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Old Feb 28, 2003, 4:49 PM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2003
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Default studio flash ? with metallic surface


I would like some input on taking pictures of my artwork.
I work with metallic leaf, Dutch gold, aluminum, and copper.
The surface is very reflective and textured. It has been hit or miss up to now so I need to do something more. My studio is has no natural lighting except for the full spectrum bulbs I have. I need these for portfolios and I have had the work photographed professionally but that gets too pricey. I rarely sell work from the photos but generally from commissions or gallery sales. The color matching doesn't have to be exact and I will tweak it with Adobe
Photoshop Elements before the work leaves the studio.
I have an Olympus C-4040 and I print them out with an Olympus
P-400. I have a limited experience with studio lighting so any and all info. wil be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
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Old Mar 5, 2003, 11:57 AM   #2
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Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 385

Reflective metals are difficult with any light source. Strobes will glare no more or no less than hot lights with all other factors being the same but you do have more options for modifiers since you don't have to worry about a hot light melting things.

A point source of light emphasized the specularity of metal so you want to make the source as big as possible. I get this a lot when I photograph faceted glass bead jewelry or carnival glass for my wife. To reduce the effect of bright reflections I use a large softbox and surround the object with a white reflective background. This envelops the object with light from all directions. Reflections are still present but since there are virtually no shadows contrast is reduced enough so that details are still recorded. This may be overkill for artwork as you you don't want flat lighting to make the piece dull so you'll need to experiment.

For product shots I use a Photoflex white interior, 36"x48" softbox with an Alien Bees B400 160 watt-second strobe. With a 150watt Halogena bulb for the modeling light I can get a good preview of shadows and glare and the B400 reduces to 1/32 power (5 watt-seconds) so I have the flexibility to bring it very close to the subject even when shooting with a digicam that has a narrow aperture range.
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