Successful Indoor Photography... Without a Flash!

Museums and other cultural venues give photographers a hard time: the ambient light found there is far from ideal and you’re often not allowed to use a flash so as to preserve works of art against deterioration. Follow these tips for sharp, luminous photos regardless of these daunting settings.

Les musées et autres lieux culturels ne facilitent pas la vie des photographes

Open wide!

When the light is low, your first reflex should be to open the aperture wider (lowest F-stop value). Don’t be afraid to open it real wide (F1.8, F1.4). Though this will reduce field depth, it won’t matter much as you’ll be shooting paintings or artworks. This should also help you to avoid increasing ISO sensitivity too much and therefore limit the accompanying pixelation… Plus, it will make it easier to give background blur to a photo of a statue, for example.

Open wide!

Use a wide-angle lens and polarizing filter

A wide-angle lens offers two advantages in dim locations: it limits the risk of movement and offers a large aperture. If you can only bring one lens along, bring this one! As for the polarizing filter, it’s essential for reducing glare when objects are encased in glass, for example. In such cases, you should also avoid zooming in too much as this increases glare.

Use a wide-angle lens and polarizing filter

Be fast

If the ambient light leaves much to be desired, try priority speed mode, increase ISO sensitivity and let your device manage the aperture. This should increase your chances of taking sharper pictures. Take care, however, not to select too fast a speed if your lens doesn’t have a stabilizer.

Be fast

Keep a steady hand

Of course, it’s tempting to try longer shots to capture more light. This requires that your camera be in a fixed position, otherwise blurring is inevitable. Unfortunately, tripods are also often banned in such locations... so if you have an image stabilizer, use it! Find as much support as you can to avoid camera movement. You can also press your lens’ sun visor against glass casing to limit glare and stabilize your camera.

Keep a steady hand
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Successful Indoor Photography... Without a Flash!

Museums and other cultural venues give photographers a hard time: the ambient light found there is far from ideal and you’re often not allowed to use a flash so as to preserve works of art against deterioration. Follow these tips for sharp, luminous photos regardless of these daunting settings.
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