Cherry Blossom at Brindley Place (Ikon Gallery)

You know spring is here when you see Snowdrops and Daffodils popping out from the ground everywhere. These are amazingly beautiful flowers. However, the real highlight of spring in term of flower photography is cherry blossom. For me, photographing cherry blossom goes hand in hand with bluebells as the “must do” for spring.

Unfortunately due to Covid restriction, going out just to photograph cherry blossom is classified as non essential travel for the right reason and therefore not allowed. The good news is that outdoor exercise like cycling is allowed. Going out cycling with my twin boys along Birmingham canals has become one of my favourite regular activities since last September. As some might know, Birmingham has more canals than Venice. That means I can go to a lot of places on the bike along the canals. One of the places I can get to is Brindley Place at the west side of City of Birmingham.

At Brindley Place, there is a little square in front of an art gallery called Ikon Gallery. This is a little beautiful place hidden within the jungle of tall buildings. In this square, there are two rows of cherry trees which display beautiful cherry blossom every year in Spring. So there you go, with my camera in my backpack, I cycled there with the boys on a nice sunny day. We took a break at Brindley Place, had some snacks, then they started playing with the water and stone features while I started taking some photos.

I am pretty sure these are not the best photos I can get out of this place but this was the best I could do in what I called opportunistic photography, with one eye on the kids.

I would sure come back to this place again in more normal time, with my tripods and at different time of the day for better light.

Food, food, food…….

Being a Malaysian who came to UK 16 years ago and having a wife who came from Taiwan at around the same time means making trip to Malaysia and Taiwan has become our yearly event. It used to be just two of us but now we have two little boys to bring along. Bringing two young kids on 14 hours long haul flight one way plus many internal flights and train is no easy task. Despite that, I always bring my favourite camera with me to capture as much of the good memory as I can.

One of the highlights of the trip (the other highlight is of course time spent with family and friends) is the fantastic Taiwanese and Malaysian food. Naturally that become one of my favourite photography subjects for the trip.

On the trip this July, I brought my EOS R with the new RF35mm macro with me. This became a formidable combo. 35mm is great for general photography and environmental portrait of the kids. The half life size macro feature is also great for food photography. I also brought the the RF24-105mm which sat in my camera bag most of the time.

Here are few pictures of the fantastic food I had during the trip. I do some lots more which I haven’t got the time to edit.

Centenary Square Birmingham 2019

A few years ago, Birmingham City Council decided that the famous and popular Centenary Square needed a revamp. The project started in 2017 with some controversy, not least the chopping down of Birmingham’s oldest tree.

Since then, the square which is one of the main attractions of Birmingham has been out of action, replaced by endless chaos caused by construction.

Fast forward to 2019, the square is finally reopenned!

I didn’t find that out through the news or anything. What happened was my twitter feed was full of pictures of the new square tweeted by my fellow photographers. You guess what happened next? How can I resist?

So I woke up very early one morning. I figured out there will be less people walking around in the early hour of the morning before the rush hour. However, what I didn’t realise was that one of the main features of the square, ie the foundation wasn’t turned on that early! Anyway, I was able to take some photos which I thought was fine but not great. I am sure I will be back there again taking more pictures.

Brewdley Poppies Field 2019

A few weeks ago, I went to a poppy field near Kidderminster and took some photos which I thought were quite good. I was pretty satisfied and wasn’t planning to go search for one anymore.

Since then, I had been seeing countless of poppy photos popping up on my twitter feed. These are mostly from local photographers and all were taken from the same place! It is the famous Brewdley poppy field, the place I failed to find in my last outing!

Learnt my lesson, I asked for specific location from a fellow photographer Chris Fletcher on Twitter and went there the day before I was planning to go photographing it. On arrival, I met another photographer who was going to the same place. It was a bit of a walk from the parking site and I was ever so grateful that I met this photographer. Otherwise I would have never found it.

And then the next morning at 330am, I reluctantly got out of bed, had my very early morning coffee and headed to the field. It took me 35 minute to get to the car park and further 15 minutes walk to the field. It was still dark when I arrived at the car park. To my delight, there was another photographer who has just parked his car and was heading to the same place! Again, I followed him on the dark woodland path to this amazing poppy field. What I saw afterward was nothing short of spectacular.

I spent around 2 hours there and it was such a great experience. Here are a selection of photos.

Poppies 2019

I can’t believe after living in the UK for nearly 15 years, I have not been to a poppy field. Officially a type of weed, Poppy has a very important symbolic function. To keen photographers, a big field of blossoming poppies is like a heaven.

This year I have decided to take a few hours off my busy schedule to hunt for a poppy field near where I live. I first went to a location suggested by a friend but to my disappointment, there were only a few flowers there. I then blindly drove around the area and to my great delight, I found a big field near Kidderminster.

At the time, the sun was almost gone and I had around 30 mins of sunlight left. It was also very windy which made using a small aperture for a larger depth of field impossible. I didn’t even get to use the tripod I brought with me. With a 28mm lens, I was able to quickly grab a few handheld shots before the sun fully set.

As poppy blossom only lasts for a few weeks, and it has been raining heavily for 1-2 weeks since I took those picture and it is forecasted to rain further, I don’t think I have the opportunity to go back there again this year. I am so glad I made the trip. I will definitely plan it better next summer.

Around Birmingham City Hospital

I was working on one Saturday and got bored of facing the computer all morning and decided to take a walk around City Hospital during my lunch break. I have my X-E2 in my work bag (I have been making an effort to have my camera with me all the time) and I decided to take it with me for the walk.

Here are a few snapshots I took.

Lunch time walk about around Birmingham City Hospital

Lunch time walk about around Birmingham City Hospital

Lunch time walk about around Birmingham City Hospital

Spring is around the corner

The last picture is the one I like most. It is not technically challenging or perfect, but it really means something. This is the first time this year I saw wild flowers. It is the signal that spring is around the corner! To me, this is the best time of the year, especially after a horrible rainy winter.

Hailstorm Aftermath

My backyard - HDR

After a short hailstorm, the hail on the ground of my back garden looked really nice. There were still lots of cloud on the sky. I took out my wide angle lens and tripod to try to capture the moment. However, the dynamic range was too high and I was not able to get a properly exposed back garden without overexposing the Skype and losing the details of the cloud. I ended up taking 3 pictures at 3 different exposure settings and combine them using Nik software. I am quite please with the result. What do you think? Your comment is welcomed.