Birmingham Icons walk, IgersbirminghamUK, July 2024

The IgersbirminghamUK Icons walk started with a torrential downpour of rain. We met at the Five ways roundabout where we managed to shelter from the rain until we were brave enough to walk down Broad Street.  The rain had created many excellent photographic opportunities including people with umbrellas concentrating on avoiding the large puddles.  

Auchinleck
Reflections of the International Convention Centre, Centenary Square.

The underpass at Five Ways is a busy thoroughfare with both people and delivery bikes moving around.  If you stay still then you immediately look suspicious. There was a brief plan of where our walk would take us. The idea was to walk down Broad Street to Centenary Square with a short detour to Oozells Square. From then on we would visit two more squares, Chamberlain and Victoria with our final destination being the Colmore where we could discuss our photographs over a well-earned drink. I have grouped my pictures into several themes.

People

Broad street is always great for street photography with pedestrians undertaking different activities. They may be waiting for the trams or making their way to the theatres and concert halls. There is always the odd surprise such as the suited and booted men on scooters.  Surprisingly they were not wearing helmets!  Even the cyclist, I captured was not wearing one.  The health and safety part of me has seen the results of people not wearing crash helmets.  One of my favourites photographs was the picture of two women outside the Library of Birmingham practicing their hip hop dance moves in the window reflections. Other people looked very glum about the weather.

Birmingham Icons walk, IgersbirminghamUK, July 2024
Sharing an umbrella in Broad Street
Birmingham Icons walk, IgersbirminghamUK, July 2024
Suited and booted
Birmingham Icons walk, IgersbirminghamUK, July 2024
Cycling Broad Street with the Octagon in the background.
Birmingham Icons walk, IgersbirminghamUK, July 2024
Practicing hip hop dance moves.
Birmingham Icons walk, IgersbirminghamUK, July 2024
Only the lonely

Signs

Letters are everywhere and a few caught my eye.  Popworld was hosting a party and Ozzie was getting wet.  There were signs of the cost of living crisis with unopened cans of food left on a bench.  A story within a story, as the unopened cans sit on a bench near to the luxury five ways hotel where people can take a Rockstar taxi into the city. Head over to #igbk_meet_icons where one of our photographers focused on the lettering he encountered during our walk.

130406_365_Steps and candles, White Palace
Ozzy’s signature
130406_365_Steps and candles, White Palace
Popworld
130406_365_Steps and candles, White Palace
Taxi rank on cobbled stones
Birmingham Icons walk, IgersbirminghamUK, July 2024
Contrasts with tins of food and taxis

Icons

There are so many icons on the route and the Black Sabbath bridge over the Birmingham Canals is deserving of your attention.  In Centenary Square, there was the obligatory shot of the golden boys statue.  The Birmingham family holds a central position in the square and divides popular opinion. My picture shows that the overriding message is about love.  The Iron:man by Antony Gormley regularly gets photographed as it is placed at the intersection of many walkways including the tram stop and Town Hall.  Finally the Birmingham icon, Benjamin Zachariah, is the subject of an exhibition of his life and works.  The pictures and living history of this influential poet and writer are set up near to the New Street entrance to Victoria Square. Biodiversity bear has also taken up residence in the same area. This is a busy place with the trams passing by in their distinguished blue livery.

130406_365_Steps and candles, White Palace
The Birmingham family is about love.
130406_365_Steps and candles, White Palace
The Golden Boys
Birmingham Icons walk, IgersbirminghamUK, July 2024
Pictures of Iron:man
130406_365_Steps and candles, White Palace
Victoria Square Icons

Architecture

Birmingham is noted for its brutalist history and love of concrete.  The start of our walk at the Auchinleck walkway provides an example of this.  However spirits are raised when walking towards Field Marshall Auchinleck’s statue and down Broad Street.   The high rise living apartments dwarf the street level buildings and lights.  Older buildings fight for space with the newer blocks of architecture. Oozells Square still has presence, even though it is most famous for two weeks of the year when the cherry trees blossom.  The reflective pool in Centenary Square was clear of any activity and with the recent rain, the classic picture of the Rep, Library and Hall of Remembrance was taken. A new icon, the Octagon, is rising in the background. The approach to Chamberlain square has a certain grandeur as the buildings on either side guide you to the Council House with the Chamberlain clock and the 103 Colmore Row skyscraper in the background.  The security were kind to us and we were able to take photos on this privately owned part of Birmingham without hassle. Reaching Victoria square there is a mixture of construction and exhibitions taking place. Local Brummies will quip, “Birmingham will be good when it is finished”.

Birmingham Icons walk, IgersbirminghamUK, July 2024
The brutalist architecture of Auchinleck underpass at Five Ways
Birmingham Icons walk, IgersbirminghamUK, July 2024
View of the top of Broad Street.
Birmingham Icons walk, IgersbirminghamUK, July 2024
The old and the new.
Birmingham Icons walk, IgersbirminghamUK, July 2024
Classic view of Oozells Square.
Birmingham Icons walk, IgersbirminghamUK, July 2024
Reflections of some Birmingham Icons.
Birmingham Icons walk, IgersbirminghamUK, July 2024
The approach to Chamberlain Square
Birmingham Icons walk, IgersbirminghamUK, July 2024
Victoria Square and the Benjamin Zachariah exhibition.
Birmingham Icons walk, IgersbirminghamUK, July 2024
Tram lights
There were signs of the cost of living crisis with unopened cans of food left on a bench.  A story within a story as the unopened cans sit on a bench near to the luxury five ways hotel where people can take a Rockstar taxi. 
A regular sight on the streets of Birmingham.

At the Colmore, we had great discussions about our pictures including those that got away.  As we left the pub on our way home, the night was coming down allowing the neon lights to feature more in our pictures. The big wheel by the Cathedral invited us to take a few final pictures and then we caught the train home.

There were signs of the cost of living crisis with unopened cans of food left on a bench.  A story within a story as the unopened cans sit on a bench near to the luxury five ways hotel where people can take a Rockstar taxi. 
Lights from the window.

If you liked these pictures and want to know more about IgersbirminghamUK then please follow us on Instagram. Here is a previous blog describing another of our recent Birmingham walks.

Square to Park, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet walk, May 2024

With the long summer nights upon us, the IgersbirminghamUK team came up with the idea for a photowalk that started at St Paul’s Square and finished at St Philip’s Cathedral. Along the way we could photograph interesting views of Birmingham. The walk went down Ludgate Hill, over the Pedestrian Bridge towards Church Street finally arriving at St Philip’s Square affectionately known by locals as Pigeon Park.  The call went out a week before on social media and on the evening a group of photographers assembled outside St Paul’s Church.  A list of some interesting places and buildings had already been circulated on our social media channels. Many of these suggestions were taken up by our band of photographers. I usually have my iPhone and my Fujifilm x100vi on any city walk. I just find these two cameras so useful to tell the story of the streets as they are easy to carry and use. They also take good pictures.

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The walk started with lovely warm sunshine and St Paul’s Square looked good in the evening light.  As we moved down Ludgate Hill towards the Birmingham Canal, the sky clouded over but it did not stop us taking pictures of our favourite Brummie locations.   

Square to Park, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet walk, May 2024
Steps on the canal

The canal passes underneath the BT tower. There is graffiti and concrete posts yet the canal locks blend in well with the surroundings. Further along, the pedestrian bridge is always a favourite photography location. The light was dimming so it was possible to practice a few long exposures of the traffic passing underneath.  

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As we approached St Philip’s Square along Church Street, we could see the recently installed Big Wheel lit up against the late evening light.  Then came the rain. Just as we reached the square, the heavens opened and we got very wet.  Some of us were fortunate as we had brough a water proof coat or umbrella. Others were less lucky.  We first thought that this was going to be a miserable end to a good evening of photography.  After the initial heavy downpour, we saw that the rain had created reflections on the surrounding pavements. The Big Wheel was lit up in different colours, and the resulting images with the reflections gave a range of interesting effects.  Also people were walking past with umbrellas casting their shadows in the puddles. The picture opportunities were unending. After a while no one minded the rain or the fact that they were soaked through.

Square to Park, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet walk, May 2024
Part of the ramp from the bridge. Not the best part of Brum.

Those of us that were left behind after braving the rain finished our walk at the Wolf pub on Constitution hill. During our well deserved refreshments, the IgersbirminghamUK team planned our next adventure.

Square to Park, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet walk, May 2024
The Wolf Pub

This are my own pictures from the @IgersbirminghamUK walk. If you want to see the pictures of all the other talented photographers that took part then follow the link #igbUK_meet_sq2park

The walk back from the Wolf pub to Snow Hill station was short but interesting and here is a set of five pictures showing how the light and reflections after the rain can create a wonderful range of colours.

Square to Park, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet walk, May 2024
Looking across the street at Old Snow Hill
Square to Park, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet walk, May 2024
Warm lights on Water Street
Square to Park, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet walk, May 2024
Under the arch
Square to Park, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet walk, May 2024
Lights and reflections on Lionel Street
Square to Park, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet walk, May 2024
Puddles at Snow Hill Station

If you have got down to here then there are other IgersbirminghamUK meetings to read about on my blog. Enjoy reading about our activities. The team at IgersbirminghamUK look forward to seeing you at one of their future meetings.

Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024

On the Regent’s Canal, sitting outside having lunch at the Ragged museum and life is good.  The sun is shining and sitting back watching people rowing on the Regent’s canal.  This spot in Stepney is a favourite place of mine for photographs.  On the bridge with its spikey railings, one has a wonderful view of Canary Wharf.  The juxtaposition of old versus new is quite dramatic.  Before sitting down for lunch with Peter who was accompanying me on this recent photographic walk, I took a picture down towards Canary Wharf and posted it on BBC Weather watchers.  The picture was featured on the lunchtime news and by then I knew then it was going to be a good day.

Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
On BBC London Lunchtime News
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
Under the bridge
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
Boats alongside the canal
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
Over and under the bridge

Limehouse Basin is always active and with the DLR trains passing overhead and the buses and traffic nearby. the place is buzzing.  We walked around the basin taking pictures of the sights. At one point as Peter was talking, I managed to get his attention and we looked down towards the lock gates.  There was a heron patiently waiting for their catch of the day.  The spot has water rushing in from the basin and this was the place to fish.  Herons are beautiful creatures but lethal predators and several fish were caught whilst we were watching the bird.  The Limehouse basin has everything you wish for in photography. There are reflections, symmetry and colours around the canal basin and we lingered in the area for a time.

Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
Boats and trains in Limehouse Basin
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
Reflections
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
… and more selections
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
A heron just waiting for the moment.

The basin links with the Thames and the path through the town houses leads to the Canary Wharf estate.  The tide was out and the river bank was accessible so  I went down to the water’s edge and then looked back.  There was a great view of the tall skyscrapers reaching for the sky overlooking the Thames. These high rise buildings reminded me of New Age sentinels that are keeping watch on everyone.  

Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
The skyscrapers of Canary Wharf
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
People living amongst the giants.
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
Canary Wharf station
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
Red in-between the carriages.

The private owners of Canary Wharf have put much effort in promoting artwork around the site. This is much better than having to look upwards as there is an awful lot of skyscrapers. Whilst some of the architecture did look interesting, there is an overwhelming feeling that the steel and glass is very repetitious.  One of the high points was the “captivated by colour” tunnel designed by Camille Walala which proved to be a great place to take pictures of people.  I stood centrally and lifted by camera up to get some good views of the tunnel. A group of lads came through and had a great time acting up for the camera.

Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
Colourful circles
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
Time waits for no-one
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
A story in the tunnel

Walking through the estate there were several reflections of the buildings in the water that provided good pictures. I did look up at the occasional skyscraper did catch my attention as seen by my pictures.  Our final destination was a favourite pub of mine, the Gun.  The pub is on the banks of the Thames overlooking the O2 arena.  There is a lot of history attached to this Grade II building not least that Horatio Nelson secretly met his lover Lady Emma Hamilton when he was in London.  We sat down in the outside Gin area and compared notes on our pictures. The view over the O2 arena has changed since I last visited with ugly blocks of flats suddenly appearing and obscuring the view.   A long day walking and taking photographs and yet another chapter to my London Times. Finally a picture of Alfie and Bill who were sitting next to us and asked us for a picture of the two of them. Whilst I had a train to catch, Peter stayed on for the golden hour which is always good with the light catching the glass and water.

Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
Motorbiking
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
Water and skyscraper reflections
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
The oppressive nature of all the building taking place in Canary Wharf.
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
Legs and reflections
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
The Gun
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
Alfie and Bill taken at the Gun.
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
Under the flight path

Hope you enjoyed this blog and there are more “London Times” Blog entries and you can start with the one below.

Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024

Emerging from a tunnel under Islington, the Regent’s canal begins its journey through Shoreditch.  The canal is wide with a spacious towpath. Many runners and pedestrians take advantage of the scenic waterway as it passes through the east of London.  There are many narrowboats along the way each with their interesting names and individual colours.  

Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
Joining the Regent’s Canal from Colebrooke row
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
Pedestrians on the towpath
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
Travelling towards the tunnel under Islington

Several roads pass over the canal allowing views up and down the waterway. Iron arched bridges spanning the canal, rumble as commuter trains pass over them. Old industrial buildings sit on either side of the canal and many are converted to city living whilst others wait for progress to overtake them.  There are cafes, pubs and restaurants with people sitting at outside tables taking advantage of the mild spring weather.  Along the way there are small recesses around the bridges that have been made into communal gardens.  I particularly liked the bird boxes put up on the canal bridge wall.  For the photographer there are lines, reflections and opportunities for street photography.  The buildings offer a range of architectural styles and the boats often spring surprises with the way that people have either painted them or the objects that they have collected on their travels.

Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
On the look out.
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
A building and a boat.
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
Typical view of this section of the Regent’s Canal.
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
Colourful Graffiti on the buildings.
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
Hope you find what you are looking for.
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
Beware of the dog.
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
Beware of the leg!
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
Canal bridges provide reflections and shapes.
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
The Bird boxes look very cosy.

Yellow was a theme of my walk.  I just seemed to find lots of yellow objects as you will see.  They were either single, in twos or multiple!  

Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
The yellow let’s you know where you are.
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
Two yellows
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
I hope you are counting how many yellows there are.
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
I did well with this one getting three yellow’s into the picture ( or are there more?)

My walk started at the Colebrooke Row entrance in Islington and finished at Queensbrooke Road turning around to go back to the A10.  There were so many pictures and here is a final finish to my pictures featuring one or two of the eating establishments on this stretch of the canal.

Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
Table with a view
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
Old buildings, new beginnings.
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
Food preparations.
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
More bridge picture fun
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
Boats, boards, lines, geometric shapes and colours.

This is just one of many photographic walks that I have taken on the Regent’s canal in London. I have mapped different sections of the canal as it leaves Paddington basin on its long journey across north London to Lime House Basin. There are many parts still to discover whilst revisiting those that have already been photographed. I have added some further links below and I wish to thank Peter Thompson for showing me this part of the canal. Please visit Peter’s Website for some amazing travel photography.

For further photography of Regent’s Canal

Digbeth, Birmingham, January 2024

Digbeth is known for streets of light and the area looks it best when the sky is dark. But not too dark.  An ideal time to take photographs is during the blue hour.  The warm yellows of the streetlights reflect on the colourful buildings.  I watched a PhotoPills YouTube video on the Art of Travel Photography. The guest photographer was Scott Stulberg who said if you want to get the best pictures then you have to go out at night. So my first blog of 2024 is all about Digbeth in January.

Digbeth, Birmingham, January 2024
Early workers walking down Gibb Street

The blue hour is great but you must get up early and that is not easy unless you plan to go out in January.  The sun rises at around 8 o’clock and therefore you can get into the city early and be ready for the golden hour.  The rewards are many and I know this, as last year my photograph of Floodgate Street taken on an early January morning was “Highly recommended” in the Landscape Photographer of the Year awards in 2023.  Making sure I was there at the right time helped.  If you are lucky enough to be around after a night of rain then the streets light up with multiple reflections.  My aim as always is to be different but also to fit in a few of those classic views.  

Digbeth, Birmingham, January 2024
Iconic Digbeth

Arriving in Digbeth early in January I was hoping that Floodgate street and Trinity Street lights would be on but I was disappointed.  The lights were off but I guess it was a Monday morning.  However Gibb street was ablaze with lights and this is where I concentrated my efforts on my picture taking. I walked up and down Gibb Street looking for pictures of the shop windows and the street art.  There were a few people moving around and coming into work at the Custard Factory.  My cameras were the trusty Fujifilm x100v and my iPhone 15 proMax.  I set up my mini tripod for some of the pictures with the x100v and went for high ISO to catch the people moving around.  I did move around Floodgate and Lower Trinity Street to take pictures as there were still some neon lights on to assist  early risers to find their way to the Custard Factory. 

Digbeth, Birmingham, January 2024
Shiny Digbeth

Lingering and loitering is a good plan as I waited for people to pass through entrances.  I aimed to catch their silhouettes against the street art.  Some photographers advise to have your camera on burst function so as to capture several pictures.  In this way you capture the moment.  However, I like to take in the surroundings and press the shutter button when I am ready.  Yes I miss a few pictures but I am generally happy with what I get.

Digbeth, Birmingham, January 2024
Changing Street Art – this is Mike Skinner and the Streets by Robbie Jeffcott. Those eyes…..
Digbeth, Birmingham, January 2024
Details on the railings.
Digbeth, Birmingham, January 2024
Details on the walls
Digbeth, Birmingham, January 2024
Blinking of an eye on Floodgate Street

The neon lights throw up some strong colours as my pictures show.  I took many more pictures before the daylight overcame the night.  The buildings reverted to a grey colour and Monday daytime was beginning.  The time had come to move on and find a hot cup of coffee to warm me up.

Digbeth, Birmingham, January 2024
Looking back along Gibb Street

Postscript – This is another of my Digbeth picture series which are a popular read.  Please check them out below.

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

Riffe Lake, Washington State, USA, Nov 2023

Thanksgiving is a special time in America.  Having enjoyed our visit to Washington State, we made the decision to repeat our time there this year.  Last year, we stayed in a Cabin on the foothills of Mount Rainier but my in-laws have now moved south to an area around Riffe lake.  Their house is idyllic nestled into the deep evergreen forest of Washington.  The house is equal distance between Mount Rainier and St Helens. The nearest town, Mossyrock, is 20 minutes away and further provisions require another 20-to-30-minute journey.  Their residence is adjacent to Riffe Lake a large reservoir which curves around the valley.  The reservoir was created in the 1960’s by Tacoma Power and there are several submerged villages under the water.  

Riffe Lake, Northern Lookout, Washington State, USA, Nov 2023
The View of Riffe Lake from the road view point near to Mossyrock
Riffe Lake, Washington State, USA, Nov 2023
Deep in the Evergreen forest around Riffe lake.

The area has many features that are brilliant for photography.  In 2017, the authorities lowered the reservoir level by 30 feet as there were worries that a seismic event in an area with several active volcanoes could lead to catastrophic flooding.  Consequently the shoreline has exposed many trees that were cut down to make way for the original reservoir.  The remnants of the tree trunks are stripped down and the roots are exposed.  When exploring the shoreline these cut down trees look like alien beings which are ready to walk away.  The word triffids comes to mind as one moves around the lake shore getting close up to these tree trunks.

Riffe Lake, Washington State, USA, Nov 2023
Walking down to the Lake Shore.
Riffe Lake, Washington State, USA, Nov 2023
The exposed roots and tree trunks on the shores of Riffe Lake.
Riffe Lake, Washington State, USA, Nov 2023
This tree and roots looks like it is on the move!
Riffe Lake, Washington State, USA, Nov 2023
The landscape is eerie and looks very strange.
Riffe and Mayfield Lake, Washington State, USA, November 2023.
Overlooking Riffe lake

Adjacent to Riffe Lack is Swofford Pond which is an oasis for fishing and wildlife.  The road passes the shores of the pond and provides a scenic view of the area.  On one side there is a bank from the start of green mountain and forms a scenic border to the surrounds of the pond. Everyday I passed by Swofford Pond and everyday I grew to love the area even more.

Riffe Lake, Washington State, USA, Nov 2023
Swofford Pond is adjacent to Riffe Lake.
Swofford Pond next to Riffe Lake, Washington State, USA, Nov 2023
An autumnal tree looks out over Swofford Pond.
Swofford Pond next to Riffe Lake, Washington State, USA, Nov 2023
A storm passing through the area of Swofford Pond.

Riffe lake feeds into Mayfield Lake which in turn is another reservoir.  This lake has several camping areas and the main boating town of Mayfield is at the southern head of the water.  Whilst a popular boating resort in the summer months, during the winter the place is deserted which adds a degree of charm with the piers empty of boats.  In Mayfield there is an island providing views up the lake with a miniature lighthouse that must be popular in the summer months.

Mayfield Lake, Washington State, USA, November 2023.
A view over Mayfield Lake.
Mayfield Lake, Washington State, USA, November 2023.
Empty jetties waiting for the summer months.
Mayfield Lake, Washington State, USA, November 2023.
A lighthouse on the lake island at Mayfield island.
Mayfield Lake, Washington State, USA, November 2023.
A very quiet, Mayfield village during the winter months.
Mayfield Lake, Washington State, USA, November 2023.
Another view over the lake.

The reservoirs and the pond around Mossybank are picturesque and there are many trails to explore. I will be back again to enjoy another view of the area. Whilst I was visiting, there were many residents that I came across whilst I was traveling around the area.

Mayfield Lake, Washington State, USA, November 2023.
A Texas Longhorn we met on our daily commute. Love those horns.
Mayfield Lake, Washington State, USA, November 2023.
An inquisitive song sparrow.

This is my second visit to Washington for Thanksgiving and I post a picture of my sister and brother in law together with Sandy enjoying our Turkey dinner.

Thanksgiving, Washington State, USA, Nov 2023
Happy Thanksgiving 2023

If you are interested to read about my previous visit to Washington on 2022 then please follow the link below.

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.

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With the long summer nights upon us, the IgersbirminghamUK team came up with the idea for a photowalk that started…

The Ringway Centre, Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham October 2023

 Carchitecture is the architectural term where buildings and cars influence each other on the design of a city.  Birmingham is a prime example of this form of architecture planning.  The city suffered extensive bombing during the war and there were opportunities to plan a new streetmap.  The car was correctly predicted to be the vehicle of the future and construction techniques such as reinforced concrete allowed for new approaches to building design.  First off, I am not an architect and secondly I only arrived in Birmingham with my family in 1985.  My first impressions were not favourable as car journeys into the city centre were stressful.  Walking around the city was a challenge as you were faced with many pedestrian underpasses designed to allow the car priority.  

The Ringway Centre, Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham October 2023
Street art now features on boarded up shop windows.
The Ringway Centre, Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham October 2023
Everyone has a story to tell about SNOBS.
The Ringway Centre, Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham October 2023
The outside of Snobs entering its last days of activity.

Over the years Birmingham has improved greatly and I love many of the new buildings especially the Library of Birmingham and Selfridges.  However, there are still remnants of brutalist architecture and one of these is the Ringway Centre on Smallbrook Queensway which connects Bristol Road with the Bull Ring and New Street.  Birmingham is always undergoing change and there is a Facebook page titled. “Birmingham, so good when it is finished”. This change has now involved the Ringway Centre which has been the focus of local news.  The city council has narrowly decided to demolish the building and replace it with several residential towers not made from concrete but with glass and steel. 

The Ringway Centre, Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham October 2023
The Ringway Centre is in the autumn of its existence.

The intense debate gave me an idea for a personal photographic project.  I would go along and photograph the building and area over a couple of hours early in the morning.  I looked back through my photographs and realised that I have few pictures of the Ringway Centre.  This was a complete surprise especially as I have travelled through there many times. 

The Ringway Centre, Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham October 2023
Stop.
The Ringway Centre, Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham October 2023
Reflections.

My project started with a sunny morning and this helped as the low sun reflected off buildings onto the Ringway.  The buildings are covered in a purple wrapping celebrating Birmingham and the Commonwealth games in 2022.  Parts of this covering are starting to become torn and peeling away from the building.  My journey started at the top of Smallbrook Queensway near to the Bullring and I walked down towards Southside onto Holloway Circus also known as “Pagoda Island”.

The Ringway Centre, Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham October 2023
The concrete structures were once lights for illuminating the Ringway Centre. The covering is now starting to tear.

Along the way there is some amazing street art with much of the painting completed during Lockdown. This artwork is on boarded up shop windows and I remember some fine guitar shops being housed here in the past. The western part of the Ringway Centre is populated with convenience shops, barber salons and other food outlets. The building is named Scala house and on ground level there is the Birmingham LGBT centre and finally the Eden bar. One assumes all these businesses will vacate the buildings in the near future.

The Ringway Centre, Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham October 2023
Urban contemporary artwork painted By Lucy McLauchlan
urban contemporary artwork painted By Lucy McLauchlan
Convenience store.
urban contemporary artwork painted By Lucy McLauchlan
The Eden Bar
urban contemporary artwork painted By Lucy McLauchlan
SBQ1

When we reached Pagoda Island, I took pictures back down Smallbrook Queensway.  

The Ringway Centre, Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham October 2023
The former entrance to the Odeon Cinema and the Birmingham LBGT centre.
The Ringway Centre, Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham October 2023
Looking down Smallbrook Queensway from Pagoda Island.

There were several places where you can photograph behind the Ringway Centre, these include local car parks which back onto Southside and the China town area of the city.   One picture that I had to take was of the circular fire escapes at the rear of the building.  They have a unique design and are a favourite subject for local photographers.

The Ringway Centre, Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham October 2023
Looking up from the car park off Thorp Street.
The Ringway Centre, Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham October 2023
Birmingham Southside – this view will radically change.
The Ringway Centre, Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham October 2023
The space via Bath Passage with artwork by Gent64
The Ringway Centre, Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham October 2023
The often photographed emergency exit staircase.

On reflection the Ringway Centre has not featured prominently in my photographic journey until I decided upon this series of pictures.  During my working days in the city, the dental school was based over by Aston.  When the school moved to Pebble Mill, the 61/63 and the 45/47 buses went down Smallbrook Queensway but I have few pictures of the details of the place. 

Other regrets include seeing the inside the building but I guess that will not be possible as it is set for demolition.  There was an Odeon cinema in the building and there are pictures of the abandoned area in a feature on the BirminghamLive website

Further information

Other activities that have taken place inside the Ringway Centre over the years include a large gym overlooking the cross ways at the end of Hurst Street.   The original tenants of the offices were connected with the railway industry but the spaces have long been vacated. If you are after a history of the Ringway Centre then Wikipedia is a great starting point.

The aim of this blog is to show a photographic record of the building after the Council voted to demolish the building

Finally if you wish to buy a concrete model of the building then head over to the Space.Play site that has a concrete model of the Ringway Centre plus many other brutalist icons of Birmingham.

The Ringway Centre, Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham October 2023
A selfie taken (Jan 2020) on the No 45 bus to work. Travelling along Smallbrook Queensway, I held up the camera and the reflection rather like those mirrors at a fun fair split into two views.

Camera Settings – Except for a couple of iPhone pictures, the majority of the pictures were taken with my Canon D5 mk4 and my EF24-70mm f/2 lens. I always have it on manual setting which is a throwback to my father’s tuition. I was taught manual and use priority settings sparingly. I have a polariser filter on my camera that stops it down and this sometimes catches me out hence the blur on the pink taxi picture. My big camera is fun to use but is a magnet for people staring at you when taking pictures in an urban setting. Post processing is a case of increasing contrast and upping the shadows. This is a trick I learnt from reading Scott Kelby photographic books as it brings out the colours. A few other minor adjustments are done as I try to keep the feel of how the picture was taken. As with many of my pictures, I love the stories associated with the photography and one of the reasons that I enjoy writing this blog.

Birmingham Museums Collection Centre, Nechells, September 2023.

Birmingham Heritage week is an exciting time in the calendar year for photographers. During this week, buildings open their doors allowing access to areas which are not normally open to the public.  Each year in September, I scan the list of venues that are opening their doors to the public and have a look at what is available.  The one that looked the most interesting this year was the “History Unboxed” open day at the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre. Several people had visited the collection centre before and their Instagram posts gave a brief insight into what you could see in the Centre. Reading the Birmingham Museum website, they state that 80% of their collection is housed in the Centre.

Birmingham Museums Collection Centre, Nechells, September 2023.
The walkways reveal a treasure trove of interesting objects.

The Collection Centre is on an industrial site in Nechells Birmingham near to the railway line and the HS2 works.  The warehouse is set away from the street and when I arrived, volunteers were on hand to direct visitors.  I had walked to the centre from Snow Hill and was pleased that I did not bring my car as the on street parking was limited. At the entrance, there was a queue to enter the building as the event was proving to be very popular. Pre-booking was essential. Reached the welcome desk, a friendly face welcomed me. Steve aka “Mullerbiker” from the BritishTechNetwork, works at the Museum and he filled me in with what happens at the centre. All visitors were given a map showing the four areas of the museum. The first room is the main warehouse which is best described as an IKEA store for museums.  There were rows upon rows of items on display. The low light proved tricky for photography but with my Fujifilm x100v set at f/2 and 125s, I was able to get good detailed pictures.  My use of the manual focusing at this aperture is critical and most pictures turned out well.  The colour balance required constant adjustment as I moved through different levels of light.

I could post countless pictures of different items that I viewed. All were fascinating. The subjects ranged from Roman busts, fairground figures, fish and chip fryers, Chopper bikes and early computers.  The diverse nature of the exhibits does keep the attention and I have highlighted my favourite items.  The collections centre has an adjacent room that houses several cars and jet engines and other machinery.  All of them have a connection to Birmingham.  

Birmingham Museums Collection Centre, Nechells, September 2023.
Part of the Car Collection

I enjoyed seeing the Queen Victoria statues that were once part of a re-imagining of the Queen Victoria Statue by Guyanese-British artist Hew Locke.  The five statues of Queen Victoria joined with the original statue on a boat were displayed in Victoria square during the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Festival. The artist has donated the 5 mini statues to Birmingham Museum.

Birmingham Museums Collection Centre, Nechells, September 2023.
Five Queen Vics

After looking through the main halls, there was a “meet the experts” room and the small objects collection hall.  The former had table demonstrations and I was captured by their photographer talking about interesting items.  The small objects collection held smaller items which were housed in rows of caged lockers. Behind the door of each locker there were items that once again were so varied that I can only begin to cover what was present.  There were Cadbury’s chocolate bars from a closed down shop, old cameras, shoes, clothes, lamps and much more.  

Birmingham Museums Collection Centre, Nechells, September 2023.
Teddy Bear made in Birmingham.
Birmingham Museums Collection Centre, Nechells, September 2023.
Small objects collection.
Birmingham Museums Collection Centre, Nechells, September 2023.
Rescued from a sweet shop.

Returning to the main hall, I had another look at some of the items that I had missed. The picture of a dental chair is put after the picture of sweets as the dentist will have done a lot of work with patients who had eaten all those Fruit and Nut bars.

Birmingham Museums Collection Centre, Nechells, September 2023.
A dental chair.

The Sir Henry Moor statue looked incongruous. The figure was displayed on its back and was missing a foot. Then again, there was something different seeing the statue displayed in this manner. There are many more pictures and these are as random as I found them in the museum. All with a wonderful history and also each providing a story to the City of Birmingham.

incongruous
Moore on his back.
Birmingham Museums Collection Centre, Nechells, September 2023.
A vintage fish and chip fryer.
Birmingham Museums Collection Centre, Nechells, September 2023.
Anyone lost their Mummy?
Birmingham Museums Collection Centre, Nechells, September 2023.
What time is it?
Birmingham Museums Collection Centre, Nechells, September 2023.
Duke Box
Birmingham Museums Collection Centre, Nechells, September 2023.
Today’s Top Tunes.
Birmingham Museums Collection Centre, Nechells, September 2023.
Van der Graff Generator.
Birmingham Museums Collection Centre, Nechells, September 2023.
A vintage sink unit!
Birmingham Museums Collection Centre, Nechells, September 2023.
Fairground Organ Figurines.
Birmingham Museums Collection Centre, Nechells, September 2023.
Not sure whose head this belongs to.

My final two objects are particularly interesting to me. The first is the statue of “Forward together” which was in Centenary Square and suffered an arsonist attack by a member of the public. I remember visiting the square not long after it was finished and viewing this artwork. The second is detail from the head armour of Ozzy the Bull from the Commonwealth Games in 2022. The armour was removed by women chain makers as a symbol of freeing themselves from enslavement. Written on the armour were words of enslavement. The head armour also contains the names of the 21 people killed when bombs were detonated in Birmingham pubs in 1974.

Birmingham Museums Collection Centre, Nechells, September 2023.
A model replica of “Forward together” that was attacked by an arsonist.
Birmingham Museums Collection Centre, Nechells, September 2023.
Detail of the head armour with the names of those killed in the 1974 pub bombing.

My reflections on my visit to the Collections Centre is that there was just too much to take in.  The place is an excellent venue and will require several visits as it is so difficult to view all the items that are on view in one session.  I just have to go back again!

Birmingham Museums Collection Centre, Nechells, September 2023.
One of the aisles in the main warehouse of the Collection Centre.

Further information

Link to the Birmingham Museums Collections Centre with details of how to visit.

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