Oozells square in the westside of Birmingham is unremarkable other than the IKON gallery which is on one side of the square. The IKON is a highly acclaimed contemporary art venue and when you have finished looking over the latest exhibits, take a well earned rest in Yorks coffee shop. However in the months of March and April the square erupts with cherry blossom and becomes one of the most photographed squares in Birmingham. I also took many photographs. The square was featured in a BBC news and my photograph was included. I have also added a few more of my own in this post.
There have been many opportunities over the last couple of weeks to take pictures that rely on reflections. Surface water from all the rain leads to puddles on footpaths and pavements that are a good source for taking reflective pictures. Modern cameras have a flip screen that allow you to get low and take the picture without having to get too uncomfortable on the floor. The placement of the lenses has to be very low to take advantage of the reflective split. On the iPhone 13, the positioning of the lenses allows you to get closer to the water. However take care as in doing this you will find your mobile phone getting a little wet! Straight after the rain, I am always looking for a new angle for my photography using reflections from the water and here are a few examples. Most of them are taken with the iPhone camera. However during the visit to Upton House near Banbury, I discovered a very large reflective pool in the garden that provided a wonderful opportunity for a reflection.
There was some local and national successes with several of these pictures being picked up on Instagram by both National Geographic Traveller and BBC weather watchers. Some were successfully featured in local instagram pages. There are explanations behind all the images shown and whilst you are reading this blog post, I am still on the look out for reflections.
“If you see me walking down the street
And I start to cry each time we meet
Walk on by, walk on by.”
Song and Lyrics composed by Burt Bacharach, with lyrics by Hal David
The following images should be viewed when listening to the song by Dione Warwick although there is the alternative version by Isaac Hayes which is worth a listen as well. These pictures were taken in Brindley Place, Birmingham using my 70-200mm lens on my Canon 5D IV. The rising sun casts a shadow against the brick wall and as people walk by it appears as if the shadows are making an arrow. Add in the bonus reflections and it makes for a superb place for street photography. Enjoy the following set of 5 pictures.
Royal Leamington Spa is long associated with the family. We used to visit in the late 1980s and think it was so exciting with the Parade and the Parade and the Royal Priors shopping centre. Returning over the years, the town still looks impressive with the Georgean and Victorian buildings looking clean and impressive in their whitewashed coatings. The opportunity to do a photographic walk around Leamington Spa was organised by my fellow photographer buddy, John Bray. I arrived in the town inbetween two storms, Dudley and Eustace. The sun came back during the lull which whilst welcome, created strong shadows during our morning walk.
Our first stop was the home of bowls, Royal Leamington Spa Bowling Club. The groundsmen were preparing the greens for spring and the greens looked beautiful. Our walk followed the river Leam and we passed through the Royal Pump Room gardens with the impressive Bandstand.
Moving over the river again we headed past All Saints Church where there were some opportunities to take reflective photographs. We went onto Mill Road and then Mill passage lingering on the impressive iron pedestrian bridge over the river. It was here that we encountered our first street art with a mural of elephants painted on an electricity substation hut near to the entrance to the bridge. This work was painted by the Brink Contemporary Arts group and makes a feature of three elephants who used to live in Leamington.
The river Leam was full following the recent rains and there was a strong current under the bridge. There was also a fine mist of the spray from the waterfall crashing over the weir. Having photographed the bridge and the river our next destination was the Grand Union canal.
Our walk took us through the streets of the town and we commented several times at the hidden gems of architecture. Just before the canal there is a mixture of light industry and new buildings that leads onto an old factory where the Brink art group has facilitated more street art. The pedestrian canal bridge has curved steps and provides views of the street art.
A selection of the murals is featured in my next blog. My favourite was a mural painted by @n_4_t_4 on the side of the canal. There were several others that are featured and part of the Brink Art group.
Making our way back to Jephson park, we stumbled upon a small oasis of crocuses in bloom showing that spring was well on its way. Following on from Jephson park, we took in coffee in the city centre before heading off to Clarendon Square where many films are filmed including Upstairs, downstairs. The latest TV series to be filmed there is “Stonehouse” based on the MP who faked his own death.
Royal Leamington Spa is well worth photographic attention as there is much to see from the beautiful architecture to the contemporary street art. All the pictures were taken mainly with my Fujifilm x100v compact camera unless otherwise stated.
Winter is dark and whilst the arrival of Snowdrops heralds the early signs of spring, the nights are still dark. What is needed is for someone to conjure up a colourful festival to raise the spirits and light up the dark nights. That is just what Compton Verney have done with their spectacular light display in the grounds of their beautiful estate. What would the landscape architect Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown who designed the gardens think of a light extravaganza that took advantage of the reflections from the lake and the other structures such as the bridge across the river? I am sure he would have been proud of this artistic light show.
The opening night was cold and dry with a waxing gibbous moon rising in the clear night amongst the stars. The lights lit up the night sky and it was exciting to see the house from afar as we approached from the main road. Once parked and through the main entrance, the path led us through the illuminated wood onto the shore opposite to the house. The bridge, grounds and house were all subject to a colourful rotation of lights that were reflected in the still lake. The trees shimmered in the water like colour ghosts.
Moving on through the grounds, we were guided by lanterns through red lit trees into tunnels of light. Everywhere you looked there were rich colours boldly painted on the black canvas of the sky. Once we had exhausted all the photographic opportunities, we realised how cold and hungry we were and luckily outlets from the Digbeth Dining Company were there to satisfy our needs. The hot food and drinks were very welcome. The quality of the food was high with lots to choose from and served piping hot.
Having taken so long to move around the grounds, we found that we were one of the last groups to leave. However it was to our advantage as we had no people to interrupt our photographing and were able to take pictures of several of the light exhibits without interference. The evening experience was unforgettable although it was good to get into the car and get the heating on for the journey home.
You may like to see more of my pictures about Compton Verney on my blog. Enjoy the reading.
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
From my social media feeds, you would think that the whole of Birmingham was at the Hi Vis Festival. The date was released with much anticipation and then the BBC Midlands today programme ratcheted up the excitement several notches more by featuring Panda of Graffiti artist talking about the festival. Big Artist names were released and social media was overflowing with comments about the weekend activities.
The festival was held over the Saturday and Sunday in September 2021. I could only make the Saturday which meant that I would be viewing much of the artwork in its early stages. Still that means another visit later in the month to see the finished artwork. Visiting Digbeth always provides photographic opportunities and the Hi Vis festival was no exception. On arrival my first stop was at Milk street where a few artists were working. Surprisingly one of the bouncers at the local club asked why I was taking pictures. I must have looked suspicious! I moved onto Floodgate street – so many artists out painting the walls. People walking around, hen parties, loud noisy cars cruising and street artists. Many of them were intent on what they were creating and were happy to have their photos taken. The street was full of cars but they made for great reflections.
Moving onto Gibb street over the gangway that spans the river Rea. More people plus music and generally great vibes. There was so much to describe and taking pictures with the camera was on overload. Skateboarders provided a gritty backdrop to the arches. Seeing the artists close up and watching them work allowed you to get a good perspective of their approach. Watching @cryola1 paint a vibrant portrait was a highlight.
As you walk into Gibb street, you enter the heart of the Custard Factory and boundless energy is pumped around the cafes and shops. Weddings are taking place at the Old Library and people out enjoying the sunshine. I walked around the arches onto Heath Mill Lane and caught a picture of Panda on his scooter! Thanks to Panda and his team bringing together such variety of street art onto the streets. On Digbeth High Street, there were many more artists painting walls and billboards. Just great to see them in action. I moved back into Floodgate street and saw other well known local artists such as n4t4 and Snub 23 painting. I know I have not credited all of the street artists but I can add names if requested. There was a focus of activity down Little Ann street and there were several artists working including I.am.sprite with her mural of Tiny Roar.
Ladders and even mechanised platforms were being used to ensure that the painting quality was enhanced. I find it amazing that the street artists are able to keep the bigger picture in mind whilst painting the smaller details. The Pop Art nature of the pictures is a colour frenzy and stand out against the old factories that are a feature of the Digbeth architecture.
Overall the walkaround was very enjoyable, I met several friends, people were friendly and the atmosphere lifted the spirits. There will be a post script on the Hi Vis Festival and all the finished pieces of street art when I get the chance to get down there again. It you are interested in street art then there are a few other blog posts on the street art that I have done including Digbeth Street Art and Digbeth, Digbeth. There is also some pictures of the Bristol scene which I visited in 2020. As you can see, it is a fascinating subject.
Postscript – Digbeth High Street and Selfridges
As I moved back to the car, I thought to myself, “let’s spend 5 to 10 minutes looking around Digbeth High Street” which will include a few pictures of Selfridges in its high visibility cladding. The high street is making way for the tram so it is being dug up. The traffic was stationary and there were pink reflections in the car windows. I was unable to capture the scene well and made do with a couple of pictures of Selfridges.
On the Bonnie, Bonnie banks of Loch Lomond so the song goes. The shores and waters of the Loch provide wonderful photographic opportunities and I had the opportunity to visit further afield as well. I cannot do justice to all the sights that are available and previous visits to the area means that the pictures and stories are more a personal taste of what you can expect around the park.
Last light on Loch Lomond
The pier at the Duck Bay Restaurant has commanding views of Loch Lomond making it an ideal place for a long exposure picture. The light was fading and Ben Lomond on the right was still visible. Editing was simple with a little extra on the saturation to bring out the colour in the reflections.
When I saw pictures of this castle on the Internet then I knew that I had to go and see it. Carrick castle is on the western shores of Loch Gail and it is a single track road to get there. I cajoled my daughter in taking me to the castle early the the morning. The sun had risen, and the sky was cloudy. I still enjoyed taking photographs of Carrick castle and this getting down low picture was my favourite one.
This was may favourite picture from the walk-up Ben Lomond and this was just as we were turning around going down the southern face. The light escaping between the rocky crags provides an idea of the nature of the mountain. When the going is good then the mountain looks inviting. I have climbed a previous time when the going was not so good and such pictures were not possible.
Our holiday house was not far from Arrochar which is at the head of Loch Long. We went for Sunday lunch at the Village Inn which was next to the shores. I took several pictures on the sea loch shore and whilst the sun was high in the sky there was still the opportunity to find some nice reflections on the water.
The town nestled on the Clyde has such a history with the inventor of TV John Logie Baird and the interior of Hill House designed by Renee Macintosh. However, its time as a seaside resort is long gone but the centre retains a certain charm and there is a thriving community there. The large cruise ships come into Greenock which is on the other side of the Loch.
Much of the background was found by reading through the Loch Lomond and the Trossacks National Park site on Visit Scotland.
Queensway is a busy arterial road in and out of Birmingham so there is always a high volume of traffic thundering along the tarmac. With my telephoto lens and 24 to 70 mm lens, I went about taking different pictures of an area that is already very familiar to me. New building projects are always happening in the city centre and the area between the Cathedral and the Canal was an old factory site. It has been repurposed into city dwelling flats that are being built close to the canal.
The area is also a magnet for different kinds of people and as I was taking pictures, I was hassled for money, so I quickly moved on. It is something I am wary of when I am in the quieter parts of town. I know that I do have to be careful of my own safety. Still the lure of taking a few photographs around the buildings on either side of Queensway won through. I took pictures of St Chad’s Cathedral and also with my telephoto lens up past the Snow Hill buildings. After that I made my way into town for a lunch time meeting.
Parking on the top floor of Selfridges Car Park opposite the store provided skyline pictures of both the City and Digbeth, and the skyline bridge linking the two is always fun for a picture or two. I love the new covering on the Selfridges which is being put in place whilst they replace the discs on the outside. The covering is designed by Osman Yousefzada,who is a multi-disciplinary artist working in association with the IKON gallery. the pink and black geometric shapes are in contrast with the grey architecture.
It was a day of sunshine and showers and whilst I was outside there was a terrific downpour.
This then led to the bonus of several puddles for a bit of reflective photography. The puddles around Selfridges are still there and lend themselves to some nice reflections of the building as it is being renovated
On my way to New Street, there were other interesting images to capture including the queue outside Zara and the photographing of the Electric Cinema. I lingered around the reflective roof of the entrance to New Street Station. I also took a few pictures of the trams passing through which is something you have to do when in Birmingham.
So enjoy the pictures and it is good to see Birmingham as it emerges from the pandemic. The only down side is the weather which is atrocious rain and so unlike May.
Everyone loves a picture that shows a reflection. The unique view is fascinating, and it gives a different view of the world by suggesting further new worlds. Unusual angles or taking the picture from a low viewpoint. There is symmetry around a reflection that everyone loves to see. This may be caused by mirrors, a shop window or a puddle formed by the recent rain fall. The iPhone is great for taking pictures of reflections and you can get quite low or even dip the phone into the puddle to get that perfect shot. Care is needed with the exposure as the reflected light from the puddle is less intense than the direct light from the unobstructed area above the puddle. Even on some of my best loved pictures there is overexposure of the upper part of the picture. If I had my large camera with me then I may be able to put a filter on it to stop down the light but then I may not be able to get as low as you can with the iPhone. Adjusting the exposure is easy when you are standing up but not so straight forward when you are crouching down. Probably the best idea is to lie down so you can control the exposure at your leisure. You certainly get some funny looks if you do get down low.
So I have put together some reflection shots for you. My tips are to get down low and either bend the knees if you can or even lie down to get a different view. Always try and think differently as that is what will make the photograph attractive to the viewer. They will have some familiarity with the scene but will also be intrigued with the reflection and part of the fun is to work out what they are being given to look at. Once you start getting into reflections then you will see them everywhere and your photography will take on a new life.
Finally Englands Big Picture featured the headline reflection of the small park in Knowle, Solihull