Now I am back in a work routine, I take the opportunity to park in the city around 7am and stay until 8am just before the car parking charging begins. I set myself an area to walk around and aim to come away with 4 to 5 pictures that I can use over the coming days. These may be for my 365 project or pictures that I can post onto Twitter and Instagram. Gas street basin is a changing place and there is always something to photography during a walk on the tow paths. On this visit, it was very still and quiet and there was a hint of mist. The water in the canal was so still that it provided perfect reflections for my photography. I had my trusty Canon 5D mark VI and my ‘go to’ lens EF24-70mm with me. Initially I did not think I would get particularly good photographs but then as I got down low I started to see the photographic possibilities.
With the reflections of the buildings, I saw that there were many different views. I took around 20 to 30 pictures and then carefully selected around 6 photographs. A selection of 4 posted on Twitter took off with many likes. At the last count it was over 20 thousand views. I see so many excellent pictures of Birmingham and I am not here to say that mine are any better. These pictures are my own personal view of the area and I am pleased that they make people happy.
In no particular order here are 11 pictures that I entered into a competition. I was surprised that I was entering most of them into the Architecture or Landscape categories. An eclectic mix which I hope you enjoy.
Picture No 1
This is taken on a short walk from home to Dorridge train station near Solihull of around 20 minutes. The walk is uneventful, but on this December morning, there was a colourful sunrise developing. We have also had a large amount of rain and I saw a large puddle to the side of the road. I knelt down close to the water orientating the phone so the lens was close to the water |(It is a good that the new iPhone is waterproof) . Two people passing by were intrigued but kept walking. The leaves and the resulting reflection gave the view added interest. There is a sense of moving towards the sun on the cold morning, It shows that a great picture is never far away even in the most unlikely of places. I am glad that I walked to my local station that day. Camera – iPhone 11 Pro back triple camera 4.25mm f/1.8
Picture No 2
The autumnal sun streams in and lights up the tunnel that connects Brindley Place with Gas street basin. This bridge has recently been renamed “The Black Sabbath Bridge” and on the busy road above there is a bench honouring the band. Also this year is the 250th anniversary of the Birmingham Canal Navigation and this canal tunnel sits in the centre of the network. I used my iPhone to take the picture as I saw the way the people lined up in the picture and the sunrise lighting up the interior. I wanted to capture how this bridge still reflects and impacts on people. This picture portrays not only the memories of the past but also shows contemporary life in Birmingham. Camera – iPhone 8 back camera 3.99mm f/1.8
Picture No 3
A long exposure picture of the Railway Bridge and Cathedral in Cologne before Christmas. The contrasting gold and silver colours of the bridge and the Kölner Dom are highlighted. I set up my camera to take the “classic” view of the cathedral as you look back over the Rhine. I used my Sony DSC-RX100M5 on manual to take the picture. I rested the base of my camera on my handkerchief as there was a low stone wall to use as support. The slow shutter speed allowed for the intercity train moving over the bridge to blur and line up with the other leading lines of the bridge. The water from the Rhine began to have a slight silky appearance to it. The contrasting colours came out well with the silver of the cathedral and the gold of the steel bridge. Camera – Sony DSC-RX100M5 – Long exposure
Picture No 4
This picture was taken with my mobile phone whilst at a Christmas party in Birmingham. I remember that it was a bitterly cold night and I went out for some fresh air. I knew that on a clear night that you can can often capture some good cityscapes from the high vantage point. However my gaze was drawn to the interesting colours and shapes as you looked down into the heart of the building. I held onto my iPhone as I did not want to drop it and took the picture. There is little editing and people who have seen it get drawn into it even though it is off centre and does not follow a normal composition. Camera – iPhone 11 Pro back triple camera 4.25mm f/1.8
Picture No 5
October brings dark early mornings and this picture shows a tram in Birmingham speeding into Stephenson Street towards Grand Central train Station. The colours created by the neon street lights add to the dramatic feel of the picture. It was raining and protecting my camera was uppermost in my mind. I rested it on a wet railing and waited for the tram to arrive. The use of long exposure creates the motion of speed whilst in fact the tram has to slow down for the corner. The tram stop on Stephenson Street is lit up in pink due to a neon advertising screen. The timing of the lights and the arrival of the tram made the picture possible in spite of the rain. It also shows the “new” Birmingham and the changes happening in the city. Camera – Sony DSC-RX100M5 – Long Exposure
Picture No 6
The University of Birmingham has undergone many changes over the last decade including opening up the centre of the campus creating a “Green Heart”. A few years ago this view of “Old Joe” clock tower from the North Gate, would not have been possible. Rain is a photographers friend and puddle reflections assisted in the composition. I settled my Sony camera into a rather large puddle formed overnight. The picture captures the new north gates that lead into the green area of the campus. The reflections have created longitudinal lines that incorporate the old gate house. Even the parking sign creates a complimentary line. The picture makes the viewer wish to walk towards the Chamberlain Clock tower and they will not be disappointed. Camera – Sony DSC-RX100M5
Picture No 7
The Selfridges building is so often photographed that it is difficult to find a different perspective of the building. The iPhone is very versatile and allows you to get close on reflective views. As I am often looking up for a photograph, I saw this reflection on one of the outside entrances. A simple conversion to Black and White makes it look like an eye or a giant clam. Camera – iPhone 8 back camera 3.99mm f/1.8
Picture No 8
This is a picture of two trams moving in and out of the City of Birmingham. They are a leading line to the development at Snow Hill. This is taken early in January and I used the railway bridge wall as my tripod. This was taken with my 40mm prime lens. It annoys me because I have to work at getting the picture I want from it not the picture it shows me. It is very frustrating as I have to move around to get the better angles. Why do I use it? As a prime lens, it can take a crisp sharp picture. After all that work, I am pleased with the picture as it shows the Birmingham Metropolis in all its glory. Camera – Canon EOS 6D with EF40mm f/2.8 STM
Picture No 9
This is taken at one of the entrances at Grand Central Station Birmingham. The reflective ceiling provides different possibilities and on this morning the person sitting on the phone and the man walking down the stairs are lost in their thoughts. The ceiling looks as it is swirling around caused by the reflections. there are several lines pulling you into the picture. The iPhone allowed me to quickly capture the picture of everyday life. Camera – iPhone 11 Pro back triple camera 4.25mm f/1.8
Picture No 10
I was walking in fields around Berkswell, Solihull when a single tree sitting on the landscape caught my eye. There was an abundance of colour in the picture but I when I went for black and white, the solitary nature of the tree stood out. I find the view fascinating as the landscape is stripped away to a line with the Tree central to the picture. It was a bright sunny day and I did not have to use a tripod for the picture allowing me to take a spontaneous shot. Camera – Canon EOS 5D Mark IV EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM
Picture No 11
Chesterton Windmill in Warwickshire is an ideal place to clear the mind. The windmill is well known locally and has been photographed many times. My picture was taken with the tripod low to the ground to give a slight upwards view to the sunset and the architecture of the structure. I used the wide angled lens to capture as much of the multi coloured sky. I looked to get the blades of grass into focus as they shimmered in the hues of the sunset. The Windmill stands as a guardian to the weather around it. I do find the place inspiring and if I am feeling down then a view of the windmill always makes me cheerful again. Camera – Canon EOS 5D Mark IV EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM
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!
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
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.
The celebrations to mark the 20th anniversary of the Birmingham Canal Navigation Network took place during the first weekend in November. I took Sandy and Noah, my grandson, along to see the flotilla of boats that were to parade around the canal network passing by the NIA onto Brindley Place and the Mailbox. I am not sure what it was like 250 years ago but Saturday was cold. Luckily the rain held off and there was some occasional sun but it was a case of wrapping up ward. When we arrived there was little activity taking place although there were a few boats moored up on the bank. We made our way to Brindley place where there was a drum trope called “Someone at the Door”
They were very energetic and enthusiastic. My grandson loved the drumming and rhythm so much so that he was tapping his feet in the pushchair. After asking Peter, a nice Canal and River Trust representative what was happening, we knew that we had to head up the Old Canal Line where the boats were getting ready for the off.
As the boats made their way into Birmingham there were sounds of hooters and bugle horns from the boats. There was much excitement as they reached the National Indoor Arena where they paused to let the boats go through in an orderly parade down into Brindley Place.
I loved the personalities and this is captured in the pictures that show the people involved in the flotilla.
Sadly it was getting cold and we had been there a few hours. We had other engagements to move onto so it was a few more photographs and then time to leave goodbye. However I do know it is not going to be my last time to join in the celebrations of the BCN 250th Anniversary but that has to wait until another post.