Another Visit to Another Place (aka I Fall in Love Too Easily Part 2)

I wrote recently about my desire to shoot some of Anthony Gormley‘s sculptures on Crosby Beach, and though I was successful, I was disappointed with the outcome for two reasons; the light pushed me towards a high ISO setting that resulted in grainier pictures than I really wanted, and the fact that I was battling with ubiquitous mud was too great a distraction.

Being back on Merseyside today, and graced with another day of hazy sunshine I thought I’d get down there for golden hour and give it another go.

The beach was more welcoming (the tide was coming in this time so the sand had been drying in the sun for some time), the haze gave new possibilities, and I was aware of more of the sculptures, including those out at sea struggling to keep their heads above water.

I thought it would be nice to combine a real person with one of the images in something akin to my signature shot of bride and groom when photographing weddings.  Down by the waterline was a man engaged in his own artwork, draping a flag around the shoulders of a steely companion, he appeared to be creating his own photographic art.

When I approached him it turned out that we should have met sooner.  His son was on a naval ship travelling up towards Liverpool and he had been trying to capture a shot of the ship but didn’t have the right camera to do it justice.  As he told me his story the ship was already disappearing from view so I was too late to assist.  Nevertheless Harvey agreed to pose and I got something like the shot I wanted from this non-model!

Without the pressure of being covered in mud I was free to capture some of the other visual beauty that was all around me, reminding me why I use the name a photogenic world.  There was plenty here to fall in love with.  Wonder if I’d have thought the same if it had been raining though!

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You really got a hold on me

I mentioned a while back my desire to photograph Gormley’s Another Place, so when I knew I was returning to Bootle, this time I set off in good time to get there before sunset.  Just.
All the signs in the area direct you to Crosby Lakeside, which struck me as strange since the artwork is on a beach, but once I parked I saw why.  A ridge of sand dunes separated  the sea from another body of water, and it was here that I had to leave the car.  Already the sun was disappearing behind clouds, and the dunes made it difficult for me to guess how much time I had before it disappeared altogether, so  whilst the lakeside was all very pleasant, it wasn’t what I was here for.  _MG_8588-Edit-Edit To add insult to injury it started to rain too._MG_8599-Edit-Edit-Edit
I had come prepared for the beach, I have some waterproof Karrimor trainers that are great for dealing with unexpected waves (unlike my tripod!) and small puddles etc. I I quickly slipped these on without wasting time on fastening them tightly, and hurried around the footpath to where I assumed the sea to be.  Success, and there was my quarry; the Anthony Gormley sculptures looking out to sea.  I took a couple of shots of the first that I encountered and then, seeing a chance to compose a shot with one in the foreground while the sun was setting amongst a forest of wind turbines in the distance I hurried forward across some wetter stuff.  Wetter, muddier, stickier._MG_8647
“Never mind, I’ll grab the shot and retreat.” I thought, so opened camera bag to change lenses and adjusted my balance as I did so.  Wet, muddy, sticky stuff decided to keep my shoe and let my foot come away without it.  So now I’m balanced on one foot, trying to keep camera and equipment intact.
I put the camera into the bag and zipped it up to give me two hands free, and as I did so my balance went.  Left foot and sock now in the mud.  Hmmm.  Decided I needed to free right foot before anything else happened and so by pulling with both hand and foot got it free and closer to the left.  No further harm to be done by putting the left shoe back on, everything was pretty much coated, so repeated the procedure, got both feet free and returned to firmer ground.
Looked around for an audience – no one visibly laughing, clearly all pretending they hadn’t noticed!  Time to grab a few more shots and return to the car – I had a spare pair of trainers and a carrier bag so I should be able to contain the problem.  What I hadn’t noticed was that my photography gloves now had a nice coating from the shoe pulling and so I managed to get camera bag, camera casing, puffer jacket and tripod nicely smeared too.
Got back to the car and sacrificed the shoes and socks to the carrier, stuffed the jacket and tripod in the boot for cleaning later and all seemed good.  Until I noticed the state of my jeans.  Heavy with mud up both inside legs this had begun to dry and crack on the journey back to the car.  Maybe it would brush off?  No._MG_8698
I stood for  a while at my hotel reception waiting to check in while a young Indian man who was staying for 38 days asked every question conceivable.  The receptionist was very patient and dealt with me professionally too.  It was only when I got into the room and looked in mirror that I realised I had mud smeared across my face too!

Androgynous

I recently blogged about the challenges of photographing familiar vistas without descending into cliché, i.e. repeating the same old shots.  As I was in Birtley today I could see what is one of the North East’s most famous landmarks and so the gauntlet was thrown down.

The Angel of the North, whilst originally the subject of much scepticism has been largely embraced by the population here, who have purloined it for business names, corporate logos, and a shorthand for anything to do with the North East.  Anthony Gormley‘s towering sculpture has even suffered the indignity of wearing an oversized Newcastle United shirt.

Unsurprisingly when I arrived there were other photographers about, though most of the camera phone variety.  There are plenty of good angles that you can shoot from and depending on the time of day and prevailing light get some variety, but the reality is that they’ve all been shot before.  The planting of bushes and positioning of fences around the base of the giant reduces the options of originality still further.

So while Clem (a fellow photography buff) and I were waiting patiently for the crowds to move out of shot he took the opportunity to photograph a passing Bernese Mountain Dog, and I took the opportunity to photograph him.My shots were acceptable but unremarkable so in my processing I’ve tried to make them different.

There was one exception though.  I have no idea what this was all about, but the man on the sofa and two young girls set this up just so that one of them could photograph and video him on her iphone.  Having gone to all this trouble I might have expected something a little more professional however advanced Apple’s baby might be.As they manoeuvred their furnishing back to van, doubtless to some other photo opportunity, I heard them refer to the Angel as she, which confused me as I’ve always though of the figure as male.  Is there a definitive answer?