Monday, February 17, 2014

Photographing Your Art Part 1

By Armand Cabrera




 It is always good to have high resolution images of your paintings for possible licensing deals, illustrations and editorial write-ups.  If you can’t afford professional services hi res digital files can be taken now with reasonably priced digital SLR cameras.

If you choose to shoot digital photos of your work make sure to burn them to CD or DVD.  I talk about archiving here.
Set your image quality to Camera Raw or at least Fine this will give you an image at 300 DPI.  Make sure the image of the painting fills the view screen.  If you don’t own a digital camera, it’s time to buy one.  You can get a reasonably high-quality, 24 mega-pixel (18 x 24 inch, 300dpi image) camera for fewer than 800 dollars (at the time of this writing). 

When the weather cooperates you can shoot outside. I choose to shoot in shade not direct light because I think it gives me the best color balance for my paintings.
While taking images outdoors will work it’s better to have a place indoors you can setup and not have the weather dictate your schedule.

If you can have your work professionally photographed then you should hire a photographer.  A professional photographer that specializes in shooting traditional art will make your life easier and save you time that you could use for painting. Shooting your own images requires the proper equipment. If you would rather do it yourself you will need some things to make it easier.

Easel or Tripod
It’s good to have a studio easel and tripod for taking photos of your paintings. I like a black sheet placed behind the easel and then position the painting so that it is within the area of the sheet when you look through the view finder of the camera. I set up the camera 4 ft from the painting and make the painting perpendicular to the angle of view for the camera.
If you also paint outdoors your tripod for your pochade will work just fine just swap the quick release plate from your painting box to your camera.

Lighting
 I recommend a bank of  at least four 48 inch fluorescent or LED daylight bulbs for indoor work. The bulbs should have a CRI rating of 90 or more. I have an article about studio lighting here.

Camera or other device
 A good image for print ads would be 9 x12 inches at 300 DPI. Most current digital SLR cameras, tablets or smartphones can shoot at that level of detail. The difference is the quality of the image and lens. Obviously a good digital SLR camera has a better lens and sensor than most other devices. It comes down to your budget. If it is another device other than a camera though, Make sure you can attach it to a tripod for stable shooting. If you want to make prints of your work for sale then you will need a better camera that can shoot a larger file.  

Computer and Software
You will need a computer and image editing software for correcting your photo. I recommend Photoshop or Photoshop Elements for image editing but it depends on your needs and budget again. I use my software for thumbnails, image generation, and photo editing, not just for shooting paintings.



Next week I will go through the steps I use to clean up my images with Photoshop.