Oozells Square, Birmingham, March, 2024

Oozells Square has featured on my blog over the years.  The appearance of the pink blossom on the trees heralds the start of spring in Birmingham. The square becomes a riot of pink colour and is a magnet for photographers.  This year, the blossom has arrived very early by about 2 weeks.  The warm wet winter has enabled the blossom to flower at the beginning of March.  Whenever the blossom appears then people flock to the area especially at the weekends.  On a bright sunny Monday morning, I had the square to myself bar a few people passing through. The sun was low enough to catch some of the blossom with its rays producing lovely colours. As luck would have it a few people passed by dressed in pink which matched the blossom. Taking photographs in the square is very competitive as many people will arrive over the next few weeks to get a picture. People dress up specially and families bring picnics to sit out and admire the blossom. The IKON gallery is an ideal backdrop to the blossom.  Please feel free to visit my other posts on the blossom.

Oozells Square, Birmingham, March, 2024
The Sun catches people walking through the square.
Oozells Square, Birmingham, March, 2024
Standing under the blossom.
Oozells Square, Birmingham, March, 2024
Time to move on.
Oozells Square, Birmingham, March, 2024
The blossom will be around for the next few weeks.

The blossom story from over the last few years.

2023 – Birmingham Blossom Watch

2022 – Birmingham Blossom

2020 – Blossom in Oozells Square

2018 – Cherry blossom experiments

Cherry Blossom, Oozell's Square, Birmingham, March 2023

For the most part of the year, Oozells square in Birmingham is unremarkable.  The square is surrounded by office buildings on 3 sides and the IKON art gallery on another.  This latter building is a grand Victorian building which was formerly a boarding school.  There are several good restaurants in the square which have hosted family meals in the past. In spring, the square is transformed into a beautiful place by several rows of trees that burst into cherry blossom.  

Cherry Blossom, Oozell's Square, Birmingham, March 2023
The IKON gallery emerging from the blossom that surrounds the building.

The event is becoming more and more famous having been featured this year on the BBC News.  We went with the family to see the blossom and get the obligatory pictures.  Here Noah is reaching upwards mesmerised by the blossom.  Soon the green leaves will appear. Noah’s coat contrasts well with the pink.  

Cherry Blossom, Oozell's Square, Birmingham, March 2023
Noah reaching out towards the blossoms.
Cherry Blossom, Oozell's Square, Birmingham, March 2023
Lily, Noah and Chloë, my grandchildren with the blossom in the background.
Cherry Blossom, Oozell's Square, Birmingham, March 2023
Lily, Noah and Chloë, my grandchildren with the blossom and the IKON gallery in the background.

The event is enjoyed by all ages but as you see from the pictures, my grandchildren had a fantastic time seeing the cherry blossom. The BBC News item has made the blossom event famous at a National Level.

Cherry Blossom, Oozell's Square, Birmingham, March 2023
The IKON gallery with cherry blossom trees and admiring visitors.

Birmingham cherry blossoms draw spectators and photographers – BBC News March 2023
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-65043539


Here are some of my past entries on Oozell’s Square.

Birmingham Blossom
Blossom in Oozells’ Square
Birmingham Gems (3rd Edition)



Latest products

Square to Park Mug

Square to Park Mug

With the long summer nights upon us, the IgersbirminghamUK team came up with the idea for a photowalk that started…

Spaghetti Junction March2022

What lies below is a theme for this and my next blog.  Spaghetti Junction is 50 years old in May 2022. Millions of car drivers pass over Spaghetti Junction as they hurtle past Birmingham.  Many are on the M6 heading north or south to their destination with no thought about what is below.  For others the Aston Expressway is the main northern route into Birmingham and is a spur off the Junction.  The sprawl of roads spit out cars to Erdington and 6 ways along the Tyburn Road.  People live in Gravelly Hill immediately adjacent to the junction.  The area is a mixture of concrete, noise and fumes.  The Junction celebrates 50 years in May and at the time was seen as a landmark construction.  Over the years it has become synonymous with Birmingham.

Spaghetti Junction March 2022
The layers of the Junction from the River Tame to the Signs for the Aston Expressway

As a photographer what lies below is much more interesting and is seldom seen from above.  The first part of the junction to investigate is Salford circus which is the link roundabout for many of the local roads to the motorway.  It is not clear what the planners had in mind but the inner pedestrian area of the junction is an unfriendly concrete jungle.  It is covered in litter and graffiti tagging.  It is not a place to visit alone and luckily my photographic colleague John Bray was with me.  The concrete pillars are giants holding up the roads above.  The area is under attack and the hero is nature as it attempts to reclaim the area.

Spaghetti Junction March 2022
What wonders what the planners had in mind for the underpasses.
Spaghetti Junction March 2022
The sound of broken glass
Spaghetti Junction March 2022
Nature is fighting back on the concrete.
Spaghetti Junction March 2022
Tagging and signs
Spaghetti Junction March 2022
Having someone with you when visiting is essential.

Kicking our way through the rubbish we make ouir way through the underpasses and cross the busy junction to reach the canal access steps.  Running under the Motorway the canals also make a junction.  There is where three canals come together namely the Birmingham and Fazeley, the Tame Valley and the Birmingham and Warwick Junction canals.  Flowing alongside the canals is the River Tame.  The area has numerous bridges criss crossing the canal and the light peeks through vents above.  There are grafitti strewn around the place.  Cyclists and walkers move around in a surreal dance.  Walking eastwards the Motorway passes Star City and the area is reminiscent of many TV programmes.  This is probably because a great deal of car chase filming takes place around here. 

Spaghetti Junction March 2022
Concrete everywhere
Spaghetti Junction March 2022
Access to the canal
Spaghetti Junction March 2022
Starting to explore underneath.
Spaghetti Junction March 2022
A view of the Star City entertainment complex
Spaghetti Junction March 2022
A place where many movies car chases are filmed.

Moving westwards there is a bridge tunnel where there is graffiti which in the past was renowned for its beauty and craftsmanship in previous years.  When we visited, there was just a white washed wall with a prison window.  I am unsure of the meaning of this painting.  The site is used as there is a shaft of light that comes down from above the junction onto the canalside.

Spaghetti Junction March 2022
Underneath the heart of the junction.
Spaghetti Junction March 2022
The “prison window” graffiti.
Spaghetti Junction March 2022
Reflections and stagnations in the water.
Spaghetti Junction March 2022
The deep green canal.
Spaghetti Junction March 2022
Traffic thunders above.
Spaghetti Junction March 2022
Constant repair of the road structure goes on.
Spaghetti Junction March 2022
Looking back along the canal.
Spaghetti Junction March 2022
Bolts hold the roads together.

The canal path leads under all the roads that form the Junction and there is repair work on several of the bridges.  A path along the Aston Expressway eventually comes out onto Aston reservoir.  This is a hidden feature in the shadows of the Motorway.  It is relatively peaceful and a contrast to the distant noise of the traffic.  Moving along the perimeter and keeping the river Tame in view, there are trees and shrubs which are reclaiming the land underneath the tarmac.  This becomes the end of our journey underneath Spaghetti junction, and we head home back on the M6. 

Spaghetti Junction March 2022
Aston Reservoir
Spaghetti Junction March 2022
Spring Blossom against the concrete pillars.

There are likely to be birthday celebrations on its big 50 birthday but meanwhile here is a BBC link celebrating 40 years.


Every year this arguably unremarkable square bursts into a riot of colour which is provided by the blossom on the two rows of trees on either side of the square. I am being harsh about the square, as it does have the IKON gallery which is an imposing building at one end. The blossom and the white pebbles of the square are beautifully offset by the IKON gallery. This display only takes place for a few weeks of the year. It is enjoyable taking the pictures and my iPhone picture of the square was featured on the late night news.

Sunny morning in the square
Blossom
Trees
Tree shape
Great start to the day
A row of trees
Branches

The Nifty Fifty is said to be the lens that comes closest to capturing what the human eye sees.  When I got my first DSLR it had a crop sensor and I purchased a 50 mm Canon lens as it was so cheap.  Over the years I have used it as a portratit lens. It has given very good results especially when using it with a flash set up. A few months ago, I felt I needed a new challenge with my photography so I put the 50mm lens onto the Canon 5D and used it whenever I could.  It was a challenge taking the pictures and was similar with other prime lens which I have written about. Take a look at the picture Metropolis taken with my 40mm lens. When using a prime lens, you do have to think about the composition as you have no capacity to zoom in or out.  Therefore your feet have to do the moving.  I have provided a selection of photographs taken with the 50mm lens and as you see the results are pleasing.  There has been some post processing in a few of the photographs.  The result was that I did get a kick out of using just this lens.  It was not a case of loosing any pictures because I had the wrong lens but rather that I created new ones.

The 50mm lens brings out colour and shows the detail from the blossom.
Here I am using the 50mm lens to capture the architecture of the University of Birmingham Buildings. The sharpness comes through as well as the colour
I captured my grandson Noah with a candid shot. The lens is great for such closeup pictures
This mural by Annatomix is on the Warwick Bar part of the inner canal network. The prime lens has caught the detail and there is a nice use of the focus with the foreground adding to the framing around the picture.
Shooting the Custard Factory building through a hoie in a security fence. Shows how the nifty fifty can really focus
Another go at the focus through a fence and the subject is the Chimney at the Custard Factory.
Here is a landscape picture with the 50mm lens.  The mist adds atmosphere and the figure comes out to be very sharp.  I was surprised how the 50mm lens worked this so well.
Final one is another blossom picture with the mist added a nice backdrop to the picture