Winter in the northeast is a great time to get out and photograph landscapes, urban scenes, and wildlife but if your fingers are frozen, your subjects have dried up or the clouds are making for gray & wet weather you can still enjoy some fun and fascinating photography. Get out of the cold and go indoors to a museum. Museums are a great place to experiment with lenses, try some new techniques or just have some photographic fun. It’s always wise to go online or call ahead to the museum you are planning to visit and find out about their policies on photography and equipment allowed. Some allow tripods, some charge extra for tripods, some do not allow tripods and some allow no photography at all. Each museum will have its own rules so again be wise and find out in advance to avoid disappointment.
Most museums do not allow flash photography and museums tend to be dimly lit so you will be dealing with low light situations. The use of a tripod or monopod (if allowed) will help tremendously when photographing in low light. A higher ISO will most likely be needed do to the usual low light conditions of most museums. We always use the lowest possible ISO for the conditions we are shooting in to eliminate or minimize noise. In addition, especially when tripods or monopods are not allowed, you will need to use a fast enough shutter to avoid camera shake. Many times you’ll need to be shooting at a wide open aperture to let as much light in as possible this can cause problems due to limited depth of field. As always you have to weigh the conditions you are in and the utilize the exposure triangle to give you the best possible results for the image you want to create.
The light in museums can change from daylight to tungsten, to mixed light and back again so white balance really is important to pay attention to, especially if you are shooting in jpeg. We recommend shooting in raw so that you can adjust the white balance after the fact if you’re not happy with it. In addition you have the full power of a raw capture to allow you to make better post production adjustments.
In the image above taken at the Gothic Chapel in the Cloisters in Upper Manhattan Bill used a fisheye lens to give a unique perspective to his image.
The image below taken at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia PA is an HDR image combining three images, processed using Photomatix .