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  1. #1
    Rinthe's Avatar
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    Photographing Oil Paintings

    I was wondering if it's a good idea to use 2 florescent lights (instead of warm lights) at 45 degrees to light the oil painting? Does the color of the light make a difference besides the white balance?

  2. #2
    Jostie's Avatar
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    As long as these lamps were the only light source illuminating the painting and you filtered correctly they should be ok. You would need to make sure that you used lamps that have a high CRI (colour rendering index) see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_rendering_index .The more expensive daylight balanced models have high CRI.

  3. #3

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    Hi,

    Fluorescent lamps will work, but they are generally very flat in quality in the fixtures they tend to come in, so you have to make sure that you take steps to counteract this. The flat light is not the best for shooting paintings, as it can fail to show the intricacies of the texture, making the painting seem kind of "blah" and obviously two-dimensional. An oil painting is not only a flat painting; it is a slightly three-dimensional sculpture of sorts. I'd try to make the light from the lamps more directional if you can (but keep the source broad in relation to the subject; moving the light back a ways will make it harsher – which you want – and also will make illumination more even across the surface of the artwork).

    Fluorescent lamps also vary quite a bit in color – not only from design to design, but from tube to tube and instant to instant. Make sure your exposures are long enough to capture at least 1/2 complete cycle of the lamps (though at least one full cycle is best). Fluorescent casts vary in color and intensity throughout each cycle, so exposures that last for at least 1/2 cycle allow these variations to average out to appear as a constant color temperature and light output. At 60 Hz, '125 captures about 1/2 cycle, and '60 captures a full cycle. Anything faster, and you are going to get different colors and brightnesses for each shot. Check out this link for a better explanation: http://johnbdigital.com/lenses/fluor...t_lighting.php.

    A color meter and a compliment of CC filters will help you out, but most people don't have these items; they are expensive, and somewhat esoteric, especially in the digital age.

    And the poster above has an important point. To truly color balance any shot perfectly, there needs to be only one color temperature of light present. For your run-of-the-mill photography, this is not too important. But for copy work, it is very important. Close your blinds/curtains or work in a room without windows, turn off all other lights, and work in an area without colored walls.
    Last edited by 2F/2F; 03-31-2011 at 02:36 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

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  4. #4
    Rinthe's Avatar
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    I got the Ecosmart Compact flourescent lights, 14 watts, 60 watt equivalent at 5000K color temperature from home depot. I'm using two of them for when I paint. <http://www.amazon.com/Ecosmart-Equivilent-Daylight-Compapact-Flourescent/dp/B0042UN1U0>

    Jostie: according to the wiki. Incandescent/Halogen Light Bulb has the highest CRI? I guess my bulbs would fall into Halophosphate Cool White fluorescent which is at 64?

    2F/2F: thanks for the information! Do you suggest me getting some warmer lights then? if so, what are my options? I don't want to spend too much money, but my highest priority is still to get good shots of my paintings.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rinthe View Post
    I was wondering if it's a good idea to use 2 florescent lights (instead of warm lights) at 45 degrees to light the oil painting? Does the color of the light make a difference besides the white balance?
    It depends on how accurate you want the color (and the relationships between the colors) to be. The print reflects back based on what color light impinges on it. It can't make light, so it can only reflect what's actually there.

    And all discharge lamps, be they fluorescent, LED, HMI, LPS, etc. all have a fairly spiky spectrum, as opposed to sunlight (or even tungsten lights). Fluorescents and LEDs in particular tend to have large green spikes.

    So yes, the "color of the light" does indeed make a difference besides the white balance. The "best" light for color critical applications is north facing sunlight on a cloudless day. Next best thing I've found is a 4700K Solux bulb. The next level down in light quality is a highly corrected (six or seven phosphor) fluorescent designed for photo or color reproduction work -- around 5000-5600K, and a CRI of 93+. If you are worried about getting the individual colors right, and the relationships between the colors right, I wouldn't go any lower than this.
    Bruce Watson
    AchromaticArts.com

  6. #6
    Rinthe's Avatar
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    Bruce Watson: thank you! I was looking at the solux website for bulbs. I wanted to get some Par20 bulbs at 4700K, but it looked like they only have 4700K with the MR16 mount? Which ones do you have?

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    I find oil and acrylic paintings the most challenging, compared with other artwork, because those with heavy texture often generate specular reflection to excess, often no matter how I position the lights. In theory this can be dealt with by placing polarizers over the lights and "tuning" the reflections with a polarizer on the camera. The problem there, working as a hobbyist/volunteer for my local art club, is the rather high cost of polarizing material -- too much investment for rare occasional use. That said, I use four softboxes with large CFLs at 5500ºK as daylight (though I admit less and less with film) generally by playing with the softbox positioning I'm able to get results suitable for putting on the web, but likely questionable for real reproduction work.

  8. #8
    Mainecoonmaniac's Avatar
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    I agree. I used to shoot oil paintings for a local museum with a polarizing set up and some reflections were impossible to remove. Also, it increased the contrast of the shot. I used broad hot lights, two polarizing gels and the lens was polarized also. My film of choice for such work was Kodak EPN.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rinthe View Post

    Jostie: according to the wiki. Incandescent/Halogen Light Bulb has the highest CRI? I guess my bulbs would fall into Halophosphate Cool White fluorescent which is at 64?
    we use 5000k lamps from either GTi or Normlicht which claim a CRI of over 95

  10. #10
    Rinthe's Avatar
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    anyone know what kind of base the Solux bulbs have? https://www.solux.net/cgi-bin/tlistore/soluxbulbs.html

    is it the GU5.3 base? anyone know a good place to get lamps that fit this type of bulb? clip-on preferably.

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