St Paul's Church, Birmingham, Spring 2023

St Paul’s church is situated in the Jewellery quarter and is a picturesque escape from the busy city centre which is only a stone’s throw away.  The square has so much character and is always a delight to visit.  I was dropping off my picture with the RBSA gallery and happened to have half an hour to spare.  I wandered around the perimeter of the square.  Immediately I saw that there were some early displays of daffodils on the east side of the square.  The picture of the daffodils with the church in the background is one that I have tried before.  This time the picture caught the imagination of social media.  The image was featured in England’s Big Picture and Independent Birmingham Instagram and Twitter pages.  

St Paul's Church, Birmingham, Spring 2023
The church interior with the central picture of the Conversion of Saint Paul.

As I walked around to the church entrance, I noticed that it was open and so I ventured inside.  I have been inside a few times before but never with my camera.  The sun was streaming in through the windows making a lovely scene of shadows and light.  The pictures of the church, which is a grade I listed building, show the features.  The East window has a enamelled stained glass window depicting the Conversion of Saint Paul.  The organ has a long history including when it was built and a list of organists over the years.  The pews have doors to them and there is a sign indicating that Mathew Boulton had a pew in the Church as the photograph shows.  

St Paul's Church, Birmingham, Spring 2023
Mathew Boulton worshipped at Saint Paul’s Church
St Paul's Church, Birmingham, Spring 2023
The organ has a long history.

The Millennium window caught my eye. This was sponsored by the Birmingham Assay Office. There was a competition and the winner was Rachel Thomas with her stained glass window ‘The Angel’s Crucible’ based on Job 28.  

St Paul's Church, Birmingham, Spring 2023
The Millennium stained glass window is worth a visit in its own right.
St Paul's Church, Birmingham, Spring 2023
The splendid eagle lecture.
St Paul's Church, Birmingham, Spring 2023
Beautiful light inside the church.

There is much much more including the Eagle pulpit, the organ with its history and the balcony surrounding the inside view. There is so much to write about and once you have looked at the photographs then be sure to visit the webpages of the church and more about the history. I will leave you with a few photographs of the outside of the church including the resident pigeons.

St Paul's Church, Birmingham, Spring 2023
This couple is walking past the church towards the Jam House onto the skyscrapers of Snowhill
St Paul's Church, Birmingham, Spring 2023
The residents of St Paul’s Church and Square.
St Paul's Church, Birmingham, Spring 2023
A view of the church in-between the trees.

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, 103 Colmore Row

By far the most popular venue for the #keyofthecitybrum was Birmingham’s newly built skyscraper, 103 Colmore row. On the 18th floor, there is a south facing viewing platform that provides amazing views of the City’s major buildings.  When the Key started, Instagram was inundated with pictures of the City of Birmingham from this platform.  Many of these pictures were excellent and circulated by the social media team at 103 Colmore Row.  I left my visit to the building till late July and wondered how I could do a different picture from the platform.

Arriving in the foyer of the building with Nicky Warwickshire, my photo companion for the day @nickywarwickshire, we were met by Touwa, one of the volunteers for the Key to the City Brum.  Touwa welcomed us to 103 Colmore Row, Birmingham, England. He explained that the newly built building was a 108-metre tall 26-storey commercial office skyscraper.  We were going to the 19th Floor and above this floor is the soon to be opened restaurant on the 24th floor. We were not going to the 18th floor viewing platform but to a floor that provides a 360o view.  The floor was empty, and I was able to get pictures of buildings such as the BT tower and the Rotunda.  I even did a panorama to take in the skyscrapers.  It was also possible to capture views of the people visiting who were fascinated with the views.

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, 103 Colmore Row
Admiring the view
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, 103 Colmore Row
Panorama of the City

My different picture?  I got down low and framed the top of the BT tower in the frame of the windows.  I was pleased as I had got a different view which still conveys the sense of height above the city. The picture was featured by BBC Midlands Today that evening.

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, 103 Colmore Row
A different view of the BT Tower
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, 103 Colmore Row
My picture on BBC Midlands Today

Finally a few more pictures showing the colours of the City for the Commonwealth Games taken from the 19th floor of 103 Colmore Row.

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, 103 Colmore Row
Looking over the City and beyond. What can you see?
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, 103 Colmore Row
Colours on the pillars.
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, 103 Colmore Row
The view with everyone’s favourite the BT Tower.

My Journey with the Key
If you wish to review my journey then I have published all my visits on my blog as follows.

Regency Wharf

My first walk around Birmingham this year was an eventful photographic journey. The pictures were taken with my Fujifilm x100v.  It was a cold and sunny day. My walk was a circular route of my favourite photo spots including Snow Hill Car Park and the Jewellery Quarter. Of course I could not forget about the Birmingham canal navigation and I therefore included Brindley place and Gas Street Basin. 

Underneath the arches of Snow Hill Station
Underneath the arches of Snow Hill Station
Train leaving Snow Hill Station
Train leaving Snow Hill Station – lovely light from the sunrise
St Paul's Church
St Paul’s Church with the spire caught in the sun
Brindley Place
Brindley Place catching the light.
Entering Gas Street Basin
Entering Gas Street Basin from under the Black Sabbath Bridge.

The pictures taken in Gas Street Basin went down well and the picture of the reflections at Regency Wharf was long listed in ShareMondays2022 and shortlisted on the Fotospeed weekly competitions. 

Regency Wharf
Regency Wharf reflections.

There were other opportunities for pictures of reflections and I wanted to take those that are popular on the social media pages. People standing in the doorway of the Tap and Spile is popular. The white wall of Pierre Bistro is another one.

Gas Street Basin reflections
White shoes.
Gas Street Basin reflections
Walking the line.

After a refuelling with coffee at the Exchange, I went into the Birmingham Library.  The sunlight was strong for January and with it being a clear day you could see a long way.  I could see the Barr Beacon and the Clent Hills.  It was time to get back to the car and go home and the final part? A walk back through Centennial square and Chamberlain square finished off the walk nicely.

Terrace at Birmingham Library
A different view from the Terrace at Birmingham Library.
Inside Birmingham Library
Selective Colour on the Escalator in Birmingham Library.
Classic view of the BT Tower Birmingham
Classic view of the BT Tower Birmingham from the Library Secret Garden
Old and new view from Chamberlain Square
Old and new view from Chamberlain Square

My Fujifilm camera was on Aperture priority, ISO on automatic and I just moved between f/4 and f/11 depending on the light and what field of view I wanted.  Hope you enjoy the pictures.

If you want to see more pictures of Birmingham then follow @igersbirminghamUK where I am one of the team that select photographs for our Instagram account.

More from my Blog

If you like my pictures then here is a taster of some of my popular posts about Birmingham

The Exchange meets IgersBirminghamUK
Moseley Instameet – IgersBirminghamUK
Digbeth, Digbeth – so good they had to name it twice

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.

This has been a week of rain and the days have been dull. Even though it is wet there are still great opportunities to go out and take photographs.. My early Wednesday walk from Snow Hill took in the canals that run underneath Snow Hill. The arches under Snow Hill are a favourite haunt of photographers and one can always find a good place for a picture. With the rain there had been condensation with rain collecting on the tow path near to the ornate gates which used to hold horses. Now the activity on the tow path is bikers commuting into work and runners making the best of the early mornings. I settled my camera down on the dirty floor at the edge of a puddle and started to take some pictures. It was difficult to control the bright light of the centre of the picture and the dark recesses of the tunnel. I could see on the first few shots that there was a perfect reflection that made the exit look like an eye onto the outside world. Just then a runner came past. It gave me an idea and by trial and error I set the camera at a shutter speed of 1/100 and f/6.3. I hiked the ISO up to 640. I set it for rapid shooting and then waited for the next runner. Soon enough one appeared and I took my pictures. I had to pick up the shadows from the RAW picture and also do a bit of dodging of the runner. The picture came out very well and was well received on social media.

The train station over the canal

After this I wandered over to St Paul’s square and took a few pictures of the Church and the tree lined paths that criss cross the square. The early commuters were oblivious to the camera and I took several pictures of the area. The black and white treatment suited the day, my ideas for the pictures and set off the charm of that particular area of Birmingham. Here are a selection of the ones that I took.

St Paul’s Church
The paths around St Paul’s Church
The Jam house with 3 Snow Hill towering over it
Commuting down Ludgate Hill to the City

When the chance came to take photographs from the top of the Rotunda then I was first in the queue. Maybe not first as there were several other keen photographers that wanted to up there as well. Those people with passion, @Birminghamweare organised the visit to Floor 20 of the iconic Rotunda. We had a 6 to 9.30pm slot on a Sunday night in one of the Staying Cool apartments. The city was buzzing as the Velo bike riders were finishing their 100 mile trip around the West Midlands. I thought I would be late for the trip to the top but I found a place to park and made my way to the Rotunda. I have passed the entrance many times but now I was going in and up to the top. We were based in Room 25 which has the best views over Grand Central and out to the west of Birmingham. I met up with my fellow photographers and walked out onto the veranda – viewing platform at the very top of the Rotunda. I took several minutes to take in the scene and as I often do in these situations got my phone out and took some pictures.

Having settled down and after the initial excitement had subsided, then it was time to start taking some pictures of the magnificent view. I had brought along my 100 – 400mm Canon lens which was able to pick out all the landmarks. These included Birmingham City football ground, St Martin’s Church, the Bus station, Grand Central, St Philip’s Cathedral. the Mailbox and Snow Hill. So many different views to choose from.

The setting of the sun was very exciting and we were all politely jostling for position to get the best shot in. We all managed to get our pictures of the sunset and then this was followed by the night lights of Grand Central and the surrounding buildings. Another set of pictures were taken. Then it was all over. Three and a half hours had gone so quickly. When I got back home it was such fun to look back at all the pictures and also so interesting to see pictures taken by the other photographers from the @Birminghamweare group.

A BIG thank you to Jonathan Bostock and Debra Power from @Birminghamweare for organising this memorable visit. Also thank you to Staying Cool at the Rotunda for allowing us the opportunity to view Birmingham from above. Finally I hope you enjoy all the pictures on show and tune into people with passion – Birminghamweare

I just thought I would share four of my recent photographs that I have taken so far in January with a story of how they were taken

Another perspective  – The family went for a cup of coffee in San Carlo Gran Café in Selfridges. (Incidentally the coffee there is very nice). I went outside with my grandson and looked up from the entrance to the top of the building. I saw a reflection. After a few goes I realised that the iPhone camera would give the best view. After posting the picture I received so many likes that I knew it was a popular photograph.

I called this the Selfridges Clam although others likened it to a pair of giant lips or a smartie

Metropolis – fun title for this picture of a West Midlands travel tram ready to go into Birmingham. There is another tram coming out of Birmingham and in the distance you can see the latest Snowhill building No3 and the rest of the city. I used my 40mm pancake lens on a Canon 6D. The lens makes you work for the view and it also gives a very crisp image.

The light from the St Paul’s station on the tram contrasts with those form the City

Sunrise over the Green Heart – The Green Heart is a spectacular open area in the centre of campus. This picture was taken on my iPhone and I wanted to catch the colours of a sunrise with a new view of the Chamberlain Clock Tower. The lights from under the benches provided a nice touch so much so that the picture will be featured by the University.

A new view created by the open space of the Green Heart.

Two sides to every picture – The Edgbaston tunnel on the Worcester and Birmingham Canal has been recently renovated and the towpath widened. Taking the photograph meant leaning over the railings and carefully holding the camera to get the picture. Picture taken with the 40mm and Canon 6D. The picture looks as if it is in two halves almost split down the middle.