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Cédric Trojani (Yahoo!, FZ10 forum, 11 June 2004) writes...

...if you want nice paintings photos, the light must be on the sides of the painting and not in front or, at least, with the external flash, orient the flash toward the ceiling and/or use an accessory (tinted glass, plastic...) to diffuse the light. I've done many photos in exhibitions like that (yes, I was authorized to use flash as I was one of the exhibitors)

For distortion, I use often Photoshop to remove it as I use this program everyday for my work, but there is a VERY EASY and EFFECTIVE solution : photofiltre is a free program and there is a free plugin available that is build for removing fisheye distortion very easily.


I shot this morning a photo of a frame I've made for year 2000 (a gift of the agency I was working for his customers). Don't look the quality, I use no flash, there was only a very little light and I wasn't really in front of it, but you'll see the result. I didn't take time to set up correctly the percent of distortion, so it's not perfect, but as you can see, only one click change many things.
Janis Whitcomb (Yahoo!, FZ10 forum, 4 October 2004) writes...
If it's oils or acrylics, you are going to get a lot of reflection and they are best shot on a grey day. If you plop them in the shade they will reflect the blue of the sky.

I do mine flat on the ground with the sun overhead.

Watercolors do not have as many problems, and I don't have to worry about the sun causing glare, either, but make sure they are not shot under glass <G>

You need photofloods and diffusers and reflectors if you shoot indoors. Otherwise you get reflections and you get ``spot lighting'' on the picture.
Paul Milholland (Yahoo!, FZ10 forum, 3 October 2004) writes...
If you've got a tripod, or can borrow one, it'll make the whole thing infinitely easier. Not only will you not have to worry about camera shake, but once you establish your setup for the shots, you'll be able to put the next painting in position, fine-tune your framing with the zoom if the painting is a different size than the previous one, and fire away. The 2-second setting on the self-timer should come in really handy for this kind of stuff.

When you're setting things up, make sure that the front of the camera lens is parallel with the surface of the painting. If you have enough room, set the camera up far enough away from the painting to use the 3X-5X range of the zoom. Those two things should help minimize distortion for you. Also, I'd recommend setting the camera to Manual and using an aperture of f/5.6. That'll help give you good edge-to-edge sharpness across the frame.

With digital you'll be able to tell right away how you're doing with color balance, brightness, etc. You may need to play with the White Balance a little to make sure the tones match those of the painting, and aren't running a little warm or cool. If your lighting is going to be consistent -- and if it's not you're gonna go nuts in no time at all-it'll make exposure and color balance a whole lot easier.

I don't know if you know what a Grey Card is or not, but if you can get one it'll simplify things too. A grey card represents the mid-point between black and white, and setting your exposure off the card will prevent the camera's meter from being fooled by paintings that are predominantly bright or dark. If you can't get hold of a grey card, the back of a Caucasian hand that's spent some time in the sun is almost the same tone, as is a broken-in but not-too-faded pair of Levi's. Once you set that basic exposure in Manual mode, you should be in pretty good shape painting-to-painting as long as the light stays constant.

The other thing you'll need to worry about will be reflections off the surface of the painting. Oils are worse for that than, say, watercolors, and that'll be your biggest challenge. If you can't find a lighting angle that will eliminate the reflections, try diffusing the light with something like a clean white sheet. You could use a polarizer, but then you're going to run into problems with distortion because you'll have to shoot at an angle. Polarizers are great, but they don't eliminate reflections if you're shooting straight at the subject...

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David Fong 2009-09-04