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Museums
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Museums

Museums can range from obscure little rooms with specific themes (like the tiny National Helicopter Museum housed in a commuter railroad station in Stratford, Connecticut) to grand architectural statements housing the world's great artworks. Most will allow some photography (call ahead and ask), but there are usually restrictions about using tripods and flash, so you must frequently rely on fast exposures. Even when flash is allowed, use it only in desperation. Most museums invest considerable time and money in lighting design, so why mock it with flash?

The best photo subjects in museums are usually sculptures, dioramas (in natural-history museums), and overall room views. Getting a quality shot of a painting is difficult, so it's better just to hit the postcard or poster rack and buy copies of your favorite works. If you're unfamiliar with the museum, bring several lenses: a wide-angle (around 28mm) for overall views or when space is tight, a normal lens for close-ups, and a medium telephoto (85mm to 105mm) for shooting details from a distance.

The matter of picture-taking etiquette is very serious in museums. People come from great distances to spend just a few hours in a museum; it's important to respect their concentration and privacy. Work as quickly and quietly as possible, and if you notice anyone becoming annoyed, move on and return later.

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