mean that you are ready to try out new ideas. I have always been fascinated by oil and water pictures so with time on my hands I decided to give it a go. What you need is a macro lens and off camera flash. Then to get a big bowl of water on top of some colourful paper or fabric. Set up the camera using a tripod so that is is over the surface of the water. Start dropping in some Olive Oil and/or washing liquid. Then start taking pictures. Here is a nice link from PhotoCrowd
https://www.photocrowd.com/…/158-11-tips-creating…/

There is still some work to do after taking the pictures and opening up Lightroom initially the pictures will look a bit dull. Look at that histogram and ensure you have a good distribution and that you use the highlight and shadows sliders wisely. The exposure should be adjusted and then you may need to push the saturation up to around 40 points on the scale. Then after some cropping of the picture a few of the final results are shown here. This is definitely a project that I will be going back to at a later date.

The Clifton Suspension Bridge is very impressive and my hotel, the Avon Gorge by Hotel du Vin, was adjacent to the bridge. I checked into the hotel and I was straight out with my camera.  It was dusk and many cars were passing through the bridge during rush hour.  The bridge is a beautiful structure and you get pulled towards it.  At the conference dinner we had a short talk about the bridge from a volunteer who gave a PowerPoint talk about the the bridge, its construction by Brunel and other stories about it.  Although it was dark after the dinner, I did got out later to look around the bridge that was lit up.  It was very quiet with little to no traffic but it provided great photographic opportunities.  

Rush hour on the bridge
At night
looking along the bridge

The next day I was up at a reasonable time but I did see that the the sunrise was accompanied by a beautiful dapple light caused by some mist in the gorge.  I headed up to the observatory that overlooks the bridge and took many pictures.  One of my pictures made BBC Breakfast weather which I was very pleased about.  The low level light of the sunrise was stunning and I caught the reflections on the dew that had settled on the grass.

imposing structure
It made BBC Breakfast
Mist in the Gorge
Early walkers
Rising sun
Lone Daffodil
The Observatory
Looking towards the observatory

Following this I then wandered around Clifton village taking pictures of the buildings and people who were either getting ready for school or heading off to work.  The village has a lot of character and the houses provide many opportunities for pictures.  I even found a house where W.G. Grace, the cricketer once lived.  It was a wonderful morning and could have lingered around the village for a long time

The local church in Clifton
Interesting shops
Long streets
Signposting
Wall decoration
Getting the groceries ready
Lovely architecture
Blue Plaque
Babylon to Clifton
Quiet Streets
Local landmarks

I am so pleased as when the email came through I found out that not only did I win first place in the Birmingham Canal Navigations photo competition but I also came third! After entering so many competitions and being both long and short listed, it is a lovely feeling to have won one at long last. My prize was presented at a large gala at the Birmingham Council House celebrating 250 years of the Birmingham Canal Navigations. Included in the prize for first and third was £200 in camera vouchers plus a canvas print of my winning photograph. I have included the press release below together with the 1st and 3rd pictures. I was delighted to see that my picture featured on the front of the programme that was printed out and placed on all the tables for the evening. A night to remember!

!st Prize – Running under Snow Hill Station
3rd prize – Sunrise over Brindley Place

PRESS RELEASE

21 November 2019

Winners of Birmingham Canal Navigations photo competition announced

The charity, Canal & River Trust, working in partnership with the Birmingham Canal Navigations Society, has picked the winners of a photo competition which celebrates the 250th birthday of Birmingham’s canals.

Over 300 photos were submitted as part of the competition which aimed to capture the unique beauty of the historic waterways across Birmingham and the Black Country. Budding photographers were encouraged to snap a wide variety of waterway images such as colourful boats, waterway wildlife, historic canal architecture or pictures of people enjoying spending time on their local canal.

The winners are:

  • 1st place: Damien Walmsley with his picture titled ‘Running under Snow Hill station’
  • 2nd place: Michael Landelle with his picture titled ‘Lazy Sunday afternoon’
  • 3rd place: Damien Walmsley with his picture titled ‘Sunrise over Brindleyplace’

As part of the prize the winners were invited to a special VIP celebration event at the Council House in Birmingham where they were presented with their prize by The Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands, Mr John Crabtree OBE and Allan Leighton, chairman at Canal & River Trust.

Adnan Saif, director of West Midlands at the Canal & River Trust, said: “It’s wonderful that so many people took part in this photo competition. The pictures really showed how lovely the canals in Birmingham and the Black Country are and how lucky we are to have this wonderful network of canals right on our doorstep.

“I hope these pictures will encourage more people to come and discover their local canal as research shows being by water makes us happier and healthier.”

Michael Smith-Keary, from the Birmingham Canal Navigations Society, said: “It was great seeing so many wonderful pictures of the Birmingham Canal Navigations. There was a real mixture of photos from beautiful rural canal scenes, wildlife, boats and pictures that highlighted our urban waterways.

“All of the photos highlighted just how popular our canals are with local people and that nowadays they are being used for boating and so much more. Now they are very much about creating green spaces that are used for leisure and living – playing a vital role in our society for another 250 years.”

For more information on the work of the Canal & River Trust including how you can volunteer or donate money to support our work visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk

-ENDS-

For further media requests please contact: Sarah Rudy at Canal & River Trust on [email protected] or call 01908 302 584 / 07788 691 219 

Notes to Editors

The Canal & River Trust cares for and brings to life 2,000 miles of canals and rivers across England & Wales.  We believe waterways have the power to make a difference to people’s lives and that spending time by water can make us all healthier and happier. By bringing communities together to make a difference to their local waterway, we are creating places and spaces that can be used and enjoyed by everyone, every day.

www.canalrivertrust.org.uk

Taken inside Ashted Canal Tunnel and holding onto my camera every so tightly over the water

Another view in Ashted Tunnel

The area around the locks looks derelict but not for long

There will be many new buildings going up in this area.

Curzon street tunnel which takes the canal under the new HS2 rail link to London.

A view of the city from the Digbeth canal branch of the Grand Union Canal

Interesting Graffiti under the bridges

Old canal buildings along the canal

Quiet morning reflections along the canal

Following on from the recent blog post Go West. I decided to feature the canals network on Eastside where there is a great deal of regeneration occurring mainly fuelled by the location of the HS2 at Curzon street station. Millennium point was the start of the development and with Birmingham City University building in the area, it has led to further developments. These include student accommodation and other small business enterprises. This is taking place in an area that was left derelict and the canal system still retains the grandeur of former days. I wandered around here with my Canon 6D and a 40 mm lens plus my Sony Camera. The 40 mm lens does make you think about your picture taking and you do have to move to get a good picture. The graffiti adds colour and may not to be everyone’s taste but I do like some of the local artists that paint in the area. There is still more development happening which is exciting to see although some of the old history may get eradicated in the process.
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We visited the Eden project as part of our summer holidays.  This is a place that I had wanted to visit so cameras were packed and away we went. Approaching the attraction, you pass through a scarred countryside of clay pits and then entering the carpark, there is not much to see so it was difficult to understand what the excitement was about.  We were early so we quickly brought our ticket and walked through the entrance doors. Wow, the scene is amazing with the outer world biomes dominating the landscape.  The core with its prickly roof does not look out of place.  So many picture opportunities as you will see below.  We started in the Jungle Biome and walked all the way to the top.  My camera (Canon 5D) misted up for a while.  Exotic plants, waterfalls, views of the terrain all made for great pictures.  We also visited the Mediterranean Biome and the Core.  For pictures, the Core is interesting with smoke emitting structures and a giant stone seed.  My family and I enjoyed the day and we will certainly be back to visit again.

“Go West – Life is Peaceful there”.  The song from the Pet Shop Boys inspires this posting.

I set off walking to the Birmingham Peace Gardens from Moor St.  My fist photographic stop was along Smallbrook Queensway where I took pictures of the early morning commuters.  I moved onto Holloway Circus to take pictures of the Chinese Pagoda juxtaposed against the Raddison Blu Hotel.  Next I headed West on Bath Row to the Birmingham Peace Gardens.  This is a lovely tranquil spot but in dire need of some investment to bring it back up to its former glory.  Its full name is St Thomas’ Peace Garden.  It was one of many “Waterloo” commemorative churches built after the Battle of Waterloo.  It was partially destroyed in the WWII blitz on the city and never rebuilt. The remains of the Church and the area around have been made into a remembrance garden.  It is very peaceful there and on this particular morning no-one else was about.  I spent time taking photographs and when finished moved onto the Worcester and Birmingham Canal which is nearby.  Here the canal landscape is dominated by the Cube, a futuristic building which is a mix of offices, residential flats, restaurants and a hotel.  It also makes for a good backdrop for photographs.  I had both my Sony and the Canon 5d with the 24-70mm lens with me.  There are a few close ups, low down shots and looking up pictures as I try to vary the point of view.  Always learning! and such walks are chance to relax and try new techniques.

“Go West, this is what we’re gonna do, Go West” – Pet shop Boys

A lone early morning commuter

Beetham Tower amongst the sharp angles of the surrounding architecture

Chinese Pagoda close up

Tropical look to Beethan Tower

 

The Pagoda flanked by high rise council blocks

View down Smallbrook Queensway (although there are plans to change this)

Bath row looking towards Smalbrook Queensway

Entrance to Birmingham Peace Garden

An elephant and dove – in need of paint

The remains of St Thomas’ Church

St Thomas’ Church

May peace prevail on Earth

Another view of the Church and the surrounding garden

One of many commemorative plaques around the site

Peaceful view of the canal

the Cube overlooking the canal

Cube reflections

Diving Sculpture against the Cube

A low down view of commuters along the Worcester and Birmingham canal.

On the last day of June, I went down to the Confetti fields at Wick, near Pershore, Worcestershire.  I went with Natasha and Noah.  The fields were full of colour and my daughter and grandson enjoyed the experience.  We then went to Pershore Abbey and had a picnic in the grounds of the Abbey.  It was a beautiful day.  My camera was the iPhone8, and the Canon D5 mk4 with the EF24-70mm f/2.8L II U SM, and a wide angle lens EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM.  I also used my EF70-200mm f/4L IS USM lens for some of the portrait pictures.  Simple processing was used.

 

It was beautiful with many different coloured flowers on display.

We spent an hour and half in the fields

A family selfie with my daughter and grandson

Lots of fun

Looking towards the viewing platform

Pershore Abbey in the distance

Details of the flowers

Captivated by the flowers

More colours

My favourite picture

Layers of colours

Sometimes you just have to sit down

Workers harvesting the Confetti

Confetti to buy

Buying some flowers

The magnificent Pershore abbey

The lasting memory of the fields

The Birmingham International Dance Festival comes to the City every two years. There is an extensive programme of dance related events.  It is the sixth festival but it was my first experience.  The meeting was organised by Igersbirmingham and when the announcement popped up on my Instagram account, I immediately signed up for it.  I was also unsure who would be there but the chatter on instagram told me that there would be a few seasoned photographers going to the event.  On a Saturday lunchtime in June, I met the other Instagrammers outside St Philip’s cathedral.  We got our wrist bands plus a voucher for a free coffee and cake and made our way to Victoria Square.  The stage was set outside the Council House and we stood around waiting for the first dance act.  After a few minutes, I became aware of four men in what I can only describe as balloon suits, starting to make their presence felt in the square.  They started pushing against people and then slowly they began to dance.  They were hilarious and with a mixture of humour and surreal movements began to do various routines.  Their body suits were filled with air and made them look ridiculous but this was part of the fun.  They interacted, danced and had fun.  They moved on to New street, bouncing and dancing with the shoppers.  I did not know whether to follow but looking at other photos from the event, I wish I did. The name of the dance troupe – Didier Théron

However, back at the stage there was another act starting about a boy and the moon.  The moon was on a trapeze circle and the boy was below.  The story told how he wished to get up to the moon and he also had a fight with a chimney sweep and a dragon!!!  Whatever the result it was a great spectacle and was very clever in its delivery.  The name of the this dance troupe – 2FacedDance

The next dance was by two women who were sat on their own bench.  They were Can Do Dance and it was a thoughtful and reflective piece of dancing that caught my imagination and I hope that I have caught the intense feelings and emotions that were shown by the dance moves.

It was not possible to stay around for the whole day and there were many more acts to follow.  I caught three of the acts and  I enjoyed the quality and standard on display. I will be on the front row when the festival comes around in two years time.

 

BIDF is produced by DanceXchange.