Howdy, Stranger!

If you're just starting out in the world of photography and want to learn how to get the most out of your camera, then this forum is your new secret hangout spot!

Take better photos today with my Nikon D3200 Cheat SheetsCheck 'em out!

Pictures inside a Museum

edited April 2015 Posted in » Nikon D3200 Forum
How do I take photos in a museum exhibit?


  • edited April 2015
    We presume that it is permitted, first of all. Some museums do and some don't. Of those that do, I know of none that permit flash, so your first requirement is that you use a mode that never accidentally actuates the flash. In any case the on camera flash will tend to cause glare and harsh shadows.

    You will have to experiment with color temperature, as museum light varies greatly. Auto white balance may work all right, but you should shoot in Raw mode if possible, so that you can fine tune it later.

    The kit 18-55mm lens should work pretty well for this, with the normal 35mm pretty much on the money for most things.

    Either manual or aperture priority should work. The latter may be a bit easier if light varies greatly from one object to the next, since it will fine tune the shutter speed without your needing to match the meter. Matrix metering should be just fine unless there are bright lights or windows in your frame. If you are shooting a dark subject with a light background or distracting windows and lights, switch to center weighted or spot mode depending on how much of the frame your subject occupies. If you shoot Raw, you can correct by + or - two stops afterwards, too. If light is difficult, you can skip the metering changes and just go back to manual mode and try disobeying the matrix meter until you get it right.

    You will likely need to use a wide aperture in the dim light, and try not to put your ISO too high, as the dark shades will tend to accentuate digital noise. For moody shots of people looking at things, you may need more depth of field, and can also afford more digital noise. For the exhibits, I'd try to stay between 100 and 400 ISO. With VR on, at wide angles, you may find you can hand hold pretty slowly, so turn off auto ISO so it does not up your ISO when shutter speed goes below 1/30, or experiment with your steadiness and reset the menu option for the speed at which it changes. If you're shooting flat work like paintings, you don't need much depth of field, so you can keep it minimal. Single point focus is likely to be more precise, so set it to S.

    If shooting things behind glass, or things that are shiny, try to position yourself to minimize reflections. A polarizing filter would be nice, but if you're using the kit lens with its rotating front element, it's not very practical.

    For paintings and the like, try to avoid shooting at an angle which will distort shapes, and mess up your shallow depth of field. If you shoot at a wider angle, you can shoot level and crop as needed, and in the process sometimes get rid of the fuzziness and distortion that tend to be worse at the edges of a frame.

    If you're shooting paintings that are hung too high to shoot level conveniently, switch to live view, and hold the camera higher.

    If you can't eliminate reflections or simply can't reach with a straight on shot, shoot at an angle if you must. Some perspective distortion can be corrected in post processing, though it's better if you get it right to start with.
  • edited April 2015
  • edited April 2015
    Nice, it looks like a fun exhibit. Obviously, in this situation one need not get too fussy about keeping paintings square and undistorted, or keeping color temperature super accurate. The subject is the interaction more than the art, and the the kids' appreciation of it, which comes through well.
Sign In or Register to comment.