I wasn't sure where to post this. I decided to post it here because it is an important topic for presenting your artwork on the internet. It may not be for sale, but it is especially important when it is for sale.

Mods, if you have a better place for this post, please feel free to move it.

I built a web site for a local art show we have here and we had the artists (amateurs) send me photos of their artwork to include on the web site. After seeing all the issues artists had taking their photographs (and me trying to make them presentable in Photoshop after the fact) in the first year of the web site, that this year I sent out some hints on taking better photographs of your artwork.

After the issue was mentioned in passing elsewhere on this site, I thought it might be useful to post an adapted version of the same hints here. All of these are tried and true and have been researched, and I've included a link to a more detailed version if you feel so inclined. :o)


some quick and dirty rules for photographing artwork ...

1) use the best camera you have access to.

2) don't use flash and avoid lighting that causes glare in the photo. Glare is just about impossible to correct in the photo after the fact! Obviously it is better to take a picture of your artwork before it is framed behind glass in this case. The best lighting is natural lighting (daylight - outside, in light shade or an overcast day)

3) Make sure you are square to the picture. Pictures taken at an angle distort the subject matter. Even if glare is causing a problem, then move the painting to a location where it does not and you can take the shot directly in front of the painting.

4) to avoid blurriness try these ideas...

- use a tripod if you have access to one
- use a fast shutter speed if your camera has that setting
- take the picture in daylight. if your camera is completely automatic, more light means your automatic camera will use a faster shutter speed.

Also, here is a link that explains these points in more detail.

http://emptyeasel.com/2009/09/17/camera-tips-for-photographing-your...

Photos can be corrected digitally, but if you want to make sure your photo is representative of your artwork... TAKE A GOOD PICTURE TO START WITH!

Now, having said all that, a photograph of your artwork still often needs to be cropped and the colors tweaked to match the artwork more closely to make it look really professional. Photoshop is a great tool for that, but it is expensive. A great freebie I found is Picasa 3. Does a lot of the basic stuff quite nicely, and has a neat tool for creating online galleries at Picasa online if you want to play with that (I think it is actually a part of Google+ now). You can get it at http://picasa.google.com/

anyway, hope this info is useful!

Michael

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Replies to This Discussion

I think this info is helpful to all of us....thank you for the tips and info.....I use fotoflexer which is free and can do what you were explaining and talkin about....its cool to see the difference in your photos when you do some editing to them....

ahh ... good to mention other software to do the 'finish'. I was more concerned with helping to get a good photo to start with. Software can only do so much. 

It's great to mention Fotoflexer here too, which i have never tried before. I use Photoshop so i'm sure others, including yourself, are better versed in the alternatives out there. :o)

i'm not really versed in the best camera technology out there, but most cameras are pretty good these days. Having said that, even the best camera can't capture what the eye can see. 

i have tried photographing white pastel on black paper, and other funky combinations of colors and mixes of light and dark. Unfortunately most cameras with automatic settings try to take the best shot based on your typical photograph. when you photograph combinations of media and color and mixes of glossy media and flat media that aren't natural for a camera, it often confuses a camera and you don't get what you expect.

So the next step would be learning the gazillion settings on a camera to try and get a reasonable shot of your artwork. Touching up afterwards is easier lol. If you really want to go this route though, look for an DSLR camera. you can control just about everything about them. Most brand names (Canon, Nikon, Sony - which i have) are good, and expensive.

even if you got the perfect shot of your artwork with your camera, and posted it to the internet, someone else may see it differently because the monitors they are using are all different.

one thought is to try a scanner instead of a camera. it will depend on the nature of your drawings. scanners (especially cheaper ones) can be very harsh trying to scan different tones.

The moral of the story i think is that there is no substitution for seeing art live, and that the best you can do is get a reasonable representation of your art to share online, and often times that is difficult with certain media. You may have no choice but to touch up with editing software. Given the free resources available now (Fotoflexor, Picasa, and hopefully others post more), touching a photo up shouldn't be a big deal. Most are easy to figure out (except Photoshop grrr lol)  :o)

Hello Michael ... well done on this!
Excellent tips...

some addendums :p

Sometimes using a tripod for the camera, and propping the work on a steady easel can be helpful too - especially if one (like me) has no steady hands

Should a painting/work be framed behind a glass sheet already, use a tripod, set the timer on camera, ask someone (optional) to hold a white sheet or a big sheet of white cardboard to reduce glare/reflections

for small artworks/little 3D works I generally place 2 lightsources at a near diagonal, a bit higher than the camera, and shoot at different positions
- am thinking of making and constructing a bowl/or like a small igloo of light that goes around a subject or with the subject on a turning wheel, with one aperture for the camera lense ... (yes sometimes I come up with these ideas & ........meh!)


Extra info:

Tweaking the picture digitally as close to the original artwork is always good, especially since not all monitors can display the same colours - and some cameras are expensive

DSLR cameras are the best companions, especially since these can somehow capture most of the "real-time" colours one has used on the artwork - but expensive - my camera is a standard digital point-and-shoot with few settings (haha - but sometimes it does do the trick, depending on its mood and my patience)

Personally am also using a scanner with very limited tweaking to the digital file - the only limitation is the size of the work (these have to be A4 sized and less - for larger works it is a pain)

Last century's SLR and normal cameras (with the standard film that one has to develop) are still my favourite tools to take pictures of the work - less tweaking, more vibrant colours, violets and bluish hues always came out nicely etc - but they are getting a wee-bit difficult to come by I think...

Thanks for the info here everyone!  This is helpful.  I am a stone carver and have difficulty with getting good 3D shots but, have been working on the things mentioned here and they have helped.  Also got a pro to take some shots so I can post good photos for entering shows, etc.

Great info. Thanks.

I've been told by photographers that GIMP is their preferred post-production site.  I have  a couple of others installed (by a friend) but would like to install GIMP.  I went to GIMP information but as I'm not computer minded, I couldn't understand what it was saying.  Does anyone have any tips on how to install GIMP?

Also, I was advised to photograph artwork by using a shutter speed of about 2-3 seconds and with the timer and tripod.  (I haven't done it yet so can't yet tell you how it worked.)

 

Thanks for the info! Does anyone know a good inexpensive camera to do the job. My camera broke and my house is dark :/

sorry can't help you on the GIMP part... not a user, but Photoshop is the preferred editing program by the pros.

a timer and tripod are always good ideas. 2 to 3 seconds may be the right exposure for a dimly lit room, but you'll have much better results taking it outside or at least a room with lots of daylight, and i can pretty much guarantee 2 to 3 seconds will be way too slow a shutter speed. you will have much truer colors in brighter light.

Joy Evans said:

I've been told by photographers that GIMP is their preferred post-production site.  I have  a couple of others installed (by a friend) but would like to install GIMP.  I went to GIMP information but as I'm not computer minded, I couldn't understand what it was saying.  Does anyone have any tips on how to install GIMP?

Also, I was advised to photograph artwork by using a shutter speed of about 2-3 seconds and with the timer and tripod.  (I haven't done it yet so can't yet tell you how it worked.)

 

it depends upon which job you are referring to... if you just want something representative of your artwork to post online, most cameras will do the job... given the proper light. Even give your cell phone a try. But if your house is dark, take it outside or at least find a room with a big bright window.

if you want something to post online to sell prints, that is a different story. you need big megapixels = more expensive.

It is usually not about which camera, but being smart about using your camera to get the most out of it.


Denise Morencie said:

Thanks for the info! Does anyone know a good inexpensive camera to do the job. My camera broke and my house is dark :/

Thanks again, Michael!  I keep putting off taking photos of artwork...I think it's going to be a big job.  I hope I won't have to repeat the process because I've chosen the wrong settings. 



sarthak agarwal said:Made by me

nice sit

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