Tips on photographing art?

Discussion in 'Commercial/Product photography' started by The Losing Kind, May 28, 2008.

  1. The Losing Kind

    The Losing Kind TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2008
    Messages:
    197
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    This seems like the place to post this, so I apologize in advance if this is the wrong section.

    Do any of you product photographers have experience photographing drawings, or paintings? I draw as well as photograph, and I'd like to be able to take some nice photographs of my artwork at some point for a portfolio. I have a scanner, but it's not big enough to fit some of my work so photography seems like the way to go since I have a digital SLR anyway.

    So if anyone has done this before and can recommend some methods, or even show results of 2D artwork they have photographed, that would be fantastic!
     
  2. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2005
    Messages:
    7,006
    Likes Received:
    67
    Location:
    Kankakee, IL
    No worries... this is a good place to ask this question.

    Speaking basically, you can use two identical light sources, one on each side of the camera, directed at the artwork at 45 degree angles. I like to use the longest focal length I can (within reason) to minimize any distortion.

    There are particular considerations depending upon which medium you use to create your art. Anything reflective (like oil on canvas) will present a special challenge.



    -Pete
     
  3. Ben-71

    Ben-71 TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2008
    Messages:
    203
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Israel
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    The lens should be absolutely perpendicular to the paintings,
    and above the center of each.

    Depending on the equipment you have for positioning the drawings,
    lights and camera, do the reproductions either horizontally or vertically
    (it's more convenient to place the center of each painting under the
    lens when they lay horizontally.

    Depending on the paintings' sizes, light them with 2 or 4 lights (flashes?).

    Place the lights at about 30 degrees to the painting, not too close,
    and aimed at the far end of the painting.

    Take spot readings at the center and the 4 corners, and teak the lights
    until the lighting is even.

    Lower or elevate the lights a bit, until you get the right texture.

    To eliminate glare on oil paint, you may use anti glare spray (for art works),
    tune the lighting, or even try a polarizing filter (with which you can control
    the amount of some of the glare).

    I'd also use either black or white background under the paintings.

    Light……………………………………..Light

    .……………-----------------------------
    .……………|…………….....……|
    .……………|…………….....……|
    .……………-----------------------------

    Light……………………………………..Light
     
  4. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2005
    Messages:
    7,006
    Likes Received:
    67
    Location:
    Kankakee, IL
    Why? I bet you mean when using a copy stand. I get the idea that these originals are too big for a copy stand since they won't fit on a scanner and will have to be shot wall mounted.


    I advise NEVER... absolutely NEVER spray ANYTHING on original art. If it's your own work, it's up to you. But if you ever do this sort of work for a client, don't do that.

    And meter with a gray card.

    -Pete
     
  5. Ben-71

    Ben-71 TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2008
    Messages:
    203
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Israel
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    Originally Posted by Ben-71
    The lens should be ... above the center of each.

    Why? I bet you mean when using a copy stand. I get the idea
    that these originals are too big for a copy stand since they won't
    fit on a scanner and will have to be shot wall mounted. -Pete
    The key words are - "The lens should be absolutely perpendicular to the
    paintings and above the center of each".
    That's regardless of whether the set is vertical or horizontal.

    I was thinking of a tripod, as for most paintings a copy stand is too small.

    If the paintings are hung on a wall, the tripod has to be re-positioned for
    each painting size.
    If the camera is above the painting, the painting is moved on the floor,
    to center it under the lens.

    Having done many hundreds of such reproductions, both vertically &
    horizontally, I can say that a vertical set is much quicker when making
    a number of reproductions.
    When I had to do it on location (in Museums, for instance), and the set
    had to be horizontal, it always took more time.


    It does require a tall tripod and a stool or a ladder for larger paintings
    (if a studio camera stand is not available).
    Originally Posted by Ben-71
    To eliminate glare on oil paint, you may use anti glare spray
    (for art works)

    I advise NEVER... absolutely NEVER spray ANYTHING on
    original art. If it's your own work, it's up to you. But if you
    ever do this sort of work for a client, don't do that. -Pete

    I was talking about dulling spray that's made specifically for art works.
    It is harmless.
    Artists, who wanted no glare on oil paint, brought me that spray.
    It was acceptable even in a Museum.
    Years later, there's absolutely no damage to any painting.

    (I never used it on ancient paintings.)
    And meter with a gray card. -Pete


    Yes, although it doesn't matter with digital cameras, as long as the
    readings are from the same tone.
    Then, the histogram is shifted to place.
     
  6. Helen B

    Helen B TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2007
    Messages:
    3,296
    Likes Received:
    465
    Location:
    Hell's Kitchen, New York
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    If you have an incident meter, and it has a flat disk as an alternative to the dome, that can be used for metering flat art and for checking the consistency of the illumination. I find that having the lights at around 45 degrees is a good compromise between evenness of illumination and avoidance of glare.

    I use 'broads' (simple continuous lights, rather like properly engineered construction lights) for illumination, or Lowel Tota-Lights for portability.

    You can arrange a large black cloth around the camera to prevent straight-on reflections. The best copy stands I've used include this feature.

    Don't stop the lens down too much. You don't need depth of field, so just stop down enough to get to the lens' sweet spot, and take any field curvature into account (good lenses should not show significant field curvature).

    Use a black background if possible, to reduce flare. You can also use properly-designed lens hoods and mattes, which are not necessarily the ones that the lens manufacturer recommends.

    Shoot a reference card for colour.

    Be aware that some pigments are problematic because of their IR reflectance and the residual IR sensitivity of some cameras. It may be worth using an extra IR-cut filter in some cases.

    Try to avoid wide lenses, even if they have low distortion. The wider a lens is, the more it will show a fall-off in illumination at the corners. This may, of course, be a help because it may offset uneven illumination. It's also the sort of thing that can be corrected in post. Shooting a plain background makes a reference for illumination evenness, and takes both lighting and lens performance into account.

    Best,
    Helen
     
  7. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2003
    Messages:
    9,523
    Likes Received:
    344
    Location:
    North New Jersey, United States of America
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Just curious... are their light sources specifically designed to be safe for antique precious art?
     
  8. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2005
    Messages:
    7,006
    Likes Received:
    67
    Location:
    Kankakee, IL

    I don't know of any lamps specifically designed for this. I suppose, any light is harmful to some degree. But, repeated or prolonged exposure to ultra violet light is harmful, so work shouldn't be displayed in an area with sunlight, fluorescent lamps or be exposed to repeated flash or strobe lighting.
    All of these light sources include ultra violet light.

    For critical work, I use two tungsten lamps fitted with polarizing filters. A linear polarizing filter is placed on the lens.

    -Pete
     
  9. TheLostPhotographer

    TheLostPhotographer TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
    Messages:
    128
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    A Magical City

    I photograph all my paintings and drawings to reproduce as limited edition prints (or, at least that's the plan - haven't actually tried to sell any yet!). Anyway, for reproduction as accurate as possible at a decent resolution for printing actual size (some are 3 Meters x 1 Meter) I use MF film. Transparency film usually. Standard lens square on seems to offer the least distortion.

    Don't bother with studio and lights. Just wait for an overcast day with well diffused daylight and shoot them all in a courtyard surrounded by white walls with a sheet spread overhead for even more diffusion. Depending on time of year, it's best to avoid late/early sun. If you want to be really fussy you could use a colour temperature meter, but not really necessary in this digital era. PhotoShop can fix any minor issues. Cheap, easy and very accurate colour reproduction.
     
  10. The Losing Kind

    The Losing Kind TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2008
    Messages:
    197
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    Thanks for all the great responses!
     

Share This Page

Search tags for this page
art museum photography tips
,
avoiding glare when taking photos of a floor
,
dulling spray for artwork
,
dulling spray for photographing paintings
,

how to avoid glare when photographing paintings

,
photographing art in a gallery
,

photographing drawings

,
photographing paintings
,
shooting art work on walls avoiding glare
,

tips on photographing paintings