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UoB Exchange IgersbirminghamUK

The University of Birmingham has a major economic impact on Birmingham and the West Midlands region.  The University educates students, is a major employer, a research leader in all sectors and a gateway bringing in global connections that benefit the city. Even though the University has a beautiful campus at Edgbaston, a physical footprint in the city centre has long been on the University’s wish list.  The old Municipal Savings Bank began to look an interesting project.  Especially with the location of the bank on the new look Centennial square.   

Produced by the University of Birmingham

The former Municipal Bank is a Grade II listed building and has historical links with the University.  Joseph Chamberlain was founder and first Chancellor of the University of Birmingham.  Neville Chamberlain, the son of Joseph Chamberlain was behind the building of the Municipal Bank on Broad Street.  It was first opened by Prince George in 1933 and has a long history of underpinning the wealth of an ambitious city.  However, the bank closed at the turn of the century and the last 20 years has seen the building empty with no tenants. It was famously portrayed as the AC-12 base in the BBC series ‘Line of Duty’.  The iconic safe deposit boxes in the vault were used in a Chanel advert amongst the various roles that the bank filled in these barren years.  In 2018, the University negotiated a long lease of the building with Birmingham City Council and the renovations began.

I was fortunate in my University of Birmingham role to see these renovations firsthand in October 2019 before the pandemic.  During my visit, I took a series of pictures on my iPhone.  I had no idea which room I was photographing, although I remember the vaults where the safe deposit boxes reside.  They are so interesting to see.  Rows and rows of metal doors with numbers on them.  One can only begin to imagine what was contained within them.  The building was being gutted and there was so much to do from floor to ceiling in each room.

UoB Exchange
Banking floor

Fast forward to October 2021.  Hasan Patel who is part of Communications Team at the University of Birmingham invited me to coffee at the Exchange after his Marathon Run. (Follow Hasan on Twitter to learn how to sponsor him on his running diary). We spent an enjoyable couple of hours putting the world to right.  Hasan introduced me to the University team at the Exchange and we visited several rooms in the building. 

Not long after my visit with Hasan, IgersBirminghamUK announced an Instameet at the Exchange.  Immediately I signed up and went along.  This Instameet is a friendly collection of photographers.   We were given access to all areas including the Board room and the former bank managers office which I did not get to see on my first visit.  The other interesting feature is the balcony where the bank manager opened the doors and looked out onto the banking floor to check that the bank was running smoothly.  During the Instameet, this was a favourite spot for all the photographers.

Whilst we were in the vault, we were also given access to a utility room where many of the safety deposit boxes were stored.  Now many of the boxes are placed strategically around the building and are a feature of those rooms which are used as teaching spaces and meeting areas.  This basement room had many of the old boxes and proved to be a fantastic place to take photographs.  There were still some stickers remaining and on one of the boxes the notice stated that this box could only be opened in the presence of a solicitor.  Once again one could only imagine what was kept in these boxes over the years.

We finished the tour and adjourned to the Distillery Pub next to the Roundhouse.   This is another interesting place to visit and includes a wall mural of a canal horse painted by one my favourite street artists, Annatomix.   The Roundhouse was used to care for the canal horses that pulled the boats and has been renovated as a historical place of interest. There is even one of the horse stables on view.

This was a day taking pictures of historical buildings that have been brought up to date in a city that is rediscovering its roots and moving forward.  Thank you to the team at IgersBirminghamUK for organising the tour and The University of Birmingham for opening the Exchange for this Instameet.

I have also included a blending of the old and new photographs in two of the rooms to show how the building has been modernised between my two visits.

Pictures taken with iPhone 11 and 13, camera Fujifilm x100v

If you are interested in joining an IgersBirmingham Instameet then please follow them on Instagram. An account of a previous IgersBirmingham Instameet at Moseley Market is also available on my blog.


Sign in Black and White for Moseley markets

Instameets are a great way of meeting fellow Igers photographers. In the virtual world it is difficult to discover the person behind the handle. There is nothing better than an Instameet to bring people together and share photographic stories. There have been few opportunities to venture out on photography meetings during the lockdown period. Now the restrictions are eased, it is possible to hold such popular get togethers again. Igersbirmingham has been running for many years and the latest team put together the successful IgersbirminghamUK group. The UK tag is so that we are not confused with our sister city in the USA 🙂

The meeting was held when the Moseley Farmer’s market opened up for the first time since the easing of Lockdown. The meeting also gave everyone the chance to visit the park and pool which opens up at the time of the market. The start and finish were at the Cuban Embassy pub on Wake Green Road. Two of the IgersbirminghamUK team, @nickywarwickshire and @james_never_Jim greeted us on the pavement outside the Embassy. James set out the plans for the morning and the team had prepared a pamphlet for the Moseley Instameet. There was a brief history of the market, Moseley Park and Pool together with a map. The all-important hashtags were printed out for sharing our pictures. After all the introductions and a catch up with old and new friends, it was time to explore the market.

#igbuk_meet_moseley with #igersBirminghamUK
Three yellow jackets
#igbuk_meet_moseley with #igersBirminghamUK
Coffee is served

Moseley village is said to be one of the most popular places to live in the country and it has lots of energy. The market was bustling, with people queuing up for bread, cakes and other many foodie goodies. In the triangle next to the junction of the crossing most of the stalls were food orientated. Taking place at the same time is the Moseley Arts Market which is on the opposite side lining up along the Alcester Road. There were several craft stalls, which included jewellery, paintings, photography, books etc. The coffee shops were doing well as people chatted and watched the world go by.

#igbuk_meet_moseley with #igersBirminghamUK
Browsing the Artwork in the Market
#igbuk_meet_moseley with #igersBirminghamUK
The Arts market is on the other side of the road with the entry to the park.

Then we walked into Moseley Park. Last week, I remarked that I had not been up the Malvern Hills and this week I find myself visiting a new area of Birmingham. Having driven along Salisbury Road to work, I have passed this place countless times before, so I was very surprised to find this hidden oasis. There are several outbuildings including tennis courts, artwork from Lucy McLauchlin and a 200-year-old Icehouse. It did rain but luckily there was some tree cover, and the passing shower did not spoil the walk around the pool. A very quiet and peaceful place to visit.

#igbuk_meet_moseley with #igersBirminghamUK
Moseley Park and Pool
#igbuk_meet_moseley with #igersBirminghamUK
Sheltering from the rain
#igbuk_meet_moseley with #igersBirminghamUK
Moseley Pool

It was a good contrast for the photography meeting. On one hand there was the hustle and bustle of the Farmers market with the Art market providing an alternative experience on the High Street. Then there was the quiet period of reflection around the pool and the park. I did not have my telephoto lens with me as there was a heron who was looking for fish. There were several other good opportunities for wildlife photography.

#igbuk_meet_moseley with #igersBirminghamUK
Enjoying the peace and quiet

Two hours sped by, and it was time to say goodbye and head home. However the lure of the market pulled me back in and I came away with some nice writing books for the grandchildren, a range of Pip’s sauces for the Sandy to use at the next BBQ and two gingerbread men. My present was an evening editing and putting together the Instameet story. I have missed the IgersbirminghamUK meetings taking place in and around the City. Now the COVID19 restrictions are removed, I look forward to many more. A big thank you to the IgersbirminghamUK team for organising the meeting and good to see so many people taking part. Please follow the @IgersbirminghamUK team on Instagram and keep a look out not only for their Instameets but also the next Moseley Farmer’s and Art’s markets that take place.

Hashtags for the Instameet were #igbuk_meet_moseley and #igersBirminghamUK
Please look them up on Instagram for some more amazing pictures.

Photography approach

I took my Fujifilm x100v to the meeting and this allowed me to me ready for chatting with fellow photographers but also able to catch candid shots. Being with other photographers allows you to relax more as you take the photographs. Even then I was still a bit apprehensive with my shots! I also like to see what other people see and then photograph. Even on the reviewing of the pictures under #igbuk_meet_moseley meeting tag, I see some “knockout” photos and think if only I had taken that one! That is the fun of the Instameet, seeing how others take a picture. My editing was to go Black and White for the Farmer’s market and then colour for the Park and the Pool. I noticed that the logo for the Art’s market had blues and reds in the logo. It opened up the opportunity for some selective colouring included a bit of yellow. Did I have the right camera with me? Yes I did! Should I have brought other cameras with me? Yes I could have done but the truth is I am happy with the pictures that are published here.


It is always good when my diary has the free space for an Igersbirmingham instameet and I was lucky as this one coincided with Birmingham Heritage week.  The venue was Aston Hall a place that I had not visited since my daughters were young.  I expected changes to the layout of the Hall rooms but also, I was excited to visit the Long Gallery which is one of the major attractions of this grand house that is steeped in history.  I will not elaborate much further on the history of the Hall as it can all be found on the Birmingham Museums web site

http://www.birminghammuseums.org.uk/aston

This visit was organised by Igersbirmingham who once again excelled at ensuring we had a worthwhile time with our cameras.  We arrived an hour before the official opening and this allowed us the time to browse around the rooms and take photographs of the interesting places.  I brought along my fisheye lens as I was hoping that this would provide a different view of the Long Gallery.  I also worked with my Canon 5D and the 24-70mm and 70-200mm lenses.  I do get very excited about taking part in photographic events such as this one and it takes a while for me to settle down and concentrate on achieving good pictures. There are many different views and the Long Gallery view with the fisheye came out how I imagined it which was fortunate.  However, I am always surprised on how others view my pictures and the Igersbirmingham team selected the picture of the chimneys on the roof for their blog on the meeting

http://www.igersbirmingham.co.uk/aston-hall-instameet

Many thanks to the Igers team of Beth, Fraser and Martin for their work and enthusiasm in running these Instameets

Aston Hall

Igersbirmingham ready to go and take some photographs.

Aston Hall welcomes it visitors

Such sharp teeth you have

Art work of a flat camera on a tripod

Some of the Characters in traditional costume

Staircases make for interesting photography

Out taking pictures

Thee Long Gallery through a fisheye

Sir Thomas Holte entertains

Detail from one of the rooms

Looking up

Chimneys and lots of them

Outside Gardens

Church of St Peter and St Paul (seen from Aston Hall)

Lovely Sky behind Aston Hall

 

Path through the Gardens

When the notification came through, I immediately applied. A photographing evening at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens after-dark Christmas-lights experience was an exciting prospect. I was lucky to get one fo the 50 tickets as previous events sell out very quickly.  However, when the day came, the weather forecast was for one of the coldest nights of the year. I was starting to have second thoughts about going. I took the decision to wrap up warm, put my cameras in my back pack and set off for the gardens. When I got there, it was good to find friends from previous igersbirmingham Instameets.  The evening was going to be a good one.

The light show did not disappoint and the trees, paths and glasshouses were all part of a well choreographed light display. It is difficult taking photographs in the dark and also having to contend with the bright lights. The iPhone does well at producing a good picture whilst with modern cameras cranking up the ISO gives you lots of flexibility. I was fairly pleases with the results and provides good memories of the evening.

More details of the evening may be found on the IgersBirmingham Website.   The Botanical Gardens are well wroth a visit day or night 

Trees and lights

Illuminated paths

A multitude of colours

Like a candle in a tree

Having a chat in the Gardens

Stars at your feet

Snowflakes and Reindeer

Can you see the photographers in the light show

A path in the dark

A bit of blurring can be fun

Walking in Wonder

Christmas lanterns

Tunnel of light