Monday, April 27, 2015

Sculpture Gardens

by Carol

This sentinel looks over the Eiffel Tower, Paris

One of my favorite photographic subjects is sculpture. I am drawn to this type of artistic expression because I am just in awe that someone can look at a hardened mass of stone, and see grace and beauty. The rough tools and hard work seem so in contrast to the delicate expressions. 

Near Monmouth College Library-Monmouth,  NJ

I went with some photo buddies today to Duke Gardens, the home of the Duke family, built between 1893 and 1925, and now an attraction in nearby Hillsborough. The Dukes made their fortune in the tobacco industry, and the estate has over 2000 acres. According to their brochures, J.B. Duke commissioned many types of renaissance reproductions from France and Italy, and Doris Duke  (the most recent heir) created sculpture gardens with the many remaining sculptures. We had a lovely day hiking the grounds and photographing nature, architecture, and statuary.

These two are from the grounds at Duke Gardens

I have concentrated on statuary on many past photo shoots. It is always hard to photograph - often bleached out in mid-day light. It's hard to capture the effect of a statue as you often get that "looking up the nose" perspective. 

Impressionist Studio, Giverney, France

Darren Rouse, editor of Digital Photography School online ("Tips For Photographing Outdoor Sculpture", Darren Rouse) has these suggestions:

   1. Plan around weather and light. As with most outdoor photography, an overcast day or the golden hour are best to cut down on the contrast and "white-out."

    2. Spend time walking around the piece for the best take - consider it as you would taking a portrait - what best compliments the facial features?

    3. Use spot metering. He suggests aiming for the torso and exposing for the light.

    4. Check for surrounding distractions (signs,people, etc.)

To his tips I would add that I try to come in close and crop away to the feature that caught my eye - often the facial expression or the hands. In my opinion, these partial shots can be more effective than straight on shots from in front of the statue. Look for some humor in the surroundings. What is that gargoyle staring at? Since you can't really capture the size and scope, find a feature that tells the story. I also try to look up the history and meaning of the statue - I've leaned a lot of mythology that way.

We would love to see some sculpture from your neck of the woods. Please add them to our gallery, and let us know where they are, and what they were about.  

I found this behind an antique store near my home

We had a great day today wandering together. Hope you do too!


kybarb said...

Great tips today! I am always looking for angel statues in cemeteries and have found some beautiful ones in the Cincinnati OH area. I'm sure I have posted several photos in my Instagram feed. Beautiful photos of statues today--my favorite tip is focusing on the part that catches your eye--so many of the statues have deteriorated or been defaced--so sad.

Dotti said...

Valuable perspective, Carol. I usually don't like photos that I take of statues but looking for the most interesting feature(s) is a great idea. I'll take this sage advice with me to Europe this summer.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree! While in Rome, I had a difficult time photographing the statues in the heat of the day (tour guide)! I did manage to capture a few, but would have loved this info a few years ago lol! Hopefully, one day I will get another chance to go! Great photos...thanks for sharing!

kelly said...

it is truly amazing how life-like these hewn block of stone can become in an artist's hands. and such brilliant advice carol for capturing their human like qualities!

heyjudephotography said...

Love these tips. Its always difficult to create art instead of a snapshot when photographing sculpture and statuary. I will remember these! Looks like a great place to visit.

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