Last month Norman Silverstone photographed some artwork for local artist Pat Nicklin

Shooting a painting is exacting work

Last month I photographed some acrylic and watercolour paintings; what an elaborate setup it is to properly photograph such paintings.

I did a trade with Ben Friday a friend of mine. We traded his special web design skills to change my home page with my services for some glossy 13” x 19” prints using my exhibition quality Epson printer.

Ben is fantastic and really knows his business. This is his address http://www.fridaydesign.com if you want to go have a look at his web page.

Ben lives in Nanaimo and I live here, so how does he get the large photo files to me. He used a file transfer service called ‘Hightail’. Hightail will let you transfer files photo or text of up to 250mb for free. This is their address: https://www.hightail.com.       Another service that I have used is “Dropbox”, which will let you transfer files— photo or text—up to 2.25 GB for free. They say “Lets you bring all your photos, docs, and videos anywhere”. This is their address.       https://www.dropbox.com/home.

Of course both Hightail and Dropbox have paid plans to upgrade the service, but I find the free plan adequate for my purposes.

Last month I photographed some acrylic and watercolour paintings; what an elaborate setup it is to properly photograph such paintings. Here is how I did it; for the black background I used Staples “trifold foam board” in black. For the base I used a black artist board then a small easel was placed on the artist board and that was covered by a heavy black fabric.

As for camera placement, I measured the distance from the side wall to what would be the center of the painting and placed the tripod and camera at that same distance so that the center of the painting would be in the center of the viewfinder.

Using a spirit level I leveled the camera so that there wouldn’t be a skewed photograph of the painting. Are you still with me? Don’t nod off now, there’s more.

I placed the two “X” strobes at 45 degrees to the painting and five feet from the center of the paintings. Then I used my flash meter to determine the exposure and carefully placed the painting on the easel. At the bottom of the painting I put an 18 per cent grey/white card so that I could easily match the colours of the painting when I would be printing the photographs.

With the camera in “manual” mode I set the 18 ~ 70mm lens at 52mm so that the painting would fill my viewfinder, the ISO at 200, the aperture at f8 (the reading from the flash meter), the shutter speed at 1/125 of a second (even though my flash synchs at 1/250th) so that no extraneous light would be recorded. Using an electronic cable release I fired off a shot.

I got some ugly glare on the painting, so I moved the lights to about a 50 degree angle, fired off a shot, and—perfect.

Yes please, try this at home.

Last September I made a batch of Slivovitz brandy using the plums from our plum tree. It had to mature for three months, until Dec. 24.

On that day we strained the fruit out and put it in a container and then passed around some shot glasses full of the stuff. Wowee! Potent.

One last thing before I go…I am now two years and one month cancer free.

Any questions?  E-mail me at nsilverstone@telus.net or see me online at www.silverstonephotos.com.

 

Norman Silverstone teaches photography through North Island College and Eldercollege in Port Alberni.

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