I reviewed a few of the popular UK Urban Exploration forums and each and every derelict site comes with big risks! Basically Urbex involves trespassing onto disused property in a derelict and decayed state and taking some decent photo's of the site and to document the visit. However, if you get caught…
The reason I was on Urbex forums is because the surroundings I'm looking for are that of gritty, paint peeled decay and neglect that old unused buildings left to the elements can only provide. Urban Exploration seeks exactly that but if unlucky there's a price to pay for your sport, the 'Secca's' or security guards that are usually employed to protect the site will be on the look out. With the increasing popularity of Urbex, security seems to be tightening it's grip. You only have to read reports on Severalls Hospital in Colchester to see that it is becoming increasingly difficult to get inside the perimeter fence. If I had the choice, this location would be the ultimate backdrop for the shoot. However trying to get seven blokes with camera gear and possibly one or two instruments over a seven foot fence without being seen is just never going to happen!
Although illegal, the Urbex community do not believe in anything more than exploring and taking photo's, some of which are very well shot with a good eye. Their motto clearly states "Take nothing but photographs leave nothing but footprints" or "take only pictures, leave only footprints". It's a seemingly honourable past time and makes for addictive viewing when the reports are posted on the forums. They also never give away how they enter a site, that they leave to your own devices as getting in is all part of the 'fun'. You can arrange to meet up with some of the members who will take you on a trip and show you the ways in if you can prove trustworthy and contribute to their online community.
So, back to Orford Ness, well it's now a National Trust nature reserve in which you need to take a boat trip over to the shingle spit of land. Primarily visited by bird watchers, there is another side to the area, it was once used for an airfield then inbetween the two world wars was a ballistics testing range. I first found out about Orford Ness on this Urbex forum where I was surprised to read that it was 'permission visit', a little Googling revealed the National Trust website and yes, it's perfectly legal to go there… Sorted!
The photo's in the report clearly show that the remaining buildings are just right for what I have in mind. I'm going to be calling on some friends who are keen photographers and did a great job on previous shoots for this one… and I know they will enjoy this trip. After the planned visit in April, all I have to do is try and convince the band members to take a fairly long drive and a boat trip to the island to get some hopefully great mug shots done! At least we won't be trespassing this time and won't suffer the indignity of being kicked off by the local 'special constable' who incidental pulled up – very bravely, in a Smart Car!