St Patrick's Day Parade, Digbeth, Birmingham, March 17th, 2024

Initially the weather forecast for St Patrick’s Day was rain but someone must have had a word with heaven. The rain stopped and the sun started to show itself from behind the clouds. Bradford Street in Birmingham is as straight as a die and runs parallel to Digbeth High street. At the top of the hill by Trinity Church, the floats, dignitaries and people were congregating.

St Patrick's Day Parade, Digbeth, Birmingham, March 17th, 2024
The Lord Mayor by one of the Irish banners.
St Patrick's Day Parade, Digbeth, Birmingham, March 17th, 2024
Getting ready to parade
St Patrick's Day Parade, Digbeth, Birmingham, March 17th, 2024
Ready to sing Dirty Ole Town by the Pogues
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The entry code was you had to wear something green and St Patrick was there overseeing the proceedings. The Peaky Blinders were behaving themselves and they had brought their own police force. Irish dancers and marching bands were adding to the entertainment. There were a group of dancers who had flown in from Bolivia. Their costumes contributed to the colourful noise around them. The scooters were polished so well that you got blinded by the reflections from the chrome work and mirrors. The floats were being loaded up and the Lord Mayor and the Lady Mayoress were greeting everyone and having their picture taken. With so many photographers around it was not long before the West Midland Mayor, Andy Street made an appearance. Everyone was so friendly and the atmosphere was one of excitement and merriment.

St Patrick's Day Parade, Digbeth, Birmingham, March 17th, 2024
The parade on Bradford Street
St Patrick's Day Parade, Digbeth, Birmingham, March 17th, 2024
The BRMB bus loaded with dignitaries
St Patrick's Day Parade, Digbeth, Birmingham, March 17th, 2024
The Guinness hats were everywhere
St Patrick's Day Parade, Digbeth, Birmingham, March 17th, 2024
Having fun was the aim of the day.
St Patrick's Day Parade, Digbeth, Birmingham, March 17th, 2024
Which will it be?

Then the parade was due to start so we rushed down the street to St Anne’s church. People were lining the barriers as you went down the hill towards the city centre. Even the dogs were dressed up in the Irish tricolour flag. The parade was long and varied, stopping every so often to let the marching bands and the Irish dancers demonstrate their skills. People waved towards the floats and people in the floats waved back. Everyone was so happy.

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Some of the big names in construction were there including Murphy’s and Mahoney’s. The Irish came over to Birmingham and contributed to making the city an industrial powerhouse. The parade reflected this contribution and everyone reacted to celebrating the rich history of Birmingham. These pictures are my own interpretation. At an event such as the St Patrick’s Day parade every type of photographer is out and about. BBC teams and local newspapers, amateur photography organisations and the casual mobile phone snapper were in their element. Everyone wants their photograph taken.

St Patrick's Day Parade, Digbeth, Birmingham, March 17th, 2024
The line up in a float
St Patrick's Day Parade, Digbeth, Birmingham, March 17th, 2024
The builders’ merchant (even I have used them)
St Patrick's Day Parade, Digbeth, Birmingham, March 17th, 2024
I am getting tired now.
St Patrick's Day Parade, Digbeth, Birmingham, March 17th, 2024
It was not just people who were having fun.

The BBC coverage is the best starting point for a record of the day’s events although a quick search of St Patrick’s Day Parade, Birmingham will open up many more.

St Patrick's Day Parade, Digbeth, Birmingham, March 17th, 2024
BBC account of the parade

The next parade in Birmingham will be Pride 2024 and here is my account from last year.

Joy and happiness at Birmingham Pride 2023

Fog in Birmingham, March 2024

Pulling the curtains back, I saw the fog which lifts any photographers spirits.  Fortunately, I had to be in Birmingham early and I knew that I would be able to get some good pictures of Dorridge station in the fog before it lifted.  I was even more pleased that the fog had not lifted by the time I got to Birmingham city centre. The fog was still around the Bull Ring and Moor Street turning normal street scenes into atmospheric and mysterious places.  The silhouettes of commuters provided the focus to many of the pictures. The majority of the photographs were taken with my iPhone15 which were then converted to black and white to take advantage of the contrasts available. I used Silver Efex Pro and I like the fine art processing or occasionally the overexposed settings that are provided. I also include pictures from the start of my journey in Dorridge where the fog was even thicker.

Fog in Birmingham, March 2024
Commuters outside Moor Street station and Selfridges.
Fog in Birmingham, March 2024
Riding a bike through the fog.
Fog in Birmingham, March 2024
Waiting for the train at Moor Street.
Fog in Birmingham, March 2024
St Martin’s walk with buildings obscured by the fog.
Fog in Birmingham, March 2024
Looking foggy at the Rotunda
Fog in Birmingham, March 2024
Reduced visibility
Fog in Birmingham, March 2024
Enjoying the morning commute.
Fog in Birmingham, March 2024
A lone figure crosses the Bullring

Dorridge station in the fog.

Fog at Dorridge, March 2024
The platforms shrouded in fog.
Fog at Dorridge, March 2024
Driving in the fog

I do like foggy mornings as these blog posts show.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023

Birmingham Botanical Gardens have been an important part of my life in Birmingham. I have attended many student balls and other celebratory events at the Hospitality suites. When I was President of the BSSPD Dental society I held my annual dinner at the Botanical Gardens during Spring 2013. The after dinner speaker that evening was Birmingham’s very own Don Maclean. We held our pre-dinner drinks on the London Terrace. Other memories include attending the Luminate night time light show during a previous Instameet. However I have not taken the opportunity to view the gardens in more detail. Therefore, I was so pleased that IgersbirminghamUK approached the Botanical Gardens to arrange a photographic Instameet. The Gardens were very enthusiastic about the idea and we agreed to visit in the Autumn when the leaves would be turning colour.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
Exotic flowers in the GlassHouses
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
Koi carp pretending to be the Meg.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
The architecture of the Glasshouses

We arranged to meet on a glorious Saturday Remembrance Day morning. There was a good number of IgersbirminghamUK photographers attending the meeting and our first duty of the day was to observe a minute’s silence at 11 o’clock. We then entered the gardens and met Sara the CEO. Sara was so welcoming and enthusiastic about the Botanical Gardens. She gave us an introduction to the charity and then outlined the future vision for the Gardens. There are exciting and ambitious plans to remodel the site. Sara showed maps and plans of what would be done over the coming two to three years.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
Sara, the CEO, pictured in the Glasshouse.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
Details in the glass house.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
The London Terrace
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
The beauty of Autumn.

IgersbirminghamUK instameets begin with an introduction and a group photograph. Once this is completed then we are free to go out and explore the gardens. I always get caught up with talking with other Igers photographers and forget to take the photographs. Catching up with people is part of the social activity of an Instameet. The glasshouses is the first area that you encounter when entering the gardens. I spent time photographing the beautiful Koi carp in the fountain area. The narrow corridors and the layout of the plants make this area very attractive and bring you close to the plants. I forgot to capture the beautiful circular window onto the gardens but many others did not. This is one of many reasons why I will return as there are so many different features to see and photograph. Leaving the glasshouses, I had an audience with the residents of the Terrace aviary. The birds were very talkative. You get pulled along when visiting the gardens and the London Terrace naturally guides you along with its wide embracing veranda and views. Here you have to stop and take in the beauty of the scene. The rolling bank of the lawn leads your gaze out to the Lawn Aviary and the Band stand. The sunlight was bright and lit up several trees whose leaves were turning a golden brown. The light captured and intensified the colours. I found myself stuck in the area around the bandstand just taking photographs of the scene unfolding before me.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
The bandstand.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
Leaves everywhere.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
Details at the Aviary.

I looked at my watch and realised that I had only seen a small part of the Gardens. I needed to move on. The Lawn Aviary is one of the buildings that will receive a major make over and the architectural design is captivating. I look forward to when it is receives an upgrade. Walking thought the Aviary, I dropped down the bank to Wilson Walk and came across the Urban garden area. Whilst this area requires renovation, for a photographer the place was full of strong shadows and light. There is some neglect and overgrowth of the plants and this appeals to my photographic eye. Another area where I found time slowed down for me was the Rock Garden and Memory pool. Water always creates reflections and the Rock pool offered many different views. Walking back via the colourful Acer trees was a treat and I slowly realised that I had done a full circle as I arrived back at the London Terrace. After browsing through the shop and stopping to say thank yous, my final pictures were of the entrance arches. I am unsure whether these will still be around after the renovation and I took several pictures of them against the sun to create diffraction effects with the light.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
A door in the shadows.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
Reflections in the Rock Pool.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
Details on the bandstand.

Time to go back home and process all the pictures that I had taken. A big thank you to Birmingham Botanical Gardens for allowing us to visit. These are my pictures of the event and there were some fantastic photographs from other members on the Instameet. The way to find these photographs is to follow the hashtag #igbuk_meet_botanical on Instagram. You may need to delve into individual photographers’ accounts to see more pictures due to the nature of the dreaded Instagram algorithm. You will be rewarded with some beautiful views of the gardens.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
The entrance arches to the Botanical Gardens.

The IgersbirminghamUK team have visited other sites and places and you may wish to follow the links below to see what takes place during our meetings. You are most welcome to attend our Instameets.

These are some of my blogs on our visits to other sites around Birmingham with the IgersbirminghamUK team.

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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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Reflections in Floodgate Street, Birmingham, commended UKLPOTY 2023

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

Reflections in Floodgate Street

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

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

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

Taking pictures of Urban landscapes 

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

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

Fog in Gas Street Basin

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

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

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

More reflections on UKLPOTY 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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West Midlands Police Museum, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet,Birmingham, September, 2023.

IgersbirminghamUK have been busy during the year organising a range of Instameets. Following on from our visit to St Chad’s Cathedral, we were contacted by Alexander Beard, the Heritage Officer of the West Midlands Police Museum. Alexander offered us two Instameets at the former Lock up in Steelhouse Lane thus giving the photographers of IgersbirminghamUK a chance to see inside a popular museum venue. Having visited the WMPM on a previous occasion, I decided to focus on the details of the prison. Here are different views of doors, ceilings and the metal structures. I converted all the pictures to black and white. This gave some consistency to the pictures but also overcame the difficulties with managing the low light in the lock up. The museum is a must visit attraction and can be seen at many different levels as my pictures attempt to show.

West Midlands Police Museum, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet,Birmingham, September, 2023.
West Midlands Police Museum on Steelhouse Lane.
West Midlands Police Museum, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet,Birmingham, September, 2023.
Patterns in the Lock up
West Midlands Police Museum, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet,Birmingham, September, 2023.
A window in the lock up.

West Midlands Police Museum, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet,Birmingham, September, 2023.
The DNA cupboard.

A full account in colour of my last visit to the WMP museum is included below. I also made a study of the light in the museum on my Instagram pages. The WMPM pages are also fun to visit.

West Midlands Police Museum, Steakhouse Lane, June 2023

When the dental hospital was on St Chad’s Queensway, one of the places I was always walking past was the lock-up cells on Steelhouse lane.  The Police Station was active and the cells in the lockup were still being used till 2016.  There was always lots of activity around there with police vans and officers moving around sometimes in large numbers. Now the building has been renovated and reopened as the West Midlands Police Museum.  The entrance to the Children’s hospital is now the busiest place on the street and several of the buildings are being turned into Luxury flats.

West Midlands Police Museum, Steakhouse Lane, June 2023
Coleridge passage and the side view of the Museum
West Midlands Police Museum, Steakhouse Lane, June 2023
One of the many passage ways inside the museum with the cells on the left.

Having seen several photographs of the inside of the building, this has been on my list of a place to visit for some time.  The opportunity arose when a group of friends organised a visit and I looked forward to exploring the inside of the building.  The museum is the former site of the West Midlands Police Lockups that were used to temporarily hold prisoners whilst they were being tried at the Law Courts next door.  The prison has a long and colourful history and many people from different backgrounds passed through the cell doors.  With the popularity of the Peaky Blinders BBC series, such sites have generated a high level of public interest.  In fact the term Peaky Blinders covers many of the gangs that roamed Victorian Birmingham in the 1890s.   Needless to say the museum features the Peaky Blinders in their displays and you can learn more about the gangs that roamed Birmingham which were kept in check by a robust police force.

West Midlands Police Museum, Steakhouse Lane, June 2023
The sparse contents of a cell.
West Midlands Police Museum, Steakhouse Lane, June 2023
The medical cell
West Midlands Police Museum, Steakhouse Lane, June 2023
The cell door with viewing latch.

The museum covers three floors and when you enter the building you are immediately drawn to the metal walkways and the cell doors placed along the side of the building. There is a large skylight in the roof which allows the light to filter in all the way down to the lower levels. The play of the light on the whitewashed walls was fascinating and the metal railings and floor created interesting patterns that were immediately captured by my camera. I had brought my trusty Fujifilm x100v and it proved a useful camera in the tight areas of the prison. There were several favourite pictures which revolved around the cells. There were interesting stories everywhere including the toilets inside the cell with the cisterns outside so as to prevent prisoners self harming with the chains.

The passage way from the lockup to the Law courts was another favourite. I imagined how it must have been when it was in full use as a lockup. Overall I was really fascinated on how the light fell into the prison. Even though the place must have been a difficult place with the smells and the noise, there is also a warmth to the building. The museum features those brave police officers who were harmed whilst undertaking the “line of duty”. There are references to police animals and the highway patrol officers. The presence of a birching stool reminds you of how far we have come in society over a short space of time. In the talk that was given by Peter one of the volunteers, I learnt that the lockup had a matron who oversaw the domestic requirements of the prisoners such as medical care. There were plenty of stories to be told.

West Midlands Police Museum, Steakhouse Lane, June 2023
A police horse surveys the basement floor of the lockup.
West Midlands Police Museum, Steakhouse Lane, June 2023
Former police motorbikes take centre stage on the top floor.
West Midlands Police Museum, Steakhouse Lane, June 2023
An old “Tardis” design police box on the upper floor of the lockup.
West Midlands Police Museum, Steakhouse Lane, June 2023
Recruitment to the force.
West Midlands Police Museum, Steakhouse Lane, June 2023
The mugshots of previous inmates held in the Lockup
West Midlands Police Museum, Steakhouse Lane, June 2023
Helen Taylor, the Museum manager with the background of the steel stairs and floors behind her.

The museum is managed by Helen Taylor and her informative staff, some of whom are former police officers who worked in the lock ups. The staff brought the museum to life and ensured that all questions were answered and made sure we enjoyed our visit. The pictures provide a glimpse into the museum and I know that evening tours are often arranged but for me the light coming into the prison at midday was fascinating. I will certainly revisit at a later date.

Here are some references to the prison including their website

The official site – West Midlands Police Museum.

BBC – Real Peaky Blinders’ cells on show at new Birmingham museum

I have also visited the Inveraray jail in Scotland which features in one of my recent blogs.
Weekend in Loch Lomond

West Midlands Police Museum, Steakhouse Lane, June 2023
Light patterns on the white washed walls.
Black and White Architecture, Birmingham April 2023.

My challenge for this week’s 52 weeks project was black and white photography. As I was in Birmingham for my research work, I took the opportunity to wander the streets of the city looking for pictures of buildings. Armed with my trusty Fujifilm x100v, I stepped off the bus at the O2 arena stop. On the opposite side of the road, there are new high raised buildings going up. All are aimed at the residential market. These skyscrapers are going up all over and the city looks unfinished or going places depending on which way you think.

Black and White Architecture, Birmingham April 2023.
28 floors with 154 residential apartments being built on Essex street.

My next stop was the square area of buildings that house the Holiday Inn, 3 Arena central and the Alpha Tower. Many shapes, angles and lines as the tall buildings are all clustered together. The Library of Birmingham and the Town Hall were also the subjects of my study on black and white architecture. Finally the rain, which had been falling heavily all day, got the better of me and soaked through, I headed towards Snow Hill Station for my train home. I still managed to get a few pictures of the Snow Hill skyscrapers.

Black and White Architecture, Birmingham April 2023.
The edge of the Alpha Tower.
Black and White Architecture, Birmingham April 2023.
Clustering of building lines.
Black and White Architecture, Birmingham April 2023.
The Radisson Blu in Black and White!
Black and White Architecture, Birmingham April 2023.
Surreal reflections of the Library of Birmingham.
Black and White Architecture, Birmingham April 2023.
Tram stop in front of the Town Hall.
Black and White Architecture, Birmingham April 2023.
Tram passing by the Snow Hill Buildings.
Black and White Architecture, Birmingham April 2023.
Three SnowHill

My processing was a mixture of simple black and white or enhanced work with Silver Efex. The results were interesting and I was surprised that I captured so many buildings in different ways. I reflected all this was done without the need to photograph those iconic Birmingham buildings of the BT Tower, the Rotunda or the Cube. I will probably give the ones that I missed the black and white treatment another time. Meanwhile enjoy the ones that I have in this blog.

Black and White Architecture, Birmingham April 2023.
A conversation outside Birmingham Town hall.

If you enjoyed this blog then how about a splash of colour with your architecture.

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PoliNations,Birmingham, September 2022

We were promised lots more activity during the B2022 Festival linked with the Birmingham Commonwealth games. When a readymade garden in the middle of Birmingham was announced, it really caught the public imagination.  PoliNations was not like any other garden, attracting huge anticipation on what to expect. This display was stunning and so different to what had gone before during the festival.  PoliNations is difficult to sum up in a few words.  I will try to describe the scene but I am aware that the gardens brought out different personal experiences from those who went.

PoliNations,Birmingham, September 2022
The fragrance always remains on the hand that gives the rose
Hada Bejar

To put it simply, Victoria square was transformed into a garden.  The paving stones, concrete, and other parts of the square were covered with grass and flowers. There were 5 manmade trees with large umbrella like canopies.  These trees were 40 ft high and towered above the landscape with the trunks covered with colourful patterns.  At ground level, there were walkways through a garden of plants.  Access was by several entrances which lead to different zones.   Iconic plants such as apple, fern, roses and tulips were featured.  Other parts of the garden were called Fringe, Sunny or Temperature zones and had flowers to match the theme.  The map shown provides a key to the different areas.  

PoliNations,Birmingham, September 2022
Map of PoliNations

The sensory garden had varieties of flowers based on those you would normally find in the City.  I visited twice. Once while it was raining and the second time when the sun shone. I enjoyed all the textures, interaction with people and the use of mirrors on the public seating.  

There was a full programme of events including music, dance and theatre which were held on either the large stage or the many smaller places through out the installation.  I was not able to attend these shows but my visits during the day gave me a flavour of the place. PoliNations was magical but quirky, natural and surreal.  The diversity of the place was displayed in the range of flowers, the colours on offer and the people passing through. The place eventually caught up with you and made you sit down and take in the uniqueness of everything.  

PoliNations,Birmingham, September 2022
Taking Time Out

PoliNations was a photographers delight allowing you to take a range of pictures. There were many stunning pictures taken using drones but I am a simple foot on the ground photographer and this is my interpretation of the place. A simple search on Instagram shows the variety of pictures that were taken. Please enjoy my pictures of my visit to PoliNations which serve as a memory of an extra-ordinary visit.

More pictures to view of PoliNations in the rain and the sun.

PoliNations,Birmingham, September 2022
Rain does not stop people from enjoying the gardens.
PoliNations,Birmingham, September 2022
Take it slow
PoliNations,Birmingham, September 2022
Relax
PoliNations,Birmingham, September 2022
Take it easy
PoliNations,Birmingham, September 2022
Have fun
PoliNations,Birmingham, September 2022
Great interactions either live or virtual
PoliNations,Birmingham, September 2022
PolNations
PoliNations,Birmingham, September 2022
The Floosie in the Jacuzzi and PoliNations

The Birmingham Bull. Centenary Square, Commonwealth Games 2022

The star of the commonwealth games is the mechanical bull that was revealed at the opening ceremony. It stands 10 metres tall and sits atop a motorised vehicle that allows it to be manoeuvred. Both the head and the legs move and there are numerous working clogs and gears. When viewed close up, the details are astounding.

The Birmingham Bull. Centenary Square, Commonwealth Games 2022
The Bull fenced in with emblems of the Commonwealth countries.

The Bull wowed the world at the opening ceremony and then immediately afterwards was escorted to centenary square in the City Centre. The public response has been amazing and as soon as news leaked out that it would be dismantled after the games, there have been a multitude of calls for it to stay. A petition has been set up and Birmingham City Council is being lobbied to keep the bull. The difficulty is that it is not easy to find a place to display a 10 metre high mechanical bull but a lot of thought is being given on how to achieve this. Meanwhile the Bull is attracting large crowds and everyone wants to have a selfie taking in the backdrop of Birmingham. Here are some pictures including intricate details of the bull for you to enjoy.

The Birmingham Bull. Centenary Square, Commonwealth Games 2022
A man in the bull
The Birmingham Bull. Centenary Square, Commonwealth Games 2022
The bull casts a majestic pose

At the start of the week, the plan was to dismantle the bull at the end of the games. Now the City Council are planning to keep it due to the popularity of the structure. Fingers crossed people far and wide will be able to enjoy seeing this remarkable metallic puppet for many years to come.

Read these articles from the BBC to find out more.
Commonwealth Bull” A tourist attraction
Birmingham Commonwealth Games: Council considers keeping bull in the city

The Birmingham Bull. Centenary Square, Commonwealth Games 2022
The Bull has become a tourist attraction and a sensational one as well.