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View of the City May 2021

Queensway is a busy arterial road in and out of Birmingham so there is always a high volume of traffic thundering along the tarmac.  With my telephoto lens and 24 to 70 mm lens, I went about taking different pictures of an area that is already very familiar to me.  New building projects are always happening in the city centre and the area between the Cathedral and the Canal was an old factory site.  It has been repurposed into city dwelling flats that are being built close to the canal.   

The area is also a magnet for different kinds of people and as I was taking pictures, I was hassled for money, so I quickly moved on.  It is something I am wary of when I am in the quieter parts of town.  I know that I do have to be careful of my own safety.  Still the lure of  taking a few photographs around the buildings on either side of Queensway won through.  I took pictures of St Chad’s Cathedral and also with my telephoto lens up past the Snow Hill buildings.  After that I made my way into town for a lunch time meeting. 

Parking on the top floor of Selfridges Car Park opposite the store provided skyline pictures of both the City and Digbeth, and the skyline bridge linking the two is always fun for a picture or two.    I love the new covering on the Selfridges which is being put in place whilst they replace the discs on the outside.  The covering is designed by Osman Yousefzada,who is a multi-disciplinary artist working in association with the IKON gallery. the pink and black geometric shapes are in contrast with the grey architecture.

It was a day of sunshine and showers and whilst I was outside there was a terrific downpour. 

This then led to the bonus of several puddles for a bit of reflective photography.  The puddles around Selfridges are still there and lend themselves to some nice reflections of the building as it is being renovated

On my way to New Street, there were other interesting images to capture including the queue outside Zara and the photographing of the Electric Cinema.  I lingered around the reflective roof of the entrance to New Street Station. I also took a few pictures of the trams passing through which is something you have to do when in Birmingham. 

So enjoy the pictures and it is good to see Birmingham as it emerges from the pandemic.  The only down side is the weather which is atrocious rain and so unlike May.


Digbeth

Lockdown 3 is easing and in early April, I found myself back in Digbeth to take a look at what was happening.  One reason was to look for the new Street art project by @Fokawolf but more of that later.  I parked the car in Coventry street car park and made my way to Digbeth.  I love the Suki10cc artwork by street artist Gent 48 It features the up and coming black stars in Birmingham.  The house is so colourful and is great to photograph.  It was one of my pictures that was featured in my recent Amateur Photography magazine feature. This visit, I decided to do some unconventional pictures by getting close to the mural. 

Digbeth street art
Best in Birmingham
Digbeth Street Art
Meriden Street

Walking down Bordesly Street, I experimented with some street photography. It is my first venture out with my Fujifilm x100v and I was a little self conscious trying to use it.  However when I reached the Custard Factory, the camera comes into its own.  A few pictures on the bridge over the River Rea,  and then into Gibb street where there were a few people moving around. I took a few pictures of the colourful artwork (as you do when in Digbeth).  I was pleased with the one I took by the street artist 0707 as it was very colourful especially with the bicycle on the colourful bike rack.

Digbeth
Bridge over the River Rea
Digbeth
The Custard Factory
Digbeth
Street art by 0707
Digbeth
Colours of Gibb Street (so many street artists here, Philth, Gent 48, n4t4 etc)

My next stop was to see the artwork by @fokawolf.  It is a larger than life blown up picture of Pat Butcher from Eastenders and it is underneath the railway arch on Heath Mill Lane.  It is such a random bizarre mural.  The character is not associated with Birmingham and why it is placed here is not known.  What it does do is provoke comment and debate. That makes it all worthwhile.  My picture shows how tall the mural is with the couple next to it.  I also took a picture of the balconies on the Custard Factory and posted it on the BBC weather pages. The architecture always looks good especially when the sun is shining on it.  Fortunately for me, it was featured on the local BBC weather news.

Digbeth
Pat Butcher by Fokawolf
Digbeth
The Custard Factory as featured on the BBC local weather

Still in a wandering mood my next destination was Lower Trinity street taking pictures along the way of some of the more interesting street art. By the time I had reached Bordesley station, I thought it would be good idea to see the canals.  It is very quiet around there and I worry about my personal safety.  However it seemed ok so I carried on taking pictures.  I like the colour of the graffiti and in fact one of my favourite artists, Lucy McLaughlan‘s art work is under the Deritend road bridges.  My first attempt at a long exposure for 3 seconds with the Fujifilm x100v gave a pleasing result.  As I moved back into Digbeth along the canals it became much quieter.  I did meet a friend Mullerbiker from my Slack British Tech Network who happened (as he was) passing through the canal network.  After chatting for a few minutes, he left but then my courage failed me and I retraced my steps out of the system and walked along the road back into Digbeth again. 

Digbeth
Purple umbrellas
Digbeth
No Parking
Digbeth
The Night Owl
Digbeth
Thinking I should be somewhere else
Digbeth
Life and Death
Bordesley
Bordesley station in the light
Bordesley
Lucy McLauchlan Monochrome in long expsoure
Digbeth
Grafitti on the canals
Digbeth
In Digbeth
Digbeth
Custard Factory

Do you want to read more about Digbeth
Digbeth Lights
Digbeth Art
Lockdown in Digbeth


Christmas Tree - Great Western Arcade - Birmingham

There are many lovely Christmas trees around Birmingham this year. They are more prominent as they are not competing with other decorations or events where there are crowds of people such as the German Market. However, they do look lonely as the numbers of people in the City centre are down and the Christmas trees are left to look after themselves. I have taken pictures of those trees I have seen on my travels including the one in Knowle where I live. Merry Christmas Everyone and hope you have a lovely time over the next few days.

Christmas Tree - Victoria Square - Birmingham
Christmas Tree – Victoria Square – Birmingham
Christmas Tree - St Paul's Church - Birmingham
Christmas Tree – St Paul’s Church – Birmingham
Christmas Tree - Great Western Arcade - Birmingham
Christmas Tree – Great Western Arcade – Birmingham
Christmas Tree - The Bullring - Birmingham
Christmas Tree – The Bullring – Birmingham
Christmas Tree - St Phillip's Square - Birmingham
Christmas Tree – St Phillip’s Square – Birmingham
Christmas Tree - St Phillip's Cathedral - Birmingham
Christmas Tree – St Phillip’s Cathedral – Birmingham
Christmas Tree - Mailbox - Birmingham
Christmas Tree – Mailbox – Birmingham
Christmas Tree - Mailbox - Birmingham
Christmas Tree – Mailbox – Birmingham
Christmas Tree - Knowle - Birmingham
Christmas Tree – Knowle – Birmingham
Sunrise at the BullRing

Thursday 5th November was the start of Lockdown #2. As I pass via town on my way to work, I took the opportunity of getting my camera out to record events on this particular day. I was near to the Bull Ring and as luck would have it the sunrise was spectacular with a pinky orange tint to the clouds. I was never in Birmingham for the last lockdown so I wanted to capture the atmosphere of this event. First there were people around, not many but I suspect more that there were in March/April. There were more pigeons than people and i am not sure if it was my imagination but there was a feeling of acceptance to the new restrictions. It was quiet and people moved briskly through the area.

Sunrise over Selfridges
Sunrise over Selfridges
People going to work oblivious of the sunrise.
People going to work oblivious of the sunrise.
The Bull is still there
The Bull is still there
Single Figures move through the empty passageways
Single Figures move through the empty passageways

My pictures were around the Christmas tree outside St Martin’s Church, up to Selfridges and then past the Bull and down onto New Street. I myself did not linger very much as I was very conspicuous with my Canon D5 camera. Whilst I love my IPhone camera, the time is coming to invest in a new compact camera that does not draw attention.

Empty platforms at New Street
Empty platforms at New Street
Reflections in the passageways
Reflections in the passageways
Catching the tram
Catching the tram
On their way to work
On their way to work

On my way back I saw two young people by Selfridges. The pictures show some form of tension between them and the surroundings, especially the picture that is looking upwards towards them. Finally I also saw that the scaffolding is going up around Selfridges and there will be some new photographic opportunities of the specially designed covering going up.

Waiting and watching
Waiting and watching (buy a copy)
Waiting and watching
Waiting and watching
Last word from the pigeons
Last word from the pigeons LOL

Amongst the trees JQ

I love the area around St Paul’s Church and in Autumn it starts to look colourful with the leaves on the ground.  It was one of my stops on my way to walk.  The sky was also very colourful with the sunrise and rain clouds making pretty patterns. 

Livery Street and it is only “A matter of opinion”

I took a picture down Livery street which is a very long street/road.  There is a Brummie saying that you look like you have “a face as long as Livery street”.  There are some good sign posting on the buildings in the area.  A matter of opinion has been up for a while and is shown on Livery Street. 

Compared to what
Compared tp what….

I noticed at one of the corners of St Paul’s Square that there was more signposting with the words “Compared to what…”  They add a fun element to the streets of Birmingham. 

St Paul’s Church in the Jewellery Quarter

A picture of St Paul’s Church was well received on social media.  It is a a very photogenic church.  Taking a picture of both the spire of St Paul’s and the BT Tower is another photo opportunity. The area is very pretty and it was after discussion on social media that I realised that there are more hidden squares around the Jewellery Quarter. It is a place to return to time and time again.

St Paul's Church and BT Tower
St Paul’s Church and BT Tower

Gas Street Basin

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.   

Reflections in Gas Street
The still waters reflect the buildings of Gas Street Basin.
Birmingham - new vs old
Showing the new versus the old in Birmingham
Gas Street Sunrise
Golden buildings in the sunrise

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.

Brindley Place
Venturing into Brindley Place for the reflections of the canal waters

City Arcade Birmingham

Lockdown had interrupted by own personal visits to all the arcades in Birmingham. I enjoy mornings when it is quiet and so before going to work, I parked up in town and made my way to the City arcade. In some ways it is my favourite arcade but it has fallen on difficult times. There are not that many shops in the arcade and they are all down one side. When I arrived at the arcade, there was a rough sleeper outside the real ale pub. In these difficult times the city is overburdened with homeless people and I worry for them.

City Arcade
Play on light in the Arcade
City arcade
Getting down low to show the architecture

The City Arcade was built in 1901 and designed by TWF Newton and Cheattle. I picked up this information from the Historic England site and then you are able to search on from there. It has had a recent face lift and the interior designs have been painted and stand out showing the detail that had gone into this building. It is part of Union street which is a busy thoroughfare between Corporation St and the High St. However, step into the Arcade and the noise of people quickly dies away. The arcade is at an angle and links up with the junction of Union and Warwick passage.

City Arcade Birmingham
Details of the ceiling

There are a few shops in the Arcade but from a photographers perspective, there are many reflections of the light. When people walk through the arcade then you can get some very nice effects. I spent a good 20 minutes taking photographs before I headed off to work. Another one of the Birmingham Arcades done and photographed. As the title says a hidden gem and worth exploring.

City Arcade Birmingham
Outside detail
City Arcade Birmingham
The front facade
City Arcade Birmingham
Morning light in the Arcade
City Arcade Birmingham
The grittiness of Union Passage (Arcade to right)
City Arcade Birmingham
Outside design details

And now moving inside to view some of the details of the shops.

City Arcade Birmingham
Signs for the Arcade
The speciality beer outlet “TILT”
City Arcade Birmingham
WillPower
City Arcade Birmingham
Gadget Swap
City Arcade Birmingham
Chandeliers
City Arcade Birmingham
Reflections

If you are interested in the other arcades in Birmingham then please follow these links –
The Piccadilly Arcade
The Great Western Arcade


Reflections in Digbeth

Should I be worried? Should I ditch my big camera? My most popular photographs are all taken by an iPhone. My most recent one of Gibb Street in Digbeth has been published by several outlets including BBCMidlands, Independent Birmingham, IgersbirminghamUK, Bhamupdates and Source investments. All very pleasing but I would like to talk about my aperture and shutter settings. The camera ISO and how I held it to take in the picture. No all I did was dip the iPhone into a puddle and the resulting picture then gets a life of its own. Getting down low certainly led to more impact to the picture. However, I am pleased that I can brag about my composition and that it caught the spirit of Birmingham!

Port Loop

Running was and still is a big part of my life. When the dental hospital was operating out of the Queensway site then we used to take the opportunity to run up to the Soho loop along the Birmingham Canal Old Line. I took my camera with me to revisit the area and my start point was Port Loop on Rotten Park Street. Nothing rotten about it and an amazing housing development is going up. I took several pictures around there, chatted to a local developer who was commissioned to take pictures of the old buildings and then made my way to the canal.

Port Loop development
Port Loop development, Birminghamn
To be developed
To be developed, Port Loop

There were so many people running, cycling and walking and as the Canal and River Trust say #lifeisbetterbywater. I strolled up and down the old line and lingered around the junction with the Soho loop. I enjoyed seeing the city from the distance and the graffiti was very colourful adding to the enjoyment of the photographic opportunities. There were lots of different activity happening and I caught different activities including trains, bikes and boats. I look forward to seeing the area develop over the next few years.

Start of the Soho loop
Start of the Soho loop.
View of the City along our canal
View of the City along our canal
Just talking
Just talking
Quiet Saturday morning
Quiet Saturday morning
Colourful surroundings
Colourful surroundings

Finally the added bonus was taking a short drive to see the Two Towers. Edgbaston Water Works and Perrrot’s Folly are both seen as inspirational in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. The Two Towers are in walking distance of the Oratory which is where the young Tolkien went to Church and is a subject of another of my blogs.

Edgbaston Water Works
Edgbaston Water Works, the Two Towers
Perrott's Folly
Perrott’s Folly, The Two Towers

Here are some links
Urban Splash
Canal and River Trust
Birmingham City Council
Places for people

My links on canals
Down by the canal
Night on the canals
Canals and Waterways
Winner BCN 250


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