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Thread: How to take a photo of a painting.

  1. #1

    Default How to take a photo of a painting.

    Hi all,
    I need advice.
    I'm trying to figure out what would be the best way to shoot paintings.
    Paintings include western and Chinese paintings .
    I always thought flash light is no good but not sure. Do I need to use tripod?
    What would be the best way to place the painting for the photo shoot?
    Hang it ? or paste it?
    Last edited by Hosea; 15th March 2006 at 10:56 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: How to take a photo of a painting.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hosea
    Hi all,
    I need advice.
    I'm trying to figure out what would be the best way to shoot paintings.
    Paintings include western and Chinese paintings .
    I always thought flash light is no good but not sure. Do I need to use tripod?
    What would be the best way to place the painting for the photo shoot?
    Hang it ? or paste it?
    most important question, is there framing? if there's framing, is there glass used for framing? or are the paintings mostly in scroll form?

  3. #3

    Smile Re: How to take a photo of a painting.

    note angle of incidence = angle of reflectance.

  4. #4

    Default Re: How to take a photo of a painting.

    I think I can take out the frame and the glass. as for chinese painting still not on scroll yet.
    Some painting and large and long ( chinese painting).. just wonder what would be best.

    Should I work on natural lighting?? Idea is to get as close as possible from what is on the painting and identical in color and tone is very important.

  5. #5

    Default Re: How to take a photo of a painting.

    hmmm are you trying to replicate the painting identically for a different medium, i.e. the photograph, as a documentation of it? e.g. for a pamphlet for a museum showcasing a certain painting.

    Or are you trying to create a piece of good photography involving a picture of a painting that you like ? e.g. you want an original photograph and so happens that the subject matter is a still-life of a painting ?


    I think the subtle differences should be decide upon, so to help you further decide how to shoot it, no ?

  6. #6

    Default Re: How to take a photo of a painting.

    I wan the paintings to be recorded and digitized.. easy to show as portfolio or get it printed.
    Original color of painting must be reflected as identical as possible.
    Last edited by Hosea; 15th March 2006 at 01:30 PM.

  7. #7
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to take a photo of a painting.

    Check this out.

    Hope this help.

  8. #8

    Default Re: How to take a photo of a painting.

    Quote Originally Posted by catchlights
    Check this out.

    Hope this help.
    Thanks... I am more worry for the chinese painting... the rice paper is too soft to
    straighten unless I mount on a scroll.
    Would taking pix from a photo different from take pix on a painting?

  9. #9
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to take a photo of a painting.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hosea
    Thanks... I am more worry for the chinese painting... the rice paper is too soft to
    straighten unless I mount on a scroll.
    Would taking pix from a photo different from take pix on a painting?
    basically you want a very flat lighting for this, and not cause any hot spot, most of the time I prefer to shoot top down, of course with the help of studio stand, if you don't have lighting, can get away by using available light, soft light from a open shade, use a reflector on adjacent of the light source, just make sure the exposure of four corner are very close, not more than stop, and remember to shoot a color chart or a gray card as reference as well, there is a book call How to Photograph Works of Art in our national library, you can read up more.





    PS: found a site here also.

  10. #10
    Moderator ortega's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to take a photo of a painting.

    a basic 2 light setup will do


    -----------painting------------




    light ----- camera ----- light


    best to have camera on tripod for easy adjustments
    lights have to be equal distance/angle from painting

  11. #11

    Default Re: How to take a photo of a painting.

    wanna practice? can do it my parents' art gallery

  12. #12

    Default Re: How to take a photo of a painting.

    Quote Originally Posted by catchlights
    basically you want a very flat lighting for this, and not cause any hot spot, most of the time I prefer to shoot top down, of course with the help of studio stand, if you don't have lighting, can get away by using available light, soft light from a open shade, use a reflector on adjacent of the light source, just make sure the exposure of four corner are very close, not more than stop, and remember to shoot a color chart or a gray card as reference as well, there is a book call How to Photograph Works of Art in our national library, you can read up more.





    PS: found a site here also.
    This is very helpful info.. thanks Catchlights.

  13. #13

    Default Re: How to take a photo of a painting.

    Quote Originally Posted by ortega
    a basic 2 light setup will do


    -----------painting------------




    light ----- camera ----- light


    best to have camera on tripod for easy adjustments
    lights have to be equal distance/angle from painting
    wow, look simple.. maybe I will just try it.. but hmm..got to get lights..
    Thanks Ortega
    Last edited by Hosea; 15th March 2006 at 11:19 PM.

  14. #14

    Default Re: How to take a photo of a painting.

    Quote Originally Posted by knoxknocks
    wanna practice? can do it my parents' art gallery
    sure...when i found a good old painting of mine...but chinese painting not up to std yet..just wish to snap it..

  15. #15

    Default Re: How to take a photo of a painting.

    Hosea, I used to shoot paintings of an artist before for catalog and promotional purposes. What Ortega said will give you thr most accurate, and reproducible results. The one factor that you have to look into is the distance of the lights since you mentioned that you have long pieces - light fall-off may be a problem, and if that is the case, then you may need 4 strobes instead of 2.

    As for management of the actual artworks, especially more fragile ones, you would have to look into each very carefully. For flat paper, I would never strecth it, but find a way to temporarily 'mount it on a very flat, rigid surface so that I can position it easily without having to worry about damaging it so easily. If you're comfortable with it, and once you have it figured out, I suggest that you invite the artist to be present during the preparation and shoot to witness yur process and also verify that you did not damage the works.

    Personally, when I shot larger works, I never liked to have it flat on the ground as it meant that I needed full vertical control - not easy. Finding a way to prop it up at eye level if preferable if you have a large number of pieces to reproduce.

    p.s. If you've read this far, don;t worry about colour fidelity as you can always tweak it in PS, and verify it at the proofing stages.

  16. #16

    Default Re: How to take a photo of a painting.

    Quote Originally Posted by Feinwerkbau
    Hosea, I used to shoot paintings of an artist before for catalog and promotional purposes. What Ortega said will give you thr most accurate, and reproducible results. The one factor that you have to look into is the distance of the lights since you mentioned that you have long pieces - light fall-off may be a problem, and if that is the case, then you may need 4 strobes instead of 2.

    As for management of the actual artworks, especially more fragile ones, you would have to look into each very carefully. For flat paper, I would never strecth it, but find a way to temporarily 'mount it on a very flat, rigid surface so that I can position it easily without having to worry about damaging it so easily. If you're comfortable with it, and once you have it figured out, I suggest that you invite the artist to be present during the preparation and shoot to witness yur process and also verify that you did not damage the works.

    Personally, when I shot larger works, I never liked to have it flat on the ground as it meant that I needed full vertical control - not easy. Finding a way to prop it up at eye level if preferable if you have a large number of pieces to reproduce.

    p.s. If you've read this far, don;t worry about colour fidelity as you can always tweak it in PS, and verify it at the proofing stages.
    Thanks for this great info.. with all the methods mentioned by u guys.. i will digest it
    and start working on small paintings first. I hv one which is so small in pencil ( just black and white).. though small but think quite hard too.
    Very glad to hv so many of you coming to help .Thx Fein.

  17. #17

    Default Re: How to take a photo of a painting.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hosea
    Thanks for this great info.. with all the methods mentioned by u guys.. i will digest it
    and start working on small paintings first. I hv one which is so small in pencil ( just black and white).. though small but think quite hard too.
    Very glad to hv so many of you coming to help .Thx Fein.

    The earlier you start, the better you can correct your mistake. The reproduction of colors and tone are important, unless the artist do not mind....

  18. #18

    Default Re: How to take a photo of a painting.

    Quote Originally Posted by LTG
    The earlier you start, the better you can correct your mistake. The reproduction of colors and tone are important, unless the artist do not mind....
    Thx LTG, still hv to look for the 2 lights

  19. #19
    Member Andy Ho's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to take a photo of a painting.

    You guys know you can actually do a one light setup for recopying a painting or artwork? If your light is positioned 45 degress from the painting and is pulled back far enough the light would hit the painting evenly. I have used this technique at times on even big 1m X 2m posters that are glossy and have no problems at all. It was shot using a Horseman 4" x 5" camera using Kodak E100 transparency film and Broncolor 1500 watt strobe light.

    Of course the standard is the 2 flash setup that was mentioned previously. I mentioned the one flash setup because you might not have 2 flashes.

  20. #20

    Smile Re: How to take a photo of a painting.

    just wondering, does one use bare flash head or with accessories? if, with accessories, what is ideal?

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