Photograph Painting and Art Work : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I have a canon 35mm and would like to purchase whatever is needed to effectively take shots of paintings. The pictures will represent the artwork and need to be of superior quality for slides and electronic photos for the internet. I have been to several camera shops and have received conflicting reports on what to do. Any assistance you could provide would be greatly appreciated. thank you.

-- Mateo solari (, February 04, 2002


Short of writing a book, I would start with a 100mm macro lens, 1200 to 2400 watt-seconds power pack with two color corrected heads and polarizers for each head (usually 12x12") and a polarizer for the lens. Oh then a good incident flash meter. I use Fuji Astia film or Kodak E100S. Aim the lights at about 45 degrees or less and test away.

-- Richard Stum (, February 04, 2002.

Richard did you really mean color-corrected heads, or U.V. filtered lamps? Last I looked the makers didn't offer "color correction" with flash outputs varying from manufaturer to manufacturer over a fairly wide range. Color-correction is usually accomplished with CC filtration. Add to the list a good easel and level.

-- Wayne DeWitt (, February 04, 2002.

35mm is fine -normal to somewhat long lense will help minumize distortion from not getting square in front of the piece of art- a pocket bubble level will help keep the camera straight-a good tripod- a cable release for the long exposures with the halogen copy lights in good broad reflectors with the polaroid filters metioned earlier-don't use flash because modeling lights are not good for tricky reflections on paintings or strange surfaces (ceramic etc.) and filtering for color correction is pretty easy. Ask your lab for balancing help but the halogens are going to be really close,( match the film temp. of course) maybe close enough. You will find that your exposures will be consistant once you establish your work enviroment. 45 degree lights do not work in all situations --trust your eyes and your meter.

-- Jack Nadelle (, February 05, 2002.

I'm not expert on the topic, but I've gotten some excellent results by using Lowell DP lights placed at a 45 degree angle from the painting and taking the photo straight-on with a 4x5. Of course, I used a tungston corrected film. (Kodak T64, I believe.) While I used a 150mm Componon-S, I'm not sure if you need a macro lens for 35mm. It depends on the painting distance to lens over the focal length ratio.

Check out the Kodak book on the topic, "Copying and Duplicating Photographic and Digital Imaging Techniques." It's very authoritative.

-- neil poulsen (, February 05, 2002.

I'm sorry, Neil but, What kind of shutter do you use with the componon-s 150mm? I would like to use my apo-rodagon for copy work, but I don't know how to do it! Thanks,

-- jose angel (, February 05, 2002.

I suppose there's no point in reminding everyone (again) that this is supposed to be the LARGE FORMAT forum? Try for your 35mm questions.

-- Pete Andrews (, February 05, 2002.

I meant UV strobe heads, which I thought Speedo called them CC heads…anyway I have also used tungsten lights in the past put you have to somehow place the polarizer further away from the hot lamp. In side-by-side tests I prefer the Fuji tungsten film over Kodaks.

-- Richard Stum (, February 05, 2002.

I shoot paintings for several galleries for either catalogue reproduction or large banner to hang outside of gallery (6'x12').

Here's my setup: Linhof Master with Symar 210, 2400 Speedo with 2 heads, polorized light source and polorized lens. My primary film is Agfachrome RSX II rated at ISO 80 given my meter and my lab. Agfachrome gives the most neutral of colors and not that wet paint look like other emulsions. Provia is OK but misses some of the pastel colors. I also like Ektachrome 64 (this is about the film from big yellow father that I will use) but it is really is exoensive. Good luck......

-- F. William Baker (, February 05, 2002.

If you go to and search the archives you will find this question has been asked and answered very thoroughly several times, sometimes by people who know what they are doing and often by people who do not.

My set up is similar to Richard's but I would like to add the following. The polarizers on the lights need to be oriented in a consistent direction and you rotate the polarizing filter on the lens until any reflections of the lightsources on the surface of the painting (glare) disappear. This technique is called cross polarization as the orientation ofthe polarizers on the lights is at 90 degrees to the orientation ofthe polarizer on the camera. You need a lot of power because the combination of the polarizing filter on the camera and tyhe polarizers on the lights absorbs about 4 to 5 stops of light. You meter with the polarizers on the lights and then add in the filter factor of the filter on the lens.

I use either Fuji ASTIA or Kodak EPN. EPN is the most neutral color fim made, but ASTIA is very very close.

You need to make sure that the light is completely even (to within 1/10th of a stop) across the painting surface.

You can use either a circular or linear polarizer on the camera lens.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (, February 06, 2002.

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