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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

The Jewellery quarter is one of my inspirational places for photography. Affectionately known as the JQ, it contains so much history wrapped in its character. Old and new blend together with interesting details including churches, shops, doors, alleyways and jewellery shops. Arguably the centre piece is St Paul’s square with the beautiful Church in the centre. The spire is taller than the building making it difficult to frame for the photograph. However, there are a few areas where you can frame it correctly using the surrounding trees. I wandered around the square and then down Bennett’s Hill on a quiet Sunday morning. The only company were cyclists and joggers. A few people were sitting on the benches taking in the early sunshine. These are a few pictures taken around the square and down the hill.

There are a few places that are active on social media including the Soda Bread Cafe and up and coming photographer Rebecca who posts lovely photographs of the JQ skyline. It is sad to see the Jam House as I have many happy memories of nights out there. It will be a while before it opens again. The square holds many happy memories for me. It was here that one of my photographs first got featured as a BBC Midlands picture of the day. The Jam House, Andersons and St Paul’s House all have special family and work memories. So a quiet Sunday in June was spent not only taking photographs but reliving memories of a favourite Birmingham spot. Don’t let me have it all for myself why not visit it yourself but remember to take your camera with you.

I have occasional meetings in London and I always plan to get down early and plan a photographic walk. I have never been to Little Venice so I jumped onto the tube and made it to Warwick Avenue. From here I got on the canal. It was a beautiful morning and the light was just pouring out of the sky. Reminds me of one of my favourite songs “The light pours out of me” by Magazine. There was a wonderful haze around the canals. I had my wide angled lens with me which I find pulls in all of the scene into the camera. I moved through Little Venice into the Paddington branch where many people where moving around on their way to work.

Little Venice
Onto Paddington
Hazy sun

Bridges and people

Lines of lights
Buildings and water

Looking down the canal

There was plenty of opportunities to take pictures where water, people and sun interacted. When I got back home, I immediately converted them into black and white and found that I had captured much more than I had hoped. I will be back to visit again in the future.

Little Venice in Colour

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

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.

Underpass

WEDNESDAY
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.

THURSDAY
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.

FRIDAY

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

SATURDAY

Goosander

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.