April 26th, 2010
November 25th, 2009
When photographing artwork, the single most important thing to remember is that a camera sees differently than your eye! If the plane of the camera (film or sensor location) is not parallel to the artwork being photographed, distortion will occur (whether you can live with it or not depends upon your desire to look professional). I find a tripod works best for keeping the art and camera correctly aligned. The light a camera records is not the same as the light we see. Film and digital sensors record light with considerably less sensitivity than our eyes. Our eyes compensate automatically for variations in color temperature, film does not, and when digital cameras are set to do this most of the time they will destroy the color rendition you took care to create.
For flat work like oils, acrylics, watercolors, etc., indirect light from the sun works best. North facing walls are great. most of the day. If you must light it indoors, be sure to use 4 equal wattage lights that are set at 45 degrees from the center of the piece. Set your camera's White balance in accordance with the type of light (incandescent, fluorescent, or LED), Do Not Mix The Type Of Light) or if using film be sure to use the correct type of film or the proper filter to compensate for the kind of lighting you chose.
Galleries want to see your art, not your framed art. Filling the frame is a must. To do this, you can move the camera to fill the frame, or use the camera's optical zoom feature to do so. If the camera has only a digital zoom, Do Not Use It. Digital zoom simply crops the image and you get less detail than you would have in the full sized image. Another thing to consider is that a wide angle lens when moved in close to an object tends to distort the image (straight lines often take on a curved look). You are almost always better off being about the mid distance of your zoom lens on most digital cameras.
Sculpture looks its best when the viewer can see the 3 dimensional aspects of it. Lighting sculpture requires one to use at least 2 and often 3 lights for best effect. The key light should be a bright and "small" source (gridded spot, bare bulb flash, etc.). It should cast a strong shadow. A fill light is used at about 1/2 the power of the key light, but it should be a much larger source (think large soft box, reflector, or umbrella). The purpose of the fill light is to lessen the strength of the shadow, not to eliminate it. If a third light is used, it is often set up to provide rim or edge lighting to the subject. This light pulls the subject out of the background. In all cases, the camera has to be set for the type of light that is used or you have to choose your film and filters accordingly.
March 12th, 2009
This shot of Trixy Rose, was done using 3 light sources. A large window camera left, a home made beauty dish (an 18" reflector housing an SB800 strobe) about 2 ' above & to camera left, and the pop up flash on the camera provided both spill and the triggering for the beauty dish. In this way I was able to provide a glimpse of the location, without having too much detail in the background. Whenever mirrors are being used, Care must be taken to minimize the effect of lens flare and hot spots. My main light (beauty dish) was positioned to light her hair and face primarily from an angle (notice shadow of nose and you can get an idea as to how high it was above her). The room reflected behind her was lit solely by the window. I dialed down the pop ups flash to provide 1/3 the amount of light my main light was producing. This lessened the impact of the shadows without eliminating them.