Sunday, September 14, 2014

Artwork Reproduction

Another facet of the business is to photograph other peoples art , in this case, for reproduction as a color plate in biographical book about the artists of Woodstock, NY. The art must be evenly lit, show the texture of the medium in this case oil on canvas, be color accurate, and of course, be perfectly square with no distortions. The more you can get right in the camera; the less you'll have to do in post.

The painting is roughly 28"x34". Ideally I would use a 200mm lens and move back far enough to fill the frame of my D600 Nikon. Unfortunately this configuration is pushing me beyond the size limits of my small studio. The alternative is to switch to my 28-70mm set to 70mm and moving the camera to fill the frame. This will introduce a small amount of distortion which you would normally not notice but with a rectangular object close to the edges of the frame, its obvious but fixable in post.

Next problem is the sensor plane must be perpendicular to the canvas to prevent any keystone distortions. The painting is on an easel tilted back therefore the camera needs to be positioned high and tilted down.

Now that the camera and painting are in position, its time to bring in the lighting. Dried oil paints are very shiny and often have lots of texture which creates a lot of unwanted specular highlights. The goal is to get rid of the speculars but not loose the texture and brush strokes. This was solved by raising the key light very high and directly above the subject, moving most of the specular reflections below the angle of the camera and giving some relief to the texture because of the side lighting. Distancing the light source helps reduce the light fall off. The addition of a 40" silver reflector under the painting bounces just enough light back to the bottom to even out the lighting.

D600 24-70mm @70mm, 1/160, f/8, ISO 100
Artist: Nan Mason, 1932

Color correction done with a gray card along with minor contrast and distortion adjustments in post complete this project.