a16 March 2012

Tutorial: Photographing sculptures in HDR

Taking photos of sculptures can be a really interesting task. There are plenty of them in the old churches and museums. I especially like shooting them in low-light conditions without external flash because available light often creates some really fantastic and magical colors.

On the left you can see some samples of the sculptures I photographed during last year. First three were taken in Lisbon, next two in Rome and the last one in Berlin.

Here are some tips on shooting sculptures I'd like to share:
  • Use available light only. It can create really nice light & shadow play as well as some very nice, sometimes almost unnatural colors.
  • Process the photos with HDR workflow. Sculptures often have very nice detailed textures. Using tone-mapping brings even more detail to them, making them look more stonish and more detailed and thus more pleasant to an eye.
  • Boost contrast in post-process to make the photos more powerful.
  • Shoot from low-angle with a wide-angle lens (or even better with an ultra wide-angle lens like Canon 10-22 for crop sensors or Canon 16-35 for full-frame cameras). As you might know already this makes the people look more powerful.
  • Try to focus on detail. Sometimes sculpture as a whole might be pretty boring but some parts of it (like a prop it holds) might be pretty unique and extraordinary.
  • Try black & white version as well. It can make the photo even more powerful in some cases. Look at the photo of a soldier (2nd from top), colour didn't fit it well.
  • Remember about using a tripod :) although all this shots were shot handheld with high ISO it's not a really recommended practice :)
I hope this few short tips will help you :)

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