Photos of Paintings

dpolston

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I have been asked by a local artist to photograph his artwork for reproduction reasons. I have 2 questions.

First (my brain dumping) is to set up a soft box style tent. I have a lighting kit that is will give me the flexibility I need, but I don't do much "product photography". I was thinking something like this:

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Next: I'm thinking of $50.00 - $75.00 a digital negative (starving artist thing). And I'm not really wanting to retain a copyright because it's his work.

Am I on track? Has anyone done this kind of copy work? I know that color is critical in this and a good white balance/raw image is very necessary. I'm concerned by the setup. This particular artist rents booth space beside about 20 other artist (to paint and display) and this might be a very good little market.
 

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dpolston

dpolston

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So, I take it, I'm good here.
 

The Phototron

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Well I mean as long you as got space to adjust the angle and distance, there's really no problem with the left and right 2 light set up.
 

Christie Photo

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Has anyone done this kind of copy work? I know that color is critical in this and a good white balance/raw image is very necessary. I'm concerned by the setup. This particular artist rents booth space beside about 20 other artist (to paint and display) and this might be a very good little market.

It does sound like it may be a nice niche market. You may be able to get a steady flow of work.

With that in mind, I wondering what medium is used. If you'll be getting much oil on canvas work, you'll want to look into polarized light sources combined with a polarizing filter on the lens.

-Pete
 

RacePhoto

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This may be from Mars, but have you considered taking the photos in his studio, under the same natural lighting and angles that they were produced?

I only mention this because I had a oil that only looked "right" if the was hug on a West wall, with light from the South and East. I have to assume artist painted in the morning, in a room with South-East exposure. :lol: (and no I didn't make this up!)

The subtle colors and some details, only showed under morning daylight. Artificial lighting, parts of the painting turned into big freeform blobs, but they were really dancers in motion.

Just a thought to consider. Sometimes natural light is better than anything artificial, and you can mitigate it with blinds, gobos (flags) and scrims.
 

Alex_B

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my experience with ancient oil paintings is, to avoid light at a very shallow angle at all costs, even if it is diffuse. You will get very nasty and long shadows on the image since the surface is usually far from being flat.

So I think the top light might even ruin the image when shooting oil paintings.


RacePhoto might have a point as well with the natural light.
 

dipstick

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Sounds like you're on the right track, and doing reproductions are not very stressful, no models, no poses, so you only have to worry about your light, and two soft sources should be fine. Also try to be as accurate as possible when it comes to aligning the painting and your camera. The angle of the painting and the film plane should be the same to prevent distortions compared to the original image. Including a color chart in the frame, and shooting raw would be a good idea for good color reproduction.

If this sounds like work, there's always the dirty way: bring the painting outside on an overcast day and shoot it handheld and correct distortions in PS. I did this a few times to get some last minute reproductions for catalogs, when there was no time to bring it to the studio.
 

nicfargo

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Polston,
Check out a book called light: Science and Magic. One of the first chapters is actually about this very thing. Are you able to set up this picture anywhere you want to be able to take pictures, or is it in a studio. If you can move it around then you can play with a larger family of angles (angles of light that will not give off reflection). The top light should not be needed...unless the art is like 10ft tall. Just the two light sources on the side...usually at a pretty shallow angle to the portrait. Also, depending on what the medium is for the art, you're dealing with different types of reflection. A matted piece of art will produce diffuse reflection while a glossy light will produce polarized (I think) reflection. I'm a little rusty on the names for the reflection...I just remember they're different. You may need a polarizing filter on your light and your lens to get a good shot...thats probably worst case scenario though.
 

Oceanblue140

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I have done many Art reproductions and I can tell you the absolute best lighting for this is Daylight, Studio lighting is never even enough unless you have Floresent Banks! Try and position the painting on a wall near a large window where the light is not direct sunlight but bright even and smooth, this will give you your best repro.
 

LaFoto

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I once tried to photograph my f-i-l's canvases ... without being commissioned to do so, and just for fun ... and did that with nothing but my speedlight pointed towards the white (!) ceiling of our living room. I feel the outcome was quite good...
 

chinpokojed

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This what I do professionally so please don't take this the wrong way, but this is very specialized photography, and there is much more involved in getting a good shot of a painting then what has been mentioned here.

Equipment wise we shoot 4x5 with a Betterlight Super8K (~384 megapixel digital back), a custom made alignment system, lights, etc, all in all probably around $50k in specialized equipment.

In addition while your shot may end up being incredible, since it's film the artist is going to need to get it scanned again (losing a generation), color corrected, etc, before he can expect even a remotely accurate print.

We see a lot of professional photographers attempting to photograph art for reproduction, and sadly most of these starving artists end up having to pay us to shoot it again to get a color accurate Giclee print.

Food for thought, hope I don't come off as an arrogant jerk ;)

Gallery Street
 

Alex_B

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colour accuracy can be achieved with cheaper setups than you mention.

lens distortion and alignment of the camera can be an issue which is tricky, I agree.

As for the resolution needed, it depends on the size of course.

So it always depends on what you want to achieve, of course you get, what you pay for.
 

chinpokojed

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colour accuracy can be achieved with cheaper setups than you mention.

lens distortion and alignment of the camera can be an issue which is tricky, I agree.

As for the resolution needed, it depends on the size of course.

So it always depends on what you want to achieve, of course you get, what you pay for.

Absolutely, however I will warn you that artists are very picky (as any good photographer knows), and color accuracy on this level can be incredibly difficult.

As some people mentioned previously, if you don't have a proper lighting setup for this than go outside on an overcast day, get your handy color checker in the frame, get your camera as squared up to your painting as possible, and as big in the frame as you can manage.
 

chinpokojed

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I just reread the original post (reading = good) and realized you're shooting digital not film. In that case you really should also be creating a custom color profile just for this shot and lighting conditions.
 

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