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Thread: Shooting Artwork for Catalogue

  1. #1

    Shooting Artwork for Catalogue

    I have a question on what is the best equipment to use to photograph individual framed paintings for a catalogue. I am a bit confused as I keep reading different ways of shooting but need to know best way.
    I was thinking of using 90mm tilt shift lens, tripod, portable studio flash and polarised filters.
    Any ideas would be much appreciated.

  2. #2
    John Morton's Avatar
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    Re: Shooting Artwork for Catalogue

    There is one item you do not mention but which you will absolutely need for accurate color reproduction of artwork...

    Shooting Artwork for Catalogue

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Shooting Artwork for Catalogue

    It depends a bit on the size of your subject, but I find couple of studio lights with softboxes, a camera and a tripod in a reasonably dark room is all you need. I shoot with a good prime (my 105mm lens works fine) stopped down to at least f/5.6. A good prime will have less distortion and vignetting. A darkened room is good too. You won't need a tilt-shift or polarizers.

    Set the soft boxes at 45 degrees to the pictures and shoot away. This even works when shooting a picture under glass.

    The light / diffuser in the diagram is really a softbox. Make sure you use the internal baffle.

    Shooting Artwork for Catalogue

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    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Shooting Artwork for Catalogue

    I agree with both John and Manfred but, would like to add:

    Your shooting setup will depend on whether you can set up the artwork in a studio (type) environment in which you can choose the height that the artwork is displayed and you have total control over the ambient light or if you are forced to shoot in situ wherein the art is displayed on a wall and you need to shoot it where it is.

    Reflections can be the biggest buggaboo in shooting artwork as well as the problems which might arise from not having your focal plane (sensor) exactly parallel to the artwork. Some types of art (oil paintings, etc,) are particularly sensitive to reflections because the surface of an oil painting is often shiny and with prominent brush strokes.

    I worked in one studio in which we had a set up specifically for reproducing artwork. We used polarized continuous light sources at 45 degrees to the art. Our camera was an 8x10 inch Deardoff Studio and we also used a 5x7 inch reducing back and also a double 5x7 inch back which gave us two different images on a 5x7 inch sheet of film.

    The cross polarized light sources (in a dark room) usually almost totally removed reflections. In fact for some oil paintings, we adjusted the lights to show a bit of reflection which gave a sense of depth to the brush strokes...

    Shooting in situ can be the biggest problem of all. There are often various light sources which cause reflections and the height at which the artwork is positioned can make shooting straight on a problem.

    By the way, since there is no worry about depth of field, I would shoot at the lens sweet-spot (about 2-stops down from maximum aperture) and adjust my shutter speed and lights for appropriate exposure...

  5. #5

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    Re: Shooting Artwork for Catalogue

    Manfreds set up is all you need when shooting paintings/ Oils etc and also Johns comments regarding colour control, you will need a colour checker.

    To shoot paintings/ Oils etc I use a large easel to put the painting on so you are not having to readjust the lights etc. I find that when photographing Oils that some may need turning through 90/ 180 deg to avoid the glare of the varnish. Once set up take shot with colour checker in situ then three shots +/O/- from light reading of the paintings/ Oils.
    Nigel

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    Re: Shooting Artwork for Catalogue

    For details about all of the above including some shooting situations where placement of the art doesn't allow using lights at 45 degrees, check out Light: Science & Magic.

  7. #7
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Shooting Artwork for Catalogue

    You need to provide A LOT more DETAILED information:
    where are the items, how big are the items, how much space do you have to set up, how far away from the items can you get, can you move the items, what camera do you have, how many ‘portable studio flash units’ do you have, what type/class of 'catalogue' - i.e. what is final quality required.

    These questions are the beginning to answer the question - “I need to know the best way”

    WW

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