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02-27-2016, 09:08 AM   #1
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Artwork reproduction

I have been asked to reproduce some artwork for a friend. These are paintings that she needs digital files for to eventually get printed.

Any tips or suggestions on how best to do this?

Lighting setup?

Best lens to use?


02-27-2016, 10:48 AM - 1 Like   #2
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First and foremost, be careful. If she is the artist, there's no problem, but if these are paintings that she purchased, you could run into copyright issues. Simply purchasing a piece of art does not automatically transfer copyright to the buyer.

The best way to do it would be to use a copy stand, but depending on how big they are, that might not be feasible. Basically you just want your camera perpendicular to the artwork in both planes. For lighting, you can either use two or four lights, and point them at the opposite sides or corners of the painting (so left light points at right side, and right light points at left side).

Use a macro lens if you have once since they are designed to minimize field curvature, and shoot at your sharpest aperture. For most 2.8 macros that is f/5.6 or f/8. Do a custom white balance using a gray card or color target like an Xrite colorchecker. Use your lowest ISO.

In post processing, use a lens profile to remove any vignetting, distortion (should be next to none), or aberration. If you used a colorchecker, make sure to generate a custom calibration for the camera/lens/lighting combination that you used. Some programs apply tone curves automatically upon import, so set any tone curves to 0 or neutral.

Then, if you REALLY want to be a perfectionist (I know I do), find out which lab she is using to have the photos printed. Obtain an ICC profile for their printer/ink/paper combo, and soft proof the image. Then export the image to the largest color space that lab will accept. Unfortunately most labs only accept sRGB, but some are starting to accept AdobeRGB. Hopefully she is not having these printed on a CMYK machine, or all this hard work will essentially be pointless.

Does that help? Any questions?
02-27-2016, 10:56 AM - 1 Like   #3
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polarizing sheets over lights, and one on lens. Same orientation on each lamp and turn one on lens till saturation and reduced glare is as you/she want. Lens choice depends on size of paintings, for 3ftx4ft I find 50 mm macro (or well corected 50mm, likely the older manual 1.7 f and f/2 should be inexpensive and good) is usually good on FF, so likely 35mm to 50 mm. Best to use incident light meter and verify lighting is even over the painting, +/- 1/3 stop and less if can. Lights each make about 45 degree angle to painting.

Last edited by dms; 02-27-2016 at 10:19 PM. Reason: meant same orientation on each lamp (not lens)
02-27-2016, 12:09 PM   #4
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Thanks guys. Yes these are her paintings so no copyright issues.
Sizes range from 10 x 10 to 20 x 30 .

I was going to hang on a neutral wall and shoot from a tripod. I have both 50 &100mm macro so that will be fine.

02-27-2016, 01:52 PM - 1 Like   #5

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I can't say what's the best way but...

When I did just what you're doing I made a stand similar to a painter's easel holding the paintings vertical. I tapped a "tee-square" on the floor to align camera/tripod on the center line of the easel and also orthogonal to it. I put two diffused, daylight temp, continuous lights at 45 from the C/L. I manually color balanced the camera to the lights using a white board on the easel. I'd didn't have a macro but I used a lens when stopped down reportedly had a good flat field at that working aperture. Took some test shots and worked out a manual exposure.

The artist placed her 30-some paintings on the easel and I took two pictures of each. One with a gray card in front the painting and one without. We were done in no time.
02-27-2016, 02:48 PM - 1 Like   #6

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I do a lot of copy work for my wife,
If the paintings are oils or acrylics with a texture in the paint, you will likely need the cross polarizing dms described above, Water colors, colored pencil or prints usually do not exhibit the problem,
Polarizing gels on the lights, all oriented the same direction, and a glass polarizer on your lens, at about 90-degrees to the light polarizers. You can see the effect through the view finder to fine tune it. You will lose about 3 stops of light. The cross polarizing can shift colors in some materials, you may need to compromise between color fidelity and reflections.
Hopefully you can control the light in the room, close shades or draw the curtains, or shoot at night. I use my garage.
Would certainly recommend a hand held meter to check evenness of the lighting. Center, corners, edges. Use a flat disc diffuser on the light meter, not the dome if you have the option. No more than 1/2-stop variance around the art.
Some folks work with strobes, I like constant lights so I can study what the light is doing. Even strobes with modeling lights are not as predictable. It is key to have a matched pair of lights; bulbs, reflectors, diffusers. Otherwise you are chasing too many variables.
Bracket your exposures, use shutter speed to bracket. Keep ISO at minimum, and constant aperture. I typically bracket in 2/3-stop jumps, two jumps under, two over and one at metered exposure. If you have to rely on your in-camera meter, meter off a grey card , then use manual exposure, to keep that exposure. Really dark or very high-key art will fool the in-camera meter.

I like to use the longest lens I can in a given room and for the size art. You are typically not working at macro distances but a macro is usually your sharpest. I have 100 & 35 macros, and my 50/1.8, I use for most copy work. I typically avoid my zooms for this work. Use a good lens hood. Unless you are cross polarizing, no filters on the lens.
Either your K3 or K5 will work well, use the live view and the grids on the screen to keep everything square. Use the timer or a remote release. Manual focus and live view are a good thing.
Hopefully you can work near your computer so you can check lighting, squareness, focus, color and reflections before you break it all down. I find that hard to do well in-camera, lots easier with a desktop or laptop screen.
Good luck with it.
02-27-2016, 04:36 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by K-Three Quote
If you have to rely on your in-camera meter, meter off a grey card , then use manual exposure, to keep that exposure. Really dark or very high-key art will fool the in-camera meter.
Lots of good info there, thanks. I had not thought about the metering so this point is very useful.

I'll be shooting at night so I have complete control over the lighting.

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