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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk 
Thread started 01 Nov 2015 (Sunday) 00:08
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Need Advice on Photographing a Painting

 
bikfoto
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Nov 01, 2015 00:08 |  #1

Hi everyone,

I need advice on photographing a painting. I've never done reproduction work before, and actually doing everything for free for the charity. I've been asked to reproduce a painting in a digital format. I have some gear to play with.
My current choices are:
- Sony A7R II - my primary body
- Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro lens
- Canon 70D
- Canon 70-200L II

My question is surrounding light setup. I've sold my strobes a few months ago to fund the Sony mirrorless passion. Now I'm left with only a single flash. Those of you that did reproduction work, please post any suggestions or comments.

- Would you use the natural light?
- Where would you place the painting? (Size would be approximately 3ft by 2.5ft)
- At which distance would you shoot? Obviously with a 90mm prime on FF it's already defined. However, I can use a longer lens as well.
- How would you post process the photo?
- I've also read that some photographers use linear polarizers. Does it make sense to use a Linear polarizer as well?

Please comment or suggest, as I'm totally new at this painting reproduction.


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itsallart
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Post edited over 2 years ago by itsallart.
     
Nov 01, 2015 00:42 |  #2

Hi, I'm an artist who photographs my own artworks all the time as I create them. I never use artificial light. I place my painting outside or by a large window or a sliding door with no direct sun. Depending on the medium some paintings have a reflective surface and I always make sure that I have no reflections or glare in the piece. If the painting is very large, I use my 24-70mm f2.8 lens or for smaller pieces I sometimes usemy nifty fifty. I do shoot in RAW and usually minimally process my images of art, mostly crop and match the colors to the original. It's really pretty straight forward as if you were shooting any other subject. Just give it a shot and see how you go. You can check out my art on my website in my signature. Good luck :)


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bikfoto
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Nov 01, 2015 00:44 as a reply to  @ itsallart's post |  #3

Thanks for advise. So is it better to take reproduction photos outside versus indoors?


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chauncey
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Nov 01, 2015 02:47 |  #4

Renata's links are well worth perusing, as is her advice.

Insure perfect perspective with the canvas and the camera...I use a mirror placed flat against the canvas
and simply align the camera to shoot the camera in the mirror.
IMHO, using a http://xritephoto.com …uct_overview.as​px?id=1257 (external link) is mandatory.


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artyH
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Nov 01, 2015 08:31 |  #5

I use a pair of artificial lights on stands with bulbs in reflectors, placed at 45 degrees to the artwork. If you get the light placement right, you can reduce or eliminate any reflections off the glaze. I also like to use a macro lens. For large flat artwork, 90 mm may be too long, but this depends on your space. I have a 50 mm macro for this purpose (as well as a trip to the gardens). A good 50mm macro lens is often just what is needed. I use the Sigma 50 F2.8 macro lens, but it has been discontinued. It may still be available, but I don't know about your camera mount.
My wife is an artist, so I have done a lot of this for her. I used to use Tungsten slide film with the lights and color balance filters on the lenses, but I have gone to daylight lamps now. This makes it easier to do.

I have always used primes, and prefer them for their reduced linear distortion and relatively flat field. When available, I prefer good macro lenses for this. I have a 50 and 100 macro lens for full frame, and a 35 for crop now.
I recommend using a shutter release cable on a heavy tripod. If it will work, try to shoot at an optimum aperture for reduced vignetting, reduced chromatic aberration, and best resolution. I am usually happy if I am at F5.6 for this, but it will vary somewhat with the lens. Some lenses may be better at F4 and some will be best at F8. For flat artwork, you don't need a lot of depth of field.

Sometimes, the ability to use polarizers is necessary, but it is usually enough to play with light placement. It can be a real hassle if you have glass covered art and you can't remove the glass.
Natural light can vary over the course of a day, and is not neutral or as controllable. That is why I prefer artificial light and always shoot at night, but turn off room lights. This lets me define my lighting.




  
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itsallart
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Nov 01, 2015 08:39 |  #6

bikfoto wrote in post #17767559 (external link)
Thanks for advise. So is it better to take reproduction photos outside versus indoors?

Only if you have no access to good natural light indoors.
Keeping the lens parallel to the art is important, though I sometimes shoot slightly off and fix the perspective in PS.
Try to fill the entire frame with a painting, shoot in RAW at a low ISO and try to stay away from a very wide angle lenses...vignetting and distortion around the edges could be an issue.


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Nov 02, 2015 10:16 |  #7

Note , notice the linear polarized film over the soft box and the CPL on the lens..

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Nov 03, 2015 16:29 |  #8

Just one small addition:

If possible have the art work available when you are processing to make sure the color balance is just right.


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Nov 03, 2015 16:48 |  #9

first, i don't doubt renata's abilities. I have virtually no experience with trying to do a true copy shot with existing light.

I do have quite a bit of experience doing copy shots of anything from 10x10 to 36x36 inches. I have also been in a number of high end studios set up to copy artwork.

I will use a large 43 inch octa literally touching the back of the camera for smaller work.

for mid size work i can often get away with two mid size modifiers on either side of the camera. Placement of the modifiers is highly dependent on the media used, with reflective work needing the lights to be further apart.

for larger work I will set up a large scrim, i think my fabric is 52' by 6 feet, and then blast the back of the fabric with two lights to create as large of a source as possible with the camera just in front of the fabric.

long lenses work best but macro lenses that deal well with field curvature can be used at shorter focal lengths.

IMO using strobes or even bright halogen shop lights (as long as they are all exactly the same) is the only way to go. If your light is consistent you can more easily correct to match the original, if you are dealing with "existing" light i promise it is different each time. even the color of the grass or a nearby wall can effect the color temp of the light hitting the art.


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