One of the things I was excited about when we moved up here was the fact that we’re not far from Crosby, where Antony Gormley has an installation of 100 statues on the beach – something I’d always wanted to see. Last weekend we took a trip there; it was a grey day on the whole and I thought my chances of getting any decent shots were low, but they’ve turned out surprisingly well. Admittedly I’ve helped them along quite a bit by under-exposing slightly and doing copious amounts of dodging and burning. One thing I found very difficult was getting the colour balance right: there was a blue cast that was easy enough to get rid of in the areas of the beach or sea, but what looked natural there left the sky and horizon looking unnaturally blue. I ended up making a selection of the sky and desaturating the blues and cyans to get something that at least didn’t look totally artificial.
All the images I’ve seen of these figures have shown them against a sunset/sunrise/interesting sky, in the tradition of classic landscape photographs. The impression you get from these is of some lonely, windswept, romantically-isolated place – the reality is somewhat different. Crosby, it has to be said, is not a pretty place. The beach itself is wonderful, but the promenade doesn’t have a lot to recommend it and the Mr Whippy ice-cream van and burger vans don’t help. The beach is busy, even on a grey day like this, and there are lots of people wandering around with or without dogs, looking at the statues.
The interaction of people, dogs and metal figures is interesting in its own right and I’d like to spend some time there one day doing a bit of ‘street’ photography, more along the lines of the image lower down with the seagull. However, despite the fact it creates something that’s unreal in many ways, I like the feeling of space, expansiveness, and melancholy that you get when you leave out the ugly bits and capture the essence of these strange, compelling figures. Photography really is all about what you choose to include or to leave out.
And then there’s this one; not quite in the same vein as the others.
Finally, Crosby Beach without figures; rather a beautiful place in its own right.