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How To Photograph Statues

Techniques > How To Photograph Statues

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Category: Architecture

How To Photograph Statues - From the earliest known relic, some 8000 years old, to the latest metallic monstrosities, statues are waiting to be photographed.

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Statues

Gear:

Pack your Compact or DSLR and a tripod. A tripod's useful as it'll help stop shake spoiling your shots and it will help you slow down, making you think more about the angles you're working with. Tripods in Manfrotto's 290 Series are small and lightweight which means they're good for taking to locations such as parks where you'll be walking around, searching for statues. If you don't want to take a tripod consider packing a monopod instead. They're portable and are light so won't weight you down but will give you that extra bit of support you need.
290 Series

Where To Go

Finding statues is easy. Most church yards, within walking distance from your home, will have one or two amongst the grave stones. Parks often house statues that iconise mythical figures or historical figures while larger tourist cities will have them scattered all over the place to celebrate famous people who have lived there and politicians. Sculpture parks provide an opportunity to find several interesting objects all in one location and often make a great day out too.

Angles

The first thing to do is look at the angle. In most cases you're going to be shooting from a low viewpoint as the statues often raised on a plinth and way above eye level. To fill the frame you'll often end up shooting from a low angle and the statue will look distorted, big at the bottom and smaller at the top. A better approach is to stand a bit further back and use the longer setting of your zoom lens to crop tighter. This will produce a photo with a more natural angle. Ideally if you can find a position where you can gain height so you are on a level will improve the shot even further. Steps of a nearby building is often a good option or, if you're agile, a nearby wall can improve your height.

Shooting Direction

You should also consider the shooting direction. Walk around the statue where possible and check the background and the features on the statue. Not only will you start to discover the best viewpoint to allow arms to be seen along with the face or symbolic features, you'll also find that a background can influence the exposure and overall feel of the image. A cloudy sky may help to create mood in the photo but the bright areas can affect the meter reading.

If you have a shot where the camera captures most of the scene correctly but it results in the statue appearing as a silhouette, you can take a second shot, pointing down at the ground and locking the exposure so the statue is exposed correctly. However, this will most likely result in a sky that's washed out. However, all is not lost as if you use a tripod, such as those available in Manfrotto's 290 Series, to ensure the camera doesn't move, you could combine both shots during post production to produce the perfect exposure. Of course you could also just change your viewpoint to get a better background to work with and sometimes you'll find it gives you a more suitable composition of the statue. If you're not sure, take several photos from different angles and choose the best one later.

Turn Your Flash Off

If you try to photograph a statue in low light with an automatic camera that has a built-in flash, it will automatically fire. As a result, you'll lose shadows which give the object its shape and your image won't have any depth. To avoid this switch the flash off and use your tripod to stop shake spoiling your shot. 

Blur The Background

The background can be thrown out of focus if you select a suitable aperture. Further blur can be added in Photoshop but a similar result can be achieved by using a longer focal length. Just remember to use a tripod as blur caused by shake is exaggerated when you use longer lenses.


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