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Category: New Questions

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Photography Question 
Mary E. Heinz
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/23/2005

How to Photograph a Painting

What's the best advice for taking a photo of a painting?

2/26/2007 9:28:46 AM

John H. Siskin
BetterPhoto Member
John's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
4-Week Short Course: Getting Started in Commercial Photography
4-Week Short Course: Portrait Photography Lighting on Location and in the Studio
  Hi Mary,
I posted this article about copying artwork ... I hope it helps! How to Copy Artwork
Thanks, John Siskin

2/26/2007 11:43:11 AM

Alan N. Marcus

member since: 3/4/2006
  Hi Mary,
The material must be uniformly illuminated in glare free light. If you donít have a copy set-up, take the work outside. Place in full shade or better, wait for a highly overcast day. Always remove cover glass.

Place camera on a tripod and make sure the camera is square on, dead center, perpendicular to the work.
If you canít fully eliminate glare and reflections by lighting technique, mount a polarizing filter on your camera. The filter mount must allow the filter to be rotated. As you observe through viewfinder or LCD screen, turn the filter (rotate) for maximum reflection cancellation.

If this is to become routine, invest in a copy set-up. Polarizing filters on the copy stand lights as well as camera can be helpful. Canít work outside, no copy set-up? Use ordinary pin-up lamps from the hardware store, Mount two lamps at 45į placed off to side. Increased lamp to subject distance insurers uniformity. Sometimes, with a causal set-up, bouncing the light off the ceiling is best.
Alan Marcus

2/26/2007 11:52:50 AM

Michael H. Cothran

member since: 10/21/2004
  Hi Mary -
The good news is that you don't need any fancy equipment. Two lights is all you need - about 45į to the painting, one on each side of the camera. Furthermore, you don't even need light modifiers such as soft boxes or umbrellas. This is due to the angle of light.
The secret, however, is in even illumination. You will achieve this best by using a hand meter. Take a reading from each corner of the painting, and one from the middle. Move the lights until you get the same reading from each spot.
While I have a lot of fancy studio lighting, I can say from years of experience that simplicity rules in flat subjects.
Michael H. Cothran

2/27/2007 5:27:36 PM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/9/2005
  Just to add to the already good advice; you may consider manually white balancing with a gray card, especially if the art is very colorful.


2/27/2007 8:39:38 PM

Nancy Donnell
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/23/2004
  Thanks everyone, I appreciated the information also!

3/1/2007 12:44:51 PM


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