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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.

A Grand new Central point for Birmingham

It Feels like New Street Station has been under development for decades but it is finally re-opened and reinvigorated. Yes, the 'bottle-neck' is still a problem and you can expect the usual delays and the platforms and Navigation Street entrance are dubious but as a whole, the new New Street is a resounding success. With a spacious atrium and finally some room to move, even at rush hour, the station looks built-for-purpose.

The Cherry on top of the new station (literally on top!) is the amazing new Grand Central shopping centre. Where as the name has caused some confusion and moans & groans for a 'lack of originality' I actually feel it suits it's grandiose title and bodes well for the City's economy as many high-end stores have found a new home here with John Lewis heading the line-up. 

An eye-watering £750m has been spent bringing us a new heart of the city but it seems like it will be a successful operation. Justifiable fears have been raised for it's impact on the neighboring Bullring and Mailbox retail areas but personally, I feel it will only serve to further enhance Birmingham's growing reputation as a 'shopping destination' and furthermore prove the the City is on the up and long may that continue! 

The new Media Eyes at Birmingham New Street Station by Ross Jukes Photography

Capturing Birmingham's hidden beauty... Part 2

Birmingham as a city adopts, welcomes and embraces it’s inhabitants regardless of culture and creed and I believe that this is also true of it’s fabric. The less desirable, unattractive underdog buildings are embraced as icons and cherished as testament to the warmth of the city’s

There is no doubt that making Birmingham look beautiful is a challenge. With the right light and the right editing, it is possible. Over the past 12 months I have witnessed a ‘baby-boom’ of talented photographers taking to the streets to capture the hidden beauty of bleak-Birmingham and produce images that Birmingham City Councils marketing department must be salivating at.

You only have to search ‘Birmingham’ on Instagram and within a few scrolls of a digit, you will find striking images of the city’s once loathed buildings bathed in hipster filters and fresh life breathed into their concrete lungs. Popular pages such as ‘IgersBirmingham’ and ‘Hiddenbrum’ and many other social media outlets have created intrigue and mystery around the city and have forced people to look at the boxy beauties with new eyes.

Birmingham seems to have reached a tipping point. It may finally be on the brink of shedding it’s ‘ugly-duckling’ image. With redevelopment-a-plenty in the city centre headed by the Grand Central/New Street Station, Paradise Forum development and big plans down the line for HS2, the City may be coming of age with a bright future to look forward to. Riding the crest of this wave will be the photographers, bloggers, former Londonites and all-round hipsters that have seen Birmingham’s true beauty.

Picture Birmingham

I was born in Birmingham and have lived in the England’s real second city all of my life. Raised in Longbridge, I still remember the first time that I went to the City Centre and everything about it felt huge. Since then I’ve been obsessed with the place, people and the atmosphere that this very special city has.

My main passion in life is Photography, I feel uncomfortable without a camera in my hand and from a young age I have loved having the ability to freeze a moment in time. It’s only natural then that I waste many hours roaming streets of our city capturing its more beautiful side. I love to get lost in the city and forget any other worries that I have and just enjoy my surroundings. Birmingham has taken a lot of criticism over the years and I think now people are finally seeing the city for what it actually is.

I enjoy looking for new angles, fresh perspectives and do my best to try to create striking images that show the true Birmingham. From the bustling New Street and Victoria Square, to the beautiful St Paul’s Square and the walkways of the canals, there are some stunning places to roam around in Birmingham.  There is no escaping its industrial heritage and some of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s architecture is maybe not the most flattering. Even challenging modern structures like the Selfridges building that is certainly ‘Marmite’ in its ‘love it or hate it’ uncompromising style can look striking in the right light.

Photography is more popular than ever and with affordable cameras and Instagram, it’s great to see thousands of people taking pictures of the city. There are many landmark building such as the Library of Birmingham that provide fantastic photo opportunities as well as a platform to view the city from on high. Many of my favourite places to shoot are perfectly accessible to the public and I often have to fight for a spot to get the shot that I want. I never see this as a negative though, it amazes me that tourist are going back to far-flung parts of the world and showing friends and family pictures of our home city.

There have been many things that have happened in my life that have threatened my photography from being attacked online to bereavement, I have threatened to quit on a few occasions. However, I can’t walk down a street without spotting new things, fresh perspective or just watching the changing light wash across the city without wanting to capture it. It’s this that keeps me going and makes me want to carry on. For this reason, I feel very fortunate to live in a challenging but beautiful city.

You could call this a ‘thank you message’ or a ‘love letter’ for the city but it’s not. It’s a call to arms, a rallying cry to anybody that lives in Birmingham to stop looking at the negatives and see the positives of where we live. Next time you are in the city, take a few minutes to look around, take in the Parisian style architecture above New Street, the soaring Raddison building (Beetham Tower) or take a walk through the Jewllery Quarter or Digbeth and look at it with a positive attitude (and don’t forget to take some photos!). 

See the original article for Birmingham Updates HERE

Capturing 'The Shot' All you need is luck!

It's no secret that a lot of photography is, as Henri Cartier-Bresson famously said, is about 'the decisive moment'. That means that split second when everything just falls into place and the subject is in exactly the right spot - that is when you hit the shutter button. Now I'm sure the intellectuals will tell me I'm wrong but that's my impression and that's what works for me. 

What probably isn't as well known to those out side of the 'professional' circles is that a lot of photography is just down to pure luck. Now don't get me wrong, I am not bad-mouthing professionals, you still need to be in the right place, at the right time and obviously, holding a camera ready to go! But there is an element outside of the control of the photographer.

I was very fortunate to have a little spare time to go to the Library of Birmingham and was pretty much alone when a guy with a carrier bag and camera, lazily strolled passed me and along the rain soaked 'Secret Garden' terrace. Without thinking, I lifted my new Fuji XPro1 to my face and fired off a few frames. I thought nothing more of it but when I got home and 'developed' the images in Lightroom, I was very pleased with the results. The image has a classic look and a lot of satisfying elements such as the leading lines and the separation between the guys foot and the ground showing motion.  A very pleasing shot if I do say so myself.

The next day, Birmingham was covered by a miserable grey cloud that did nothing but rain relentlessly. However, as I passed by my bedroom window I noticed a sliver of sunlight on an adjacent building and took my chances, I ran out into the rain with the XPro1 in the hope of capturing a pleasing sunset.

I headed to the nearest 'high point' which happened to be the Library of Birmingham. I impatiently caught the lift up to the seventh floor 'Secret Garden' and once again walked out onto the rain soaked terrace expecting to be alone. However, once again I caught a guy nonchalantly strolling in the same spot. I once again fired away and caught a similarly pleasing image. So why am I telling you this? Simply to show that it is not always down to planning (though I am a big believer in 'fail to plan, plan to fail') but a large dose of 'luck' always helps! 

Gear Review - Lowepro Flipside 400 AW

With my ever accumulating pile of gear and a strong desire to carry as much of it as possible I decided it was time to invest in a 'proper' camera bag. After much research, I decided on the Lowepro Flipside 400 AW - I may be giving the game away a little but... I was not disappointed! This bag is great and after finding quite a deal on Ebay, I am very pleased with my purchase.

The inside of the bag is cavernous and can easily accommodate two camera bodies, a long lens, a selection of smaller lenses and a host of other items thanks to the large front pocket and side pockets. The clever little bag also has internal pockets for your memory cards, internal padding that can be adjust to make room for whatever gear you need to pack and a rain cover tucked into the base for when things get wet. Though I must say, I think this bag does a great job of defending your gear against lighter rain showers. 

One of the best features of the bag and what gives it it's 'Flipside' name is the way the bag opens. The zip is tucked against your back to keep sticky fingers out. This also helps when accessing your gear as the bag can be rotated in front of you and opened without putting the bag on the ground. However, if you do, it is easy to access the bag in an upright position to avoid putting a dirty bag on your back.

Any criticisms? Not many, one thing to be wary of is how you pack the bag, being careful to 'balance' the weight evenly so the bag does not try to slip of one side. The other is the tripod straps, I found that strapping a tripod horizontally across the top of the bag is the best solution though you do have to be careful walking through doorways! These are very minor criticisms that really shouldn't stop you from considering this bag - All-in-all - I would highly recommend it - 8/10

Analogue Revolution - Shooting film

I was fortunate to be born in a time before digital cameras and my early experiences in photography were shooting and developing 35mm film. So even though I have invested heavily in 'digital' - it is always nice to go back to shooting in film. My chosen weapon? An old Prakitca BCA - With a few different lens but notably a 50mm prime. There is something very satisfying about actually 'winding on' a film camera and being limited to around 36 exposures per roll of film, it really makes you think!

Throughout the Autumn and Winter, I will be shooting around Birmingham with the old Prakitca and experimenting with different films, settings and approaches to my photography. It goes without saying that I will update you all with the results so make sure you check the blog or my Facebook page to see the results! 

Birmingham on Fire - Wire wool Photography

I am always happy to try something new with my photography. I particularly enjoy it if there is an element of danger! Sometime ago, I had my first attempt at 'Wire wool Photography' this is a form of light-painting.

The process is quite simple. Find a dark environment, put some wire wool in a steel whisk, set it alight and spinning very quickly around your head! Set your camera to a long exposure, around 10-15 seconds and record the chaos! 

Each little spark that comes away from the whisk send a trail spiraling off and creates these spectacular images that are full of action. I particularly like to do this by water to maximize the chaos as the trails can be picked up as reflections in the water.

It goes without saying that there is an element of risk with this kind of photography. You must be aware of your surroundings and have plenty of water to hand should things go wrong. If anybody out there would like to try this or has any question, feel free to contact me for some advice. As ever, find more of my images on my Facebook page and remember, safety first kids!

Snow Hill Station and it's surroundings

I am always looking for interesting areas of Birmingham to shoot. There are many common places such as the Library of Birmingham that a photographer with a spare 30 minutes will run to to get some great shots (and as luck would have it, I have some coming up in my next Blog post!).

However, there are certain areas that sometimes get over looked and I think the are surrounding Snow Hill Station is one of those. I chanced my arm and went to the top of the multi-story car park above Snow Hill and grabbed some shots of the tower blocks, streets and view back down to St Chad's Church and Queensway (and even had time for some long exposures whilst there!) - Let me know what you think.... Check out my Facebook Page for more regular posts. 

The Golden Hour...

Photographers know all-to-well about the importance of good light and summer is a constant battle between the hard light in the daytime and the glorious 'Golden hour' in the morning and evening when the light is a lot softer and warmer. As many of you will know, I regularly shoot cars (more Here) and the golden hour is perfect to accentuate the lines of a car. 

Last Thursday, I was frantically shooting a Citroen DS4 with my good friend Paul for Motor Verso and hunting for the good light. We could see the sun was setting and flitting with the clouds and in the hope of capturing the last of that nights sun we took the car to the multi-storey car park by Birmingham Markets. After convincing a security guard to let us have (literally) 5 minutes to go to the top floor we caught this glorious sunset and even though I was meant to be shooting the car, I couldn't help but shoot our great city! 

Things to come...

I have just returned from a two week stint in Vancouver and Seattle. Two incredible places, though I have to say that Canada with it's beautiful scenery, completely blew me away. However, I will be talking more about that in future blogs.

I have, however, returned completely refreshes and reinvigorated with a lot of plans for my photography. I will still be wondering the streets of Birmingham and taking the usual architecture/street kind of shots, though I will be throwing in a few 'other' types of photography, so watch this space... or keep an eye on my Facebook page for updates...

Cleveland Dam, Vancouver, Canada