In January 2022, I spent the morning walking around Gas Street Basin. The area was bathed in beautiful sunshine and I took several photographs with my Fujifilm x100v. Several of the photographs came out really well. I was lucky with the light and the weather. Plus there were several people walking along the canal tow path. There were two stand out pictures that I took that day. The first was from outside the Tap and Spile public house on the west side of the basin looking towards Regency Wharf. This picture was highly commended in the urban view category of UK Landscape Photographer of the Year. I also took pictures on the other side of the basin. One part of the basin that used to be difficult to access is The Wharf which has access to various offices including the Pakistani Consulate. On that morning I found that the barriers had gone and there is now public access to the area where you can access the canal bank. This gives you a great view of the Bistrot Pierre restaurant building. The morning was still and quiet providing excellent conditions for reflections of the restaurant. As luck would have it, a passerby came into the picture and looked backwards. I snapped him and found that he was centred perfectly. The picture turned out well and did not need much adjustment post processing. There was a good reaction on social media when I posted the picture. Therefore when the Westside BID calendar competition came up then I entered this one along with several others. I was pleased to learn that I was the overall winner for the competition with my Bistrot Pierre picture and my prize was £175 vouchers for the Craft restaurant in Brindley Place next to the ICC. There was also a cheesy write up of my win which I include here. The title was “Dentist ‘reflects’ on top prize in Westside BID’s 2023 calendar competition”.
I am delighted to announce that my picture ‘Regency Wharf‘ was commended in the Urban view category of the Landscape Photography of the Year 2022.
The picture will be featured in the LPOTY 2022 book, ‘Landscape Photographer of the Year: Collection 15’, and will form part of the travelling exhibition in the digital format.
The picture is available to purchase from my website. I include an account below how the picture was taken, the camera used and the post production notes.
On a cold but very bright January morning, I went into Birmingham with my camera. I planned to walk around the City, with a focus on Brindley Place and Gas street Basin. The sun was low and there was an intensity about the light. By mid-morning, I found myself in Gas Street basin outside the Tap and Spile pub. I looked across to the imposing red-bricked building displaying the large stencilled letters, Regency Wharf. The scene looked as if someone had suddenly turned on a bright spotlight. The basin was lit up and the building was radiating the light. The water was perfectly still, allowing mirror like reflections. A person was walking on the tow path towards the canal bridge. I could see that his route would take him in front of the Regency Wharf sign. I lifted my camera, looked through the viewfinder and took several shots of the lone person moving along the path. I was thinking how these pictures would turn out but then quickly moved on as more interesting scenes were developing around me. I took more pictures in and around the area all of which did very well when posted on my social media channels.Regency Wharf – Damien Walmsley
Camera settings for the picture
The picture was taken on 11th January 2022 at 11.06
The camera was the Fujifilm x100v
Focal length – 23mm
Exposure was 1/10000, f/4, ISO160
The RAW file (Fuji – RAF) was opened in Lightroom and the light was so good that there was not much that that needed to be done to the image. I brought out the shadows and reduced the highlights. There was a small amount of saturation added. Once these basic adjustments were done, I took the image into Photoshop and made the decision to crop the picture to highlight the centre of the image. It may be argued that in the original the background to the Regency Wharf building, highlights the new buildings of Birmingham. However, my crop aims to highlight the legacy of Birmingham with a hint of what the future holds.
As I wanted to quickly upload the picture onto Instagram, I used an unsharp mask and then levels on the picture, but it was minimal editing. The light was so strong that the reflections in the water were excellent.
My personal reflections of LPOTY
I submitted 5 photographs for the LPOTY competition. in early summer, I was taken aback when several people on social media shouted out that they were no longer progressing in the competition. I had not received such a notification and on the website, it was asking for submission of a high resolution picture of one of my pictures. There was a mixture of anticipation but confusion. Eventually, I found my email informing me that I had been shortlisted. It was in my spam filter! The RAW files and more detailed explanation of the processing of the picture were submitted to the LPOTY team. There was another long wait. The FAQ on the website said that if I had not heard anything by October then my entry was unsuccessful. As there were no emails in the first 2 weeks of October, I was just happy that I had been shortlisted. It was on a train journey on the Tuesday afternoon prior to the Sunday announcement that I got the email saying that my picture was Commended in the Urban View category. I was so pleased but the rub was that I had to keep it confidential until now. My family are pleased for me and my friends who have been on my photographic journey were happy as well.
People reading this blog will want to know what it takes to be successful in the competition. Several things spring to mind. Always believe in your picture taking and be content with your own work. Social media is not necessarily a good barometer of a successful picture. Be resilient, this was my fourth attempt since my first entry back in 2018. Listen to constructive criticism and research into how others take their photographs. Always be ready to learn and never take rejection of your pictures personally. Pick yourself up and take the camera on a walk. I will be entering again in 2023 and I know it will be just as competitive as ever. However, I will see what happens and happy to enjoy the experience of entering again.
Wine tumbler – Oli on water£20.00
Grand Union Canal London Postcard£3.00
Hello from the Royal Mile Postcard£3.00
Edinburgh Cork-back coaster£8.00
Gas Street Basin – Cork-back coaster£7.50
Regency Wharf Metal prints£44.50 – £54.00
Regency Wharf – Framed matte paper poster£26.50 – £60.00
Regency Wharf | Framed Poster£25.50
Taking part in the @24hoursproject did challenge me in my photography. I learnt about it from a fellow photographer who also happened to be the UK ambassador for the project. When Anu told me about the project then I just had to get involved. After registering and donating to the designated charity, I got ready for the day. The charity chosen by the 24 hour team was supporting the work of Yonton Te which means “heart of the tree”. The donations will go to a local community in Chapas Mexico and the website provides more information on this worthwhile cause.
The theme of the 24 hours was to document the general human condition with emotions of love, humour, sadness, joy, fulfilment, pain, loneliness). As you will see from my photographs, I strayed away from the brief. This was not my intention but I was so focussed on getting a picture done once an hour that I forgot about the theme. Reviewing the photo feed of the project, many people went into their local cities, whilst I decided to base my 24 hours around my life at home. You will see that my first 8 hours evolved around sleeping and my breakfast. Also there were not many people stirring in Knowle village early on a Saturday morning.
At 10:00 am I went into Birmingham. By chance, my train driver was Yo Naysan, a fellow photographer. As the train pulled in he stuck his head out of the driver’s window and said hello. On arriving into Birmingham, I met up with Anu and her partner Kate and wandered around the city. I photographed the PoliNations display in Victoria Square, the Library of Birmingham, Gas Street Basin and the University of Birmingham, Exchange. There were people queuing for the book of remembrance for the Queen.
Many of these are linked to tackling climate change and foolishly I did not take pictures of people. However in my outtakes I did and you will see many of these were fun pictures. Driving back home I pondered my contribution to the 24 hour project and took several pictures in the village at night. To recap, the main aim for this project was to experience 24 hours of pictures and see if I was able to complete the task. I succeeded in this task next year will be able to tackle the project in a different way as I know what to expect.
And just for fun here are my outtakes of the day.
My first walk around Birmingham this year was an eventful photographic journey. The pictures were taken with my Fujifilm x100v. It was a cold and sunny day. My walk was a circular route of my favourite photo spots including Snow Hill Car Park and the Jewellery Quarter. Of course I could not forget about the Birmingham canal navigation and I therefore included Brindley place and Gas Street Basin.
The pictures taken in Gas Street Basin went down well and the picture of the reflections at Regency Wharf was long listed in ShareMondays2022 and shortlisted on the Fotospeed weekly competitions.
There were other opportunities for pictures of reflections and I wanted to take those that are popular on the social media pages. People standing in the doorway of the Tap and Spile is popular. The white wall of Pierre Bistro is another one.
After a refuelling with coffee at the Exchange, I went into the Birmingham Library. The sunlight was strong for January and with it being a clear day you could see a long way. I could see the Barr Beacon and the Clent Hills. It was time to get back to the car and go home and the final part? A walk back through Centennial square and Chamberlain square finished off the walk nicely.
My Fujifilm camera was on Aperture priority, ISO on automatic and I just moved between f/4 and f/11 depending on the light and what field of view I wanted. Hope you enjoy the pictures.
If you want to see more pictures of Birmingham then follow @igersbirminghamUK where I am one of the team that select photographs for our Instagram account.
More from my Blog
If you like my pictures then here is a taster of some of my popular posts about Birmingham
– The Exchange meets IgersBirminghamUK
– Moseley Instameet – IgersBirminghamUK
– Digbeth, Digbeth – so good they had to name it twice
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.
Having done Digbeth, I felt brave enough to go into Birmingham again and look around both Gas Street Basin and Centenary Square. My first difficulty was parking as car parks and on street spaces were either shut or there were traffic cones preventing you from parking. I found a place and wandered down into gas street. What I noticed was how many runners there were out and about plus cyclists using the tow path. It is wide enough to do social distancing and it was being patrolled by two police officers as well.
After Gas Street I went to Centenary Square and I had brought along my lensball as I thought it might give me some different and creative photography. Sometimes the lensball is frustrating as it just does not add anything more to the picture. In this situation, the shallow pool of water allowed you to place the crystal at the water’s edge and then lie low to line up a picture. I was pleased with the result and it was well received on the social media. I also noticed that whilst Broad Street is undergoing changes for the metro tram, there are social distancing notices all over the pavement. The virus is still around and although walking around the streets of Birmingham has a normality about it, you do realise that we are sill in a state of crisis.
This series of pictures features Birmingham centre just after the clocks have gone back. Why is this so important. Sunrise for the next couple of weeks is around 7 am and that is the time that I get into Birmingham. When I took these pictures, I did not have any theme attached to them as I just felt like I needed to stroll around the city and see what is happening.
There is a fair amount of change happening around Birmingham. This includes the next phase of the Metro tram linking up between Grand Central and Broad Street. There are also many new buildings going up around Chamberlain Square. So many changes happening. I then moved onto Gas Street Basin and caught the light from the early morning sun.
It was only when I reviewed the pictures that I noticed a figure in each of the pictures. Maybe it is the same person that was following me around the city as I was taking photographs. Whoever he/she or they were, they do add a point of interest and a story to the pictures.
A few views of St Paul’s Church, Gas Street Basin, the Library and the Cube. The sunlight always gives the local landmarks an added boost.
It is cold in January and as I was in the City for an evening meal, I took the opportunity to take a few pictures around Gas Street Basin and Brindley Place in Birmingham City Centre. In a highly photographed area of the City, it is a challenge to take pictures that offer a different perspective of the area. As I wandered around I did not realise how cold it was and it reminded me to get some special gloves that cover the hands but allow you to use the camera controls. When I got to meet everyone in the restaurant, my hands hurt as the blood began to recirculate. At least I had some pictures to look back on and some of them looked worthy for entry into my blog. The majority of the pictures were done on a manual setting and I used railings and walls as my tripod. It is difficult to balance the bright neon lights and some of the pictures were cropped to remove the distracting glare. I enjoy night shooting in the city and I will miss the shortened days as spring is around the corner.