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Archive 2008 · Lighting for shooting large acrylic paintings?
  
 
Princeli
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Lighting for shooting large acrylic paintings?


I posted this in the lighting section of the forum, but there is not nearly the activity over there, that there is here... so I hope you don't mind I'm going to ask here as well...

I am cataloging 50 years worth of my mother's abstract paintings - mostly 5 X 6', in size, with multiple layers of acrylic paint... This is not for reproduction, but will be used on a website... so I'd like to purchase a light set. Not over $400 if possible... Does anyone have any recommendations
Thanks!
Lisa



May 09, 2008 at 11:43 AM
dhphoto
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Lighting for shooting large acrylic paintings?


Have you considered daylight?

If you can find a room with windows on facing sides and do a custom white balance and use RAW you don't especially need lights.

If you want to though I would use flash.

(this isn't strictly a Canon post so perhpas you might consider reposting in the lighting forum ?)

David

Edited on May 09, 2008 at 11:53 AM



May 09, 2008 at 11:53 AM
ShaneEngelking
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Lighting for shooting large acrylic paintings?


Use diffused daylight in a white room, or use large white reflectors for sunlight, but you don't want direc sunlight. if you must, use umbrellas with hotlamps, two pointed at 45 degree angles one on each side of the painting (This is the traditional "fine art" way of reproducing paintings). But this can cause more glare than you might want. And of course, as dhphoto said, custom white balance. But since it is such a controlled circumstance and you you are posting them on the web, you might as well shoot sRGB jpegs, but make sure to expose properly. You might as well do them well enough to reproduce them since you are going through all the effort anyways.

Edited on May 09, 2008 at 12:17 PM



May 09, 2008 at 12:16 PM
Princeli
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Lighting for shooting large acrylic paintings?


dhphoto wrote:
Have you considered daylight?

If you can find a room with windows on facing sides and do a custom white balance and use RAW you don't especially need lights.

If you want to though I would use flash.

(this isn't strictly a Canon post so perhpas you might consider reposting in the lighting forum ?)

David


Yes, I have thought about daylight, but there is not a convenient place to do this, outside. It's over 50 years of paintings, each wrapped and not easily accessible...

I have posted this in the lighting forum - but there is very little activity over there!



May 09, 2008 at 01:02 PM
Princeli
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Lighting for shooting large acrylic paintings?


ShaneEngelking wrote:
Use diffused daylight in a white room, or use large white reflectors for sunlight, but you don't want direc sunlight. if you must, use umbrellas with hotlamps, two pointed at 45 degree angles one on each side of the painting (This is the traditional "fine art" way of reproducing paintings). But this can cause more glare than you might want. And of course, as dhphoto said, custom white balance. But since it is such a controlled circumstance and you you are posting them on the web, you might as well shoot sRGB jpegs, but make sure to expose properly. You
...Show more


Thank you!



May 09, 2008 at 01:03 PM
ShaneEngelking
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Lighting for shooting large acrylic paintings?


You're welcome!


May 09, 2008 at 01:48 PM
dhphoto
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Lighting for shooting large acrylic paintings?


Princeli wrote:
Yes, I have thought about daylight, but there is not a convenient place to do this, outside. It's over 50 years of paintings, each wrapped and not easily accessible...

I have posted this in the lighting forum - but there is very little activity over there!


The usual way would be flash, but honestly, it is usually quicker (I have done masses of this) to make one lighting set up based on the largest painting and just wheel them in one by one, gradually reducing the size and moving the camera in. Space (especially at the sides) is really important, especially with an original that may reflect light in odd directions like acrylic paint, you don't want hundreds of tiny reflections because the lights eren't far enough around the sides.

The best Canon lens for this, IMHO is the 100 macro which is supremely sharp and has a decent image to subject distance.

David


Edited on May 09, 2008 at 01:57 PM



May 09, 2008 at 01:55 PM
Princeli
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Lighting for shooting large acrylic paintings?


dhphoto wrote:
The usual way would be flash, but honestly, it is usually quicker (I have done masses of this) to make one lighting set up based on the largest painting and just wheel them in one by one, gradually reducing the size and moving the camera in. Space (especially at the sides) is really important, especially with an original that may reflect light in odd directions like acrylic paint, you don't want hundreds of tiny reflections because the lights eren't far enough around the sides.

The best Canon lens for this, IMHO is the 100 macro which is supremely sharp and has
...Show more

So David, (or anyone here) do you happen to have the new B&H catalog? Help me find a good light set - as I've got nothing besides my flash!! My mom had flood lights, but they were wayyy too bright. If you had $300-$400 to spend, what would you recommend?

My mom's paintings are pretty large -- 5 X 7', 6' X 6', 6 X 8', etc. They are abstract, and definitely multi layered so light reflects differently off of them.... I really appreciate your help.

Lisa



Edited on May 09, 2008 at 09:27 PM



May 09, 2008 at 09:09 PM
 

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ACElkins
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Lighting for shooting large acrylic paintings?


You mention that your Mother had flood lights, but "Way too Bright", that might be a blessing in disguise. One method used to reduce reflections on Oil Paintings is to use Polarizing filters ( large sheets available from Lee or Roscoe filters ) in front of the lights and a Polarizing filter in front of the lens rotated 90 degrees to the sheet filters. This effectively reduces the Hot Spots of reflected light that will be seen on the edges of the brush strokes. It also reduces the light by several stops, so those "Way too Bright" lights will come in very handy when using this method.

Concur with the Canon 100 macro as a good lens, but as the paintings are large also look at the Canon 50mm F:2.4 macro as you might need it as you only have so much room to back up to shoot the paintings. I use the Leica 100mm and 60mm macro lenses for this type work, but the Canon offerings are quite good.

Another item to consider is to be sure the paintings and the camera sensor plane are parallel to each other, that is you are shooting straight onto the image. As for the different image sizes and moving the camera closer to photograph, draw a line on the floor at 90 degrees to the wall you are mounting the paintings on to help position the tripod when moving closer or further away. You can also draw a line on the floor at 45 degrees to allow for repositioning of the lights.

Good luck on your project!



May 09, 2008 at 09:36 PM
Princeli
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Lighting for shooting large acrylic paintings?


ACElkins wrote:
You mention that your Mother had flood lights, but "Way too Bright", that might be a blessing in disguise. One method used to reduce reflections on Oil Paintings is to use Polarizing filters ( large sheets available from Lee or Roscoe filters ) in front of the lights and a Polarizing filter in front of the lens rotated 90 degrees to the sheet filters. This effectively reduces the Hot Spots of reflected light that will be seen on the edges of the brush strokes. It also reduces the light by several stops, so those "Way too Bright" lights will come
...Show more

Thank you for this... I have the 100mm macro, but even my 85 1.8 was WAY too close... I was using my 24-105L lens... I also have the 50 1.8, which could work... it's just the room we're using is not very large, and the paintings are....

Thanks for your help, I'm actually going to be making a website with the photo's of her work when I'm done -- she's having a retrospective at the De Young in SF next year, so I want a good way to catalog her work up and ready well before then!

* Lisa



May 09, 2008 at 09:58 PM
Jonathan H
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Lighting for shooting large acrylic paintings?


Here's some information that may help you. I intend my response only to be helpful and not insulting in any way whatsoever. With that established, I think you're going to have a world of difficulty getting results that you're happy with, for a number of reasons:

1) Shooting artwork is technically demanding. Large art work is even harder. You'd be looking at fees well into 5 figures if you were to commission this job with a professional art photographer, and for good reason.

2)I've got nothing besides my flash!! My mom had flood lights, but they were wayyy too bright.

This statement alone says you don't really know much at all about lighting anything. Floodlights aren't bright... they're several orders of magnitude LESS bright than a similarly powered flash/strobe. Two 500W/S flood lights have less output combined than your average brand-name flash (580EX, SB-800). Perhaps you mean they caused too much glare on the surface of the painting? That has nothing to do with their "brightness" but the actual physics of light, e.g. incident angles of reflection.

3) Simply telling you what light set to buy will not help you in anyway without an intrinsic understanding of HOW light works. Owning better lights doesn't imply that you'll know how to properly use them.

4) Finally, a budget of $400 is probably a little thin. $400 will buy you your two lights (I recommend AlienBees B400 monolights - well made, and about the most economical option available) but not any light stands, modifiers, accessories, etc. Buying used is a better option for you.

So, now that I've told you why you won't be able to shoot this job, here are some tips that may help you to actually complete the job you're looking to do.

Before anything else, buy this book: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbninquiry.asp?r=1&ean=0240808193

Next, read it. It will probably take 3-4 runs through it to truly understand what you're reading. Don't worry though, if your mother's paintings have been sitting unphotographed for 6 decades, another 3-4 weeks won't hurt

Finally, using your new knowledge of lighting, use your flood lamps to shoot the artwork. In all likelihood, they're probably sufficient. Even better would be diffuse daylight - open shade is ideal. Having strobes is certainly nicer, but potentially out of your budget. The size of your artwork will probably mandate a 4-light setup. Even going with the cheapest option on the market, you're probably still in the $800 to $1000 range, by the time all is said and done.

One other concept worth noting is the lens to subject distance. To get distortion-free results, you'll need to be about 30-40 feet back from the paintings when you shoot. Seriously.

The closer your lens is to your subject, the greater the distortion of the subject will be. dhphoto's suggestion of the 100mm macro is spot-on, but to shoot a 6'x8' object with a 100mm lens requires a working distance of about 60 feet, maybe a little more. Statistically speaking, you've probably got a 1.6x crop sensor in your camera, so you'll need even more distance beyond that. Assuming a 1.6x camera, I would strongly recommend using nothing shorter than about 50mm, which will require about 20-22 feet of distance. There will be minimal distortion at these distances, but it will be there... maybe 1%-3%. The good news is that minor distortion is easy to correct in Photoshop CS2 and later, albeit at the cost of a bit of resolution. Do not shoot with your 24-105 at all costs - I had that lens and LOVED it for a landscape/walkaround/travel lens, but ended up selling it. The lens-subject distance ratio notwithstanding, that lens has has a particularly high level of barrel distortion.

Also, make sure to stop the lens down to F11- F16. As an aside, if using hotlights at this aperture range, your exposure times will be in the 1-3 second range, so you'll need a good tripod and a cable release. These are absolutely mandatory.

I hope all this helped, but also communicated the difficulty of the project you've set out to accomplish. If I've grossly misunderstood your level of knowledge and this was all obvious to you, I apologize and intended no condescension. If anything needs clarification, please let me know.


Edited on May 09, 2008 at 10:19 PM



May 09, 2008 at 10:09 PM
ChrisDM
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Lighting for shooting large acrylic paintings?


You could shoot that with construction flood lights from Home Depot. Also, I highly recommend the book "Light: Science & Magic" for the technical aspects, if you're not up on them.

Chris M
www.imagineimagery.com



May 09, 2008 at 10:36 PM
Princeli
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Lighting for shooting large acrylic paintings?


Jonathan H wrote:
Here's some information that may help you. I intend my response only to be helpful and not insulting in any way whatsoever. With that established, I think you're going to have a world of difficulty getting results that you're happy with, for a number of reasons:

1) Shooting artwork is technically demanding. Large art work is even harder. You'd be looking at fees well into 5 figures if you were to commission this job with a professional art photographer, and for good reason.

2)

This statement alone says you don't really know much at all about lighting anything. Floodlights aren't bright... they're
...Show more

Thank you for this well thought out - in depth response. I did not take any offense, I am clearly quite ignorant when it comes to lighting and photographing artwork -- I apologize if my wording in any way implied it was going to be a simple task, as clearly, it is not -- thank you, I welcome your words of wisdom. My great Aunt is from Paris and was use to photograph Mattise's work - She shoots with film, and I've recently written her a letter to ask her advice on this. I will, however, order the books you and the other person who responded recommend. How utterly naive of me to think I could just shoot pics of her paintings like that... but, I love a challenge, and will definitely read up on lighting science, and hopefully get pics that will be sufficient for the website. thanks again!
Oh, and yes, you are correct, I am using a 40D.

Lisa




May 09, 2008 at 10:50 PM
Gerry Szarek
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Lighting for shooting large acrylic paintings?


I have a Gary Fong light diffuser for my 420EX which works great, you might want to try one they are fairly cheap.


May 10, 2008 at 01:10 AM
Grant808
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Lighting for shooting large acrylic paintings?


Simple: bounce flash on white wall or sheet behind you. No need to buy anything IMO, unless you don't have a speedlite.

I'd use the 100 macro if you have enough working distance or the 24-105 in mid range where it doesn't have much distortion.

Good luck!



May 10, 2008 at 01:35 AM
ChrisDM
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Lighting for shooting large acrylic paintings?


Gerry Szarek wrote:
I have a Gary Fong light diffuser for my 420EX which works great, you might want to try one they are fairly cheap.


Big problem with this is that it will probably create a reflection/glare on the artwork itself, depending on the surface. Something off-camera and indirect will work much better, which is usually the case when considering a gizmo like the Lightsphere.

Chris M
www.imagineimagery.com



May 10, 2008 at 02:27 PM







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