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tips on photographing your own artwork

using lighting products that use daylight florescent bulbs.

examples of my jury slide photography

 

The Equipment * The Sets * Photographing a PaintingSummary * Links

Photograph your art

Photograph your art

Photograph your art

The Equipment
My Digital (and Film) Studio Options
  1. Chimera Soft Box
  2. Dynalite Flash Heads and Cables
  3. Dynalite 1000 watt second Power Pack
  4. Tripod
  5. 2 Light Stands
  6. 2 Umbrellas
  7. Nikon Sc-18 and SC-19 flash cables
  8. Bogen (part # 2905) Swivel Umbrella Adapter
  9. 2 Nikon AS-10's (AS-E900 can also be used)
  10. Nikon CoolPix Digital Camera
  11. Assorted Paramount Synch Cords with Nikon proprietary fittings
  12. Lens Hood from RX
  13. 2 Nikon SB Flash Units
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Nikon SB Flash on an AS-10 and Bogen Swivel Umbrella Adapter
The Bogen Swivel Umbrella Adapter is the key because it allows you to use your existing flash unit with an umbrella and control the direction of the light. The Nikon AS-10 fits between the adapter and the flash. Just barely visible is the setting that I use on the flash. When shooting digitally, I prefer to set the flash units to manual and use incremental power settings until the image looks correct on the camera's LCD screen.
Nikon SB Flash on an AS-10 and Bogen Swivel Umbrella Adapter
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The Sets
Dual Umbrella Flash set up
Dual Umbrella Lighting Set Up
The same dual umbrella lighting with SB-24's was used for the leather handbag and the wooden box. Because of the reflective surface of the wood, I eventually had to shoot with the box on a piece of black velvet so the front wouldn't wash out. Don't let the complexity of the professional Dynalite system scare you. The same results can be achieved by using either the Nikon SB's or your own flash units.
Leather Handbag by Mark Mowen
Leather Handbag Provided by Mark Mowen
Wooden Box by Nick Molignano
Wooden Box Provided by Nick Molignano
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Photographing a Painting
Dave Smith photographing Ginny Herzog's painting
Dave Smith Photographing a Painting
Close up of Dave Smith focusing the camera on Ginny Herzog's painting
Painting by Ginny Herzog
Painting provided by Ginny Herzog
The resulting picture from my CoolPix set up
using the same camera angle and lighting
that Dave Smith used.
Pittsburgh photographer Dave Smith helped me set up these illustrations. To photograph the painting Dave uses a camera stand (he only uses a tripod when on location) and normally would shoot with a Nikon F4 with the macro lens and a grid screen to visually keep the painting squared to the camera. He also prefers to use Chimera soft boxes (at 45 degree angles) instead of umbrellas to control the direction and fall off of the light. It is important to note that when the required output is a billboard sized image, he switches to his 4x5 view camera.I took the accompanying photograph of the painting with my CoolPix from the same position on the camera stand. If I were to shoot the same picture at home, I would set the camera on my tripod with a right angle column and use a level on my CoolPix to keep it square to the floor. Then I would bounce my Nikon SB-24's into two matching umbrellas the exact same distance to the painting at 45 degree angles. One of the pitfalls of shooting a rectangular object with a digital camera is the slight barrel distortion that is visible in the frame around the painting. A greater distance from the camera and a telephoto setting might have lessened the effect. There is a Photoshop plug in to correct barrel distortion from Andromeda. Note that I have added the artist's copyright to the image to help keep it from being "borrowed".
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Summary
As you experiment with the equipment you already own, you'll find that there is more than one way to take the same photograph. For years, we've been recommending using window light or open shade to photograph your art work. If you sell your work at art shows you already own a wonderful light tent, your canopy. It's white color lets soft light through and it's perfect for this kind of photography where harsh shadows are undesirable.
To convert your digital files to 35mm slides, follow these steps:
1- Shoot at full resolution that the camera is capable of.
2- Come in as close as you can, still leaving enough room for 35mm proportion without cropping.
3- Call your local lab or service bureau to find out their requirements.
Our lab requires a file that is sized to 35mm proportions (7.33x11) and converted to an 8 megabyte TIF. I've added the information for two labs we're familiar with to the links list.
Links
"Secret of Lighting on Location" by Bob Krist ISBN 0-8174-5823-9
Aside from the how-to diagrams and picture examples, he describes the choices he's made in his lighting purchases and why he made them, including the cases he travels with.
"Adventures in Location Lighting" by Jon Falk
Jon has informed me that the book is out of print.
It appears to be self published and sponsored by the Eastman Kodak Company. My copy is from 1990 and is the fourth edition.
A great resource to professional photographers who travel. He thoroughly describes both battery operated flash systems as well as AC (or generator) powered systems.
Bogen
Dyna-Lite
I own two Dyna-Lite systems and have used them for over 20 years
Chimera Soft Boxes
Paramount Synch Cords
RX Accessories sell a lens hood for the CoolPix
Nikon Equipment can be purchased from any Nikon professional dealer
Andromeda Lens Doc Photoshop filter for barrel distortion correction
Foto 1 Imaging located in Detroit and Ann Arbor
Some of our clients use the Ann Arbor location for digital imaging
Filmet located in Pittsburgh
I've been using Filmet for my digital imaging needs
The following people helped out in the production of this page:
(all the contributing artists have done their own photography for their web sites)
Ginny Herzog
Painting
Mark Mowen
Leather Handbags
Nick Molignano
Wood Boxes
Dave Smith
supplied his Pittsburgh Photo Studio
Digital Photography Resources
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