Location Guides 1 - Crosby/Gormley Statues-Another Place

This is the first in an occasional series I hope to develop over time, of some of my favourite photographic locations to visit, I hope you find this both informative and interesting. I don'y claim this is by any means a definitive guide, but a personal overview giving my own slant on the location, and why I find it such a great place for photography. 

Crosby is one of the first places I visited when I first purchased a DSLR camera some five years ago now, and a place I must have returned to again and again, Crosby Sands, Merseyside, and the Antony Gormley iron statues that make up the art installation 'Another Place'. Firstly a bit of background to it actually being there.

Another Place is a piece of modern sculpture by the artist Antony Gormley. It consists of 100 cast iron sculptures of the artist's own body, facing towards the sea.

After being displayed at several locations in Europe, it has become permanently located at Crosby Beach in North West UK. The work was controversial in the local area due to issues such as possible economic gain or environmental damage from tourism. A meeting on 7 March 2007 by Sefton Council accepted proposals that would allow the sculptures to be kept permanently at Crosby Beach, where they have been now for 10 years.

All of the figures face out to Liverpool Bay, and the majority of them get submerged at high tide (more on the tide later!), I'm glad the statues are going to stay on Merseyside permanently, though time and tide is starting to take it's toll on them, they are a wonderful sight, in particular at sunset.

The above image is Long Exposure shot using a 10.0 stop ND Filter. I waited until a high tide and dusk matched, and luckily I was blessed with a lovely sunset, with a fair bit of movement in the sky. Using the ND filter allowed me to achieve a shutter speed of about 180 seconds, therefore smoothing out the water, and creating a reflected light vortex with the cloud movement.

'Another Place' is great to photograph all year round, it can get very crowded and busy at weekends and in the summer months, many people like to walk their dogs there, and enjoy a family day out, it's fairly accessible with it being so close to the the Liverpool/Merseyside area, and North West England in general.

Obviously in Photographic terms the best time to visit is at dusk/sunset as the statues/beach face out due west, so if your lucky enough, the sun will set behind the statues over the bay towards the Irish Sea/North Wales. There is also an oil pipeline heading out to sea, and a very tall beech marker (visible to the right on the image above), that offer a different photographic perspective and give potential for a different image. Additionally out on the flats in the middle of Liverpool Bay, is the Burbo Bank Wind Farm, and this not only can provide a great backdrop in conjunction with the statues,can also give great scope within it's self with a longer lens.

The one thing you need to be really aware of at Crosby is the tides! This is fairly important as they can fluctuate depending on the time of your visit, and you also really need to be aware of them as you wouldn't want to get into trouble with the coastguard (who have a station at Crosby), or get stuck out on the shifting sands! I find also that you really need the right footwear as I can't stress enough, it's very muddy out there (even in July!), strong walking boots, or wellingtons are essential out here, you will regret it if you venture out in your trainers (trust me!). 

The images I have included here were shot in either Spring or Autumn (when I find personally you get the best light), and all were shot at dusk/sunset. You can shoot handheld (up to a point) but once the light get's low, a tripod is essential as your shutter speed will be down to seconds, but hopefully you will be blessed with a great light show at sunset. Another point to consider is the hight of the tide (this can also vary), I find that a medium high tide (between 5-6m) is ideal as this means that the water only comes in to where the nearest statues to the shore are located, therefore allowing you to be able to shoot them from the beach, and also get some amazing reflections in the water. If the tide is any higher (7-8m), then it won't be possible to get on the actual beach as the water will be right up to the front, it's really a question of waiting for the right time of year, and the right tide. I include a link below to be BBC Tide Tables (Formby is the nearest point), witch I find invaluable in planning a visit here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/coast_and_sea/tide_tables

Great shots can be obtained right the way along the entire stretch of beach, but you need to bear in mind that the statues are placed at various intervals, and many of them can be completely submerged at high tide, and are simply not accessible, the best images are of the statues nearest to the shore when there is an incoming. or outgoing tide, it's also an awful lot safer! One other factor to take into consideration is that it's fairly exposed out there, and in the Winter months in particular can get very windy, so you will need to wrap up (as well as wear waterproof/robust footwear).

If you bear all the above in mind (particularly the tide element!), you should hopefully come away with some stunning images hopefully.

Getting to Crosby

Crosby is fairly easy to get to by road and public transport.

Road Directions:

From the M53/M57 motorways you will need to take the signs for Crosby, and then follow the A565 to Greater Crosby, the 'Another Place' is signposted as you approach Crosby it's self (see map below).

Rail/Public Transport:

The foreshore is easy to reach by public transport via three railway stations - Waterloo, Blundellsands and Crosby or Hall Road - and a range of bus services. Ring the Merseytravel Traveline for more information on 0871 200 22 33.

Toilets/Food & Drink

There are Public Toilets located near the Public Car Park near the Coastguard Station, though be warned these close at dusk!

In the Summer months there is often an ice cream van located at the car park by the Coastguard Station. Greater Crosby a short distance away has a range of cafe's/fish & chip shops/bistro's and pubs to suit all tastes.

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