These shots of Birmingham were based around the canal. I was looking to capture some of the nightlife and the reflections of the artificial light in the water.
Here I looked more at the lights in the buildings of the Rep theatre and ICC. The results were disappointing considering how vibrant they looked to the eye.
A return to the canal to try a different angle. Slightly darker at this time the effect of the illumination was stronger.
The weather turned more inclement as the darkness set in which offered reflections in the rain. There were few people around but I tried to capture the movement of people passing by.
As the darkness went to night there was a much greater contrast in the light vs the night sky. The office lights along with restaurants offered many different sources of interesting illumination.
The night scenes of Birmingham skyline offered various different illumination sources and depth of a city landscape. At this point night had fully set in although because it is a city it still has an illuminated dark blue hue.
For this exercise visited Birmingham at dusk. The weather was showery and being a Friday night the area would usually be very busy. I looked at the work of both Brassai and his Paris at night photos and Sato Shintaro and his use of the ‘blue hour’.
My plan of action was to start with the canal area looking at the reflections of light in the water, then to move to the front of the ICC, central library and do a loop back to end up in the commerce/ restaurant area. Whilst I had initially intended to predominately follow the idea of Shintaro using the blue hour I had to adapt this due to a disappointing lack of illuminated fronts. Having seen Brassai’s ideas I made the decision to combine the two ideas. Firstly, I would shoot it within the ‘blue hour’ and secondly go more for observations of the place and the effects of the illuminations of lights etc. on the environment.
I felt that Shintaro focused on the brightness of evening trade and advertising in that period between day and night. I was surprised to find that it was very difficult to find and such pockets of bright light.
Brassai in contrast seems to be more about capturing the environment or the people within in a much calmer manner. As my first idea was not possible it seemed ideal opportunity to deliver elements of both.
The exercise was interesting but also a little frustrating. Whilst there was a good variety of shots available I was somewhat disappointed that I could not capture the images I felt were present.
The first shot of the canal is rather flat, has a large area of white sky and a distracting tower block to the right. On the plus side as a series it starts of the evening hour highlighting it is obviously getting dark but there is still some light there.
Photo two starts to add more to the build-up of night. It appears darker and offers a variety of lighting sources. This perhaps may have worked better as the first shot and possibly a slightly lower view point may have helped.
Picture three is perhaps better replacing picture one as an introduction to the night. The foreground detail is slightly distracting but the reflections give a bit of life to the scene.
Picture four has numerous sources of illumination all forming a pathway in to the distance, perhaps cropping out the foreground may have helped. It makes a statement but perhaps is rather empty when compared to Brassai.
Picture five is perhaps the first one where I feel I have started to capture some of the vibrancy and capturing things going on. It is raining which adds to the lighting and two passing ladies have a sense of purpose – the stationary leg, and movement- with the other leg. The area is deserted, probably due to the rain but night now has only just arrived (dark blue sky). The restaurant offers an interesting backdrop.
Picture six I feel offers a modern take on what Brassai was trying to achieve. It is clearly in that final blue hours and has many different sources of illumination. There are some interesting shapes and the small gap in the centre offers a glimpse into other Birmingham buildings. Whilst I would make a few tweeks to it I think this image has something to offer if I was to reshoot it.
For some reason the printers put a black background around. In some ways this enhances the image. I like the darkness with a pocket of action in the centre as well as a man walking and a man observing. The blue café Nero sign and the blue sealife signs lead the eye against a plain glass frontage leading the eye at an angle into the distance. The foreground is perhaps distracting although it does also act as a barrier suggesting we are on the outside.
www.sato-shintaro.com (accessed June 2017)
https://www.artsy.net/artist/brassai (accessed June 2017)