20120129_Urban Photographic Project – Coventry – Big City Small Citizen

20120129_Urban Photographic Project – Coventry

Big City – Small Citizen

When : 29th January 2012

Who : Just Me

Where : Coventry City Centre, England, UK

Maps used : None –

Start and End Point : Ford Street Car Park (Off Cox Street, Near Fairfax Street Sports Centre/Swimming Pool Entrance)

Distance : Approx 5 km (3.1 miles)

Significant heights : None really (Unless you climb the old Cathedral Spire like I did).

Summary : A photographic exercise set during a beginners course I’m taking at the moment.

The Set title = CITYSCAPE WITH PEOPLE … within this very broad title, I devised my own sub-title BIG CITY SMALL CITIZEN.

My thoughts were to show how small and insignificant an individual can appear against the backdrop of mostly concrete and hard landscaping that is Coventry … and Coventry has got plenty of that and precious little soft landscaping.

If you click on a pic’, it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream.

[ Or just use this link to go straight to a slide show ]

20110924-22_Styhead Gill backed by Great End by gary.haddenThis is a departure from the normal country walking I write about in my blog and the complete antithesis from the Lake District walks I last posted about.

Coventry is a place I am very familiar with, it being my home town and where I still work. The photography on the other hand took me out of my comfort zone completely – Substituting CITYSCAPE for LANDSCAPE is hard enough, but the set project included having PEOPLE as a central plank of the exercise … taking the emphasis away from what could have developed into a purely architectural exercise …. The photo course leader/lecturer is a good-natured gent’ called David Harding, a Rugby based Photographer with his own web-site and flickr account and sells his images via various means including Alamy.

20120129-04_Coventry_Whittle Arches + Millennium Clock by gary.hadden

20120129_Urban Photographic Project-Coventry-Big City Small Citizen
I’ve plotted the route I took on WalkJogRun and found the distance covered was just over 3 miles in total, but this really isn’t important as I took hours upon hours on the journey, criss-crossing bits of the same ground several times. I ended up only covering about a quarter of the city centre …. but I think this allowed me to capture (at least in part) the essence of how I feel much of the city has become: Grey, ugly, scruffy, impersonal, and really not a very good place to be. This pains me!, as it’s my home town, I grew up there, I learned my trade there, I still work there and as such it pays my way in the world, and I have family that still live there … 20120129-66_Coventry_Redevelopment_Trinity Street-Broadgate by gary.haddenbut successive years of under-investment, bad investment, kowtowing to developers’ every whim and ignoring (no, destroying) what I think ordinary people need at least a little of – Green space!

Of course, this is a purely personal view; I’ve got no agenda;  No profit motive; No real reason to write this other than I hope someone in authority, a city Councillor maybe, reads this and looks at my images 20120129-15_Coventry_Community Support_Plastic police or real deterrent by gary.haddenand sees what I saw and tries to turn it around to be a vibrant, colourful and above all, a friendly place to go …. at the moment I don’t think it’s any of these things. If you think I’m being too negative, then you’re entitled to your views and I wish I didn’t feel the way I do.

I did the exercise on a cold, grey, overcast, gloomy (but dry) Sunday in January, which you could argue gives a slightly distorted view of the city. But I figured it would allow the real fabric of the city to be seen warts and all …. Of course some places are more attractive than others, like around 20120129-25_Coventry_Canal Basin by gary.haddenthe Cathedral, but on the whole the place is a bit grotty. You could also argue I only did about a quarter of the city centre and I’d have to agree, but I maintain it’s fairly typical of the area inside of or just outside the ring road and I did visit three of the supposedly feature areas of the city :- In and around Millennium Place, The Canal Basin and The Cathedral Area.

20120129-58_Coventry CIty Centre - The Precinct from Old Cathedral Spire by gary.haddenIf you open my pic’s on my flickr account, some will have a little more text, to give a bit more context and some [I hope] will just speak for themselves. Also, not surprisingly really, I took one or two pic’s with no people in them; it’d be almost impossible to resist the temptation to go slightly “off task” when out and about for so long without taking some non-people images.


20120129-23_Coventry_Crossing The Canal Basin Bridge by gary.haddenAnd finally, the people in the images are anonymous – I have absolutely no idea who they are – They just happened to be in Coventry at the same time as I was … If, in the unlikely event the people are recognisable, that wasn’t my particular motivation or intention, and if anyone depicted really objects and contacts me then I’ll remove the image as soon as possible – On the other hand, if they want to add their names and maybe their views on the city then they’d be very welcome to add them as a comment.

Well, from here I guess I’ll just let the pictures take over, with a few titles just to give an idea of where they were taken.

Fairfax Street,

20120129-02_Coventry_Small against Stark Buildings by gary.hadden

Millennium Place / Motor Museum Area.

20120129-08_Coventry_Looking Small - White Street-Hales Street by gary.hadden    20120129-06_Coventry_Crossing the Time zones - Millennium Clock by gary.hadden

20120129-07_Coventry_Crossing the Time zones - Millennium Clock by gary.hadden       20120129-10_Coventry_Blue Bridge above Millennium Place by gary.hadden

White Street / Under The Ring Road / Towards the Swanswell Area.

20120129-12_Coventry_A flash of Yellow - Taxi on White Street by gary.hadden

20120129-17_Coventry_Below The Ring Road (Swanswell) by gary.hadden    20120129-16_Coventry_Community Support_Plastic police or real deterrent by gary.hadden

20120129-19_Coventry_CCTV_Big Brother is Watching You by gary.hadden  20120129-18_Coventry_Below The Ring Road (Swanswell) by gary.hadden

Canal Basin Bridge over The Ring Road / Canal Basin Area.

20120129-21_Coventry_Concrete Jungle Walkways-Bishop Street by gary.hadden  20120129-20_Coventry_Crossing The Canal Basin Bridge by gary.hadden

20120129-24_Coventry_Boarded up by The Canal Basin by gary.hadden         20120129-29_Coventry_Boarded up + Sad_Admiral Lord Codrington Pub_Canal Basin by gary.hadden

20120129-27_Coventry_Reflections at The Canal Basin by gary.hadden

20120129-28_Coventry_Reflections at The Canal Basin by gary.hadden

Bishop Street Area.

20120129-33_Coventry_Two of Three Spires from Bishop Street by gary.hadden      20120129-34_Coventry_Striding out - Bishop Street by gary.hadden

20120129-36_Coventry_Ethnic Dress - Bishop Street into Silver Street by gary.hadden     20120129-37_Coventry_Boarded up - The Old Grammar School - A Criminal Waste by gary.hadden

Palmer Lane and Back to Millennium Place + Priory Place.

The backs of the buildings of the Burges in Palmer lane are possibly my favourite little bit of Coventry, where the River Sherbourne is visible for just a few yards.

20120129-41_Historic Coventry_Palmer Lane - Behind the Burges by gary.hadden    20120129-42_Historic Coventry - River Sherbourne Behind the Burges - Palmer Lane by gary.hadden

The area of Millennium Place up into Priory Lane is far from being my fave bit.

20120129-43_Coventry_Waiting Taxis-Millennium Place by gary.hadden  20120129-45_Coventry_Crossing the Time zones - Millennium Clock by gary.hadden

20120129-46_Coventry_Priory Place and The Whittle Arches by gary.hadden  20120129-47_Coventry_Priory Place Fountain by gary.hadden

The bit between The Cathedrals, The Herbert Art Gallery and Cov- Uni. (with a bunch of skateboarders).

20120129-49_Coventry_Clergy on the New Cathedral Steps by gary.hadden      20120129-55_Relaxed - Skate Boarders_Coventry Cathedral Area by gary.hadden

20120129-56_Moving off - Skate Boarders_Coventry Cathedral Area by gary.hadden

20120129-57_Moving off - Skate Boarders_Coventry Cathedral Area by gary.hadden

Part of Coventry University.

20120129-50_Coventry_In Your Face Yellow_Cov University Buildings by gary.hadden

20120129-54_Passing by_ Coventry University Buildings by gary.hadden      20120129-52_Passing by_ Coventry University Buildings by gary.hadden

20120129-53_Shirt Number 58_ Coventry University by gary.hadden

The Cathedrals.

20120129-48_Coventry_How Long_Parking at The Cathedral by gary.hadden

20120129-61_Looking Small in  Coventrys Old Cathedral from The Spire by gary.hadden  20120129-62_Looking Small in  Coventrys Old Cathedral from The Spire by gary.hadden

20120129-60_Coventry_Chapel of Unity_New Cathedral from Old Cathedral Spire by gary.hadden   20120129-63_Old meets New-The Cathedrals Coventry by gary.hadden

And finally …. A short trip into the Shopping Precinct.

20120129-67_Coventry Upper Precinct - Heading in all Directions by gary.hadden

20120129-68_Coventry_Coffee and a Text by gary.hadden

The photo’s are either “as taken” or with minimal editing, such as straightening, a little cropping and maybe a little brightening/contrast 20120129-65_Coventry_Redevelopment_Trinity Walk-Trinity Street by gary.haddenadjustment … but there’s no way you could describe the images as “photoshopped” … they are virtually straight off the memory chip.

The equipment used :- Pentax K200D DLSR body with the 18-55 kit lens, I don’t think I used a filter at-all and I used a mixture of hand-held and tripod mounted shooting. In fact the tripod was bought just days earlier with some Christmas pressie money, so I was kind of playing and getting used to it having never used one before.

And finally, back at the photo course, as a bit of fun, we all submitted a small selection of our project images, and then we all marked each others anonymous images against various criteria such as technical ability, composition, etc, … and … I came third  (out of the eight of us).

T.T.F.N. Gary ….


Hopefully, my next post will be prettier and decidedly more positive in outlook.