Reflections in Floodgate Street, Birmingham, commended UKLPOTY 2023

Such great news. My picture “Reflections in Floodgate Street” was highly commended in the 2003 UK Landscape Photographer of the Year competition.  This year I had two pictures and I was also commended for my picture “Fog in Gas Street Basin“. Both pictures feature in the Cityscapes section of the competition. This is the second year running that I have made the UKLPOTY book and I am very pleased with my achievement. I have written a fuller account of the background of both pictures together with some photographic tips and reflections on entering Landscape Photography of the Year.

Reflections in Floodgate Street

A classic picture of early morning on Floodgate Street in Digbeth. Not many people are stirring at this time and the lights do not turn off until 15 mins before sunrise. These old industrial buildings are a mixture of small businesses during the day and lively nighttime venues at night. The area is also well known for its street art and many artists have put up murals on the walls. The street got its name from the use of two “floodgates” that were used to stop any flooding from the nearby river Rea. This area of Birmingham was known for its wells and springs hence the street name.

This early morning picture was taken during a chance visit to Digbeth, Birmingham.  I took advantage of the rainswept streets which provided reflections of the old industrial buildings and street art.  I love the warm streetlights contrasting against the blue hour sky.  

Post production notes – Straightened, contrast, highlights and shadows adjusted: texture, vignette and unsharp mask filter applied, levels lifted

Taking pictures of Urban landscapes 

Go low for the picture is always great advice, a smaller camera or phone allows you to do this.  The low viewpoint with a slight upwards angle provides a different view of an everyday scene and gets the viewer’s attention.  I will sit down or kneel to see the viewfinder, as phones and some older cameras do not have a tilt screen.

Reflections are always fascinating for the viewer and so look for windows, puddles or shiny surfaces.  The time after a spell of rain is a good time for mirrored views.  However, combining both the low viewpoint and water puddles may be challenging for the photographer and camera!

Fog in Gas Street Basin

Fog in Gas Street Basin, Birmingham, commended UKLPOTY 2023
Fog in Gas Street Basin, Birmingham, commended UKLPOTY 2023

On a foggy day in January, I was lucky to find myself at Gas street canal basin in Birmingham City Centre which is a popular place for photography. The fog had created a ghostly backdrop around the area. The water was very still providing a perfect reflection. The old buildings stood out and the flash of yellow strips on the canal boats provided some welcome colour in the fog. The modern hotel in the background is faded providing an interesting background canvas. The eyes are drawn to the trees in the centre of the photograph and their reflections in the water. If you look carefully, there is a lone person in the picture admiring the view. This was an opportunistic photograph as the fog rolled in changed the nature of the scene.

Post production notes. This was taken on my iPhone and there was adjustment of the highlights and shadows and small minor changes of contrast. Some dodging of the colours on the boats was done to lift them out of the fog.

More reflections on UKLPOTY 2023

My second successful year in the LPOTY competition and I realise which of my photographs are getting the love and why this is the case.  I dream of being successful in the classic view category.  Pictures of beautiful mountains, gorgeous light and a lead in that takes your eye into the picture and beyond.  However it looks as if my skill set is photographing the city.  I love nothing more than wandering around the streets with my Fujifilm x100v and my iPhone.  Also the best time to be out and about is at daybreak or sunset.  Why is this? The light is magical at these times of day.  The trouble is that cities are very quiet in the morning and staying safe is important.  At night they are crowded but the quieter spots are where the light dwells.  Again staying safe at night is key.  

Try to be different in your picture taking.  Even just thinking of taking a different picture starts you thinking on how to photograph an urban scene. Often this may not work out and you can go home frustrated.  It is easily said but do not despair as that next picture is just around the corner.  Be ready for it and when you see the scene, grab the opportunity.

I also enjoy looking at other people’s pictures and also where possible watch how they take their photographs.  Learning from others is important. Any advice helps and I always listen to what people say. I have two photography friends, who have taught me the following. First, exercise patience and wait for those opportunities to arrive as they will. Secondly always look out for the small things as they matter and you have to be ready for them. 

My entry to LPOTY 2022 “Regency Wharf” is highlighted in this blog and you will see that Gas Street Basin features again.

This is the Amateur Photographer news item where they select their favourite images and ask the photographer to provide two tips.

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