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How to take good museum photographs

How do you take good museum photographs when they are such hard places in which to take pictures.

They are usually dark (to keep the artifacts safe from light), crowded, and have rules about tripods. How is it possible to get decent shots in these conditions?

good museum photographs

Nikon D100, 15mm equiv, 6 seconds, f22, 100 ISO

The British Museum is full of cameras, and a lot of photographs are taken there, but most of the them are terrible. It’s a hard place to work, although you do see a lot of fast prime lenses, usually 35mm and 50mm f1.8 – these give apertures ten times the size of the hole in the kit lenses, and can therefore photograph in ten times less light. ┬áSo they are helpful for taking good museum photographs.

The picture above used a different strategy – using the timer on the camera, the one that is there for cheesy picture of yourself! I rested the camera on plinth of another statue, and put my wallet under it to balance it up (don’t walk too far from the camera!) I then set the lowest ISO and the highest f number in aperture priority – this is forcing the camera to do the longest shutter speed it can do in the conditions. My poor old D100 here can only do 1600 ISO, which looks terrible anyway, so there was no chance of doing fast stuff in this poor light.

I wanted to say something about the timelessness of the Egyptian statues, and the brief nature of our time on earth, or something. Anyway, something about the contrast seemed to be worth saying. Besides, I didn’t have much choice withe the equipment I had!

So with a bit of consideration and planning, you can take pictures almost in the dark. Obviously, you need to think before you begin – that is the way to take good museum photographs.

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