museum

INSPIRED BY ART WHILE MAKING ART - PHOTOGRAPHING IN MUSEUMS

At the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, N.Y., the galleries offer plenty of photographic opportunities. Here, I was drawn to the monochrome look of the background and the contrast with the color and form of the glass. I also like how the shapes created by the silhouettes of museum-goers interact with the curves of the glass. Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a 50mm F2.0 lens, 1/500 @f5.0, ISO 400.

At the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, N.Y., the galleries offer plenty of photographic opportunities. Here, I was drawn to the monochrome look of the background and the contrast with the color and form of the glass. I also like how the shapes created by the silhouettes of museum-goers interact with the curves of the glass. Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a 50mm F2.0 lens, 1/500 @f5.0, ISO 400.

There are many reasons to visit museums, art, history or otherwise, but I find that for me, it's all about being inspired while finding inspiration and at the same time making photographs. And while I love when museums feature photography exhibits, inspiration can come from all kinds of exhibits, such as paintings, mixed media, or the building itself.

Below are five tips to keep in mind when photographing in museums. 

1. If you plan on taking your camera to the museum, make sure they allow photography. I find that most museums today do allow photography with a few caveats. No flash photography, tripods or video are pretty standard. Occasionally, some exhibits will be clearly labeled as off limits to photography. I've also have seen where cell phone use is banned, but have never seen it enforced.

I use the pop of color and door frame to draw you into this photo taken at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. The guard in the doorframe breaks up the scene and adds some life. Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a 50mm F2.0 lens, 1/40 @f2.8, ISO 320.

I use the pop of color and door frame to draw you into this photo taken at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. The guard in the doorframe breaks up the scene and adds some life. Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a 50mm F2.0 lens, 1/40 @f2.8, ISO 320.

2. Don't just walk around photographing artwork just to duplicate the artwork. Take the time to see the art in its environment. Or how one piece plays off other pieces in the space. Or does the space or room itself become the focal point of your photograph?

The Royal Ontario Museum located in Toronto, Canada, has a great mixture of exhibits located in a wonderfully designed building. In this photo, I used the straight lines of the windows to contrast with the curved lines of the dinosaur. Choosing to present this as monochrome further emphasizes the patterns. Fujifilm X100S, 1/1250 @f2.8, ISO 800.

The Royal Ontario Museum located in Toronto, Canada, has a great mixture of exhibits located in a wonderfully designed building. In this photo, I used the straight lines of the windows to contrast with the curved lines of the dinosaur. Choosing to present this as monochrome further emphasizes the patterns. Fujifilm X100S, 1/1250 @f2.8, ISO 800.

3. Be courteous to other museum goers. Don't plant yourself in a way that puts you in a spot which blocks others from viewing exhibits. I like to keep moving until I see something that might make a nice photograph and if taking the photo at that time would impede on others experiences, I'll just take note and circle back. Also be mindful of shutter noise. If your camera has the capability of a silent shutter, this is the time to use it. Otherwise, just be mindful. 

Museums typically have some great natural light and I think in this photo that's what gives it a light airy feel and compliments the art. People can bring a museum to life and like to include them whenever possible, however, I rarely make them the center of attention. It's for that reason that I often use silhouettes or obscure faces. Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a 50mm F2.0 lens, 1/1000 @f2.0, ISO 320.

Museums typically have some great natural light and I think in this photo that's what gives it a light airy feel and compliments the art. People can bring a museum to life and like to include them whenever possible, however, I rarely make them the center of attention. It's for that reason that I often use silhouettes or obscure faces. Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a 50mm F2.0 lens, 1/1000 @f2.0, ISO 320.

4. Sometimes I like to find a bench or seat and just wait until a scene comes together. Patience is key. If you sit somewhere long enough you become part of the scene and others won't even notice you. If you are standing in one place with a camera, people may avoid you, not wanted to get in the way of what they perceive you are photographing. Stepping outside the gallery for a few minutes and then returning can reset the natural mood of others.

What caught my eye in this image at the Royal Ontario Museum located in Toronto, Canada, was the rhino behind glass as if it's guarding this gallery, but somehow being held back. Fujifilm X100S, 1/8 @f4.0, ISO 800.

What caught my eye in this image at the Royal Ontario Museum located in Toronto, Canada, was the rhino behind glass as if it's guarding this gallery, but somehow being held back. Fujifilm X100S, 1/8 @f4.0, ISO 800.

5. Take the time to enjoy your visit as well. Remember the inspiration part of this post? Step back, put down the camera and enjoy the art and exhibits around you. Many times you can also meet other like minded people and strike up a conversation. 

TIME FOR AN UPGRADE? FUJI X10 OR X100S

I purchased my Fujifilm X10, above at right, in November 2012, and wrote about it in what has become my most viewed blog post, INTRODUCING MY X10. Since then I've carried this camera almost daily and six months later I have no regrets. It has been a wonderful little camera and I still like how it looks and feels and continue to be impressed with the quality of the images.

So why have I been thinking about upgrading to the Fujifilm X100S camera? While I am not looking to replace my DSLR and lenses for work assignments, upgrading to this camera could render a second DSLR on assignment useless.

Fuji X100S.  Photo provided by Fujifilm.com

Fuji X100S. Photo provided by Fujifilm.com

Announced in January, the X100S began shipping in March and so far the hands-on reviews have been very positive. If you just read the blog reviews by Zack Arias and David Hobby, you'll want the camera immediately, however, at the time of this post, there is a one or two-month wait list.

Having such fun and success with my X10, which Fuji recently replaced with the Fujifilm X20, I immediately thought about upgrading. In my original blog post about the X10, I laid out the reasons why I purchased that camera instead of the X100 and cost and focus issues were two of them. Well, it seems focus is no longer a concern, but there is still the question of cost. At around $1,300, that clearly puts the X100S in the realm of a pro camera and not a simple point and shoot. Even though many of today's point and shoots, or sub $600 cameras, are capable of taking incredible images, just look at the X20 or what I paid for my X10, as examples.

So should I upgrade or not? To help answer that question, or maybe just convince myself one way or another, I decided to take my X10 and visit the National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center located in Chantilly, Va., in order to take some photos and see if I would be happier if I were carrying the X100S instead.

Fuji X10 at 1/80, f3.6, ISO 400, 40mm equivalent, film simulation set to Velvia.

Fuji X10 at 1/80, f3.6, ISO 400, 40mm equivalent, film simulation set to Velvia.

The lighting in parts of the museum is very dim requiring higher ISOs. Advantage X100S. By all accounts, the X100S does remarkably well at high ISOs, even 3200. I rarely push the X10 past 800. The built-in flash on the X10 is not really usable so being able to get usable photos at ISO 3200 is a real bonus. I shot mostly at ISO 400 at the museum which meant I was shooting at very slow shutter speeds, but since I was photographing static objects it was not an issue.

Fuji X10 at 1/13, f2.8, ISO 400, 112mm equivalent, film simulation set to black and white.

Fuji X10 at 1/13, f2.8, ISO 400, 112mm equivalent, film simulation set to black and white.

While most of the photos I take with the X10 are at 7.1mm or 28mm equivalent on a 35mm lens, I do sometimes find myself using the zoom, as I did often during this shoot. Advantage X10. Would I have been able to get away with just a 35mm point of view? I suppose I should not have used the zoom in order to really test that theory. Zoom with your feet, isn't that what's said.

Did you notice what I did in the previous paragraphs? I both stated one of the big reasons I am considering the X100S and one of the reasons why I am questioning if it really is the camera for me. But honestly, there is more than just ISO and zoom.

Fuji X10 at 1/25, f2.8, ISO 400, 60mm equivalent, film simulation set to standard.

Fuji X10 at 1/25, f2.8, ISO 400, 60mm equivalent, film simulation set to standard.

Ever since I purchased my first digital P&S camera I've always insisted on some sort of a viewfinder. The X10 does have a viewfinder, but the X100S with both an electronic or optical viewfinder takes it to the next level making the viewfinder incredibly usable. Advantage X100S.

Many of the other features are very similar or the same, although the X100S is a 16MP camera versus 12MP and has a nine blade aperture shutter instead of seven, the X10 does shoot 10 fps continuous versus 6 fps. Advantage on these features favors neither X10 nor the X100S. That is to say, they are not part of my decision process.

Finally, after shooting the X10 for seven months, I really don't need to be sold on the look, feel and form of this camera. While I didn't fully appreciate it at the time, I did use a Leica M3 as a second camera for several years in my early Navy career and this does have that same feel. Some of the photos I shot at the museum were taken with the camera set to black and white which made me think I really was transported back 25 years holding that M3 loaded with Tri-X film. Holding these Fuji X cameras does elicit certain emotions. Is it because I'm a little older? Maybe, but I  believe part of making good images is attitude and how you feel about your gear does play a role in that.

Fuji X10 at 1/10, f2.8, ISO 400, 100mm equivalent, film simulation set to black and white.

Fuji X10 at 1/10, f2.8, ISO 400, 100mm equivalent, film simulation set to black and white.

I could go on and on about the advantages and disadvantages, but I'm clearly not going to answer my question during this blog post and even now as I look forward to a vacation in Toronto and an upcoming assignment, a video shoot in Hawaii, I'm thinking long and hard if I want to take the DSLR with various lenses or just the X10. Or possibly even theX100S?

One question I will answer is that I do think this would make a perfect second body on any assignment.

The rest of the details and more links below:

Specifications X100S:

Number of effective pixels: 16.3 million

Image sensor: 23.6mm x 15.mm (APS-C)

Lens: 35mm equivalent at f2.0

Dimensions: 5.0 (W) x 2.9 (H) x 2.1 (D) in.

Weight:  Approx. 15.7 oz. (including battery and memory card)

Sample images from the Fuji website.

Specifications X10:

Number of effective pixels: 12 million

Image sensor: 2 / 3 inch EXR CMOS

Lens: 28mm to 112mm equivalent at f2.0 and f2.8 respectfully

Dimensions: 4.6(W) x 2.7(H) x 2.2(D) in.

Weight: 12.3 oz. (including battery and memory card)

Sample images from my Flickr X10 set.

David Hobby provides a thorough overview of all the X100S features in a YouTube video. And I even learned something new about my X10 as well by watching this.

And just in case, the leap from X10 to X100S is too much, then check out Dan Bailey's full review on the X20.

Get the full X100S specifications available on Fuji's website.