Use of flash in art galleries.


OldTaffy

Link Posted 16/11/2019 - 16:00
Just an update: a few years ago I posted an article summarising the consensus views about photographers using flash in museums and art galleries. At the time I was mainly focussing on the widespread view that flash destroys the colour pigments, etc, in works of art. For several years my essay had been held on the publicly-accessible parts of the University of Cambridge computing system.

The university computing service has now closed down all the personal and group web pages. I have moved my essay (and others) to:

a Wordpress URL called westevan.org

I think that most museums are now pretty relaxed about people taking photos, though there is still an understandable hostility to people using flash because of the annoyance it causes to other gallery visitors.

Martin
A few of my photographs in flickr.
Lizars 1910 "Challenge" quarter-plate camera; and some more recent stuff.

RobL

Link Posted 16/11/2019 - 20:14
OldTaffy wrote:
Just an update: a few years ago I posted an article summarising the consensus views about photographers using flash in museums and art galleries. At the time I was mainly focussing on the widespread view that flash destroys the colour pigments, etc, in works of art. For several years my essay had been held on the publicly-accessible parts of the University of Cambridge computing system.

The university computing service has now closed down all the personal and group web pages. I have moved my essay (and others) to:

a Wordpress URL called westevan.org



I think that most museums are now pretty relaxed about people taking photos, though there is still an understandable hostility to people using flash because of the annoyance it causes to other gallery visitors.

Martin

Fascinating article. Microstock agencies are pretty clear on their position on photographs of artworks, that is they cannot be sold without the copyright owner’s written permission and as you can imagine they can be very difficult to identify and trace. Does owning a picture confer copyright or is it still with the artist or his/her descendants? The definition of artworks is equally complex and includes just about anything produced “creatively” ranging from graffiti to stained glass windows.

Your document says that all light causes a measurable but admittedly small degradation of some pigments but the use of flash is tiny compared to museum lighting. Nevertheless I imagine over an extended period, say 200 years, it would in theory be possible to detect some impact and for most museum and art gallery exhibits we are duty bound to maintain these works in as pristine a state as possible for future generations. I for one would be happy to see a ban on flash particularly given the rapidly developing sensitivity of sensors to low light, and anyhow most handheld flashlit shots will have distracting hotspots so are of questionable value.

1stEverPentax

Link Posted 16/11/2019 - 20:44
I've never felt the need for flash in a museum with my Pentax DSLR (s)...static exhibits usually adequate lighting...with IBIS...no problem.

Regards

Karlo

johnriley

Link Posted 16/11/2019 - 21:48
Most galleries are now very open to photography, but not flash. Regardless of the rights or wrongs of using flash, from a photographic perspective it doesn't help as it introduces harsh lighting and reflections. It destroys atmosphere.

In any event, we can increase the ISO to levels that are just amazing and that can be more than satisfactory even in the darkest of places.




ISO 51,200
Best regards, John

alfpics

Link Posted 16/11/2019 - 23:00
Well - that's impressive John!
Andy

Gwyn

Link Posted 17/11/2019 - 14:05
Controversial response coming up.

I'm a photographer (sort of) and I enjoy art galleries and museums. What I don't enjoy are others taking photos of the paintings.
I'm sorry but I just don't understand the need to photograph them rather than just enjoying them as they are. There are plenty of museums which don't allow photography of art works, maybe for copyright reason or just to keep things pleasant in the rooms.
A pity places like the Louvre don't do the same so people could actually look at the Mona Lisa (though why they would lord only knows) rather than needed binoculars and to be really tall to see over the hordes of selfie takers
I went to a big Escher exhibition, where everything is copyrighted and there were pictograms up all over the place indicating no photography, yet I couldn't get near some of the works on display for mobile phones and a couple of DSLRs. There was a single security guard and he was already busy with another photographer. It was very frustrating.
Enjoy the art for arts sake and go make your own art with your camera somewhere else.
If you want a copy of the painting the chances are you can get an excellent print for not a lot of money in the gift shop on your way out.

johnriley

Link Posted 17/11/2019 - 15:59
I think you make fair enough points there Gwyn,. The only thing I would argue (in the nicest possible way!) is that there is art to be made amongst the art, or, if not art, then at least statements about the art.

An example is my website cover photo: http://johnriley1uk.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/012-The-Appreciatio...

I feel that's a valid thing to be shooting in an art gallery, but I'd be happy to hear how you agree or disagree.
Best regards, John

OldTaffy

Link Posted 17/11/2019 - 17:49
Thanks, folks, for your comments. To respond to a few points:

Robert raised the point that, over time, the small photon damage done by repeated flash photography would add to the total damage done by exposure to the normal gallery lighting. True, but in most cases the added damage is small, and a couple of people have suggested that this damage could usually be offset by turning the gallery lights off 10 minutes early! Nowadays most fine art galleries have internal rules about how long paintings can be displayed, even in controlled-light galleries (usually 200 lux; see my paragraph "how much light is safe?")

John: you have given us a splendid example of a good image obtained with extraordinary ISO setting. I agree entirely; the last para in my section "Small digital cameras with built-in flash" mentions this, but the problems for gallery attendants comes from visitors who don't know how to disable the auto flash on their simple compact cameras.

While I respect the views of Gwyn and others who would prefer not to have any photography in galleries, there are many reasons why people might genuinely want to take pictures. The members of the Museums Association, most of whom are museum professionals, were invited to respond to a poll a while ago, asking if they favoured allowing photography in galleries. Surprisingly, 83% said that they approved of letting visitors take photos - but without flash. I mention this at the end of my essay.

There are still many valid reasons not to permit flash photography in art galleries, the main one being the annoyance it causes to other visitors. The latter part of my essay discusses these various reasons, some more credible than others.
A few of my photographs in flickr.
Lizars 1910 "Challenge" quarter-plate camera; and some more recent stuff.

womble

Link Posted 17/11/2019 - 23:04
Taking photos of paintings is difficult to get good quality, and I agree with Gwyn that if you want an image of a specific painting, buy it in the shop. I, however, often want to take images of odd things in museums for lectures that are not otherwise easily obtainable (I had a devil of a job getting permission to take a photo of a Roman tap in an Italian museum once upon a time). Even that, though, is becoming less of an issue as more and more museums put more and more of their collections online although in fairly lo-res (usually good enough for powerpoint though). What I do enjoy doing, though, is taking pictures of the place itself, and the people in it. For that, the last thing you want is a flash going off. I could see banning photos in the room with with the Mona Lisa, just from a through-put and people-annoying perspective, but more generally not being allowed to take photos at all would be a shame.
Kris Lockyear
It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera… they are made with the eye, heart and head. Henri Cartier-Bresson
Lots of film bodies, a couple of digital ones, too many lenses (mainly older glass) and a Horseman LE 5x4.

My website

McGregNi

Link Posted 18/11/2019 - 00:01
A lot of the people there doing the selfies are just part of the online social media world, where things didn't really happen unless there is a Facebook or Instagram update posted with the requisite images to prove it.

For those people it is no different than the pictures of their lunches, pets etc that are posted endlessly, except that on a trip away or visit to a gallery it just goes exponential as another wow me! experience.

Of course, I always used Pentax User for my wow me! moments....
My Guides to the Pentax Digital Camera Flash Lighting System : Download here from the PentaxForums Homepage Article .... link
Pentax K7 with BG-4 Grip / Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC / DA18-55mm f3.5-5.6 AL WR / SMC A28mm f2.8 / D FA 28-105mm / SMC F35-70 f3.5-4.5 / SMC A50mm f1.7 / Tamron AF70-300mm f4-5.6 Di LD macro / SMC M75-150mm f4.0 / Tamron Adaptall (CT-135) 135mm f2.8 / Asahi Takumar-A 2X tele-converter / Pentax AF-540FGZ (I & II) Flashes / Cactus RF60/X Flashes & V6/V6II Transceiver
Last Edited by McGregNi on 18/11/2019 - 00:26

JAK

Link Posted 18/11/2019 - 02:01
womble wrote:
What I do enjoy doing, though, is taking pictures of the place itself, and the people in it.

Taking photos of people in museums might sometimes be an issue. At the NRM in York, for instance, they have these rules:
Quote:
Visitors are permitted to use hand-held cameras in the museum for private and non-commercial purposes, but must not:
Use cameras in any areas where video or photography is restricted—this will always be clearly indicated
Make any recording or take any photograph of any person without that person’s permission
Non-private or commercial use of cameras/recording devices and the use of tripods or lighting is only allowed by prior arrangement.

Mind, given the crowds n the place taking a photo without someone in it can be a real challenge and people don't seem to bother as I doubt they've read the terms and conditions anyhow.
Also some countries have national laws that forbid it (e.g. France.)
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Country_specific_consent_requirements
John K
Last Edited by JAK on 18/11/2019 - 02:06

pschlute

Link Posted 29/09/2020 - 20:15
Mods please ......
Peter



My Flickr page
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