You don’t need fancy equipment to photograph paintings 

Today we photographed some new paintings. Our technique is straight-forward and delivers good results. We shoot outside on overcast days or in indirect light, so the sun doesn’t shine on the painting and no shadows are cast across it. We prefer shooting outside because it is more straight forward than shooting with artificial light. Shooting outside in indirect light means that the light is soft and even across the painting and there are no “hot spots” or glare off the more reflective areas of the painting.

We use a Canon 20D SLR camera and a 35mm lens with a remote so there is no camera shake when shooting each image. As you can see the painting is propped up on a crate so that it is as close to vertical as possible. The trickiest part is adjusting the camera so that it is pointing perpendicular to the painting. This means adjusting the tripod so the camera sensor is parallel to the painting surface.

We then use an 18% grey card to check exposure, and an X-rite Color Checker Classic color chart for color correcting purposes in post. Each painting is photographed with the color chart on it before shooting the painting, so that color correction can be done more easily. We know that the color is accurate on our monitor because we calibrate it using X-rite i1Display Pro colorimeter.

We use photoshop to crop and color correct. I save the camera raw files, but primarily use TIFF’s and JPG’s for prints, web, and promotional materials.

So obviously we are using some specialized equipment, but we aren’t spending a fortune to do this professionally, and we get high quality digital images as a record of my work.

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