I got lucky with the weather and the tide when I visited Crosby Beach to photograph Antony Gormley’s Another Place…
Last weekend I was at Wilkinson Cameras’ Digital Splash in Liverpool so I took the opportunity to pop up to Crosby, just a few miles up the coast, to check-out Antony Gormley’s installation, Another Place.
As is often the case, when I mentioned my plans to non-photographers they said that they hoped I’d get some sunshine, but I was hoping for stormy skies.
I’ve never seen Another Place before, but I’ve seen lots of photographs and I was hoping that the water would be at around waist-level to the statues so could make some long exposures.
As I drove into Crosby it was looking like I might have the weather I wanted, but as I approached the beach the wished for dark clouds started to shed the first few fat drops of rain. By the time I’d found carpark, it was torrential, the sort of rain that soaks you to the skin within seconds.
With no breaks in the cloud it looked like the rain was set for the day, but I parked-up facing out sea and watched miserable starlings trying to shelter behind parked cars and rubbish bins.
The rain turned the windscreen into a fantastic water droplet filter and with my camera in the boot, I seized the moment and took a few shots on my iPhone 7.
Cheered by the results I decided to stay a little longer and I watched the tide move quickly up the beach and around most of the statues. In next to no time it was up to their knees.
And then almost as suddenly as it started, the rain stopped. I leaped out of the car and grabbed my camera gear.
Walking South East along the promenade back towards Liverpool and the Mersey estuary where the statues are a little further from the water I found one with waves washing around its waist and set-up my tripod on the beach.
The first shot, taken at f/13, 1/50sec and ISO 100, froze the silt-laden water with the waves breaking just beyond the statue.
Slipping a Lee Filters Big Stopper into the filter holder on the end of my lens (24-70mm at the 70mm end) enabled me to extend the exposure time to 20 seconds. The level of blur was just what I was looking for, with the sea was rendered smooth, but there was still some tonal variation visible.
Checking the histogram revealed that the peak centred around the middle of the horizontal scale with no pixels reaching the far left or right. That indicated a limited tonal range but the shadows weren’t blocked-up nor the highlights burned-out and I could brighten or darken the image at will post-capture.
The wind was really whipping up and tide surging in, so after taking a few shots I retreated to the promenade and headed to my car for the drive home.
Long exposure processing choices
Using a long exposure gives moving water an ethereal look and that can present a dilemma when you’re processing the images because there are so many potential options. I’ve tried a variety of different treatments, each taking just a couple of minutes, and I like them all.
So how do you choose which to go for? I don’t have an answer, it’s a matter of personal taste and mood.
The versions I have created and shared here vary from a simple brightening of the raw file along with a contrast boost to produce a result that is close to the image I had in my head when I planned the shot. Following on from that, I’ve created another version that’s brighter and warmer.
I’ve also created three black and white versions with one having a pretty dramatic gradient filter applied in Adobe Camera Raw to darken the sky and bring out the clouds and another having a cool blue tone.
The images are included in a gallery below along with the iPhone shots. You can let me know which version you prefer in a comment.
Antony Gormley’s Another Place