2H4
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Looking For Advice On Camera Settings In Museums

Sun Oct 05, 2008 8:18 pm

Hello,

I'll be visiting the Hill Aerospace Musem in Ogden, Utah in the near future, and was wondering what settings might work best for such an environment.

Here are some shots of the museum:


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Photo © Gary Chambers




MyAviation.net photo:
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Photo © Brian Johnstone



Obviously, the lighting will make things difficult, so I'm wondering what settings those of you who know what you're doing would go with? Aperture priority? Shutter? I'm pretty clueless when it comes to this sort of thing.

Thanks in advance for any tips.

2H4
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ptrjong
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RE: Looking For Advice On Camera Settings In Museums

Sun Oct 05, 2008 10:22 pm

Jason, first, can you bring a tripod? It can get you much better results.

Peter
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2H4
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RE: Looking For Advice On Camera Settings In Museums

Sun Oct 05, 2008 10:37 pm



Quoting Ptrjong (Reply 1):
can you bring a tripod?

I'm not sure yet. I'm going to email the museum and ask if they allow them. If not, I'll try to get special permission.
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ptrjong
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RE: Looking For Advice On Camera Settings In Museums

Mon Oct 06, 2008 12:24 am

Assuming you're using a tripod, you don't have to worry much about shutter times, the subjects being static. So I'd use aperture priority and low ISO to prevent grain.

When you're standing four metres from an aircraft's nose and twenty metres from its tail, you need a very large depth of field. For small aircraft and side-on shots, it's not so bad, but you probably shouldn't use f numbers below 9 or 10. Then again above 13 your photos will tend to get too soft unless your lens is very good.

Obviously use a flash when it helps, but when the subject is not backlit, a long exposure from the tripod works better in my opinion, even when the place seems dark.

However, the most important thing - which makes museum shoots challenging and even exhausting in my opinion - is finding exactly the right position to shoot from. Move one feet to the left or right and the tail of the subject aircraft may just conceal that ugly item in the background, or even block that spotlight that is destroying your shot. Try to sit on your knees, lie on the floor, or climb on anything you can climb on/in. Sometimes you can have shots from a distance that aren't possible closer up. Be creative. Ask if you can temporarily remove ropes and the like. And patiently wait for those other visitiors to leave your viewfinder.

This all takes lots of time, so bring plenty.

Hope that helps a bit

Peter
The only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad (Salvador Dali)
 
viv
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RE: Looking For Advice On Camera Settings In Museums

Mon Oct 06, 2008 10:33 am

Shooting in museums is not easy.

The light may be difficult and insufficient, leading to problems with white balance, exposure and backlighting.

The foreground and background may be cluttered, leading to problems with composition.

As others have said, a tripod can be very useful. If the use of a tripod is not possible, shoot at the highest ISO you can get away with without introducing excessive grain into your shots. This should give you a usable shutter speed for hand-held shooting, even in dim light. The usable ISO will vary from camera to camera - I have museum shots accepted here that were shot at ISO 800.

Without a tripod, find something to support the camera on or to brace yourself against.

The choice of lens is important - a wide-angle lens can be very useful, but make sure (by using a small aperture) that you have sufficient depth of field.

As to composition, sometimes the best solution will be to shoot just a part of the aircraft, to avoid including too much clutter.
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f4wso
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RE: Looking For Advice On Camera Settings In Museums

Mon Oct 06, 2008 1:26 pm



Quoting Viv (Reply 4):
Without a tripod, find something to support the camera on or to brace yourself against.

Sitting on the floor is another option. If there aren't too many visitors, you shouldn't be in the way. I have not heard of tripods being a problem unless they look like a professional production is in progress. I've never given anyone that impression from equipment. What I did use on the U-3 picture was a six foot chain with a screw that fits the tripod mount. A buddy made that for me and I have used it a lot. If anyone asks, you can say it is to dissipate static discharge from the camera  Smile

The Hill museum had fairly good lighting through the windows (as long as they aren't covered with snow). The museum trend is to reduce the ambient lighting to spotlight the subject. I've had much better results now that I've paid more attention to setting the white balance. The planes are close together so consider some artistic composition.

A great feature of this site is the ability to look at a selection of images prior to visiting. That has been a real help to me as I plan my trips.

Enjoy your visit,

Gary
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pilotealpha
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RE: Looking For Advice On Camera Settings In Museums

Wed Oct 08, 2008 3:20 pm

Hi 2H4,
As said before a tripod will be very necessary. And also be careful where there are windows. In the photos they may appear too white. For e.g. if you are shooting an aircraft and theres a window behind the photo will look a bit overexposed due to outside light.

Enjoy your visit

Regards
Krishley
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ptrjong
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RE: Looking For Advice On Camera Settings In Museums

Wed Oct 08, 2008 5:30 pm



Quoting F4wso (Reply 5):
I have not heard of tripods being a problem unless they look like a professional production is in progress. I've never given anyone that impression from equipment.

I'm sure I'm not giving that impression either, but at least three museums in Europe - the Luftwaffenmuseum in Berlin, the Army Museum in Brussels and the Museé de l'Air in Paris - wouldn't allow my tripod.

I think the Joby Gorillapod SLR-Zoom is a nice alternative. It doesn't give you the height of a tripod but you can usually mount the camera on something with. I'd recommend the longer-legged Zoom version even if you only use light lenses. To minimize vibrations use a remote shutter cord or the self-timer.

Peter
The only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad (Salvador Dali)
 
jgr
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RE: Looking For Advice On Camera Settings In Museums

Wed Oct 08, 2008 6:05 pm

Hi,
When tripod is not possible I use ISO 400 + flash with a Canon EOS 400D + Canon EF-S 18-55 mm. (not a great lens... you can be sure...).

Ex. accpeted recently with this settings (self plug) :


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Photo © Javier Gonzalez - Iberian Spotters




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Photo © Javier Gonzalez - Iberian Spotters



I agree with others the most important is find the rigth angle to shoot (avoid cutt off, unaesthetical pics, too ligths or too shadows...) , and wait visitors go out from the frame !
Regards,
Javier
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GPHOTO
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RE: Looking For Advice On Camera Settings In Museums

Wed Oct 08, 2008 7:28 pm

Hello Jason,

For museum use, I find what works best for me is tripod, aperture priority mode (set a little higher than the sweet spot on my 18-55 (f8) to get adequate depth of field), ISO 100 and let the camera worry about exposure time. I find this tends to give a decent enough exposure, but watch out for windows and sun position (seems strange to have to think of the sun position when indoors!). Check the white balance if you need to. Above all, I use the timer to allow the camera to settle from any shake from pressing the button, but watch out for other visitors entering the shot. At least it's digital so you can rub affected images off.

If tripods are not allowed (some places do not allow them for insurance or health and safety reasons), I use ISO 400, no flash and look for ways of steadying myself or the camera. I've tried, with varying degrees of success, taking photos with the camera propped on the floor (angled up with a notepad), on a rucksack, on benches, flat-topped railings and even on my wife's head (she's very short). Be imaginative!

One other tip I received from a chance meeting with aviation photographer Ian Frimston was 'painting with light'. If you have a handheld flash you can try this. Use a tripod, a long exposure and move around the exhibit (keeping out of shot of course) using the flash to light up key areas. Depending on how you do it and how good you are at it you can get some interesting results. I would imagine that with enough practice, some stunning images can be achieved from otherwise over photographed exhibits. Never had the chance to try it myself, as I don't have an external flash, but would like to try it one day.

Best regards,

Jim
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2H4
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RE: Looking For Advice On Camera Settings In Museums

Wed Oct 08, 2008 8:01 pm

This is great stuff, guys. Thanks so much for taking the time to reply.

Re: indoor sunlight - It's a shameless self-plug, but here are my favorite examples of indoor sunlight so far:

http://www.jasonmcdowell.net/photos/378752719_9oJDm-XL.jpg

http://www.jasonmcdowell.net/photos/378752663_VLiBC-XL.jpg


I haven't tried to upload them yet, but I'll give it a shot at some point.

Thanks again for all the great advice.

2H4
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jgr
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RE: Looking For Advice On Camera Settings In Museums

Thu Oct 09, 2008 3:36 pm

Hi,
First one it's a very nice shot, with a great indoor ligthing !
Javier
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2H4
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RE: Looking For Advice On Camera Settings In Museums

Mon Oct 20, 2008 10:39 pm

Thanks again for all the great advice, everyone. Here's what I've come up with so far:


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Photo © Jason McDowell
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Photo © Jason McDowell




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Photo © Jason McDowell




I took my small (rather crappy) tripod, and bought a remote before I left on my trip. They both worked pretty well. The challenges at the Hill Aerospace Museum, were, as predicted, lighting and obstructions.

The lighting was very difficult. It was snowing like crazy on the day I visited. Big huge puffy flakes of snow. The nice thing about this was that it kept people in their houses. I pretty much had the museum all to myself for the first few hours of the day. The downside was that the snow reflected the light in through the windows, and made it difficult to avoid backlit shots.

The place is absolutely crammed with aircraft and displays. Lots of easels, posters, artifacts, and dioramas surround the aircraft, and the aircraft are positioned very close to one another.

As an example, this shot was rejected for off-center, and it was the absolute best I could do without putting another aircraft in front of the subject.

I did learn something, though. I learned that friendliness can get you some special privileges. When I got to the museum, I signed in at the front desk and spent about 10 or 15 minutes chatting with the lady who was volunteering that day. She was very friendly, and gave me the low-down on all the latest exhibits and displays. I then played my A.net card and mentioned that I was there to shoot photos for the most popular aviation interest site on the web. She seemed interested, and wrote our URL down.

I then described the site's "no obstructions" requirement, and asked if I could occasionally move some barriers and displays around to get better shots. After some thought, she agreed to let me, so long as I watched out for kids and made sure nobody walked past the boundaries. I reassured her that I'm a pilot, and that the safety of the aircraft was my very first priority.

You can see how I removed the top section of webbing in the F-101 shot. If I hadn't done that, it would have blocked the nose gear and probably resulted in a rejection.

Here's what I had to do to get the T-33 shot:



So when it comes to shooting in museums, the big lesson learned was that sometimes, all you have to do is be friendly and courteous, and ask permission. With luck, you'll be rewarded with permission to move ropes, barriers, and obstacles around to nail your shots.

Thanks again for the advice, everyone.

2H4
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viv
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RE: Looking For Advice On Camera Settings In Museums

Tue Oct 21, 2008 9:18 am

Lovely shots, especially the Jetstar.

Well done!
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2H4
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RE: Looking For Advice On Camera Settings In Museums

Wed Oct 22, 2008 5:21 am



Quoting Viv (Reply 13):
Lovely shots, especially the Jetstar.

Well done!

Thank you. I'll keep working on the others.

2H4
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paulinbna
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RE: Looking For Advice On Camera Settings In Museums

Wed Oct 22, 2008 6:39 am

That is why I like the 10-22 so much you can stand almost at the wing tip and get a nose to tail shot.
Canon 50D user; 100-400 MM L IS 10-22 MM, 60MM Macro
 
viv
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RE: Looking For Advice On Camera Settings In Museums

Wed Oct 22, 2008 10:05 am



Quoting Paulinbna (Reply 15):
That is why I like the 10-22 so much you can stand almost at the wing tip and get a nose to tail shot.

The same reason I love my 14-24 mm.

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