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09-13-2021, 02:08 AM   #1
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Photographing artwork

Hello everyone. I have a question regarding photographing artwork. My question is this: I do paintings and photograph my own works. The problem I am having is this, when I take my phot I am losing the blue in my skies. I am shooting with a K-3 and have tried Bright, Landscape and Bleach Bypass. With these or any other setting you might suggest such as natural, vibrant or any would it help to adjust my saturation and hue? If so which direction should I go? Up or down? I have tried in both PS and Lightroom to adjust my saturation and hue as well as color balance but when I change and get my blue into my sky other elements also change to things which are not correct. Any ideas? My exposure settings are fine and I use a tripod and time delay so no jitters here.

I am attaching a photo and the sky in the middle and to the left is a blue but it does not show that way.

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09-13-2021, 02:50 AM   #2

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Things to check:
1) Proper white balance
2) Indoor lighting, check Color Rendering Index of the light source (Color rendering index - Wikipedia). To eliminate that aspect of lighting, a test shot can be done outdoors under mid-day sunlight, see it the blue appear in the photograph.
3) Exposure (check RGB histograms, making sure blue component isn't clipped)
4) Color space setting (sRGB, aRGB)

Anyway, if the hue of blue in the painting is outside of the colors camera can record, color fidelity will be partially lost (not the same blue) or totally lost (no blue at all).

Last edited by biz-engineer; 09-13-2021 at 02:59 AM.
09-13-2021, 03:31 AM   #3

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I think those settings you mentioned only affect the colour output only if you're creating JPGs.
If you shoot RAW, I think they'll essentially be ignored, and it's up to Lightroom or Photoshop to adjust your tonal range from the RAW data. RAW contains a lot more information than a JPG, whereas JPG discards a lot of information, so if you get things wrong to start with the chances are the information won't be there in the file to correct if you're shooting JPG, however with RAW you may need to make adjustments and create a preset in Lightroom with the correct adjustments.

I also paint as well as take photos, but have a K-70, although those colour settings you describe exist on the K-70 too, so if you don't resolve your issue, I can try photographing some of my art that has blues in it and see if I experience a similar issue and if I do, see if I can find settings that resolve it. I mostly only shoot RAW.
09-13-2021, 04:27 AM - 1 Like   #4
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This is where the deep rabbit hole of colour management comes in. First of all shoot Raw. Ideally you would calibrate and profile each component in your workflow - camera, lens, monitor. Use a Colorchecker Passport to profile your camera and lens. Use a hardware calibrator like the i1Display Studio for your monitor. Other brands are available. There are lots of tutorials on the web on how to get accurate results when shooting artwork using these tools.

09-13-2021, 04:43 AM   #5

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QuoteOriginally posted by Kiwizinho Quote
I think those settings you mentioned only affect the colour output only if you're creating JPGs.If you shoot RAW, I think they'll essentially be ignored
How is a RAW file be visualized as an image, on computer display, or print? Not converted to a color space?

---------- Post added 13-09-21 at 13:55 ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by steephill Quote
Use a Colorchecker Passport to profile your camera and lens. Use a hardware calibrator like the i1Display Studio for your monitor.
I've found that calibration doesn't solve the problem of limited color space, but it doesn't generate sales of color calibration kits however. When I print, doesn't matter how good calibrated my monitor is because the printer color space and display color space don't match. Some of the color aren't displayed on monitor but are visible on inkjet print, while other colors can't be printed but are visible on my monitor. Unfortunately, I've watched countless video where the experts say that to have the same colors on print as they appear on monitor, we should buy a wide gamut monitor and the monitor should be calibrated, color matching isn't gonna happen as long as pigment printer and monitor color spaces are different. Once we understand that, we save money.

Last edited by biz-engineer; 09-13-2021 at 05:08 AM.
09-13-2021, 05:25 AM   #6
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How are you lighting the images? A lot of led lighting has serious gaps in the color output that our eyes ignore but the camera sensor sees.

Are You shooting in raw? If your shot in raw you might try placing a white object in the frame for a test shot, then set the image white balance from that and remember the Kelvin light temp for the shots without the splash of white. This may help if the color of the light is well balanced but the software is confused.

Have you tried tightly framing just the sky to get a feel for how the sensor and lighting render that color in Isolation?
09-13-2021, 07:36 AM   #7
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As others have noted

2) Check the quality of your light source. If it is incandescent bulbs, there is not a lot of blue. Set a custom white balance (check the manual if you don't know how to do that) at least

Try some tests with your art work out doors (or at least by a large window) - maybe especially on a cloudy day. Look at the temperature table in section 4 of this web site: A Beginner’s Guide for Manual Controls in iPhone Photography: White Balance ~ snap snap snap

The higher Kelvin values for flash/cloud/shade mean there's more blue light in the source.

09-13-2021, 08:47 AM   #8
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How is the color appearing on your LCD screen? Is the blue missing there also? If not, then the camera is "seeing" the color properly - just not getting it to the final image as it should. If the blue is missing on the LCD screen, you can play around with camera settings to see if you can fix the issue there. There are some pigments and colors which are very difficult to image correctly and it may the case for this issue.
09-13-2021, 09:20 AM - 2 Likes   #9
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Shoot raw, first and foremost, and shoot with a color card (Gretag Macbeth is the go-to these days). The Color Checker Passport is useful if you know how to use it properly. It has an LR plug-in.

Also, control your lighting, in all ways. Know its color temperature, and if it "combs". Shoot your lights polarized if possible/necessary (it isn't always necessary....), but be sure you know if the polarizers have a color cast, especially the one on the camera if also used.

I shoot for museums---you don't need to be that exacting, but it's always good to use care.
09-13-2021, 11:33 AM   #10

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Isn't it possible to color calibrate the painting?
09-13-2021, 02:23 PM   #11

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When you adjust the white balance manually on your camera (for example Kelvin setting) you can see through the rear lcd camera screen what effect it has on the scene your camera is viewing.
09-13-2021, 07:32 PM   #12

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I would use a good WB target as a starting point, I would also look at how you are setting your WB you need to look at using a neutral white target more so than a grey card and also for that white card I would use the largest exposure that you can achieve without clipping the raw file. This way you have the best signal for correctly setting your WB, you don't want to use noise from a lower exposure giving you an incorrect WB.

You also have to look at eliminating color cast from surrounding objects and even lens flare.

If you are have troubles still you many need to use a custom color profile in your raw converter by creating your own, but this comes with its own problems as many times the target is really not meant for artwork and you may need to build a color profile based on the pigments used in the artwork you are trying to photograph. This can be difficult and challenging to do without the equipment .

Depending on how you are going to use the final image I would also look to see if it color space issue, If it is for web viewing then it is really out of your control as to how people are going to view the image and I would worry more about what is best for you.

A lot of blue simply fall outside of the srgb color space, but can still be used by by printers if that is how you are going to view the final image

here is a photo that I regularly print and all of the blue outside of the wireframe falls out side of that color space.

Here is the same image but using my printers color space it covers all of the blue in my image.

To solve some of your problems you might consider using a larger color space like Prophoto and then you have the freedom to shift some of the blue details into the color space of your final product, while this won't give you an accurate recreation it will however give you something that would look more pleasing
09-13-2021, 08:30 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by dougieazar Quote
I have tried in both PS and Lightroom to adjust my saturation and hue as well as color balance but when I change and get my blue into my sky other elements also change to things which are not correct. Any ideas?
Very important in this scenario to not change global saturation and hue, Dougie.

Go around with selection tools like the brush and alter each area in your picture individually until you're happy!
09-13-2021, 09:13 PM   #14

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A few things:

1. Shoot raw
2. Shoot on tripod, live view/mirror lockup mode
3. Set to M settings, shoot at base ISO and adjust aperture to around F5.6 - F11 based on the sharpest MTF performance of your lens
4. Ideally have a color passport or at the very least a grey color card and shoot one picture with the color passport in the middle of the frame and use that as your white balance
5. Ideally shoot under lights that have high CRI scores, otherwise your colors are going to get washed even after tuning. Modern multicolored LED panels can easily hit 95 CRI or better and will give you very good results

A few other possible tips depending on the configuration:
- Shoot with a circular polarizer to avoid banding/streaking on reflective surfaces, especially with oil paintings
- The 85 - 135mm focal length is the rough range that the human brain "remembers" things such as faces at and as such looks most pleasing
- It's typically better to shoot ETTR as long as you don't clip on highlights
09-14-2021, 02:02 AM   #15
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Would PixelShift provide a more accurate color here? It's working well on landscapes, maybe it would bring some nice results.

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