Help needed for photographing paintings!

Discussion in 'Australia Photography' started by SLJ, Aug 22, 2005.

  1. SLJ

    SLJ Guest

    Hi all

    One of the staff at Uni asked me to try taking photos for a painting, for
    archiving purpose.

    Therefore, the best option would be slides, no digital.


    1. Space ~ space is very limited. The maximum space I have between the
    painting and my camera on tripod is around half a metre. I only have a 24mm
    lens, would it be a problem?

    2. Colour temp ~ The area is lite up with fluorescent tubes around 3500k,
    which is a real pain where its sits between tugsten and daylight... leads to

    3. Film choice ~ Should I go for tugsten film or daylight film... what
    filters should I use?

    4. The painting itself is contrasty ~ vivid colours and black and dark in
    certain portions.

    I would be very happy if anyone could help.

    Thank you.

    SLJ, Aug 22, 2005
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  2. SLJ

    Mike Warren Guest

    Ah.. I see. you're joking. :)

    Mike Warren, Aug 22, 2005
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  3. SLJ

    Poxy Guest

    Yup - without going digital and post processing, you're going to end up with
    distorted pictures.
    I've seen fluoro correction filters for movie cameras, so I assume you can
    get them for stills. However, the big problem with fuoros is that the colour
    spectrum they output is spikey, meaning that some colours will appear
    stronger than others.
    At a guess I'd say the shadow area is toast, but bracket like hell, you
    never know. At least contrasty and colourful will make for pretty strong
    looing shots.
    Poxy, Aug 22, 2005
  4. SLJ

    NikonF4 Guest

    Take it off the wall and hump it down to Snap prinitng and scan it ;)
    NikonF4, Aug 22, 2005
  5. SLJ

    Rob Guest

    If you are going to do this for archive purposes it has to be done
    correctly. What you have suggested in the constraints will not allow
    such to be done.
    distortion with the 24mm

    you can't balance mixed light and get it correct - its always a
    compromise. BTW as someone else suggested fluro filter they are never
    correct either as they come in several grades.

    You have to get the lighting correct first then choose the film to suit.
    Another point you should read, or find a copy, is a Kodak publication
    entitled Why colour film does not reproduce colours correctly.

    Each painting should be photographed with a colour patch and grey scale
    to ensure the accuracy of colour and tonal range.

    If you are going to do this for archive purposes it has to be done
    correctly. What you have suggested in the constraints will not allow
    such to be done.
    Rob, Aug 23, 2005
  6. SLJ

    Dave E Guest

    Hi ML,

    You have set yourself something of a challenge here but nothing you can't
    overcome I'm sure.

    Firstly, a 24mm lens is not the best option. Try to get a 50 if you can -
    you can hire them for very little. However you will certainly need more
    than 50cm - perhaps leaning the painting against the wall on a bench and
    moving back as needed is a solution if possible. Better still, take them
    outside and shoot in ambient light conditions.

    Here's a good article which can hopefully point you in the right direction:

    Good luck,
    Dave E (Sydney)
    Dave E, Aug 23, 2005
  7. SLJ

    Ralph Guest

    Why are you limited to half a metre? Is it displayed in a broom cupboard?
    Ralph, Aug 23, 2005
  8. SLJ

    Roy Mock Guest

    I'm wondering about even control of lighting and any specular material on
    the artwork to worry about.
    Roy Mock, Aug 23, 2005
  9. SLJ

    SLJ Guest

    Thanks for all your critical advices.

    I'm totally aware of the challenges here now, that it will not be perfect
    without the proper lightings which, is the most concerning bit.

    I am a student interested in landscape, still life and indoor isn't really
    for me.

    Mentioned by Dave E, yes, I do have all the lenses to cover between 24mm to
    200mm (and 50mm prime as well) but, unless I can suggest the painting to
    moved to a better spot, they are all rendered useless.

    The painting itself is measured 1.5m X 1.5m and is in displayed in a tiny

    I think my best bet will be ask them to move it, bracket like hell, use all
    different filters I have in my bag to do it to get one shot that's cloesest
    to what it is hohohoho.. man, I hate doing things blindly like that.


    SLJ, Aug 23, 2005
  10. If you're photographs are for archiving purposes (as you indicated),
    then best to have the painting moved to a suitable location so that a
    good photograph can be taken.

    Otherwise, if you can't get a faithful representation of it on
    photograph, the whole exercise seems a bit pointless.
    Andrew Hennell, Aug 23, 2005
  11. SLJ Guest

    Ideally you should be using a couple of strobes positioned at the 45 and
    arranged to provide equal illumination of the entire painting. These lights
    should also be cross-polarised to a polariser on the lens to avoid any
    nastry reflections or highlights.
, Aug 24, 2005
  12. SLJ

    Colin D Guest

    Let's do a bit of analysis here. Does the person who asked you to 'try'
    photographing this painting have the authority to legitimately ask for a
    reproduction? If that is the position, then they must/should have - or
    be able to get - permission to move it to a suitable place for

    If that is not the case, forget the job. It can't be done under your
    stated conditions.

    If you can have it moved - do NOT move, or even touch it yourself, or
    you may find yourself held responsible for any damage, real or
    perceived. You will need to choose a place with sufficient room to use a
    longer than normal lens to minimise distortion, particularly with the
    frame. A good place would be an assembly hall with a stage at one end,
    windows down each side, and hopefully no windows at the other end.
    Position the art leaning against the stage front at a slight angle, and
    you may need some black cloth to lay in front of the artwork to prevent
    colored reflections from the floor. The painting should be evenly
    illuminated by the side windows, with no light from the front. Most
    paintings can show sheen on the paint medium and specular highlights
    from the brush strokes etc, if the light is too frontal. This is why
    doing it outside is bad. A fine point here is if the painting has
    directional lighting as part of the picture, i.e. there are shadows in
    the painting, then you should arrange your main lighting on the painting
    to come from the same direction. Subtle shadows from brush strokes, and
    highlights from specular reflections on the surface should show the same
    directionality as the light depicted within the artwork.

    Now, in my opinion (but depending on the intended use of the image), if
    they simply want a slide of the painting, 35mm is ok, but 35mm film is
    not good enough to adequately 'archive' a 1.5 x 1.5 metre painting. If
    they really wanted a proper archival image, my preferred camera would be
    at least a 5x4-inch, with the proper film for the subject used - if you
    wish to use film. I think I would want to do the job digitally, because
    digital color is more accurate than film, especially in the deep
    green/blue hues. Additionally, if they at a later stage wanted prints
    from the negative, it would probably be scanned and printed digitally

    If doing it digitally, I would think about using a number of overlapping
    images, say 16 shots, and stitching them in a good pano stitcher like
    Panavue. 16 shots - four rows of four images - with a 6 Mpixel camera
    would yield a stitched image of about 60 or 70 megapixels, allowing for
    image overlap. A 25-shot series would be even better, with a final
    image of better than 100 megapixels, which could if necessary be printed
    at any size up to original. Such an image, printed with Epson archival
    pigmented inks on archival paper would last for a hundred years or more.

    These last paragraphs may well be overkill, it depends on just what they
    want. You should ascertain exactly what sort of archive they have in
    mind. You might be surprised - they could want anything from a 6x4
    snapshot to stick in a scrapbook, to the ability to reproduce the
    original, or anything in between. Nine times out of ten, they haven't
    thought that far ahead. From my experience, it is essential to pin down
    exactly what they have in mind - hence, in the pro world, contracts that
    spell it out.

    Hope this helps,

    Colin D.
    Colin D, Aug 24, 2005
  13. SLJ

    SLJ Guest

    Hi Colin

    Thank you very much for your detailed input.
    I just found out the address of the official photographer for the uni, (I
    don't understand why that person didn't ring her up instead in the first
    place, maybe an internal business thing) who is on leave at the moment.
    I'll talk to the person who gave me the job and suggest them to off load
    this job to the phographer then, I can stand aside and learn a few tricks.

    I only met the photographer once, and she have apprently converted to
    digital in total.... but I'm sure she would come out with something, at
    least in resources wise.

    Will see how it goes.

    Thank you

    SLJ, Aug 25, 2005
  14. SLJ

    Henrik Tived Guest

    Full frame digital and tiltshift lens or view camera and film (or digital
    one shot or scanning back) if you have glass on the artwork then you will
    definately need shift to not have your own reflection in the image.

    always remember to have fun

    Henrik Tived, Aug 25, 2005
  15. SLJ

    GB Guest

    Forget it, standard fluros do not contain the full colour spectrum, so even
    with colour correction accurate colours are going to be next to impossible
    to reproduce. Certainly it would have to be the worst lighting option to
    even use for archiving purposes.
    GB, Aug 25, 2005
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