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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 Foggy Morning in Birmingham

 Ross Jukes Photography Birmingham - www.rossjukesphoto.co.uk

Nothing drags us photographers out of bed quicker than the chance of a bit of fog and mist. After a few busy days, I was completely ready for a lazy Sunday morning until I popped my head out of the window and saw, well, nothing…I quickly got ready and pretty much ran into town. Conditions were perfect and a bit of fog mixed with patches of light, always makes for interesting images.

I was very pleased to see plenty of the local photography community hoovering up images so keep an eye out for those. Here are a quick selection of some of mine of Birmingham drizzled in a pleasant layer of fog…

 Ross Jukes Photography Birmingham Skyline - www.rossjukesphoto.co.uk
 Ross Jukes Photography Birmingham Skyline - www.rossjukesphoto.co.uk
 Ross Jukes Photography Birmingham Skyline - www.rossjukesphoto.co.uk
 Ross Jukes Photography Birmingham Skyline - www.rossjukesphoto.co.uk
 Ross Jukes Photography Birmingham Skyline - www.rossjukesphoto.co.uk
 Ross Jukes Photography Birmingham Skyline - www.rossjukesphoto.co.uk
 Ross Jukes Photography Birmingham Skyline - www.rossjukesphoto.co.uk
 Ross Jukes Photography Birmingham Skyline - www.rossjukesphoto.co.uk
 Ross Jukes Photography Birmingham Skyline - www.rossjukesphoto.co.uk
 Ross Jukes Photography Birmingham Skyline - www.rossjukesphoto.co.uk
 Ross Jukes Photography Birmingham - www.rossjukesphoto.co.uk
 Ross Jukes Photography Birmingham Skyline - www.rossjukesphoto.co.uk
 Ross Jukes Photography Birmingham - www.rossjukesphoto.co.uk
 Ross Jukes Photography Birmingham Skyline - www.rossjukesphoto.co.uk
 Ross Jukes Photography Birmingham Skyline - www.rossjukesphoto.co.uk
 Ross Jukes Photography Birmingham - www.rossjukesphoto.co.uk
 Ross Jukes Photography Birmingham Skyline - www.rossjukesphoto.co.uk

What is the meaning of Photography?

 Ross Jukes Photography Birmingham Skyline - www.rossjukesphoto.co.uk

It’s that time of year when we all get a little bit reflective and look back at the year that has passed, but also look ahead to what is to come. I, like many others, have some big plans for next year but I kept coming back to the same thought that I felt like I’d lost my way a little. Somehow, I felt like I wasn’t even sure ‘why’ I was taking pictures. This got me thinking, what is the meaning of Photography?

the process or art of producing images of objects on sensitized surfaces by the chemical action of light or of other forms of radiant energy, as x-rays, gamma rays, or cosmic rays.
— Dictionary.com

Now, in the most fundamental sense, photography is, as the definition states, simply capturing light in one form or another. However, anyone who has ever captured a beautiful sunset or the smile on the face of a loved one, knows that Photography is much more than that. You don’t even need to be particularly talented to take an image that means something to you, many of my favourite images were taken in the 80’s & 90’s on disposable 35mm cameras and the reason the images mean so much to me, they are of my Mom & Dad, who are no longer with us. That means that these images, with all of their technical imperfections are still incredibly valuable to me.

 Ross Jukes Photography Birmingham Skyline - www.rossjukesphoto.co.uk

So what does that mean for those of us that are lucky enough to either has Photography as a hobby or even a job, what does it mean then? Well, the truth is that it becomes a passion. It is something that you can’t go a day without, like food and drink. Many people will get differing things from the art form. For me, it started an an opportunity to explore my city, Birmingham. It was a great way to discover new areas that I wasn’t aware of. It also open the doors to a whole new social world of people with a shared passion. I was fortunate that Birmingham has a fantastic community of photographers who are incredibly supportive (and sociable!).

 Ross Jukes Photography Birmingham Skyline - www.rossjukesphoto.co.uk

In terms of Photography as career, when you are out shooting a muddy building site on a freezing December morning, it may seem like it would be easy to become disillusioned and just see Photography as a ‘job’. However, the pure satisfaction of creating an interesting image from the the bleak surroundings is still incredibly rewarding. Having a skill and being able to achieve something where others may struggle is a hugely satisfying thing.

 Ross Jukes Photography Birmingham Skyline - www.rossjukesphoto.co.uk

On the other hand, there is social media, where ‘likes’, ‘hearts’ & retweets are strewn around like nobodies business. We all find a secret little thrill when we hear the ‘ping’ of the latest notification and our eyes dash to the vivid red of that latest ‘heart’ on our images as the endorphins start to race around our bodies. Nobody else feels like this? OK, well I may need to see a Doctor!

 Ross Jukes Photography Birmingham Skyline - www.rossjukesphoto.co.uk

So what is the meaning of Photography? For me, it is simply creating something meaningful, something that brings joy to others or simply gives you the gratification of knowing that you have a skill and can harness it to your own advantage. This is what I feel I may have lost sight of over the last twelve months as I went through a bit of ‘creators block’. I now feel re-energised and ready to go into 2019 and focus on creating images that bring me satisfaction and maybe, other people might enjoy them too. We will see.

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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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! 

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 ;) 

The Birmingham Blizzard! it's Snow beautiful...

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I feel like when I was a kid, it always snowed around Christmas time. However, in recent years, you're about as likely to get snow in April as we are December. So when it actually does snow during the 'correct' time of year, it's like some sort of Christmas miracle! For us photographers, it is an extra special little gift as it gives us a chance to take pictures of all the same streets and scenes that we've shot a million times before, but looking completely different! 

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The snow certainly brings a few problems with it, notably the impact the freezing temperatures have on your ability to get out of bed and not being able to feel your fingers five minutes after leaving the house! On a series note though, it leaves thousands of people vulnerable and makes the simple task of walking to the shop a potentially life-threatening journey! (EDIT - It really is grim out there, cars getting stuck and all sorts) So going out just to get some pictures is not as pleasurable as it may seem!

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However, the results are always worth the extra effort! Seeing Birmingham bathed in a blanket of the white stuff is a rare and enjoyable treat, albeit in small measures before the Hypothermia sets in! By the time this is posted (sometime on Sunday morning - EDIT - I'm back, it was too cold!) I will be out again on a shoot and will be doing my best to take advantage of 'Ski-Sunday'! If you are venturing out, please be careful! For those lucky enough to be staying in the warm, here are a few images of (what I am unofficially calling) the Great Birmingham Blizzard! Have a click through the gallery below and keep an eye on my social media for more soon... (Find me on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram)

Building Brum: Westside meets Eastside

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It's not every day that you get the opportunity to stand on one of Birmingham's tallest buildings, let alone two of them! So when I was asked by Steve Townsend and Ben McPhee from Associated Architects (and all-round badass photographers) if I would care to join them for a spot of 'rooftopping' - I said 'Yes Please!'.

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The event would see a group of Birmingham's most talented photographers... and me... scale the McLaren Building and Alpha Tower, two landmarks of the city skyline, to capture the dramatic transformation that both sides of the city are going through. Judging by the sheer amount of cranes littering the horizon, there is a lot of development going on!

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Associated Architects play host to 'Building Brum' a series of networking events exploring the built environment and celebrating our great city. This particular project, as you have probably guessed by the title, aims to bring together the two sides of the city and look at how each site has evolved and how they will continue to progress in the future. 

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The event culminates in a photographic exhibition featuring work from a plethora of local photographers including Kris Askey @krisaskey, Tim Cornbill @timcornbill, Ben McPhee @benmcphee, Fay Loewy @Faylouiseloewy, Fraser McGee @frasermcgeefoto, Beth Astington @bethastington, Martin O’Callaghan @ocuk, Jon Crampton @joncrampton, Rachel Mason @heyrachelmason, Matt Beach @matt_beach_photography and Verity Milligan @veritymilligan (all of which are well worth a 'follow' on Instagram!)

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As for the views, well they were amazing and I don't think my images do them justice! However, Instagram has been awash with brilliant images from fellow photographers - so be sure to search the hashtag #westsidemeetseastide_bham for more! I'm always inspired by how many great photographers there are in Birmingham and to watch them battle through the wind and the rain on top of Alpha Tower in the dark, was a testament to how great they all are (and embarrassingly, I had packed up a long time before them!).

A huge thank you goes out to Steve Townsend, Ben McPhee, all at Associated Architects, Bruntwood, Alpha Works, McLaren Building, Alpha Tower and anyone else that played a part in making this happen, thank you!

#BullringAfterDark - One night, One Empty Bullring and lots of Photographers!

I love receiving emails out of the blue inviting me to do something super-cool that I would never normally get the chance to do! A few weeks ago, I got one, 'Would you like to come into the Bullring and shoot it after hours while it's closed?' Well that's a big fat Yes!

Here's Bully...

Here's Bully...

I was slightly apprehensive as I wasn't sure who was going to be there, what we would shoot and to be honest, whether it would even be worth. So when we met at 11.45pm by 'the Bull' and I saw a group of my favourite photographers from Birmingham's growing community, I knew good things were in store (no pun intended!).

We were met by the guys from Bullring who were more than helpful and even went as far as to provide sweets and drinks, presumably to keep the sugar levels up for a long night ahead! We made our way around the outside of the building, taking advantage of the rare opportunity to use tripods (something normally restricted without a permit) and set to work shooting all of the iconic views in this historic part of the city.

Once we had covered every inch of the exterior, we made out way indoors. It was a strange feeling being in such a large shopping centre after hours, something I had only experienced many years ago when I worked in a shop at the Bullring. Needless to say, we all jumped at the opportunity to explore the space, looking for symmetry and shapes that you never normally have time to notice.

We slowly made our way up through the floors and round to 'Link Street' I think it is only when you see the centre closed that the space really hits you, it's cavernous! The group were all well behaved as we explored the levels, though some were a little more adventurous, lying on the floor to shoot the spectacular space above. 

The 'grand finale' was an exploration the Selfridges building. Seeing the shop empty, you really get an appreciation for the size of the place and you can take in it's spectacular balconies and cool crossed escalators. We made our way up to the bar on the top floor which offers great views back down over the West Mall - a must see if you find yourself in the store.

Thanks again to Bullring for allowing us access. Search #BullringAfterDark on social for more images from my fellow photographers...

https://www.bullring.co.uk/

Birmingham Wholesale Markets

Later this year, the Wholesales markets will be demolished to make way for a £500m redevelopment and it will be replaced by bars, restaurants, parkland and a raft of new apartments and accommodation.  As part of an ongoing commission that I am working on in the area, I had the opportunity to visit the markets and experience life in the iconic market before it's gone.

It was an early start, most of the work is done from 4.00am onwards so I need to make sure that I was there on time. At that time in the morning, the city has an almost eerie feel to it. However, the markets felt even stranger. As I went in, I was struck by how little activity there was. I was expecting a ridiculously busy environment similar to the outdoor markets. This was surely down to a larger percentage of the traders having to pack up due to the looming demolition.

Those that were there had a strange air of defeatism about them. The handful of people that I spoke to seemed dejected and almost prickly that I was there to document what would soon be gone. Any animosity aside, the people that I spoke to were all quick to point out how things had changed and what it 'use to be like'. Colourful pictures were painted of the bustling markets and almost every sentence starting 'when I was a lad', harking back to some former golden time.

The real sorrow was the vast sections of the markets that were empty or being emptied as I made my way around. One guy that I spoke to had worked at the markets for decades repairing the carts that shuffled produce around the markets. He was a very genuine guy and I couldn't help but think what he would go on to do next after such a large part of his life would be lost with the demolition of the markets.

The markets and the lives of the people that they house are the cost of progress. The old will be replaced by new, shiny modern buildings and the people that work there, will be moved to new premises outside the city centre. However, it is a shame to see such a large part of the city's history be lost along with all of the hard working characters that it has been home to over the years. 

10 Times Birmingham has been the most Beautiful City in the UK

OK, so I may be a little bias, but at times I honestly think that Birmingham may be the most beautiful city in the UK. I know that a lot of people will disagree but bear with me and I will prove my point! Birmingham has long been depicted as a grey, concrete mongrel of a city and in part, that is true. Birmingham owes a lot to it’s industrial past and should not be ashamed of it, in fact, it should celebrate it.

However, the huge amount of development going on it the city stands testament to it’s progressive nature. Anyway, I digress. You don’t need to be a photographer to understand that at the right time of day, in the right light, our city looks beautiful and can easily compete with any major city in the UK in terms of it’s aesthetic appeal. It may not have the beautiful Georgian streets of Bath or the ultra-modern skyscrapers of the capital, but it does have it’s own unique character and that goes a long way.

1) Bullring at Sunrise

Now this may be a little bit of an obvious choice as it was my ‘break through’ image and the one that really got me a lot of attention, but look at it, it’s a beautiful view! This shot has been done a thousand times a thousand different ways and rightly so, as it is one of the most appealing views in the city. An early morning stroll through the Bullring is a must and if you catch a good sunrise, it’s generally spectacular.

2) Gas Street Basin in Winter

Another image that you’ve probably seen before is a shot back across Gas Street Basin. Birmingham owes a lot to it’s canal network that fed it’s industrial past. These days, it plays home to many canal-side bars and restaurants (more of that later) but it is also an incredibly popular waterway and commonly plays home to dozens of canal barges that make for a pretty nice image.

3) Edgbaston Reservoir

It is hard to believe that this view is just a few minutes out of the City Centre and you would be forgiven for believing you have been transported to a beautiful countryside spot. If you are lucky enough to visit the reservoir in Winter you will normally be treated to a beautiful frosty scene and if you get a good sunrise, there are not many better places to be in the city.

4) Moor Street Station

Birmingham has it’s fair share of major train stations from the recently redeveloped New Street Station, to the ‘long over-due a facelift’ Snowhill Station, but by far the most attractive of the lot is Moor Street Station. Although it is a busy station, it has a been lovingly renovated with more than just a nod to it’s past, including beautiful signage and authentic touches throughout. It even has a disused piece of track that just adds to the nostalgic feel.

5) Brindley Place Canals

As mentioned before, Birmingham’s canals now play host to many bars and restaurants that prove hugely popular all year round. A Summer’s stroll along the canal is a treat, stopping for an icy cold cider along the way. Equally, in Winter, the mist covered canals look mesmerising and transport you back in time, but with easier access to burgers and cocktails!

6) The Big Wheel

We couldn’t talk about the beauty of the city without acknowledging the annual city centre takeover that is the Frankfurt Christmas Market. Although it is positively Marmite when it comes to dividing opinion, it is difficult to ignore it’s impact. For photographers, it’s is a veritable goldmine of potential and probably the centerpiece being the huge ‘Birmingham Wheel’. However, finding new ways of picturing it brings it’s own challenges.

7) Aston Expressway

How can Aston Expressway be beautiful? OK, even I admit this one is a stretch of the imagination but I challenge anyone to not love the occasional ‘long exposure’ shot of the traffic (actually) moving through the city. Another example of how a unique perspective on the city can prove that it is more visually appealing than first imagined.

8) Stephenson Street

Birmingham is certainly a mix of ‘the old and the new’ and rarely is that so evidential than the view along Stephenson Street. With the modern, metal clad New Street Station on the left and the historic buildings on the right, it shows the constant juxtaposition that is found all across the city. Even the freshly laid tram tracks are a huge nod to the past, albeit with it’s cool new modern trams shuffling people around the city.

9) Victoria Statue

If the City Centre does one thing well, it’s big open spaces. From Centenary Square, through to the Bullring and beyond, one thing Birmingham can not be accused of is being cramped. The centerpiece is Victoria Square where Victoria herself stands proudly. Whilst the redevelopment of Paradise Circus continues and the gaping hole left by the demolition of the Old Library, the sun sets just behind ‘old Vic’ and makes for a pleasant image of the cities main open space.

10) Skyline at Sunset

It may not be Manhattan but to millions of people, the Birmingham Skyline is iconic. The Rotunda, BT Tower and even more modern structures such as Beetham Tower and the Slefridges building are instantly recognisable.

Long gone are the days when it was easy to criticise Birmingham and yes, it is a little rough around the edges. However, I hope these images go someway to show that Birmingham can be beautiful and we should be proud of our city. After all, there is no other city out there quite like Birmingham!