Shooting flat artwork

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Hair Bear, Feb 25, 2007.

  1. Hair Bear

    Hair Bear TPF Noob!

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    I've been asked to shoot some art for friend.

    Its canvas based oils and has a lot of surface texture.

    Any tips on getting this right?

    I know I need to get the artwork level to the camera to avoid lens distortion.

    But what about
    Colour
    Lighting
    Capturing the texture of the art
    Tripod, remote timed or cable release

    I'm buying a SB600 this week, so will have that as light source if required - softbox, umbrella?

    I currently use a 35-70mm Nikkor on a d200
     
  2. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Yup. It is completely technical. The film or sensor plane must be exactly parallel to the artwork - exactly. Light the subject with two equal light sources - one on either side exactly 45 degrees to the film plane. I mean exactly. If you get it wrong, the subject won't be lit evenly. It is that simple. How you accomplish that is a matter of the equipment available.
     
  3. Hair Bear

    Hair Bear TPF Noob!

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    Ive only got the one light source so I was thinking out side shoot
     
  4. tasman

    tasman TPF Noob!

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    I shot some artwork for one person, a couple of years ago. I used 2 daylight balanced 500watt bulbs and 35mm daylight slide film. (he needed slided for the publisher)
    I set the lights up on either side of the flat artwork, far enough away to not have a hotspot on the art, set my camera on a tripod and metered the art and then fired away. I also bracketed the shots to be on the safe side.
    And yes, everything has to be flat and parallel to the camera or it will not look good. Also the Daylight balanced bulbs only have a life of about five minutes, so I turned them on for only 5 seconds at the most for metering and taking the picture.
    The slides turned out perfectly, with detail and accurate color of the artwork. He was very happy with the results.

    Also I did not use a flash.
     
  5. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    If you could get access to a copy stand, that would probably be the easiest. The one at the local darkroom here has a camera mount and two lights already set.
     
  6. Torus34

    Torus34 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Anyone can easily get hold of two light sources. Simple clamp-on reflectors from a hardware store will do.
     
  7. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hard to find two suns. At the very least choose a very overcast day.
     
  8. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    It may be possible to light the subject evenly enough if you reflect the flash off a wall behind the camera with a really wide angle. I have done this before to get a very even and dead lighting for pastel drawing.

    Either way you go with your lighting another important thing to remember is that you are using a zoom lens. These generally barreldistortion at their wide angles and pincousion at their other extreme. Try and find the focal distance on the lense which has the least distortion, i.e. all lines in the image a parallel.
     
  9. JD in Socal

    JD in Socal TPF Noob!

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    Just a wild guess here, but isn't there a large, hi-resolution scanner that would do a better job on flat artwork? No distortion or lighting issues to deal with...

    JD
     
  10. Hair Bear

    Hair Bear TPF Noob!

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    I'm going to order a 50mm prime so I will try and use this for it.

    Do you think I could make a big white tent out of muslin and diffuse out side light with it? Like a big white box

    I don't know anybody who has the sort of flat bed size scanner that would take this size of artwork. Even if I did, I would then need to get all the artwork there and he would be paying a hudge amount for scanning I think.
     
  11. tasman

    tasman TPF Noob!

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    There is a hi res scanner for artwork. But the cost is very high to scan a print. The artist I did some work for was going to do that, but the cost was well over his budget.
     
  12. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    If you are going to photograph the paintings outside (the cheapest and to some extent easiest option) then find a North facing wall of a house and do it there. A light overcast is helpful but not essential. Just remember that blue sky has a high colour temp so you will need to use at least a 5500K setting.
    If you use artificial light then put the lights at 45 degrees to the image equidistantly. This will minimise flare. On smallish artwork I used to use a pencil. Put it in the middle of the work. It will cast a shadow a bit like a sundial. Adjust the lights until you get the two shadows as nearly the same as you can. It works even better if you use four lights - you sometimes get them on copy stands.
    The ideal is flash with two large softboxes, again placed at 45 degrees. But these tend to give pretty much the same light as North light so...
     

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