After randomly bumping into Fraser McGee of IgersBirmingham fame, we soon got talking about shooting at this time of year and in particular, how nice it is being out on a cool, crisp morning and the quality of light during the winter months. Before we knew it, plans were forming to head to Edgbaston Reservoir, a spot that we both wanted to shoot to make the most of the late winter sunrise.
Fraser, who had been planning to meet another local photography celebrity, Kris Askey, invited Kris along to join us. This was a great bonus as I personally had always been a fan of Kris’ work so it was great to have him along. 7.45am the next morning, we met and headed for the reservoir. The signs were promising even from the car journey over as the sky was lit with a warm glow from the slowly rising sun.
When we arrived, the ground was frozen solid and particularly slippery under foot. The car park was on the same side of the reservoir that the sun would rise so we needed to make our way around to the opposite side to get the magical 'sunrise and building reflections’ shots that you may have seen before. However, what struck us first was how little water there was in the actual reservoir. It looked about 20ft lower than average and I personally, have no idea why but it did come as a surprise.
After making our way out around the edge of the water, keeping a keen eye on the out trajectory and position of the sun, we started grabbing shots. One of the best tips that I can give you when shooting is always check behind you, as sometimes the best shot is not always in front of you. This was certainly true on this particular morning as I tried to avoid the ‘obvious’ reflections shots and look for something different.
Photography can be a fairly solitary affair and certainly when shooting street or urban landscapes, it is not uncommon to spend hours on your own walking the streets. It made a great change to have other photographers to share ideas with, point out different potential shots and generally just chat with.
Fraser, founder of IgersBirmingham will probably be well known to many of you, but Fraser is also a very talented photographer himself when he’s not busy running Birmingham’s leading Instagram community. Fraser set about composing vertical images to suit his Instagram feed and the results were obviously great. Anyone that has seen his latest images of his honeymoon in New Zealand will appreciate his love for landscape photography and his eye for a pleasing composition.
Kris on the other hand, is more renowned for his portraiture and street photography, so it was a pleasure to have a fresh set of eyes on a popular spot. Kris, when not filming Fraser and I for his ‘Stories’, set about challenging himself to a bit of ‘nature’ photography and instantly got into his rhythm and started firing out great shots. It was great to watch a photographer who is more at home in a different discipline adapt his style and see how he approached a new challenge. I think the results speak for themselves and prove how versatile he is.
We made our way around the reservoir, stopping to capture the long shadows cast by the trees on the edges of the reservoir and even making the time to grab the occasional cheeky shot of each other – it is funny watching the positions and poses that photographers get into when they are fully immersed in ‘getting the shot’.
As we came to the end of our walk, the absurdly low water levels made it possible to grab some shots that would never normally be possible. We made our way back to the car and packed away our gear. It was great to have a little company on what would otherwise be a focused yes solitary walk. It was great to share ideas on composition, editing styles and also talk about workflow and storage in general.
I would strongly suggest finding local companions that you feel comfortable going out and shooting with and like in Kris’ case, share the opportunity to go and try your hand at different genres of photography that you may normally overlook. One way to do this is to be part of an active community such as IgersBirmingham, who I am happy to call many of it’s members personal friends. It really goes to show that trying something new and the community within photography, in particular in Birmingham, really are the hidden benefits of our chosen pastime.