Meredith, that is totally kind of you... and will inspire me to work hard(er). I'd love to paint more, to use up every available hours, but in the 'real' world, that is not possible. Plus, the brain can clog up pretty fast, affecting my performance edge.
Thank you for appreciating my photography. Truth is, even though I'm fastidious about getting as close a representation to the original as possible, my low-end equipment will not always permit me to do that, so I have to do some post-processing. However, the basic steps that I follow are enumerated below, perhaps they'll be of some help to you...
Most of my earlier pics were taken with a Sony pocket digital, and now with a low-cost Nikon point and shoot (L820).
1. To keep the pic free from lens distortion
(bending at the corners/edges) - I focus from mid-distance, so that a part of the room is visible around the pic. Then I zoom in to the pic only, which cuts out the distortion that happens at wider angles.
2. I'm mindful of the white balance (WB)
, which is how the camera interprets the 'color' of the available light in the room - If I were to take a picture in early morning or late afternoon sunlight, it'd have an orang-ish tint to it. A similar tint would appear if taken in incandescent (old type bulbs) lights. If taken in a fluorescent light, the pic would have a bluish tint. Therefore, the camera would have to ignore the tint or cast in the light, and make whites appear as white as possible, which would best represent the other colors as well.
So, I tend to use a preset WB, a feature available in most consumer level cameras, by photographing a white sheet in the light which I'd use to photograph my art work. The camera uses that as reference for white and adjusts its tint accordingly. Normally, my light is an ordinary fluorescent tube light, coming down at an angle, with the picture rotated about 50-60 degs towards the light. Hence, this is the light I'd use to photograph that white sheet to adjust my present WB. Please read this article I found
- I think this explains it succinctly enough, with good illustrations.
Also, I keep the exposure level down a notch or two say -0.3 or -0.7 even. This helps keep the subtler tones from being washed out in light.
3. Post processing
in a good imaging software - you may use Gimp, which is a freeware, or the expensive commercial ones. If you want, you may kindly google these relevant issues for related tutorials. I keep looking back and forth from my monitor to the actual art work and do a visual estimate for comparison.
a. Check for levels
i.e. extremes of darkness or lightness. The lights should'nt be too bright, and the darks (unless its an absolute black) should still have features visible in it.
b. Check for light decay
across the pic - which is bound to happen since the light is unidirectional. You may correct this by using a 'gradient selector' (which selects a wide area of the canvas in a graded, or 'feathered' manner). Once selected, you may brighten the selected area to match the illumination on the other side. All these are subtle steps, needless to say.
c. Correct Color balance
i.e. tints which may be there due to less than perfect white balance control. For example, if its too bluish, drag that slider in the other direction. Sometimes you may have to do this across the three 'spectra' - highlight, mid tone and shadows. Most often, adjusting for the mid tones would suffice.
d. Once you're satisfied by visual estimation, you may add just a little sharpness
(overdoing this will ruin your picture, making it harsh) to compensate for its loss in the entire process of digitizing.
But, and this is most important, unless your monitor is relatively well calibrated
(that is, is not too dark or too bright, and doesn't have a significant color cast) all your effort will be useless. If our 'eyes' are yellow, the world will appear yellow! I use a REALLY old, cathode ray monitor - (13 years old!) - which I calibrate a number of times per year, from instructions freely available on the internet ('how to calibrate my monitor').
I have no way to check how my pic will appear on my viewers' monitors (although you may check your website on a number of your friends' monitors), so all this is really a best guess using widely used techniques. On that note, I visited your website and checked out the beautiful paintings (was particularly impressed by 'boy chasing duck') - the colors look quite apt to me, although, having seen the originals you're the best judge of course. If you're dissatisfied with your pics, maybe its your own monitor which needs some calibration-loving... and it'd perhaps also help to re-check those pics across a number of friends/relatives' monitors to get a better appreciation?
Hopefully, some of that babble above will be of help to you. And oh, thank you for teaching me that lovely word 'bugaboo'