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Thread: Photographing glass covered artwork

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2004

    Default Photographing glass covered artwork

    I need to photo inventory all the artwork paintings in my house, for archival and insurance purposes. The bulk of my artwork is glass covered which presents 3 problems....
    1) I get reflections of the room from any angle.
    2) I can't use my flash because of reflections.
    3) My auto-focus can't focus because it sees the reflected image, not the painting behind. Manual focus is difficult as well.

    I need to shoot straight on to avoid trapezoiding.

    Anyone with a solution??? (Removing the glass is not an option)

  2. #2


    Simply, YES.

    Option #1:

    Use TWO light sources set at equi-distance both at 45 degree angles to the artwork. The light from both sources at such an angle cancells out each other's reflection.

    Option #2:

    If a simple and inexpensive 2-light set-up is non-feasible for whatever reason, start thinking about using a view-camera.

    Option #3:

    Totally dependant on the size of the artwork...(if it is really small),

    You can use reflected 45 degree light (sorry, I can't remember the technical name for this lighting technique, but it;s used for 'straight-on' macro shots of highly/mirror reflective objects like coins).

    If you need further assistance, PM me. I have photographed framed paintings for catalogues before.

    Please forgive my spelling my gramatical ones. I suffer from fatigue as well as alpha-dsylexia.

  3. #3


    Have a black piece of cloth with a hole cut just for the lens... as for the flash, bounce it off the ceiling.. but make sure the flash is hidden away from the reflection.

    Otherwise u need slave flashes to the side of the frame or have an extension cord to move the flashes to the side.
    Last edited by willyfoo; 15th July 2004 at 01:58 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2004


    Thanks Feinwerkbau & willyfoo

    Feinwerkbau - Hadn't thought of using 2 lights. Gonna try to dig up a pair of floods and try. I will probably have to move each painting to a setup area for consistancy.

    As for the focus, the paintings are at the smallest, 24in X 22in upto 56 X 40. With my wide angle I need to be about 5 feet from the painting to see it fill the frame. (rules out a Macro!)

    As for your spelling & grammar, no need to apologise. I see way worse just reading e-mail from college grads.

    willyfoo - I thought about a lens drape, but it would be way too large and unwieldy to use in this case. I would have to make a tent for it to work.

    Any other ideas out there????

  5. #5


    A darkened room would work just as well as a lens-drape.

    I have replied you via PM.

    Nitey nite.

  6. #6


    To add, you might be better off shooting from further back at a longer lens setting to minimise barelling and pin-cushioning, unless you're using a dedicated macro lens.

    This may also assist in avoiding undesirable photographer/environmental elements creeping into the picture. Wear black or dark clothing...for obvious reasons.


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