Photographing Artwork

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by MarcusM, Jul 1, 2008.

  1. MarcusM

    MarcusM TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2007
    Messages:
    1,236
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    St. Paul, MN, USA
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    I know this has been discussed a bit before, and I did a search but didn't find answers to my specific questions, so here goes, any help appreciated.

    I have an opportunity to possibly take some photographs of artists' paintings to use for their portfolios. I have already taken some photos of an artist friend's paintings and learned a little, they came out pretty decent but I want to make sure I'm doing this right if I'm going to get paid.

    1. This relates to all off-camera flash in general, but I've wondered this and haven't ever seen this question addressed: When using off-camera flash, does the existing light in the room ever cause problems with the color?

    2. What is the best way to be able to take photos of extremely large paintings (40 x 40" or so), I have the Manfrotto 055XPROB - if I'm laying the painting on the ground, can I get back far enough with this?

    3. Would my Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens work for this?

    4. I would like to work with natural light if at all possible, is there some type of diffuser that would work to take these out in the back yard to shoot them?

    5. Is there anything else I should know about? I would think this is fairly minimal and simple as far as the setup and like I said I've already had good results; the artist loved them and has had many compliments but I just want to make sure I cover the bases and don't disappoint anyone!
     
  2. loopy

    loopy Brave little froggy...

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2005
    Messages:
    389
    Likes Received:
    33
    Location:
    Southern Alberta , Canada
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    I did a piece the other week for a friend. I took it into the backyard on an overcast day against the garage door. I just used my Canon Powershot S5is, took 4 photos and stitched them together in PS. I really had no idea what I was doing but I managed to pull it off - we printed it off with identical quality/colors of the 3x4 ft original.
     
  3. chris

    chris TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2003
    Messages:
    271
    Likes Received:
    22
    Location:
    Scotland
    Your best options for lighting are proably:
    1 diffuse daylight
    2 twin diffused flash units, one each side of the artwork and at an angle of 45 degrees to the surface
    3 bounced flash.

    Having the artwork on the ground can work very well but watch out for shadows. Check that the camera is parallel to the artwork by using a spirit level

    The 50 mm should be excellent for this. A rough mental calculation is that you would need to be about 90 inches away from the artwork. This is easily checked by focussing on the artwork when it fills the frame and meaasuring the camera to subject distance. This will probably be too much for the tripod if you are laying the artwork flat on the ground but you could always raise the tripod up on some chairs or other supports. If you have the artwork on the ground then take care not to drop anything on it.
     
  4. tinfish

    tinfish TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2008
    Messages:
    106
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Amarillo
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    I agree with the Chris I think the 50mm would work great.
    If you are shooting indoors with flash then the existing light can cause some issues primarily background vs. foreground if you are balancing ambient with flash. You can crank up your flash output and underexpose your ambient which will darken down background and wipe most of your ambient. Or you can gel your flash and set your white balance for your ambient. As chris said, I think diffuse daylight would work nice. If you can't count on it being cloudy everyday you can go to walmart, or fabric store and buy you large piece of white fabric. Get some Small PVC or whatever you want to put together a frame and make you a diffuser panel. Just put it between the artwork and the sun, if should soften the light a lot. Anyway just my 2 cents.

    Good luck
     
  5. MarcusM

    MarcusM TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2007
    Messages:
    1,236
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    St. Paul, MN, USA
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Thanks for the info everyone...

    Bifurcator, one thing I read about after I made this thread is to not use diffused light when taking photos of artwork with texture - I had thought you would want diffused light but this makes sense...so if for example I'm taking a shot of a painting with lots of texture, lots of paint, would your setup still work? Would I be able to capture the texture of the painting?
     
  6. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2008
    Messages:
    7,274
    Likes Received:
    406
    Location:
    Shepherdsturd, WV / Almost, MD
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    The only way to capture texture with any light is to shoot across the texture.

    I'd personally shoot two off camera flashes at 45 degrees with shoot through umbrellas and put one flash's power setting 1/3 of a stop less than the other, maybe even 2/3, to get a little bit of a shadow coming across the surface.

    Is this framed art work with glass?

    and I'd rather have it hanging or sitting up on something. It's extremely difficult to get your camera completely parallel and centered over a large canvas unless you have something that will allow you to step up and over the art.
     
  7. Peanuts

    Peanuts TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2005
    Messages:
    2,905
    Likes Received:
    85
    Location:
    Canada
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    Sorry I haven't read through all of this but one thing that should be mentioned is to make sure that the colour reproduction is 100% correct. Shoot in RAW and do custom WB. :)
     
  8. Bifurcator

    Bifurcator TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2008
    Messages:
    3,312
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Japan
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Yes, it will pick up subtle canvas and paint textures. But you do not want the hard texture shadows of the painting in the photograph as it's considered highly unprofessional as is capturing specular highlights too - very bad. If for some reason you want denser shadows just move the flash closer to the diffusion panel and you will increase the shadow density.

    BTW, I edited my previous post quite allot (again) and added another image.
     
  9. RyanLilly

    RyanLilly No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2007
    Messages:
    1,478
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    St. Louis, Missouri, USofA
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    And do it on a calibrated monitor. And let the client know that the photos will only look their best on a calibrated monitor.
     
  10. deanimator

    deanimator TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2007
    Messages:
    534
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    East Germany
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    Please also notice Bifurcator mentioned longer lenses...they will have less edge distortion (barrel effect) than your 50mm
     
  11. Bifurcator

    Bifurcator TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2008
    Messages:
    3,312
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Japan
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Yup! You can "undistort" it in PS with the Lens Correction" tool but it's of course better to not have to. ;) If you do shoot with 60 or less shoot a grid pattern of some kind (home made, graph paper, etc.) the same size, distance, etc. as the painting for each painting and then adjust the grid shot to perfection first. Then apply the same settings to the painting shot as you did to the grid shot.

    Also on the brush stroke shadows we were talking about earlier... Although the accepted (or "professional") way is one way it's ultimately what the customer wants so ask them and you won't get into trouble. :D
     
  12. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2007
    Messages:
    5,327
    Likes Received:
    264
    Location:
    The Upper West Side of Mississippi (you have no i
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    How about a great huge softbox as close to directly behind the camera as possible.

    I would think that you would want a little shadow to show the texture.

    Testure is almost as important in oilpainting as color. Ask Monet!
     

Share This Page