Autumn Outside the Window, Vermont
Photography,  Travel

Museum Photography Tips

Whether it’s cold and rainy outside, or you’re taking the family out for some entertainment, a trip to a museum can be a lot of fun. Museums are also a great backup plan if its raining during a vacation.  A museum can also be a great place to practice your photography and also get some great photos.

Spirit of St. Louis, National Air & Space Museum

Taken at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC. I purposely didn’t try to get a composition of the entire plane as several other planes were located beside and behind the Spirit of St. Louis.

Museums can also present several challenges for photographers.

Museum Challenges for Photographers

  • Tripods are normally not allowed
  • Low light. Many museums are dimly lit.
  • Museums can be crowded with people
  • Displays are often set up close to one another not giving a clear background.
Autumn Outside the Window

Taken at the Shelbourne Museum in Vermont.  Example of a tight composition and high ISO (ISO 1000).

Great photos can still be taken in museums.  Here are my tips for photographing at museums.

Museum Photography Tips

  • Check ahead of time whether tripods can be used.
  • If you have to handhold your camera,
    • Use a fast lens with image stabilization
    • Leverage railings, pillars, ledges and other structures to stabilize the camera
    • Pump up your ISO.  Much of the noise can be taken out in post processing
  • Go early to beat the crowds.  Weekdays can also be less crowded than weekends but schools may also have field trips during the week.
  • Be patient, sometimes you just have to wait for people to move on to get the shot.
  • Think about tight compositions.  Zooming in on a particular feature of an exhibit rather than the whole exhibit can eliminate the background clutter and the crowds.
  • Think about patterns and abstracts.  Patterns can be found in many exhibits that produce a cool image.
  • Watch your background.  Always be aware of your background.  You also may want to take some photos at bigger apertures to blur the background.

Museum photography can be a lot fun and rewarding.  Why not try photographing a museum before spring arrives.

Patterns, Great Lakes Science Center

Taken at the Great Lakes Science Center. Example of a tight composition and looking for patterns.

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