Since I started producing my digitally modified photos, I have constantly been looking around the internet to find other people doing similar or complementary work. One of the early ‘finds’ was PS Photography, a website/blog run by Pete Sloan. Pete is not originally from these parts (like me), but now lives in Birmingham and is a big fan of the city (as am I). He hit upon the idea of Birmingham Viewpoint as a means of showing off the best of Birmingham. He invited fellow photographers to submit pictures of Birmingham, on a monthly topic of his choosing, and he would put them up on his website. There’s no judging, it isn’t a competition, it’s just a place where a few people can show their views of Brum. The only rule is that the photos must be taken in the month that the subject was introduced.
The first Birmingham Viewpoint topic was the Frankfurt German Market, but I only discovered the website a few days before the deadline, so I didn’t have time to enter. However, the next subject was the BT Tower and I was well prepared for it. I waited for a clear sunny day and set off for the centre of Birmingham. I actually took loads of photos and submitted four of them as I wasn’t sure of the ‘rules’. Pete emailed back saying that it was up to me to choose one. This is the one I submitted.
The February subject was the Island House. This was chosen because it was in danger of imminent demolition despite it being a unique and listed building. Before this challenge, I’d never heard of the Island House, even though there was a vigorous campaign to save it. This was my Photo Digital Art modified submission.
I struck lucky because within a few days of taking this picture, the building was shrouded in covers so that no-one could see what the contractors were up to. Ultimately the campaign to save the Island House failed and it was demolished within a few weeks of this picture.
The March topic was Birmingham’s Canals. I thought, “Great! This is my specialist subject!” However, the reality was somewhat different. Most of my canal photographs taken over the past 30+ years have been taken from a boat in the middle of the ‘cut’, but for this project I was restricted to the towpath! I decided to set out for the King’s Norton Stop Lock on the Stratford Canal as this is a unique structure on the canal system and it is only just down the road from where I live. This is the result.
To get this shot I had to lean over the railing and dangle the camera over the water to get the full reflection into the shot. Finally, after the Photo Digital Art processing, I inverted the image as I believe that this makes it even more interesting.
April’s Birmingham Viewpoint challenge was to produce an image with the word Birmingham somewhere in it. My original idea was to have a photo of the derelict Birmingham Arms with, in the background, Birmingham City Hospital and a bus heading into the city. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out as well as I’d imagined, so for my submission I went local.
For May, it was off to the Jewellery Quarter. There are lots of interesting buildings in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, but in the end I went for a picture that falls well within my comfort zone.
The June challenge was Graffiti. This isn’t in my ‘comfort zone’, but that’s why I decided to take part in this project. To take photos of subjects that I wouldn’t normally consider broadens my horizons and improves my skills. This is what I came up with.
OK, so I retreated back into my comfort zone by going to the canals. But, in my defence, some of the best examples of graffiti are to be found in the darker recesses of our canal system. This is under a bridge near to the top of the Aston flight of locks on the side opposite the towpath.
The Birmingham Viewpoint subject for July is The Cube, one of the new buildings in central Birmingham. I won’t post my submission until after it has gone onto Pete’s website as that’s another of his rules (and one that I’m happy to follow).
I look forward every month to seeing what the other photographers have submitted. It amazes me every time to see how differently people interpret the challenge and come up with some stunning shots that I’d never even considered. A great way to learn and have fun doing it.