What film for photographing a waterclour painting
I have not used any colour film lately, so, I dont know much about current slide/negative films available. A friend of mine has asked me to take some shots of his watercolour paintings; he wants a digital file so that he can make some A3 copies with his inkjet printer.
I will be using a Pentax 67 with a 135 macro. Which slide or negative film would you recommend that I use, that would produce close to natural colour rendition.
Would scanning the paintings to produce a digital file be a better option than using a film/scan.
Thanks for any advice.
I occasionally copy watercolors for a friend of mine. I like to work with a copy stand - but this can be a problem with MF "normal" focal length lenses - I sometimes use moderate Wide Angles to cope with the working distance problems that can occur. My personal film choice for daylight is Kodak PORTRA 160NC Natural Color Film (negative color film)
For Tungsten lighting, I use Kodak PORTRA 100T Film. Both of these films scan well.
Flatbed scanning a watercolor can work well if you have a scanner with a large enough platen (and high enough performance)
Everything is analog - even digital :D
Among slide films Kodak EPN is probably the most neutral and accurate among daylight balanced films. I usually do copy work with strobes, so that is what I use usually, but Fuji Astia or Provia 100F aren't bad either. Astia is a little more muted and cool (you might prefer it with a slight warming filter like an 81A or KR1.5), while Provia is a little punchier without being distortive.
I've heard that the pros use a strip of standard colours under the picture, so the developer will know what the colours should look like. I think it's called a MacBeth colour chart.
If I had been present at the creation, I would have given some useful hints for the better arrangement of the Universe.
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The pros also run a "clip test" of a few frames, or a sheet of 4x5 and use that to choose color correction gels to balance color for the current bias of the E-6 line and batch of film they're using. Good labs used to run clip tests free of charge for the studios where I worked.
If the point of the shot is to scan it to digital, color balancing can also be done in software. The imaging software I use has an overlay for a Gretag MacBeth Color Checker (or a Kodak gray scale), and will use that known quantity to adjust density and color balance. You could use that on a separate frame of a Color Checker, save those adjustments, then apply them to a shot of the artwork shot under identical conditions on the same roll of film. But it's always best to start with the most neutral photo you can get.
When I was working in studios, EPN and EPY were the standards for accurate color reproduction in the textile industry and others where color balance was critical. That's been a long time, and things may have changed some, but I'd be surprised if Kodak has changed the goal of high color accuracy for these films.
(edited to correct EPT ISO 160 film to EPY ISO 64 film)
Last edited by Lee L; 12-09-2005 at 05:07 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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I would not use negative color film. If you use transparency film, and scan that, you will have accurate colors that you can see in the transparency and compare to the final image.
The problem with negative film, is that a lot of scanners have problems with the film profile (orange masking color plus spectral dye distribution) that has to be accounted for to get a color accurate reproduction.
The most common way to copy artwork is with 3200K tungsten lights as the source and Kodak 64T (EPY) film. EPT can be used but the EPY is much finer grain. If you are using daylight balanced lighting, then either Ektachrome 64 (EPR) or 100 (EPN). I prefer the EPN as the EPR always looks a bit "blue" to me.
Tungsten lighting is a lot more predictable to use, unless you are using a fixed copy stand with daylight balanced lights. "Daylight" with strobes, is not quite as easy as using tungsten as the tube color temperature will sometimes vary slightly (depending upon the strobe head design) with the output level.
While tungsten/halogen lights do go redder as they age, they are remarkably consistent until the last 5% of their life. Also, it's easy to see from the lamp when you need to replace it if you're using tungsten/halogen lamps from the deposits on the inside of the glass of the lamp tube.
The inclusion of either a color separation guide and gray scale, or Macbeth chart can aid in final color adjustments for reproduction. However, if you are using a 35mm camera, the best way to do this is to shoot two identical exposures. One with the color charts plus art, and the second full-frame of the art only. Scan both, adjust the color using the one with the chart and use the second full-frame for reproduction.
As always, bracket from -1/2 stop to +1/2 stop. I generally shoot -1/2, -1/3, 0, +1/3, and +1/2 exposures. I'm always a bit surprised at how the color saturation can change as the film will see the paint pigments differently than your eyes.
If your meter is accurate, my guess is the -1/3 will be the one that looks best.
The last thing is to make sure the lighting is even over the piece of artwork. I use a footcandle meter to do this and adjust lighting so that it is within + / - 3fc over the entire image with a lighting level of 300 to 400 fc depending upon the size of the work (dictates how far away the lights are). When I first started copying artwork, I was surprised to see that I was aware of a 10% difference in illumination across the art in the copied image.
Now, if you want to do this down and dirty and still get good results, this is how I'd do it. Take the piece of artwork outdoors between 10:00 AM and noon on a sunny day. Put the piece of art on an easel so that it is fully illuminated by the sun (it should be over either of your shoulders or directly in back of you). This will be the closest to "daylight" color balance. Use the 100 EPN and you'll be very, very close.
I would not use either Astia or Provia as neither is color-accurate. Provia always emphasizes blues & greens, while Astia pushes yellow/green a bit. If you'd like to confirm this it's easy to do. Shoot a Macbeth color chart with Provia, Astia, and Ektachrome EPN; and the EPN will be the winner by far for color accuracy. I've done that as I always test films before I use them, and that's the conclusion I came to through more than one test.
Use EPY and 3200 K illumination. You'll be thrilled with the results. I promise.
I don't like Kodak tungsten-balansed slides, so I recommend you a Fuji 64T type II slide film, and two quartz halogen bulbs on both sides of your picture (not too strong, please, because they can damage the watercolours - 150 or 300W from 1.5 meters will do). Measure your exposure with a gray card, and make the lighting even all across your picture. I promise you an excellent colour, Fuji is the film I always use for the most complicated cases of scientific photography and reproduction
Thank you all for the advice. Looks like I'll be using Kodak EPN, as I'm not using tungsten illumination.
Hang a black drape on the wall, put the painting in front of it,
shield the lens from any stray light from the lights,
and from the wall, ceiling, etc.
When you get set up, include a gray card in one of the shots. If you bracket exposures, bracket the gray card.
"One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"