How to Photograph Art & Lighting Techniques

Hello friends and photography enthusiasts,

This past week I was asked to photograph some paintings for a friend. This would be my first experience with art photography, but I already knew that I would need a good lighting set up to do it. Luckily my uncle, Michael Messing of Michael Messing Photography, was available to help with the lighting set up. We used 2 strobe lights set up at a 45 degree angle from the paintings with the camera placed in the center.

Diagrams of the set up:

To make sure we had the correct amount of light hitting the paintings, we tested each corner of the painting to see if the light was evenly hitting the picture. The light meter showed us what aperture to set the camera to for best results.

Michael checking the light meter

Setup: For these shots of the paintings we used the sync speed of my camera to the flash which was 1/200 shutter speed. The aperture was set at f10 and ISO at 100 for best results without introducing digital noise. My camera, the Nikon D610 with the 24-70mm f2.8 was zoomed all the way to 70mm to flatten the image as much as possible. You could even go higher using a 70-200mm lens to further the flattening.

View of the camera angle

When creating digital prints of paintings, you want them to to look exactly like the originals with no glare from the flash, and the color has to be on point.White balance is key! I shot in RAW format so I could make any changes necessary later if needed, but if I was shooting in JPEG format, I would have to make sure that everything was exact. Before taking the first shot, I used my white balance cards and had Michael hold them up in front if the painting.

I took a test shot of the cards in the frame, so I could use this shot later to correct white balance in Lightroom when cropping the paintings and correcting the color.

Once we had everything where we needed it, it was time to take the photos of the paintings. Every shot was framed so that the focus point was in the middle of the picture with little surrounding area. The way to do this is to keep the lens zoomed in but move the Tripod forward or backward depending on how much you are trying to take out. This makes it so that you will not have much cropping to do later on. 

Here are a few examples of Maria Walker's Art. If you like her work and would like to purchase a print copy of the art, please leave a comment below, and I will get you in touch with her.


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