It was a fine day yesterday, so I thought I'd find somewhere interesting for some outdoor photography. I went to a place called The Sculpture Park, in Churt, near Farnham, Surrey.

The gallery

This is an open-air gallery on Surrey heathland. It was set up 10 years ago and contains roughly 600 pieces of sculpture. They are all on sale, so the contents of the collection are always changing.

There are several routes to follow around the park, each marked by discreet colour-coded arrows in wrought iron. The longest route goes for two miles. The paths lead you by ponds and streams, as well as up and down the 10 acres of valley.

I didn't know what to expect -- like some art galleries, some sculpture gardens are solemn places that take themselves very seriously -- but this was not a bit stuffy. In fact, I was smiling before I'd walked 50 yards.

A few of the pieces are a bit rubbishy, perhaps on purpose, but many others are good art, sometimes emotionally moving. As you can see from the selection of pictures below, the range is wide. The overall impression was of serious collecting on the part of an owner who nonetheless has a lively sense of humour.

Because of the ever-changing nature of the collection, the pieces are identified only by numbered plaques in the ground near them. The office holds an up-to-date list of what is where. You are invited to take a copy round with you.

I declined, knowing I wouldn't be bothered with looking up each piece. Instead, I wanted to concentrate on what I was seeing. The titles of the photos are thus of my own devising.

The camera

The camera (with the 18-55 mm zoom) behaved admirably. I have it set on aperture priority, auto WB, auto ISO (to 3200), EVF with eye detection and no in-camera treatment of the files.

I took all the pictures hand-held in natural light and processed them in Silkypix followed by Nikon Capture NX2. I also used Nik's Silver Efex Pro on a couple.

The zoom went through its range smoothly; focusing was fast, quiet and accurate. In a couple of pictures, I overdid the shallowness of the depth of field and could usefully have closed down a couple of stops. Otherwise, it's a point-and-shoot camera, which is what I like.

I don't want to be making a multitude of technical decisions at every shot. Choice of viewpoint, framing, focusing and aperture setting are enough to think about, with perhaps some exposure compensation where highlights might burn out. (I leave it on -1/3 EV anyway.)

See what you think to the results.

Roger