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Photographing Art - Canvas & Paint

PDH7981PDH7981 Member
edited June 2013 in general photography
I have a friend that is a fantastic artist using canvas and paint. She is entering one of your pieces in an art contest and has asked if I will photograph her work. One of the rules of the contest requires everyone submitting their work first submit a photograph of their art. If selected, she would then submit the original.

My question is what's the best way to photograph this art? I have all pro gear (Nikon D700 or D3s) and all pro lenses. Can anyone offer a suggestion on how to get the best result? Should I use flash in a soft box, bounce flash... no flash? I plan to use my color checker and white balance card in the process. I want to do as little post processing as possible. I want the final image to be match the original as closely as possible.

I look forward to your feedback.



  • JerryJerry Member
    Personally I would have used two flashes bounced (one left, one right) to minimize hotspots and make it possible to use a low ISO and avoid noise.

    Measure the exposure and preset WB with the card. Then in PP just color correct withthe color checker and possibly minor tweak to WB and exposure... e voilĂ !
  • dmwarddmward Member
    When I photograph art for a gallery, museum or artist I use at least two monolights, or strobes. Photographing a color checker in the same light is essential as well. Place the lights at least 45* off axis and aim them about half way between the center and the opposite edge of the art work. Make sure they are far enough away so the light cone is at least twice the diameter of the art, preferably 3 times or more. With paint on canvas, especially if there is any texture to the surface, its best to use a polarizing filter on the lens as well as polarizing gel on the lights. Make sure the gel on the lights is properly aligned.

    Confirm that the lights are equal power on the art by placing you hand in front of the art to see that the shadow density it the same on each side.

    Meter in the center, and each corner. The variance should be less than a quarter stop. min to max. Use a sufficiently high shutter speed to ensure no ambient contribution.

    Macro lens is best. Use the optimum aperture for sharpness, usually about 2 to 3 stops below wide open.
  • Thank you Jerry and Thank you dmward. Fantastic detail.. very much appreciated. I didn't know about the polorizing gels for the lights. This is something I'll have to investigate a bit more.

    Thanks again for your reply.
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