Photographing paintings ?

shlikei

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Hi,

I am an artist and I am looking for a way to take better photographs of my paintings.


I wonder what kind of set up you would recommend ?

I want lights, not flash (my camera cant handle that).

Is it possible to use something like this: 1250W PhotoStudio Continuous Light Kit Soft Box Softbox | eBay

...I have no idea, please advice...!

I can pay something like 100 pounds / 120 euro / 150 dollars...
 

Gavjenks

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Photographing flat paintings is much easier than lighting portraits. The only 3d content is maybe textured brush strokes, which still only require a simple 2 light setup, usually. I would split up my lighting for paintings into 2 categories, depending on the painting

Category 1) Paintings that are mostly physically flat (texture of brush strokes not playing a large role)
For these, I would get a very large umbrella or softbox with lights in it (continuous or flash, whatever), place it immediately above the camera (positioned midway with relation to the painting), and shoot. If I were willing to spend a lot of money, perhaps even a ring light or ring flash.

If you can't do that without casting angular light, then I would just consider two large umbrellas or softboxes instead, positioned immediately left and right of camera, equal strength, steep angles.

Category 2) Paintings where texture is important
I would use a key and a fill light at a moderate ratio (2:1 or 3:1 or so. As in 2-3x as much light coming from the key as from the fill). each light would be off to an opposite side, shining on the painting at maybe about 45 degrees each. The difference in strength will create subtle shadows that show off the textural nature of the painting, but since the key is not massively stronger than the fill, you will still be able to see the color and content in the shadowed portions.



If it's a crazy multimedia painting with very significant (on the order of 1 inch or more of depth) 3d elements to it, then you might need a more complex setup.
 

Tight Knot

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Photographing flat paintings is much easier than lighting portraits. The only 3d content is maybe textured brush strokes, which still only require a simple 2 light setup, usually. I would split up my lighting for paintings into 2 categories, depending on the painting

Category 1) Paintings that are mostly physically flat (texture of brush strokes not playing a large role)
For these, I would get a very large umbrella or softbox with lights in it (continuous or flash, whatever), place it immediately above the camera (positioned midway with relation to the painting), and shoot. If I were willing to spend a lot of money, perhaps even a ring light or ring flash.

If you can't do that without casting angular light, then I would just consider two large umbrellas or softboxes instead, positioned immediately left and right of camera, equal strength, steep angles.

Category 2) Paintings where texture is important
I would use a key and a fill light at a moderate ratio (2:1 or 3:1 or so. As in 2-3x as much light coming from the key as from the fill). each light would be off to an opposite side, shining on the painting at maybe about 45 degrees each. The difference in strength will create subtle shadows that show off the textural nature of the painting, but since the key is not massively stronger than the fill, you will still be able to see the color and content in the shadowed portions.



If it's a crazy multimedia painting with very significant (on the order of 1 inch or more of depth) 3d elements to it, then you might need a more complex setup.

I mostly agree with Gavjenks, but for CATEGORY 1 you will have to play around with the angle of the lighting in relation to the painting itself so as not to have the light reflect off the painting back into the camera.
Hence, the advice from KMH to read Light Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting.
 

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