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How to Photograph Your Art

Resident photographer and SASI member Phil Lister gave us a hands on demonstration on how to correctly photograph artwork with simple techniques anyone can do. It doesn’t matter whether you have a big expensive camera, a point and shoot, or even a mobile phone as the methods Phil discussed are applicable regardless of what you are using.

Make sure your art piece is evenly lit.

The keys things to be careful about are firstly, to make sure your art piece is evenly lit. Phil used a light meter to demonstrate how light can vary across the surface of a painting. Diffuse window light is a great start.  Do not use flash.  (see below). 

Face camera correctly


Secondly, making sure the camera is facing the painting as close to 90 ° as possible eliminates distortion in the image.

Use tripod and self-timer

Thirdly, placing your camera on a tripod to keep it steady is one of the best things you can do, as well as using the self-timer to trigger the shutter instead of using your finger to press the shutter button. Both help reduce camera shake making the photograph as sharp as possible.

To reduce lens distortion, use a lens focal length of 70 mm or more if possible. A 50 mm lens is OK, but nothing less as the lens can then create what is commonly called barrel distortion.

Phil had his camera connected to his laptop so photos taken could be seen on the computer screen straight away, and using this he showed us how easily distortion can be introduced and how easy it is to create bright spots on a painting by using a camera flash incorrectly. Phil suggested to not use a flash, but rather use bright diffuse window light and never direct sunlight.

Diffuser boxes for 3D art

Phil also made 2 diffuser boxes for photographing 3-D pieces, costing less than $5. Make from cardboard boxes with the sides and top cut out and covered with tissue paper, the art piece is placed on a curved piece of white card inside the box to create an even background, and LED lights used to shine light through the tissue paper. This creates even, diffused light reducing harsh shadows.

These boxes are held by SASI for the use by members. 


Thank you Phil for another wonderfully informative and useful session.


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Keep camera lens at 90 degrees to artwork

Artwork by Lynette  Hughes

After sunset -Lighting LED

Morning -Lighting daylight

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