View Full Version : How to photograph artwork

01-20-2002, 01:31 PM
Hi All,

I have a major problem understanding how to photograph artwork for slides so that the colors come out correctly, no shading, glare problems...well everything. I took a photography class but the person teaching was there for the bucks and he only did wedding photography (didn't have many constructive suggestions). I have a Kodak DC 3400 and an old Pentex manual. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.


herr bean
01-20-2002, 05:16 PM
I've photographed mine two different ways. The first was to lay down a large black cloth on my deck in the late afternoon so that they weren't getting any direct sunlight but were still well lit and then photographed them with the camera on a tripod above them. The second way that I've done it is to hang the cloth on a wall on a porch that faces east in the late afternoon and then put the paintings on that and again took the pictures with the camera on a tripod. The first way game me somewhat warmer colors than normal and the second gave me cooler colors than normal. And all of my stuff was unframed so there was no glass go create a glare. Since it sounds like you have a digital camera you could try both ways and then variations on each to see what works best for you, it won't cost anything to experiment a bit.

01-21-2002, 08:46 AM
thanks for the input, herr! I must try that. It makes perfect sense (now that you've said it .. lol) that the outside light would be the best light. I've been trying a studio thing with no success.


PS> been trying to upload one of my examples but the files are too large? Is it because my digital is set on the medium setting (not good at explaining) ...uh... less pictures better quality photos - more pictures less quality. Am I making sense? Thanks

herr bean
01-22-2002, 01:03 AM
Yep, sounds like the camera is making files that are too large to upload to the site. I think the maximum is somewhere abouts 500 pixels by 500 pixels. Either upload them to another site and put a link in the thread instead of uploading them to wet canvas, or open them up in photoshop and resize them so that they are within the tolerances allowed here.

Oh, and make sure you post about how your pictures work out.

01-24-2002, 05:20 AM
This is an example of a piece that I just photographed to upload. How does it look...any further suggestions.

***HerrBean....Thanks so much for your help!


OOOPs...guess now I have to figure out how to send the picture. I'm going to try this on my own before asking for help. :)

01-24-2002, 05:39 AM
Hope this is it....


Rose Queen
01-24-2002, 01:43 PM
Here are a couple of articles published on WetCanvas on this topic. http://www.wetcanvas.com/Articles2/2810/87/

Hope this helps!

01-24-2002, 04:38 PM
Thanks Rose,

That's what I needed, I have the equipment, just needed to think about the lighting in a different way! Appreciate you're finding those links for me :).


02-15-2002, 06:43 PM
I have encountered the same issue also when photographing my work. I know I need to get a tripod, and a nice calm location. I have tried the outdoors, but where I live it is always windy! I just sent in some film to the developers...we will see!!

I will check out those article also!

wc nature

02-15-2002, 06:47 PM
Myself, I tell my clients to buy the most expensive Digital Camera they can afford with the best resolutions, a tripod and lighting equipment. With a digital camera, you can see the shot immediately and delete if necessary. It is the way of the future and camera developers are listening...

02-15-2002, 06:56 PM
Thanks K for reply *( I jumped over here so fast I missed the rest of your name!)

Yes, will have to start saving for my next "toy". I have an older than dirt GAF 35mm camera & 2 lenses, but it still takes darn good landscape shots - thats what I use it mainly for. It was my very first real art investment when I had a summer job for the GAF corporation...many moons ago!!!

As an educator, I can get my hands on my schools SONY Majevica

that does take some nice shots....but I have to wait in line for it!

* did catch the fact you are north of the border - I have relatives in Cornwall, Ontario!
WC Nature

02-16-2002, 08:08 PM
Cornwall is only about an hour drive from Montreal. Had to do a pit stop there when we moved here from Toronto. Unfortunately, haven't been back since because of the bad memories... LOL!

02-17-2002, 12:01 AM
if you're planning on entering competitions or shows, u need slides...top quality...no mats, no frames, nothing but a black background and straight on shot with no glare and evenly lit...i have a professional do mine...it's worth it to me.

02-17-2002, 12:14 AM
If you truly want your images to be taken the best possible way, nothing compares to a professional.

On a side note, the same goes for the websites many of the people on Wetcanvas are showcasing. Sure, you can do it yourself but more times than not, people immediately know it's a "home" job. To be serious about your chances to sell things or create a good lasting impression, guage whether or not it is in your best interests to create something that will create a good first impression. People are fickle and you always need to take into consideration that first impression. Your art could be fantastic but if the site you have is not of the same caliber, it looks bad.

Just my $0.02.

02-17-2002, 07:31 AM
While correction can be done on the computer, wouldn't it be nice if you just took the picture right?
There are two ways to photograph artwork, that I am aware of. One is to use cross polarization. Put a polarizer on your light source and one on your camera. This is probably not practical for the non-professional.
Two is to set up your lights with the family of angles considered. We are going to "draw" a triangle. Put your camera on a tripod. This will be one point of your triangle. The other two points will be parallel and to the left and right of your subject, with your subject in the middle of the triangle's base. Now, set up your lights to be outside of this triangle. One on each side of equal strength would be best.
If you don't have professional lights then color correction will be necessary.