Digital Workshop #5: Covid Part 2

During the week after digital workshop 4 I went into work on the Thursday and felt a bit off when I got home, did a lateral flow test and got a positive result. Oops. Exactly three months after my first positive PCR test for Covid 19 on SARS CoV2 my test told me I needed to isolate for ten days, subject to testing at day five and six. If I was able to obtain two negative tests on the Saturday and Sunday, I could go to Uni on the Monday. Unfortunately I didn’t.

Saturday & Sunday’s Lateral Flow Tests

My first negative test since Thursday was on the Monday, the second on Tuesday which meant I was free. Prime Minister Boris Johnson removed the isolation requirements from the Thursday too, which was nice…

Anyway, this meant I missed the workshop on the Monday so I sent my apologies and got on with some work at home after my day job was done obviously. I set to work on some digital images and altering them to appear as it might be in the year 2100 as per the brief from Gavin, our lecturer.

Birmingham Photo Tour

The weekend before I’d been in Birmingham City centre taking photos of some areas that I’d found interesting and never been to with my camera. Parking in Millennium Point multi storey car park I spent at least an hour investigating and exploring the stairwells with their coloured walls and each floor to see if there were some interesting effects of the sun shining through.

A wander through Digbeth and the graffiti strewn walls coupled with a vision of the future saw me ambling around and I came upon a scene by the Custard Factory which I recognised as being used for the location in a movie named “Ready Player One” based upon an Ernest Cline book set in the year 2045 in a dystopian world. A few photos of wall art, sculptures and people then led me to the city centre and a walk around the outdoor and indoor markets as we had done the week before in Bilston. A few shots of market stalls, customers, traders and products on the SD Card of my Canon 5D Mk IV and I ended up by the large open space of the demolished Smithfield that was a wholesale market which fed markets, shops and consumers all across the region.

Birmingham Smithfield

Today though it’s a 17 Hectare piece of open land, mostly concrete with the dust whipping across in the windy conditions into the city centre.

Birmingham City Centre Smithfield Site

Whilst looking at this large open piece of land I started envisioning what might be there in 78 years time in the year 2100. I know there are plans in place to rebuild a new Smithfield with designs for Markets, Homes, Leisure facilities and commercial areas as well as some green space. It was whilst daydreaming that my mind wandered to a subject I’d been discussing with a retired ex-colleague from my work.

Wait, what?

He is a member of the International Space Elevator Consortium and we’d had a discussion previously about the closeness of the time when the materials would be available to make this sort of device possible. In easy terms it’s a big cable that stretches 26,000 miles from Earth’s surface into space, with a large counterweight at the very top.

Galactic Harbours will Unify Transportation and Enterprise.The Galactic Harbour will be the volume encompassing the Earth Port and stretching up in a series of cylinders to include two tethers and the region just beyond the Apex Anchors.In summary, …

This large weight on the end of the cable is kept taut by centrifugal forces from the spinning rotation of the earth. Imagine spinning around on the spot with a skipping rope let out so that the handle on the end eventually lifts from the ground and stays in the same relative position to you hand holding the opposite end of the cable.

The materials thought to be ideal for a space elevator cable are being developed and fine tuned today, Graphene Nanotubes are the most suitable material for the strength and it’s temperature handling properties. Once the cable is in place, a lift can be clamped onto it and then driven up into space, carrying people and components up without the need for rockets as are used today.

It’s a device that has appeared in science fiction stories but is becoming closer to being a science fact. I thought that this space in Birmingham might be a good place for this type of facility. Birmingham is in the centre of the country and at the hub of many motorway meetings as well as a solid railway network. Goods could be transported to the city and then transferred into orbit using the space elevator. In actuality, the best place for one of these elevators is at the equator to achieve the most centrifugal effects.

My image of the old Smithfield was on my screen awaiting editing so I set to work on finding some suitable additions.

Elevating My Image

First off google images was the space elevator itself, or an artist’s impression / mock up of somebody’s idea. It shows a large structure that will traverse up and down the tethered cable so I used photoshop to isolate the elevator from the cloud background and then put it into the shot.

Artist’s Impression of a Space Elevator from Google Images

I placed it into the centre of the image, but the scale looked strange. I tried to contextualise it a little with some shipping containers and an odd truck or two as if this was a container port of the future, but it didn’t sit right with me. My thought was that all of the work to tidy up the city centre would be undone by having this monstrosity so close to the main populated area so I decided to move it back into the background of the image.

Googling images for a grassy meadow with the Size set to Large, saw me find a nice image, which I then took a big chunk off and overlaid it onto the concrete of the flattened area. A positive result of this grass addition was the chopping off of the lamp post that was in the foreground, and this made it look like a huge structure in the background behind the buildings to the right of the picture.

This large post could be used as the cable for the elevator so I moved the elevator over it and then extended the cables of the elevator to go far enough to not see the ends. Once I’d figured out that the elevator in this area of the image looked like it was in the background of the smithfield area it seemed to feel right, in terms of perspective, scale and general fitting in.

Foreground Foliage

The next task was to add some foreground interest and looking at designs for public spaces today and also in the supposed future water and green areas seem to feature heavily. A look at the Guardians Of The Galaxy‘s Xandar location shows this type of architecture to be popular, but can be seen as a growing feature around the world today. One needs only to look to Dubai and their current and future building plans to see similarities.

I found an image of some watery terrace type outdoor space with people pictured on there also, and it seemed to fit the bill of what I was looking for. After trimming it down and trying to get it to fit in with the grass I found that I was reasonably happy with it but felt that there needed to be a mid distance object between this park area and the elevator, it would help cover up the cable tethering points and prevent me from having to design the base of the entire structure. To trim the image I placed it on a layer above the grass layer and then used a layer mask to reveal parts of the grass by masking out the terraced area..

It’s Terminal

What would be at the base of space elevator? What is at the terminal of a railway, bus network or airport today? Grand buildings designed by architects pushing the boundaries of form and function that look modern and will need to look futuristic for my purposes.

Scouring Google for images I came across some suitable images that I thought might cover the base of the tether and look like they’re space-port buildings for passengers whilst the freight section could be in the distance behind the existing buildings.

I selected the two curviest structures because it was relatively easy to isolate them from the sky and foregrounds, to transplant into my image. I found that they both worked together in the image to create a sense of depth and grandness of their design. The white curved building appears in front of the silver building and looks like it could be a huge leisure centre for the park area or even a passenger terminal.

final image of Birmingham Space Elevator.

There were other buildings I tried to port into the image and have them fill some of the left hand side up but I couldn’t alter their perspective enough or find a suitable image to plunder, it also seemed to fill up the park space and remove the amount of green space that I felt was needed so I didn’t continue to add these features to the image.

Next Up

With this finished image it was time to look for the next image from my collection of photos from the black country. With images on my Lightroom Catalog from Wolverhampton, Bilston and Birmingham I should have a could I can use.. In actual fact the next image altered will be in the next post and it’s associated in a small way with this Birmingham Space Elevator..

See you in the next image…

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