Camera allowed/ or not?

Old Jul 23rd, 2007, 07:27 PM
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I have no problem with people photographing paintings if they don't interfere with the enjoyment of the majority of people wanting to just stand and look at the artwork.

What I do object to is someone obstructing my view so they can be photographed alongside a painting.

I also object to people who use flash (even taking board disputed information that it doesn't damage the paintings) as it does not make for a conducive environment to contemplate the art to have flashes continually going off.

I also think we have to accept that given the exponential growth in tourism, we all have to realise the museums and galleries are not our personal domains. Something has to give. I au paired in Paris in the early 70s and visited the Jeu de Palme, Louvre etc regularly. There used to be lots of student artists sitting on little stools doing studies of the paintings and drawings. It looks like that is also a thing of the past which is a disappointment.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2007, 10:33 PM
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Anthony, re changed rules following restorations -- I think their contracts for doing the work allowed them to specify photos not be allowed any more, whether enforceable or not. Both at The Accademia and at the Sistine Chapel.

It is effective discouragement. I bought the book with the first photographs allowed there after restoration, up close, and beautifully detailed, when I got back. It's by Takashi Okamura. Fantastic, but the most illuminating book was the one by Ross King about the trials and traums of Michelangelo when creating the paintings on that ceiling.

In St. Peter's proper, a church for all, cameras and even flash are both fine.

tomassocroccante, we saw the Sistine Chapel eject people with large DSLRs with telephoto lens. They can get quite good pictures, quietly, without flash and without much picture 'noise' ... while allowing the many with smaller camers to stay inside. I have a good DSLR with a very good telephoto lens but I never use it such circumstances.

As for not getting perfect pictures,
that's not the 'focus' ... memories of a personal kind different from impersonal postcards (which I tend to buy too) are.

Interesting what you said about the ferries! I remember enjoying a beautiful ship for about $3 from Istanbul to the Asia side way up
(about a 2.5 hr ride) and thank goodness people were allowed to photograph the beautiful sights.

althom1122, yes, I have stood behind other art appreciators (w/o cameras) who never feel they ever have to move from right in front of the painting or sculpture no matter how many people are trying to see behind their head. They are 'soaking it in' and 'enjoying the moment' but more like 'enjoying 10 minutes' while people are going crazy behind them

Re flashes going off, I agree that flash should never be used inside because it is so distracting and also because of the heat and light where the subjects might be vulnerable to a yearly onslaught of that.

Sarvowinner, it was a delight, in Italy at least, to see so many art students 'recording' what they saw. That's like going back in time, in a way.

I didn't give my Italy trip-report
link in the last note, so will here,
since it is what I enjoyed bringing back.

- Andrys

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Old Jul 23rd, 2007, 10:36 PM
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<<And I don't get the holier-than-thou attitude that enjoying the art without taking pictures is superior to enjoying the art while taking pictures. Who appointed you (those of you who are dissing all the photographers as missing the point of the art) as the ultimate authority on the best way to enjoy something?>>

Well, I know you're not talking about ME gt , holy though I may be. As you point out, althom, there are myriad ways to be thoughtless in a museum (and theater, restaurant, etc, etc.) We've seen them all, from pushy shutterbugs to loud gabbers to the ones who just like to step into the two feet of space you've left between your eyes and the canvas ...

Re: the sketchers and copyists - students and other still can be found at it, but I wonder how many know that the average museum goer is not permitted to sketch in a gallery? I've been stopped when taking out a tiny sketchbook to just cartoon an image with a few notes. "No sketching!"

All other considerations aside, the photographing and indeed sketching is thought, I assume, to clog up the already crowded galleries.

I take a lot of pictures when I travel, but not much thought for doing so in museums or even ancient houses anymore - the results just aren't so fantastic. In relatively empty places where it's allowed, some shots of architecture and sculpture can be fun to do. But I can't blame the powers that be when they disallow it.

Interestingly, there is a thread going right now about the Sistine Chapel (crowding of the Vatican Museums) that overlaps many of the thoughts posted here.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2007, 10:46 PM
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Also, re churches, or other churches. The Siena Cathedral is just incredibly impressive. They DO allow photos, just not flash, of course.

The beautiful Baptistry of the Florence Cathedral with all those biblical mosaics at the top also allows photos, including flash in their case, though I don't like using flash.

While I was taking a photo in the Siena Cathedral, of the gorgeous mosaic tile illustrated floor, a tourist in a group came over to shake his head and finger at me. A guard came up to tell him it was fine.
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Old Jul 24th, 2007, 05:59 AM
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Not specifically about photography (but with a photo that speaks the usual number of words) is this article in today's NYTimes, re: a proposal to end admission fees at many if not all museums in France.
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Old Jul 24th, 2007, 08:05 AM
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What a hilariously apropos photo! I wouldn't dare do something like that, but I've seen it.

Fascinating article. I must add that at least these people are appreciating what they see. The article bemoans the lack of education emphasis now on art at all in schools in France today, adding,

"The alarming implication might be that many French people are put off not by the museum ticket price but by the art."

- Andrys
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Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 12:02 PM
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This is to AnthonyGA.

After finishing a 13 page research paper on how flash photography destroys paintings, I was surprised to see your post encouraging and propagating the myth that museums just want to make more money.

Yes, all light will damage a painting. The museum light is set to 150 lux per hour though, the maximum a painting can handle. Although the flash of a camera is 1/100 of a second, the luminance level is 70,000 lux, which is the equivalent of sunlight, and obviously much more damaging than museum light. This data, which I uncovered from a manuscript written by expert painting conservationist Roberta Lapucci, makes me wonder where on earth you got your information that you seemed to pull out of your head. This museum light is NOT "thousands of times more harmful."

Obviously a flash is bright but brief- anyone can see that. What you have to consider is how many of these "bright but brief" flashes the Mona Lisa gets every year, or even every day, with a photography ban in effect. If the ban were taken away, the Mona Lisa would be ruined much more quickly.

You stated "the amount of light delivered by a flash is equivalent to about one or two seconds of natural shade." Once again, this is not true- it is equivalent to time in the direct sunlight.

Of course it would be nice if museums banned flash photography and not photography itself, but so many people don't know how to turn off their flash that it would put the paintings in danger.

If you are still ignorant enough to think that the light from flash will do nothing to a painting, you should at least consider legality issues. As far as copyright laws go, you violate copyright when you take a picture of a painting, and the picture you took prevents you from purchasing something from the museum. Yes, copyright laws are that sensitive.

I don't intend to return to this discussion board, but I had to say something so people don't believe the "museums just want us to buy their stuff" myth.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 12:48 PM
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agor - Thanks for the research and the post. Some of us get used to these pronouncements and ignore them. Hopefully your detailed information will "shed some light" on the subject for the rest.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 04:27 PM
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I really have no idea what you are asking by am ALWAYS amazed at people who say "OH, can you use a view finder with a digital camera?" I use nothing but, unless using it for over head shots, and my screen rotates so I can see it. Use the view finder.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 06:15 PM
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--- "Of course it would be nice if museums banned flash photography and not photography itself, but so many people don't know how to turn off their flash that it would put the paintings in danger."

Well said. That's exactly the reason I was given for the bans on general photography, that they're worried about those who have no idea how to turn their flashes off etc., and I would bet that's at least 50% of tourists in museums.

Very fair statement. As for copyright reasons, I'm one who buys more postcards and more books, when there and after I get back, so it doesn't "prevent" me from buying whatsoever, and this is true of most people I know who are camera mavens. My suitcase protested.

The shopping motivation is one understandable one, to support the museums showing these at all, but legality is probably not, since most of these are in the public domain, and the awful pictures taken in museums tend to be more quirky from the point of view of a tourist and no photographic threat to the voluminous beautiful stills that exist everywhere. I've already talked about that though.

I agree wholeheartedly that the brilliant blinding flash and the HEAT these transmit cannot be good for paintings, so I don't and I hope others don't use flash even where it's allowed (St. Peter's itself).

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