It’s that time of year when people like to review the previous year and, not wishing to be knowingly original, I’ve decided to post my favourite Birmingham Pictures of 2014. It wasn’t an easy task narrowing down my choice because Birmingham gives such a rich hunting ground for pictures making it very hard to select a ‘Best of’, but here goes.
1. Birmingham Skyline Panorama
I had been trying to get a decent panoramic view of Birmingham for quite some time when I noticed on Pete Ashton’s Twitter (@peteashton) that he’d taken pictures from the newly reopened Moat Lane Car Park. As soon as the weather was looking good I headed off to the multi storey car park and generated this panorama from the pictures I took. Since February, when I took this, they have now erected fencing around the whole car park (to deter people jumping off!) making such a photo very difficult now.
2. Gas Street Basin at Night
This picture resulted from the January subject from Birmingham Viewpoint which was Birmingham at Night. So, armed with my new tripod, I ventured out into the cold, late night (round about 1 am) looking for some shots around the canal in Central Birmingham. This was the picture I submitted and an easy choice to make my number two of the year.
3. Railway End, St Andrews Stadium
One of my main aims with Photo Digital Art is to produce images that make the subject look better than it does in real life. I was also looking for another angle view of the Blues Ground as I’d got two pictures of Villa Park, but only one of St Andrew’s. Unfortunately, on the day I happened across this shot, it was grey and overcast. This is what the original picture looked like!I have quite a number of stock pictures of sky that I’ve amassed for just such occasions as most pictures are improved with some blue sky and interesting cloud formations. I only do this when the sky is uninteresting and I never do it on any of my submissions to Birmingham Viewpoint as this would be a modification too far for that project.
4. St Chad’s Cathedral
This was another of Birmingham’s great buildings that I’d struggled to get a decent shot of, but I finally managed to capture the dramatic nature of the building (with the aid of added blue sky!)
5. The Woodman, Digbeth
Birmingham is blessed with a good number of attractive pubs designed by James & Lister Lea, mostly built around the turn of the 19th/20th Century. The Woodman is a fine example that over the past few years has been closed and opened a few times, but has now, thankfully, been refurbished and reopened. In one of my other projects, Pubs: Then and Now, I’ve got several pictures of The Woodman through the years and once I knew it was open again, I just had to get an up-to-date picture. Imagine my surprise, 6 months later, when I received an email from Simon Linford, one of the owners and the person responsible for the refurbishment, asking if he could have a copy of this picture to hang in the pub! So, next time you’re in The Woodman, you should see my picture hanging in the bar.
6. Spitfire Island
This picture was as a result of the March subject for Birmingham Viewpoint. As it is over on the other side of the city from me I waited for a sunny day before setting out for Castle Vale with my trusty Nikon D5100 in hand. The sculpture, actually called ‘The Sentinel’, is in the middle of a very busy roundabout making it quite challenging to safely get pictures from all angles. As I was taking the snaps I noticed planes flying towards Birmingham Airport which resulted in the submitted picture showing the same plane at four different points on its final approach.
7. Birmingham REP at Night
This picture was taken at the same time as the Gas Street Basin at Night photo as part of Birmingham Viewpoint’s January project. I was pleased how this came out after the processing with the wet pavement giving the impression of water in front of the theatre.
8. Sarehole Mill
Amazingly, in the 35 years I’ve lived in Birmingham, this was my first ever visit to Sarehole Mill. After parking the car, I walked in completely the wrong direction, failing to find the actual entrance to the mill. Instead I walked all the way around the property. At one stage I climbed over the fence and gingerly moved towards the edge of the pond and took this picture. Again it was a dull, grey day so I had to introduce some blue sky, this time with the added challenge of making the reflection match the sky.
The June subject for Birmingham Viewpoint was ‘Water’. Given that whenever I’m struggling with a topic I often try to incorporate a canal scene I decided that for this topic I would steer clear of the canals. So, one fine day in June I set out to walk around Rotton Park Reservoir and this is the picture I submitted. Once I’d finished the processing I was struck by the appearance that Birmingham stood on the edge of a vast stretch of water – almost as though you could approach from the sea!
10. New Street Station
Due for completion in 2015, New Street Station has been undergoing a massive transformation both inside and out. This ‘alien eye’ has appeared and is now clad with very reflective aluminium. This will be repeated all the way around the newly refurbished station and I was pleased to be able to capture this view before it changes again!
So, that was 2014 and before looking forward to 2015 I must express my thanks to GEM Media for their continuing support, to Birmingham Viewpoint who constantly challenge me to get out of my comfort zone and produce interesting pictures that I wouldn’t have thought of and I’d also like to thank all those Birmingham photographers who I’ve never met personally, but who, through the internet, inspire me to produce better, more interesting images. Finally, I’d like to thank all of those websites who promote Birmingham to a wider audience; people who, like me, believe that this is a wonderful city deserving of more than just a second look.