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Thank you for reading my Photography Blog. Birmingham based photographer specialising in Urban Landscapes but available for all photography commissions. Ross Jukes is also a professional Automotive photographer, please see his other website for details - www.rossjukesphoto.com 

Ross Jukes is a professional freelance photographer and owns www.rossjukesphoto.co.uk and all images / photos of Birmingham on this site. All images are available for purchase either as prints or stock and are also available to license the images for commercial use.

Introduction to NAS & The QNAP TS-453-B

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All Photographers and videographers should be taking how and where they store their data very seriously! By now, you will probably have heard of Network Attached Storage or NAS for short. In this video I will give you a quick introduction to NAS and an unboxing and look at the features of the QNAP TS-453 B - a high quality and feature rich unit which on this occasion had been filled with the Seagate Ironwolf drives. 

Very soon I will be doing a video series of videos on RAID, Storage and workflow but for now, take a look around the QNAP in the video below:

Photographing Birmingham - Architecture & Street Workshop

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Well, it seems like I've been away forever. The truth is, I've been really unwell for about a month and have been catching up on work. The good news is, I have loads of exciting events coming up and can't wait to start sharing them with you! 

One event that I can share with you is an exciting collaboration with the amazing folk at Brumpic & The Culture Card. On June 9th, we will be hosting a very special 'Photographing Birmingham' workshop. The day is aimed at anybody looking to develop their photography skills and is open to all skill levels. Even those who have never really picked up a camera will gain a great deal from the day including learning about the main features of a camera, the 'rules' of photography and a special opportunity to learn how I edit my images.

The structure of the day will be as follows:

9.00-9.15 Meet (Coffin Works) 

9.15-9.30 Ice breaker - what is everybody’s skill level? -  This is an ideal opportunity to share your current skill level and what you would like to learn.

9.30-10.00 Talk by me - who I am and what I do - A brief introduction to who I am, my photography journey and how I went about learning about photography.

10.00-11.00 Understanding the basics - camera controls & composition etc. - Here we will get into the details of using a camera. It will include an overview of how a camera works, the main functions, an understanding of using auto features and then a discussion about manual features.

11.00-11.30 Shooting the city - what to look for & how to get the shot - As it says, this is where we will delve deeper into the theory and look at 'what' to look for when shooting 'street & architecture'.

11.30-1.00 Practical - go out and shoot - The exciting part, we will go out and explore a designated route and all attendees will have an opportunity to ask questions and seek guidance as we explore the city. 

1.00-2.00 Lunch and discussion* - We will take the opportunity to have a break, eat lunch (provided) and have a discussion on what we have done so far. 

2.00-3.00 Practical - more shooting -  The exciting part, part 2! In this session, attendees will have more opportunity to shoot the streets with slightly more free reign, and we will discuss what type of photography you want to focus on and look at some useful techniques to take away.

3.00-4.00 Back to ‘base’ and a guided edit - At this point, we will head back to the Coffin Works for refreshments and a chance to walk through some guided edits. This is a unique opportunity to see how I edit my images and look at how I use Lightroom and Photoshop, as well as ask questions about my techniques.

4.00-4.30 Q&A and close - We will close with an opportunity to ask questions about all the things we have learnt and much more. Whether you want to know about the business of photography or simply how to sell your first prints, take the chance to glean some 'insider' knowledge.

The cost of the day is £80 to Culture Card holders and £100 to everybody else. Whereas this sounds expensive at first, this is actually a rare opportunity to spend a whole day learning about photography, getting useful tips on editing and to learn more about how you can improve your own photography.

For more details or to book your place, please visit - EventBrite

If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch.

Thanks to - Brumpic / Culture Card / Coffin Works

Beauty in the 'Beast'...

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As the weather continues to cause havoc across the country, it's getting to that point where it stops being fun and starts getting serious. Sub-zero temperatures and treacherous conditions put those that are most vulnerable in real danger and make even simple journeys a nightmare. However, if there is anything that can be taken away from a terrible situation, it's that it makes the everyday scenes that we've all become accustomed to seem surreal. 

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This week, I have been wiped out by Flu! Not just any Flu, not even 'Man Flu', but some kind of 'I want to make every single cell in your body pay for it' Flu that even had Laura conceding that I might actually be ill. So as much as I would love to have been out with my camera, I've just not been able to.

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That was until late Thursday night, where I had to run out for an emergency. I wrapped up as warm as I could, checked the weather "Feels like minus 12" took a brave pill (Lemsip) and head out. Now obviously, I was going to take my camera with me. Even in my sickly state, I wouldn't dare leave the house without it! I stumbled my way through town, grabbing quick images as I went.

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The images that I did get were far from perfect. There is something about being laced with Flu in bitterly cold conditions that makes you forget the 'rule of thirds' or to check whether shots are even in focus. However, when I did check the images, I really liked the 'soft' feel to them and put this down as a 'happy little accident' as a great man used to say. The snow is certainly a nightmare and I genuinely feel for those vulnerable people that this kind of weather can really threaten. However, it's also nice to remember that even in the worst of it, you can still find little glimmers of beauty. 

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REVIEW: Rogue FlashBender 2 XL Pro Lighting System

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Photography is quite a simple thing really. It all boils down to understanding and controlling light. Obviously, it can be quite difficult to control natural light, but when it comes to artificial or studio lighting, you can get really creative. This is where products like the Rogue FlashBender 2 XL Pro Lighting System become the photographers best friend! 

The kit is basically a Speedlite modifier, but to call it 'basic' really does not do this product justice. The ingenious design allows you to carry a range of light modifying tools all in a stylish pouch that could fit comfortably in most photography bags, taking up about the same amount of space as a 200mm lens. The kit contains the reflector, softbox and strip grid that can be combined in multiple ways. The build quality is excellent and even after a few minutes of handling it, you know it's a quality product.

For those new to light modifiers, this kit allows you to modify and shape the light that comes out of your Speedlite. You can control the 'amount' of light emitted by the controls on the Speedlite or by using TTL (Through the Lens) but this does not allow you to control 'how' the light is dispersed. This is where the FlashBender comes in. The large reflector allows you to create a much large light source and softens the overall nature of the light, giving a more pleasing result. However, the reflector itself can be shaped (thanks to the internal metal ribs) into more of a cone shape or a cylindrical shape to allow you to focus the light on one spot.

The reflector itself attaches to your Speedlite via a belt that wraps around the top of your light and it's lightweight construction means that you will not be battling with weight. It is ideal for use with the Speedlite on a stand and even though the reflector is large, it never feels unruly and easy to manage. It's amazing portability makes it an ideal solution for location-based shoots where it may be impractical to use a traditional softbox. The portability was one of the main selling points for me as I found it ideal to just leave in my bag and grab whenever needed. 

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The kit also contains a very useful Softbox, which I found amazingly useful for product photography. Being able to diffuse the light makes a huge difference to the quality of images that you can produce. The FlashBender kit diffusion fabric gave a pleasing result and I even found myself getting quite experimental by using the fabric at a variety of distances from the light source to get different results. This is one of the real hidden beauties of this kit, the versatility of the products allows you to really experiment with your photography, knowing that you have complete control over the light.

Finally, the grid spot allows you to concentrate the light on a subject, whether it is diffused or not and is an ideal option for portrait photographers, looking to pick their subject out either in the studio or on location. The grid is flexible and folds down comfortably in the supplied pouch but is also incredibly quick to assemble, making use of the velcro system. It's great working in the knowledge that you have all the tools you may need to hand.

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In conclusion, where it may be possible to get slightly better results with traditional softboxes etc. they are not always practical. This is where the FlashBender 2 XL Pro kit really comes into its own. I haven't seen another lighting modifier that can get such great results and be so portable. Having used a Godox head with a 95cm octagon and a C-stand for a while, I found myself reaching for a flashgun and the FlashBender kit more often than not purely because of the portability and knowing I could still get great results. At around £90, the kit is great value for money when you consider the world of options that it will open up for you!

Find out more at the Rogue website - HERE 

12 Views of Birmingham that will never be the same!

Birmingham is changing. Whether you are a fan of the waves of new development happening across the city, one thing for sure is that it doesn't show any signs of slowing up. There is always huge disruption whenever another part of the city is, closed down, blocked off and peoples lives re-routed. However, the financial benefits and the growing positivity around Birmingham is a testament to the investment that is being made in the city.

However, one thing that will change are some of our favourite views. Many will improve, some will be questioned and all will never be the same again. In years to come, we will look back at many of these images and talk about 'how things use to be'. It's strange to think that by then, we will have grown acustomed to the 'new' views and undoubtedly be surround by even more new developements and growth in our amazing city. 

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1) Boulton, Watt & Murdoch

The 'Three Wise Men', the 'Golden Boys', the 'Carpet Salesmen' - Whatever you refer to the statue as it's no longer where you would expect to find it. The lads have been uprooted as part of the Centenary Square development. Even the backdrop will change as a new building is already in development on the very spot where these influential men once stood. I wonder if they would approve of the changes happening in the city? 

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2) Three Snowhill

You can see this development from pretty much anywhere in the city, it really does dominate the skyline. The huge commercial development (the biggest in Europe I believe!) is set to completely change the landscape of the heart of Birmingham's financial district and the area around Snowhill. The sheer scale of this building is the most impressive thing and is best viewed from Great Hampton Street.

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3) Paradise Forum

Despite the ironic name, Paradise Forum always divided opinion. Many will miss the Brutalist architecture that dominated the area (myself included) and I'm sure many more would quite happily of bulldozed the place down themselves! Love it or hate it, the old has made way for the new and the modern glazed building are well and truly flying up. I'm sure we will all grow use to the new amenities but a huge piece of Birmingham's heritage has changed forever. 

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4) Centenary Square

Lying just beyond Paradise is Centenary Square and it has already it's £10m transformation. The area that was once home to the iconic 'Forward' statue and Cliff Richard's 'Flame of Hope' is now making way to a new 'urban' space that has received mixed views. One thing that will change is the layout of everyone's favourite Christmas Market, that will be adapted to fit around the all new Centenary Square. 

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5) HS2 - Curzon Gate

There is no way that I could leave this one off the list. Arguably the most important development in Birmingham in decades, the multi Billion Pound project will see a central hub dominating Curzon Street. The area pictured above has already started to change and will provide the vital link between the new HS2 station and the heart of the City Centre. This one will be huge and with phase two expected to be completed around 2032 - you can expect this one be around for a while! 

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6) Bradford Street and the view back to the city

Bradford Street provides one of the main links into the city, arriving just behind the Outdoor Markets. Major developments have already started popping up along the sides of the road and with a huge area (bottom right) earmarked for further projects, it won't be long before the view back to the city has changed forever. 

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7) - The whole of Digbeth

And whilst we're in the area, it's probably worth noting that with the arrival of HS2 and the on-going 'land grab', it's not hard to imagine that much of the historic area will fall under development. I can only hope that at least some of the old buildings and light industry are preserved to ensure that there is some nod to the past and the important part that Digbeth has played as an industrial and creative hub for the city. 

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8) The Iron Man

Another statue has grown legs and moved on (he genuinely has feet too!). Antony Gormley's famous statue has been moved to make way for the new Metro route and will be put into storage and cleaned up by Birmingham's Museum's Trust. The statue, with it's iconic rusty metal work will pop up somewhere new in the city, but for now at least, this is another view we will not see again in our city.

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9) Victoria Square

Victoria Square has seen many changes over the decades. If you search for the 'old' pictures of Birmingham, it has been transformed from a grassy, park-like spot to a very 'urban' square that wouldn't look out of place in any major European City. Whether it's the brutal bulldozing of the old Library, the new Metro that will skirt around the edges of the Square or the filling in of the Floozy's fountain, Victoria Square is constantly evolving. 

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10) The view form the old Natwest Tower

OK, so the view itself might not change much but with the demolition of the old Natwest Tower on Colmore Row, the skyline of the area will be changed forever. The new development of '103 Colmore Row' will see a new, glass-clad 26 storey tower replace John Madin's iconic structure. The new tower will undoubtedly be impressive, but the views from the top will be the real gem! 

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11) The Wholesale Markets

Another icon of Birmingham will soon be cast to the history books with the demolition of the Wholesale Markets. The history of the markets can be tracked back over 800 years and it's most recent incarnation opened in 1974. The traders will now be relocated and the buildings demolished to make way for a substantial new development comprising of commercial and residential buildings and huge new park areas.

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12) The City Skyline

With all of these changes, one thing that will definitely never stay the same is the city skyline! With many other new developments popping up around the city, Birmingham will continue to grow and change for many years to come! 

And finally...

I am not a historian, nor am I an expert on regenaration or city plannig. However, I do like to think my images go some way towards documenting our changing city. Even though it will not be to everyione's liking, it is impressive to see the money being spent in our city which can only have a positive impact. Birmingham is a very special place and I think more people are starting to realise this. We may have lost some special views and iconic buildings, but it will certainly be exciting to look back on these images in years to come and see just how much Birmingham has changed! 

REVIEW: VIDEO - Samsung Evo Plus Micro SD Card

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I have been using this Micro SD card for a while now and have been really impressed. It literally is just a case of throwing it in your camera and living safely in the knowledge that it isn't going to fill up anytime soon! The write speeds are good enough that you're never going to worry too much about shooting in Burst mode etc. Great all-round card.

Learn more HERE

London - Photography in the Capital

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You know the week between Christmas and New Year, the one where every day feels like a Sunday and they all may as well be because you have no idea what day it actually is! Well, every year I use that time to catch up on work, personal projects & the dreaded Tax Return! However, this year, I promised myself a day to myself, where I would go and take pictures just for the sheer enjoyment of it.  

I wanted to get out of Birmingham. 2017 had been great for me but I started to feel like I had walked every square inch of my favourite city and wanted to get out to somewhere not so familiar. So I picked a day, booked a 5.15am train (yes, that's AM!) and with absolutely no plan, other than to take pictures/shoot video, I set off to the capital. 

I know London well enough so had already decided to stay pretty central, maybe head over to Canary Wharf but basically, 'be a bit of a tourist'. When I got there, I was blessed with a great sunrise and pretty much didn't see a cloud in the sky all day, so I was already onto a winner. I strolled around for a few hours, hopping on & off the underground and surfacing in different spots, taking pictures and then heading back below ground.

As for London, I have always loved the place and very similar to Birmingham, I can't believe the rate of change down there. It was almost eerie how quiet it was in the morning, but it didn't take long to wake up! It was also nice just to be a bit of a tourist, and not be affraid to shoot the landmarks. However, I would strongly advise any visitors to go to the top of Monument, if you can handle the huge spiral staircase, the views are incredibly rewarding! 

It was really enjoyable to shoot new scenes, explore new streets (that aren't New Street! Brummie jokes!) and shoot without any emphasis on what 'style' or 'content' I thought people would want to see. I was just doing it for the love of taking pictures. Oh, and also shooting video whilst I had the chance because, you know, that's something I do now as well. 

Whilst we're on the subject and for all you photographers out there, pretty much everything you see, photos and video, were all shot on the incredible little Sony RX100V, I rarely took the 'big camera' out of my bag and in many ways, wish I had only taken the little Sony. I absolutely love the images and footage I got, the slow-mo from the Sony is awesome and I love some of the images. In fact, the image shot through a window in Soho of the guy drinking is possibly one of my favourite images I have ever shot! 

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All-in-all, it was a hugely enjoyable day and I loved looking back through the video and putting together the short film. I think I will be doing more of this kind of thing in 2018 and strongly suggest to everyone that you take the occasional day out for yourself, to do something that you enjoy, you've earnt it! 

Interested in Buying any of these images as prints? CLICK HERE or Contact Me.

WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW:

VIDEO: REVIEW - MIOPS Smart Trigger

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This is a review of the MIOPS 'Smart' - a remote camera trigger that is exceptionally useful for a variety of photographic situations. Watch the review to get a full idea of all the possibilities. Check out the MIOPS website at: https://www.miops.com You can buy a MIOPS Smart here - https://goo.gl/uBXsPe (affiliated link) Don't forget to Like & Subscribe for more videos!

GIVEAWAY: Win two A3 Framed Prints!!!

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I still can't quite believe it's Christmas already, it certainly sneaks up on you! As this time of year is all about giving, I decided it was time for another giveaway! I regularly try to let everyone know that I really appreciate all the support I get, but nothing says 'thank you' quite like giving away some free stuff, so I'm giving away two A3 framed prints! 

The two images featured are from our recent bout of snow and offer views of Colmore Row and Temple Row looking particularly Wintery! So what do you have to do to win? Find out below...

HOW TO ENTER:

Entering couldn't be simpler, head to my Facebook page, find the post about the giveaway and either 'Like', share, comment or tag a friend (or all of those!). It's really that simple! A winner will be chosen at 6.00pm on Christmas Eve! Follow me on Facebook - CLICK HERE

PICKING WINNERS & COLLECTING PRIZES:

The winner will be picked at random using WooBox or a similar app. The winner will be contacted within 48 hours and arrangements made for the winner to collect the prize (it will be in Birmingham City Centre so please make sure you will be able to collect - though I will, where possible, help with delivery if it is easier, though there may be a cost).

TERMS & CONDITIONS:

 - The competition is open to anyone via my Facebook page. 

 - Each individual may enter once with a  'like, comment, tag or share'. Multiples, i.e. a 'like, comment and a share' by one individual will still only be classed as one entry. 

 - The prize is not open for exchange or exchange for monetary value. 

 - The competition will close at exactly 6.00pm on Christmas Eve, 2017. The winner will be chosen at random and will be notified within 48 hours of the competition closing.

 - Delivery - Where possible, I will try to assist with getting the print to the winner. However, I accept no responsibility for the cost or condition of the framed prints being delivered. Where possible, I can arrange to meet individuals in Birmingham City Centre to hand deliver the prints. For national & international shippings, delivery will be arranged by the recipient at their own cost. I am happy to provided reasonable packaging for the item but any further costs will be accepted by the winner. 

 - The competition is in no way endorsed or run in conjunction with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Youtube. the competition may be suspended or terminated without notice at the discretion of Ross Jukes Photography and no alternatives offered.

 - The competition is for the prize documented and no alternative or cash alternative will be offered. 

 - By entering the competition, you are automatically deemed to accept these terms & conditions.

FINALLY...

Thank you once again for all of your support, I hope you have an amazing Christmas and good luck!

VIDEO: Birmingham - The City Under Snow

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It has been a crazy few days here in Birmingham with a deluge of snow and cold weather gripping the city. For us photographers, the wintery weather has been a real treat, making for some great images!

With rain forecast and temperatures finally due to rise (a little!) the snow should finally be on it's way. For many, in particular, the emergency services, this news is very welcome. However, I thought I would run out and grab some video before it goes! 

I only had a couple of hours to spare so I headed to Edgbaston Reservoir with the hope of a nice sunrise, and I wasn't disappointed! The reservoir looked great, lined by snow-covered trees. Best of all, due to it being around minus five (that's what my phone said at least!) I had the place practically to myself, well apart from the wildlife!

After exhausting every shot of the reservoir possible, I jumped on a bus and headed to the City Centre. Thankfully, many of the main roads/paths were now clearing making moving around a little easier. However, there was still enough snow & ice around to keep you on your toes (or your back if you're not careful!).

The snow has been fun but like many, I'm looking forward to it melting so we can get back to some kind of normality! Though judging by all of the great images I have seen on social media, it may feel a little boring without it! See the full video below and don't forget to click the link to YouTube and hit Subscribe to see more videos from me! Stay safe & warm ;)