This workshop explains how to digitally photograph cultural objects to meet conservation and documentation requirements. It includes information on how to choose proper photographic equipment; the various types of digital cameras and how they function; different light sources and their influence on colour; assorted lighting techniques; and setting up a digital workflow. The importance of combining all these elements in an appropriate manner to consistently produce accurate images is also discussed.

Although not a mandatory purchase, Lighting Methods for Photographing Museum Objects would be a valuable reference tool for this course. This practical spiral-bound guide demonstrates how lighting can shape and highlight the features of an object in a photograph. It includes 15 lighting techniques, all of which are clearly explained and illustrated with colour photos. Whether you are a professional photographer, curator, heritage professional, or student, this book will assist you in the creation of effective photographic documentation. (25% discount available on this title to students with valid ID and to post-secondary institutions within Canada ordering multiple copies).

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • understand the basic characteristics and functioning of various types of digital cameras
  • understand the basics of digital image capture and file types
  • understand light sources and colour balance
  • choose appropriate lighting methods to document objects
  • set up and understand digital workflow


Camera Types and Their Characteristics

Characteristics and functioning of various types of digital cameras. How to choose the best camera to meet specific needs (documentation, print publication, or Web posting). Overview of camera lenses, image sensors, image resolution, colour space, and file formats and their archival properties.

Light Sources and Accessories

Common light sources for photographing museum objects (daylight, electronic flash, and tungsten lights) and the characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages of each type. Problems associated with competing light sources, and remedies. Light source accessories and their use. Proper lighting terminology. Precautions to prevent damage to cultural objects.

Determining the Proper Lighting Setup

Basic lighting for photographing two-dimensional (flat) objects. Supplementary lighting for photographing three-dimensional objects. Using a light meter to measure lighting ratios.

Subject Matter and Exposure Determination

Demonstrations and hands-on practice: proper setup of camera and lighting, exposure determination, and use of a colour reference card to accurately photograph museum objects.

Target Audience

Conservators, conservation scientists, registrars, and other conservation and museum professionals seeking an introduction to or review of photographic equipment and methods.


Mylène Choquette and Germain Wiseman


English, French

Enrollment Limits

Minimum 10; maximum 12


2 days

Special Requirements

A list of requirements will be provided upon request. Please email:

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