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St Peter’s Church – Kingerby | Lincolnshire Landscape Photography by Robin Ling

In search of the Kingerby Knights – A study in deep relief photography.

For those of you that have been following my work on Facebook you will know that I have been working on a project documenting ornate stonework and adornments on Lincolnshire’s Churches. Recent visits to St Genewys at Scotton and St Peters in Scotter, both churches dating back to the medieval period, have proved very interesting with a number of carved heads adorning the external stonework.

After these visits I read about another Lincolnshire Church that would be a candidate for photography – St Peters at Kingerby. The Church dates back to the 11th Century and parts of the original building are still present today.

The thing that piqued my interest was that the church houses 3 effigies of knights dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries. They are said to represent members of the Disney family who lived in the area (if Wikipedia is to believed, they are ancestors of Walt Disney).

Photographing the Kingerby Knights

I came up with a plan to light and photograph the effigies which consisted of a single speed light with mini-softbox mounted on a light stand and fired horizontally across the face of each carving to create strongly contrasting shadows. Painting with light in this way would create an effect similar to doing a brass rubbing. You could call this technique deep relief photography


1. I’d not seen or visited the church before so the condition of the carvings was unclear

2. I had no idea how much room there would be around each effigy and how close to walls they would be – all factors in the lighting setup that would need to be figured out on the fly. Better take a reflector just in case.

3. Would the church be open? I’d researched that the building was no longer used for services and was supposed to be open for people to visit. The village of Kingerby is quite isolated and although is only 20mins from home for me, it’s not somewhere I had passed before. I’ll need to visit with gear for the shoot and hope the church was open. If not, make do with some external shots.

The Shoot

I picked a warm sunny spring day and arrived in late afternoon around 4pm.

The first thing that I noticed when I got out of the car was the sound of Rooks making their distinctive “caw” call. Hopefully not an omen for how the shoot would go. A glance upwards gave away the reason for the cacophony – thirty or so nests forming quite a substantial Rookery.

Luckily the church was open and I made my way inside with both my Sons with me for company (they seem to share my fascination with old places).

I found the effigies straight away, man sized and up against a southern wall of the church. A couple of challenges here:

The oldest effigy was directly underneath a window and it would be difficult to control the lighting as desired, the close proximity to the wall meant I would need to light from the other side to the window.

The younger of the two man-sized pieces was suffering from significant damage to some of its key features and the relief work on the face was all but rubbed away. A similar problem with lighting was caused by the close proximity to the wall and I hoped to deal with this by using a silver reflector to bounce the flash back onto the face of the figure.

The final effigy I found in the knave and is a deep relief carving of a knight and this I found to be in best condition but due to its location would be tricky to get the side lighting I wanted.

The challenges presented were not too difficult to overcome and what was initially planned as a recce actually turned out better than expected.

I also took the opportunity to examine the exterior of the building and found two carved heads on the setting for one of the beautiful stained glass windows – one male, one female.

The afternoon light although still fairly harsh from such a sunny day, lit the church really well for a shot using what is fairly becoming a favourite technique of mine – shot from a pole about 12ft in the air.

If you like what you see here, maybe there would be something of interest for you in my online store. There are photographs of many Lincolnshire churches and other interesting landscapes. Links to purchase some of the published images taken during this adventure are found below.

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