Photography Lessons for the serious artist.

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This photography lesson will concentrate on helping you to photograph your artwork in use in advertising, portfolio's, brochures, and even prints.  I've discussed using your camera in photographing your own reference material.  You can check that out here at "Going beyond fruit and flowers"

And also, what to look for in a point and shoot digital camera.  A two part article on choosing a digital camera, and which digital camera features you as an artist will need to look for.

This article will concentrate on what you should do to get that perfect shot of your work!

First off, shooting oil painting is just plain hard.  It's like shooting art work that is behind glass.  Lots of reflections and glare to consider.  It is difficult, but not impossible.  These are the techniques I use, and why. 

I don't consider myself a professional photographer, but I do feel I'm proficient enough to produce my own limited edition prints from the photo's I do take.  And I've been doing it for years.

So let's get started with this photography lesson on shooting your own work!

As stated before, oil paintings are shiny.  so to start with, get yourself a CPL filter lens for your camera. It's discussed in detail here which digital camera features are needed for the artist.

If your camera can't fit one, don't sweat it!  The procedures below will eliminate most except the most very stubborn glare that will usually be found in the very corners of your shot, and can be cleaned up using some form of Photo Shop software.

  • Except the fact, that no matter how nice your lighting system is, nothing beats plan old sunlight!  Most, but not all, of my work is shot outside.  To help eliminate the glare, I always shoot in the shade.  (see below)
  • Please excuse the crude digital drawing, computer art is definitely not my forte'.

As you can see, there is no direct sunlight on the piece being photographed.

  • I hang a large piece of black cloth behind me on the studio outside wall, (and I wear dark clothing if possible).  Any light colored object will show up as a reflection in the piece.
  • I square up the piece to the camera using the veiwfinder and the tripod.  Click below to read about this technique as it a bit long, and has lots of pictures.

Squaring up your photo using your viewfinder.

  • Once you're squared up, then use a manual focus if possible and zoom in to make sure your camera is focused perfectly.  Most digital camera have a manual focus feature. 

    Auto focus works well also, but you still need to check it. If you decide to make prints, and the photo is made into a poster that is larger than the original, any out or focus fuzziness will be greatly amplified.  Check now, or have heart aches later.
  • Use bracketing, (one F-stop above normal, and one F-stop below normal)  This is discussed in more detail here also.
  • Finally, use the time delay feature.  This prevents any wobbling from your hand pushing the shoot button from showing up in the picture.  (old 35MM camera's had an external trigger device for this too).

Once you're done, you should have at least 3 or more shots of your work that will require very little touch-up and cropping! I'm glad you stuck with me through this photography lesson on shooting your own work.  It may just save you a bundle in fees!

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