Scanning/Photographing Large Artwork

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by Yr Blues, May 23, 2008.

  1. Yr Blues macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    My brother is a fine artist and has paintings that stand as much as 6 feet tall. I wanted to make some prints for him but I don't know how to photograph them without getting a perspective warping effect.

    Are there any websites that might help me?
  2. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    My experience is to use a long lense. Get as far back as possible. A friend of mine who photographs paintings that are considerably larger than your brother's shoots the painting in sections, and then stitches them together in Photoshop. Its a time consuming affair, but well worth the effort. The images are good enough to used in the catalogues used by their international galleries.

    Good luck.
  3. Yr Blues thread starter macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    I found this:

    " Greetings Dimitris: I photograph a lot of artwork for reproduction in books and catalogs - mostly paintings, both oil and watercolor. I'll offer the whole technique; then you can pick and choose what aspect, if any, you want to try.
    To do this right, you first need the painting at camera level, set on an easel or some kind of table that you can make plumb, square and level to the camera lens. Likewise, the camera has to be square, plumb and level to the painting. A view camera works best for this, although I've pulled it off using 35mm and medium formats as well. A tripod, as Laura mentioned, is pretty much mandatory, as is a lens hood or lens shade. A tape measure, or some kind of laser-measuring device for checking distances, is handy to have too.
    Your lighting has to be balanced, and equal. Remember that angle of incidence is equal to angle of reflection. I usually use two studio lights of 1000 w/s each, having UV coated flash tubes or UV filter on your lens. Organic pigments used in oil colors tend to fluoresce under UV light, and that fluorescence causes parts of the painting to appear as though they're glowing and color shift.
    The lights are positioned at 45 degrees to either side of the camera, set equal distance from the centerline of the picture.
    Using a diffuser isn't much help, because all that does is soften the light output. If it's not set at a proper angle to the work, you'll still see hot spots or glare, or some areas of the painting may be washed out. And to avoid that you need balanced lighting anyway, from two sources.
    If either your lights aren't set correctly, (and doing this well with an on camera flash is nearly impossible) or if your picture is out of square to the camera, then chances are you'll see some kind of glare or unwanted reflection in the final image. If the painting is framed in glass, it's still doable but much trickier. Most of the time, I have the gallery or artist remove the glass. Even a polarizing filter isn't much help photographing art work because the colors or contrast are inaccurate.
    Also, in at least one frame of each painting, I attach a color card and Kodak gray scale card to the tops of the frame to help the printer match the color or find the right contrast for reproduction.
    In situations where you can't move the painting, then you need to go to it. In a church, that may involve using something like a rolling scaffold with lights clamped to either side of the support rail. We did that recently for a series of churches in New Jersey. It also included shooting all the stained glass for Dow Corning. YIKES!!! Compared to that, the paintings were a piece of cake. It's all about knowing how to use, what type to use, how much to use, and how to control your lighting.
    Take it errrr ... light ;>)"
  4. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Advice here is good but I'll add a few things:

    use a lens that has a narrow field of view and get back some distance. The art needs to be exactly vertical (use a carpenter's level) and the camera needs to be exactly level too

    Find your lens' sharpest aperture, likey a stop or so down from wide open and use either the self timer or an IR remote to trip the shutter.

    How big do you want the prints to be? Remember our Nikon DSLRs don't really have enough pixels for 6 foot tall prints. A d300 might be able to make a 2 foot wide fine art print at most. If huge prints are the goal either shoot the art in 9 or 12 sections then assemble in photoshop or rent a large format camera with a scaning digital back. These backs can give you 270MB files that are good enough for large prints

    The idea of putting the lights at 45 degree is "standard practise" but one more thing you migh have to do is hange a black cloth in back of the camera if there is a white wall close by or a window.

    If the art has some 3 dimensional oil paint, specular highlights will drive you nuts

    EDIT: Get a color chart, make one exposure with the color chart in the scene and remove it and make the real exposure. If not a color chart at least use a Kodak 18% gray card. Then in photoshop balance the color such that within the grey patch the the R, G, and B value are equal
  5. Yr Blues thread starter macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    Thanks. The prints will be standard poster sizes relative to the painting's composition. 24 x 36 will be the starting point though some of the art are panoramic in scope.

    I'll have to do the best I can on a DIY budget. I might have to do some bartering if I ask a semi-pro photographer.
  6. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Posters are not printed to the same standards as fine art prints. If we assume a 75 DPI poster print then you'd need only 75 x 36 or 2700 pixels along the long edge. Even a D50 or D40 can do that in one shot
  7. Yr Blues thread starter macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    What's the resolution for a fine-art print?

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