A small queue of eager and somewhat merry middle-aged men in shorts and t-shirts clutching pint glasses waited patiently for their hero to arrive as the low Friday evening sun slanted through the trees to the pumping sounds of obscure 60’s soul records. Every few minutes snooker legend Steve Davis would take a break from his hour-long DJ set (performed in a small wooden boat) to pose with the fans who were jubilant to get a selfie with this icon of 1980’s British sport. I sat there on the grass watching this unfold with a sense of bemusement and wonder, not just at Davis’ heroic career metamorphosis but also at how perfect this was for the Moseley Jazz, Funk and Soul Festival. This is the only place in Birmingham I’d get to witness a scene like this.
Fast forward 6 months and I was back in Moseley Park on a cold, crisp winter morning. Gone are the stages, the beer tents and the snooker icons. Gone are the crowds, the smells and the unhinged hippies dancing by themselves. It’s almost unrecognisable. I’d never been to Moseley Park outside of the festival so it was quite a novel experience. It’s not too different to any other park – it’s quiet, it’s pretty, there’s people walking dogs and ducks doing very little. My only point of reference for this place though is those three euphoric days that take place every July and to see it in such a sparse and tranquil state was startling.
I was there as part of a photography walk organised by The Moseley Exchange to take advantages of its lush settings and to try and move on from ‘auto’ mode on my camera and get a bit more serious about the medium. I still feel like I don’t know my long lens from my Len Goodman but where there’s a will there’s a way. Every photo I’ve ever included on this blog has been taken on my trusty Huawei P20 Pro (apart from the first couple of posts, they were with my old iPhone 5s) and it’s time for that to change.
The distant winter sun shone through the skeletal trees, casting long shadows across the damp, cold grass. The lake at the bottom of the hill was placid and peaceful as we walked around its edge with every new view presenting a potential photo opportunity. St Anne’s Church towered in the distance as gaunt looking tree branches hung over the water like witches fingers. Even in the deep end of winter the bucolic serenity of this exclusive corner of Birmingham never fails to captivate.
I fiddled between ‘aperture priority’ and ‘shutter priority’ mode as my valiant attempt to shed myself from the chains of ‘auto’ finally took off. It’s an empowering feeling to have more control over what you’re shooting but it’s daunting at the same time, knowing the learning curve that awaits. My shots ranged from some pretty silhouettes across the lake to some comically blurred out ducks.
Everyone else on the walk was really friendly and seemed to have a lot more experience than I did but I never felt out of place. It’ll take time but I’m excited about the possibilities. And if Steve Davis can get behind the turntables then I can definitely shoot on Manual.