The Closing of the Floodgate, Digbeth, July 2024

The Floodgate featured in one of my favourite pictures which was taken in Floodgate street during the early hours of morning.  Although I had never been inside the venue, I have passed the front entrance on many occasions during my photographic visits to Digbeth.  When I heard that The Floodgate was closing then I knew that I had to photograph the place before it closed.  On a Friday afternoon, which was the penultimate day of the venue being open, I ventured into the place and brought a drink at the bar.  I asked the staff whether I could take photographs of the inside and they kindly said that I could go ahead. So a big thank you to them for this blog.  

The Closing of the Floodgate, Digbeth, July 2024
Baseball cages
The Closing of the Floodgate, Digbeth, July 2024
The Floodgate Raceway
The Closing of the Floodgate, Digbeth, July 2024
Beth who works at the Floodgate with artwork in the background.

The Floodgate is one large games entertainment venue with curling, baseball, table golf and model car racing amongst the sports that punters can take part in.  I met Beth who worked in the Floodgate.  Beth explained that the Floodgate was closing due to the sky-high rent.  When Beth told me the figures that they were being charged for rent then it is no surprise that independents are struggling.  Digbeth is undergoing changes and the early success of independents has attracted larger businesses who want a slice of the action. Digbeth is becoming a very popular part of Birmingham (if it was not popular already).  There are plans for several high rise residences to be built in the vicinity.  Many of the old warehouses and industrial units are being earmarked for demolition with a complete revamp of the area planned.  Already the Boxpark franchise will be pumping 5 million pounds under the nearby railway arches that will create bars and restaurants.  The independents have difficulty in matching this sort of investment.  

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The Floodgate had only just opened for the evening and apart from a few customers playing curling, I had the place to myself for taking pictures.   The Floodgate has one large bar area situated in the main warehouse.  Table tops are in the form of baseballs and colourful murals adorn the walls. There are baseball cages and an impressive model car racing track.  The latter has a set of seats complete with steering wheels where people can control the model cars they see in front of them around the track. 

The Closing of the Floodgate, Digbeth, July 2024
You never know who you will meet in the dark
The Closing of the Floodgate, Digbeth, July 2024
With a little help from my friends
The Closing of the Floodgate, Digbeth, July 2024
Hole 18 – Table Golf
The Closing of the Floodgate, Digbeth, July 2024
The Trotter’s car and other lights.

 Leading off from the main warehouse, there are two games areas . The walls are covered with colourful graffiti art that glows in the UV light.  The area is a psychedelic experience and the Jimi Hendrix song Purple Haze came to mind. I enjoyed taking pictures with both my cameras, the Fujifilm x100vi and my iPhone.  This is where the new Fujifilm with IBIS worked well.  Such pictures taken in low light with this camera would have been impossible without a tripod in the past.  The iPhone is well known for its low light photography,  The curling lanes were surrounded by lights and a ceiling of springs.  The table golf set up looked impressive when set against the graffiti. The area was a little spooky with no people present. Beth did tell me that there were stories about ghosts in the warehouse and occasionally I felt a presence as I wandered around the darkly lit areas of the table golf rooms.

The Closing of the Floodgate, Digbeth, July 2024
Outside Curling
The Closing of the Floodgate, Digbeth, July 2024
Glory Days
The Closing of the Floodgate, Digbeth, July 2024
NHS Angel wings in the light
The Closing of the Floodgate, Digbeth, July 2024
Under the arches

The outside area has more curling lanes and baseball cages that are set against a backdrop of the towering railway arches.  The cameras now had to deal with strong light and harsh shadows as for once it was not raining.

My final shot was of Beth and other staff in the bar area.  It is sad to see such places closing but I guess this is progress.  The early charm of Digbeth with venues taking advantage of the old industrial warehouses is slowly disappearing.  The Floodgate is an example of creating different types of entertainment.  Such places will disappear and be replaced with new shiny establishments that will cater for most of the new residents that will be entering Digbeth.

My final shot was of Beth and other staff in the bar area.  It is sad to see such places closing but I guess this is progress.  The early charm of Digbeth with venues taking advantage of the old industrial warehouses is slowly disappearing.  The Floodgate is an example of creating different types of entertainment.  Such places will disappear and be replaced with new shiny establishments that will cater for most of the new residents that will be entering Digbeth.
Beth with the Floodgate bar in the background
My final shot was of Beth and other staff in the bar area.  It is sad to see such places closing but I guess this is progress.  The early charm of Digbeth with venues taking advantage of the old industrial warehouses is slowly disappearing.  The Floodgate is an example of creating different types of entertainment.  Such places will disappear and be replaced with new shiny establishments that will cater for most of the new residents that will be entering Digbeth.
Floodgate Street

If you enjoyed this blog then please take a look at my other Digbeth entries starting with Digbeth Art from July 2020

Aurora borealis in my garden, May 2024

So I have been to Iceland but did not see the Aurora Borealis as it was too cloudy.  I did fly from Portland, Oregon to Reykjavík and saw the lights somewhere over the Northern Territories and Greenland.  My next Aurora Borealis experience was a recreated one in Birmingham City Centre.  This event was really cool even though it was man made.

Aurora borealis in my garden, May 2024
Rays of light from above (iPhone)

The chances of seeing a full blown Northern Lights show anywhere outside of Iceland or Norway were going to be low.  Friday 10th May and the Aurora watch said chances were high but I was out for dinner and I was thinking of an early Saturday start to photograph the end of the bluebells season.  

Aurora borealis in my garden, May 2024
Beam me up Scotty (iPhone)

When we got back home, I went out in the garden and looked North as the BBC news channel instructions stated.  Sandy said I had North wrong and I should look more to my right.  I stayed out past 11.30pm and took a few pictures.  At first nothing seemed to be showing, possibly there was a faint green glow.  My camera showed some streaks on the right.  I reorientated myself to the North East view and took a picture.  At first I thought the camera was having a problem.  There were lines on the picture.  I took some more and as you will see there were some amazing rays showing up.  I looked with the naked eye and there was a white glistening cloud passing over the house.  The camera was recording pictures of an intense part of the electromagnetic storm that was passing overhead.

Aurora borealis in my garden, May 2024
Taken looking west away from the house. (iPhone)

The storm moved over the house from the East to the West.  I continuously took pictures with my iPhone and occasionally used my Canon D5mkIV.  The patterns were changing and at times the scene over the house looked like rays being emitted from a heavenly body.

Aurora borealis in my garden, May 2024
Burst of light from the sky (iPhone)

When I posted the pictures around midnight, I found the Socials were going mad.  Many of my photographic friends were posting pictures of the Aurora and I was entering a massive chatroom as everyone exchanged their views on photographs that had been taken.  

Aurora borealis in my garden, May 2024
Green for Oxygen molecules, red for Nitrogen. (iPhone)

Reflections.  I never thought that I would see the Northern Lights from my back garden and that it would be so spectacular.  I was so pleased to have the chance to see it and photograph the light show. I never made it to the Bluebells fields the next day!

Aurora borealis in my garden, May 2024
Intense red colours (Canon 5Dmkiv)

Technicalities.  All iPhone pictures were taken on a tripod which gave lots of detail.  Settings for the Canon were f/2.8, s15 secs and initially ISO1600.  The light was so intense that I dropped the ISO to 400 on subsequent photographs. The colours from both cameras were different with the Canon picking up a richer red colour to the lights.

If you want to see my Northern lights from a plane, I have a link.

Then there is Borealis, a recreation of the northern lights by the artist Dan Acher which was held in Birmingham.

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

You will have gathered that one of my favourite places is the area under the arches of Snow Hill Station.  I usually get to wander around Birmingham early in the morning and I finds this time the most inspiration for photographing Birmingham.  I planned my visit by not getting off the train at Moor Street but waiting till Snow Hill.  I then used the Livery Sgreet entrance and made my way down to the arches.  The city council have installed lights that illuminate the subterranean space.

There are gated arches overlooking the canal where I presume they used to keep horses.  The iron gates are designed with bars that create geometric patterns as they are lit from the inside.  The light casts interesting shadows onto the wide tow path by the canal.  

A cyclist makes their way through the area which resembles a giant eye.

To access the area, there is a unique white iron staircase that leads down to the tow path.  It is very quiet there in the morning and in spite of the bright lights you do feel quite vulnerable.  There are the occasional runners and cyclists who make their way through the area.  There are also commuters starting to pass over the bridge that crosses the canal.  The area has graffiti and evidence of habitation by homeless people.  

On one wall is the word ORALE which someone explained to me is an exclamation in Spanish which is used to express approval or encouragement.  Very fitting for the scene that greets you in the morning.

The word ORALE

Down to Photography maters.  I had my normal camera set with me.  I carry my iPhone for the quick picture and also my Sony DSC-RX100M5 camera which is very quick.  I generally have my Sony on a program stetting to ensure that I get a quick picture.  I do use on manual when I am after slow motion pictures but the program feature is very useful.  For this morning, I also had my Canon 6D with a prime 40mm lens attached.  This provides a crisper picture and brings out more detail.  

Having said that the iPhone and Sony do produce some very good quality pictures in their own right.  The prime lens makes me move around and this makes me “see” different views and angles.  The Sony has a flip screen and this helps with those shots where I need to get down low.  Not only do my bones creak nowadays but the tow path floor is dirty and muddy.  I moved out to get a picture of the total reflections and it did give the appearance of a large eye. 

The larger picture of the area

A nice set of photographs which gave many people much enjoyment when seeing them on my social media channels.  Always worth a look and the post code is B3 1HA if you wish to visit yourself.

Finally the cover picture was selected for England’s Big Picture which was a nice conclusion of my early morning visit to this interesting place.

The iPhone is so versatile and useful to have on you.  So I always bring it with me when running as you can often capture interesting pictures.  This series shows a few I did on a recent run.  I did see a couple of Herons but the iPhone was not the right camera especially when they flew away.  However there will be other opportunities with another camera.  I remember someone saying the best camera is the one you have with you.  Never so true a statement.

Copt Heath Golf Course

Under the M42

Bottom of Knowle locks

Grand Union Canal