Luminous Landscape Forum

Equipment & Techniques => Cameras, Lenses and Shooting gear => Topic started by: jsw_nz on December 25, 2012, 12:52:46 AM

Title: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system
Post by: jsw_nz on December 25, 2012, 12:52:46 AM
Hi People

I am looking for advice on a lighting system (good but not super pricey)
- to complete a digital print studio workflow - whose goal is limited editions prints
of original artwork:

Here is the setup so far:
NEC 301W-BK-SV Monitor - Calibrated with SpectraView II
i1Publish Pro 2 - Calibrated across devices and ipf8400 Canon printer
Nikon 800E - Nikkor 24-70mm 2.8 - for shooting (35MB capture)
???Lighting System???

General Goal of the Lighting System is to create
diffuse evenly distributed light across artwork's entire surface
(artwork could be up to 72" wide maximum)
Is going with (vertical) soft boxes - and strobes the way to go?
Color temperature an issue - D50 a likely target.

I do have two Nikon Speedlights - but I am steering away from using them

cheers and thanks in advance for any advice from the experienced members of the forum
(jsw_nz)
Title: Re: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system
Post by: langier on December 25, 2012, 12:12:46 PM
If I was starting fresh on lighting in the studio, I'd go with LED and for the artwork, run the Colorchecker to calibrate the camera (most LEDs will need some sort of correction, too).

A good place to start on LED lighting is Kirk Tuck's book on the subject.

LEDs seem to be getting better, brighter and less expensive all the time and there's no guesswork as to glare on the artwork as there is with placement of flash. Other people use high CRi fluorescent lighting which is less than LED and should also give you broad and soft lighting.
Title: Re: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system
Post by: SangRaal on December 25, 2012, 01:39:41 PM
Rather than give you direct advice on lighting systems (since I am struggling with similar issues) my suggestion is to view a tutorial webinar on this topic on the Datacolor(spyder) website it's about 50 minutes long and fairly advanced and iis the best tutorial I have found on the net.
Title: Re: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system
Post by: jsw_nz on December 25, 2012, 09:15:02 PM
Langier
I took a look at Kirk Tuck website on LED lighting (thanks) - seems the high CRI versions of LED systems are still a wee pricey for me (2K+)
 - so needing actual examples of high CRI fluorescent lighting as a solution - Based on the artwork I am planning to photograph, two large soft boxes (50" Westcott) - are in order. Is there a way to safely mount arrays inside them) - Not being near a good well stocked camera
store leaves me guessing as to hardware - issues of temperature - size of bulbs - and overall compatibility.

SangRaal
Thanks for the info
- there is a great 1:12 video on photographing artwork on that website - really thorough - lots of good advice
Here is the link (color-management-for-fine-art-reproduction (http://spyder.datacolor.com/en/portfolio-view/color-management-for-fine-art-reproduction/))

Cheers guys
jsw_nz
Title: Re: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system
Post by: K.C. on December 26, 2012, 08:42:04 PM
I shot for a number of high end galleries in L.A. for over a decade. A pair of tota lights (http://www.lowel.com/tota/) with polarizers and a polarizer at the lens, 4X5, an inclination vial and drum scans did the job just fine.
Title: Re: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system
Post by: jsw_nz on December 26, 2012, 11:56:40 PM
Hi KC

Thanks - been considering this - but Tota-light lamps are rated at 3200K. How serious an issue is this
insofar as a 5000K D50 Polarized light source is the goal. I know I could use ColorChecker to get the
final white point and overall color correction - (I am sure you have used as well). I do like (1) the ability
to control the throw light (can they be positioned vertically?) and use the frame to mount diffusion filter
and polarizing gel (can they be sandwiched - guessing so) - My conundrum is that I am in New Zealand
so the 120V standard version of the bulbs will not work without a step-up transformer....

Your thoughts - particularly on the 3200K issue.

Thanks in advance
john

Title: Re: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system
Post by: Chris_Brown on December 27, 2012, 12:50:27 AM
Nikkor 24-70mm 2.8

I recommend prime lenses such as the Zeiss 50mm makro-planar and the 100mm makro-planar, with circular polarizers.

For lighting I use four heads attached to a 4800ws power pack. Each light covered with a polarizer. Each pair mounted on a single stand, separated as needed for the work at hand. I've copied artwork up to 16'x16' on location with this setup.

Either paint your studio neutral black or get plenty of Duvateen, too.

Oh, and make yourself the best camera profile you can.
Title: Re: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system
Post by: jsw_nz on December 27, 2012, 01:26:03 AM
Hi Chris

16' x 16' (even light) - wow - with respect to heads - are you referring to tota-lights - not sure here.
And yes - you are absolutely right about a dedicated lens - I am looking at the
Micro-Nikkor AF-S 60mm f/2.8 G ED N (FX) - similar to the Zeiss you mentioned.
Nice idea about stacking - guessing an extra piece of hardware/gear needed here - can you suggest

Still sorting this out in my mind - I am an painter first of all - still learning about the photography ropes.
Great that there is this kind of a forum - a real world learning environment.

thanks,
-j-



Title: Re: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system
Post by: K.C. on December 27, 2012, 06:07:08 PM
Hi KC

Thanks - been considering this - but Tota-light lamps are rated at 3200K. How serious an issue is this
insofar as a 5000K D50 Polarized light source is the goal. I know I could use ColorChecker to get the
final white point and overall color correction - (I am sure you have used as well). I do like (1) the ability
to control the throw light (can they be positioned vertically?) and use the frame to mount diffusion filter
and polarizing gel (can they be sandwiched - guessing so) - My conundrum is that I am in New Zealand
so the 120V standard version of the bulbs will not work without a step-up transformer....

Your thoughts - particularly on the 3200K issue.

Thanks in advance
john



You match the film type to the color of the light source. So if you're shooting tungsten light you use tungsten balanced film.

Tota lights have been a standard in the film and video industry for a couple of decades. A 220v bulb is readily available. You CANNOT position a Tota vertically.

http://www.filmandvideolighting.com/80em22buemfc.html

Why do you think you need diffusion ?

Take a look at typical gallery lighting, a small point source light pointing directly at the artwork. Just the opposite of diffuse.
Title: Re: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system
Post by: K.C. on December 27, 2012, 06:13:59 PM
Hi Chris

16' x 16' (even light) - wow - with respect to heads - are you referring to tota-lights - not sure here.
And yes - you are absolutely right about a dedicated lens - I am looking at the
Micro-Nikkor AF-S 60mm f/2.8 G ED N (FX) - similar to the Zeiss you mentioned.
Nice idea about stacking - guessing an extra piece of hardware/gear needed here - can you suggest

Still sorting this out in my mind - I am an painter first of all - still learning about the photography ropes.
Great that there is this kind of a forum - a real world learning environment.

He's referring to using four heads, in pairs on each side of the art. Stacking one above the other some distance to create even light.

The reason you want a Macro lens is for the flat field of view and the close focussing capability. The Micro Nikkor will be fine.

Title: Re: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system
Post by: jsw_nz on December 27, 2012, 06:56:36 PM
I guess there is still another school of thought regarding lighting.

I have been reading stuff over a dpreview that suggests using only 'one-sided' lighting (at a significant distance) is better if you want to preserve the relief of that which you are photographing. One guy who has a lot of professional experience at photographing quilts suggests:

If you get the single direct head far enough away and use a silver-pebbled or white bounce card on the dark side....results are better (and the evenness of lighting will be good). Remember the LARGE bounce card does not create a cross shadow problem.

He suggest the same would hold true for painting (particularly the kind that has evidence impasto/brushwork)
As far as I know Digital Juice produces 5'x7' Collapsible Reflector.

Soft boxes and umbrellas are not recommended - rather directed light with a polarizing sheet for the lamp head and circular polarizer on the lens. At 30 feet and using a polarizing sheet - guessing a lot of light would be needed.

Another option would be using a bank of Solux Halogens (Black Backs) a little closer in. I am looking into the only because their spectrum is the most even around (no spikes). Solux now offers a Snout attachment - which gets rid of warm halo at perimeter. Not sure about this
but have ordered a set of bulbs for color proofing prints anyways - so may experiment with this.

KC and Chris - thanks for your advice on the lens issue - definitely going in this direction.

cheers
-john-

Title: Re: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system
Post by: K.C. on December 28, 2012, 12:02:31 AM
Well as you're discovering there are endless opinions. Many of them worth exactly what you paid for them.

I've shot professionally for over 30 years. Well over a hundred gallery catalogs. Toured the art restoration and documentation facilities at several museums. I've never heard of anything as stupid in my life as a single light and bounce card being superior. Direct light versus bounced light will give you two different qualities of light, irregardless of what some would like you to believe.

Have you tried the local library for a good book on photographing artwork ?
 (http://www.amazon.com/How-Photograph-Works-Sheldan-Collins/dp/0817440194/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1356670604&sr=1-1&keywords=how+to+photograph+artwork)

So if I want to learn to paint ? Do you think I'll be able to learn how from opinions garnered on the internet ?

Will they all be valid ?
Title: Re: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system
Post by: jsw_nz on December 28, 2012, 02:25:45 AM
Quote
So if I want to learn to paint ? Do you think I'll be able to learn how from opinions garnered on the internet ? Will they all be valid ?

Certainly not.
I have been painting for as long as you have been photographing – and texture is an issue for me...

Having said that – consider me a ‘student’ of photographing fine art (my own), with an open mind to your Tota-light approach and your obvious industry experience.  (as a matter of fact I used to hire pros like yourself to get the job done for me). To preface – I am coming from this from a digital perspective (not film) – so just trying to make a smart purchase with regards to lighting. Since this forum category is about gear - check my shopping list based on your advice.

(1) Lowel / Adorama Tota-Light Kit - link (http://www.adorama.com/LLBTK.html)
(2) EMF 800 watt 220/240V Quart Halogen Lights
(2) Lowel Tota-frames
(1) Hoya 62mm HD2 Circular Polariser - for 60mm Micro-Nikon
(1) Roscoe Linear Polarizing Filter - 17"x  20" roll

Only question I have is how well the Roscoe Linear Polarizing Filter will hold up to the heat?

Interested in your thoughts......

Title: Re: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system
Post by: K.C. on December 28, 2012, 04:17:20 AM
It's important that the filters at the lights be flat and both oriented in the same direction. You might consider these http://www.adorama.com/LTP8.html?gclid=CMzE9qngvLQCFal_Qgodw2IA3Q

Gel filters are designed for hot lights. Still you want to keep an eye on them and make sure they don't start to curl.
Title: Re: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system
Post by: jsw_nz on December 28, 2012, 04:40:47 AM
Cheers KC

Since the Lowel Tota-frame is 10" x 12"
- guessing the larger version of that product (12" square) (http://www.adorama.com/LTP8.html?gclid=CMzE9qngvLQCFal_Qgodw2IA3Q) from Adorama might work
- might need to trim it down.

thanks :)
Title: Re: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system
Post by: LKaven on December 28, 2012, 05:33:18 AM
I use the Rosco Cinegel, twice as much for the same price.  And not back-ordered.

http://www.adorama.com/RO7300.html
Title: Re: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system
Post by: John Nollendorfs on December 28, 2012, 12:59:58 PM
The trouble with using "hot lights" in copying, is the need to keep the lights on for a only a short while, (because of the heat) and the polarizers fading rather quickly. Yes, it is easier to see how your lighting is effecting the painting, but with digital, you can can have a preview so quickly, I see no advantage at all.

You can buy a fairly cheap set of strobes for not much more than you are paying for the Tota lights.

Title: Re: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system
Post by: jsw_nz on December 28, 2012, 02:05:33 PM
Cheers John

Thanks for your input - and yes - I am considering other options before any purchase - although Tota-light is - as KC pointed out - a pretty much industry standard. I was looking at Interfit brand (compatible with 220v here in New Zealand) - but not sure about all the particulars.

Since I am a newbie to lighting - might you suggest specific brands and models. Guessing I need a good amount of light - if using polarizing filters - so watts/second rating would need to be up there (750 - 1200w/s)

your thoughts - thanks in advance
 :)
Title: Re: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system
Post by: Chris_Brown on December 28, 2012, 02:17:03 PM
(1) Lowel / Adorama Tota-Light Kit - link (http://www.adorama.com/LLBTK.html)
(2) EMF 800 watt 220/240V Quart Halogen Lights

Interested in your thoughts......

I recommend strobe lights because they provide a full color spectrum and are not heavily biased towards the orange (3200K) frequencies. While it's possible to provide a white balance for this, you will find noticeable noise in the blue channel, especially if any painting contains dark blues, navy blues, or blue paints mixed with blacks.

The heat that Tota lights emit is also a drag, especially if you work in a confined area. Those things get hot. In addition, they "spray" light everywhere, which can cause localized color bias of the light falling on the painting due to light reflecting/bouncing off nearby objects & surfaces (thus the need for Duvateen).

Regarding the desire to show texture, I find it best to photograph an entire painting using even, polarized light to give the best representation of the complete artwork. Then also provide detail photos using a pleasing form of side light to show texture & brush work.
Title: Re: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system
Post by: jsw_nz on December 28, 2012, 02:46:56 PM
Hi Chris

Thanks for chiming in again - between yours and John's reply - I am convinced that I need to dig a little deeper - problem is
I am new to strobes - just not sure what brand and model to target (I mentioned Interfit to John).
BTW - Thanks for your insight into the color spectrum issues - that's really important - I am all ears on that.

BTW - you mentioned:
Quote
Then also provide detail photos using a pleasing form of side light to show texture & brush work.

I guess you would call that a 'rake light'  - no?
So you are saying three strobe lights - 2 at 45 degrees
- and another (at a tweaked power level) and at a tighter angle
- would this require a modifier - ie vertical strip or slit
-seems you would run into issues of being hot on one side?

Another question that comes to mind is the new fluorescent lights out there - (those with a high CRI index)
- again I am still learning - so not too familiar with brands and models of fluorescent lights
This would be ideal - in at least in a WYSIWYG sense - and the lights running cool is desirable to preserve polarizer gel

I must say I appreciate all the input I am getting here on the forum.
Been like taking a photography course - but better - learning a lot.

Thanks to all,
 :D
Title: Re: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system
Post by: LKaven on December 28, 2012, 04:01:07 PM
If you're going to do this professionally or for a long time, it is worth having good strobes.  But two inexpensive strobes with power levels matched will produce a consistent color temperature.  I've done quite a few paintings with just two Flashpoint 150W/s strobes, angled in at 45 degrees, with polarizing gels.  I can shoot at f/8 or f/11 sometimes depending upon the distance of the lights.  And this was at half power.

You'll want to have a color reference card, like a QPcard for profiling.  There can be some color shift with polarizers.  But they do a really great job of making the reproduction look like the original by taking out the glare.  Works especially well on a textured canvas.  Be sure to kill the ambient lights and modeling lights before tripping the shutter.

And yes, the 60mm/2.8 AF-s micro Nikkor is great for this work.  It has almost zero distortion.
Title: Re: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system
Post by: Chris_Brown on December 28, 2012, 10:34:05 PM
I am new to strobes - just not sure what brand and model to target (I mentioned Interfit to John).

I wish I could help but I've no idea what brands are sold down under.

Quote
I guess you would call that a 'rake light'  - no?
So you are saying three strobe lights - 2 at 45 degrees
- and another (at a tweaked power level) and at a tighter angle
- would this require a modifier - ie vertical strip or slit
-seems you would run into issues of being hot on one side?

How large are your canvasses and how large of an area do you have to work in?

Quote
Another question that comes to mind is the new fluorescent lights out there

Kino-Flo for best CRI & output, but you'll need to buy rolls of polarizer filter to cover the light source. Another issue is getting a good, even spread over the art. If the fixture is too small, there will be uneven light.
Title: Re: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system
Post by: K.C. on December 29, 2012, 06:54:34 AM
Well as you're discovering there are endless opinions. Many of them worth exactly what you paid for them.

My comment continues to prove true.

Tota's do get hot and they do need to be flagged. I guess they've sold a million of them for the good things they do, not the negative point others are making.

I have Profoto Pro 6s and 7s, Acute1200R packs with Acute heads and D1Air 500s. As well as Elinchrom, Balcar and Comet systems. They all have their strengths. So when I reach for the Totas despite owning some of the best flash gear on the market there must be a good reason.

As I've said many times, use what suits you. But there are some tools that are standards for a very good reason.
Title: Re: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system
Post by: LKaven on December 29, 2012, 02:45:24 PM
So when I reach for the Totas despite owning some of the best flash gear on the market there must be a good reason.

Curious what those reasons are.  Is the added blue channel gain under tungsten lighting not an issue in your view?
Title: Re: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system
Post by: K.C. on December 29, 2012, 10:58:40 PM
Curious what those reasons are.  Is the added blue channel gain under tungsten lighting not an issue in your view?

I profile the camera with each setup so I'm correcting for even small room influences and any variation in the coating on the different macro lenses used so color is not an issue. When I shot 4X5 there was a slight difference between the Nikkor AM ED 120 and 210 but I corrected back then using a minolta color meter initially and then balanced in PS based on tests printed and the profiles I'd saved.

If specularity issues present themselves I can see most of them in the camera before even taking a first test shot. After importing the DNG into LR to use as a profile I can examine every small detail and correct anything I or the artist/gallery owner find.

Pretty straight forward and faster than reviewing images taken with flash.
Title: Re: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system
Post by: Deardorff on January 02, 2013, 10:29:57 AM
Go with the Lowel hot lights and cross polarization.

It works well and has for a long time. Most fine galleries and museums who do a lot of copy work use them.


Dependable, repeatable and easy to use. Is there is a problem it is easy to replace.

Title: Re: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system
Post by: Transformer on January 07, 2013, 03:13:06 PM

I have been painting for as long as you have been photographing and texture is an issue for me...


I am an artist and a photographer. Like you, I would hate for the texture in my paintings to look 'flat'.

My approach for water colours, oils and acrylics would be to have one mighty flash illuminate the artwork from the top-left or top-right as far from the artwork as you can manage. This will provide even illumination with natural-looking shadows to form the texture. The flash could be either diffused or direct, in which case, a very large white reflector would almost certainly be required on the opposite side of the flash light source. Control the fill with the reflector to produce the degree of texture that pleases YOU (the artist!).

On your camera, step down your aperture two or three stops smaller than its widest opening, use a tripod, lock the mirror up, and use a remote trigger/cable (or the camera self-timer) to eliminate vibrations. I have never used polariser gels on my flash - I suppose it wouldn't hurt - but would definitely use a 'quality' polarising filter on your Nikon lens. It's unlikely all reflections will disappear but not to worry because this adds to the perception of texture. Include a shot with a Gretag Macbeth colour chart (they have the best neutral grey reference, period).

Processing. I calibrate my monitor to a white point of 6500K. Alongside my monitor, I have a Solux 4700K lamp (with a black back) directed at the artwork for colour reference. In Photoshop or Lightroom, I will 'sample' the third lightest grey patch on the Gretag Macbeth colour chart image to reduce any colour casts - this is the grey point. From there, tweak the colour balance to your taste. Leave the room, take the dog for a walk, come back to the screen and evaluate the colour balance once more - your initial 2-second impression will be correct as our eyes adapt to colour very quickly. Tweak the colour balance some more if necessary. Repeat the exercise the following day.

Shoot in raw, edit in Adobe RGB (1998) or better (with the intended profile activated) and convert to sRGB/CMYK JPEG if necessary after all editing is complete.
Title: Re: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system
Post by: Transformer on January 07, 2013, 03:42:18 PM
Regarding your light source, natural diffuse daylight is good, flash is is also good as is tungsten. I would avoid LEDs or fluros unless the manufacturer can supply spectrum charts that show that their product produces no obscene colour spikes regardless of whether the lights are marketed as 'daylight'. My advice, stick with flash ... it's cheap, consistent, reliable, cool and portable. Nothing wrong with a powerful off-camera speedlight or a $500 studio flash for digital photography.
Title: Re: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system
Post by: jsw_nz on February 01, 2013, 03:26:29 AM
Hi Transformer

Thanks for the response - especially regarding capturing of texture - there is a photographer (Randy Hufford) that sells a DVD on photoshop cafe that swears by the same principle - namely rake lighting to capture texture - in his case he used massive banks of vertical fluorescents (which he also markets) - and will often move them around to tweak the light (they're mounted on wheeled platform) - its very much a hands on - experimental approach - something he has been doing for years. Well anyway - I latched onto the DVD and was glad I did - he mentions a special application by Robin Myers called Equalight 3 (http://www.rmimaging.com/equalight.html) that can be used in a given photshoot - basically 'evening out' any non-uniformity in lighting conditions. Its not a licence to bypass the goal of balanced light on a given two dimensional artwork scenario - but rather a way to minimize if not completely eliminate drop off (both from lens and lighting).

On another note is the issue of 6500K vs 5000K is an interesting one. Chris Murphy - one of the authors of RealWorld Color Management suggest that if you can manage to control light levels - to affectively achieve a digital darkroom - he suggests a monitor set to 5000K rather than the standard 6500K - I am guessing I will be going down that route - right now painting up a room with a neutral grey to achieve such a setup - and yes - I have learned from others here on the forums - the highly recommended Solux 4700K Black Back bulb - in my case I ordered the color proofing kit (4 bulbs) - not sure - but thinking it might spit out a 'little too much light' (what's your experience?) -guessing I will need to experiment with it.

On a lighting scheme - I am pursuing the use of Solux 4700K (50W x 16) bulbs for image capture as well. Robin Myers - who was with Better-Light in the early days admitted that they had looked into this scenario - at least in the case of smaller to medium sized artwork - so his admission perked my interest - he developed another application - SpectraShop (http://www.rmimaging.com/spectrashop.html) that allows you to measure spectral curve in such a setup - so exploring this. Solux are not perfect mind you - they do have a warm fringe - so planning to use a set of their plano convex diffusion filters on them - and test. My backup scenario will be strip lighting with strobes - looking at Aurora brand - but so hard to find a seller in these parts in New Zealand  and not sure if the recommendation is based on brand affiliation (coming from the studio coach website).

Anyway thanks to all for the thread - still learning my way around this.
cheers :-)

Title: Re: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system
Post by: BobDavid on February 01, 2013, 09:02:04 AM
A couple of Elinchrom Digital RX1200s + cross polarization. Perfect!
Title: Re: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system
Post by: K.C. on February 02, 2013, 09:47:00 PM
A couple of Elinchrom Digital RX1200s + cross polarization. Perfect!

Yup. Pretty much any pair of lights that are consistent in color balance and output from shot to shot. Cross polarize and you're there.

Anything beyond that, simply not needed.
Title: Re: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system
Post by: jsw_nz on February 03, 2013, 02:26:39 PM
I think the discussion reveals a lot of different approaches and I think at the end of the day - this should be appreciated. To say that one size fits all - misses the point - since each situation presented by a unique artwork presents a number of variables into the mix. David Saffir, in his SpyderColor video (link found earlier in this thread) - uses continuous lighting provided by North Light HID Copy Stands. Robin Myers, who was with Better Light in the early days - when they were developing their system - admitted to me in an email that for a majority of their work - they also used North Light HID Copy Stands and in cases where artwork was small - Solux lighting was sometimes used. This was part of their strategy to counteract uneven spectral distributions where spikes (also mentioned earlier in this thread) - made capturing tough colors such as cobalt blue, quinacridone magenta and indigo a concern when trying to reproduce in various media. So my experimental approach using Solux is not unfounded. Appreciate all who have contributed to this thread - so I guess its a perfect time to agree to disagree.
Title: Re: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system
Post by: BobDavid on February 03, 2013, 03:36:42 PM
Workflow is another key element in fine art repro. It is important to get a good capture. I have been using strobes and cross polarization for thirty years. Back in the days of film, it was much trickier--practically impossible to make a "true-color" reproduction, especially when you factored in the limitations of offset lithography.

The digital age has made it possible to come within a few percentage points of accurately recording and reproducing most flat artwork.

In the days of film, I used hot lights. Bardwell & McAllister made wonderful lights for continuous and ultra even illumination across the picture plain. They are still around and I believe that light is still available.

Fortunately, the digital age changed everything for the better. About seven years ago, I began using a multi-shot camera with custom profiles, a high-end monitor, Photoshop, and large format printers.  High-quality strobe lights offered much more precision (especially with multi-shot photography) and a lot more flexibility. I also liked not exposing original artwork to hot lights. Come to think of it, I didn't like being subjected to the heat either.

Sure, you can measure any light source with a color meter and find the peaks and valleys of color output across the visual light spectrum. But there are so many steps along the way after the initial capture that are available to compensate for irregularities.

Learning how to exploit Pro Photo RGB, LAB, CMYK, and understanding additive color versus subractive color make all the difference in the world in terms of being able to efficiently reproduce artwork.  

In other words, lighting is just one aspect, albeit important, in the chain of reproducing accurate hue, saturation, and tonality in the final product.

And by the way, Better Light scanning backs are excellent--they require continuous light sources. Robin Myers knows his stuff for sure.  I opted to go with a multi-shot solution because as a platform it enabled me to use single shot in the studio to capture living things--like dogs and humans.