Home Commercial Photographing Paintings Is Not Easy But I Did It!

Photographing Paintings Is Not Easy But I Did It!

by dav.d

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!

12 Muse Paintings

12 Muse Paintings

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.

Behind the scenes we have our lights, camera, polarizers

Behind the scenes we have our lights, camera, polarizers

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.

12 Muse Paintings

12 Muse Paintings

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!

The lights require a polarized gel filter to remove reflections

The lights require a polarized gel filter to remove reflections

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 lights require a polarized gel filter to remove reflections

The lights require a polarized gel filter to remove reflections

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!

12 Muse Paintings

12 Muse Paintings

The camera has a LINEAR polarizer to cut reflections

The camera has a LINEAR polarizer to cut reflections

12 Muse Paintings

12 Muse Paintings

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1 comment

wedding djs December 28, 2018 - 1:12 am

I think that everyting published was actually very logical.
However, what about this? suppose you were to create a awesome post title?
I aam not saying your information isn’t good, but what if you
added a headline that makes people want more? I mean Photographing Paintings Is Not Easy But
I Did It! | dav.d photography is a little boring.
You might glance at Yahoo’s front page and see hhow hey write post tiles to grab viewers interested.

You might try addin a video or a picture or two to get readers intereswted about what you’ve got
to say. Justt my opinion, it would bring your posts a little livelier.

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