Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Hidden Beauty of Coventry: The Coventry Canal

We were originally expecting several guests this weekend, and we had been planning various activities. More specifically, I had been waiting a photography meet up in Coventry, and had been planning to go to several places where we could take photos together. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen problems they all had to cancel.

Despite the meet up being cancelled, I had always planned an Autumn photography session. This weekend, the weather was forecasted to be excellent.

I set up my alarm clock for 6am in the hopes of catching the sunrise. Unfortunately, I snoozed right through the cacophony and missed sunrise (7.30am)! Undeterred, I voraciously devoured PMS' carefully prepared breakfast and made a packed lunch for myself - tea in a Thermos flask, bread, apples and chocolate. I made my way on foot with full photography gear in tow...

It was a nice autumn day, the sky was bright and blue (unfortunately devoid of interesting cloud formations) and the temperature was a pleasant 11 degrees Celsius. Most of the foliage has turned nice shades of red and ochre (a colour I'm only pretending to know) and I made my way down the path of the Coventry Canal.

The Coventry Canal was built around 200 years ago to transport coal from Coventry to other places in the Midlands. I am ashamed to say that I have been staying in Coventry for almost 2 years now and I only started to know about the existence of the canals 2 weeks ago! My destination was Hawkesbury Junction, also known as the Sutton Soup which is where the Coventry Canal junctions with the Oxford Canal. The distance I had to walk was 5 1/2 miles, one way!

Ask anyone about Coventry, and rarely will you hear anything positive. Coventry is a small city with many industrial estates. The city centre is small and dull because most of the city has been destroyed in the Blitz.

This morning when I first saw the canals, I was astounded by its beauty. The canal was serene, and quietly beautiful in glorious autumn. Apples littered the walkway and the water was mirror-like in its stillness.

Boats could be seen populating the canal landscape, occasionally trudging along at a slow pace scaring away the ducks and swans.

I was surprised to discover as I walked along to see industrial estates dumping water into the canal. The estates seemed a garish contrast to the serenity of the canals, but the reflections they produced in the still waters still caught my eye.

Occasionally, other people could be seen walking along the walkway. Many people were jogging, walking their dogs and seen taking a leisurely family stroll.

Another popular activity seemed to be fishing. Most of the people I met were extremely friendly and would greet me and engage in conversation. Most were happy for their pictures to be taken and would pose accordingly.

Not many people know that the Coventry Canal is host to Britain's longest outdoor art gallery. The award winning trail houses 39 artworks produced by artists and professionals working with the local communities (for example schools and clubs in Coventry). The seat adorned with carvings of fish seen above is one such artwork and is known as the Hawkesbury Lock Seat.

The 5 1/2 mile trail was interspersed with interesting artworks, factoids and exits to local cafe, pubs, parks and places of interest.

After several hours walk, I finally arrived at the Hawkesbury Junction. The junction was much smaller than I had imagined but seemed to be the ganglia where boats gather and leave.

At this junction, I finally had a chance to sit down, and enjoy a quiet picnic alone in a small celebration of my discovery of this place.

All in all, I managed to shoot 500 pictures along the canal and it was a great morning of interesting photographic and self-discovery. All the above pictures were taken using the new circular polarizer, to help control reflections and darken the skies.

I started the 5 1/2 walk back towards home grateful to Allah for my youth, energy, time and being born with adequate facilities that I was able to endure such an arduous physical test yet still being able to enjoy every second of the adventure!

Further reading :
1. The history of the Canal on the BBC website.
2. A list of the various artworks lining the trail including pictures.
3. A detailed history of the Canal by the Coventry Canal Society.
4. A map of the trail (I started at station 5 and finished at 12).
5. How did other photographers see the canal and how do my pictures compare? Photos on Flickr tagged "Coventry Canal". Interesting.


arep said...

hurmm...cantik eh..rupanya ada something jugak kat coventry ni!! hihi

Mama Sarah said...

well done babah. just for the record - you left around 10.30am and came back 2.30pm.

DITH said...

Beautiful autumn pictures and a well written expedition. I especially loved your ending when you thanked Allah albeit performing a 'subuh gajah'.:p

Maybe you can produce a photography book furnished with an interesting accompanying write-up.

iKelah just proclaimed: I pon nak keluar ambik 500 gambar!

ikelah said...

beautiful pics... what a journey. jangan lupa shutter tu ada life span juga with the number of shots taken. ;)

you should get a macro lens... to my opinion, your composition in stills are great. you are an artist, you arrange your subject well, you know how the angle, from which perspective to paint your drawing but this time you paint with your camera. get the macro!

as for the kit lens, with a limited budget, its a good way to start, better than nothing. as fog 400d and d80 let us ponder at this advice form ken rockwell, "a camera body will last for 1 year but the lenses 10-15 years before being outdated."

as for too much contrast, etc. as i told you before, NO to in camera enhancement and shoot/save in RAW. get the basic image enhanced by the programme provided by the manufacturer to get a JPEG/TIFF. if need further enhancement then your GIMP or adobe photoshop for final enhancement. As for the softness, it is usually at the extreme ends of the aperture...and best in the middle f8 for example.

as for me, i use photoshop for cropping, levels(sometimes) and sharpening(always last).

my skill and knowledge in photoshop is limited due tak ada proper book and the guides from the magazines are a bit too general. if the adobe photoshop book is cheap over there, just get it and you can find lanun copy over here or just get elements 5 which is just about RM350 here.

OK said...

Akum Mynn,

Usually I am only on skype as I usually forget the password to my YM account.

Great pictures again! But what amazes me more is your energy.. apa you guna steroids ka? I am usually drained after working... the atmosphere here is very draining.. Maybe I think to much about work that it tires me out. Luckily nowadays I try not to think about work even at work, hehe.. So when work comes it is not too bad.

I have just transferred some pics to my hard drive in the laptop only now I need to burn them onto dvd as the hard drive is almost full.. sigh...

Okay then.. i you have time.. skype me whenever


mynn said...

eh betul cantik coventry canal, but what surprises me is that: not many people living here knows about it. marketing tak baguslah for the canal. I suggest you go at least once. im thinking of revisiting the canal in winter, with hopes that the water will be frozen solid - boleh ice skating. muahaha.

picit kaki i bie, sakit ni ... adududuh....

today i woke up my normal time and tak subuh gajah, hahaha - lama tak dengar that word. although i said i woke up late yesterday but late was 7.30am. it was just on the cusp of sunrise but it meant i couldnt get ready quickly enough to catch the much sought after golden sun rays.

you don't know how much i've learnt just from your comments. thanks :)
1. i think "artist" may be slightly misinterpreted kot ikelah, as i dont feel i could compare with other photographers on e.g. flickr & fotopages. i think i shoot too wide. i've always read that you should "get close", but there's like a barrier between me & my subjects i could not scale so far.

2. re: shooting RAW. i've started shooting RAW but for example if i travel to Paris or somewhere I know i need to maximise the 2GB compact flash card i unfortunately use JPEG. with raw i could get 150 shots. with JPEG it'd be around 500. when i was photographing the whittle arch I used RAW because my aim was just to shoot that one subject. but i'll keep experimenting with RAW.

3. re: macro lens, i would love to shoot macro but i whenever i go out to shoot pictures and come to the end of my 50mm focal length i always find i wish for more zoom for that "oomph!" factor. in other words, i need more length(1)!

thus, a longer zoom is my priority. Ive heard of the tamron 70-300(?) lens that could also be used as a macro. it costs 400 pounds. but no VR/IS lah.

your comment made me think of the "hit me up at myspace" joke. LOL.

dont get me wrong, i do get severely drained after work, especially after oncalls. the recent oncalls took me 5 days to recover.

re: energy i use kopi tongkat ali. try it, it's really good.

MUAHAHAHA, ONLY JOKING!!! *in real life i would have said the above with a straight face, then burst in laugther*

(suddenly the song "all night long" popped in my head for no reason ... hmm)

um, where was i? oh energy. joking aside, that's why whenever i managed to do things like this I always find myself thanking Allah for the money, energy and time. I think it's instinctive that when one sees nature they'll think of god.

oh, and thanks for taking pics of afar & nani, love them - the best of all ive seen. nanti ill post them on the blog.

another thing - sebut lagi nama tu i dreamt of you this morning & her kat of all places, putra jaya.

(1) innuendo only semi-intended.

OK said...

Akum Mynn,

I think Tragedi Oktober to kira tak appropriate sgt as it is now November.. What should be playing around in our heads is November Rain.. hehehe..

Also since it is the rainy season, raindrops keep falling on my head.. then again, habis hujan nanti I can see clearly now the rain is gone.

Another rain song is Rain by Madonna or Hujan yang turun by Sudirman. Hmm kalau nak kira, lagu hujan ni banyak.. contohnya lagu gerimis mengundang slam..

Kusangkakan panas berpanjangan
Rupanya gerimis, rupanya gerimis mengundang
Dalam tak sedar ku kebasahan

Pernah juga kau pinta perpisahan
Aku sangkakan itu hanyalah gurauan
Nyata kau serius dalam senyuman

Bukan sekejap denganmu
Bukan mainan hasratku
Engkau pun tahu niatku
Tulus dan suci
Senang benar kau ucapkan
Kau anggap itu suratan
Sikit pun riak wajahmu
Tiada terkilan

Hanya aku separuh nyawa
Menahan sebak di dada
Sedangkan kau bersahaja
Berlalu tanpa kata
Terasa diri amat terhina kau lakukan
Terasa diri amat terhina kau lakukan

Sia-sia kukorban selama ini
Jika kasihku, jika hatiku
Kau guris oh oh oh...
Dalam tak sedar ku menangis

Hehehe Enjoy man

moby said...

Great pics, Mynn. But can you guess which is my favourite in this post? Mmmmm .... yummy!!

ezdy said...

Wow.. that food shot is so good la mynn. I like the arrangements and the lighting. Looked very 'real' and not 'staged', you know what I mean. Really. And the sceneries shots are amazing too, especially pic no. 4 and 7. Such brilliant blue/colours. I wish there were no electrical lines/pylon in 4 though. But hey, how la to avoid that, ye tak :).
p/s - I never shoot in raw. I think I should la but with only 1 GB card, enough tak? Hmmm...

mynn said...

sorry for this late reply:

thanks moby, hahaha, i bet your favourite is the FOOD. how do you manage to stay so slim huh moby?

didnt know you knew the link to my blog, but welcome :) glad you found yr way here - most welcome. thanks for your comment.

hehehe, the electrical pylons are part of the scenery, and in some photos i have in the collection (not posted) the serene scenery is contrasted with industrial artefacts. my favourites are 7 and 8.

1 Gb would get you around 100 photos with RAW (at 10 megapixies):) right ikelah?

KKL said...

Sejuk lens camera ada gambar2 cantik cam ni. :D

moby said...

I love food, but I actually eat one meal a day due to time constraints. Perhaps that's why I'm relatively slim. Or it could be the late nights and smoking that did the trick. Hehe! ;)