Birmingham in the sunshine

Finally, a day off work to go for a wander. With the sun still out we decided to head to Birmingham as it’s a place we’ve been meaning to visit for some time. I’ve never really explored Birmingham before, it’s usually a place I just travel past on the M6 of through when changing trains at Birmingham New Street Station.

As with any city, some interesting street art.

Birmingham City Centre

Birmingham City Centre

Interesting sculpture, also being used as a good resting place…Birmingham City Centre

A beautiful day for a walk about the city. It reminded my just how much I enjoy exploring new urban environments. Birmingham City CentreSomeone clearly had fun with this street art.

Birmingham City CentreI’m sure we will be back in Birmingham again soon, if only to visit the magnificent Waterstones book shop we discovered there – one of the nicest branches of the shop I’ve been to.

WWI Remembrance: Godiva Awakes (II)

Here is the promised follow-on from the previous post on the Godiva Awakes WWI Remembrance, in Coventry.

Godiva Awakes 5The lady is Kabuki attire was a reminder that Coventry is twinned with Hiroshima. She was inspired by the story of Sadako Sasaki and the thousand origami cranes.

Godiva Awakes 6This story is very emotional, and I thought that the theatre company did a wonderful job of respecting and explaining it. Here is a part of the choreography – I got lucky in that shot, caught them right when they made a circle of feathers. It’s my favourite photo of the day.

Godiva Awakes  7And here’s Godiva herself. She’s not camera shy (at 3 or 4 meters tall, neither would you be), but she’s difficult to make justice to in photography format. And she’s way more expressive than you would imagine.

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WWI Remembrance: Godiva Awakes (I)

With the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I, there have been remembrance services all over Britain. The passing of 100 years since the start of the Great War has taken away none of the poignancy of what happened.

Godiva Awakes I

The most touching of such moments was, for me, something we stumbled into. Godiva Awakes, a street art collective, held three events in the grounds of the old Coventry Cathedral – the same that was destroyed by the World War II bombings. It was a majestic, emotional spectacle, which reduced me to tears twice.

Godiva Awakes 2

The actress in the foreground represented the War Brides. Godiva is the (enormous!) mechanical figure in the background. At the time I thought she represented England.

Godiva Awakes 3Incidentally, if you are interested in the story of the original Lady Godiva, nudie bits and all, I recommend a visit to Coventry’s Herbert Art Gallery & Museum. Please note that when I say nudie bits, all the materials are family friendly…

Godiva Awakes 4There will be four more shots I’d like to share from this piece. These were very close to my heart, and relate to story I learned about when we visited to Hiroshima, earlier in the year.

 

Back in January: Chinese New Year

The reorganisation of the photography folders continues. Here’s a shot taken during Chinese New Year celebrations in London, moments before this one.

Chinese New Year London

 

It’s probably the last photo ever on the blog taken with the Sigma 30mm f/1.4. I sold it a couple of months later. It was a nice lens, and I like some of the results, but it was too compromised for the type of shooting I like to do. Very heavy as well.

Night time walk in Nijo castle Kyoto

Nijo castle in Kyoto is a UNESCO World Heritage site (as part of a selection of Historic Monuments in Kyoto) and it’s not difficult to see why – it is an imposing site in the city. We had a special visit to the castle as we visited in the evening, with late opening hours as part of the Cherry Blossom Festival.

Nijo Castle Kyoto Nijo-joLooking up at the stars through the cherry blossom – magical!

Nijo Castle Kyoto Nijo-jo

Nijo Castle Kyoto Nijo-jo

Nijo Castle Kyoto Nijo-jo

Nijo Castle Kyoto Nijo-jo

Nijo Castle Kyoto Nijo-jo

Nijo Castle Kyoto Nijo-jo

Nijo Castle Kyoto Nijo-jo

Nijo Castle Kyoto Nijo-jo Cherry Blossom

Nijo Castle Kyoto Nijo-jo  Cherry BlossomThere were plenty of cherry blossom selfies taking place.

Nijo Castle Kyoto Nijo-jo

Nijo Castle Kyoto Nijo-jo Cherry blossom

Nijo Castle Kyoto Nijo-jo

Nijo Castle Kyoto Nijo-jo

Nijo Castle Kyoyo Nijo-jo

Nijo Castle Kyoto Nijo-jo

The Japanese castle we saw were all very impressive, but it was such an incredible experience to walk around the castle grounds as the sunset and the castle lit up.

Urban Landscape

Birmingham, just outside the Bullring.

Birmigham

En route to the bamboo forest – Kyoto

I found it really difficult to select photos for the recent post on the Arashiyama Bamboo forest in Kyoto, and eventually I decided to leave a few photos of our walk from the train station to the forest from another post. I very much enjoyed taking the local trains to places in Japan (as well as the superb Shinkansen bullet trains too), as it meant we ended up walking around different neighborhoods trying to get to the sites we wanted to visit. The photos in this post were taken on the way to the bamboo forest. There are shrines everywhere in Japan, and while there are often common features, they were all seemed very individual – this shrine had much larger statues than we saw in some of the other smaller shrines in residential areas.

arashiyama Bamboo forest KyotoAnd small piles of rocks along the outer wall.

arashiyama Bamboo forest Kyoto

arashiyama Bamboo forest KyotoStatues lining the edge of the shrine. arashiyama Bamboo forest KyotoWe saw many statues in Japan that would have different types of red cloth attached in various ways. The best explanation of why this takes place, can be found on Daily Onigiri (extract included below).

“One of the things you’ll commonly come across  in Japan are little statues, usually dressed in a red bib, called Ojizo-sama. They tend to be small and can be usually found along roadsides, around temples, and in cemeteries. So what do they mean? The ojizosama statues are one of the most popular Japanese divinities and are seen as the guardian of children (note their baby-like faces), particularly of children who died before their parents. What tourists usually find amusing are the red bibs that are commonly seen hanging on the statues. This practice is said to have begun when grieving parents put their child’s bib on the statue in hopes it would protect the child in the other world. Sometimes they even put toys and cartoon figurines around ojizosama, who are also said to be protecting children from illness.

The Japanese believe that all living and non-living things have a life and soul. That’s why they often dress up ojizosama statues in hats or some other type of clothing to protect them from cold weather. Ojizosama are also believed to protect firefighters and travellers. Thus, these statues can be even seen along lone roads. Particularly in Kyoto, there are something over 5000 of ojizosama statues.” Source: DailyOnigiri

Testing the Sony RX100 – colour

I am continuing to look back at photos I took earlier in the year, and processing the RAW files. Here are some shots I took on my very first outing with the Sony RX100, which was simultaneously my first trip ever to Birmingham.

These two photos were taken inside Birmingham’s Bull Ring. I was testing out the camera’s capacities to shoot in colour. I love it! Check out the way it captures the neon lights.

Birmingham Bullring 01As you can see, the RX100 loves colour. I was first alerted to this camera after seeing this post by Michael Johnston, The Online Photographer. I just loved the way the camera was dealing with light indoors – something notoriously difficult.

Birmingham Bullring 02If you want to capture light, indoors and in colour, the RX100 is a winner. No argument.

Parking in Inverness

Hello again! Sorry for the long silence – I feel like a neglectful blogger. Between a hard slog at work and a sense of exhaustion from photography after the Japan trip, I’ve simply not been able to post anything.

Anyway, here is a lovely little memento from a recent trip to Scotland. It was one of those interesting moments when, as a photographer, you see something on the street and immediately know what you want the final photo to look like, monochrome conversion and all.parking in inverness

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is one of many wonderful places we visited in Kyoto. I’ve seen this place in so many guide books, and often on many blogs that feature Japan. What made more of an impression of this forest was the sounds that were made by the bamboo trees clashing together every time there was a bit of a breeze. We visited in the early afternoon and the light was quite harsh so in the end I never managed to get the shots I really wanted of this site, but nevertheless a totally magical place to visit (even with the large crowds of people). There were so many pictures to choose from for this post – so I have tried to select the best, but this is still quite a lengthy post.

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IMG_5909In Tokyo we managed to find a few trees still with blossom, however in Kyoto there were blossoming trees everywhere! IMG_5913

IMG_5971I couldn’t believe how tall the bamboo had grown – and the way it all moved in the wind was somewhat mesmerizing. IMG_5972

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IMG_5861I nearly missed this, but Carlos noticed this tiny little sculpture made of stones  – this was only about 5cm tall!IMG_5860I loved the traditional Japanese dress, it always looked so elegant. IMG_5857

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IMG_5880  IMG_5848 copy As with most places in Japan we took the train to get here – there are details listed on Wiki Travel here.