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Footprints advising where to stand on the escalator

The restrictions will be lifted on the 19th July but we are not coming to the end of the pandemic.  We are entering a new age of living with the virus.  The discussion about mask wearing continues, the sun is shining and society needs to open up.  Is this a good time? Vaccinations are high and therefore the government is confident (if this is the right word) that the restrictions can be lifted.  For my photography journey. I wanted to catch life during the final days of the restrictions.  I was in Solihull to collect my glasses in Touchwood. I was armed only with my iPhone. The following black and white pictures give a brief insight into the mask wearing and restrictions that will soon be a thing of the past.  Let’s just hope so!

Mask wearing in Touchwood
An elderly couple wearing masks in Touchwood
sharing a kiss - no masks
Just outside Touchwood a younger couple share a kiss – no masks
Masks on or off
Masks on or off?
Social distancing
Keep apart but the writing is starting to fade
Touchwood
Segregated corridors in Touchwood
social distancing
Only one urinal in use
Social distancing
When you are buying your cards and gifts
Flower stall
Still selling flowers
Covid19 shop
The most popular shop in town is the Covid one
Solihull and Covid19
Have we done our part, have we done the right thing?

Read more
BBC news about the easing of the Lockdown
My stories about the Lockdown when I visited Solihull Town Centre in January 2021


An angel wings mural

With this Lockdown, I am planning more varied walks.  Openmap is a clever tool as you can draw a radius on the map .  I am exploring what I can within 5 to 6 miles of where I live.  This is a distance that I can manage walking.  The weather has been cold and damp for most of the week and I planned an early morning walk into Solihull.  Having my camera with me, the aim was to capture the centre of Solihull and then compare this to the previous Lockdowns. 

Post box on Widney Manner Road
Post box on Widney Manner Road

My planned route took me via Widney Manor Rd into the town centre.  At the back of Touchwood shopping centre, I took a picture of the derelict building that used to be Rosie’s nightclub.  A delivery driver passing by wanted to know why I would be taking a picture of it.   Interesting conversation on why I was taking pictures of buildings in Solihull. 

Rosie's nightclub has seen better days
Rosie’s nightclub has seen better days

I moved through the main shopping streets Into Mell Square.  Here I found that there were many people just sitting around.  Some were chatting over cups of coffee, whilst others were just sat around starring into space.  Surely the present lockdown guidelines are not to linger and to treat the time you leave your house as exercise.  The place looked drab and people were listless.  The Angel murals lightened my mood although there was no one around to photograph by the mural. I will come back to take one when life is normalised.

A lone person is welcomed back
A lone person is welcomed back
People sitting around in Mell Square
People sitting around in Mell Square
Another lone person reflected in the water
Another lone person reflected in the water
Masks are worn all the time
Masks are worn all the time
People sitting around drinking coffee
People sitting around drinking coffee
Shops offer sales with no customers
Shops offer sales with no customers
Solihull High Street is virtually empty
Solihull High Street is virtually empty
Buses everywhereMasks and buses
Lots of buses but not many passengers

I moved into Tudor Grange park where it was much brighter as the sun started to break through the clouds.  I took several pictures here including one of the duck pond.  The reflections of light made it look very attractive and the picture I took made the Midlands today weather bulletin.  The change of mood was palpable and there were more people moving around.

Walking into Tudor Grange Park
Walking into Tudor Grange Park
Happy walkers in the park
Happy walkers in the park
BBC Weather Watchers with Shafali Oza
BBC Weather Watchers with Shafali Oza
Tudor Grange Park
Skateboard Park, Tudor Grange Park

Feeling more cheerful, I made my way back home through the Monkspath housing estate and then onto footpath over the M42.  During this lockdown, I am being more adventurous with my walks and seeing more of the countryside.  It was an experience seeing the town centre and how people were coping with the lockdown.  With my camera, I hoped that I documented a day of Lockdown what I saw in Solihull was not pretty and was depressing.  However the parks and the countryside part of the walk cheered me up.

A couple of friends I met at the end of the walk
A couple of friends I met at the end of the walk

Photographic tip.  Documenting the lockdown is not easy.  You can get drawn into what is happening around you.  I took the pictures carefully and tried to ensure that people were not identifiable.  I did also want to convey the difficulties that people find trying to keep to the lockdown.

Sources

OpenMap for drawing radii from your location


Knowle Park after the storms

The months of August are hot during the day and often very muggy at night. We have been through a spell of very hot weather and experienced some dramatic thunderstorms at night. Unfortunately I slept through the worse ones even though I had my camera set up to take some pictures. The next day I was up early and when I got to the park, I was not disappointed as there was a mist over the area. There were were also layers of colours present. What was remarkable was the continual change as the sun rose higher burning off the mist. The mist provides opportunities for rays of sunbreaking through the clouds to be highlighted. With my trusty iPhone I was able to take several photographs of the scene. These were immediately given some post processing via Snapspeed and then uploaded onto the BBC weather site. When I got back home all the pictures were run through Lightroom and then put up on Twitter and Instagram. I received a great deal of acclaim and lovely comments on the pictures and also featured no BBC Midlands weather.

Knowle Park
Knowle Park after the storms with a lone dog walker
Knowle Park after the storms
Magical mist, Sun and light
Knowle Park after the storms
The clouds were very dramatic
Knowle Park after the storms
This picture was shown on BBC Midlands weather
After the storm Knowle Park
This picture was popular on Instagram

I like taking pictures as you gather and I needed some inspiration to make the daily exercise more interesting. When the Visit Knowle site published a close up of one of the buildings in Knowle then I knew this was an avenue I could explore. So we have a series of images below all taken in the village of Knowle near Solihull. I hope you like them and you might even want to guess what some of them are if they are not that obvious. The lesson learnt from photography is always try and look at everyday objects with a different eye. You will be surprised what you get to see. There are examples of textures, materials, architecture and decay. All give a different but also uplifting views of my home village. The pictures are here to provide some of the character old and new of the village. I also found a reflection picture of the local church which was pleasing.

There is a sense of achievement when BBC England select your picture to be included in the England’s Big Picture Gallery. This is the second one selected this year. It had quite a reaction on social media amassing lots of likes, if that is a good indication these days 🙂

This picture is taken during my exercise walk in Knowle, Solihull.  It had been raining the night before leaving some puddles on the path.  I bent down and dipped my iPhone into the puddle and got this reflection of the trees in front of me illuminated by the Sunrise. 

If you click on this link you are taken to the BBC England site where my picture is included for pictures taken from 30th March to 5th April

The Corona Virus has rapidly engulfed us. Pubs, bars, restaurants and Gyms were closed on Friday (20th March) with full lockdown announced by the Prime Minister on Sunday (22nd March). We can go out for one form of exercise, food shopping and essential medication. I have got into a routine of going for a walk just before the sun rises and I have put down a selection of pictures from Knowle village and the places I walk around in the morning. These are very strange days as you will see.

DESERTED STREETS

The main High Street in Knowle Village is deserted on a Saturday Morning

CLOSED

Restaurants, Bars and Shops are closed except for the convenience store

Loch Fyne is boarded up

SHOPPING

If you go shopping then you must keep your distance and this is done by yellow crosses on the floor.

It is so reassuring to see the supermarket deliveries being made.
Eric Lyons the butchers are doing home deliveries which is a much safer option.

STAY AT HOME

By far the most sensible and safest activity that you should practice is Stay at home. Here Sandy shows how it is done.

September is always full of surprises and this year it has been no exception.  But we now reach the last days of the month and autumn is around the corner.  I am training for the Great Birmingham Run half marathon and I use the canal towpaths for my training runs.  The bridge on Kixley Lane is a picturesque place and I noticed that the trees has started to turn colour.  I decided to go back in the evening when there was enough light shinning on the trees.  I packed all my lenses and I had a window of 30 to 40 minutes.  I got some good pictures.  The people on the long boat passing through asked if there was a photographic competition as they had noticed many people taking photos.  I asked if I could show their picture on my photographic site and the man said jokingly yes I could if I cleaned his boat!!!!

A view of the bridge with symmetry from the reflection

As the light fades there were some deep colours coming through

A runner caught in the light

The boat I have to clean for taking the photograph

 

The rich colours of Autumn

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.

I have always used my photography as a diary and looking back at family pictures is always fun.  However, when I learnt about 365 projects in 2011 then I thought I would have a go at it.  The family said it would not last and it would be a passing fad.  Certainly the first year was often a challenge and I thought I may miss a few pictures.  Fast forward to 2018 and here I am entering my eighth 365.  It has become a diary of my life.  Even today I used it as a record for my professional CPD for 2017 as I sought to remember where I had been for research conferences and examining duties connected with work.  As a family dossier, each year is loved by the family and we regularly check what was happening.  WE even use it to remember which plant was flowering and whether it is early or not.   Tasha, one of my daughters, delights in making a year book featuring her favourite pictures.  A calendar is made for the family as well.  Not content with a 365, I also do it adhoc on Instagram, a 52 week project on Flickr and a monthly themed competition for the British Tech Network.  It does require a little bit of discipline in the evening and it is now a routine.  So to start this year’s 365 off, I include all the 1st January pictures since 2011 🙂  BTW if you want to keep up with my 365 then follow my Flickr account.

2011 1st January – Knowle Park

2012 1st January – Knowle Park, Solihull

2013 1st January Leamington Spa with the River Leam

2014 1st January – Katie with Archie

2015 1st January – Katie and Andy at the Etihad Stadium, MCFC

2016 1st January – Knowle Park with a lovely sunrise

2017 1st January – my granddaughter Lily amazingly 3 days after a major operation

2018 – A New Year dawn in Knowle Park and the start of a new 365

 

 

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.

Snowman

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