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Photographing Rock Art


Rock art is often difficult to photograph. The following points may help you take clearer and more useful photographs of rock art.

  • Take photographs of the shelter, whole panels and details of individual images.
  • Get as close as possible to the rock when taking detail shots (be careful not to touch the rock or art). It is often not possible to see the crucial details of images in general photographs of panels.
  • Direct flash often reflects off the rock and washes-out photographs. Rather use diffused or reflected flash, or direct flash from an oblique, off-camera location. (Flash does not damage the rock art.)
  • Direct sunlight is not ideal for photographing rock paintings. Diffused or reflected light gives a much better result.
  • Early mornings and evenings are the best times of day for photographing (and viewing) rock engravings. The oblique light makes them more easily visible.
  • Do not wet rock paintings under any circumstances. Doing so will irreparably damage the paintings, and is illegal in terms of national and provincial legislation.
  • Do not touch rock paintings. Physical abrasion and oils from hands damage the paintings.