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06-11-2018, 11:58 AM   #1
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Shooting canvas paintings with the K1 Pixel Shift?

I met a long time friend last week for lunch. As well as being an engineer, he is also a photographer (who uses a 6x7 view camera and film). The conversation turned to his wife who just retired (she robbed the cradle) - who as a lark took up painting - mainly abstract art. He pulls out his smart phone to show me her first two paintings. He says that they look pretty good. Well, I know nothing about abstract paintings - but they both look beyond outstanding. She really has an actual natural talent for this.

She had taken one over to be photographed in Scottsdale (and has probably paid a pretty penny). The photographer was still working on it - when we had lunch, so really have no results yet.

I offered him the use of my K1 and whatever lenses (15-30/f2.8, 31/f1.8 Ltd, Contax Zeiss 28/2.8 and 85/f2.8, Tak 85/f1.8, A 50/f1.8) I have. Between both of us, we may actually be able to equal (or perhaps do a bit better) - at least it's worth a try. Tempe Camera (which is nearby) has rental equipment - lighting available.

So, with the additional detail and the truer colors with Pentax's pixel shift - has anyone actually tried shooting any type of paintings / art work - oils, acrylics, etc.? How did the colors turn out - especially the blues, greys and whites? She also has another one with browns and bronze - that she varnished.

06-11-2018, 01:15 PM   #2
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Greetings. Yes, Iíve done this using pixel shift with my K-3II. The Good Mrs Micro does abstract art using mixed media based on real scenes, and as family members expressed wishes to have and display them, she wanted to photograph them for posterity before they went off.

She was initially going to do it with her iPhone but I suggested that maybe I could do a better job. I used the 20-40 on my tripod and was impressed by the vibrant rendition and 3D effect produced by natural exterior lighting. The trickiest part was getting the colour balance right so that the photo looked like the painting on the calibrated screen (havenít printed any), and careful post-processing did a good job of avoiding muddiness in the whites and greys which were reproduced well by the pixel shifting in the first case. Iím on vacation currently so canít post examples. So have a go!
06-11-2018, 01:54 PM   #3
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I have done this for my wife's paintings, too. One thing I make sure I do—with pixel shift or not, on K-1 or K-5— is to make one exposure with a gray card in front of the canvas. I use that to balance the color, then (when I was using Aperture), copied the corrected settings to the exposure without the gray card.
06-11-2018, 02:21 PM   #4
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Can't answer your question directly, but I've photographed model trains with and without pixel shift, and with PSR the colors really do look truer to life, especially blacks and reds. Not to mention fine details such as lettering!

One thing is for sure- Pentax cameras with PSR are among the best tools for this kind of work.

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06-11-2018, 02:37 PM   #5
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Just as everyone mentioned Pixel-Shift is ideal for getting the most true to life image of art. I have found using a room with good natural light works best. An overcast day works to your advantage.
06-11-2018, 03:13 PM   #6

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I have photographed my paintings using K3 and older cameras. Cameras were very poor in capturing the gradations among warm colors. Warm colors came out as solid blobs without any gradation, texture. Camera did a good job with cold colors. There is difference between solid-warm & gradated warm colors. Solid-warm will have single color. I think camera may capture this. Gradated warm colors are generated by applying several layers(say 10) of different shades of warm colors. Finally these layers will generate many shades of orange & red. To appreciate these rich colors, one has to hold the painting under light. Camera seems to have no clue how to capture these colors..

I am hoping K1 to do better because Pixel shift captures 100% each component (R,G,B). I use Dream color display and it has 10-bit color depth, same problem. Compared to this generic IPS displays have 6-bit or 8-bit color depth.

I photograph outdoor, during mid day. Evening light is too warm, so I avoid it. Cloudy day is best. I include color-checker inside the frame, use it for setting WB. I place the painting on book reading stand, and place the camera on tripod. Make them parallel and shoot.

Last edited by pentaxfall; 06-11-2018 at 03:19 PM.
06-11-2018, 04:46 PM   #7
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Only issues I had shooting Oils on canvas was the glossing of dark colours on the canvas weave itself, all those round threads reflect light like little mirrors, and quite often solid dark colours look like they have a light screen thru them due to all the reflections making them a bit washy and pastelish . Depending on the canvas, I also was getting slight Moire patterning too.

Looking into polarising gel filters for the lighting is a good idea when asking about hiring studio lights, and a circular filter on the lens,
06-11-2018, 04:51 PM   #8
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06-11-2018, 05:24 PM   #9
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Have done a bit of this....and been paid for it. There is taking a snap and then taking an accurate reproduction to make prints from. I have seen it done by placing the artwork on the ground outside and taking a photo...with passable results, until printed.

I set my camera up on a tripod indoors, I use a good lighting source (many options here), and ensure that everything is lined up correctly ...perfectly perpendicular, horizontal, centred etc etc (if not you will get notable distortions when printing) I used the FA 43 Ltd, I would start with any of the primes in your kit, and find the one that gives you the least distortion. I use a light meter to ensure I am getting an even light distribution over the art work. A grey card is good, but you will ultimately have to experiment with prints to get the fine colour details right. Gloss oils & acrylics are a problem, not impossible, but a lot of work. Set up is crucial and time spent here will save time later. Textured oils are also a challenge and the hardest because of that texture.
Printing is another world depending the quality of your printer and papers used. Where possible I prefer to reproduce the original on as close a match to the media of the canvas on canvas, smooth paper on smooth paper and so on.

The greatest test of your final result is to put the original and reproduction side by side at the end of long room and have the artist approach them and have trouble determining which is which. It can be very rewarding in an artistic sense.
Good luck and have fun with it, but remember each stage is critical to the next stage, get one wrong and you will be chasing the other.
06-11-2018, 05:51 PM   #10
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I have shot a few watercolour paintings for an artist friend, using the K-3 II and the K-1 with great success.
Using the 150-450, tripod mounted, natural light, AWB, pixel shift with 4 overlapping shots stitched, has produced excellent results which my friend says are much better than he was previously getting from commercial studio shooting medium format film and drum scanning, at great cost.
You can get stunning results, but need to take care with the setup, lighting etc.

06-11-2018, 05:58 PM   #11
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any digital should do fine--I did it a lot w/ slide film and some w/ digital (K-20D).
Use a gray card to set color temperature/white balance and incandescent lights, makes sure lighting is even (+/- 1/6 ev if possible)--easiest w/ incident meter, and use polarizing filter over lens and lights.

I would add--the nature of the paint is the deciding factor on the lighting, and the need for PL filters.

If heavy acrylic or oil, then 2 sets of lights at 45 degrees to left and right and PL filter on lens and PL sheets over lights. If not heavy/not very reflective, maybe simple lighting--even outdoors on overcast day may be fine. This is likely the case with watercolors and pastel. BTW my experience is w/ heavy acrylics (former case) as that is what my artist wife uses.

Last edited by dms; 06-11-2018 at 06:17 PM. Reason: Clarify when may need/not need PL filtering
06-11-2018, 07:15 PM   #12
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It's also best to put a black fabric background behind the work. Using lights with gel filters can shift the color but it certainly cuts down on the reflections. I wouldn't use anything wider than 50mm. Except the 43LTD would do. The DA40LTD is also great for APS-C for the edge to edge sharpness. I would imagine the DA35LTD Macro would also be a good choice. I normally use my A Series 50 macro.

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