Copying book artwork in slides
I am not sure where to post this question so I hope it fits.
I will be copying paintings from books to use as reference.
My equipment will include a Nikon F90X with 50mm and 38-75mm Nikkor lenses, a Manfrotto tripod (055Pro of which the middle column can be set horizontally) with a three level head and a neutral tone slide film.
I never done this before, I know it is not easy so I need some advice.
What slide film should I use? Can you suggest a couple, because I am not sure what can I find around in my photographic equipment desert?
I don't have proper neutral-color lights and it will be really difficult to find the appropriate filter (plus it would take a while to be delivered) so I think I'll just use sunlight out in the garden.
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Copy work usually needs a higher contrast film than general pictoral photography to get similar looking results so you might be better off with something like Velvia for it's contrast boost. Keep this in mind if your chosen film gives you flat looking results and you decide to reshoot. Sunlight should work just fine, just be sure there are no strong colored reflective surfaces nearby to taint the light quality. A polariser would be a good addition to remove glare from the copywork.
I do this fairly often. My usual set up is to set up the camera on a copy stand and use two studio strobes with plain reflectors at about a 45-degree angle to the work. It's good to check to make sure the camera, stand, and artwork are all level, or if you have a laser alignment tool, even better.
Using an incident meter with a flat diffuser, I check to make sure the light is even at each corner and in the center, and adjust the lights accordingly, but as long as I've measured the distance between the strobe heads and the work from the lens axis accurately, little adjustment is necessary, if any. If you don't have an appropriate meter, put a sheet of white paper where the work will be and hold a pencil under the lens axis perpendicular to the paper, and check to see that the shadows are even on both sides.
Some people cross polarize by using polarizing gels on the lights and a polarizer on the lens. In my opinion, this is necessary only if the surface of the work is uneven or textured, as an oil painting. Set the lights properly, keep the work flat, and there will be no reflections to cancel out.
Sometimes I've done this work at our university's fine arts library, where they have copy stands set up with 5000K fluorescent tubes. These are very simple to work with, if you have access to them.
You want to use a fairly neutral film. Kodak EPN (Ektachrome 100) is ideal, but other possibilities would be Astia 100F (a little muted and cool), Provia (a little more punchy), but avoid super saturated films like Velvia, Ektachrome 100SW, and such. Of course if you have a tungsten light source and don't have filtration, use a tungsten balanced film.
If you want to do this outdoors, do it on an overcast day or in open shade. For neutral results with daylight film under such conditions, you'll probably want an 81A or KR 1.5 warming filter.
Try to avoid using the zoom lens. Tele-wide zooms all tend to have barrel distortion at the wide end and pincushion distortion at the long end. Even with a high-end lens, it can be subtle enough to be maddening, if you're obsessed with such things.
I find Kodachrome 64 quite good and not over saturated, but usually use Velvia. I agree, use the 50mm, not the zoom. You may need some close up tubes to get in close enough (a macro would be better still). I have four photofloods on the copystand for light and use a tungsten correction filter, rather than tungsten balanced film. Find your lens' optimum aperture, probably f8 and set the shutter speed to get it. Remember that at copying range, the edge of a sheet of paper will be significantly further away than the middle, so you will need plenty of depth of field anyway. I meter off a Kodak grey card with the camera's TTL meter, rather then using an incident meter but, otherwise, remember that the close up tubes will need an exposure compensation to allow for the extra front element to film distance (TTL meters compensate automatically). If you are focusing really close, this can make quite a big difference. If you are copying a lot of pictures of different sizes, and filling the frame with each, you should thus re-meter for each shot. If everything is the same size, one reading should work for all unless you want to deliberately lighten or dark individual images.
I did the copy work for a commercial lab. We did everything that David does. I used Fuji provia and a lower contrast (ie Astia, which is no longer) chrome film. You want to avoid Valvia because its a saturated film. I'd either process normal or push a 1/3rd for contrast. We had strobes to use. Depending on the work, I polarized the work when needed. For copy from books. I would not use it. For oil painting, I would.
Use a lens shade.
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The lens I use most is an Olympus Zuiko 75-150mm f/4 zoom. It was "flooded out" - immersed in dirty water during a rainstorm, and was totally rebuilt by Olympus repair. Finest, sharpest, most distortion-free lens I know of. A zoom lens will make accurate framing a lot easier.
Be careful to align the camera to the center of the work, and keep the work perpendicular to the optical axis - really important in avoiding "keystoning" distortion. I've found black mat board to be very effective in masking the areas you do not want to appear in the final image. Also - most camera viewfinders will show something less than the image that will fall on the film - so get - zoom - a little closer than the minimum necessary to fill the frame..
Try to keep the illumination uniform ... especially be aware of any reflections from glossy paper or glass, and for hot spots.
Color balance will be a problem, if you work out of doors. Open shade or an overcast sky will result in *very high* color temperatures (read: blue), and without a Color Temperature Meter and decamired filters, will be difficult to correct.
B&W - Schneider has their entire Filter Catalog on line. In it, there is a chart comparing different lighting conditions (Moonlight is ~ 4400K) and the recommended color correction filters. I think a google search should find the site easily ... if not, I'll get the address from my old computer and post it here.
Ed Sukach, FFP.
For the past couple of years I have copied painting and art work using ambient daylight only with black and white reflectors.
I find that a time between 11am and 2pm to be best. Depending on the surface material or support, I try to get an angle of light to suite, the lower the angle the more texture. I only use filters when necessary.
Contrary to the above, I have used Velvia for both colour and black and white copy work, getting first class results. However, I do all my own processing so can make allowances as necessary. For equipment I use a Sinar P 5X4 with a Blad. rear panel. and primary lenses only.
'Determine on some course more than a wild exposure to each chance' The Bard.