Brum through a lens at Night

When the call goes out on Instagram for night time photography organised by the WestMidlandsPhotoCollective then you know it will be a good event.  Unfortunately, it was limited numbers, and I was unsuccessful. I put my name down  on the waiting list and promptly forgot all about it.  A day before the event, a call came through saying someone had dropped out and was I still interested?  No difficulties in saying yes.

Brum through a lens at Night
Brindley Place with reflecting lights on the Canal

We met at the Roundhouse Birmingham which is where the horses that pulled the canal boats were kept in the early days of the industrial revolution.  After a period of falling into despair, the Roundhouse is now restored to its former glory. With funding from the National Lottery Heritage fund, a partnership formed between the Canal and River Trust and National Trust has led to a community-based centre offering new purpose for the building.  Check out their web site to see what is on offer.

Brum through a lens at Night
Classic viewpoint of Gas Street Basin.
Brum through a lens at Night
Gas Street Basin looking towards the Black Sabbath bridge.

Jim and Sarah from the WMPC met us and outlined the walk.  We followed a community route called “Brum through a Lens”.  We were armed with our tripods and set out along the canals to Gas Street Basin to start taking our first set of photographs.  It is one of the highlighted stops on the Brum through a Lens walk. This classic view is immediately under the Cambrian Wharf wall, looking out over the basin towards the Cube.  I started having tripod malfunctions and struggled to get pictures.  By the time I had freed up the tripod, it was time to move on to the Cube.  On the way we passed under Holliday Street Aqueduct.  This looked an ideal spot for light trials and I lingered around the place taking what turned out to be my best picture of the night.  Several cars came through at once and I had the camera on the long exposure settings (25s, f22, ISO 100). 

Brum through a lens at Night
Light Trails under Holliday Street Aqueduct

Catching up with the group, I took a picture of the Mailbox.  Trying something different I went low and illuminated the train tracks with my torch.  The long exposure gave the water a milky texture and the background was the bright lights of the Mailbox. 

Brum through a lens at Night
Mailbox with old tracks in the foreground.

The final stop was Centennial Square with the Big Wheel and the Star Flyer.  I looked around for a vantage point.  Many of the photographers were setting up underneath the Star Flyer and I saw their pictures after the event.  It was a unique viewpoint.  I decided to stand back and get a good vantage point with both attractions in the viewfinder.  After a while I got an idea of how the Star Flyer was moving up and down.  I had a few efforts with the long exposure and then there was one session where I captured the movement from top to bottom.  The flyer had illuminated struts with people suspended in chairs out into the heights.  It looked quite scary and the movement made a good subject for the long exposure. There were also plenty of screams as well to accompany the long exposure.

Brum through a lens at Night
The Star Flyer looks like a lollipop after the long exposure treatment.

The group moved back to the Roundhouse to take part in some light painting.  Both fairy lights and long neon tubes were used for the light sources.  It was a different light display and made for some dramatic effects as shown.  The circular structure of the roundhouse allowed it to be very dark with little stray light.  An ideal location for light painting.

All the walking combined with the photography made for thirsty work.  The remaining photographers made their way to the Distillery pub for some well-earned refreshments.  There was talk about those pictures that were successful and those that got away.

Thank you to West Midlands Photo Collective for organising the meeting which was very enjoyable giving many of us an opportunity to wander around the City. Being in a group reduced concerns about our safety with all of our equipment and we were able to concentrate on the photography.

All these long exposure pictures were taken with a Canon D5 on a tripod. I used a fast zoom lens 24-105mm. The camera settings were on manual with an ISO 100. The aperture was set at either f/11 to f/22. The timings were around 30 seconds for the light trails and the Star Flyer. At the Roundhouse, I adjusted the timings to be around a few seconds due to the intensity of the light.

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

When the chance came to take photographs from the top of the Rotunda then I was first in the queue. Maybe not first as there were several other keen photographers that wanted to up there as well. Those people with passion, @Birminghamweare organised the visit to Floor 20 of the iconic Rotunda. We had a 6 to 9.30pm slot on a Sunday night in one of the Staying Cool apartments. The city was buzzing as the Velo bike riders were finishing their 100 mile trip around the West Midlands. I thought I would be late for the trip to the top but I found a place to park and made may way to the Rotunda. I have passed the entrance many times but now I was going in and up to the top. We were based in Room 25 which has the best views over Grand Central and out to the west of Birmingham. I met up with my fellow photographers and walked out onto the veranda – viewing platform at the very top of the Rotunda. I took several minutes to take in the scene and as I often do in these situations got my phone out and took some pictures.

Having settled down and after the initial excitement had subsided then it was time to start taking some pictures of the magnificent view. I had brought along my 100 – 400mm Canon lens which was able to pick out all the landmarks. These included Birmingham City football ground, St Martin’s Church, the Bus station, Grand Central, St Philip’s Cathedral. the Mailbox and Snow Hill. So many different views to choose from.

The setting of the sun was very exciting and we were all politely jostling for position to get the best shot in. We all managed to get our pictures of the sunset and then this was followed by the night lights of Grand Central and the surrounding buildings. Another set of pictures were taken. Then it was all over. Three and a half hours had gone so quickly. When I got back home it was such fun to look at all the pictures and also so interesting to see pictures taken by the other photographers from the @Birminghamweare group.

A BIG thank you to Jonathan Bostock and Debra Power from @Birminghamweare for organising this memorable visit. Also thank you to Staying Cool at the Rotunda for allowing us the opportunity to view Birmingham from above. Finally I hope you enjoy all the pictures on show and tune into people with passion – Birminghamweare

It snowed.  Also it was very considerate that it snowed on a Sunday morning as well.  It was a heavy downpour and I donned many layers before I set off for a journey through Knowle Village.  There were many people in the park and activities ranged from sledging to snowball fights.  There were very few cars around and several had been left on the side of the roads.  Even with my polariser lens filter, snow is very difficult to photograph.  My favourite picture was of the red letterbox and mailbox.  They have been in Knowle High Street for a very long time and were there when I arrived.  Hope you like the pictures and it is starting to look a lot like Christmas now.


Outdoor play

Tree shapes

More Trees

The Snow turns to Slush

Knowle Church

Red boxes

Detail in the snow

Snowy hedge

Cracks in the Pond

Spot the man in yellow