Occasionally I have been asked to photograph paintings. Sometimes people from across the country wanted to ship a painting to Utah for me to photograph them. I haven’t had experience in that area, until now.
The following paintings are by Kathleen Peterson and can be seen at the Woman’s Center at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah. And her website has these paintings available for sale as prints… thanks to my photography, yay!
The secret is to invest in gel filters to go over your lights. I used Rosco Polarizing filters from B&H Photo. And then the camera’s lens needs a LINEAR polarizing filter. I also bought one on B&H Photo. (They are not a sponsor). I tried to find the equipment locally but I had to ship it in.
To complete this assignment it took 3 trips to get all the paintings’ photos perfect. The first trip I did NOT have the gel polarizers for the lights. As a result the oil paintings sparkled with blown highlights and things just looked awful. It would have been near impossible to fix in Photoshop.
So I did more research and that is when I learned about the need for the lights to be polarized in addition to the lens. The light is polarized twice and the reflections get cancelled out. This requires quite a bit of strobe power. But when you have everything in place you just rotate the linear polarizer on the lens to the right spot and all the reflections and highlights are removed. There was minimal Photoshop that needed to be done. Yay!
Here you can see the Rosco Polarizing gel over the light. You have to rotate the gel so each light is setup the same. I had to do a little trial and error to get it to work. There is a larger gel available, but it is several hundred dollars. It would be large enough for a softbox, but then you would need even more powerful strobes because the softbox cuts light and each polarized cuts light and you need at least f/14 for enough detail.
The artist, Kathleen Peterson, had painted a woman for each month of the year. So that was 12 separate photographs. I shot these with my Canon 5D Mark 4 which is a 30 megapixel camera. Woo hoo!