14 October 2011

Bellamy Gallery

Shoot Type: Commercial (Art Reproduction)

Like many professional artists, Michelle sells limited-edition framed prints of many of her paintings. Todays assignment was to photograph 2 of her most recent works.

This kind of work is relatively straight-forward, but there are a few "gotchas" to be aware of ...


Lighting can "make or break" the finished product very easily. We shoot art with 2 studio strobes firing into identical softboxes, set either side of the art. The placement of the strobes are quite critical; on one hand we want to make sure that any reflected light can't make it's way back towards the camera (so we position the lights accordingly), but on the other hand, we don't want the lights to be too close to the same plane as the art because it tends to over-emphasise any texture. To complicate things even more, if the lights are placed too close the centre of the art receives less light - but if we place them too far away (even firing into softboxes) then the light becomes harder, thus making the image texture more contrasty. So we have to strive for a happy medium (read "a bit of trial and error"!).We also check the lighting with a lightmeter at all 4 corners and the centre to ensure it's even (or within 0.1 of a stop).


My usual weapon of choice for this kind of work is the Canon TS-E 90mm - the tilt function makes it easier to compensate for the fact that the art often isn't completely vertical (you wouldn't believe how nervous the artists get about their work when we're trying to hang it in the middle of nowhere to shoot it!). The lens is of course manual focus, but the focus confirmation light still works just fine, and the fact that we typically shoot this at around F5.6 is more than enough to compensate for any small focusing errors.

Colour Management

This is another biggie - the colours have to be as accurate as possible, so we take every precaution to get things right - to the point of shooting a reference gray card shot for white balancing - shooting a colour target to produce a custom camera profile - and even to the point of switching off modeling & room lights, which can introduce a (very) small colour cast.

For more of Michelle's great art, pop along to http://www.bellamygallery.co.nz/. For more of my work, pop along to www.pbase.com/cjsouthern.

Until next time ...

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