Wednesday, December 5, 2012


I realized when we were in the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden how much I like photographing sculptures, particularly in an outdoor setting.  The three-dimensionality of the sculptures present options and challenges in terms of depth of field.  In addition, in most cases there are also choices of perspective to consider.  Finally, background can come into play, either in the form either as a distraction or as a possible compositional element.

The sculpture garden is located on the National Mall on north side of the Hirshhorn Museum.  Most of the pieces might be classified as modern to contemporary and are generally representational.  Following are some of my favorites.

Despite what I just said, these first two are pretty entirely abstract.

I liked the above because of the high contrast created by the strong sunlight.  In the following, on the other hand, I was more concerned with depth of field and chose to crop the image to just a part of the sculpture to emphasize the blend of curves that it presented, making the abstract more abstract.  Doesn't quite work.

And here are some more representational pieces.

I loved this guy's huge arms and hands.  It also worked that he was posed in front of concrete wall that created a nice contrast in textures.

The following was an intriguing three-figure sculpture.

One of the men appeared to be whispering in the ear of a second, and all seems to be fairly placid until one moves around the sculpture and notices that the third figure is tugging on the second figure's shirt.  A lot is going on in this dynamic work.

Unfortunately, that made next to impossible capturing in a single shot the full essence of the piece.  I took these shots at an aperture of f/4.5 to make the figures pop out of their unhelpful background.  Note the unusual way in which the artist handled the figures' eyes.  There is a bit of zombification going on here.

The next photo is part of the sculpture of a very stylized regal couple.  I took a few shots of their upper bodies, but their heads were a little too bizarre for me, so I decided instead to focus on the female figure's hands, which I shot with a wide-open f/4 aperture to generate depth in the image.

I posed the following figure against a background tree and opened up the aperture.

Doesn't quite work; should have had even shallower depth of field (beyond the capabilities of my lens).  But I like the idea, at least.

And here is a highly textured sculpture against a very busy background, but I didn't have a lot of choices here.  I shot this at a nearly wide open f/5.

Background was a lot easier in the following shot, where I could position the sculpture against a neutral grass background.

For me, the key to this piece was the figure's posture, with her elbow braced against her knee in repose.  So I chose to include only a portion of the sculpture in the photo to emphasize that aspect.

Background served as an added element in the following shot--one of the last of the fall maples--which I blurred out with a wide open aperture of f/4.

In retrospect, I would have done better to have included more of the tree and moved the figure off center, as I did in the following piece.

The epitome of the empty suit.  The ivy on the wall made a natural complement to the sculpture.

Finally is this chrome sculpture that was positioned on a relatively high pedestal.

I tried various perspectives and finally decided on this shot that features some background architecture.

Taken with my Nikon D7000 with Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 lens.

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