The following tips and best practices should help you photograph objects safely and get some great images for use with 3D-modeling software:
1. Know the photography policy. Before you head off to your chosen museum, make sure you understand the institution’s rules and guidelines about photography. Some museums don’t allow photography at all, while others may allow it only in their permanent collection or for objects in the public domain. Some museums allow you to bring tripods if you get permission in advance, and there may be a different set of rules if you want to record video. You can usually find this information somewhere on the museum’s website; ours is here.
2. Bring a friend. When possible, bring a friend, classmate, or relative when you go to photograph an object. Since you’ll be focused on the piece, it’s good to have someone else on hand as a “spotter” to make sure you don’t bump into other people or (gasp!) other objects.
3. Choose your artwork. Make sure to find one with space around it so that you can photograph it from multiple angles. If the piece is up against a wall, accept that you might not be able to get all the way around it.
Objects made from nonreflecting materials such as marble, stone, wood, or other organic materials are the best candidates for photogrammetry. Photographs of shiny materials such as bronze, glass, and metal will confuse 3D-modeling software and prevent it from getting a good image of your object.
Objects in glass cases can be problematic for the same reason. But here’s a tip: as long as you get the okay from a guard, you can fold a piece of paper into a cone, put the wide end up against the glass, and put the lens of the camera into the small end. Your shot won’t have any glare!
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