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Author Topic: Stumped: Specific Lighting Recommendations for Copying Artwork  (Read 1261 times)

dotp

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I've been given the task of photographing my mother's artwork for reproduction. She has several hundred pieces ranging from 4' x 8' to 8"x11", from oils to watercolor to drawings...you name it. I've nailed every part of the process down (camera, settings, room, color management, equipment, etc.) but the most important part...the lighting. I've read every post and article I could find on the Internet and am still not sure how best to invest in lighting. I'll be shooting in a studio with a controlled light environment. I must have a continuous light source only (no strobes).

I have looked at Westcott's TD6's with both tungsten-halogen and fluorescent. I've considered Tota-lites tungsten. HMI is out of my budget range. LED's are pricey (I'm not going to DIY) and suffer from poor spectral distribution. Fluorescents also have poor color rendering capabilities and have mercury vapor and put of a lot of UV. Tungsten-halogens are hot and eat up the power. And then there seems to be a debate about whether or not to use diffusion/softbox or not. I really like the SoLux bulbs but there isn't any kit/fixture to use with it.

So, I'm really looking at specific advice for lighting (names, links, bulb type, etc.) from pros who are doing the work now or have done it in the last 10 years. What are you using? Why? Will it cover a 4'x8' work?

Please advise.
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robertDthomas

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Re: Stumped: Specific Lighting Recommendations for Copying Artwork
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2017, 08:57:03 PM »

I have used two Tota Tungsten lights for over 10 yrs.  Fairly reasonably priced option compared to the LED's.  I place a polarizing film mounted in front of the lamps.  They get hot so longterm (30min or more use) warms up the room and can distort the filters.  I also use a polarizer on the camera.  Only issue with polarizer is if the originals have gold or silver leaf used and you maximize the polarizing effect they will cause the metallic surfaces to be very dark or black.  Only issue with the Tota's is that they don't throw a very wide field unless you use the umbrellas or some other light modifier.  But, from the size of the images you mention that should not be a problem. You will need a custom white balance (although) can adjust in PS or LR but better to start near the color temp of the light which is closer to 3000 deg. kelvin.  An even better choice for color matching is to get an X-rite digital color checker to profile the light, room effects, and camera to get closer color match.  Hardest thing is getting the colors right.  Photographic images are easy in comparison to matching the pigments but with good setup a profiling you can get very close and reduce the post processing requirements.  Another thing to be careful of is the color of the room you are shooting in.  The lights and reflections on the walls and around can create a color cast.  Thats why either a grey room (my Wife calls it the cave) or the x-rite will help.

Actually one of the best options I have found is natural light outside.  Just don't want to get any shadows across the image.  Natural light produces very pleasing images but weather is of course a factor.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2017, 09:45:20 PM by robertDthomas »
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dotp

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Re: Stumped: Specific Lighting Recommendations for Copying Artwork
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2017, 12:09:54 AM »

Thanks for the Tota experience and tips Robert. I read where one person uses 4 of them for larger works. Have you ever had them trip breakers in your "cave"? I'm a little worried about that aspect as well as the heat.

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framah

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Re: Stumped: Specific Lighting Recommendations for Copying Artwork
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2017, 01:27:21 PM »

A couple of good tips is to turn off any room lights when shooting. This way you aren't introducing any other sources for you to correct for.

Also whatever you are attaching the pieces to for shooting should be painted black so there will be no color flare coming back onto the image from light hitting the wall around it.

This is standard for the people I know who shoot art for reproduction and is how I had my studio set up.

Too bad you don't have a rather large lighting budget!!! I have a pair of 900w Northlights for sale.  Only $4,000 for the pair. :o

I also have  2 sets of Bowens fluorescent lights 2 @ 200w each and 2 @ 400w each. These can go for $400 for the 200w pair and $500 for the 400w pair. (Just throwing that out there.)
They worked great for small stuff but I kept getting oversized art to shoot so needed the monsters.

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robertDthomas

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Re: Stumped: Specific Lighting Recommendations for Copying Artwork
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2017, 02:02:00 PM »

Good tips.

Yes, you do not want mixed lighting and other colors in the room that the light reflects off of will provide a color cast which can be hard to eliminate with some of the colors in the artwork.

As far as tripping breakers I have never had that problem but besides the lights I did not have a lot of additional load on the circuit.  Just check what else you may have on with that circuit and then check the breaker size.  Pretty sure it will be not problem.

Yes they do create heat and you have to be careful not to touch parts of the fixtures or you will get burned but again I have not had a problem with that just cautious.  They would not be good for food photography or close lighting in portraiture but they have worked well for me with artwork.  If you are in a small room in the summer that is hot to begin with you will feel the increased temperature and want to limit your shooting to 20-30 min.  Otherwise they are hot but they do not displace my furnace or fireplace as heat sources.
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dotp

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Re: Stumped: Specific Lighting Recommendations for Copying Artwork
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2017, 11:15:32 PM »

Thanks for those tips framah. I'll have to pass on the Northlights and Bowens this go around. I'm not too keen on fluorescents and the others are out of my price rage.
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dotp

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Re: Stumped: Specific Lighting Recommendations for Copying Artwork
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2017, 01:11:14 AM »

FYI, after a ton more research, I ended up going with LEDs with a high CRI/TLCI. I have 4 of these and they are fantastic for lighting artwork in a studio.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/231453390909

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framah

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Re: Stumped: Specific Lighting Recommendations for Copying Artwork
« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2017, 03:14:00 PM »

While you  are  at it, do a search for Robin Meyers Equalite software. It allows you to compensate for light falloff in the corners of your large pieces... which you will have no
 matter what type of lighting you choose.

When you light something, the beams of light will over lap in the middle creating a hot spot and then fall off to the sides but at the corners even more so.

This sotware takes your file and reads the intensity of the pixels and finds the brightest points and lays a mask over the file to compensate for the falloff by pulling  those pixels brighter to even out the lighting.

It works amazingly!!  This is expecially important for paintings with alot of white in the image as this is where the falloff shows up the most.

This is stuff we have used with our Betterlight scanbacks for years now.

Also useful for when you need to shoot multiple sections of a painting to be stitched together in PS...as in.. do not try to shoot those large paintings in one shot!!!
All it gives you is a small file of a large painting, not allowing you to reproduce them to full size if needed or even half size for that matter.

Set the lights up and then move the painting to the left or right, overlapping the next shot about 15% of the first one.. giving PS enough pixels to find to merge.  I used a movable wall that was perpendicular to the camera and the camera and  the lights stayed put and the art moved.



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imagetone

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Re: Stumped: Specific Lighting Recommendations for Copying Artwork
« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2017, 03:48:44 AM »

While you  are  at it, do a search for Robin Meyers Equalite software. It allows you to compensate for light falloff in the corners of your large pieces... which you will have no
 matter what type of lighting you choose.

Or shoot tethered into software that will let you do light fall off calibration, eg Capture One
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