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How to photograph art
A friend of mine asked me to take photographs of his art (paintings, drawings, etc). In photographing art, do you have any recommendations about.

Focal length.

Aperture.

Light source.

ISO.

I read an article with recommendations, but now I can't seem to find it..

Thanks,.

Carter..

Comments (12)

Http://www.betterphoto.com/exploring/shootingPaintings.asp.

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Http://s185.photobucket.com/...02/?albumview=slideshow&mediafilter=images.

Http://s185.photobucket.com/...3/eirianfa2002/Komandoo%202008/?albumview=grid..

Comment #1

What purpose are the photographs for?.

The camera settings should be to provide the highest quality image possible and you should attempt to fill the frame, leaving just a little space around the artwork so you can straighten it afterwards in Photoshop if needed. You can shoot JPEG but only maximum quality. If you're asking about a lens, the best is a macro in the 60mm range, especially with the 1.5 magnification factor on most DSLR's or you'll be far away from the art. Lowest ISO that the camera is capable of. Start with two balanced light sources bounced into white umbrellas at 45 degree angles to the artwork and tweak the placement based on reflections or specular highlights. There should be no glass over the artwork and you'll probably have to crop out the frames afterwards if there are any, which is why I asked what the purpose of the photographs are.

Do a custom white balance under the same lighting you're going to be using for more accurate color..

I have a number of web pages designed to help artists photograph their own artwork:http://bermangraphics.com/digital-jury-resources/photographing-art.htm.

Cartercooper wrote:.

A friend of mine asked me to take photographs of his art (paintings,drawings, etc). In photographing art, do you have any recommendationsaboutfocal lengthaperturelight sourceISO.

Larry Bermanhttp://BermanGraphics.com..

Comment #2

Thanks for the link to your site: I enjoyed reading it. My question: What is jury slide art? (from context, I think it means taking pictures of your artwork to promote your work to a gallery or client. Am I right?).

To answer your question: my friend does a little free lance work, and he needs to send some examples to someone..

Your unasked question:I am using a Canon digital rebel XTi, 50 mm 1.8..

For lighting I will probably use indirect sunlight outdoors..

Thanks for your help..

Carter..

Comment #3

Cartercooper wrote:.

Thanks for the link to your site: I enjoyed reading it. My question:What is jury slide art? (from context, I think it means takingpictures of your artwork to promote your work to a gallery or client.Am I right?).

To answer your question: my friend does a little free lance work,and he needs to send some examples to someone..

Your unasked question:I am using a Canon digital rebel XTi, 50 mm 1.8..

For lighting I will probably use indirect sunlight outdoors..

Thanks for your help..

Carter.

Larry's instructions are dead on, as is the more detailed stuff on his site. You're OK with the XTi and the 50mm 1.8 (stop it down to f/8 or so). Using a tripod is important for sharpness and squareness..

Outdoor sunlight, even indirect, will give you grief. You'll get unwanted texture and uneven illumination. Get a couple of floods and set them up as Larry indicates for even lighting..

Leonard Migliore..

Comment #4

Any artist that wants to do an art show or apply to a state art grant must submit digital images (formally 35mm slides) of their artwork, photographed and prepared to show the work as best it can be shown. Their livelihood depends on having great looking (but accurate) images of their artwork because they will be juried (competing against) other people in their mediums. Those are the type of artists I work with every day..

The camera itself is not as important as how you set it to achieve maximum quality. The 50mm lens will not be as corrected as a dedicated macro lens. Make sure to keep the artwork away from the edges of the frame to minimize distortion..

Indirect sunlight can be used but you will probably need to use extra diffusion, like a solid white sheet, and be prepared to rotate your set as you can't change the angle of the sun. Since you need balanced lighting, be prepared with either a large piece (32x40) of foam core or an additional white sheet and something to hang it on. Or a large white reflector. The best results are obtained when you can totally control the lighting..

What your friend is finding out is that everybody needs a portfolio of their artwork or photography. It best to shoot at the highest resolution and work on the files at that size. Save (and archive) the full size corrected images before reducing to the size that will be submitted. I suggest no larger than 1024x768 unless they specifically ask for a certain pixel dimension size..

Cartercooper wrote:.

Thanks for the link to your site: I enjoyed reading it. My question:What is jury slide art? (from context, I think it means takingpictures of your artwork to promote your work to a gallery or client.Am I right?).

To answer your question: my friend does a little free lance work,and he needs to send some examples to someone..

Your unasked question:I am using a Canon digital rebel XTi, 50 mm 1.8.For lighting I will probably use indirect sunlight outdoors..

Larry Bermanhttp://BermanGraphics.com..

Comment #5

Thanks for the tips ... I'll post my results and ask for your thoughts..

In the meantime, here's a painting (drawing, sketch) from another young artist named Phia. Picture captured last year with my Kodak P850, handheld, room light, hanging on a wall, white balance corrected in Paint Shop Pro X. small file size..

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Comment #6

White balance correction isn't that critical when shooting black and white artwork. What you need to do is adjust your white and black points to correct contrast using the eye droppers in levels or curves. I just adjusted your image:.

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Cartercooper wrote:.

In the meantime, here's a painting (drawing, sketch) from anotheryoung artist named Phia. Picture captured last year with my KodakP850, handheld, room light, hanging on a wall, white balancecorrected in Paint Shop Pro X. small file size..

Larry Bermanhttp://BermanGraphics.com..

Comment #7

Thank you. I really like your adjustment. If I understand you correctly, you used a dropper tool to select a "white" and a "black" dot, and the program set the contrast?.

Here's what I struggled with: the paper is really a little off white, kind of a grey. So I just tinkered with the "lightness" in the PSPX histogram adjustment until it looked like my memory of it..

Even so, your adjustment is very striking! In submitting this sort of "jury" sample, do you strive for accuracy in representing the art, or do you take some fair liberties to produce a good looking jpeg?.

Carter..

Comment #8

What I do is accurate. I just have to find neutral points in the image. If you were to go back to the original work of art, you'd find that mine was a lot closer to being accurate if viewed under proper lighting. Your's is flat and all gray, no blacks or whites..

I adjust the white point to leave detail in the highlights by setting the white points at 245, 245, 245 instead of 255, 255, 255 for the RGB values. Then click on the lightest area that has detail. Same with the black point. Usually there is no pure black (no detail) so you can set your black point to somewhere between 5, 5, 5 and 10, 10, 10 to taste. Then when you click on the darkest area, it still shows detail, which it does in real life. Setting the black and white point adjusts contrast..

Cartercooper wrote:.

Thank you. I really like your adjustment. If I understand youcorrectly, you used a dropper tool to select a "white" and a "black"dot, and the program set the contrast?.

Here's what I struggled with: the paper is really a little off white,kind of a grey. So I just tinkered with the "lightness" in the PSPXhistogram adjustment until it looked like my memory of it..

Even so, your adjustment is very striking! In submitting this sort of"jury" sample, do you strive for accuracy in representing the art, ordo you take some fair liberties to produce a good looking jpeg?.

Larry Bermanhttp://BermanGraphics.com..

Comment #9

Yes, thanks. I see. I understnad what you're saying about 245 .... and 10 .... to avoid blowing out the highlights. I'll give it a try.



I shot my friend's work yesterday, and I'll post them when I get a chance. Regarding "when viewed under proper lighting," I can see that lighting will need to be my next little investment. You'll be *horrified* to know that I used a couple of "soft white" bulbs, with the result that I've got a little reflection across the lower third of most of his drawings. You'll see..

Again, thanks for your interest and help.Carter..

Comment #10

Here is a sample of my effort:.

Straightened, cropped. Custom white balance..

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Now with increased contrast using histogram adjustment. The darks are darker, and the lights are lighter. (I couldn't figure out how to use the eye dropper to set the darkest spot to 10 10 10 and the lightest part to 245 245 245. So I used the histogram adjustment to stretch, and the gamma correction to effect)..

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Would you go further and make the background even whiter, even though the paper color is really a muted light gray/slate?.

Any and all help is appreciated!.

Carter..

Comment #11

Two problems. You don't have any white or black, just gray and it looks flat. The other problem is that there is uneven lighting on the piece. More light at the bottom than the top so it's difficult to tell what it actually looks like. One thing you might do is forget about white balance and desaturate as the first step. You'll find that it makes the image more neutral and takes out any color cast.

My calibrated system is currently shut down for the night. It starts with good lighting which should be even over the whole piece. I question what the paper color actually is. In cases where I have any questions about color accuracy, I always question the artist. Sometimes I suggest shooting a test image with a black or white paper in the picture so I can do the correction on a known value.

This is from the original:.

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Cartercooper wrote:.

Here is a sample of my effort:Straightened, cropped. Custom white balance..

Now with increased contrast using histogram adjustment. The darks aredarker, and the lights are lighter. (I couldn't figure out how to usethe eye dropper to set the darkest spot to 10 10 10 and the lightestpart to 245 245 245. So I used the histogram adjustment to stretch,and the gamma correction to effect)..

Would you go further and make the background even whiter, even thoughthe paper color is really a muted light gray/slate?.

Larry Bermanhttp://BermanGraphics.com..

Comment #12

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