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11-16-2013, 11:52 AM   #1
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[Advice] Lighting, lenses, workflow for photographing Artwork

IŽve started photographing some paintings and objects for some artsy friends and now IŽve been asked to do it as a paid work so IŽd like some input on my current equipment and workflow to see if I am missing something.

Lenses
I have the following primes: F28, DA40XS, F50/1.7, M50/4 macro
I disregarded the F28/2.8 because I think it must have the highest distortion but given a very big subject and/or tight working place, I might need to use it.
Of the other 3, although having lower contrast, the M50 is attractive because being a macro lens it has negligible field curvature. BUT when working at near infinity focusing distance, will it behave the same as the F50/1.7?
Not sure about the DA40, it is quite sharp but sharper than the 50s?

Lighting
I am using two Yongnuo YN560III flashes mounted on reversed umbrellas with the black coat on. Looking for some polarizing film to place over the flashes to use along a polarizing filter on the lens, as IŽve read this helps reduce glare and increase contrast slightly. Any experiene with this?

Workflow
Tripod mounted K-5 with flash trigger, mirror lockup remote trigger, Liveview manual focus. Grey card and color chart for white balance and color profile to be made with Adobe color profile editor. Adobe - DNG Profile Editor : For Windows : DNG Profile Editor 1.0.4
User manual: http://wwwimages.adobe.com/www.adobe.com/content/dam/Adobe/en/products/photo...umentation.pdf
trying to keep aperture value bigger than f/8 to avoid diffraction as I intend to print at high DPI count (arround 600dpi for 8x6" prints).

Am I missing something important? Appreciate any experience and advice.

11-16-2013, 10:25 PM   #2
dms
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Use w/ regular lights to set PL (turn the lens PL till you see what you want), then switch to flash if need be. I only use regular lights. For paintings with reflective surface (particularly thick acrylic or oil) it makes a huge difference--colors are bright/saturated. Generally the lights are making 45 degree angle with painting--so 90 degree from one light to other.

I use PL sheets from Edmond scientific and linear PL on lens.
11-16-2013, 10:31 PM   #3
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Also, you need a studio incident meter (or gray card and reflective meter--but no so good) to measure light on larger paintings--to ensure is uniform (or within about +/- 1/6 ev) all over. This is (I think) easier done if stay with flood lamps. With a large painting it's tough--and means you need a lot of distance between lights and painting.
11-17-2013, 08:44 PM   #4
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@dms, Thank you very much for your advice. IŽll have to get an incident meter I guess. Tomorrow IŽll be doing some work so IŽll see how it goes. IŽll buy the polarizing film early in the morning before arriving to location. I have a circular polarizer.

IŽll update with how it went

11-17-2013, 08:45 PM   #5
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I just helped a friend who does a lot of art lighting. He uses a butterfly setup with umbrellas above and below the paintings. He has diffusion fabric on both umbrellas and uses a stoffen over the flash head.

One thing that is critical with artwork is getting the color spot on. My sister, who is a professional artist has had a terrible time finding a good photo studio to shoot her paintings. Her problem is always getting accurate color. At the least get a good color/white balance card. A gray card really isn't good enough. Every camera processes color differently. Even different lenses can lend a color cast with the same camera.

I use a X-Rite ColorChecker Passport. It has a calibrated set of color cards and matching software. I set up lights then shoot a test shot with the color card in the kit. There are less expensive options, but that has software that lets me set up a profile preset in Lightroom. Whatever you use, a calibrated color card is essential to get your colors exact.
11-17-2013, 09:12 PM   #6
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thanks for your comments and advice Michael. I will take care of color accuracy with the Adobe Profile Editor I mentioned (I think the X rite software works the same way) and a similar macbeth color chart. And a grey card for white balance
11-17-2013, 10:11 PM   #7
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Actually most of my work was for my wife's acrylic paintings (typically < 4'x6')--and was mostly on Ektachrome 64T. A beautiful film for art work--really miss it. Just the right dynamic range (DR) and (to us) spot on color. Nothing like slides.

I have done some digital and haven't had particular difficulty on the colors--simply took photo (in raw) of a gray card, and then set white balance from the card. Maybe I was lucky.

However, I did find I need to adjust exposure and contrast--although that may be because (out of habit) I tend to expose digital for the highlights (expose to right), and with limited DR of art work I shouldn't have exposed to right.

Curious how your lighting setup works out w/ the PL sheets. Best of Luck
11-19-2013, 11:32 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by dms Quote
However, I did find I need to adjust exposure and contrast--although that may be because (out of habit) I tend to expose digital for the highlights (expose to right), and with limited DR of art work I shouldn't have exposed to right.
IŽve found myself doing the exact same thing. Though I found out that exposing properly with flash allows for fewer specular lights and alike.

QuoteOriginally posted by dms Quote
Curious how your lighting setup works out w/ the PL sheets. Best of Luck
Unfortunately,
I couldnŽt get any PL Sheets locally... I am still searching for them. I told my client (She is a known plastic Artist) I could not get a special filter I wanted to use but she didnŽt care. We arranged this on saturday and the session took place on Monday.
Her studio is so full of light it was actually difficult to block the ambient light from the exposure. "Next time weŽll do it in the afternoon or better at night" I said and she laughed "Every photographer that comes in here says the same thing!"

IŽd like to share some of the resulting pictures but I canŽt because itŽs her work. However, hereŽs a snap of my setup:




That was one of the bigger ones but there was one that I could not get to light evenly. I think I might 2 more lights but flash units are expensive.. Maybe IŽll need to switch to continuous lighting for this kind of work? not sure why but I prefer working with strobes.
She was veery pleased with the results (I had to deliver the same day!) and now wants to document some of her work (this time was for an art gallery). IŽll have the PL film by then...

Thanks again for your comments.
Francisco

11-19-2013, 03:27 PM   #9
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As I mentioned I got the PL film from edmonds scientific--they are heavy gauge (similar in feel to old fashioned Xrays/maybe even thicker), and seem indestructable.

You can also get much more expensive thin sheets--but they are tough to hang and fail after a session or two. I know because I couldn't find my originals ones and threw away money on these. If you get frames I guess they would work out--but the heavy ones can be hung with one heavy clip.
11-19-2013, 05:49 PM   #10
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Thing is I am in Argentina, so shipping might take a while and price will go up
11-20-2013, 12:30 PM   #11
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If you do decide to get it from edmund--I made mistake its edmund optics--www.edmundoptics.com
11-20-2013, 04:02 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by mysticcowboy Quote
I use a X-Rite ColorChecker Passport. It has a calibrated set of color cards and matching software. I set up lights then shoot a test shot with the color card in the kit. There are less expensive options, but that has software that lets me set up a profile preset in Lightroom. Whatever you use, a calibrated color card is essential to get your colors exact.
+1 on this, I was going to say this but got beaten to it.
11-20-2013, 05:51 PM   #13
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As you showed the setup--a suggestion: hang the picture long side horizontally--that way your lights will make fpr a more even exposure and you may not need extra lighting.
12-23-2013, 11:18 AM   #14
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HereŽs a sample, finally with polarizer film which makes a subtle but welcome difference. Paint is 200x70cm. 1 frame on K-5 at 50mm (working on 2 frame version at 70mm)




Let me know what you think
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