My Top 4 pictures of 2023

Looking back on my photographic year, 2023 was an exciting one and there were several achievements including making the Landscape Photographer of the Year book. Two pictures were featured and these are described in my blog. Therefore I decide to choose four pictures that summed up my activity over the year. I love sunrises and sunsets in the golden hour. I have included a few of my favourite locations including Moor Street Station, Digbeth (including the Custard factory), Normandy Hill in Houlton near Rugby and the Lake District. My photographs have strong themes in the areas of Cityscapes and Street Photography. I do like a good reflection and trying to be different with my pictures. Let us take a look at my selection of photographs.

Sunrise at Birmingham Moor Street offers many street photography opportunities. Arriving early to take a picture of the sunrise, I looked around for a good view. The first London train was about to leave and another commuter train was just leaving. This scene made me think of the KLF song ‘Train to Trancentral’. The man pushing the button to release the doors, the sunrise and the golden train in the distance all came together at once. A very fortunate capture at Moor Street Train Station. (Taken with my iPhone 15)

Sunrise at Moor Street Station, November, 2023
All aboard, all aboard, whoa.

Normandy Hill is near Houlton in Rugby. The area of Hillmorton is nearby and the canal runs along the foot of the hill. The place used to have wireless masts for Rugby radio. The masts have been removed and the remnants of the bases are all that remain. When the conditions are right the hill has spectacular sunrises and sunsets. There are also views of the surrounding Warwickshire countryside. On a barmy night in July, I set up my travel tripod for my Fujifilm X100V. My camera settings were f/11, s 1/250 ISO 160. The sun was setting low and was just on the horizon. I pressed the button and realised that I had capture three people and their dog passing through the picture. The result was pleasing with the line up of the men and the sun outlining the shaggy coat of the dog. The rays of the sun were captured too. The atmosphere of the shot provides a permanent reminder of all the pictures that I have taken on Normandy Hill.

Normandy hill, Houlton, Rugby, July, 2023.
The last rays of summer sun on Normandy Hill.

Our family summer holiday was at Lowfield House in Little Langdale. Arguably, this spot is the heart of the Lake District and is the starting point for several walks. A place I wished to visit was Cathedral Cave, which is a short 45 minute walk from Lowfield House. Cathedral Cave is an impressive chamber. As a former slate quary, the cave is atmospheric with an open window in the wall allowing light into the cavern. There is a large slate cylinder that appears to be supporting the ceiling. There is a pool of water to the back of the cave which provided many reflections allowing one to appreciate the grand space of the cavern. Needless to say, I, like many photographers who visit this place, just wanted to take lots of pictures. The picture of Jim, my son-in-law, at the mouth of the cave proved to be a popular post on Instagram. Taken with the iPhone13.

Cathedral Cave, Little Langdale, the Lake District, August 2023
Jim standing at the entrance to Cathedral Cave. The surface water provided suitable reflections.

I spent a delightful Sunday afternoon wandering around Digbeth, Birmingham and came across @mr_h0spitalflip and his friends on the side steps of the Custard Factory. They kindly let me sit in and take a few pictures whilst they were skateboarding on the steps. I knew this was the best picture as soon as I viewed the result on the back of the camera. I was not using a burst on the shutter. Just one picture and I caught the skateboarder in the light doing the “Custard flip”. Taken with the Fujifilm X100v, ƒ/5.6, s 1/500, ISO 640.

Digbeth, Birmingham, October, 2023
The Custard flip

I also found my Top nine from Instagram and these show my most popular posts by the number of likes. The two UKLPOTY pictures feature heavily. There is a picture of Sandy and me. I was also pleased to see the blossom in Oozells square and my trip to the States feature in the high scores. All good fun!

My top 9 instagram posts in 2023.
My Top 9 Instagram posts in 2023.

Links to my Top 4 photographs of 2023. I realise that I do not have a blog about Normandy Hill and I shall write one up in 2024. I have also included my Top 4 ion 2022 for comparison.

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Starling Murmuration – Metal print

Starling Murmuration – Metal print

“There is likely to be a starling murmuration on Sunday night. This metal print is a dimensional and high-quality piece…

St Paul's tube station, Cheapside, London, November 2023

London Times is a short series of photographic blogs that record a recent visit to London. See more links at the end of the blog.

Someone left a chair outside the Cheapside Road entrance to St Paul’s Tube station.  I had already had a bit of fun doing some pictures on the approach to the Tube station when I came across this discarded chair.  I assume it had been left or transported from one of the nearby restaurants.  The chair was ignored by all the commuters entering or leaving the underground station. I had a wonderful 10 minutes just taking pictures of people who studiously went out of their way to ignore the chair that was in their way.

St Paul's tube station, Cheapside, London, November 2023
A lone chair sits outside on the pavement.
St Paul's tube station, Cheapside, London, November 2023
People know the chair is there but do their best to avoid it.
St Paul's tube station, Cheapside, London, November 2023
It was great to see how people just did not react.
St Paul's tube station, Cheapside, London, November 2023
No matter how busy the station became, the chair just sat out the rush.
St Paul's tube station, Cheapside, London, November 2023
The chair does not seem to mind the fact that it is being ignored.
St Paul's tube station, Cheapside, London, November 2023
One of my earlier pictures as I was walking towards the tube station.

So this ends my brief tour of “London Times”. If you missed any of the others then here is the full list.

Latest products

Starling Murmuration – Metal print

Starling Murmuration – Metal print

“There is likely to be a starling murmuration on Sunday night. This metal print is a dimensional and high-quality piece…

Paddington Basin, London, November, 2023

I had a couple of days in London and this provided a wonderful opportunity to take pictures around the Capitol when there was downtime between meetings. I have created a series of blogs for you to enjoy which contain my photographic journey.

Paddington Basin, London, November, 2023
Looking towards the end of the canal and the heart of the area.

Before booking into the hotel, I went to Paddington station to see my highly commended picture of Floodgate Street in Digbeth. The picture was part of the travelling exhibition of selected pictures from the UK Landscape Photographer of the Year Competition. Paddington is adjacent to the canal basin and provides photographic opportunities of people, boats and buildings.

Paddington Basin, London, November, 2023
Boats moving on the Canal.

There were a few boats moving on the canal and people were leaving work. Several canal boats are now floating restaurants and as the sun was going down colourful neon lights were being turned on. The canal is familiar territory to me and I looked for new opportunities and the Paddington Central footbridge provided them. The bridge links with the Venice Walk via brightly lit tunnels. Always a good place for a camera.

Paddington Basin, London, November, 2023
Pedestrian Tunnel on Venice Walk.
Paddington Basin, London, November, 2023
Another view of the Pedestrian Tunnel.
Paddington Basin, London, November, 2023
Bridges – Paddington Central Footbridge
Paddington Basin, London, November, 2023
Bridges – The Point Footbridge.
Paddington Basin, London, November, 2023
Bridges – the Rolling Bridge.
Paddington Basin, London, November, 2023
Bridges – under the A4206

I also ventured into Sheldon Square as the flash of colour caught my eye. The line of coloured panels provide a super background as people walk by, hurrying home after a long day’s work or taking time to reflect.

Paddington Basin, London, November, 2023
Reflecting after a long day at the office.

As dusk becomes firmly entrenched, the lights from the office buildings surrounding the canal provide numerous reflections on the water. The weather was cold but there was no wind and the water was very still. Many people are moving around, crossing bridges and their silhouettes contrast with the bright lights. The point bridge and rolling bridge are other places for good photographs. Soon it was time to move on as I had a dinner date to attend.

Paddington Basin, London, November, 2023
Skyscrapers around the basin.
Paddington Basin, London, November, 2023
Close up of boats and offices.
Paddington Basin, London, November, 2023
Christmas tree

If you enjoyed this then compare these pictures to my last visit to the area including Little Venice and Paddington Basin.

You may be wondering about my visit to Paddington Station. I was delighted to find that I am in the travelling exhibition with my highly commended picture of Floodgate Street. Here I am besides my photograph.

Paddington Basin, London, November, 2023
Paddington Station with my picture from UKLPOTY

London Times is a short series of photographic blogs that record a recent visit to London. Please visit my other links

Latest products

Starling Murmuration – Metal print

Starling Murmuration – Metal print

“There is likely to be a starling murmuration on Sunday night. This metal print is a dimensional and high-quality piece…

Selfridges Department Store, Oxford Street, October, 2023

The window dressing at Selfridges is always amazing and in October the windows were designed around phrases and images.  The phrases were very catchy and if you placed people in front of them then they made for some fun street photography.  As I was taking photographs, people did not look at me but rather the windows that were the subject of my pictures. Therefore I was able to take some candid photographs of people as they walked past.  Enjoy this selection of the windows of Selfridges in Oxford Street.

Selfridges Department Store, Oxford Street, October, 2023
Smell the streets
Selfridges Department Store, Oxford Street, October, 2023
Sheer wonder – certainly this lad thinks so.
Selfridges Department Store, Oxford Street, October, 2023
Unidentified Fashion Object.
Selfridges Department Store, Oxford Street, October, 2023
Ride on to the sunset. This guy is thinking about it.
Selfridges Department Store, Oxford Street, October, 2023
Too many mobile phones.
Selfridges Department Store, Oxford Street, October, 2023
Watching the buses.

There is always Selfridge Birmingham to look at as well check out my “Selfridges Study” or you can take a look at my “Wheels of London”.

Regent's Canal, QMUL to Victoria Park, London, Sept 2023

Queen Mary University of London is on the Mile End Road and adjacent to the Regent’s canal.  Part of the campus borders the canal and there is easy access from the University entrance.  I was at QMUL for a conference but took the opportunity to explore the tow path.  My first tow path walk was in the early morning and took me down to Limehouse basin and onto the river Thames.  My second walk was northwards up to Victoria Park and took place in the late afternoon.  Both walks allowed me to photograph people, boats, wildlife and buildings along the way.  This is my photographic account from those walks.

Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
Underneath Mile End road running northwards.

From QMUL to Victoria Park.
 
There was a break between presentations and the evening dinner which gave me the opportunity of exploring the northern part of Regent’s Canal from the Mile End Road to Victoria Park.  This was another busy stretch of the towpath and Mile End Park is also adjacent to the towpath.  The first interesting feature was what is known as a portrait bench which features three well known figures.  The statues are in cast metal that then rusts giving an authentic look to the artwork.  There was a casting of Ledley King, a professional footballer who grew up in the area and spent his entire playing career at Tottenham Hotspur FC.  Nearby is a statue to Sylvia Pankhurst, the suffragette campaigner who worked on improving living conditions for destitute mothers.  Finally there was a canal horse commemorating the animals that towed boats along the towpath.  The park was lit up in patches as the sun broke through gaps of the high living flats on the other side of the canal.  There was more art work with the Bow Bottle and fish tail sculptures further along in the park.  These random pieces of work are intriguing and add to the charm of the canal.

Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
A working canal horse.
Regent's Canal, QMUL to Victoria Park, London, Sept 2023
Sylvia Pankhurst and Ledley King in the background.
Regent's Canal, QMUL to Victoria Park, London, Sept 2023
The Bow bottle


There was an interesting cut called the Hertford Union Canal.  This short canal links up to the Lee Navigation in Tower Hamlets.  The start of the canal looked attractive but my walk was to carry me past this canal to the nearby Old Ford Lock. 

Regent's Canal, QMUL to Victoria Park, London, Sept 2023
The canal on a late September afternoon
Regent's Canal, QMUL to Victoria Park, London, Sept 2023
The Hertford Union Canal Cut
Regent's Canal, QMUL to Victoria Park, London, Sept 2023
Peace at last on the canal.
Regent's Canal, QMUL to Victoria Park, London, Sept 2023
The Old Ford lock
Regent's Canal, QMUL to Victoria Park, London, Sept 2023
Boats and reflections.

The area has been renovated and with the low sunlight highlighted the beauty of the place.  I then encountered Victoria Park where many people were enjoying the sunshine on this hot September Day.  Although I only touched briefly on the park, I came across the bridge at Bonner gate. The bright blue painting of the iron work contrasted with the greens and darker colours of the canal which was in the shade.  Other interesting features I saw were the Dogs of Alcibiades and have a fascinating history.  The statues were donated by Lady Regnart in 1912.  I got lost in the history of the dogs that were described on the accompanying board.  Victoria Park looked inviting but time pressed on and there was a conference dinner to attend.  The park was also full of police as they searched for an escaped prisoner and so I left the beauty and the noise retracing my steps to QMUL.

Regent's Canal, QMUL to Victoria Park, London, Sept 2023
Lazy sunny afternoon in Victoria Park.
Regent's Canal, QMUL to Victoria Park, London, Sept 2023
Sun rays and railings.
Regent's Canal, QMUL to Victoria Park, London, Sept 2023
Bridge details near Bonner Gate.
Regent's Canal, QMUL to Victoria Park, London, Sept 2023
Canal in the shade.
Regent's Canal, QMUL to Victoria Park, London, Sept 2023
One of the Dogs of Alcibiades, Victoria Park.
Dogs of Alcibiades
Enjoying the towpath.

To follow up this blog, please read my earlier accounts of my walks along the Regent’s Canal.

The Monument Steps, London, January, 2023

The great fire of London has captured my granddaughter Lily’s imagination. We have been discussing the fire as she was learning about the historical events in history. As I would have some free time in London, I decided that I must go and visit the Monument near to London Bridge. In all my time in London, the Monument is a place that I have never visited. The Monument commemorates the Great Fire of London in 1666. Having stayed overnight in London, I wanted to see the sunrise from the Tower of London. As I was in the area, my next stop was St Katherine’s dock for breakfast and then a walk on the North Bank of the Thames to the Monument.

Steps , The Monument, London, January, 2023
Anahita, the artist performing steps dressed in climbing gear,

When I arrived at the monument, I was able to walk straight in but before going up I was informed that there was a performance taking place and hoped that this would not impact on my experience. Quite the opposite, I was pleased that not only would I be climbing the 311 steps up to the top but that there was the chance to experience something different. At the bottom of the monument there was a wheel chair which gave a clue to what was happening higher up the stairs.

Steps , The Monument, London, January, 2023
Leaving the wheelchair behind.

Two thirds of the way up, I met Anahita who was shuffling up the stairs. She was dressed in climbing gear and was moving up the stairs back first. I asked Anahita how she was getting on and whether she minded me taking her picture.

Steps , The Monument, London, January, 2023
The going is steady but tough for Anahita
Steps , The Monument, London, January, 2023
Whichever way you look at it, the spiral of steps is immense,
Steps , The Monument, London, January, 2023
Determination to reach the top.

This brave and inspirational woman explained that she was performing ‘STEPS’, a never-seen-before performance. Anahita is a British Iranian artist who is a wheelchair user. Her performance was being live streamed. After passing by, I reached the top of the monument and enjoyed the amazing views. I even recorded a video for the grandchildren to let them know that I had been to the top. On the way back down, I encountered Anahita again who was nearly at the top. I wished her well and continued down the steps to the bottom. She left a big impression and congratulations on her strength and determination.

Steps , The Monument, London, January, 2023
Views from the top of the Monument.
Steps , The Monument, London, January, 2023
Tower Bridge and the Thames.
Steps , The Monument, London, January, 2023
London’s burning

Here are a few links about Anahita and her work to bring recognition to Wheelchair users.

https://www.themonument.org.uk/plan-your-visit/steps-performance-by-anahita-harding
Regent Street Lights, London, December 2022

I was fortunate that I was in London during Christmas week. My reason for being there was to undertake a photographic assignment for the British Dental Association Museum. Once I had completed my task then I set off for the Christmas lights. I walked from Wimpole Street along Oxford Circus taking in Bond Street, New Bond Street and Piccadilly. Whilst I took many photographs on this journey, my main destination was Regent Street. The Angels were strung across the street and were a beautiful feature of the Christmas lights. The theme was the ‘The Spirit of Christmas’ and covered both Regent Street and St James’s neighbourhoods.

Regent Street Lights, London, December 2022
Under the arch leading to Regent Street.
Regent Street Lights, London, December 2022
Angels, London Buses and shoppers.

The place was very busy with people on both sides of the road and in the central reservation taking pictures of the Angels. My x100v was set up with a high ISO3200 and an aperture of f/4. The shutter speed was set at 1/125. I brought along my travel tripod to help me. However I did forget that the ISO was on high for some of the motion shots. It was difficult to think with being in such a dangerous position in the middle of the road and so many people around you. Whilst the pictures do look pretty, there are many obstacles around the area such as the shoppers and traffic. I kept my wits about me and did not look for pictures that may have put me in danger.

Regent Street Lights, London, December 2022
An Angel of Regent Street
Regent Street Lights, London, December 2022
Take the bus to see the lights.
Regent Street Lights, London, December 2022
Oxford Circus

I came away with a story as there were a few couples in the pictures and the story looks as if I have followed one couple up from Piccadilly to Oxford Circus. I enjoyed seeing the lights and experiencing the atmosphere of Christmas Shopping.

Regent Street Lights, London, December 2022
Making your way back home on the tube.

London is a wonderful city to photograph and you may wish to see my other Blog entries on photographing the UK capitol.


London Streets, October, 2022

A recent visit to London allowed me to take my x100v on a walkabout after my meeting at the Amazon offices just off Bishopsgate Road. I went to Spitalfields market where there was much activity going on. My visit to London involved passing through Baker Street station which is always good for a photograph. Enjoy this selection of pictures. All photographs taken with iPhone13 or Fujifilm x100v. The selective colour picture of Baker Street was made in camera with further processing in Lightroom.

Interested in Street Photography? Here are some other examples of my pictures.

London Streets, October, 2022
Silhouette in Berkeley Arcade off Baker Street
London Streets, October, 2022
Scooter in Bishopsgate
London Streets, October, 2022
Spitalfields Market
London Streets, October, 2022
The Elephant in Spitalfields market
London Streets, October, 2022
Liverpool Street Station
London Streets, October, 2022
A view of Liverpool Street and the city skyscrapers
London Streets, October, 2022
Anticipation by James Burke outside the Amazon Offices

Wheels of London

I was down in London visiting the British Dental Association in Wimpole Street. A friend and colleague, Nairn Wilson, has a project of collecting dental ties. So far he has well over 200 of them. My task was to photograph them for cataloguing purposes.

Wheels of London
Biking along Regent St

A trip to London is always fun as the place offers so many photographic opportunities. I came down by Chiltern trains to Marylebone and returned via Euston to Rugby where Sandy was visiting my daughter and the grandchildren. The arrival and walk from Marylebone is always exciting as you pass by many different streets, main roads and parks. After the visit to the BDA and the photographs of the ties, I made my way down to Oxford Street. I was lucky as the setting sun had begun to set low along Oxford Street.  In the subsequent golden hour, there was some lovely light with long shadows. Oxford street is an ideal place for street photography as there are so many people moving around.  There were so many pictures on my camera and of some many different themes. However I noticed that I had focused on bicycles and skateboards and these leant themselves to a story.

Wheels of London
The shadow of a wheelie on Oxford Street.
Wheels of London
Skateboarding in Triton Street

At the start of the day, I had taken a few pictures of cyclists on my way to the BDA HQ in Wimpole Street.  As I made my way back to Euston, there were cyclists moving along Oxford Street. The area around Oxford Circus is very busy and there are many cyclists moving around in between the buses.  My final part of journey back to Euston took me through Triton street and here I came across people on skateboards that added to my portfolio. So enjoy my themed series and I am looking forward to my next visit to the capitol.

Wheels of London
Bus versus cyclist

I travelled down to London to undertake a PhD examination viva for an academic colleague and friend.  I planned to arrive an hour early as the venue was Kings College.  The area between Kings College and the Shard has become very photogenic.  It is a mixture of new buildings and old buildings.  Many of the older buildings have been repurposed and turned into shops and restaurants.  The day was cold but very bright with the sun shinning.  In spite of the harsh shadows it was possible to get some interesting pictures.  I had my Canon D4 and my trusty 24-105mm lens.  It is a heavy combination but it feels very comfortable in the hand.  I also used my iPhone Pro 11.  BBC London featured my picture of the Walkie Talkie with the Guns of HMS Belfast trained upon it.  

Shard and a bus
The shard between buildings
A range of architecture
More of the shard
When I worked in London the Shard was not there!

I walked past Hay’s Galleria onto City Hall then past Tower Bridge.  I had not visited the Shad Thames street before and found that interesting for photographing.

Playing in the water fountains
The Tower of London
Light and Shadow
Vista of Canary Wharf
Vista of the North Bank
Tower Bridge

The light created some great shadows for the landscape photography and there were many photographs that I was very happy with.  My hands were frozen by the time I reached the restaurant but it was well worth it.

Propeller
Mooring
Chains
Anchor
Old Docklands
Criss cross pathways