Sculpture Garden 2018 Sculpture at Doddington Hall, Lincoln

Doddington Hall plays host to it's bi-ennial sculpture exhibition until 9th September and we'll show you why you need to visit.

We loved the exhibition in 2016 (see the gallery here) and have been really excited to see what 2018 would bring. The Exhibition opened on Saturday 28th July and we left it a couple of days to settle in - in truth the weather over the weekend had been poor and I remembered how the light had a big effect on the sculptures in 2016 so was keen to visit on a bright & sunny day, the right decision.

Join us for an exclusive Photography Workshop during the Sculpture Exhibition with private access to the Exhibition & Gardens with expert advice & tuition, click here for details

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For a photographer, capturing images of sculptures should be a dream, interesting shapes, subjects, stories, colours, patterns, textures and materials. Photographing beautiful sculptures within a stunning formal garden of a stately home however ramps things up to a whole new level.

I often try to avoid strong direct sunlight (that's been a challenge this summer!) but knew that I could utilise the light to accentuate the shape & form of these subjects as well as emphasising the quality of the materials used. Of course, as photographers we need to be flexible and there is plenty to photograph here on overcast days too. The gardens and the house provide fantastic opportunities for backgrounds and it may be that choosing a background (context) is the most creative part of shooting the Doddington Hall Sculptures.

this sculpture actually stares down to the ground and I had to lay on my back to shoot it against the sky. The blue sky contrasts beautifully with the red podium. Shooting against the sky requires +'ve exposure compensation to avoid a silhouette agains the bright background.
By making small adjustments to your position or shooting with a long lens there are huge opportunities to use the background and the setting to frame the sculptures and provide context and/or contrast.

So many of the visitors photos I've already seen from the exhibition have the sculptures too small & distant in the composition, in this case the subject is lost and fails to create an impact. My advice is always to find a subject of interest, explore the possibilities for capturing it's image (work the scene) and then try and fill your frame with what interested you originally. Too often people 'play safe' and include far too much of the background, distracting the viewer with detail which is irrelevant to the initial subject.

See how the wooden horse & flamingos in the animal collection below risk 'blending into' their surroundings. The challenge is often to discover a viewpoint or method of isolating the subject or making it 'pop' out from the background to create impact.

Using more distant views can add context or even, as in this case by including the nearby church, interpret the sculpture in a personal way.
Knowing that I would be able to get close to the sculptures I made sure to pack my wide angle lens. By shooting wide and close you can dramatically alter perspective and make a real impact.

Join us for an exclusive Photography Workshop at the Sculpture Exhibition with private access to the gardens & sculptures, see details and link below.

Bright, direct sunlight can be difficult to shoot in but many of the sculptures are designed to maximise moving light & reflections.
Animals are a re-occurring theme for the sculptures and in the confines of the gardens they give a real sense of movement & energy. The Horse Head is within the indoor gallery, it's colour and structure beautifully reflected in it's base.
These two 'heads' have been located within a patch of dry grass. By slowing my shutter speed down to below half a second (and thanking a stiff breeze) I've softened (blurred) the surrounding vegetation, producing interesting patterns in front of the sculpture and making them stand out from their background.
Many of the sculptures borrow from nature for their inspiration and these are beautifully located within the gardens. Walking around the exhibition you start to see the gardens themselves as part of the whole exhibition, as if the sculptures & plants become one.
Too many photographers use black & white to mask mistakes with their exposures but used correctly it emphasises shape, texture and pattern. Our eyes use colour as information to interpret an image, when a photographer removes the colour it has to be replaced with some other information, that's where texture and patterns work. Also note the shadows in these images, grounding the subjects as well as balancing the compositions.

Again, by using a wide angle lens and shooting close to the subject we create drama and impact. Choosing the background carefully, whether that's the blue sky or the adjacent house adds context and can soften the overall image but you want to avoid distractions. These sculptures also demonstrate the benefit of strong directional light, the shadows accentuate the shapes & features of the face whilst the fine details of the female's body are illuminated.

The human figure is also a dominant theme particularly in motion and this has the benefit of creating a feeling of movement within our photos.

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As well as the outdoor Sculpture Exhibition the event also includes an indoor gallery & ceramics exhibition. Both are well worth visiting to explore the intricate details of smaller objects but also to discover smaller versions of some of the large garden exhibits.

An outdoor sculpture exhibition is a great place to explore & practice photography, fascinating subjects with varied shapes & forms, textures & patterns with natural light help us to really understand how we can interpret & capture the combination of these elements, with subjects that don't move!

The shape of this beautiful owl sculpture is stunning, reflecting the natural surroundings and sitting perfectly in front of this hedge within the gardens

If you're planning a visit to the Exhibition at Doddington Hall with your camera I would strongly recommend choosing a sunny day and allowing yourself at least a couple of hours to make the most of the display and the gardens. If you can carry them I would recommend a range of lenses, I used 16-35mm wide angle, 24-70mm standard and 70-200mm telephoto lenses (on a full frame Canon 5D mkiii camera) to full effect.

This really is an opportunity to consider composition and combining elements so slow down, take your time and explore different angles to see the different effects created by the change of view & light. It's sometimes worth leaving your camera in it's bag for the first few moments to take in the subjects & their surroundings rather than rushing in!

If you have a limited time to explore the exhibition I would recommend heading for the formal West Garden behind the Hall which contains many smaller sculptures within beautiful surroundings. If you can make the time then Doddington Hall also has an excellent farm shop, restaurant & cafe (if the restaurant is busy pop around the back to the great bike shop cafe which is generally quieter for coffee, cakes & sandwiches - I thoroughly recommend the chocolate brownies!). On limited dates there is also a small coffee & cake stall at the entrance to the exhibition or make the most of the beautiful surroundings & pack your own picnic to enjoy on the lawn in front of the gatehouse or by the fish pond beyond the Stable Yard/Indoor exhibition. (food & drink is not permitted within the gardens/exhibition).

The exhibition is open daily, 11am - 4:30pm between 28th July & 9th September 2018. Admission is £7 for adults & £3.50 for children. An exhibition guide book is available to purchase with details of all the sculptures which are available to buy.

Doddington Hall is located on the B1190 to the west of Lincoln and a 15 minute drive from the City Centre. There is lots of car parking especially in the main car park on the opposite side of the road to the Hall. You can find out more about the Exhibition on the Doddington Hall website here

Exclusive Photography Workshop at Doddington Hall Sculpture Exhibition

Discover & explore the stunning Doddington Hall Sculpture Exhibition through your camera lens with guidance, advice & tuition from professional photographer & tutor Adam Winfield

With exclusive private access to the exhibition & gardens you’ll learn to use natural light and composition to capture beautiful & unique photographs of the sculptures and their surroundings.

Adam will help you to combine shapes, colours, patterns & textures and you’ll learn new skills and techniques to take away with you to improve your own photography.

Your workshop entry includes:

  • private access to the exhibition & gardens two hours before they open to the public
  • free exhibition guide
  • pre-workshop guide & notes to make the most of your time photographing
  • access to exhibition & gardens for the rest of the day for you to enjoy & explore at your own pace
  • post-workshop support & feedback

We are running two separate workshops on Sunday 26th August & Friday 31st August 2018. Both workshops will begin at 8:45am and finish at 11am with you free to spend the rest of the day in the gardens of Doddington Hall.

Tickets are just £22 and available to purchase from the Doddington Hall website here

The Doddington Hall estate includes nature trails & walks within it's extensive grounds. Here you can see the view along the Avenue Walk to the Pyramid in the distance.

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