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Photographing oil paintings

AlanJ Plus
3 770 England
9 Nov 2013 4:40PM
My daughter reproduced an old photograph of my parents in oil paint and I want to photograph it so that I can give prints to my family.
Any tips on lighting and the method likely to get best results?


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hobbo Plus
5 974 2 England
9 Nov 2013 6:20PM

Quote:My daughter reproduced an old photograph of my parents in oil paint and I want to photograph it so that I can give prints to my family.
Any tips on lighting and the method likely to get best results?



I had to do the same recently......

I ensured that it was facing a decent window light......placed it on a tripod, tilted slightly forwards at the top to avoid reflections.......put my camera on a tripod to be square on to the painting......then did a few shots until I obtained the best results.

9 Nov 2013 6:23PM
I take mine out into the back garden and photograph them shaded from and pointing approximately away from the sun. The painting actually rests on a low wall and leans against an old Japanese lantern. The Painting is usually tilted back, house is a pale colour so the reflected light is reasonably neutral.
Probably not the approved method, but with a bit of tweaking (colour balance is often too, warm presumably because the house is cream?) they look OK. I believe the correct method is using two lights, one on either side, at an angle that I can't remember, but I'm sure somebody on this site must know how it should be done. Side-lighting like that is usefull for showing up brush-strokes etc.

ensign Plus
9 209 1 United Kingdom
9 Nov 2013 7:47PM
Hi Alan,
Like Pete and Hobbo, I have recently carryed out a similar project. I try to use natural light where possible. I found a bright overcaste light was good, as it is more even and reduces shadows. I also have a reflector to hand. Camera on tripod and if possible picture off the wall.
Hope this is of some use Alan and Good luck.
AlanJ Plus
3 770 England
9 Nov 2013 10:29PM
Thanks guys.
All good tips. I want to do it justice because my daughter blew me away with painting!
It was a 60th birthday present and while I knew she had great talent as a tattoo artist I never imagined she was such a talented artist in oils. She captured my mum and dad so well. My whole family were amazed and all want a print.
tomcat Plus
11 6.4k 15 United Kingdom
9 Nov 2013 11:17PM
No one thought of scanning????
9 Nov 2013 11:49PM

Quote:No one thought of scanning????

Interesting - I've scanned a few acrylics, water-colours, drawings etc.

Only having an A4 scanner most of my oils won't fit, but even for small ones I don't use it.
This is because I'm rather reluctant to put them face down on the glass because the paint surface can stay tacky for rather a long time and can take quite a few months to 'harden.' Also, I find that my scanner does rather too good a job on recording surface irregularities to the detriment of the picture.
Paul Morgan Plus
15 18.5k 6 England
10 Nov 2013 2:51AM
arhb Plus
9 3.2k 68 United Kingdom
10 Nov 2013 8:57AM

Quote:No one thought of scanning????

The problem with scanning is exposure to very bright light which would cause specular highlights of the scanned image, caused by high points in the oil paint, and varnish reflection.
As has been mentioned, diffused natural light(overcast daylight) will give better results.
MGJ Plus
8 328 6
10 Nov 2013 1:31PM
I suspect the lights on each side would produce the best result. You need to set the lights up such that they produce a diffuse reflection (diffusion sheets and camera position?), and it would be best to do a white balance test shot too. Make sure the camera back is parallel to the painting is also a wise move.

There are simpler ways, but it really depends on how dead right you want/need it.

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