Photos of Museums, Art Galleries and Cathedrals

Have you ever been in a museum, art gallery or cathedral and wished you could shoot some pictures of their interiors? Taking good photos of such environments requires some skill, usually because of tricky lighting. And that’s exactly what we’re going to work on today. Let’s go!

Good External Flash

If you use a standard point-and-shoot camera with a built-in flash, you’ll soon realize it’s not sufficient for those types of photographs. So, the number one tip I can give you for taking good pictures inside museums, art galleries and cathedrals is to get a good external flash unit. An external flash unit allows you to throw light 75 feet away and it’s very helpful for illuminating scenes.

No Flash Photography Allowed?

One big problem with shooting inside tourist locations, such as cathedrals, is that flash photography is often prohibited. Why’s that, you ask? Well, flash photography might disturb other visitors or it can ruin the serenity of the location. A powerful flash could also cause damage to ancient materials.

My advice is to learn how to turn off your flash before you step inside a museum or cathedral. Most digital cameras allow you to completely disable the flash by cycling through its various settings until you reach an icon that has a slash through the flash symbol.

Bring Your Tripod

Now, assuming flash cannot be used, how can you still take good photos of museums and cathedrals? Well, here’s another tip: bring along a tripod! Even a small, lightweight tripod is enough to stabilize your camera for the long exposure you’ll need. Remember that to shoot under low-light conditions, you will need to set the camera shutter speed to be very slow (for example, from one to eight seconds). You can’t possibly hold your camera steady for that long by hand, which is why you need a tripod.

If full-size tripods aren’t permitted, you can try propping yourself against a wall or doorway to keep your camera steady. Set the camera to its highest ISO level (making the camera sensor more sensitive to light) and just keep shooting. Another option is to buy a tiny tabletop tripod (the kind with finger length, flexible legs). You can use that to hold the camera firmly against a wall, doorway or some other vertical surface while you take long exposures. The authorities shouldn’t mind, because you won’t be obstructing corridors that way.

I hope you have learned something about taking photos in museums and cathedrals today. If you apply these tips on your next adventure, I’m sure you’ll get much better results!

~ Ramachandran Kumaraswami