Photographing Artwork

These notes are from the presentation by Corky Burt at the Quarterly Meeting – April 2015.

Artwork, Photos, Restoration

The technique described applies to any type of reflective copy which requires reproduction.  Paper, fabric, canvas, textured surfaces, and many others are easily photographed.

The key is to match the original for brightness, contrast and color.

Critical Set-Up Factors

  • Artwork positioning
    • Flat, vertical surface, level (x,y)
  • Lighting uniformity, positioning, color temp
    • Light from the corners, at 45 degree, with 5700K bulbs
  • Camera positioning, settings, stability
    • Lens at center point of subject
    • Use tripod

Tools Needed

For artwork positioning:

  • Carpenters level
  • 3M Blue Masking (Painters) Tape
  • Tape Measure

Lighting & Camera:

  • Light meter (optional)
  • String (10-12ft)
  • White card or foamcore
  • Tripod
  • Light stands (2 or 3)
  • Light sources (2 or 3)
  • Light Diffusing Tent (for small works, jewelry, 3D items, etc)

Camera Technique

  • For most point and shoot cameras the “Program” setting provides the most flexibility for camera setting adjustment. (exposure compensation, white balance, ISO)
  • Cameras with a “Manual” setting are also excellent and provide precise exposure control.
  • In all cases, a tripod permits longer exposure time without sacrificing image sharpness.
  • Optimization of White Balance at the time of shooting reduces editing time.
  • Set camera to maximum image quality.
  • Strive for consistency
  • Save a copy in both TIFF and JPEG formats.  (as well as camera raw – image file contains minimally processed data from the image sensor of either a digital camera, image scanner, or motion picture film scanner.)

Equipment Suppliers

  • Eco Smart LEDs –  90 Watt, 950 Lumens, 5700K @Home Depot, $27 each.
  • SATCO Recessed Light  Convertors –  13.25″ @Amazon, $13 each (includes shipping)
  • Cowboy Studio –  Set of 2 – 7ft  Light Stands @ Amazon, $30 for set
  • Square Perfect #2090 – 30″ Light Tent Photo Cube, @Amazon, $35  (there are also 45″ and  60″ sizes available)