German Christmas Market, Birmingham, Nov 2023

Amazingly, I have not written a blog about the German Christmas market in Birmingham. I have taken pictures of the Christmas markets but many of them are single photos on my social streams. My first observation is that the markets are set up way too early. The present one opened up on the 2nd November 2023. This is crazy yet when I visited the city centre a week after the opening, there were many visitors enjoying the early experience of Christmas. Over the years there is a pattern as the markets extend more and more. However, there was a grand reset in Christmas 2020 with the Pandemic but now the markets are back to their former self.

German Christmas Market, Birmingham, Nov 2023
Centenary Square at Christmas.
German Christmas Market, Birmingham, Nov 2023
The big wheel in Centenary Square.

In Centenary square, there is the Big wheel, an ice skating rink and other spinning attractions. The pedestrian link to Victoria square is more subdued as it is private land although the restaurants in and around Chamberlain square are doing well.

German Christmas Market, Birmingham, Nov 2023
I love this street photograph. A store called Filthy Fries! How do they arrive at such names.

The real noise and excitement starts in Victoria square and this is with you all the way down to the Bull Ring. Shops selling food and drink. The prices are very high considering there is standing room only. The shops also sell other items such as candles, jewellery and gifts you never knew you wanted. I expect most of these gifts will be put away or recycled after Christmas.

German Christmas Market, Birmingham, Nov 2023
Christmas market in Victoria Square, Birmingham.
German Christmas Market, Birmingham, Nov 2023
A long exposure of the Carousel in Victoria Square.
German Christmas Market, Birmingham, Nov 2023
Looking down to New Street.

My purpose for going to the early Christmas market was to take pictures. Every photographer in Birmingham has to post a picture of the market on their Instagram account. I did not want to be left out so armed with my iPhone and x100v, I braved the crowds on a Thursday night. Taking pictures with the iPhone is straightforward although I hold onto it firmly as I do not want it snatched away from me. Taking a camera out and then putting it on a tripod does generate some attention so I used the tripod sparingly and looked for convenient surfaces to rest the camera.

My plan for photographs including taking pictures of spinning things including the beautiful carousel in Victoria Square. I was also keen to capture some of the atmosphere and fun that people were having by being around the market. Taking pictures is not easy as people get in the way and are not posing for you. Therefore at different places in the market, I grabbed what opportunity that I could and moved on. I also walked back from the Bull Ring via Gas Street basin which was less crowded and therefore easier for photographing.

When I got home, I was initially disappointed with my pictures. I am always like this as I want every picture to be a winner. I know that is never the case and I was just hoping that I had captured some good ones. I am always surprised by the pictures that look good and were opportunistic rather than the ones that I had planned in my mind.

German Christmas Market, Birmingham, Nov 2023
This is a feature every year.

So this is a snapshot of the Christmas market in Birmingham 2023. I am sure that I will look back on these in a few years time and cringe at them. There is still another Christmas market to open around the Birmingham Cathedral which happens to be more picturesque. Maybe some photographs of this market will feature in my future blog postings.

German Christmas Market, Birmingham, Nov 2023
Signs in the market.

Walking back along the canal to Gas Street Basin, there was the opportunity to take some long exposure pictures. I liked this one of Stop Lock Bridge on the Old Birmingham Canal.

Looking back in the archives I found that I have Christmas in 2018 and also what Christmas Trees looked like in 2020, the year of the Pandemic. They make for interesting comparisons.

Packwood House at Christmas

Packwood House lifted the gloomy grey weather with a display of colourful Christmas decorations. Trees and plants around the house and gardens were adorned with hand made ornaments and baubles. Shelves had displays of miniature nutcracker soldiers. There were colourful Christmas wreaths on the gates to the garden and doors to the house. The wonderful display lifted the spirits. Here are a few photographs taken around the house for you to enjoy Merry Christmas.

Packwood House at Christmas
The entrance to the House with two Christmas Trees
Packwood House at Christmas
Decorated Christmas Trees
Packwood House at Christmas
Another view of the front entrance to the house.
Packwood House at Christmas
Christmas decorations
Loving the Tinsel in a glass jar. Great touch to the decorations.
Packwood House at Christmas
Wreaths on the garden gates
Packwood House at Christmas
Christmas wreath with the lake and extensive grounds in the background
Packwood House at Christmas
Decorations in the Kitchen Garden
Packwood House at Christmas
Detail of the decorations
Packwood House at Christmas
Looking quiet before Christmas
Packwood House at Christmas
Pre Christmas walks at Packwood

Thank you to the National Trust for putting on such a wonderful display and next time I must look inside as this wonderful tweet shows.

If you enjoyed these pictures of Packwood then take a look at the gardens and house in the mist

Knowle High Street in the snow

The snow started falling on a Saturday morning and it was settling on the ground.  Seeing the conditions, I gritted my teeth and decided to head out in the cold.  There could be some good pictures of Knowle village in the snow. Venturing out in the windy cold conditions was not fun.  Being cold and wet, I took my Fuji x100v which is weather proofed and wandered around the High Street taking pictures.  Even though I had camera gloves on, with only the tips of the thumb and first finger exposed, I was getting very cold.  However it was disappointing as the snow had turned to rain and there was little of the white stuff around.  I decided to call it a day and when I got back to my car, I was soaked. Sitting in the car, I noticed that a thick snow blizzard had started.  I decided to be brave and I returned to the High Street for a second time. My decision this time was to use my iPhone13. Going to the northern end of the High street, I started taking pictures and slowly advanced towards the church at the opposite end of the road.  The temperature had dropped and the driving swirling snow was making it difficult to see what was happening. My finger tips were numb so it was difficult to know whether the camera had taken any pictures. I was also shivering and the iPhone was continually slipping out of gloves. I returned to the car more soaked than before and came home. 

Knowle High Street in the snow
Snow swirling around the shops
Knowle High Street in the snow
Little traffic and the pictures take on a timeless quality.
Knowle High Street in the snow
Knowle Church in the Snow

When I saw my iPhone pictures, I realised that I had captured some magical Christmas card snow scenes.  I did have some camera shake on one or two of the pictures but the majority were good.  The reactions on social media were very positive.  I made the long list of #sharemondays2021 and await the results of several other competitions where I submitted the pictures. I am really glad I did brave the conditions!  Seeing the pictures made it all worthwhile!

Knowle High Street in the snow
Without the cars, this scene could be from the Dickens Christmas Carol period.

Some other pictures of Knowle are on my blog including a walk around the area and snow that fell in January 2021

A few pictures of Trees and some Birmingham locations this Christmas

The University of Birmingham
Church Street, Birmingham Business District
Noddy Holder in Lego – Merry Christmas Everyone
The Cathedral looking pretty
with Reindeers and a Tree
Futuristic Christmas Tree in the Cube
Merry Christmas – Mailbox Style
The Custard Factory looking festive
Snow House at the Bull Ring

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