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Old Dec 13, 2005, 6:26 PM   #1
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OK, I have to come up with a portfolio of artwork for admission to graduate school. I have to photograph my artwork, which is painting (flat, a little reflective) and fused glass (flat-ish, reflective, somewhat transparent in places). This is not something I hope to do again in the near future.

I have: one Canon digital Rebel XT, an external flash, a 28-80 mm lens (as well as some other, less relevant lenses), and a living room (and a front yard, I've considered trying to just bring it all outside and try natural light). I'm not able to get the lighting even and natural enough.

Can anyone throw out any ideas about how to get even lighting that will produce true-to-life colors, for real cheap? I like taking pictures, but I don't want to buy this indoor equipment stuff for its own sake. I'm tempted to go to a professional if it might be comparable in price. Thing is, I need like 10 prints of each photo, so I'd rather do it myself to avoid too much printing cost.

Any ideas? Thanks very much!!
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Old Dec 13, 2005, 6:50 PM   #2
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Outdoors on a cloudy day is like shooting under a giant softbox. A polarizing filter to cut the glare on the pictures glass covers should also help. Use a tripod & fill the frame with the picture to eliminate a distracting background.
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Old Dec 14, 2005, 12:03 AM   #3
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Two 500W halogen work lights reflected off the ceiling. Set cusom WB with a gray card. Use a tripod. Artwork at around 45 degrees, and (Important!) camera at the same angle. try not to use the widest angle. Mid-zoom is more likely to have less distortion. (check lens specs, if you aren't sure) . I probably am forgetting something, but this should get you started.

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Old Dec 14, 2005, 11:04 AM   #4
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Outdoors on a cloudy/overcast day is a good one to try. A slight variation is to shoot just inside of a garage. You get most of of the daylight and can set up so the reflections are from a dark ceiling and thus are minimal.

In case you missed the comment from bothKalypso and VTphotog Get a tripod - a good one. You will use it for more than just this project.

True color is not a trivial exercise. You can try the Wall*Mart/CostCo/Joe's Bait Shop/... labs simply because they are cheap to try. If you are really fussy, likely you won't have much choice but to go to a pro lab.
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Old Dec 16, 2005, 9:19 PM   #5
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VTphotog, are you saying tilt the paintings back 45 degrees to pick up the reflected light?
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Old Dec 19, 2005, 8:58 AM   #6
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Ira Tiffen, of the Tiffen filter company, has a general article on using filters here:

http://www.tiffen.com/camera_filters.htm

It includes a paragraph that is relevant to your interest:

"For relatively close imaging of documents, pictures, and small three-dimensional objects, in a lighting-controlled environment, as on a copy stand, large plastic Polarizers mounted on lights aimed at 45 degrees to the subject from both sides of the camera will maximize the glare-reducing efficiency of a polarizer on the camera lens. The camera, in this case, is aimed straight at the subject surface, not at an angle. The lighting Polarizers should both be in the same, perpendicular orientation to the one on the lens. Again, you can judge the effect through the polarizer."

FWIW


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Old Dec 22, 2005, 10:53 PM   #7
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B1ue wrote:
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VTphotog, are you saying tilt the paintings back 45 degrees to pick up the reflected light?
Yes, approximately 45. Look at it like this: if you lay the artwork flat, you would have to be directly over it to take the picture, and would cast a shadow. If you set the artwork vertically, the lower part will be getting significantly less light. The exact angle used depends on ceiling height, and the room you have to set up in.

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Old Dec 23, 2005, 6:04 AM   #8
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I use those cheap $5 chicken brooder lamps, that have an aluminium reflector and a clamp.


I put the work on the floor, and then set up two chairs side by side and claimp the lights tot he chairs so they shine at 45 degrees from either side onto the work.

Also have the overhead light going (but not directly over the piece.

Then I stand over the artwork, and take a shot directly down at the artwork.

Try to use a zoom at the middle of the zoom range, or a fixed lens and shoot a little wide.

Crop your work after using software.

Two brooder lamps will set you back about $10, the cheapest lighting stand in the world.

-- Terry



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