Thursday, October 6, 2011

Photographing Art Work - Tips

German Shible on twitter  asked me about photographing artwork, and considering the amount of trial and error I've gone through to figure it out (lots and lots of error, but that could just be me) I thought I'd put up a blog post about it, since the answer takes a little more than 140 characters.

Here's a list of the equipment I use:
- DSLR camera - so you can control the aperture, ISO, and white balance.
- natural / prime lens - I use a Nikon 50mm, which is relatively inexpensive and has very little 'fish eye' distortion to it, so I often don't have to straighten out the image with Photoshop. I use a 35mm lens for larger paintings if the painting is too wide to get with the 50mm in my relatively small studio.
- tripod - this should be solid to keep the camera from shaking.
- remote control for the camera - so you don't shake the camera by manually triggering it.
- gray card so you can adjust the colour digitally after shooting.

I set the ISO to 200 for a clearer image, and put the aperture at 7.1, so there's decent depth of field and the whole painting stays in focus even if the camera's not 100% square to it. Then I take a series of shots with different exposure times. These are usually between 1/2 to 1/5s exposures, so they're slow, which is why I need the tripod and remote control. 

Since my camera is a 6MP Nikon D70, I can't get really hi-res photos of large pieces, so I also take shots of each quarter just in case I need a hi-res some time in the future, then I can (theoretically) stitch them together to make a bigger image.

Hope that helps!

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