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Settings for intrinsic art work on walls

edited July 2014 Posted in » Nikon D5100 Forum
I'm traveling to Istanbul and have recently purchased a D5100 with 18-55mm lens. I want to photograph historic buildings and the the artwork and decorations inside the buildings. What would be the best camera settings?


  • edited July 2014
    In general, you’ll want to shoot with a wide angle at a relatively small aperture for architectural shots.

    Flash is not recommended. It’s often not allowed anyway (especially in churches and museums). Besides, old buildings usually cast a warm glow. So if you use flash, it’ll overpower the natural colors and everything will look oddly cold.

    I think the best results come from using a tripod. You’ll be able to set your ISO to 100 for a noise-free image and your aperture small for maximum sharpness. Just use a long shutter speed. Be wary of people walking around in your shot, although, that could be a cool effect if that’s what you’re after.

    If you’re going to hand-hold the camera, then bump up your ISO to something like 1600 (or higher if you find the image noise to be tolerable). Use as slow a shutter speed as you can while hand holding. Make sure VR is turned on and try to brace yourself (e.g. lean on a wall) to minimize camera movement. Zoomed out to 18mm, you can probably get away with something as slow as 1/15 second, but I have jittery hands, so you may be able to do better. Keep in mind that you want to maximize your depth of field. Easiest is to use a small aperture, but if there’s not enough light, see if you can step back a bit and open up your aperture. If your subject is further away, your depth of field increases. It’s actually possible to keep the entire frame in focus even with the aperture wide open if you’re subject is sufficiently far away.

    If you want to isolate certain decorations or aspects of the building, then feel free to zoom in to it to fill the frame. Open up your aperture and fire away.
  • edited July 2014
    My wife took a short photo course many years ago, and one of the things the pro in charge mentioned was that a common amateur mistake is to shoot art, mosaics, etc. on walls, from an angle. For best results, whenever possible, find a position in which to shoot straight on.

    Post processing perspective control is very handy, but the less you need, the better.

    It may not be entirely possible on the spot to figure out the best color temperature inside a building. If you save your images as RAW you can correct this later without loss.
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