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How to Photograph a Painting

This is my stage one of The Mesquite Tree painting and I'd like any feedback--especially if I'm doing something wrong.  The reference photo is 24" x 24", the same size as the stained Claussen #13 linen canvas board, at 1:1 ratio.  It's laminated and it really holds up to applying/removing paint.  I'm further along with the painting but I wanted to check the camera settings first with you before I take any more pictures.  I used a Canon dslr and shot this photo in raw on AWB at 8 feet.  My ISO was 100 and the f. stop was 8.  Shutter speed was  1/3 of a second and my focal length was 47mm.  I also used a shutter release cable with bracketing.  This picture was the best of the three.  Any advice on how I can improve on this setup?  Thank you in advance.  Summer

Flatty[Deleted User]EstherH


  • All good assuming you're fixing white balance in post, nothing wrong and photo looks great.

    The only thing you might want to do is use ISO 200 instead of 100, just because some cameras do funky things at 100, although maybe yours doesn't. Also, for focal length, the number is mostly meaningless without sensor size, but just use the highest focal length possible (zoom in as much as you can) without bumping into the wall behind you. You want the most distance possible between you and the painting while still almost filling the frame with the painting. For a painting of this size it doesn't matter as much, and you may already be zoomed in all the way. For maximum resolution and minimal noise in your final crops, don't leave so much space around the painting.

    And just a heads up, no matter how you take the photo it will not look the same as it does in real life without tweaking in Lightroom, so expect to take some time tuning the image when you get your final photograph.
    [Deleted User]Summer
  • Oh, and one last thing, the painting is lit more at the top than the bottom. This is normal and can be corrected in your final photo of the finished work. It's not very difficult to do but it's a little hard to explain how, so don't worry about it for now, just know that it can be corrected in post. I need to take some screenshots showing the process I use.
  • Thanks, David.  Really helpful information that I can use going forward.  Yes, the zoom lens was at the max.  However, my husband agreed to help me move the couch so I can shoot at 10 feet next time which will result in more of the painting and reference photo in the shot.  I will also put the ISO at 200 instead of 100 and look for the differences.  And lastly, I will be looking forward to learning how to fix the disparity of light between the top and the bottom of the painting when I get to the final photo.  Thank you, again, very much for this information.  :)   Happy New Year!  Summer   
  • @Kingston Thanks for your input.  And, you are right!  I am too fussy!  I'm doing my best with this first painting, but it isn't good enough.  I'm already saying that the next one will be better and I won't do this or that again.  As long as I don't quit I'm happy.  :)
  • SummerSummer -
    edited January 2016
    Kingston said:
    The most important thing is the work. 
    Always!   :)  
  • edited December 2015
    The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • Summer, I look forward to see your progress... however it will turn out! And YES, the next one will always be better (thats my mantra as well...)...
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