Working Canal Boat

There are places to go that always reveal new view and interesting pictures.  I just love walking along the canal from Lapworth near to Packwood House onto Kingswood junction. There has been so much rain that care has to be taken on the towpaths in case you either land in the mud or even fall in the canal.  Luck would have it that the sun was out and the sky was blue.  The puddles made for great reflections and there were even a few boats passing through the locks.  I had my Fujifilm camera with me and once again it provided some good photographic points of views.

Whilst I was on the locks someone stopped me and asked if my camera was a Leica.  No I replied just a Fujifilm masquerading as one.  However, I felt good after that as my camera was looking cool.  A word of caution is that I also need to be careful that no one attempts to steal it from me either, as it looks attractive.

Reflections of canal lock
Reflections of canal lock
Canal boats together
Canal boats together

There is a bridge on this stretch of the canal called the “Bird in Hand”, if a canal boat is moored in the right position and the light is just right then there is the chance of reasonable picture.  I stood on the locks and took care not to lose my footing.  The water was very still and the framing needed to get the semi-circle of the bridge extended into a circle.

Bird in hand canal bridge
Bird in hand canal bridge
Canal basin at Kingswood junction.
Canal basin at Kingswood junction.

The area around the lockmaster’s cottage was difficult to negotiate due to all the rain that had fallen.  One of my pictures taken with my iPhone made the BBC Midlands weather bulletin at 7pm as shown in the blog.  Another plus for the day. 

Always fun to get your picture on the Weather bulletin

As I retraced my steps to the car I caught up with a boat going through the locks.  It was a working boat with a cargo of wood fuel sacks.  So that was my third and final plus to the day!


All the pictures were taken with my Fujifilm x100v.  The weather bulletin picture was made with my iPhone as I was able to get low into a water puddle on the tow path.  A quick edit with Google snapspeed included lowering the highlights and upping the shadows.  A bit of saturation and then uploaded to the BBC weather watchers’ site.

Further information
Canal and River Trust – the North Stratford Canal
Kingswood Junction
Previously on my Blog
Days out on the canal
Peaceful pictures

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

I was down in London for several meetings and my final one was at the Springer Nature offices near to Kings Cross. It was a warm afternoon and following the meeting, I walked over to Granary Square along the Regent’s Canal towpath. It was here that I came across the second hand book shop named “Word on the Water”.  What a hidden gem.  The shop is based in a barge and the books were on display on the towpath side of the boat. After taking pictures of the outside, I ventured onto the boat. The interior was jam packed with books and other interesting pictures and artefacts.  A great place for taking photographs

Word on the Water
Book browsing

I got talking to the owner John and his friends learning more about the shop. John allowed me to take his picture as part of the stranger project that I needed to do for my 52 week photographic project.  I did some research afterwards and found out that there is often live music on the open deck of the boat. Also the shop is a popular destination for book lovers everywhere.  Taking pictures in the interior was a challenge when using my Sony compact as even in late afternoon the light was very bright.  I could have taken many more pictures and I will return another day to do some more photographing.  Thanks to John for allowing me to take his picture and also to his friendly dog who did some posing for me as well.  If you want to learn more about this interesting barge on the canal then look up their Facebook page for more information.

Interesting books from famous authors
A cushion with. a view
Inviting place to visit
Lots to see and look through
A friendly dog welcome

I just thought I would share four of my recent photographs that I have taken so far in January with a story of how they were taken

Another perspective  – The family went for a cup of coffee in San Carlo Gran Café in Selfridges. (Incidentally the coffee there is very nice). I went outside with my grandson and looked up from the entrance to the top of the building. I saw a reflection. After a few goes I realised that the iPhone camera would give the best view. After posting the picture I received so many likes that I knew it was a popular photograph.

I called this the Selfridges Clam although others likened it to a pair of giant lips or a smartie

Metropolis – fun title for this picture of a West Midlands travel tram ready to go into Birmingham. There is another tram coming out of Birmingham and in the distance you can see the latest Snowhill building No3 and the rest of the city. I used my 40mm pancake lens on a Canon 6D. The lens makes you work for the view and it also gives a very crisp image.

The light from the St Paul’s station on the tram contrasts with those form the City

Sunrise over the Green Heart – The Green Heart is a spectacular open area in the centre of campus. This picture was taken on my iPhone and I wanted to catch the colours of a sunrise with a new view of the Chamberlain Clock Tower. The lights from under the benches provided a nice touch so much so that the picture will be featured by the University.

A new view created by the open space of the Green Heart.

Two sides to every picture – The Edgbaston tunnel on the Worcester and Birmingham Canal has been recently renovated and the towpath widened. Taking the photograph meant leaning over the railings and carefully holding the camera to get the picture. Picture taken with the 40mm and Canon 6D. The picture looks as if it is in two halves almost split down the middle.

September is always full of surprises and this year it has been no exception.  But we now reach the last days of the month and autumn is around the corner.  I am training for the Great Birmingham Run half marathon and I use the canal towpaths for my training runs.  The bridge on Kixley Lane is a picturesque place and I noticed that the trees has started to turn colour.  I decided to go back in the evening when there was enough light shinning on the trees.  I packed all my lenses and I had a window of 30 to 40 minutes.  I got some good pictures.  The people on the long boat passing through asked if there was a photographic competition as they had noticed many people taking photos.  I asked if I could show their picture on my photographic site and the man said jokingly yes I could if I cleaned his boat!!!!

A view of the bridge with symmetry from the reflection

As the light fades there were some deep colours coming through

A runner caught in the light

The boat I have to clean for taking the photograph


The rich colours of Autumn

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.

At last I get to update my blog and these are a few pictures taken on a walk from the Mailbox along the canal to the University train station.  It was a warm morning but I took along my Canon 5D mk4 and my EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens.  I usually do little to the pictures other than keeping an eye on the exposure and using an unsnarling mask to finish the picture.  On this walk I did play with some of the pictures in Google Nik.  I also used black and white.  I just have a sense when a picture suits black and white treatment.  My favourite picture of the day was the cyclist and the train although it was fun taking pictures in the canal bridge just before the University Residence Park.

Playing with filters and you can often forget what the original looked like

Some soft focus

The application of tinted filters

This is the original !!!

The canal walk brings out nice light and shadows

Graffiit under the bridge

A silhouette in the Edgbaston Tunnel

A non functional pier adds some charm to the scene

Man versus machine and I do like this photograph

Another favourite view which you start to see as the curve of the canal opens up

You have reached your destination

The sun came back after a really dull week and so I jumped into the car down to one of my favourite locations for photographs.  Kingswood Junction is near to Lapworth and is where the Stratford-upon-Avon canal meets the Grand Union canal via a small connection under the railway bridge.  I played around with long exposure, long focal length lens and an old fish eye lens that I have.  All good fun and long may the sun shine.

A small boat in the marina

Which way?

Via the Grand Union

The connection between the two major waterways

Long exposure

Long exposure with black and white treatment

The Fish eye view

A pleasant sunny day

Let me take the opportunity of describing my photographic week in January

SUNDAYThe End of a Perfect Day

On SUNDAY, I went out to take pictures of wildlife as I have access to a 400mm lens.  My runs along the canal nearby had revealed that a heron had made its home there.  So I set off with certain pictures in my mind.  I went up the canal bridge near to where I knew I had seen the heron.  The day was cold and bright.  The time was right as well, as it was coming up to around 4pm and the golden hour was almost upon me.  Then I discovered that several walkers passed me on the bridge and went into an adjoining field.  I went to investigate and the view was idyllic.  Path, farm house, setting sun and lovely colours.  I switched lenses to my 24-70mm and set up the aperture to see if I could get a sunstar.  I used my camera view and upped the ISO.  A couple of shots and I got a result that I was happy with.  Some minor editing followed in LR and PS.  The heron? I managed a few shots but none of the shots were as good as this scene of winter’s setting sun.
(postscript – as a bonus it was selected for publication in the Birmingham Post and Mail)
Camera settings – f-14, s-1/60, FL-24mm, ISO-250

MONDAYThe IKON gallery in Birmingham

MONDAY and I was at a reception hosted by the University of Birmingham at the IKON Gallery.  I have a camera with me at all times and the Sony RX100 is an ideal camera to have for pictures on the move.  It is very versatile and packs a lot of features into a small camera.  The evening was busy and there were few opportunities during the reception and the meal with presentations.  I was patient and at the end of the evening there was the opportunity to take an outside picture of the ICON gallery.  This place is photographed many times especially in Spring when the cherry blossom arrives.  This picture is processed in black and white.   The channel leads the viewer to the central building. I did notice that it was odd to see umbrellas/parasols set out in January but they make the picture look good with them set neatly in front of the lit windows.
Camera settings – f-1.8, s-1/30, FL-8.8mm, ISO-2000.

TUESDAYTelephone Box

TUESDAY morning and I was working at the University campus.  I have some time to take a detour around Brum before I jump on the train to the University Station.  I take photographs of what I like and I had some good ones of the Cathedral in the light.   This telephone box does nothing really and just stands near to the Cathedral. It does feature in many pictures around Birmingham and the light from the street lamp makes it stand out from the dark morning.  In the days of mobile phones it is a remnant from a different era.   It was this photograph that I selected over the others.
Camera settings – f-2.8, s-1/40, FL-10.6mm, ISO-2500.


A meeting in London always opens up new possibilities for taking photographs. I had a few ideas and when I got to Baker St, I used the underpass that goes under Marylebone Rd.  You have to love the red stripes and the surreal angle that they are set at.  It just cries out to be photographed.  I was also pleased to see that I had caught the people on the different coloured stripes which is a bonus.  I also took lots of other photographs but I discarded them in favour of this one.
Camera settings – f-4, s-1/160, FL-8.8mm, ISO-2500.

A cube view

THURSDAY was a day of teaching and meetings.  I was taking it slow making my way to a meeting at the Mailbox only to learn on the way that it was cancelled.  I went slower and decided to take the towpath back into the City Centre.  I am glad I did as the little bit of sun we had lit up the Cube and its reflection in the canal. I had inadvertently left the ISO at 2500 but this did allow a good capture of the cyclists on the left.  A bright moment in an otherwise dull day.
Camera settings – f-4, s-1/320, FL-11.3mm, ISO-2500.


Moor Street Station

Thank God its FRIDAY.  I was not having a great deal of luck with taking a photograph today.  It was a dull day and many of my pictures looked dull and boring. This was taken going home from Platform 1 of Moor St station. You can see the dull sky in the centre against the relatively warm lights of the station. Taken with my iPhone and it constantly amazes me how it takes a reasonably good picture under different lighting conditions.  A bit of touching up done in Google Snapspeed.
Camera settings – ƒ-1.8, s-1/6,  FL-4.0 mm, ISO 100



It is SATURDAY and at long last I get to use the Telephoto lens. I went to Brueton Park, Solihull, where the Warwickshire Wildlife Centre is based.  There was some wildlife around and for about 10 minutes there were two Goosanders in the large pond at the nature centre.  It is not easy to compose pictures and this is one of the better attempts of many I took during the morning. I need to tweak the settings a bit. This particular picture caught my eye due to the ripples. Wildlife photography is not straightforward and requires a lot of patience.  I will have a few more attempts over the coming months.
Camera settings – f-5.6, s-1/100,  FL-400 mm, ISO 500

And that was a typical week in January.