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  1. #1
    AZLF's Avatar
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    Making photo copies of paintings

    My sister has asked me to photograph several of her paintings. All are on canvas. Some are acrylic and some are oil. Several are quite colorful.
    I have a pretty good handle on copy work basics but I'm wondering if there are apug members who have done art copy work and who might have tips for this particular type of copy work . If so I'd love to hear about them.

    TIA
    http://www.apug.org/gallery/showgallery.php?cat=500&ppuser=10716
    http://home.comcast.net/~rem700a/westviews.html

  2. #2
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    As a youngster I made a living doing copies of images for a museum. But I never handled acrylics back then,you really need a polarising set-up unless your particularly lucky with natural light.

    Ian

  3. #3
    dpurdy's Avatar
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    I have done a ton of that kind of work but if you have the basics down then there isn't much more to tell. I like to hang the work on a wall in a dark room with the windows covered and no window behind the camera. Then to get the camera close to the right height I take the tripod and camera right up to the painting and set the height so the camera is right in the middle. Hopefully the floor is level and the painting is hanging level then you can just back up to the point that you get the painting in the camera and all you have to worry about is being in the right spot left to right. The light source depends on the texture of the paint. If it is very textured then you are probably better with diffused lights.

  4. #4
    Dave Pritchard's Avatar
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    Something obvious, but, match your film color to your light source. I know of one acquaintance who used daylight film in a museum under tungsten light. It was a nightmare to filter to make acceptable prints. He only had the one chance for the shoot, so had to make the best of what he had.

  5. #5
    SuzanneR's Avatar
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    Good advice... if you set lights up on either side if you use a copystand for instance, you want to be sure the light on the paintings is even. You can take a pencil and hold the tip just over the painting, and make sure the shadow of the pencil that falls on either side is the same... one shouldn't be more faint, for example, than the other.

  6. #6
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    To add to dpurdy's good advice: remember that the film plane of your camera must at all times be perfectly parallel to and centered on the plane of the painting. I use a small bubble level on the camera. Use a tripod with a crank center post so that you can adjust it in small increments. A geared head is ideal, but not cheap. You can raise the camera until the bottom of the painting meets the bottom of the viewfinder; then lower it to check the top, to insure that you are centered and have no keystoning. If you do, then you have to move the tripod to one side or the other to center it on the painting.
    I use two matched flash units, roughly at 45 degrees from the plane of the painting (and the camera). But if the painting is very reflective, as are some acrylics, and oils if varnished, then you may need to reduce the angle with the painting. This will bring out textures more, which may or may not be desirable, depending on the art work. If reflections appear, then you will need polarizing filters over the lights and a polarizer over the lens.
    I take incident flash meter readings in the center, then in all four corners. There may be a little variation from the center to the corners, but it should not be too great. If there is any variation from one side to another, then the lights need to be moved to correct it.
    It is not difficult, but it is very tedious. Not really "fun photography."
    As for film, stay away from highly saturated emulsions. Ektachrome EPN was my favorite, now sadly discontinued. In negative film, something like Portra NC is a good choice. If the photo is for reproduction, include a color checker chart next to the art work for later calibration.
    Eddy McDonald
    www.fotoartes.com
    Eschew defenestration!

  7. #7
    keithwms's Avatar
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    Fuji T64, tungsten lights with softboxes. Polarizer maybe.
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

    [APUG Portfolio] [APUG Blog] [Website]

  8. #8
    AZLF's Avatar
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    Thanks one and all for the tips. The paintings are being shipped to me this week and I will probably begin to copy them next weekend. I read more than one reference to polarizing my light sources. Is there a gel I can buy for this? I had planned to have a pl filter around for sure but had not heard or read of a method to polarize the lights themselves.
    http://www.apug.org/gallery/showgallery.php?cat=500&ppuser=10716
    http://home.comcast.net/~rem700a/westviews.html

  9. #9
    erikg's Avatar
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    This is what I do for a living, I work for an art museum. I laughed when I read Eddy's remark: "Not really "fun photography."" Well, I guess not, but if you like looking at art it's not too bad. I would recommend looking into cross-polarization. You get polarizing gel in sheets, you can get it mounted in a cardboard frame or unmounted. B&H has it, I'm sure others too. They go in front of each light, taking care that they are all oriented in the same direction. If you are using hot lights take care not to mount the filter too close, they will burn out pretty fast. Place your lights, meter carefully, as per previous suggestions, and then mount a pola filter on your lens and rotate it until you see the specular highlights disappear. You will need a fair amount of light as the filters really knock it down. You will get great color saturation. Most of the artists I work for love the result when their work is shot this way. Best of luck!

  10. #10

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    http://btucson.com/Tucson/Business%2...0&%20Supplies/

    someone on this list might be able to help you with gels ...
    or at least give you an idea where to find them ...

    have fun!
    john

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