Ideas for shooting paintings

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Dylan, Sep 26, 2006.

  1. Dylan

    Dylan TPF Noob!

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    I have a few of my fathers paintings I'd like to post on my pbase site. I've heard it's difficult to accuratly shoot paintings so can anyone advise me on the proper technique? They are canvas mounted on a wood frame with no glossy colors. Is it even worth trying to do this without a bounce flash and a diffuser?
     
  2. Torus34

    Torus34 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The only problem I can see is glare from the reflection of light from the painting. If you are careful with lighting the painting, there should be no problem at all.
     
  3. pacereve

    pacereve TPF Noob!

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    I'd stay away from a flash, personally. If there isn't enough light in the room, use a lamp or two until the room is bright enough. Steady the camera on a tripod and see what happens.
     
  4. Philip Weir

    Philip Weir TPF Noob!

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    Simply set two flash heads at lower than 45 degrees from either side, low enough so no reflection is obvious, not too close to the painting. If your Dad's painting are oil, then polarize the lens to cut out reflection from the edge of the paint strokes. Flash is the best as then you can control your colour balance. If water paint, then you won't need to polarize the lens.

    www.philipweirphotography.com
     
  5. Dylan

    Dylan TPF Noob!

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    Well the paint is a matte finish so I'm guessing there won't be too much glare. I'll try it both ways and see what's best.
     
  6. BobHelmond

    BobHelmond TPF Noob!

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    Warning, bouncing the light may not be any help in reducing reflections on the subject you are copying.

    The concern is not the "glossy colors" reflecting light, so much as the very brush strokes reflecting the illuminating light.

    I've had considerable experience copying art. If you want to control the reflections, you must not only put a polarizer on your taking lens, but also polarize the light sources. Circular polarizing filters are not what you need. Linear is the way to go.

    First find a source for polarizing material large enough to fit over your INCANDESCENT light sources (which will be placed at a 45 degree angle to the art. Using your lens filter, ascertain the direction of polarization of the light filters, and place them over the light sources so that they are both aligned in the same direction.

    From here on, the only polarizing control you will use is that of adjusting the taking lens filter.

    Rotating the filter, note how the reflections of the brush strokes will appear and disappear (it's just such magic!) Beware, however, eliminating every trace of reflection will yield a very flat reproduction that will look like a painting. Strive for just a hint of brush stroke reflection, and you will have achieved perfection.

    Take a peak at some reproductions of old masters; you'll see what I mean.

    Good luck.
     
  7. Dylan

    Dylan TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the information. I had no idea what I was getting into but I really want to post these paintings so I'll take your advice. Thanks again
     
  8. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    And there it is. This is the correct way.

    Pete
     
  9. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    It is pretty simple. In the first place you need to orient the camera and the painting so that they are parallel to each other. If the paintings are hanging, then raise your tripod so that you shoot "head on." If you want to use artificial light, you will need two equal sources at 45 degrees to the subject - i.e. copy stand lighting. For an amateur, it will probably be easier to use window light or some other available light. I've done some gallery catalogs and never found it difficult to shoot paintings.
     

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