Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023

Queen Mary University of London is on the Mile End Road and is 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 when time allowed to explore the tow path.  My first walk was in the early morning and I followed the canal 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.

From QMUL to the river.

I was up early for this walk and was moving on the towpath by 6am.  There were still many people out and about at this time.  The day before had been hot and whilst there was a morning coolness temperatures were forecast to rise above 30oC.  There was a slight mist around the canal which diffused the light.  Several species of birds were moving around in the water.  The canal was heavy with algae and the ducks made tracks in the green covering.  There is a mixture of old industrial decay alongside both modern designs of buildings.  I took several pictures of the juxta positioning of the buildings and where the canal was algae free caught their reflections in the still water.  

Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
A chimney is part of the old industrial heritage along the canal.
Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
Colourful old narrowboat
Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
Millionaire row
Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
The algae adds a green foreground whilst the shine buildings of Canary Wharf are lit up by the early sun.
Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
Wildlife coping with the canal.

On the streets there were abandoned hire bikes.  Colours were appearing as the early sunlight started to reach the taller buildings.  I soon reached Limehouse basin and this coincided with the sunrise.  The area has lots to see and quick decisions were made as to the best place to stand for the photographs.  I used my phone to take a few quick pictures that let me quickly see and plan the pictures with my Fujifilm x100v.  One of my first pictures worked well and set the standard that I needed  for future views.  

Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
Abandoned bike.
Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
Limehouse Basin
Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
The sun rises over the basin.

After spending time photographing the sunrise , I made my way along the final part of the canal to the Thames.  This area is very popular with local commuters due to its proximity to Canary Wharf.  The quality of housing is of a higher standard than where I started in the Mile End Road.  The journey does take you through a range of housing.  The Thames looked good in the early morning light and I took several pictures around Gordon Ramsey’s Bread Kitchen restaurant. I followed the commuters as they walked along the road and then onto the pedestrian walkway next to the Thames.  This was a chance to practice some street photography as sharp contrasts between light and dark were created by the sunlight rising between the buildings.  

Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
The Thames in the early morning sun.
Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
Looking out towards the Thames
Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
Sunlight.
Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
Running the Thames walkway.

After a while, I realised that I had a conference to attend and I made my way back to QMUL following the Limehouse Cut. This took me past the Sea Mission and I eventually caught up with the Regent’s canal again.  The light had shifted and therefore there were different takes on pictures that I had taken on the way down.  One picture that I enjoyed taking was of two swans who were tucked into a recess of the canal wall.  The picture with the reflections in the background shows the beauty of this canal.

Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
On the cut and through the railings.
Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
The rush over the cut.
Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
The majestic “Mission” building
Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
Swans on the canal.

My final picture is of black and white architecture. I saw this block of flats as the canal turned after a railway bridge. The reflections immediately caught my eye. I converted the picture to black and white and I was pleased with the result. I entered into the weekly #fsprintmondays competition organised by FotoSpeed on Twitter and the picture made the top 4 for that week.

Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
Black and white architecture on the canal (with reflections)

If you enjoyed this blog then there is an earlier account of my photographic journey from Kings Cross to Camden along the Regent’s Canal. This waterway has such a varied landscape which makes it ideal to satisfy my love for photography.

Poppy field, Bewdley, Worcestershire, 2023

The alarm went at 3.30am and it was time to haul myself out of bed.  I was going on a journey of 50 minutes to a field in Bewdley, Worcestershire.  There were reports of poppies in the field near to Blackstone nature reserve.  Sunrise was at 4:54am so I needed to get there promptly.   I met up with an old friend and work colleague who I had not seen for several years.  He was there armed with his camera ready to take pictures.  The place was very quiet and the weather was on the chilly side. There was more cloud cover than my app “Clear Outside” was indicating. Will there be a good sunrise? Time to find out as we crossed the road and set off for the poppy field.

Social Media had left instructions of how to get to the field. This was from the Poppy and Flower finder Facebook page.

“Park at the (Blackstone) picnic site, walk across the road as there is no vehicular access. Follow the path to just under the old railway bridge and take the path on the right by the bridge and it’s there.”

The poppies were there in their glory and I spent the next two hours taking pictures in the field. The sunrise was fleeting although I was able to get a starburst as the rays broke through the treeline.

Poppy field, Bewdley, Worcestershire, 2023
Poppy panorama.
Poppy field, Bewdley, Worcestershire, 2023
Poppy landscape.

I took many pictures with one or two more memorable ones. Blue cornflowers added a blue dash to the red sea of poppies. There were some pops of white from cow parsley who were unsuccessfully trying to compete with the poppies.

Poppy field, Bewdley, Worcestershire, 2023
Red poppy, blue cornflower
Poppy field, Bewdley, Worcestershire, 2023
A dash of white in the red.

I was starting to get cold standing out in the field and the cloud cover had smothered the sunshine. It was time to say good byes to the field and to my friend and head home to process the pictures. The early start to the day was memorable and I hope you enjoy the pictures that I selected.

Poppy field, Bewdley, Worcestershire, 2023
Red on Green
Poppy field, Bewdley, Worcestershire, 2023
Poppy flowers
Poppy field, Bewdley, Worcestershire, 2023
Poppy flower ridge.

Postscript – I learnt on social media that the farmer was out on his tractor and mowed the field that evening. Presumably he was fed up with all the photographers and other sightseers. The action set social media into meltdown as people vented their frustrations as they realised that would not be able to experience the field. I am not here to judge the action of the farmer who owned the land, I was just pleased that I had seen the poppy field in its prime.

Poppy field, Bewdley, Worcestershire, 2023
The red sea.

I have been fortunate over the last few years to see several fields. In 2020, I visited the fields in Minworth, near Sutton Coldfield. The next year I was pleased that a poppy field turned up in Leamington Spa which was close to me. Last year, the field was in Churchill, Kidderminster and again was a beautiful summer experience. I have documented my poppy field travels below.

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Sunrise in Kardamena, Greece, July 2022

Several mornings during July, I ran into Kardamena from where I was staying.  My hotel, Acti Beach, is around 2 miles away from Kardamena.  Getting up early and watching the sunrise develop during the Golden Hour is an unforgettable experience.  Two years ago I was here in August and the sun rose over the sea. In July, the sun rises behind the mountains. Therefore I saw the sun start to rise by the golden colours appearing on the white buildings of the town as I ran towards Kardamena.

Sunrise in Kardamena, Greece, July 2022
The rising sun creating shadows on the walls of the whitewashed buildings.
Sunrise in Kardamena, Greece, July 2022
The sun appears from behind the mountains.

I run with my iPhone13 and I was able to stop for a few minutes and capture the golden rays. The fun is getting back to the hotel and seeing what the results are like.  These pictures were taken on different mornings and when posted on my social media, they received a positive response.  I certainly want to get back to Kos in the future and experience more sunrises on this beautiful island. This is the last of my Kos Island sequence and hope you enjoyed them.

Sunrise in Kardamena, Greece, July 2022
Sunrise on the sun loungers at Malibu Beach
Sunrise in Kardamena, Greece, July 2022
A view of the sunrise from a jetty at Kardamena.
Sunrise in Kardamena, Greece, July 2022
Sunrise in the harbour with golden rays on the Pirate ship.
Sunrise in Kardamena, Greece, July 2022
The day begins.

Here are my links to Kardamena and Kos

I love Kardamena 2022

Reach for the sky

Back in 2020 when I first visited Kardamena

And where it all started with my daughter’s wedding on the beach in Kos


Cracks Hill, Sunrise

This hill is the remnant of a glacier and has a prominent view of the nearby village of Crick and the surrounding Northamptonshire country side.  I have visited the hill before as Sunset and captured a beautiful scene.  On a recent visit to my daughter, I took the opportunity to capture the sunrise.  Whilst there were no clouds in the sky the rising sun was still beautiful and I was able to frame the sun in the beacon.  Whilst I was on the beacon there were several walkers who passed through for a chat.  The subsequent light was beautiful and made a perfect start up for the rest of the day.

Cracks Hill, Sunrise
The view of Crick Village from Cracks Hill
Cracks Hill, Sunrise
The Grand Union Canal next to Cracks Hill
Cracks Hill, Sunrise
The canal bridge that leads onto Cracks Hill

If you want to learn more about Cracks Hill then read the West Northamptonshire Council Web pages
and I have been there before at sunset visiting both the Hill and Crick’s Wood.

Cracks Hill, Sunrise
Another view from Cracks Hill.
Hay Wood

A forecast of fog followed by a sunny day, sent me down to Hay Wood for a morning of photographs.  I took my tripod and my Canon D5.  Setting up the camera (Canon 5D) for the pictures I took 5 pictures of the scene by bracketing with 5 pictures at -2 EV, -1EV, 0 +1 EV and +2 EV.  The five pictures were blended in Photoshop to give a HDR output.  Comments on the pictures posted on social media were that the scenes took on a “painterly” look.  This is the successful look that I was hoping to achieve.

Hay Wood
Hay wood and the light lights up the path
Sunrise in Hay Wood
Rays of light filter through into the wood.
Hay wood
A line up of trees in Hay Wood
Sunrise in Hey Wood
Shooting at the sun and looking for a reflection from water in the field.

Links
All about Hay Wood from Forestry England
More Blog posts about Hay Wood
1-Wood Walking
2-Hay Wood: my forrest adventure with my camera


Osman Selfridges Story

Selfridges is always on my list as a building to photograph. It has featured in many of my picture books over the years. I have even written a blog about the building which includes several of my pictures. The building is striking with the discs spread over an amorphous design. I love the building and it has come to be one of the iconic images of the City. I also like shopping in the store as the interior design is appealing but that is another story. If you want to know more, there are several good sources of information about the design and history of the architectural design.

Osman Selfridges Story
Sunset fire over Selfridges and look closely some discs are missing
Osman Selfridges Story
Missing disc highlighted by the sunrise

In 2020, problems with the attachment of the discs to the building began to surface and this is evident in my pictures. A decision was made by Selfridges to undertake the refurbishment and replacement of all the discs on the building. There are 15,000 discs and it will take some time to replace them. The original makers of the discs no longer exist and new constructors were required. The story may be followed up in the news media when in November 2020, the official reports of the replacement began.

It was during Lockdown #2 that scaffolding began to go up around the store. So as to protect the construction workers and the scaffolding, an eye-catching temporary skin has been put in place. The striking art structure is called “Infinity pattern 1” and is designed by Birmingham born artist and interdisciplinary designer, Osman Yousefzada. It is intended to be a “message of hope” to the people of Birmingham. The design was drawn up in conjunction with the IKON Gallery. The colours are striking and are best viewed in the sunlight which picks up the shades of red. The installation is temporary as the replacement of all the discs will be completed in time for the Commonwealth games in 2022. Therefore whilst it is on view, I encourage you to wander down to Birmingham and see Osman’s creation. The visit will be worthwhile.

These photographs show how Osman’s artwork interacts with the City and the people. The pictures tell the story of the loss of the discs, the placement of the scaffolding and the final structure. There is merchandise in the store that feature the Infinity Pattern 1 on them. The colours and the design pattern lend themselves to pictures and I like the picture with my daughter looking out over Birmingham with the Infinity Pattern 1 behind her.

Osman Selfridges Story
My daughter looks out over the street below.
Osman Selfridges Story
A favourite Birmingham viewpoint. This time with Osman’s Infinity Pattern 1.

I have included some web links for further reading
Birmingham Selfridges covered in huge artistic wrap
Osman Yousefzada at Selfridges Birmingham

Osman Selfridges Story
Examples of the various merchandise that can be brought designed with the Infinity Pattern 1

Tysoe Windmill sunrise

I am always on the lookout for different places to visit in my locality. Reviewing local tags on Instagram pages highlights the beauty of the surrounding area and reveals a range of places to visit.  Recently, I was given the opportunity of selecting a picture for the #igerscoventry #igerswarwickshire Instagram site.  A black and white picture of Tysoe Windmill in South Warwickshire caught my eye.  This was a place that I had not heard of before and the picture got my vote. Immediately I set about researching the windmill and looking at pictures that other photographers had taken.  It looked interesting, and I planned a morning sunrise whilst we were enjoying good September weather. 

Tysoe Windmill sunrise
A foggy start

Getting up early is not so difficult in September but there was the problem with the national fuel shortage. Luckily the 24-hour garage near to us had petrol and I was able to set off.  The conditions were initially clear and then when I left the M40 it became very foggy as I travelled through Kineton village.  I was excited as the conditions were shaping up to be excellent for the sunrise.  I passed through the villages of Tysoe and then saw familiar landmarks from my Google maps research.  I found the country lane and parked up the car.  The fog was swirling around with the sun occasionally showing through.  The Windmill is situated on a high hill.  My approach on the public footpath took me up some wooden steps, many of which were broken.  I did not see the windmill until I was almost at the top.  The fog was still around and a picture of spiders’ webs on the gate with the windmill in the background set the scene.  The picture also did well on my social media.  Looking back down the hill, the fog was lying in pockets on the landscape.  There was that lovely saturation of the sky that happens before the Sun is in the sky.  Sunrise was nearly upon me.  I followed the footpath around the south side of the hill before entering via a gate onto the hilltop with the Windmill.

Tysoe Windmill sunrise
Spiders’ webs at the entrance to the Windmill
Tysoe Windmill sunrise
Looking at the early morning landscape prior to sunrise

The restored windmill has a commanding presence.  The structure has weathered brickwork and is rather tubby looking around the middle.  It has a wooden box where the Windmill mechanism protrudes away from the sales.  I have done a deconstructed view of the windmill showing all my various observations.

Different views of the Tysoe Windmill

Back to the sunrise.  It was lovely to see and whilst there were no clouds in the sky to provide any colour variations, the light was still beautiful.  I took plenty of pictures which included the long shadows of the trees, spiders’ webs highlighted by the morning moisture and landscapes showing the last remnants of the foggy conditions.  There was no one else around bar the cattle in the fields and the crows flying around.  Then the sun became much stronger, and the conditions slowly changed.  Reluctantly I made my way down the hill and back to the car.  There were still a couple more pictures to take before I was back on the road home.  Next time I will visit in the evening and see how the sunset shapes up but until then I hope you enjoy these pictures.

Tysoe Windmill sunrise
Sunrise at Tysoe Windmill
Tysoe Windmill sunrise
Landscape view from the hill
Tysoe Windmill sunrise
Tysoe Windmill and its sails

Charlecote park

So many photographers talk about their 3.30am starts, getting up early so that they are able to catch the sunrise.  This got me thinking that it was time I looked for a good place to visit for a sunrise with a difference.  Amateur photographer had a recent feature on places to visit in the UK whilst interesting, they were a long road trip away, so I searched on the Internet for more suggestions closer to home.  On my search, a 2016 AP article came up from Stu Meech who lives near Charlecote park, a National Trust property in Stratford upon Avon.  What a great read and Stu advises where to park and how to access the public footpath in the park.  So I got ready, packed the gear and went to bed early.  I woke up before the alarm went off at 3.30am and got dressed.  The dog took a while to settle down as I had woken him up, but I eventually got out of the house but silly me, I made the decision to go down on the M42 and M40.  It was the fastest route, but I had not factored in night time roadworks. Eventually I got off the motorway and then the misty wonderland was all around me.  The village of Barford looked marooned by an eerie white carpet which was flowing around the old bridge.  I nearly stopped but Charlecote awaited. 

Charlecote Park
The early morning mist in Charlecote Park
Charlecote Park
Mist and a sunrise in Charlecote Park

Passing through the village of Charlecote, eventual I came across the lay-by described in the article about 50 metres away from the West Gate to the park.  Time 4.35am and all looking good so far.  Once through the gate, there is a recent sign that informs you that you must rigidly stick to the footpath and not to enter other parts of the park.  You may only do so if you have registered with reception (which opens at 9.00am).  Not possible this early in the morning so sticking to the public footpath is the only option.  Everywhere I look the park has a beautiful carpet of mist.  Out of the corner of my eye, I see movement and a herd of the resident fallow deer have picked up the noise that I am making.  Do I stay here, do I take pictures of the deer or do I move on?  Moving on has to be the best option and I eventually come to a hollow where the path opens up to show the beautiful Charlecote House. 

Charlecote Park
Sunrise through the trees
Charlecote Park
Charlecote House in the mist

The sun is impatient and already the beams of light are pressing through the mist.  I find a good spot as the intensity of the sun increases.  Excitement rises.  Do I put a filter on such as my half grad filter. Wide or telephoto lens? Decisions, decisions.  Settling down I switch my lens and filters as I see sunshine hitting the tops of the trees.  Then it starts to lower gradually becoming stronger and stronger.  I place the sun behind a tree, close down the aperture for a potential starburst and take pictures.  The light is magical.  Whilst this is going on, there is a procession of deer and goats passing through my line of sight.  There is too much to take in and I take as many pictures as I possibly can.  My kit bag falls over spilling lenses etc on the dewy grass but luckily, no damage done (I thought).  It was about 6:00am and I had been taking pictures since sunrise at 4.45am. 

Charlecote Park
A misty scene in Black and White

I moved further along the path and then looked over to some trees and saw the deer frolicking in the mist.  Telephoto lens on and more pictures.  One of the pictures of a deer in the mist got a big reaction on my social media. Reflecting I should have brought my 100 to 400mm lens but then I could have brought the kitchen sink as well! Photographers are never happy.

Charlecote park
Morning mist and deer in Charlecote Park

My next steps were to follow the footpath towards the village of Charlecote.  Everything was very quiet in the village and entrance gates to the park were locked.  The church was catching the sun and there were some super photos to take which normally I miss when you are rushing to park and get to the house during a day visit. 

A black and white path with sun and mist.

Then it was time to slowly retrace my steps back to the car.  There were a few more photographs but the mist was gone, having been burnt away by the sun.  The time 7.00am and the day was starting.  An enjoyable drive back home through Stratford and Henley in Arden.  The only drawback was that I left my lens hood in the park.  It was broken and loose on the camera so no regrets.  Leaving bits behind is a photographer’s lot in life but what I took with me was some wonderful pictures of the park.

Did you enjoy this article. Then please follow these links for other articles of taking pictures in the mist and fog. Please comment if you liked it too!
The Fog creates a Black and White Landscape describes a walk in the fog with my camera
Mist at Packwood is about a misty morning at this local National Trust Property

…..and if you go remember to stick to the footpath.

Sunrise at the BullRing

Thursday 5th November was the start of Lockdown #2. As I pass via town on my way to work, I took the opportunity of getting my camera out to record events on this particular day. I was near to the Bull Ring and as luck would have it the sunrise was spectacular with a pinky orange tint to the clouds. I was never in Birmingham for the last lockdown so I wanted to capture the atmosphere of this event. First there were people around, not many but I suspect more that there were in March/April. There were more pigeons than people and i am not sure if it was my imagination but there was a feeling of acceptance to the new restrictions. It was quiet and people moved briskly through the area.

Sunrise over Selfridges
Sunrise over Selfridges
People going to work oblivious of the sunrise.
People going to work oblivious of the sunrise.
The Bull is still there
The Bull is still there
Single Figures move through the empty passageways
Single Figures move through the empty passageways

My pictures were around the Christmas tree outside St Martin’s Church, up to Selfridges and then past the Bull and down onto New Street. I myself did not linger very much as I was very conspicuous with my Canon D5 camera. Whilst I love my IPhone camera, the time is coming to invest in a new compact camera that does not draw attention.

Empty platforms at New Street
Empty platforms at New Street
Reflections in the passageways
Reflections in the passageways
Catching the tram
Catching the tram
On their way to work
On their way to work

On my way back I saw two young people by Selfridges. The pictures show some form of tension between them and the surroundings, especially the picture that is looking upwards towards them. Finally I also saw that the scaffolding is going up around Selfridges and there will be some new photographic opportunities of the specially designed covering going up.

Waiting and watching
Waiting and watching (buy a copy)
Waiting and watching
Waiting and watching
Last word from the pigeons
Last word from the pigeons LOL

Gas Street Basin

Now I am back in a work routine, I take the opportunity to park in the city around 7am and stay until 8am just before the car parking charging begins.  I set myself an area to walk around and aim to come away with 4 to 5 pictures that I can use over the coming days.  These may be for my 365 project or pictures that I can post onto Twitter and Instagram.  Gas street basin is a changing place and there is always something to photography during a walk on the tow paths.  On this visit, it was very still and quiet and there was a hint of mist.  The water in the canal was so still that it provided perfect reflections for my photography.  I had my trusty Canon 5D mark VI and my ‘go to’ lens EF24-70mm with me.  Initially I did not think I would get particularly good photographs but then as I got down low I started to see the photographic possibilities.   

Reflections in Gas Street
The still waters reflect the buildings of Gas Street Basin.
Birmingham - new vs old
Showing the new versus the old in Birmingham
Gas Street Sunrise
Golden buildings in the sunrise

With the reflections of the buildings, I saw that there were many different views.  I took around 20 to 30 pictures and then carefully selected around 6 photographs.  A selection of 4 posted on Twitter took off with many likes. At the last count it was over 20 thousand views.   I see so many excellent pictures of Birmingham and I am not here to say that mine are any better.  These pictures are my own personal view of the area and I am pleased that they make people happy.

Brindley Place
Venturing into Brindley Place for the reflections of the canal waters