There is a tunnel in Utrecht that leads from the Ganzenmarkt to the Oudegracht wharves. I discovered the tunnel by chance after a late night in the town as part of the conference dinner. Walking back to my hotel, I passed by the restaurants and the bars. My eye caught a flashing light and I looked over the railing and saw colourful lights radiating out of a tunnel close to the canal. I walked down and found this colourful psychedelic tunnel. The lighting of the tunnel kept changing and there were three people dancing in what looked like a trance. They were oblivious to my presence and so I took some pictures and then headed home.
The next morning I retraced my steps to the tunnel. The location is a photographer’s dream site for pictures especially as the colourful lights are constantly changing on a regular cycle. The street art is colourful and the illumination provides a changing backdrop. I asked a colleague to return with me so that I could place him at the entrance then use his silhouette to provide a focus to the pictures. Enjoy the result. Sorry if it is somewhat self-indulgent but it was such a great place to photograph.
Who doesn’t love the sight of bluebells gently swaying in the breeze. Many of our ancient woodlands are at risk by the creeping threat of development and that is why I support the annual Bluebell Wood Fundraising Open Day in the Heart of England Forest. Conserving our woodlands for future generations is very much a priority. Great Alne Woodland is just off Spurnal Lane, and is a part of a Natural Burial Ground. The ancient wood has a stunning display of bluebells at the end of April and is open to visitors for two days.
My daughter loves visiting this quiet and picturesque woodland and there are so many good photographic opportunities. I brought along my camera equipment and found that the early morning light was perfect. The contrast of blue and green is a joy to see and photograph. My lensball was also put to good use for a few pictures. A useful photographic tip for maximising the benefit of your lensball is to use your macro lens for the pictures. This technique works a treat.
My 52 week project challenge was bokeh and the bluebells provided several opportunities to focus on the flowers with a wide open lens (f/2.8). This throws the background out of focus producing lovely Bokeh.
During my visit to the woodland, I met Toby, who is the organiser of this charity event. He kindly agreed to have his picture taken and be part of my 100 strangers project which is slowly moving forward on my Flickr pages.
The organisation of the day is excellent. The walk starts in the car park and takes you through the woodland with some well positioned spots for those important selfies. I noticed that the event is becoming more popular but via the use of ticketing, our family took part in the walk and did not meet many other people. For a short time, the woodland was ours to enjoy and we were able to take in the sights of those beautiful bluebells. My grandson loves the place as you can see from the following pictures.
My challenge for this week’s 52 weeks project was black and white photography. As I was in Birmingham for my research work, I took the opportunity to wander the streets of the city looking for pictures of buildings. Armed with my trusty Fujifilm x100v, I stepped off the bus at the O2 arena stop. On the opposite side of the road, there are new high raised buildings going up. All are aimed at the residential market. These skyscrapers are going up all over and the city looks unfinished or going places depending on which way you think.
My next stop was the square area of buildings that house the Holiday Inn, 3 Arena central and the Alpha Tower. Many shapes, angles and lines as the tall buildings are all clustered together. The Library of Birmingham and the Town Hall were also the subjects of my study on black and white architecture. Finally the rain, which had been falling heavily all day, got the better of me and soaked through, I headed towards Snow Hill Station for my train home. I still managed to get a few pictures of the Snow Hill skyscrapers.
My processing was a mixture of simple black and white or enhanced work with Silver Efex. The results were interesting and I was surprised that I captured so many buildings in different ways. I reflected all this was done without the need to photograph those iconic Birmingham buildings of the BT Tower, the Rotunda or the Cube. I will probably give the ones that I missed the black and white treatment another time. Meanwhile enjoy the ones that I have in this blog.
If you enjoyed this blog then how about a splash of colour with your architecture.
The cemeteries of the Jewellery Quarter offer a fascinating glimpse into Birmingham’s past. There are two sites, Key Hill and Warstone Lane, with both cemeteries containing the burials of notable Birmingham people. The Friends of Key Hill cemetery and Warstone Lane cemetery work to maintain and protect these important historical landmarks. An @igersbirminghamuk Instameet was held in conjunction with @JQ_BID (Jewellery Quarter Business Improvement District). We aimed to start at Key Hill and then move to Warstone cemetery. As it transpired, we spent so much time in Key Hill that we agreed we must return for a Warstone Lane Cemetery tour later in the year. This blog is about our visit to Key Hill Cemetery.
Key Hill is part of the Jewellery Quarter and I have visited the area before. The sister cementery Warstone is more popular due to it being nearer to the heart of the Jewellery Quarter. Key Hill is often overlooked yet it has so much to offer in history and stories of people buried in the cemetery. As organiser of the meeting, I had arranged for people to meet at the Key Hill entrance near to the ring road, forgetting there is another entrance at Key Hill Road. Then a few people got mixed up with the 2 cemeteries. Luckily, we all found each other and the Instameet got started. Josie from the JQ_BID was our host and proved to be a knowledgeable guide. Her enthusiastic storytelling brought the past histories of the area to the present. We were very fortunate as Josie agreed to open the Catacombs for viewing. First she gave some fascinating insights into the background of the cemetery. There was the obligatory group photograph and then we congregated outside the entrance to the catacombs. The large cast iron doors were unlocked.
This was the first opening of the year and, as Josie explained, catacombs may work well in Mediterranean climates but in Birmingham the inside chamber was cool and damp. We used our iPhones for illumination and looked around the walls which included inscriptions of the people who were buried there. Picture taking was not straightforward due to the lack of light. The many iPhones helped bring some light to the dark interior. Some of the IgersbirminghamUK photographers did well with the low light levels and I encourage you to review their photographs on Instagram and other social feeds. The links are below.
Following the tour of the catacombs, Josie took us to several notable graves. The first was Constance Naden (1858 – 1889) who was a writer, poet and philosopher. Whilst Constance’s work was well regarded in her lifetime, there has been a resurgence of interest in her writings especially her ability to bring science and literature together. Learning about her life and legacy proved to be enlightening and she achieved so much in a short life succumbing to ovarian cancer at the age of 31.
Other notable graves that we stopped to discuss further stories included John Benjamin Tolkien (1784 – 1840) the grandfather of J.R. Tolkien and Thomas Walker. The grave of Thomas Walker has a brick design and the coat of arms of the City council. He had the idea of using highly durable blue engineering bricks for paving roads which led to better pavements and roads throughout Birmingham. We moved onto the family graves of the Chamberlain family which included Joseph Chamberlain (1836 – 1914). As former Mayor of Birmingham and founder of the University, the city owes a great debt to Joseph Chamberlain but as Dr Matt Cole writes on the University of Birmingham web site “Chamberlain’s legacy is so broad and idiosyncratic that it likely to leave no-one in full agreement with him.”. As a group we discussed his legacy and then one of the IgersbirminghamUK organisers @James_never_jim noticed the adjacent grave of James Austin Gargory who lived in Bull Street. He was an optician but also brought in different engineering items and was also an enthusiastic photographer.
Other graves included the Martineau family which linked to our previous Instameet at Martineau Gardens. We also visited the grave of Alfred Bird, the inventor of Custard. An interesting grave was that of Shadi Mohammed who died during the Blitz, In an episode known as the “Sand Bag” deaths, Shadi, his wife and several others died when a wall of sand bags collapsed on them. There were many many more stories to be told.
The storytelling of Josie was excellent and we lost all track of time until she remembered that she needed to help at the JQ beer festival. The morning was eventful and many photographs were taken. We thanked Josie for hosting the meeting and we all made our separate ways. A few of us ended up in the Rose Taven in the centre of the JQ for a drink and a chat about the photographs we took and those that got away.
If you want to catch up on photographs taken by the IgersbirminghamUK community then please use these hashtags to search Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for more pictures.
Whilst we were visiting, we could see many bluebells getting ready to bloom in the next few weeks. I aim to return and take some pictures of the flowers when they are in full flower. Hope to see you there!
If you like this post then you may like the following blog.
This posting of oil and water photography brings you a selection of more colourful abstract pictures. Here are some more eye popping pictures from the colourful world of Oil and water. Make sure you stay for the links at the end as well.
If you enjoyed this then here are some more Oil and Water blogs including how it was done. I hope you liked the title that pays homage to the Deep Purple song, ‘Smoke on the water’.
There are many photography projects to do during the Lockdown and Star Trails is one that I fancied doing. I have an App on my phone called Star Walk and it shows the sky at night. There are many stars out there but with light pollution is not possible to get particularly good images. I have always liked seeing the stars and wondered if there was a simple project to get started in this area. Star trails looked just what I needed. Using a long exposure technique it is possible to record the moving stars. I read my Digital Photographer magazine and also looked over several articles on the web. I discovered that my Canon 5D had an auto setting that would continuously take pictures. So I set up the camera on a tripod and using the Star Walk App located Polaris the North Star. I took my wide angle lens Canon EF 16-33 mm and used the largest aperture of f/4. The focus was set at infinity. The camera was pointed directly towards Polaris and the neighbour’s house and my Magnolia tree were used to frame the picture. The exposure was set at 30 seconds. Also the auto was set to take a picture every 30 seconds. There were a few false starts and then once I was happy, I let the camera run on automatically. Then 167 pictures later it was time to go to sleep so I processed all the pictures in the morning in a program called StarstaX which blends them together. I learnt a new synchronisation technique in Lightroom as well. The final picture was very impressive although there is still a lot of light pollution around as the trails should be more intense. The picture got a lot of interest on Social media and I was pleased with the final result. I will have to go out again and do some more picture taken of the stars!