i wore my sunglasses at night

not easy getting-up for 2:30 on a saturday after a whole day at work, but somehow i do, and find myself in an early morning cold taxi(a reference to the who there!), and i amuse myself by spinning a yarn to the taxi driver, that i'm on the way to london for an important meeting and i absolutely have to be there for 9 0'clock...
oddly i'm leaving the house, just as my party-loving neighbour gets home and cranks up the stereo!
getting out at new street, and walking across the concourse - my heart is pumping, it's 3:15 on a saturday morning and i'm wandering about with camera gear surrounded by early morning revellers, so i'm going to stick out like a sore thumb.
i get a few shots off before walking up the ramp to the brass bull - i'm first to turn up as no one else is around, so lurk about in the shadows taking some shots of moor street(i had planned this loosely through the week - lesson one in a location shoot is to think about what you are going to photograph beforehand)... then one by one people appear from the shadows carrying tripods:
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i get worried that on CCTV we will look like a paramilitary group carrying sub-machine guns, causing all sorts of armed response unit mayhem... but make a mental note not to wear my camo john deere hat again and remind myself that paranoia is symptomatic of lack of sleep.
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karen strunks is picking people up on the way, so as she is late, we head off to new street station and congregate at the front entrance - she turns up, we have a quick health+safety talk from the staff and are let loose on the station(literally, the whole place is ours for about 30 minutes...).
i get some edward hopper "nighthawk" inspired images:
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and some interesting 4 second exposures:
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then it's off to the wholesale food market:
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on the way i manage to drop my flash unit from the back of my slingshot - although i don't notice it's lost the clear plastic in front of the unit until later(doh!), tired and sleepy...
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i knew we were going to the wholesale food market, i kind-of thought it was going to be wandering about in the yards - but what i never expect to see is everyone piling into the hall where all the stalls and pallets are... costermongers eye us suspiciously (if we'd tried this at the barras in glasgow - there would have been whole scale lynching), someone shouts out "it's the DHSS!" and "look it's bob dylan!" possibly in reference to my 1950's buffalo-check woolrich jacket(which kept me toasty all through this, so i don't care)...
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i get into dodging forklift trucks and trying not to get in the way, whilst shooting off some photographs, and i see this odd structure in the middle of the hall, which appears incongruous to see the least:
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i'm glad to get out of the way of people working though, so head off into the darkness once more at the back of the market, where i find a tunnel marked "do not enter", so i'm in there, and find an underground storage area -
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it's a great opportunity to trawl through the city at night, all much appreciated, thanks to 4am project for this - working out of my comfort zone, seeing sites i've never seen, it all feels very surreal, the air is much cleaner at night minus the traffic, there's a random man juggling down by the market(maybe he heard that we'd be there on midlands news)...
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we all meet-up in stan's cafe after the walk... one by one people sleepily drift in to warmth and light and hot cups of strong tea... a few foolish souls buy the big breakfast:
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which turns out to be a huge serving of four sausages, piles of mushrooms, four eggs, half a side of bacon and a tin of beans served on a steakplate with yet more doorsteps of toast... a real working man's breakfast!
the cafe was the topic of much discussion - huge plates of warm nutrients served-up with gusto(or without, if you ask first), for an excellent price... they were inundated with requests for sustenance as we got there!

4amproject Brum 51
Originally uploaded by aquila tv
this is me at 5 am - propping up the bar waiting for hot food...
walking back through the early morning light as the sun was coming-up, was still very eerie, birmingham felt like a seaside town(must have been the unusually fresh air and the smells from the fish-market)... i was going to climb onto the roof of a multi-storey carpark and take some photos of the sunrise, but the cloud had come down... adding to the seafaring atmosphere.
all very different to the usual feel of the city-centre, now i know what karen strunks was talking about.
if i start to falter and my steps get shorter, wash my face in ice cold water, carl!

sunday now, i've recovered, the 4am project was a success for karen strunks, and i'm uploading stuff to flickr, which has a direct load onto the 4am website:
4am project


Anonymous said...

Great blog post. I enjoyed the insight into the 4am project walk in Birmingham. I felt a little of the atmosphere there. Thanks!

eightball said...

thanks rachel - glad you liked it!

Helen Highwater said...

"Tomato Division"????

eightball said...

formally known as "new potato order"

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